The Fifty-Second Bewildering Chapter

And we're back! On with the big one...

Wednesday evening faded into night. The stranded British soldiers completed the end-of-the-session tests, that Ms Estrella Partleigh had absolutely insisted on so that they could be released into the city of Ankh-Morpork as officially approved citizens who had been educated, and could express due regard and sensitivity towards members of other sentient races and ethnicities.

Philip Holtack left it to Sergeant Williams to enforce compliance. He suspected Seven Platoon were taking it seriously, as they had no desire to be sent back to repeat the day's orientation in the strange ways of this new world. He also suspected that after having been subjected to Seven Platoon's finest minds for a day, neither Ms Partleigh nor the Countess von Winkling had too much desire to see them again. He thought everyone would pass because of this happy unspoken pact.

He reclined on his bed at Ramkin Manor and opened what he was coming to think of as The Dungeonmaster's Monster Manual at random. It fell open towards the end of the book. He read.

Meanwhile, Commander Sam Vimes returned to Ramkin Manor, relieved that the ugly little monster, some sort of Dungeon Dimensions thing, had been destroyed to everyone's satisfaction. Even Death... herself.... had turned up to confirm the mission had been a success. Now there was a reliable witness, possibly the only 100% reliable witness any copper could call on...

Vimes hummed a little tune to himself as he handed his cloak to a footman. Sybil called to him from the Slightly Fuchsia Drawing Room. Feeling as near as Sam Vimes ever came to happy, he went to join her.

"Hello, Sam. Good day?" she said.

"Oh, five arrests and an execution. The usual." he said, making to sit down. Sybil kissed him.

"I wouldn't sit down just yet, Sam. That rather nice chap from the Particulars called round. Sergeant Gerbilac. He'd quite like to talk to you. He says it's urgent."

Vimes sighed. Jim Gerbilac was a very good detective. If he said it was urgent, then it was urgent.

"Okay, dear. Where is he?"

"He wanted a discreet talk to Willikins. They're in the Puce Room. No doubt talking Watch business, so I didn't inquire. No doubt I'll find out later."

"Thanks, Sybil." Vimes said, making to leave. "I wonder what Jim wants? As far as I can recollect, he should have been off shift today."

"Nobody's ever completely off duty in the Watch, Sam. You should know!"

Vimes accepted this pointed remark, and set off to the Puce Room. On the way he detailed a servant to organise coffee and some sort of snack for three. Unexpected police work required lubrication.

On the Roundworld, the Holtack family home had been receiving a stream of visitors, guests, family members and others, in preparation for the funeral the next day. Denise Holtack had been forcing herself to receive people and to deal with them as much as she could, even though quite a large part of her wanted to be somewhere quiet and alone. Besides, she wanted to take as much off her parents as she could.

Therefore she had forced herself to wear a formal black dress and to take the role of Organiser, the dutiful daughter doing most of the work. There would be time for private grief later.

Even so, when the coffin arrived, she had needed to take a few very deep breaths to regain composure. It would stand overnight on a bier in the front room before being collected by the funeral directors and the honour guard the Army was sending.

"Just... in here, please, gentlemen." she requested. Alice Band took her arm to steady her. As the Army's representative here, she had some tasks to do to ensure the coffin was presentable. Alice's face was inscrutable and unreadable. A sign she was feeling like Hell inside. They watched, standing to one side whilst the sombrely dressed men from C. Trefor Evans, Undertakers and Funeral Directors, set up the bier and brought the simple wooden coffin inside. One of the undertakers approached Denise and held up a case, questioningly.

"As this is a military funeral, Miss Holtack, we took the precaution to bring suitable accoutrements..."

Alice stepped forward.

"No need, gentlemen. I appreciate your consideration, but I think that should be my job."

The funeral director appraised her for a second. Then he nodded.

"Of course, Captain. You will know the fine details. And some things should be best kept in the Army family."

A few words of condolence later, they were gone, for the moment. Denise took a deep breath.

"I suppose I'd better go and tell Mum and Dad. That it's arrived."

Alice hugged her, briefly. Denise said, with bitterness,

"Sandbags, Alice! Sandbags!"

"I know. I know. But we owe it to him."

Ponder Stibbons was looking forward to an earlier night than usual. The events of the past few days had taken a lot out of him. Johanna Smith-Rhodes sat on the edge of the bed, and started to tug her boots off.

"Need a hand?" he asked.

She smiled, and shook her head.

"Eny other boots but these, Ponder!" she replied. "These are Essessin boots. I know where ell the little surprises are. You hev put the card on the door edvising Mrs Whitlow's girls thet my boots ere not taken eway for polishing?"

Mrs Whitlow looked after her wizards. This extended to valet service for their shoes. It was a common enough service offered to Gentlemen – and associated Ladies – by those who deployed servants to fetch for them. And Mrs Whitlow whole-heartedly approved of a nice young boy like Ponder meeting a nice young girl like Johanna. She did what she could to oil the gears of romance, and was unashamedly angling for a wedding invitation, expressing the point of view that if the Gentlemen were relaxing the Lore so that young wizards could marry and settle down and have children like normal people, it would make the world a better place.

But Assassins normally polished their own boots for a reason. Assassin footwear could incorporate all kinds of little difficulties for an unsuspecting boot-black. The Guild of Senior Domestic Servants had forcefully but respectfully raised the issue after several little accidents.

Ponder looked back, appreciatively. The vast majority of people in Ankh-Morpork who wore boots to work and laboured in them all day... well, you'd not want to be in the same room with them when they took them off. But somehow, all he could smell here was pleasantly warm leather, with a hint of nicely scented foot powder. Assassins, especially ones taken on Wilderness Expeditions(1) by Miss Smith-Rhodes, learnt basic footcare very quickly.

"Whet are your plans tomorrow, Ponder?" she asked, massaging her feet through her socks.

"Palace first thing." he said, shedding his wizarding robe. "Conference on where we're up to with the Visitors. Then I'm escorting Lieutenant Holtack on a visit to the High Energy Magic Building. Give him the tour, and brief him on what we can and can't do with regard to sending them all Home. I'm meeting him there at one."

"Gut." she said, unhitching her Sam Browne and sword-belt. "He is a decent end interesting sort of fellow. If he cennot return, I'm very sure he cen edept to life here."

She thought of Jocasta Wiggs, who would be leading her class of pupils back into the Guild tomorrow. Johanna was booked in to debrief the class and do things like, for instance, checking if anyone had not paid attention to her lectures on foot care. The ones who are limping will be easy to spot... Then she frowned, thinking of Alice Band on the one hand and Sally von Humperdinck on the other. Complications.

"From whet I hear, he is finding reasons to remain here." she said. "Thet is, if it is not just a case of Selly pleying with her food. But Ponder, if on thet other world he is thought of es dead, would it cause even more problems to send him beck? They must be heving funerels, perheps memorial services, for men thought of es dead."

Ponder sighed.

"That's one of the issues, Johanna". he admitted. "We just don't know. It's going to take some working out."

Johanna pulled her tunic off over her head. Ponder had the usual warm glow of delight. How had he ever managed to luck out like this...

"Well, et least we cen sleep on it tonight." she said, somewhat muffled.

Philip Holtack read about Zombies for some time. He was not reassured to read that sometimes, if somebody almost has a narrow escape and mistakenly believes they nearly died, the onset of bodily decomposition four or five days further on can come as a traumatic shock. He considered this for a while. He checked his eyes to see if they'd started sinking.

But, hold on, I'm still eating and drinking. Apparently desire for sustenance ceases. And for... the other thing. He thought of Sally. I haven't developed abnormal physical strength. While I do have a burning deep-seated desire to carry on living, that's, er, sort of normal, right? And owing to regular hot baths, lots of soap and assorted gentlemen's ointments, I no longer smell as if something's died and is having its afterlife in my underpants. Nor do I recall at any point a sympathetic conversation with... Death? Who is apparently a huge animated skeleton in a black robe with electric-blue eyes? If I'd met anyone like that, I'd remember...

He read on.

"DEATH may sometimes manifest as an attractive, but unsmiling, young woman in her early twenties with a unique black-and-white hairstyle. Nobody knows why this is so and in fact this is a fairly recent phenomenon, first noted perhaps five or six years ago..."

Holtack tried to recall what the first symptoms of bodily decomposition were. He wished he's paid more attention in classes about Grave Registration, Field Burials and the necessary but unpleasant housekeeping that has to be done to leave a battlefield tidy and more-or-less as you found it. He shut this out of his mind and reopened the book at random. Ah. This was interesting.

"NacMacFeegle. AKA: Wee Free Men, Pictsies, Evil Little Buggers. Advice to the Watchman: avoid, and call for specialist units to assist in controlling the disturbance. There will ALWAYS be a disturbance..."

And downstairs in the Puce Room at Ramkin Manor, another discussion was in progress.

"What have you got for me, Jim?" Vimes asked, taking a seat. Willikins moved to the door.

"Allow me to assure myself nobody is listening, sir." he said. He opened the door and took a look up and down the corridor. Satisfied, he returned to the room. He nodded to Jim Gerbilac.

"Sir, I have already informally briefed Mr Willikins." he said. "Earlier today I was a witness to a situation which may well have implications for you and your household. I considered I should bring it to your notice at the earliest possible opportunity."

"Go on." Vimes said.

Gerbilac then related what he'd seen and heard in the Ramkin Arms earlier in the day. Vimes scowled.

"And in the family pub too? We own that place. That's adding insult to injury! Bloody Assassins, trying to do it with style and cool!"

"Indeed, sir." said Willikins. "You will recall, sir, I vouchsafed to you my concerns over security and my suspicion that the Guild of Assassins have insinuated a spy into this building? Well, thanks to Sergeant Gerbilac here, it seems that we have our man!"

"Or one of them." Vimes said, thoughtfully. "Where there's one, there's usually more. Willikins, what do we know about this Matkin fellow?"

"I employed him under probation, sir." the butler said, smoothly. "I was aware there were things in his past he wished to skim over, but this is not unusual in this city. I myself, in my youth, spent a little time as a guest of the Patrician in the youth wing of the Tanty, as you know. The then butler to His Lordship, Mr Forsythe, was understanding enough to take me on as boot-boy, on the grounds that everyone deserves a chance for a new start. His Lordship agreed. I endeavour to emulate their example when employing staff for this household. Besides, Tanty boys often have useful skills that may be turned to our advantage if used intelligently."

Vimes nodded. He was pretty sure a sizeable minority of staff, otherwise loyal to Lady Sybil, had gratefully accepted a second chance and were conscientiously not trying to blow it. As a copper, he tacitly understood this.

"But, because we are not bloody idiots, it is made clear to new staff who have a Past that there will not be a third chance." Willikins continued. "Matkin admitted to knowing the inside of the Tanty. But if he has concealed to me any previous involvement with the gentlemen at Filigree Street, I may well consider myself distressed at his lack of candour."

"I did some basic digging." Jim Gerbilac said. "I made discreet enquiries and discovered Matkin worked as a Guild servant for a year or so. There was an incident where sacks of horse-feed bought by the Guild were walking out of a side-door and being resold. Matkin was an ostler at the time."

"He tried to rob the Assassins?" Vimes inquired. "There's a big "oh dear" coming up."

"Details are sketchy after that." Gerbilac admitted. "But I suspect Matkin was privately told he'd only be officially sacked from Guild employment if he consented to do odd jobs for them at his next employers. You, to be precise. The Assassins forged good references for him and sent him to Mr Willikins. The deal is, he feeds them inside information on you, he gets paid for it if it's good, and nobody needs to be handed over to the Thieves' Guild for unlicenced theft. So it's carrot and stick. The extra pay keeps him onside. If he runs, bolts, or goes back on his agreement with the Assassins, he's in trouble."

"I deeply, humbly, apologise, sir." Willikins said. "Had I known, I would not have employed him. I might have passed him on to the household of Lord Rust or Lord Eorle with a good word, though."

"No blame, Willikins." Vimes said. He looked deeply thoughtful. Suddenly, he grinned. It was a Vimes grin, and it radiated satisfaction that he was about to turn the tables on somebody else in a big way. Willikins, who knew that expression, brightened up and looked a little less sombre.

"Let's call him in for a chat, shall we? Let's call it a performance review. A probation interview, if you will."

"May I be excused, sir?" Gerbilac asked. "If there's nothing else. I work undercover, and it wouldn't do for somebody I'm investigating to see my face."

"Of course, Jim. And... thank you. Call today overtime pay. You've deserved it. And take a grandmother's funeral sometime, if the job ever allows."

"Does it ever, sir? Thank you."

The plainclothes sergeant left. Willikins sent for Matkin. Then he and Vimes compared notes and agreed on a plan of action.

Denise having left, Alice Band took a deep, deep breath, against inconvenient tears, and did what she had to do. Working from notes provided by the Chaplain, and the contents of a smallish black case, she first unfolded a large Union Jack, ensuring it was laid neatly and squarely over the coffin. At the head end, she arranged an officer's cap, with the white Fusilier plume, then gloves, a collar backflash of fanned black silk ribbons, and a blancoed belt with empty pistol holster, symbolic of the man inside the coffin having died on active service. Then satisfying herself it was good (perfect was the wrong word) she stood back, came to attention, and saluted, trying to ignore the traitor tear in her eye.

"Philip, you..."

But she could not continue.

Turning, she was aware she wasn't alone. An old man stood in the doorway, watching her.

"You did good, ma'am." he said. Alice recognised him as old soldier. He must have been well over eighty. "They say you only ever leave the Regiment when they put you in your grave."

He scrutinised the coffin.

"A shame, a real shame. Young Philip gets to leave the Regiment before I will."

The octogenarian pondered the essential unfairness of life for a few seconds, then came to his own attention and saluted.

"An officer's uniform, see. Symbolises the Queen's commission. You salute it regardless. Now if you will take the advice of an old Fusilier, ma'am, your duty is done, for the moment. I advise you to come and take a drink with me. You will need somebody to talk to?"

Alice went, meekly. She recognised sergeant in the harmonics. A request or a recommendation to an officer from a sergeant had the force of an order. Always. It was how things were done.

Vampires. It is a known fact that a vampire may only enter a home if invited by the occupant. Although the habits and vulnerabilities of Disc vampires vary bewilderingly, this is one factor that remains a constant.

It is a prohibition as strong as magic and seemingly as old as man.

A vampire may never enter a human home uninvited.

This was vital in the days when no such thing as the Überwaldean League of Temperance existed, all vampires were of the old unreformed sort, and all humans were targets. Mystery prevails as to how such a powerful species could allow itself to be bound, or otherwise be tricked into, a binding covenant that appears to act against their interests as a species. Theories include;

1)This is one of the most powerful and primal pieces of magic of all, especially when reinforced by reference to religious symbolism (see below). Witches speak of a long-ago time, even before wizardry, when an Old Wild Magic ruled all. This is known to have both attracted and constrained Elves (see under "E") and was perhaps also powerful enough to place constraints on vampires and werewolves.

11)Far-seeing leaders of the Vampire communities realised that hunting humans was just too easy. As with landowners owning hunting reserves, there has to be an "off-season" to allow the prey species to recuperate and build up their numbers. Controls have to be imposed on hunting, to prevent extinction.

111)Most recently, we have seen liberally-minded Vampires such as the older de Magpyrs introducing a degree of "sport" into the Game by deliberately handicapping themselves, in order to give humans a fighting chance. It is possible the whole taboo on a vampire entering a Human, (or indeed a Dwarf,) habitation uninvited has its roots this notion of "sport" embodied in a long-ago member of this Clan, who talked his fellows into it.

In these days of the League Of Temperance, this primal force still has power. It has, for instance, been noted that Vampire members of the City Watch are incapable of making house arrests unless a degree of guile and subterfuge is used to allow them to gain permission to enter the house where the suspect is hiding.

Holtack rested the book, and thought about Sally for a moment. Being a vampire would rather curb her ability as a policewoman to make busts. The perp could then shut the door and flatly refuse entry and she'd be powerless. He wondered what sort of a search warrant might over-ride that. It would have to be a special one...

Indeed, a Vampire employed as a warder at the Tanty prison had to be redeployed to other duties when prisoners discovered he could not enter their cells unless invited. As this rather hindered his ability to perform cell searches, he had to be moved to other duties.(2)

In this modern era of enlightened understanding between species, when the Überwald League has largely banished non-consensual blood-taking to the past, it is accepted that there needs to be a way forward allowing the Vampire a way to function in human society.

After the last occasion on which the old ways asserted themselves, it is accepted that there must be a way for the modern Vampire to enjoy something of a normally accepted life, but carrying some binding safeguards against abuse of the permission to enter freely into another's home. It is also accepted that the old prohibition is too prohibitive and requires finer nuancing to make it work.

Therefore, the following sample document is typical of the so-called Lancre Injunction, or Lancre Protocol, devised for King Verence II of Lancre by the legal practice of Slant, Honeyplace and Morecombe, as a attempt to recodify and redefine the traditional relationship between the Human signatory and the Vampire signatory. Mr Honeyplace and Mr Morecombe expressed concern that the deMagpyr family of Überwald, on being allowed permission to enter the domicile of King Verence and Queen Magrat, to wit, Lancre Castle, exploited an implicit legal loophole that effectively allowed them to usurp the King, take over the Kingdom, and generally to overstay their welcome in a way clearly not intended in the monarch's initial invitation. Indeed, Mr Slant opined that had he been around to draft the original rather common-law precedent, he would have taken very good care to block such implicit permissions for exceeding the spirit of the agreement. He would, in fact, have drafted a far more specific and legally binding contract.

They have.

This is it.

Holtack read on. He recalled mention of Sally having to sign the "standard agreement" to allow her access to Ramkin Manor. This was probably it.

The Vampire signatory agrees that permission to enter the building is conditional on the following:

No human blood is to be taken whilst in the building unless:

I:i) It is to restore corporeal integrity after involuntary and accidental disincorporation,

I:ii) A wholly consensual and unforced agreement is in force with a human donor volunteering blood of their own free will. See Appendix 1, schedule c for clauses and subconditions.

2) No attempt WHATSOEVER is made to appropriate the Kingdom, Queen (or consort), Heir to the Throne, other children, domestic staff, premises or other property or investments of the Host save those offered in the normal course of hospitality. (Refer to Appendix 3, sub-schedule4)i:i)

3) The Protocol is dated and is time-sensitive and applies once and once only to the date of visitation. It is clearly understood this does not confer permanent rights of visitation and expires at the end of the mutually agreed visit or social occasion, at which time the Vampire must leave with all due courtesy.

4) An extension ("season ticket") may be negotiated at this point by both parties subject to conditions laid out in Appendix 4 with particular stress on the provisions of Codicil 4:iv:ii.

The Human signatory binds themselves to the following reciprocal conditions:

All mallets, pointy wooden stakes, untipped crossbow bolts, lemons, carrots, aromatic vegetable growths of the genus allium sattiva, et c, are removed from sight and not brandished in the presence of the Vampire. (Refer to attached volume, Appendix 2; The Compleat Manual on Substances and Inhumation Methods Inimical To Vampires, pub. Assassins' Guild Press, reproduced by kind permission of, et c) (3)

Garlic and related substances should not be served at table.

Holy icons on display should be removed or covered or left at a pre-arranged minimum. (Refer to Appendix 7 for full list)

Signature of this document binds both parties. The Laws and Statutes of the twin cities of Ankh and Morpork apply and transgressions shall be pursued with the full force of the Law, which for the purposes of this Contract is embodied in myself. SLANT.

NB: this Agreement does not affect your statutory rights.

The Monster Manual added that this was a severely edited version of the Lancre Protocol, for demonstration purposes only. The full Document ran to twelve pages of itemised subclauses (5) covering all eventualities – like who had authority to grant a vampire permission to enter a residential domicile (6), for instance.

Philip Holtack grinned to himself, and tried to visualise a Hammer Horror movie based on this premise. Say when Dracula bursts in through the windows to snack on Lucy Westenra's neck. What if... van Helsing had seen the futility of being a mere vampire-hunter and had, instead, trained as a lawyer. And instead of garlic and a crucifix, had leapt forward shouting Stay, foul fiend! You are in breach of agreed law and protocol! And was brandishing an injunction tied in red ribbon. He tried to visualise Dracula cowering back in fear and covering his eyes against the power of the dreaded legal instrument as Helsing intoned the words of a restraining order that would have the power of an exorcism. Holtack had met Slant at the previous weekend's legal snarling. He suspected the old, the very old, lawyer would be lethal on his own ground.

Dracula Has Risen From The Grave And Is Clearly In Breach Of His Bail Conditions: Part Two, van Helsing v. V. Dracul, Judge Cocklecarrot (QC) presiding.

He grinned. And read on.

The footman Matkin sidled into the Puce Room. Vimes thought it was a little bit reminiscent of Nobby Nobbs. Willikins glowered at him. The ratlike little man flinched visibly. He paled underneath his dress wig.

Vimes kept silence for a long time, assessing him, as Willikins moved to cover the door. When he'd judged the silent moment was long enough, he asked, affably:

"How much are the Assassins paying you for keeping them informed about what happens in this house?"

Matkin turned his head as if he was considering making a run for it, but saw the large, unsmiling, and distinctly unsympathetic figure of Willikins blocking his way. And Vimes was covering the window.

"Sir?" he asked, trying to bluff.

Vimes shook his head.

"Matkin, I've interrogated harder cases than you. I do it every day. It's my job. And I'm good at it. Now I'm offering you an easy way out here. You can save my time, and Willikins' time, by freely and voluntarily telling us how much the Assassins pay you to spy on my household."

"Sir, I'm not..."

"Spare me the denial, Matkin. I found it suspicious the other day. The lad currently staying with us, the Visitor from another world. You were assigned as his valet. At some point in the morning he asked you as to where a man could get weapons tuition in this city. As the lad clearly had only the vaguest idea of which end of a sword you hold and which end you stick into somebody else. Which I concede is a drawback in this town. Three or four hours later, no less a person than Madame Two-Swords herself from the Assassins' Guild sidles up to him, works the magic that made her the Black Widow, and offers her personal tutorship in weapons at a time and place convenient for him. I find that bloody suspicious, Matkin. Especially since you were sent out into town on a few minor errands in the mid-morning. Drink a lot in the Ramkin Arms, do you?"

Matkin paled.

"You know, I could arrest you for that alone. An accessory to suicide, in that you introduced a poor unsuspecting stooge to Madame Two-Swords, a woman who, in one way or another, has killed quite a lot of men in her time. Usually but not always with sharp blades. Now are you going to carry on denying you're on the take from the bloody Assassins for keeping them informed?"

Matkin remained silent, his eyes darting around, but finding no comfort anywhere. Vimes smiled genially at him.

"Let me be your friend here, Matkin. If you still don't want to talk to me as your employer, I can take the point of view that this is strictly a disciplinary issue best handled by Mr Willikins. Who, as senior member of staff, is responsible for hiring, firing, and dealing with those little issues that crop up in managing a household staff. I would not presume to interfere in his area of professional responsibilities. So in a moment or two's time, I will step out of this room, go a long way away, and allow Mr Willikins to deal with your exit interview in whatever manner he considers most appropriate."

Vimes made to stand up. In the background, Willikins cracked his knuckles, audibly.

"Leave it to me, your Grace." the butler said.

Matkin cracked.

"Wait..." he said.

In the next fifteen minutes he related a lot of times, places, payments received and some interesting names of people involved at the Assassins' Guild end.

Vimes and Willikins looked at each other and nodded.

"To the best of your knowledge, is anyone else here in the pay of the Assassins?" Vimes asked. Matkin said he wasn't sure, but one of the downstairs maids, she had a brother who was a Scholarship pupil at the Guild school...

"Sarah Fletcher." Willikins said. "Tidy girl, clean, good worker. Her Ladyship likes her. Got an old granny, needed treatment at the Lady Sybil. I wasn't sure where the money came from to pay for that."

"We can talk to her later." Vimes said. "Willikins, put the word out that if any staff member has a family member needing hospital care or a medical bill paid comes to me first? We can call it a staff perk. Better we pay than the bloody Assassins."

Then he turned to Matkin.

"Here's the deal, and Gods it's a lot better than you deserve." he said. "You carry on working here. You carry on observing what goes on around you. You do your job, and Gods, you had better do it well. You are going to carry on reporting to your control at the Assassins Guild. Otherwise they get suspicious. Whatever money they pay you, you keep. The only difference is, that from this moment on, you tell them only what I want them to know about what goes on here. Got that? You see me first, you agree with me about what you tell them. Do it well,and I might consider upping your pay with the odd few dollars. But you're working for me now. In every conceivable way."

"And speaking of the odd few dollars." Willikins added, "Her Ladyship gave you a purse to be passed on to the young gentleman so he wouldn't embarrass himself when he took a lady out for dinner. If I can prove you skimmed a few dollars off the top of that, then you're cleaning out the dunnikin. From the inside. Got that?"

Willikins scowled again. Matkin nodded, dumbly.

"Dismissed, Matkin. You'll carry on as valet for the lad. But no conniving. Got it?"

Vimes sighed as the humbled footman departed.

"I like a good interrogation in the evening." he said, conversationally. "Now shall we talk to Sarah Fletcher and see if we can come to an arrangement with her, too?"

"I'll endeavour to fetch her, sir. I trust you will be gentle with her?"

"Look, Sybil likes her. I couldn't be anything else, could I?" Vimes protested. He'd already made up his mind to treat the girl gently and suggest she also fed doctored and misleading information back to the Guild. He suspected while they might take vengeance on Matkin if they found out, their twisted sense of honour would prevail here.

(1) Wilderness Expeditions: otherwise read as Twenty-Five Mile Forced Marches by her students.

(2) Although on the plus side, his ability to patrol at night in the form of a large bat acted as an extra deterrent against escapes.

(3) Privately published by the Guild of Assassins, this comprehensive manual runs to 1800 finely printed-pages, with diagrams, but is extremely comprehensively indexed. Mr Slant obtained the rights to an edited reprint(4) for legal purposes.

(4) Because the Assassins, whilst public-spirited people, aren't giving away EVERYTHING they know, oh no.

(5) And about 3,000 pages of legal appendices, sub-clauses, explanatory definitions and references to legal precedent.

(6) The householder, man or wife, any children over the age of eighteen (and then only to their own bedrooms, defined as "that reasonable space given to older children and young adults, to be theirs in privacy"). A Very Senior Domestic Servant charged with doorkeeping could invite a vampire in under strict sufferance, but a mere gate-guard would have to send the request up the chain of command. All other lesser domestic staff had no power to invite a vampire in, and house guests could only permit a vampire in through the window of their given room. The vampire could not use this as a lever to enter the rest of the house, however.