Contrary to popular belief and hope, people don’t usually come running when they hear a scream. That’s not how humans work. Humans look at other humans and say, ‘Did you hear a scream?’ because the first scream might just have been you screaming inside your head, or a horse backfiring.
…but she was not Her.*
*The Egregious Professor of Grammar and Usage would have corrected this to ‘she was not she’, which would have caused the Professor of Logic to spit out his drink.
It is considered in the Sto Plains that only scoundrels know the second verse of their national anthem, since anyone spending time memorizing that would be up to no good purpose. The Ankh-Morpork national anthem, therefore, had a second verse that was deliberately written as ner ner ners and the occasional coherent word desperately trying to stay afloat, on the basis that this is how it would sound in any case.
‘Are you worthy?’ said the woman.
‘What sort of question is that to ask a stranger?’
‘An interesting and possibly revealing one. Do you think the world is a better place with you in it, and would you do me the courtesy of actually thinking about your answer rather than pulling one off the “affronted” rack? I’m afraid there’s far too much of that these days. People believe that acting and thinking are the same thing.’
Juliet’s version of cleanliness was next to godliness, which was to say it was erratic, past all understanding and was seldom seen.
The Patrician took a sip of his beer. ‘I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I’m sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature’s wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that’s when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior.’
A lot hinges on the fact that, in most circumstances, people are not allowed to hit you with a mallet. They put up all kinds of visible and invisible signs that say ‘Do not do this’ in the hope that it’ll work, but if it doesn’t, then they shrug, because there is, really, no real mallet at all.
Ponder cleared his throat. ‘Gentlemen, the game of football is clearly about more than the rules and the nature of the play. In any case, these are pure mechanical considerations; the chanting and, of course, the food are of more concern to us, I feel. They seem to be an integral part of the game. Regrettably, so do the supporters’ clubs.’
‘What is the nature of this problem?’ Ridcully enquired.
‘They hit one another over the head with them.’
‘That’s a shitload you’ve done there, kid,’ he said kindly.
Nutt hesitated again, and then said, very carefully, ‘Despite the scatological reference, you approve of the large but unspecified number of candles that I have dribbled for you?’
‘Blimey, what was that all about, Gobbo?’
Frantically, Nutt sought for an acceptable translation. ‘I done okay?’ he ventured.