Soul music, p.15
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       Soul Music, p.15

         Part #16 of Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
Page 15


  Well? Its someone elses piano.

  Yes, but . . . you cant just hack holes in the wall-

  Whats more important? Some wall or getting the sound right? said -Glod. Buddy hesitated. Part of him thought: thats ridiculous, its only music. Another part of him thought, rather more sharply: thats ridiculous, its only a wall. All of him said: Oh. Since you put it like that . . . but what about the piano player?

  I told you, I know just where to find one, said Glod. A tiny part of him was amazed: Ive hacked a hole in my own wall! It took me days to nail that wallpaper on properly. Albert was in the stable, with a shovel and a wheelbarrow. Go well? he said, when Susans shadow appeared over the half-door. Er . . . yes . . . I suppose . . .

  Pleased to hear it, said Albert, without looking up. The shovel thumped on the barrow. Only . . . something happened which probably wasnt usual . . . Sorry to hear that. Albert picked up the wheelbarrow and trundled it in the direction of the garden. Susan knew what she was supposed to do. She was supposed to apologize, and then itd turn out that crusty old Albert had a heart of gold, and theyd be friends after all, and hed help her and tell her things, and And shed be some stupid girl who couldnt cope. No. She went back to the stable, where Binky was investigating the contents of a bucket. The Quirm College for Young Ladies encouraged self-reliance and logical thought. Her parents had sent her there for that reason. Theyd assumed that insulating her from the fluffy edges of the world was the safest thing to do. In the circumstances, this was like not telling people about self-defence so that no-one would ever attack them. Unseen University was used to eccentricity among the faculty. After all, humans derive their notions of what it means to be a normal human being by constant reference to the humans around them, and when those humans are other wizards the spiral can only wiggle downwards. The Librarian was an orang-utan, and no-one thought that was at all odd. The Reader in Esoteric Studies spent so much time reading in what the Bursar referred to as the smallest room[11] that he was generally referred to as the Reader in The Lavatory, even on official documents. The Bursar himself in any normal society would have been considered more unglued than a used stamp in a downpour. The Dean had spent seventeen years writing a treatise on The Use of the Syllable ENK in Levitation Spells of the Early Confused Period. The Archchancellor, who regularly used the long gallery above the Great Hall for archery practice and had accidentally shot the Bursar twice, thought the whole faculty was as crazy as loons, whatever a loon was. Not enough fresh air, hed say. Too much sittin around indoors. Rots the brain. More often hed say, Duck! None of them, apart from Ridcully and the Librarian, were early risers. Breakfast, if it happened at all, happened around midmorning. Wizards lined the buffet, lifting the big silver lids of the tureens and wincing at every clang. Ridcully liked big greasy breakfasts, especially if they included those slightly translucent sausages with the green flecks that you can only hope is a herb of some sort. Since it was the Archchancellors prerogative to choose the menu, many of the more squeamish wizards had stopped eating breakfast altogether, and got through the day just on lunch, tea, dinner and supper and the occasional snack. So there werent too many in the Great Hall this morning. Besides, it was a bit draughty. Workmen were busy somewhere up in the roof. Ridcully put down his fork. All right, whos doing it? he said. Own up, that man.

  Doing what, Archchancellor? said the Senior Wrangler.

  Somones tappin his foot. The wizards looked along the table. The Dean was staring happily into space. Dean? said the Senior Wrangler. The Deans left hand was held not far from his mouth. The other was making rhythmic stroking motions somewhere in the region of his kidneys. I dont know what he thinks hes doin, said Ridcully, but it looks unhygienic to me.

  I think hes playing an invisible banjo, Archchancellor, said the Lecturer in Recent Runes. Well, its quiet, at least, said Ridcully. He looked at the hole in the roof, which was letting unaccustomed daylight into the hall. Anyone seen the Librarian? The orang-utan was busy. He had holed up in one of the Library cellars, which he currently used as a general workshop and book hospital. There were various presses and guillotines, a bench full of tins of nasty substances where he made his own binding glue and all the other tedious cosmetics of the Muse of literature. Hed brought a book down with him. It had taken even him several hours to find it. The Library didnt only contain magical books, the ones which are chained to their shelves and are very dangerous. It also contained perfectly ordinary books, printed on commonplace paper in mundane ink. It would be a mistake to think that they werent also dangerous, just because reading them didnt make fireworks go off in the sky. Reading them sometimes did the more dangerous trick of making fireworks go off in the privacy of the readers brain. For example, the big volume open in front of him contained some of the collected drawings of Leonard of Quirm, skilled artist and certified genius with a mind that wandered so much it came back with souvenirs. Leonards books were full of sketches - of kittens, of the way water flows, of the wives of influential Ankh-Morporkian merchants whose portraits had provided his means of making a living. But Leonard had been a genius and was deeply sensitive to the wonders of the world, so the margins were full of detailed doodles of whatever was on his mind at that moment - vast water-powered engines for bringing down city walls on the heads of the enemy, new types of siege guns for pumping flaming oil over the enemy, gunpowder rockets that showered the enemy with burning phosphorus, and other manufactures of the Age of Reason. And there had been something else. The Librarian had noticed it in passing once before, and had been slightly puzzled by it. It seemed out of place. [12] His hairy hand thumbed through the pages. Ah . . . here it was . . . Yes. Oh, YES. . . . It spoke to him in the language of the Beat . . . The Archchancellor made himself comfortable at his snooker table. Hed long ago got rid of the official desk. A snooker table was much to be preferred. Things didnt fall off the edge, there were a number of handy pockets to keep sweets and things in, and when he was bored he could shovel the paperwork off and set up trick shots. [13] He never bothered to shovel the paperwork back on afterwards. In his experience, anything really important never got written down, because by then people were too busy shouting. He picked up his pen and started to write. He was composing his memoirs. Hed got as far as the title: Along the Ankh with Bow, Rod and Staff with a Knob on the End. Not many people realize, he wrote, that the river Ankh has a large and varied pifcine population-[14] He flung down the pen and stormed along the corridor into the Deans office. What the hells that? he shouted. The Dean jumped.

  Its, its, its a guitar, Archchancellor, said the Dean, walking hurriedly backwards as Ridcully approached. I just bought it.

  I can see that, I can hear that, what was it you were tryin to do?

  I was practising, er, riffs, said the Dean. He waved a badly printed woodcut defensively in Ridcullys face. The Archchancellor grabbed it. “Blert Wheedowns Guitar Primer”, he read. “Play your Way to Succefs in Three Easy Lefsons and Eighteen Hard Lefsons”. Well? Ive nothin against guitars, pleasant airs, a- spying young maidens one morning in May and so on, but that wasnt playin. That was just noise. I mean, what was it supposed to be?

  A lick based on an E pentatonic scale using the major seventh as a passing tone? said the Dean. The Archchancellor peered at the open page. But this says “Lesson One: Fairy Footsteps”, he said. Um, um, um, I was getting a bit impatient, said the Dean. Youve never been musical, Dean, said Ridcully. Its one of your good points. Why the sudden interest - what have you got on your feet? The Dean looked down. I thought you were a bit taller, said Ridcully. You standing on a couple of planks?

  Theyre just thick soles, said the Dean. Just . . . just something the dwarfs invented, I suppose . . . dunno . . . found them in my closet . . . Modo the gardener says he thinks theyre crepe.

  Thats strong language for Modo, but Id say hes right enough.

  No . . . its a kind of rubbery stuff . . . said the Dean, dismally. Erm . . . excuse me, Archchancellor . . . It
was the Bursar, standing in the doorway. A large red-faced man was behind him, craning over his shoulder. What is it, Bursar?

  Erm, this gentleman has got a-

  Its about your monkey, said the man. Ridcully brightened up. Oh, yes?

  Apparently, erm, he sto- removed some wheels from this gentlemans carriage, said the Bursar, who was on the depressive side of his mental cycle. You sure it was the Librarian? said the Archchancellor. Fat, red hair, says “ook”, a lot?

  Thats him. Oh, dear. I wonder why he did that? said Ridcully. Still, you know what they say . . . a five-hundred-pound gorilla can sleep where he likes.

  But a three-hundred-pound monkey can give me my bloody wheels back, said the man, unmoved. If I dont get my wheels back, theres going to be trouble.

  Trouble? said Ridcully. Yeah. And dont think you can scare me. Wizards dont scare me. Everyone knows theres a rule that you mustnt use magic against civilians. The man thrust his face close to Ridcully and raised a fist. Ridcully snapped his fingers. There was an inrush of air, and a croak. Ive always thought of it more as a guideline, he said, mildly. Bursar, go and put this frog in the flowerbed and when he becomes his old self give him ten dollars. Ten dollars would be all right, wouldnt it?

  Croak, said the frog hastily. Good. And now will someone tell me whats going on?

  There was a series of crashes from downstairs. Why do I think, said Ridcully to the world in general, that this isnt going to be the answer? The servants had been laying the tables for lunch. This generally took some time. Since wizards took their meals seriously, and left a lot of mess, the tables were in a permanent state of being laid, cleaned or occupied. Place-settings alone took a lot of time. Each wizard required nine knives, thirteen forks, twelve spoons and one rammer, quite apart from all the wine-glasses. Wizards often turned up in ample time for the next meal. In fact they were often there in good time to have second helpings of the last one. A wizard was sitting there now. Thats Recent Runes, aint it? said Ridcully. He had a knife in each hand. He also had the salt, pepper and mustard pots in front of him. And the cake-stand. And a couple of tureen covers. All of which he was hitting vigorously with the knives. Whats he doing that for? said Ridcully. And, Dean, will you stop tapping your feet?

  Well, its catchy, said the Dean. Its catching, said Ridcully. The Lecturer in Recent Runes was frowning in concentration. Forks jangled across the woodwork. A spoon caught a glancing blow, pinwheeled through the air and hit the Bursar on the ear. What the hells does he think hes doing?

  That really hurt! The wizards clustered around the Lecturer in Recent Runes. He paid them no attention whatsoever. Sweat poured down his beard. He just broke the cruet, said Ridcully. Its going to smart for hours.

  Ah, yes, hes as hot as mustard, said the Dean. Id take that with a pinch of salt, said the Senior Wrangler. Ridcully straightened up. He raised a hand. Now, someones about to say something like “I hope the Watch dont ketchup with him”, arent you? he said. Or “Thats a bit of a sauce”, or I bet youre all trying to think of somethin silly to say about pepper. Id just like to know whats the difference between this faculty and a bunch of pea-brained idiots.

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