Feet of Clay (Discworld #19)

By Terry Pratchett; Published In 1996
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Humor
A dwarf who can't get the hang of metal? That must be pretty unique."

"Pretty rare, sir. But I was quite good at alchemy.."

"Guild member?"

"Not any more, sir."

"Oh? How did you leave the guild?"

"Through the roof, sir. But I'm pretty certain I know what I did wrong.

And, while it was regarded as pretty good evidence of criminality to be
living in a slum, for some reason owning a whole street of them merely got
you invited to the very best social occasions.

Another priest said,"Is it true you've said you'll believe in any god whose existence can be proved by logical debate?"

"Yes."

Vimes had a feeling about the immediate future and took a few steps away from Dorfl.

"But the gods plainly do exist," said a priest.

"It Is Not Evident."

A bolt of lightning lanced down through the clouds and hit Dorfl's helmet. There was a sheet of flame and then a trickling noise. Dorfl's molten armour formed puddles around his white-hot feet.

"I Don't Call That Much Of An Argument," said Dorfl calmly, from somewhere in the clouds of smoke.

Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you."

"Sir?"

"It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority."

"Sir?"

"That's practically zen.

Commander, I always used to consider that you had a definite anti-authoritarian streak in you.”
“Sir?”
“It seems that you have managed to retain this even though you are authority.”
“Sir?”
“That’s practically zen.

Her books on alchemy were marvellous objects, every page a work of the engraver's art, but they nowhere contained instructions like "Be sure to open a window". They did have instructions like "Adde Aqua Quirmis to the Zinc untile Rising Gas Yse Vigorousky Evolved", but never added "Don't Doe Thys Atte Home" or even "And Say Fare-Thee-Welle to Thy Eyebrows.

He said to people: you’re free. And they said hooray, and then he showed them what freedom costs and they called him a tyrant and, as soon as he’d been betrayed, they milled around a bit like barn-bred chickens who’ve seen the big world outside for the first time, and then they went back into the warm and shut the door...

He wanted one drink, and understood precisely why he wasn't going to have one. One drink ended up arriving in a dozen glasses.

If you were going to be successful in the world of crime, you needed a reputation for honesty.

In a well-organized world he might have landed on a fire escape, but the fire escapes were unknown in Ankh-Morpork and the flames generally had to leave via the roof.

I thought dwarfs loved gold," said Angua.

"They just say that to get it into bed.

It was Carrot who'd suggested to the Patrician that hardened criminals should be given the chance to 'serve the community' by redecorating the homes of the elderly, lending a new terror to old age and, given Ankh-Morpork's crime rate, leading to at least one old lady having her front room wallpapered so many times in six months that now she could only get in sideways.

It wasn't by eliminating the impossible that you got at the truth, however improbable; it was by the much harder process of eliminating the possibilities. You worked away, patiently asking questions and looking hard at things. You walked and talked, and in your heart you just hoped like hell that some bugger's nerve'd crack and he'd give himself up.

Just because someone's a member of an ethnic minority doesn't mean they're not a nasty small-minded little jerk.

No it's not!" said Constable Visit. "Atheism is a denial of a god."

"Therefore It Is A Religious Position," said Dorfl. "Indeed, A True Atheist Thinks Of The Gods Constantly, Albeit In Terms of Denial. Therefore, Atheism Is A Form Of Belief. If The Atheist Truly Did Not Believe, He Or She Would Not Bother To Deny.

Oh, good grief," said Vimes. "Look, it's quite simple, man. I was expected to go "At last, alcohol!", and chugalug the lot without thinking. Then some respectable pillars of the community" - he removed the cigar from his mouth and spat - "were going to find me, in your presence, too - which was a nice touch - with the evidence of my crime neatly hidden but not so well hidden that they couldn't find it." He shook his head sadly. "The trouble is, you know, that once the taste's got you it never lets go."

"But you've been very good, sir," said Carrot. "I've not seen you touch a drop for -"

"Oh, that," said Vimes. "I was talking about policing, not alcohol. There's lots of people will help you with the alcohol business, but there's no one out there arranging little meetings where you can stand up and say, "My name is Sam and I'm a really suspicious bastard.

People look down on stuff like geography and meteorology, and not only because they're standing on one and being soaked by the other. They don't look quite like real science. But geography is only physics slowed down and with a few trees stuck on it, and meteorology is full of excitingly fashionable chaos and complexity. And summer isn't a time. It's a place as well. Summer is a moving creature and likes to go south for the winter.

Royalty was like dandelions. No matter how many heads you chopped off, the roots were still there underground, waiting to spring up again.

It seemed to be a chronic disease. It was as if even the most intelligent person had this little blank spot in their heads where someone had written: "Kings. What a good idea." Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw. It was its tendency to bend at the knees.

Samuel Vimes dreamed about Clues. He had a jaundiced view of Clues. He instinctively distrusted them. They got in the way. And he distrusted the kind of person who’d take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, “Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fallen on hard times,” and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man’s boots, when exactly the same comments could apply to a man who was wearing his old clothes because he’d been doing a spot of home bricklaying for a new barbecue pit, and had been tattooed once when he was drunk and seventeen* and in fact got seasick on a wet pavement. What arrogance! What an insult to the rich and chaotic variety of the human experience!

The real world was far too real to leave neat little hints. It was full of too many things. It wasn’t by eliminating the impossible that you got at the truth, however improbable; it was by the much harder process of eliminating the possibilities.

There’s lots of people will help you with alcohol business, but there’s no one out there arranging little meetings where you can stand up and say, ‘My name is Sam Vimes and I’m a really suspicious bastard.

There were no public health laws in Ankh-Morpork. It would be like installing smoke detectors in Hell.

These were dangerous thoughts, he knew. They were the kind that crept up on a Watchman when the chase was over and it was just you and him, facing one another in that breathless little pinch between the crime and the punishment.
And maybe a Watchman had seen civilization with the skin ripped off one time too many and stopped acting like a Watchman and started acting like a normal human being and realized that the click of the crossbow or the sweep of the sword would make all the world so clean.
And you couldn’t think like that, even about vampires. Even though they’d take the lives of other people because little lives don’t matter and what the hell can we take away from them?
And, too, you couldn’t think like that because they gave you a sword and a badge and that turned you into something else and that had to mean there were some thoughts you couldn’t think.
Only crimes could take place in darkness. Punishment had to be done in the light. That was the job of a good Watchman, Carrot always said. To light a candle in the dark.

Two uniformed trolls were standing in front of Sergeant Colon's high desk, with a slightly smaller troll between them. This troll was wearing a slightly downcast expression. It was also wearing a tutu and had a small pair of gauzed wings glued to its back.

" - happen to know that trolls don't have any tradition of a Tooth Fairy," Colon was saying. "Especially not one called' - he looked down - "Clinkerbell. So how about we just call it breaking and entering without a Thieves' Guild license?"

"Is racial prejudice, not letting trolls have a Tooth Fairy," Clinkerbell muttered.

One of the troll guards upended a sack on the desk. Various items of silverwear cascaded over the paperwork.

"And this is what you found under their pillows, was it?" said Colon.

"Bless dere little hearts," said Clinkerbell.

Vimes struggled to his feet, shook his head and set off after it. No thought was involved. It is the ancient instinct of terriers and policemen to chase anything that runs away.

Vimes took the view that life was so full of things happening erraticaly in all directions, that the chance of any of them making some kind of relevant sense were remote in the extreme.

Whoever had created humanity had left in a major design flaw.
It was its tendency to bend at the knees.

WORDS IN THE HEART CANNOT BE TAKEN.

You are in favour of the common people?” said Dragon mildly.
The common people?” said Vimes. “They’re nothing special. They’re no different from the rich and powerful except they’ve got no money or power. But the law should be there to balance things up a bit. So I suppose I’ve got to be on their side.

You couldn't say 'I had orders.' You couldn't say 'It's not fair.' No one was listening. There were no Words. You owned yourself. [...] Not 'Thou Shalt Not'. Say 'I Will Not'.