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Making Money
by
Terry Pratchett

Terry Pratchett

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Making Money

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fantasy

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Making Money

Copyright © 2007 by Terry and Lyn Pratchett

Chapter 1 When parties are interested in unprepossessing land, it might just pay for smaller parties to buy up any neighboring plots, just in case the party of the first part had heard something, possibly at a party.

“Perhaps you could assuage my curiosity, madam?” he said. “Since the ink is drying on the lease?”

Miss Dearheart looked around the room conspiratorially, as if the heavy old bookcases concealed a multitude of ears.

“Can you keep a secret, Mr. Blister?”

“Oh, indeed, madam. Indeed!”

She looked around cautiously.

“Even so, this should be said quietly,” she hissed.

He nodded hopefully, leaned forward, and for the first time in many years felt a woman’s breath in his ear:

So can I,” she said.

Topic:

Secrets

Some of the things you could learn up a drainpipe at night were surprising. For example, people paid attention to small sounds—the click of a window catch, the clink of a lock pick—more than they did to big sounds, like a brick falling into the street or even (for this was, after all, Ankh-Morpork) a scream.

These were loud sounds, which were, therefore, public sounds, which, in turn, meant they were everyone’s problem and, therefore, not mine. But small sounds were nearby and suggested such things as stealth betrayed, and were, therefore, pressing and personal.

It was only an hour before dawn. He’d never get to sleep again. He might as well arise formally and enhance a reputation for keenness.

Topic:

Fakin’ it

It had come to this. He was a responsible authority, and people could use terms like “core values” at him with impunity.

Topic:

Authority

What harm can it do to find out? It’s a question that left bruises down the centuries, even more than “It can’t hurt if I only take one” and “It’s all right if you only do it standing up.”

“But I don’t know anything about running a bank!”

“Good. No preconceived ideas.”

“I’ve robbed banks!”

“Capital! Just reverse your thinking,” said Lord Vetinari, beaming. “The money should be on the inside.”

Why do they always build banks to look like temples, despite the fact that several major religions (a) are canonically against what they do inside and (b) bank there?

It would be hard to imagine an uglier building that hadn’t won a major architectural award.

Topic:

Architecture

Chapter 2

“I read somewhere that the coins represent a promise to hand over a dollar’s worth of gold,” said Moist helpfully.

Mr. Bent steepled his hands in front of his face and turned his eyes upward, as though praying.

“In theory, yes,” he said after a few moments. “I would prefer to say that it is a tacit understanding that we will honor our promise to exchange it for a dollar’s worth of gold, provided we are not, in point of fact, asked to.”

“So . .  it’s really not a promise?”

“It certainly is, sir, in financial circles. It is, you see, about trust.”

“You mean, trust us, we’ve got a big expensive building?”

Topic:

Money

He’d forgotten the ancient wisdom: take care, when you are closely observing, that you are not closely observed.

“Isn’t the fornication wonderful?”

After quite a lengthy pause, Moist ventured, “Is it?”

“Don’t you think so? There’s more here than anywhere else in the city, I’m told.”

“Really?” said Moist, looking around nervously. “Er . . . do you have to come down here at some special time?”

“Well, during banking hours usually, but we let groups in by appointment.”

“You know,” said Moist, “I think this conversation has somehow got away from me . . .”

Bent waved vaguely at the ceiling.

“I refer to the wonderful vaulting,” he said. “The word derives from fornix, meaning ‘arch’.”

“Ah! Yes? Right!” said Moist. “You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if not many people knew that.”

Topic:

Sesquipedality

Chapter 3

Too late, he saw the signs. Hubert grasped the lapels of his jacket, as if addressing a meeting, and swelled with the urge to communicate, or at least talk at length in the belief that it was the same thing.

Topic:

Rhetoric

Whoever said you can’t fool an honest man wasn’t one.
They were indeed what was known as “old money,” which meant that it had been made so long ago that the black deeds which had originally filled the coffers were now historically irrelevant. Funny, that: a brigand for a father was something you kept quiet about, but a slave-taking pirate for a great-great-great-grandfather was something to boast of over the port. Time turned the evil bastards into rogues, and rogue was a word with a twinkle in its eye and nothing to be ashamed of.

It wasn’t that he wasn’t good at delegating. He was extremely good at delegating. But the talent requires people on the other end of the chain to be good at being delegated onto.

Topic:

Bureaucracy

Chapter 4

On a desert island gold is worthless. Food gets you through times of no gold much better than gold gets you through times of no food. If it comes to that, gold is worthless in a gold mine, too. The medium of exchange in a gold mine is the pickax.

Topic:

Economics

It was a dream, but Moist was good at selling dreams. And if you could sell the dream to enough people, no one dared to wake up.

Topic:

Dreams

Don’t let me detain you. What a wonderful phrase Vetinari had devised. The jangling double meaning set up undercurrents of uneasiness in the most innocent of minds. The man had found ways of bloodless tyranny that put the rack to shame.

Chapter 5

Moist had always been careful about disguises. A mustache that could come off at a tug had no place in his life. But since he had the world’s most forgettable face, a face that was still a face in the crowd even when it was by itself, it helped, sometimes, to give people something to tell the Watch about. Spectacles were an obvious choice, but Moist achieved very good results with his own design of nose and ear wigs. Show a man a pair of ears that small songbirds had apparently nested in, watch the polite horror in his eyes, and you could be certain that would be all he would remember.

Topic:

Disguise

That was the trouble with slow people. Give him a fool any day. Slow people took some time to catch up, but when they did they rolled right over you.
“When you know you’ve got enemies at large, never, ever get in the first cab. Fact of life. Even things what live under rocks know it.”
Pucci stood ignored and steaming with rage for a while and then flounced out. It was a good flounce, too. She had no idea how to handle people and she tried to make self-esteem do the work of self-respect, but the girl could flounce better than a fat turkey on a trampoline.

“Do good by stealth, that is my watchword.” It’ll get found out soon enough, he added to himself, and then I’m not only a jolly good chap but a decently modest one, too.

I wonder . . . am I really a bastard or am I just really good at thinking like one?

“Why are you always in such a hurry, Mr. Lipwig?”

“Because people don’t like change. But make the change happen fast enough and you go from one type of normal to another.”

Chapter 6

Every Assassin knew that real black often stood out in the dark, because the night in the city is usually never full black, and that gray or dark green merge much better. But they wore black anyway, because style trumps utility every time.

“You forgot to take the cap off. It’s the kind of mistake amateurs always make!”

Owlswick hesitated, and then said, “You mean there’s people who commit suicide professionally?”

Topic:

Suicide

Chapter 7

Mavolio Bent had a definition of “silly” that most people would have considered a touch on the broad side. Laughter was silly. Theatricals, poetry, and music were silly. Clothes that weren’t gray, black, or at least of undyed cloth were silly. Pictures of things that weren’t real were silly (pictures of things that were real were unnecessary). The ground state of being was silliness, which had to be overcome with every mortal fiber.

Missionaries from the stricter religions would have found in Mavolio Bent an ideal convert, except that religion was extremely silly.

He was not naturally at ease in the presence of skulls. Humans have been genetically programmed not to be, ever since monkey times, because (a) whatever turned that skull into a skull might still be around and you should head for a tree now, and (b) skulls look like they’re having a laugh at one’s expense.
[...] I belong to a small group of ladies who run, well, a god-of-the-month club. Er . . . that is, we pick a god and believe in him . . . or her, obviously, or it, although we draw the line at the ones with teeth and too many legs, er, and foreign ones, of course, and then we pray to them for a month and then we sit down and discuss it.”

Topic:

Gods

Chapter 8 Plans can break down. You cannot plan the future. Only presumptuous fools plan. The wise man steers.
Chapter 9 “When a man is legging it for the horizon with as much gold as he can carry he doesn’t worry much about what his old job was.”

Topic:

Criminals

The price of a good woman was proverbially above rubies, so a skillfully bad one was worth presumably a lot more.
Chapter 11

He was a great believer in letting a thousand voices be heard, because this meant that all he actually needed to do was listen only to the ones that had anything useful to say, “useful” in this case being defined in the classic civil-service way as “inclining to my point of view.” In his experience, it was a number generally smaller than ten. The people who wanted a thousand, etc., really meant that they wanted their own voice to be heard while the other nine hundred and ninety-nine were ignored, and for this purpose the gods had invented the committee. Vetinari was very good at committees, especially when Drumknott took the minutes. What the iron maiden was to stupid tyrants, the committee was to Lord Vetinari; it was only slightly more expensive,* far less messy, considerably more efficient, and, best of all, you had to force people to climb inside the iron maiden.

* The only real expense was tea and biscuits halfway through, which seldom happened with the iron maiden.

Topic:

Committees

“Even tyrants have to obey the law.” He paused, looking thoughtful, and continued, “No, I tell a lie, tyrants do not have to obey the law, obviously, but they do have to observe the niceties. At least, I do.”

Topic:

Tyrants

Chapter 13 [...] the severe, tight, and ostensibly modest dresses she wore left everything to the imagination, which is much more inflammatory than leaving nothing. Speculation is always more interesting than facts.

text checked (see note) Jan 2008

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