Going Postal

Terry Pratchett

Arch-swindler Moist Van Lipwig never believed his confidence crimes were hanging offenses - until he found himself with a noose tightly around his neck, dropping through a trapdoor, and falling into... a government job?

 
Have read a bunch of times. Finished again May 21, 2020.

They say that the prospect of being hanged in the morning concentrates a man’s mind wonderfully; unfortunately, what the mind inevitably concentrates on is that it is in a body that, in the morning, is going to be hanged.

‘Look,’ said Moist, ‘I don’t know what’s happening here, but I don’t know anything about delivering post!’
‘Mr Moist, this morning you had no experience at all of being dead, and yet but for my intervention you would nevertheless have turned out to be extremely good at it,’ said Lord Vetinari sharply. ‘It just goes to show: you never know until you try.’

‘Now … will you take the job? No one will recognize you, I am sure. No one ever recognizes you, it would appear.’
Moist shrugged. ‘Oh, all right. Of course, I accept as natural born criminal, habitual liar, fraudster and totally untrustworthy perverted genius.’
‘Capital! Welcome to government service!’ said Lord Vetinari, extending his hand.

There is a saying ‘You can’t fool an honest man’ which is much quoted by people who make a profitable living by fooling honest men.

‘Additional instructions?’ said Moist. ‘And would you mind telling me exactly what his additional instructions are?’
‘Yes.’ The Patrician blew a speck of dust off a little stone troll and put it on its square.
‘And?’ said Moist, after a pause.
Vetinari sighed. ‘Yes, I would mind telling you exactly what they are.’

Stanley looked round at the golem, who was right behind him. It was astonishing how quickly a golem could move; he’d crossed the floor like a shadow and now stood with one still fist raised like the wrath of gods.
‘Oh, I didn’t see you standing there, Mr Pump,’ said Stanley cheerfully. ‘Why is your hand up?’
The holes in the golem’s face bathed the boy in red light. ‘I … Wanted To Ask The Postmaster A Question?’ said the golem slowly.

‘And young Toliver there, you made him happy when you put the sign back. Got him excited. Made him think it’d work this time. It never does, though, ‘cos this place is curséd.’
‘That’s cursed with an extra ed?’
‘Yes, sir. The worst kind.’

‘What happened to my clothes?’ he said. ‘I’m sure I hung them neatly on the floor.’
‘I Did In Fact Try To Clean Your Suit With Spot Remover, Sir,’ said Mr Pump. ‘But Since It Was Effectively Just One Large Spot, It Removed The Whole Suit.’

They all wore uniforms, although since no two uniforms were exactly alike they were not, in fact, uniform and therefore not technically uniforms.

It was a wizard’s study, so of course had the skull with a candle in it and a stuffed crocodile hanging from the ceiling. No one, least of all wizards, knows why this is, but you have to have them.

Books were a closed book to Moist.

Moist was sure doctors kept skeletons around to cow patients. Nyer, nyer, we know what you look like underneath

On the other side of the desk, a Dr Lawn – he had his name on a plate on his desk, because doctors are very busy and can’t remember everything – looked up from his notes on Tolliver Groat.

‘He says it clears the tubes.’
‘Good heavens, I’m sure it does. Does he smoke at all?’
Moist considered this. ‘No-o. It looks more like steam,’ he said.

It was cramped in the pigeon loft, from which pigeons had, in fact, been barred. But there’s always one pigeon that can bite through wire netting. It watched them from the corner with mad little eyes, its genes remembering the time it had been a giant reptile that could have taken these sons of monkeys to the cleaners in one mouthful.

It was a little like stealing. It was exactly like stealing. It was, in fact, stealing.

There are times when you just have to miss a night’s sleep. But Ankh-Morpork never slept; the city never did more than doze, and would wake up around 3 a.m. for a glass of water.

Ponder looked at his clipboard. ‘There’s a polite letter from Lord Vetinari asking on behalf of the city whether the University might consider including in its intake, oh, twenty-five per cent of less able students, sir?’
Ridcully potted the black, through a heap of university directives.
‘Can’t have a bunch of grocers and butchers telling a university how to run itself, Stibbons!’ he said firmly, lining up on a red. ‘Thank them for their interest and tell them we’ll continue to take one hundred per cent of complete and utter dullards, as usual.’

‘That’s Devious Collabone, sir. He’s out studying Oyster Communications in a Low Intensity Magical Field for his B.Thau.’
‘Good gods, can they communicate?’ said Ridcully.
‘Apparently, Archchancellor, although thus far they’re refusing to talk to him.’

‘Why the helmet?’ said Moist.
‘It’s a disguise,’ said Alex.
‘A big horned helmet?’
‘Yes. It makes me so noticeable that no one will suspect I’m trying not to be noticed, so they won’t bother to notice me.’
‘Only a very intelligent man would think of something like that,’ said Moist carefully.

‘Did you get some guards?’
‘Four of them, Mr Lipwig,’ Jim announced. ‘Lying low inside. Men of repute and integrity. Known ‘em since we were lads: Nosher Harry, Skullbreaker Tapp, Grievous Bodily Harmsworth and Joe “No Nose” Tozer.’

Moist slipped in unnoticed, for now, because people were watching the University’s biggest omniscope.
Archchancellor Ridcully thumped the side of the thing with his hand, causing it to rock.
‘It’s still not working, Mr Stibbons!’ he bellowed. ‘Here’s that damn enormous fiery eye again!’

The Great Hall was in uproar. Most of the wizards took the opportunity to congregate at the buffet, which was now clear. If there’s one thing a wizard hates, it’s having to wait while the person in front of them is in two minds about coleslaw. It’s a salad bar, they say, it’s got the kind of stuff salad bars have, if it was surprising it wouldn’t be a salad bar, you’re not here to look at it. What do you expect to find? Rhino chunks? Picked coelacanth?