There was an old joke in Ankh-Morpork, usually told when discussion turned- as it so often did- to the matter of the Patrician’s personal life. The joke was that he visited Lady Ramkin every Thursday to treat himself to a Tuppenny Upright.
This was, in fact, entirely true.
Unlike the majority of the city’s gossip about its generally-benevolent tyrant, there was more than a little evidence for this. He’d been seen stepping down from his carriage and into her house on Scoone Avenue for years, always on a Thursday, and always at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Remarkably, despite Lady Ramkin’s marriage to a man who was a) generally not fond of other aristocrats and b) the angriest man in the whole of the Sto Plains, these appointments had continued.
(At this point, it should probably be acknowledged that a Tuppenny Upright was a local slang term for a particularly sticky kind of doughnut. Many a visitor to Lord Vetinari’s fine(ish) city had ventured into the more infamous parts of town and been sadly disappointed on receiving a jam doughnut- or, on occasion, something that was Decidedly Not A Jam Doughnut, though that was only a disappointment if you were really hungry.)
On this particular Thursday afternoon, Lord Vetinari could be found in Lady Sybil’s slightly pink drawing room. The thought occurred to Sybil that he looked rather like someone had tried to give a crow a bubble bath- all angles and black pointy bits, surrounded by a sea of pink fluff. She decided against mentioning it; he’d overheard Mustrum Ridcully calling him a flamingo the previous week and she wasn’t entirely sure he’d recovered yet.
“Havelock,” said Sybil as she poured two cups of tea, “whatever happened to that young lady you tried to hire for your kitchens?”
“Miss Sugarbean? She turned me down- she wanted to travel, apparently. I believe she’s going back to the University night kitchen on her return.” Vetinari picked up a biscuit and stared at it gloomily. “I have to say, I am rather disappointed about not getting any more of those pies.”
Sybil smiled to herself. “You and Sam have been spending too much time together- I never would have expected you to be the one pining after a pie made by a girl from Dolly Sisters.”
Vetinari frowned, breaking off a piece of his biscuit for Mr Fusspot. “You seem to know an awful lot about this.”
“Of course I do,” said Sybil. “I write to Margolotta nearly as often as you do.”
Vetinari sighed, a little more dramatically than was strictly necessary, and pointed a shard of biscuit at Sybil in a mildly threatening manner. “Do you know, Sybil, sometimes I think the two of you are plotting against me.”
“Don’t be silly, Havelock. If we were plotting against you we’d be running half the disc by now.”
“Yes,” said Vetinari drily. “I believe you.”
“Good. Now stop playing with your food and get it eaten. I know it’s not one of young Glenda’s creations but I’m sure you can still bear to finish it.”
But Sybil just laughed, and laughed all the harder when Mr Fusspot ate the remains of the biscuit right out of his master’s hand.
“It’s not that funny,” said Vetinari.
“It is,” said Sybil. “You’re being terribly melodramatic about it all- are you sure she only turned you down for a job offer?”
Vetinari almost choked on a mouthful of cake. “I beg your pardon?”
“I’m just saying, Havelock, she seems like your type- short and capable and prone to shouting.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said the Patrician, taking a sip of tea.
“Oh? Does the lack of a Watch uniform put you off?” Vetinari glared at Sybil, but she continued merrily. “Don’t think I don’t remember what you were like when we were sixteen,” she said, and began to mimic his voice with disturbing accuracy. “Sergeant Keel said this, Sergeant Keel did that, Sergeant Keel smells like leather and good cigars…”
“Stop it,” said Vetinari, though he was smiling now. “As I recall, you were no better.”
Sybil shrugged. “I always did like a man in uniform. Did I ever tell you I threatened him with a sword?”
“You did not,” said Vetinari. He scooped Mr Fusspot up into his arms and fixed his full attention on his friend. “Tell me everything immediately.”