I Shall Wear Midnight

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

Book: I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terry Pratchett
helmet, hoping that by now it was cool enough to hold. ‘I will have to make certain I knock the dent out of it before the boss sees it,’ he began. ‘You know what a stickler he is for smartness … Oh.’ He stared down at the ground.
    ‘Yes,’ said Tiffany, as kindly as she could. ‘It’s going to take a bit of getting used to, isn’t it?’ Wordlessly, she handed him her hand-kerchief, and he blew his nose.
    ‘But you can take away pain,’ he began, ‘so does that mean you can …?’
    Tiffany held up a hand. ‘Stop right there,’ she said. ‘I know what you’re going to ask, and the answer is no. If you chopped your hand off I could probably make you forget about it until you tried to eat your dinner, but things like loss, grief and sadness? I can’t do that. I wouldn’t dare meddle with them. There is something called “the soothings”, and I know only one person in the world who can do that, and I’m not even going to ask her to teach me. It’s too deep.’
    ‘Tiff …’ Brian hesitated and looked around as though he expected the nurse to appear and prod him from behind again.
    Tiffany waited. Please don’t ask, she thought. You’ve known me all your life. You can’t possibly think …
    Brian looked at her pleadingly. ‘ Did you … take anything?’ His voice tailed off.
    ‘No, of course not,’ Tiffany said. ‘What maggot’s got into your head? How could you think such a thing?’
    ‘Dunno,’ said Brian, flushing with embarrassment.
    ‘Well, that’s all right then.’
    ‘I suppose I had better make sure the young master knows,’ said Brian after another good nose-blow, ‘but all I know is that he’s gone to the big city with his—’ He stopped again, embarrassed.
    ‘With his fiancée,’ said Tiffany determinedly. ‘You can say it out loud, you know.’
    Brian coughed. ‘Well, you see, we thought … well, we all thought that you and him were, well, you know …’
    ‘We have always been friends,’ said Tiffany, ‘and that’s all there is to it.’
    She felt sorry for Brian, even though he too often opened his mouth before he got it attached to his brain, so she patted him on the shoulder. ‘Look, why don’t I fly down to the big city and find him?’
    He almost melted with relief. ‘Would you do that?’
    ‘Of course. I can see you have a lot to do here, and it will take a load off your mind.’
    Admittedly it will put the load on mine, she thought as she hurried away through the castle. The news had spread. People were standing around, crying or just looking bewildered. The cook ran up to her just as she was leaving. ‘What am I to do? I’ve got the poor soul’s dinner on the stove!’
    ‘Then take it off and give it to someone who needs a good dinner,’ said Tiffany briskly. It was important to keep her tone cool and busy. The people were in shock. She would be too, when she had the time, but right at this moment it was important to bounce people back into the world of the here and now.
    ‘Listen to me, all of you,’ and her voice echoed around the big hall. ‘Yes, your baron is dead but you still have a baron! He will be heresoon with his … lady, and you must have this place spotless for them! You all know your jobs! Get on with them! And remember him kindly and clean the place up for his sake.’
    It worked. It always did. A voice that sounded as if its owner knew what she was doing could get things done, especially if its owner was wearing a pointy black hat. There was a sudden rush of activity.
    ‘I suppose you think you’ve got away with it, do you?’ said a voice behind her.
    Tiffany waited a moment before turning round, and when she did turn round, she was smiling. ‘Why, Miss Spruce,’ she said, ‘are you still here? Well, perhaps there are some floors that need scrubbing?’
    The nurse was a vision of fury. ‘I do not scrub floors, you arrogant little—’
    ‘No, you don’t scrub anything, do you, Miss Spruce? I’ve noticed that! Now,

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