Maskerade

Maskerade by Terry Pratchett

Book: Maskerade by Terry Pratchett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Terry Pratchett
it started again, a few minutes later, he hadn’t come back.
    “Well, well,” said Granny, as they lurched away again, “it seems there’s just you and me, Gytha. And Señor Basilica, who doesn’t speak our language. Does he, Mr. Henry Slugg?”
    Henry Slugg took out a handkerchief and wiped his forehead. “Ladies! Dear ladies! I beg you, for pity’s sake…”
    “Have you done anything bad, Mr. Slugg?” said Nanny. “Took advantage of women who dint want to be took advantage of? Stole? (Apart from lead on roofs and other stuff people wouldn’t miss.) Done any murders of anyone who dint deserve it?”
    “No!”
    “He tellin’ the truth, Esme?”
    Henry writhed under Granny Weatherwax’s stare.
    “Yes.”
    “Oh, well, that’s all right, then,” said Nanny. “I understand . I don’t have to pay taxes myself, but I know all about people not wantin’ to.”
    “Oh, it’s not that, I assure you,” said Henry. “I have people to pay my taxes for me…”
    “That’s a good trick,” said Nanny.
    “Mr. Slugg’s got a different trick,” said Granny. “I reckon I know the trick. It’s like sugar and water.”
    Henry waved his hands uncertainly. “It’s just that if they knew…” he began.
    “Everything’s better if it comes from a long way away. That’s the secret,” said Granny.
    “It’s…yes, that’s part of it,” said Henry. “I mean, no one wants to listen to a Slugg.”
    “Where’re you from, Henry?” said Nanny.
    “ Really from,” said Granny.
    “I grew up in Rookery Yard in the Shades. They’re in Ankh-Morpork,” said Henry. “It was a terrible rough place. There were only three ways out. You could sing your way out or you could fight your way out.”
    “What was the third way?” said Nanny.
    “Oh, you could go down that little alleyway into Shamlegger Street and then cut down into Treacle Mine Road,” said Henry. “But no one ever amounted to anything who went that way.”
    He sighed. “I made a few coppers singing in taverns and such like,” he said, “but when I tried for anything better they said ‘What is your name?’ and I said ‘Henry Slugg’ and they’d laugh. I thought of changing my name, but everyone in Ankh-Morpork knew who I was. And no one wanted to listen to anyone called plain Henry Slugg.”
    Nanny nodded. “It’s like with conjurers,” she said. “They’re never called Fred Wossname. It’s always something like The Great Astoundo, Fresh From the Court of the King of Klatch, and Gladys.”
    “And everyone takes notice,” said Granny, “and are always careful not to ask themselves: if he’s come from the King of Klatch, why’s he doing card tricks here in Slice, population seven.”
    “The trick is to make sure that everywhere you go, you are from somewhere else,” said Henry. “And then I was famous, but…”
    “You’d got stuck as Enrico,” said Granny.
    He nodded. “I was only going to do it to make some money. I was going to come back and marry my little Angeline—”
    “Who was she?” said Granny.
    “Oh, a girl I grew up with,” said Henry, vaguely.
    “Sharing the same gutter in the back streets of Ankh-Morpork, kind of thing?” said Nanny, in an understanding voice.
    “Gutter? In those days you had to put your name down and wait five years for a gutter,” said Henry. “We thought people in gutters were nobs . We shared a drain. With two other families. And a man who juggled eels.”
    He sighed. “But I moved on, and then there was always somewhere else to go, and they liked me in Brindisi…and…and…”
    He blew his nose on the handkerchief, carefully folded it up, and produced another one from his pocket.
    “I don’t mind the pasta and the squid,” he said. “Well, not much…But you can’t get a decent pint for love nor money and they put olive oil on everything and tomatoes give me a rash and there isn’t what I’d call a good hard cheese in the whole country.”
    He dabbed at his face with the

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