‘Well, at least we can agree on Truth, Freedom and Justice, yes?’
There was a chorus of nods. Everyone wanted those. They didn’t cost anything.
A match flared in the dark, and they turned to see Vimes light a cigar.
‘You’d like Freedom, Truth and Justice, wouldn’t you, comrade sergeant?’ said Reg encouragingly.
‘I’d like a hard-boiled egg,’ said Vimes, shaking the match out.
There was some nervous laughter, but Reg looked offended.
‘In the circumstances, sergeant, I think we should set our sights a little higher—’
‘Well, yes, we could,’ said Vimes, coming down the steps. He glanced at the sheets of paper in front of Reg. The man cared. He really did. And he was serious. He really was. ‘But… well, Reg, tomorrow the sun will come up again, and I’m pretty sure that whatever happens we won’t have found Freedom, and there won’t be a whole lot of Justice, and I’m damn sure we won’t have found Truth. But it’s just possible that I might get a hard-boiled egg. What’s this all about, Reg?’
‘The People’s Republic of Treacle Mine Road!’ said Reg proudly. ‘We are forming a government!’
‘But, look,’ said one of the soldiers. ‘I don’t know half the men here. If we’re going to close in, we want to know who’s on our side…’
‘That’s right, hnah,’ said Snouty. ‘I mean, some of them chasing us was watchmen!’
Vimes raised his eyes. The wide alley in front of them, known as Lobsneaks, stretched all the way to Cable Street. It was lined with gardens, and there were purple flowers on the bushes. The morning air smelled of lilac.
‘I recall a battle once,’ said Dickins, looking up at a tree. ‘In history, it was. And there was this company, see, and they was a ragtag of different squads and all covered in mud in any case, and they found themselves hiding in a field of carrots. So as a badge they all pulled up carrots and stuck them on their helmets, so’s they’d know who their friends were and incidentally have a nourishing snack for later, which is never to be sneezed at on a battlefield.’
‘Well? So what?’ said Dibbler.
‘So what’s wrong with a lilac flower?’ said Dickins, reaching up and pulling down a laden branch.
‘Makes a spanking plume, even if you can’t eat it…’
And now, Vimes thought, it ends.
…see the little angels rise up high…