Hrrr na ně!
The bakery thieves considered their options.
'I've got my hand on my crossbow,' said the most enterprising of the three.
The most realistic said, 'Have you? Well, I've got my heart in my mouth.'
'Ooo,' said the third. ‘I’ve got a weak heart, me . . .'
'Yeah, but what I mean is ... he's not even wearing a sword. If I take the wolf, the two of you should be able to deal with him with no trouble, right?'
The one clear thinker looked at Captain Carrot. His armour shone. So did the muscles on his bare arms. Even his knees gleamed.
'It seems to me that we have a bit of an impasse, or stand-off,' said Captain Carrot.
'How about if we throw down the money?' said the clear thinker.
'That would certainly help matters,'
'And you'd let us go?'
'No. But it would definitely count in your favour and I would certainly speak up on your behalf.'
The bold one with the crossbow licked his lips and glanced from Carrot to the wolf. 'If you set it on us, I warn you, someone's going to get killed!' he warned.
'Yes, it could happen,' said Carrot, sadly. 'I'd prefer to avoid that, if at all possible.'
He raised his hands. There was something flat and round and about six inches across in each one. 'This,' he said, 'is dwarf bread. Some of Mr Ironcrust's best. It's not classic battle bread, of course, but it's probably good enough for slicing . . .'
Carrot's arm blurred. There was a brief flurry of sawdust, and the flat loaf spun to a stop half-way through the thick timbers of the cart and about half an inch away from the man with the weak heart and, as it turned out, a fragile bladder, too.
The man with the crossbow tore his attention away from the bread only when he felt a slight, damp pressure on his wrist.
There was no way that an animal could have moved that fast, but there it was, and the wolfs expression contrived to indicate very calmly that if the animal so desired the pressure could be increased more or less indefinitely.
'Call it off!' he said, flinging the bow away with his free hand. Tell it to let go!'
'Oh, I never tell her anything,' said Carrot. 'She makes up her own mind.'
There was a clatter of iron-shod boots and half a dozen axe-bearing dwarfs raced out of the bakery gates, kicking up sparks as they skidded to a halt beside Carrot.
'Get them!' shouted Mr Ironcrust. Carrot dropped a hand on top of the dwarfs helmet and turned him around.
'It's me, Mr Ironcrust,' he said. 'I believe these are the men?'
'Right you are, Captain Carrot!' said the dwarf baker. 'C'mon, lads! Let's hang 'em up by the bura'zak-ka'
'Ooo,' murmured the weak of heart, damply.
'Now, now, Mr Ironcrust,' said Carrot patiently. 'We don't practise that punishment in Ankh-Morpork. '
'Ooo,' murmured the weak of heart, damply.
'Now, now, Mr Ironcrust,' said Carrot patiently. 'We don't practise that punishment in Ankh-Morpork.'
'They bashed Bjorn Tightbritches senseless! And they kicked Olaf Stronginthearm in the bad'dhakz!
We'll cut their—'
The dwarf baker hesitated and then, to the amazement and relief of the thieves, took a step backwards. 'Yeah ... all right, Captain Carrot. If you say so.'
'I have business elsewhere, but I would be grateful if you would take them and turn them over to the Thieves' Guild,' said Carrot.
The quick thinker went pale. 'Oh, no! They get really intense about unlicensed thieving! Anything but the Thieves'Guild!'
Carrot turned. The light caught his face in a certain way. 'Anything?' he said.
The unlicensed thieves looked at one another, and then all spoke at once.
'The Thieves' Guild. Fine. No problem.'
'We like the Thieves' Guild.'
'Can't wait. Thieves' Guild, here I come.'
'Fine body of men.'
'Firm but fair.'
'Good,' said Carrot. Then everyone's happy. Oh, yes.' He dug into his money pouch. 'Here's five pence for the loaf, Mr Ironcrust. I've handled the other one, but you should be able to sand it off with no trouble.'
The dwarf blinked at the coins. ' You want to pay me for saving my money?' he said.
'As a tax payer you are entitled to the protection of the Watch,' said Carrot.
There was a delicate pause. Mr Ironcrust stared at his feet. One or two of the other dwarfs started to snigger.
‘I’ll tell you what,' said Carrot, in a kindly voice, ‘I’ll come round when I get a moment and help you fill in the forms, how about that?'
A thief broke the embarrassed silence.
'Er. . . could your. . . little dog... let go of my arm, please?'
The wolf released its grip, jumped down and padded over to Carrot, who raised his hand to his helmet respectfully.
'Good day to you all,' he said, and strode away.