Chapter Six: If It Looks Like a Duck

"I make the tea." - Magrat Garlick, Queen of Lancre

In Lancre Castle, Tracie Ogg was taking tea with her old friend, Magrat Garlick. They'd not been close as children—Magrat had always been much more interested in what Nanny Ogg was doing than in playing in the mud with Tracie and the others—but with age and maturity had come a casual friendship of the kind that served tea and biscuits on the balcony, looking out over the little village and down to the river and the forest.[1]

"Have you heard from your eldest girl recently?" Magrat asked. "News from Ankh-Morpork seems slower these days."

Tracie shook her head. "Not for nearly a month now," she replied, "and that was only a brief note to say she'd started work in this High Energy Magic place, and not to worry about her. I expect she's absolutely wrapped up in work at the moment."

"I hear they're doing lots of interesting things there," Magrat agreed, and stared out over the Kingdom of Lancre.

The Kingdom of Lancre wasn't doing anything very interesting and she started to turn away from the window when something caught her eye, and she gasped. "What's that? People—on horses—and…"

"A giant," Tracie Ogg observed.

"It looks like it, but—"

"My Mam used to say, if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, then it probably is an aquatic bird," Tracie said. "And to my mind, that there looks like a giant, and—" they paused to listen for a moment to the deep crashes as Dangre's feet knocked over the occasional tree, "it sounds like a giant."

"I think," Magrat said, "that we'd better go down and see who they are. And tell Verence about it."

* * *

"It's quite simple, really, Ponder," Draco was saying with a languid wave of his hand as they rode into view of Lancre Castle. "We burn the ore, send it through the prism, and get Rincewind's picture imps to record the colour.

 That should tell us exactly what's in there, and from that we can obtain lithium salts—lithium silicate, in this case, which should work."

"We're in Lancre," Gytha announced from the front of the party. "Draco, now would be your moment to start looking for rocks."

"Shouldn't we ask someone for permission?" asked Carrot.

Gytha shook her head. "It's only rocks—no one will miss them. Besides, I have a constitutional right to gather materials from the open hillsides."[2]

Draco glanced around, and replied, "I've been keeping my eyes open on the way up—some of the ones in the river valley looked possible, but I haven't seen any real granite outcrops."

"You are sure that granite is what you're looking for, aren't you?" Harry said anxiously.

"Yes, Harry, I am," Draco told him in his most patronising tone.

Ponder, having quickly learned the early signs of an argument, said quickly, "Which way now, Gytha?"

"We'll go into the village," Gytha replied, "leaving Dangre and a couple of guards out here somewhere. Some of you can go and find something to eat—and I'll stop by and see my mother briefly—while a small party, including Draco, goes on up to the moors to find a good bit of granite to test."

Draco snorted at this simplification, but Vimes nodded. "I'm sending a watchman up with them, too," he said. "No sense in someone getting hurt for lack of attention."

"I'll go, sir," Carrot said. "I know the moors round here pretty well—my great-grandfather had a mine underneath them, and I used to play up on the tops."

"Fine," Vimes said. "Draco, Carrot—anyone else for that party?"

"Me," Harry and Ponder said at the same time.

Vimes looked at them, and sighed. "Plenty of wizards, right. The Librarian, too?"


"Okay, then—"

"Ook eek ook?" the Librarian enquired.

"Yes, I expect they have fruit in the village. Gytha will be able to tell you," Ponder said, and then turned back towards Vimes.

"Okay," Vimes repeated. "Gytha, the Librarian, Rincewind, and Angua for the village—the turn's just ahead, we'll stop out here."

"Sir?" Gytha said, eyebrows raised.

"Reg, Dangre, and I will be stopping out here, in hopes of not scaring the citizens to death," Vimes replied.

"The Luggage will do that," Rincewind muttered sourly, aware that he wouldn't persuade it to stay outside the village if he went in.

There was a short period of confusion as they sorted themselves out; the Librarian had to dismount and climb onto Gytha's horse, Gytha and Carrot had to have an animated discussion about where the best rock was to be found, and Vimes had to issue firms orders to his watchmen, but eventually they were ready to split up. And nearly managed it—but two women, one dressed in black with a tall pointed hat, and the other in a green dress rather too young for her—came striding down the road.

"Gytha!" the women dressed in black shouted as soon as she recognised her, and ran to meet her daughter.

"Mam!" Gytha said, leaping off the horse and knocking the Librarian off as she went. "It's good to see you!" They exchanged fierce hugs.

The was another short confused scuffle, and then Gytha made the introductions. "Mam, Magrat, this is Commander Vimes, and Reg Shoe and Carrot and Angua—they're all part of the city's City Watch—and this is Professor Stibbons, who I told you about in my letter, and the Librarian, and these are Harry and Draco, and the giant is Dangre—they're all from a different world, and we're trying to get them home, and the man over there in the tatty purple robe is Rincewind, he's a wizard too. Everyone, this is my Mam, Tracie Ogg, and Magrat Garlick, who's Queen of Lancre, only she's also my godmother."

"Thank you," Vimes said, when it became obvious that Gytha had run out of breath if not things to say.

"So, you'll, err, be needing some help?" Magrat said.

The company nodded vigorously.

“What do you need?” she asked, dreading what the answer might be.

“Food would be nice,” Gytha told her, “and Draco wants granite, and… oh, the Librarian would like a banana…”

Magrat sighed, and slipped into her role as if it were a mantle. “On behalf of the kingdom of Lancre, welcome,” she stated, before relapsing back into plain Magrat Garlick. “Draco…” she paused, making sure she was looking at the right person, “if you want to find outcroppings of granite – I won’t ask why – head out onto the moors.”

“Yes, your majesty,” said Draco faintly, and Harry grinned to himself. Draco had spent his life dealing expertly with the nobility, aristocracy and landed gentry, but this was the first time he’d ever come face-to-face with a genuine monarch, and he was a little surprised by her genuineness.

“Magrat, please,” she said. “Ponder, Rincewind, welcome back. Librarian, it’s nice to see you again – Verence keeps a banana palm in one of the greenhouses on the off-chance you might visit.”

“Ook,” said the Librarian with deference, clearly deeply impressed.

“Commander Vimes,” Magrat continued. “I’ve heard a lot about you.”

Vimes had removed his helmet. His long-held dislike of the institution of the monarchy seemed to have lessened slightly; at any rate, he felt no urge to promptly depose the queen. He opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again when he remembered the most likely person to have told Magrat about him would be Lord Vetinari.  

“But don’t let me keep you,” finished Magrat, with a final glance and smile at the rest of the party. “I’m sure you have your own plans – I’ll help in whatever way I can.”

“Thank you,” said Gytha, speaking for the entire party and conscious for the first time in a long while of the fact that her innocuous, wet-hen godmother was a queen, but more than that, a mother and a witch, and had grown into her roles with grace.

When Magrat and Tracie Ogg started to make their way down to the village, the Librarian, Angua and Gytha followed, Rincewind trailing behind.

Harry, Draco and Ponder bid goodbye to Magrat, Carrot bowed, and they turned away from the village, heading up the steep path towards the moors.

* * *

Up on the green turf of the rising hills and falling dales, the air was colder, fresher, clearer. The kingdom of Lancre was set out below them, with its villages and farms set in forest and rock far down. Harry wished he could ride properly, just so he could ride down the curving slopes and allow the rushing air to make its way into his blood.

Instead, he had to settle for the steady plodding of Draco’s horse, making its slow way to the top. Ponder, who clearly hadn’t inherited his horsemanship from either Harry or Neville, was ahead of them. No longer hindered by the weight of the Librarian, he had taken the opportunity to ride faster and with more grace, climbing the slope as if it were a horizontal plane.

Carrot arrived just as the wizards met and dismounted. “Is everything all right?” he asked, looking all around for any sort of mortal peril.

“Perfectly,” Harry replied, looking up at the mounted watchman. “Thank you.”

“Glad to hear it,” said Carrot without a trace of sarcasm, and turned and rode away. Harry knew he was riding around watching for anyone else who might be climbing the hill. Harry doubted there would be, but Carrot looked the type who always did his job.

Harry turned to find Draco sitting on the ground, moodily prodding the grass with one finger. “This is useless,” he said. “What am I supposed to do, dig up the entire place? There’s no way of telling what the rock is.”

“It’s not chalk,” Ponder said. “Nor any kind of soft rock.”

“How can you be so sure?” Harry asked him.

“Magrat’s a witch,” Ponder stated. “Witches don’t live on chalk. Their magic doesn’t work if they do.”

Something about the way he said it caught Harry’s attention. “Are witches different from wizards, then?” he asked.

“Yes, Harry,” put in Draco. “I understand why you might not be aware of this, but their reproductive organs are on the inside.”

But Ponder wasn’t listening. Staring at Harry, he seemed to have grasped the essence of the question. “Yes,” he said definitively. “Witches are different from us.”

“But… Gytha…”

Ponder laughed. “Gytha’s not a witch.”

“What is she, then?” asked Harry reasonably. “A wizard?”

“Well, I don’t know. I suppose not, but she’s not a witch. Magrat’s a witch. Gytha’s grandmother, Nanny Ogg, was a witch. Gytha isn’t.”

Harry nodded slowly. “In our world, female wizards are called witches,” he said. “My friend Hermione is a witch, but she does the same magic as me. Better than me,” he added frankly.

Ponder frowned. “It’s different here. Does your friend have a staff?”

“A wand, yes.”

Ponder sat down heavily on the turf. When he spoke, it was slowly and seriously. “If I’d been a girl, I wouldn’t have been sent to UU. I’d have joined the Guild of Seamstresses.”

Harry blinked. “Can you sew?”

“Um…” Ponder began, and blushed. Beside him, Draco seemed suspiciously close to choking.

Harry tried to think of something else to say, but gave it up after a while. They sat there peacefully, the three of them, on the green grass on the roof of the world.

* * *

“Ook,” said the Librarian. He was holding a small, half-green banana and staring at it as if it were the ambrosia of the gods. After a moment, he carefully peeled it and bit into it, eating it delicately, and a moment after that, he picked up the peel and ate that too. This accomplished, he rejoined the conversation.

For once in his life, Rincewind had chosen dialogue over flight. “No,” he said again.

“Are you sure?” The blacksmith peered at him. “I’m sure I could do it.”

“I have no doubt you could,” Rincewind told him. “But it won’t like it.”

Despite the fact it had no face and no features to speak of, the Luggage conspired to look relieved.

“Oh, all right,” Jason Ogg shrugged. “But if you change your mind, remember I can shoe anything.”

INDEED HE CAN, said an unheard voice. Moments later, a bird dropped out of a tree.

The Luggage stepped back, away from the forge. It did not appear to appreciate the possibility.

“Rincewind, what are you doing?” asked a new voice, then went on without waiting for an answer. “Look, we got food from the castle.” The wizard turned to face Angua, with Gytha and Gytha's mother in tow. She was holding two covered picnic baskets. “As well as that, our horses are being fed and watered as we speak. Oh, Librarian… Magrat sent more bananas.”


“You’re welcome. Want a sandwich, Rincewind?”

Rincewind accepted gratefully. “How’re we going to feed a giant?” he asked between bites.

Angua stopped short. “Oh,” she said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

“We can’t,” said Gytha matter-of-factly. “We just send him home before he gets too hungry.”

“There is that approach,” Angua said doubtfully, but Gytha wasn’t listening.

“We should take some food out to Commander Vimes,” she said, and led the way towards the outskirts of the village, where Dangre’s bulk stood out against the horizon.

* * *

The party at the feet of the giant received the food gratefully, and they all tucked in (even those who'd eaten already: Rincewind shared the invaluable travellers' advice, eat it before you have to run away from it, to encourage them) with the occasional nervous glance skyward in case they were expected to share.

On the moors above them, Ponder, Harry and Draco sat in a depressed huddle, vaguely watching Carrot ride round them.

"Is it possible…" Ponder began, but then he stopped, thought, added, "No, it's not," and lapsed back into silence.

Ten minutes later, Harry started, "I suppose…" but he too stopped, and reconsidered, and said, "… but I'm wrong."

"Idiots," said Draco, though with more affection than venom; and then he added, "It's quite nice here, really."

"Not for me," said Harry glumly. "My feet are getting cold."

"No change from normal, then," Draco replied. "Shut up and let me think."

Harry pulled a face, but he didn't speak.

[1] Although it has to be said that in Lancre, looking in any direction tended to reveal a forested slope.

[2] The rights of the people of Lancre have been fixed in stone—literally—for some eight generations. There is a small rock in a dark room in the Hubward Wing of Lancre Castle with the words "Folks can pick up what they like. King" carved on it. Local legend has it that the 'King' in question was under some pressure from a member of the Weatherwax family at the time this stone was installed.

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