In the first half of the twelfth chapter of Going Postal, Moist issues his challenge, and it is precisely as ridiculous as I assumed it would be. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Oh no. OH NO. I knew that Pratchett had written an inevitability into this story. Gilt and Moist were always prepped for some sort of showdown, but this is… well, it was only surprising at the moment. It’s so very Moist von Lipwig, isn’t it? He’s got that almost devious, creative mind, and when he was faced with the possibility that Gilt would try to one-up him, he hit him with an absurd overkill. Because it wasn’t enough to beat him in a race that was local; no, Moist chose something THOUSANDS of miles away, that historically has barely ever been traversed in less than two months, which the clacks have historically done in just a few hours.
So, how the hell is Moist going to make that trip in record time while also avoiding any interference from Gilt? Well, he has no plan to tell Vetinari of. I even entertained the theory that he did have a plan, but truly wanted to keep it from the Patrician. A con man doesn’t reveal all his cards to anyone, right? Which I feel is the point of what happens here. First, we discover that Moist has no cards. He employs the Upwrights to help him, but they can only get him so far. There’s nothing terribly special about this, aside from the fact that Moist is honestly hiring people who do honest work, and he’s doing it for honest reasons. Which… sounds pretty special for Moist, now that I spell it out like that. He doesn’t once discuss cheating or using anything than what is fairly at his disposal. He seems to be GENUINELY TRYING. Was there a lot of foresight put into this? Oh, no, not at all. But Moist is an impulsive man—not all the time, of course—but his quick-thinking has been a survival tactic. So, he often reacts before setting out to create some sort of plan. Did he anticipate the way in which stamps would catch on in Ankh-Morpork? Nope! But he fosters it (and fosters Stanley) because it works. It fits. And that’s important to him as this chaotic, complicated beast falls into place.
Look at Gilt’s reaction, too. Gilt is utterly predictable, and he’s completely convinced that he’ll win. And the odds are certainly favoring him in terms of pulling it off. Not literally; seems like all of Ankh-Morpork is betting against him. But it’s not like it’s unrealistic that the clacks will beat Gilt. Except… well, look at all the problems Gilt has created. His refusal to allow the clacks to go down has led to disastrous breakdowns. His avoidance of Mr. Pony has created a dangerous work environment. His actions have inspired an intense hatred of him in the workforce, so much so that people appear to be actively working against the best interests of the clacks out of anger and spite. And even though Gilt has a clear and obvious advantage, he still wants to cheat. Accidents may happen, but what Gilt slyly refers to is murder. That ol’ thing. He’s done it before, he’ll do it again, and he’ll get away with it.
Maybe not. And let’s go back to what I said earlier about how con men don’t show all their cards to anyone. That’s a major reason why Moist’s decision to tell Miss Dearheart the truth of who he is and what he’s done is VERY HUGE. For once, someone knows everything. Now, we don’t get much of a reaction from her; she keeps that to herself and instead, she recommends that Moist spend some time on the roof of the post office. I am hoping this means my prediction about the Smoking Gnu is true because PLEASE. I need to be prepared for something at least ONCE. That being said: I still want a little bit more from Miss Dearheart. How does she feel beyond saying that he’s a “self-centered bastard, with the moral fiber of a… rat?” She must trust him enough to send him to the roof, though, right? She wouldn’t reveal that secret unless it was something she felt he was ready for.
I’M NOT READY, I SHOULD NOTE.
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