Two horses pulled the cart, three generously-framed men rode with the large bundle in the back, and Doc Miggins drove at the front, winding through the Gut to the Bucket of Blood. Underby stood on the steps of Thunderclap Hall, watching them ride up, grimly. He had been standing on the second floor balcony when he saw them coming.
The cart slowed as it drew up to the steps.
“You deliver the stiffs now as well, do you Doc?” Underby asked, without smiling. He observed the large bundle and surmised the contents beneath it.
Miggins looked up at him. “I do not.” he said. “And this is no stiff. This is your general manager, Robert Blackrain. He still breathes.”
Underby raised his eyebrows. “The hospital aught to work on its bedside manner presentation, Doc.” he said. “When people see you, certain assumptions tend to follow. A frail wife of limited constitution could get the vapours.”
“I would think,” Miggins said as the three large men jumped out and began to move the man who wheezed as they moved him. “a man of City Hall would know better than to trust assumptions.”
Underby waved dismissively. “Life is full of assumptions, doctor. When I awake I assume all the air in the room has not moved to a single corner. When I move from bed I assume the floor will hold my weight. I assume breakfast of some sort will satiate my hunger. Do not dismiss assumptions, doctor.”
Miggins licked his lips, but said nothing.
The large man carrying the back end of Bib’s frame asked around grunts: “Where ya want this lug?”
Underby looked down at him. “Second floor. Room says “Bib” on the door.”
“He is well enough to be looked after by loved ones. If such a thing can be said to reside in your building, Mr Underby.” Miggins said.
“I can certainly see that,” Underby responded. “I can’t remember the last time I saw him so light on his feet. The Great Builder as my witness, that man will be clogging again in no time.”
Miggins stared. “There is limited room at the hospital, and as you may have heard, there have been some problems at the Hospital as of late.”
Underby smiled. “I might have heard something about that, yes.” he looked back at the man on the cart. “Another thing I heard… I heard you had a hand in saving the Commodore’s life, sir?”
Miggins stared up at the bald man. His nod was almost imperceptible.
Underby said: “We at City Hall thank you warmly, and from the bottom of our hearts. Whatever would we have done without her?” Now, he smiled as he said this.
Miggins still stared. “So you do indeed work for City Hall then, this time? Unlike when I met you in the Port, and you introduced yourself as such.”
Underby raised an eyebrow, considering his response.
“That was bullshit, was it not Mr Underby? Or is this still bullshit as well? Apart from booze and dollars, that is your currency, is it not, Mr Underby? Bullshit?”
Underby smiled again. “I shall see you get some sort of medal, doctor. Perhaps the honour will bring back the nerve to operate on the breathing again?”
Miggins snapped the reigns, and turned the cart around. It took some time, Underby stood on the stairs and called out to people on the street: “Make way! Hero turning cart! Hero coming through! Make way!”
As Miggins drove away, he heard Underby call: “We shan’t forget this, doctor!”