O straunge worlde, for the dayes are fulle of selcouthes and no thyng is as it semeth. Alwey in my fantasie syn ich was a yonge man, ich thoghte Parlement to be a grete and noble assemblee, wher the wisdam of the reaume was spoken in the presence of oure sovereyn kynge for the sake of the commun good. But al thing in this worlde adoun is lyk vnto a cake fulle of beares– on the outsyde, it appeareth delicious and plesaunte, but inside yt is crawlinge wyth beestes that wisshe to clawe thee to deeth. For nowe ich see that Parlement is fulle of thretes and secretes, and matirs derke.
On Sundaye night, the daye bifor the grete openinge of parlement, ther was a speciale recepcioun for folk lyk myself who had come to parlement to speke for the shires. Yt was held in the halle of the exchequer, wyth the tables of rekynynges laden wyth metes and drinke. Michel de la Pole, the Earl of Suffolk and Chancellor of the reaume, frende of Kyng Richard, was ther, and he did shake the handes of al who were presente, and callid vs by oure names and bad vs drinken depe of the ale and maken murye. He yaf vs alle small billes, the whiche contayned the poyntez which we were to speken of for the good of the reaume, and he avised vs to keep the smalle billes secure.
The small billes were covered wyth thys text:
TALKYNGE POYNTEZ FOR PARLEMENT FOR THE LOIAL LIEGES OF KYNG RICHARD AND HYS CHANCELLOR MICHEL DE LA POLE
Whanne a felawe comoner of parlement or a cronicler or othir member of the media doth aske yow of the business of parlement, ye shal saye the following
I – THE REAUME IS IN GRETE PERIL FROM OURE GRETE ENEMYE FRAUNCE, IN GRETER PERIL THAN EVIR BIFOR
A. Frensshe flete has gadrid for to make invasion in ower lande
B. Frensshe shal turne alle of our filmes in to non-linear meditaciouns on lyf and deeth both insouciant and melancholie
C. Frensshe shal destroyen the Englisshe language and create a world maad only of voweles
D. Frensshe shal covir Engelonde wyth cafes wher yt costeth more to drinke coffee sittinge doun than standing up
E. If alle else faileth, repete “grete peril, grete peril” lyk vnto a psalme
II- OURE KYNG RICHARD TO PROVE HYS WORTH SHAL MAKE A GRETE EXPEDICIOUN OF ARMES OVIR THE SEE AYEINS THE FRENSSHE
And he shal do so for the followinge wyse and rightful causes:
A. We fare bettir to fighten the enemye acrosse the see than heere in owere owene lande
B. The kinge is mighti and fullye committede to the governement of his reaume and ys not a “wussy” as sum sclanderers haue seyde
C. Yt is right and proper to pursue the kynges clayme to the crowne of Fraunce
D. We muste winne honour
E. the werre has nat even lastede C yeres yet - it is too soon to throwe in the towele
F. If alle else faileth, repete “winne honour, winne honor” lyk vnto a psalme
III- AND THUS WE NEDE AIDE SUFFICIENT TO PROTECT THE REAUME AND MAKE PURVEYANCE FOR THE KINGES EXPEDICIOUN
A. that is, alle the cash we kan get from the contree
Thes thinges me semed good and ful of wisdam, and fayre to speken for the safetee of the reaume. And yet, ich sawe but fewe men of parlement ther in that halle. Ich trowe, ther mvste haue ben gadrid on that night but halfe the men that cam to Westminstre for parlement. For the communes aren manye, and this felaweshippe was smal. And manye of hem who stod ther wyth the Chancellor were knowen to me as frendes of the kinge and loyal servauntz to hys majestee.
And yet litel me thought of thes thinges, for the ale was good and moyst and fre of charge. Ich dranke depe and talkede wyth manye men, and we swalwed gret draughtes for the kinges helth. Tommy Vsk did come and we did talke of this and that. Ich askid Vsk whedir all the men of parlement had been called to this meetinge and he seyde, "Every liege at parlement loial to the Kyng hath ben callid heere tonight, but nat the foule churles who wolde arguen ayeinst the wyse counsels of the Kyng and the Chancellor."
The moon brightli shone, and ich was alle fordronken so that ich coud scarce feel my owen legges vndir me. Drink had me daswed. Ich knewe ich coud nat retourne to Langelondes hous, so ich took my reste at an inn that stood nere to the palais of Westminstre. Ich payde the keeper for a room and did climb the stayres to go to slepe. On the stayres, a fayre wenche cam me-towardes. She must haue ben but of XVIII yere of age, wyth heere as yelwe as flaxe ysponne, and body gent and smal. She was ful moore blisful on to see than is the newe pere-jonette tree.
“Hi, uh, were you at the meeting?”
“Fayre mayde, mene ye the meetinge at the exchequer wher the talkinge poyntez weren yiven vnto vs?”
“The, uh, talking points. Yeah, exactly. Good. I’m the handmaid for Sir...Roland...de Quelquechose. He was at the meeting and he, uh, well, he got a little drunk.”
“Goddes curse on men who are dronkelewe and guzzleres of ale,” ich sayde, and then burpid in a maner uncouth and my face wexed reede wyth shame. And yet the fayre wenche spoke further.
“Well, so Sir Roland made like a frat boy with the beer and all, and he kind of lost his talking points. He's got me running around trying to find other men, uh, loyal to the king who might have them. Could I just borrow your talking points? I’ll make a fair copy for Sir Roland and you’ll have them back before you know it. I’ll just put them under your door. Pretty please? ”
“No thyng wolde greter plese me than to do courtesie to yow and to yower mayster the goode sire Quelquechose, o mayden swete and fayre,” quod ich, and bente me lowe to honour her and yaf hir the talkinge poyntez. And than ich stumbled to my slepe.
And yet whan I wook, no oon had putte the bille of talkinge poyntez backe vndir my door. Ich askede the inn keeper if a braue knight ycleped Quelquechose had taken his reste ther, and the inn keeper seyde he knew no swich name, but it semed to hym that it mente somethinge. And thanne ich asked of the fayre wenche, who she was and whider she had com, and the inn keeper tolde me that he knewe her nat but that she had come ther yesternight at the tyme of vespers and she had hunge around talkinge on a verye expensive celle phone and makinge snarky remarkes.
And as ich stod adased and wondired on what thes thinges coud mene, it cam to my memorie that it was Mondaye morne, and the daye of Parlement! Ich hoofed it to the halle of Westminstre, and entered it in last nightes clothes, stinkinge lyk vnto a beer-pong table.
O the pompe and majestee! Ther was a grete thronge of peple, gentils and menne of richesse fro the shyres, and grete lordes wyth her retinuez, alle assemblid in the Paynted Chamber of Westminstre. Ther were merchantz in liveree of manye coloures, and knightez sadde who had served in werres, professional politicians who shifty looked, and bifor hem alle sat Kyng Richard in hys splendor, and bifor hym was Michel de la Pole the chancellor.
The Chancellor bigan to speke, and he toold of the resons for the callinge of parlement, and he did in grete voys and loude, and wyth fayre speche. And yet noon of yt was newe to me, for it was alle the poyntez of talkinge that ich had rede of at the recepcioun yesternight: that the kinge was to make werre vpon the Frensshe, and that the communes should commit ther shires to yive moneye for the werre, and eek he gave the resons forwhy, et cetera et cete-
Ich sterted, for som oon clasped me by the shouldre. It was Tommy Vsk, and his eyen were fulle of ire.
“Hastow sene this?” he askede me, and he yave me a hand-bille, whos title was, THE PRIVEE TALKINGE POYNTEZ YIVEN BY THE KYNGE VNTO THE CONSPIRACIE OF KEPTE HOUNDES AND SERVAUNTZ HE HATH CALLID TO PARLEMENT TO SPEKE OF HYS OWN SPEDE AND NAT OF THE GOOD OF THE REAUME BUT ONLY THE AVARICE OF HIS COUNSELLORS, NOWE PUBLISSHED AND EXPOSID TO ALLE TREWE COMMUNES OF ENGELONDE AND WYTH REFUTACIOUNS.
“That looketh bad,” ich seyde.
“Bad in deed,” he sayde, “Sikerly, ther hath ben a leek.”
“That smelle ys juste my clothes from last nighte,” I seyde.
“Nay,” quod he, “Ich mene ther hath been a leek in ower securitee. Alle folke of Londoun haue thes billes, and thei aren posted on everye chirche-dore. How has this come to pass? Hastow yiven thy liste of talking poyntez to any oon?”
“Nay, to noon but the loial mayde of Sir Quelquechose.”
“Ther beth no knight of that name in the Kinges faction,” seyde Vsk, “What maner of mayde was she?”
“She lookid kynde of lyk Keira Knightly ycrossid with Sarah Michelle Gellar, but in a good way.”
“Geoffrey Chaucer, thou sely foole, thou hast discovered the kinges secretes to Griselda Mars!”
But we coud talke na moore, for the speche of de la Pole was finisshed, and alle the communes wente awey to the Chapter Hous of the abbey for to speke of the respons thei sholde make to the demaundes for moneye, and ich wente with hem in my capacitee as elected representative of Kent, and Vsk ranne off on busyness of his owene.
O, my rederes, ther ys much moore to telle of, but my handes are sore and my eyen are blered and my herte filled wyth doute. Soon ich shalle telle yow of what bifel in the Chapter Hous, and eek what ich lerned of the plottes and plannes of the factions. And yet ich tremble as I type, for ich scarce knowe wher my loyaltee stondeth.