6 June 2016

"so help me I will turn this entire pilgrimage around": the Harry Bailey story.

no apologies, no explanations, just questionable fanfiction.

Geoff, riding near the back, idly surveys the company. The little groupings that have developed are very interesting; he’s beginning to think he ought to go into travel writing. The Clerk seems to have struck up a friendship with Parson wossname, probably on the basis that they are both enormous frickin nerds. (Geoff is also an enormous frickin nerd, but finds it expedient to keep this under wraps.) The Ploughman—Geoff has been privately thinking of him as Piers—is a timid sort, not much inclined to talk to anyone but his brother; even so he seems content to listen to the Clerk growing very animated about something or other. Aristotle, looks like. Nearby, the Knight is giving his Squire what looks to be a rather different sort of lecture; the kid’s squirming.

Most everyone else is listening to the Cook tell a story. They’re clustered in identifiable patterns—the women ride together, Robin and Oswald are as far apart as they can be and both still hear the Cook, no one wants to get too near the Summoner—but there’s not much conversation happening.

“So,” the Cook’s saying, “Perkin's friend's hot wife. She kept a store, like, for looks? But that’s definitely not how she made her actual living, if you know what I mean.” He leers at no one in particular.

Robin lets out a drunken cheer and nearly falls off his horse. One of the nuns, the one Geoff thinks of as the Other Nun, looks bemused, until Alison murmurs something in her ear and embarrassed comprehension dawns. Alison, for her part, rolls her eyes, then grabs the communal wine bottle from the Pardoner and takes an enormous swig.

Meanwhile Harry Bailey is nearer the back performing a rather half-hearted headcount and steadfastly ignoring the Cook. “Seven-and-twenty, eight-and-twenty. Nine-and-twenty. Yes?”

“You’re forgetting the Priests,” says Geoff, helpfully.

“God's bones,” says Harry. “Okay, shut up everyone. Shut up!” He waits for everyone to grow more or less quiet, and then says, “Has anyone seen the Priests?”

There is a general shaking of heads. “The Nuns ought to know,” says Alison sensibly.

The Nuns do not know. “They’re grown men,” Eglantine says. “We thought they could keep track of themselves. You can’t expect us to always know where they are.”

"Whatever," says the Squire, earning a rather disapproving look from his father. "Dad and I’d notice right away if our Yeoman went missing.”

The Yeoman, it transpires, has in fact gone missing. Also nobody knows what’s happened to the Franklin, and Geoff rather suspects that Harry counted the Monk at least twice.

“And besides that there were definitely more than twenty-nine of us to start with,” the Merchant says mildly, but no one listens to him, even though one might reasonably expect a merchant to be good with numbers. (If one didn’t know about the crippling debt; Geoff knows, but he’s fairly sure no one else does.) It doesn’t help that no one can reliably remember what his name is.

“So help me,” says Harry very loudly, “I will turn this entire pilgrimage around if I have to.”

(and of the hoost's tale was made namoore. it's rather a one-note joke which would collapse if I prolonged it any further, and also I'm working on a real project inspired by the Tales. I understand that manuscript fragments are where it's at anyway?)

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