Winter was on its way and the lord once again started to think about what to do to oppress his people even more. One morning, at the crack of the cockerel's crow, he rode out into the village in a carriage pulled by two black horses, with his trusted page at his side to act as his scribe. The earth was sodden and a cruel mud covered the road, so the lord, not wanting to dirty his shiny new boots, stayed in his carriage and sent his page to do his bidding.
When they arrived at the village, the page dismounted from the carriage, a paper covered in thick ink clutched in his hands. He nailed the paper to the first hut he saw, and since he did it with a hammer, a peasant boy named Reuben soon opened the door up to see what was the matter. The boy was twelve years of age and had a straw-colored shock of cow-licked hair and a freckled-face with ruddy cheeks.
"Well? What do you want?" grumbled the page, looking at Reuben's shirt, which was covered in the same filth as everything else in the village.
"Well, uh, nuthin', rightly," Reuben shrugged, "Thing is, sir, this here's me home."
"Then get inside it." The boy wasn't scared, and instead stood on his doorstep looking at the piece of paper.
"S'what's this, sir? A letter?" the boy asked.
"Read it and find out for yourself," the scribe said, growing angrier, though Reuben didn't seem to notice.
"Afear'd I can't, sir. Don't know how."
"What the devil's taking you, scribe?!" the lord hollered. He was still sitting in his carriage and hadn't heard the conversation. Clearly, he was growing bored.
"The whelp says he doesn't know how to read!"
"Aye, 'cause he don't," Reuben confirmed and took two steps toward the carriage, his bare feet sinking into the muddy gray muck.
"And the ones inside, do they?" questioned the lord.
"Where d'ye reckon they'd learn a thing like that, m'lord?" the peasant asked, perplexed, for he had always thought great lords like that must surely know everything.
"So who in your village does know how to read?" asked the lord, growing ever more irritated.
"Not no one, m'lord."
"Scribe," the lord said, leaning far out while leaning on his carriage door, "Could you explain to me how I am to enforce my declaration on people who do not know how to read and write?"
"I don't know, my lord," the scribe said, taking a step back, as if he expected the lord to jump out of the carriage and assault him. The fault was not his, but the lord was in the habit of beating his scribe when he grew angry, no matter the cause.