Your majesty; I wish to give notice that I will be terminating my post as your humble page with immediate effect. You may well wonder why I am doing this and because I believe you to be well meaning and kind I will do my best to explain.
It is for me as if a sudden awakening has befallen me. I believe I understand things much more clearly now. It all began on St Stephen’s Day – you remember you bade me accompany you to give assistance to that humble peasant whom you saw gathering firewood during that dreadful storm? You will recall that you asked me where he lived. I was rather surprised that you needed to ask me that because you may also recall that he, in fact, worked for you.
You bade me bring you meat for him – and wine. Well, had you known the people who worked for you as well as perhaps you should do, you would have known that he did not eat meat. Not, perhaps through choice only, but because the only meat he might have been able to procure was to be found on your land. Now you have gamekeepers whose function is to prevent people from hunting game on your land. In any event, he would not eat any meat you gave him because he believed, as a devout Christian, that all life is sacred – just like Jesus Christ did and preferred, like Christ did, to eat food that did not derive from the exploitation of animals.
It is with some sense of irony that the meat I did, in fact, bring you came from the very woods the peasant had worked to maintain for you, but whose fruits he was largely denied because of your ‘ownership’ of it.
The wine we gave him was the wine made from the grapes he worked to grow in your vineyard. Perhaps this was the first time he was able to enjoy the wine he helped to make.
Even more ironic is that the pine logs I brought to you to give to him on that day were the very pine logs that the peasant had cut for you the year before. In fact the peasant was compelled by circumstances largely sanctioned by you, to spend so much of his time working for you in tasks such as gathering wood and managing your land, that he had very little time himself to secure and satisfy his own needs – such as gathering winter fuel.
You remember that after braving the storm for some time I became exhausted and unable to continue. I can’t help but feel that this is due at least in part to the fact that since I grew up in poverty, that I am undersize and underweight compared with people who live as you do. Yes, it was kind of you to allow me to tread in your steps and thus lessen the effort of walking in such heavy snow, I do not want to sound ungrateful. I am also aware that the education you enabled me to have has also equipped me to see things as I now do and to write to you in this way. For that I am grateful – as I am sure all the children you helped rescue from slavery are, too. But this existence for me – working for you for low wages – just seems to me to be another kind of slavery. I realise that you have become a very good man in spite of what your mother did to you and to your grandmother.
So I am going to the great city of Prague in order to study further in the hope that I may be better placed to help ensure that our children and their children may live in a world without poverty. I know you will bless this decision I have made.
Your loyal page, Boris
PS – I have heard rumours that your younger brother Boleslav is planning to hurt you badly. I hope you can do something to prevent this happening.)
Tony Norwell (sympathiser)