he could hardly wait to learn how to give his heart to Jesus, too,
and he wanted to learn more about Him.
“Even now,” the Duke said. “There are those right here in
the great land of Bohemia, that would like to see the Christians
conquered and stoned as Stephen was. But thanks to my
dear Grandmother, Ludmilla, one day, all of Bohemia shall be
Everyone except for the Duke’s brother, Boleslav, raised
a glass to the Duke. Boleslav did not want a Christian Duke
to rule Bohemia, and he and his mother wanted him out of the
After much laughter and singing, the Duke walked Viktor
to his sleeping quarters. They stopped to look out of a window
and admire the moon shining crisp and clear on the sparkling
winter snow. It was a bitter cold night, and the Duke was
troubled to see a peasant in rags collecting twigs to make a fire.
“Do you know that man, Viktor?”
“Aye, I do,” Viktor said. “He has three wee babes and
a wife who has been ill. There is no one to care for the lot of
“Where does he live?”
“A long way hence, Sire, by the St. Agnes Fountain in a
little cave of a house.”
The Duke took Viktor by the shoulders and said, “Go
back to the hall, gather up as much food as you can, along with
plenty of pine logs. We will take these to him and his brood.
Go on now.”
Viktor did exactly as he was told, and with his mother’s
help, took all that they could carry back to the Duke. The Duke
“You are the Duke?” Viktor gasped. It was the same man
who had bought him from the slave trader!
The Duke laughed merrily. “Yes, my son, it is I! Duke
Wenceslas. And I do not eat children and their mothers.” He
laughed again. “Are ye not hungry? Come here lad, and sit!”
“I’m starving!” Viktor said. “Can we eat now?”
“In good time. First, we must give thanks to the King of
Kings for our bounty.”
“The King Jesus?” Viktor whispered to the Duke.
“Yes!” he said. “Do you know Him?”
“No, not yet,” Viktor said. “But I would like to.”
“Very well,” the Duke said. “I shall introduce you to Him
“Let us pray!” the Duke said, and motioned for an old
priest sitting near him to begin the prayer of thanks.
Then, food was passed and tossed and eaten with fingers,
for in those days, it was the mannerly way to dine. Viktor ate
until he felt as if he had swallowed a large bag of stones. He
had never been so full in all of his life.
“And now,” the Duke said. “Let us, on this St. Stephen’s
Day, tell the story of the good martyr Stephen, who gave his life
as a martyr for Christ. In honor of his bravery, we share our
bounty with the poor. It is in his memory I have invited young
Viktor, and his mother, Ivana to our table.”
Viktor’s mother blushed and looked down at her hands,
but Viktor beamed and smiled brightly as the Duke began to
tell about the Saint Stephen. He told how Stephen died telling
others how to give their hearts to Jesus, who died on a Roman
cross for all their sins. Viktor admired Stephen’s courage but