''The Good Duke''

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  • Published: 2 Dec 2016
  • Updated: 2 Dec 2016
  • Status: Complete
It's a supernatural Christmas story. King Wenceslas was the Duke of Bohemia in the years 921-935. He is now patron Saint of the Czech Republic. He rose every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.

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3. chapter three

“The lousiest jailer in your castle is a lord in comparison to the peasants outside. You have no idea what it means to live in a hovel, to freeze in depths of winter. To have rags for clothes and a few sticks for a fire. Throw coins to your grovelling servants if it makes you feel good before you stuff yourself with rich food. Only don’t talk to me of your false charity.”

As it was Christmas day, the Duke did not order the woman to be whipped. He just shook his head at her insolence and her missed chance of freedom.

As he climbed the winding stone stairs back to the lighter world of his busy castle, her words were turning in his heart. When he saw his servants going about their work briskly, but smiling, he thought “Yes, you are the lucky few.”

He no longer felt satisfied with his Christmas routine. He ordered his servant to bring him his fur-lined cloak, boots, gloves and hat. Another servant strapped a sword to his side. The head stable boy brought his horse out into the courtyard and placed a small ladder against its side. Snow was already flecking the Duke’s beard as he stood and waited for all to be ready. Then he clambered onto his mount and rode through the gates of the castle, followed by just a page on a grey mare.

“Boy,” he called back to the page, “Were you born in a village?”

“Oh no sire. I was born in the castle,” replied the boy.

“Do you have any relatives in a village?”

“Oh yes sire. My grandmother lives in a village not far from here.”

“Well take me there.” said the Duke.

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