Part 9 out of 10
approaching to insanity, and her appearance struck with awe all who
were present. Her eyes for a time glanced wildly around as if seeking
for something to aid her in collecting her powers of expression, and
her lips had a nervous and quivering motion, as those of one who would
fain speak, yet rejects as inadequate the words which present
themselves. Mary herself caught the infection as if by a sort of
magnetic influence, and raising herself from her bed, without being
able to withdraw her eyes from those of Magdalen, waited as if for the
oracle of a Pythoness. She waited not long, for no sooner had the
enthusiast collected herself, than her gaze became instantly steady,
her features assumed a determined energy, and when she began to speak,
the words flowed from her with a profuse fluency, which might have
passed for inspiration, and which, perhaps, she herself mistook for
"Arise," she said, "Queen of France and of England! Arise, Lioness of
Scotland, and be not dismayed though the nets of the hunters have
encircled thee! Stoop not to feign with the false ones, whom thou
shall soon meet in the field. The issue of battle is with the God of
armies, but by battle thy cause shall be tried. Lay aside, then, the
arts of lower mortals, and assume those which become a Queen! True
defender of the only true faith, the armoury of heaven is open to
thee! Faithful daughter of the Church, take the keys of St. Peter, to
bind and to loose!--Royal Princess of the land, take the sword of St.
Paul, to smite and to shear! There is darkness in thy destiny;--but
not in these towers, not under the rule of their haughty mistress,
shall that destiny be closed--In other lands the lioness may crouch to
the power of the tigress, but not in her own--not in Scotland shall
the Queen of Scotland long remain captive--nor is the fate of the
royal Stuart in the hands of the traitor Douglas. Let the Lady of
Lochleven double her bolts and deepen her dungeons, they shall not
retain thee--each element shall give thee its assistance ere thou
shalt continue captive--the land shall lend its earthquakes, the water
its waves, the air its tempests, the fire its devouring flames, to
desolate this house, rather than it shall continue the place of thy
captivity.--Hear this, and tremble, all ye who fight against the
light, for she says it, to whom it hath been assured!"
She was silent, and the astonished physician said, "If there was ever
an _Energumene,_ or possessed demoniac, in our days, there is a
devil speaking with that woman's tongue!"
"Practice," said the Lady of Lochleven, recovering her surprise; "here
is all practice and imposture--To the dungeon with her!"
"Lady of Lochleven," said Mary, arising from her bed, and coming
forward with her wonted dignity, "ere you make arrest on any one in
our presence, hear me but one word. I have done you some wrong--I
believed you privy to the murderous purpose of your vassal, and I
deceived you in suffering you to believe it had taken effect. I did
you wrong, Lady of Lochleven, for I perceive your purpose to aid me
was sincere. We tasted not of the liquid, nor are we now sick, save
that we languish for our freedom."
"It is avowed like Mary of Scotland," said Magdalen Graeme; "and know,
besides, that had the Queen drained the drought to the dregs, it was
harmless as the water from a sainted spring. Trow ye, proud woman,"
she added, addressing herself to the Lady of Lochleven, "that
I--I--would have been the wretch to put poison into the hands of a
servant or vassal of the house of Lochleven, knowing whom that house
contained? as soon would I have furnished drug to slay my own
"Am I thus bearded in mine own castle?" said the Lady; "to the dungeon
with her!--she shall abye what is due to the vender of poisons and
practiser of witchcraft."
"Yet hear me for an instant, Lady of Lochleven," said Mary; "and do
you," to Magdalen, "be silent at my command.--Your steward, lady, has
by confession attempted my life, and those of my household, and this
woman hath done her best to save them, by furnishing him with what was
harmless, in place of the fatal drugs which he expected. Methinks I
propose to you but a fair exchange when I say I forgive your vassal
with all my heart, and leave vengeance to God, and to his conscience,
so that you also forgive the boldness of this woman in your presence;
for we trust you do not hold it as a crime, that she substituted an
innocent beverage for the mortal poison which was to have drenched our
"Heaven forfend, madam," said the Lady, "that I should account that a
crime which saved the house of Douglas from a foul breach of honour
and hospitality! We have written to our son touching our vassal's
delict, and he must abide his doom, which will most likely be death.
Touching this woman, her trade is damnable by Scripture, and is
mortally punished by the wise laws of our ancestry--she also must
abide her doom."
"And have I then," said the Queen, "no claim on the house of Lochleven
for the wrong I hare so nearly suffered within their walls? I ask but
in requital, the life of a frail and aged woman, whose brain, as
yourself may judge, seems somewhat affected by years and suffering."
"If the Lady Mary," replied the inflexible Lady of Lochleven, "hath
been menaced with wrong in the house of Douglas, it may be regarded as
some compensation, that her complots have cost that house the exile of
a valued son."
"Plead no more for me, my gracious Sovereign," said Magdalen Graeme,
"nor abase yourself to ask so much as a gray hair of my head at her
hands. I knew the risk at which I served my Church and my Queen, and
was ever prompt to pay my poor life as the ransom. It is a comfort to
think, that in slaying me, or in restraining my freedom, or even in
injuring that single gray hair, the house, whose honour she boasts so
highly, will have filled up the measure of their shame by the breach
of their solemn written assurance of safety."--And taking from her
bosom a paper, she handed it to the Queen.
"It is a solemn assurance of safety in life and limb," said Queen
Mary, "with space to come and go, under the hand and seal of the
Chamberlain of Kinross, granted to Magdalen Graeme, commonly called
Mother Nicneven, in consideration of her consenting to put herself,
for the space of twenty-four hours, if required, within the iron gate
of the Castle of Lochleven."
"Knave!" said the Lady, turning to the Chamberlain, "how dared you
grant her such a protection?"
"It was by your Ladyship's orders, transmitted by Randal, as he can
bear witness," replied Doctor Lundin; "nay, I am only like the
pharmacopolist, who compounds the drugs after the order of the
"I remember--I remember," answered the Lady; "but I meant the
assurance only to be used in case, by residing in another
jurisdiction, she could not have been apprehended under our warrant."
"Nevertheless," said the Queen, "the Lady of Lochleven is bound by the
action of her deputy in granting the assurance."
"Madam," replied the Lady, "the house of Douglas have never broken
their safe-conduct, and never will--too deeply did they suffer by such
a breach of trust, exercised on themselves, when your Grace's
ancestor, the second James, in defiance of the rights of hospitality,
and of his own written assurance of safety, poniarded the brave Earl
of Douglas with his own hand, and within two yards of the social
board, at which he had just before sat the King of Scotland's honoured
"Methinks," said the Queen, carelessly, "in consideration of so very
recent and enormous a tragedy, which I think only chanced some
six-score years agone, the Douglasses should have shown themselves
less tenacious of the company of their sovereigns, than you, Lady of
Lochleven, seem to be of mine."
"Let Randal," said the Lady, "take the hag back to Kinross, and set
her at full liberty, discharging her from our bounds in future, on
peril of her head.--And let your wisdom," to the Chamberlain, "keep
her company. And fear not for your character, though I send you in
such company; for, granting her to be a witch, it would be a waste of
fagots to burn you for a wizard."
The crest-fallen Chamberlain was preparing to depart; but Magdalen
Graeme, collecting herself, was about to reply, when the Queen
interposed, saying, "Good mother, we heartily thank you for your
unfeigned zeal towards our person, and pray you, as our liege-woman,
that you abstain from whatever may lead you into personal danger; and,
farther, it is our will that you depart without a word of farther
parley with any one in this castle. For thy present guerdon, take this
small reliquary--it was given to us by our uncle the Cardinal, and
hath had the benediction of the Holy Father himself;--and now depart
in peace and in silence.--For you, learned sir," continued the Queen,
advancing to the Doctor, who made his reverence in a manner doubly
embarrassed by the awe of the Queen's presence, which made him fear to
do too little, and by the apprehension of his lady's displeasure, in
case he should chance to do too much--"for you, learned sir, as it was
not your fault, though surely our own good fortune, that we did not
need your skill at this time, it would not become us, however
circumstanced, to suffer our leech to leave us without such guerdon as
we can offer."
With these words, and with the grace which never forsook her, though,
in the present case, there might lurk under it a little gentle
ridicule, she offered a small embroidered purse to the Chamberlain,
who, with extended hand and arched back, his learned face stooping
until a physiognomist might have practised the metoposcopical science
upon it, as seen from behind betwixt his gambadoes, was about to
accept of the professional recompense offered by so fair as well as
illustrious a hand. But the Lady interposed, and, regarding the
Chamberlain, said aloud, "No servant of our house, without instantly
relinquishing that character, and incurring withal our highest
displeasure, shall dare receive any gratuity at the hand of the Lady
Sadly and slowly the Chamberlain raised his depressed stature into the
perpendicular attitude, and left the apartment dejectedly, followed by
Magdalen Graeme, after, with mute but expressive gesture, she had
kissed the reliquary with which the Queen had presented her, and,
raising her clasped hands and uplifted eyes towards Heaven, had seemed
to entreat a benediction upon the royal dame. As she left the castle,
and went towards the quay where the boat lay, Roland Graeme, anxious
to communicate with her if possible, threw himself in her way, and
might have succeeded in exchanging a few words with her, as she was
guarded only by the dejected Chamberlain and his halberdiers, but she
seemed to have taken, in its most strict and literal acceptation, the
command to be silent which she had received from the Queen; for, to
the repeated signs of her grandson, she only replied by laying her
finger on her lip. Dr. Lundin was not so reserved. Regret for the
handsome gratuity, and for the compulsory task of self-denial imposed
on him, had grieved the spirit of that worthy officer and learned
mediciner--"Even thus, my friend," said he, squeezing the page's hand
as he bade him farewell, "is merit rewarded. I came to cure this
unhappy Lady--and I profess she well deserves the trouble, for, say
what they will of her, she hath a most winning manner, a sweet voice,
a gracious smile, and a most majestic wave of her hand. If she was not
poisoned, say, my dear Master Roland, was that fault of mine, I being
ready to cure her if she had?--and now I am denied the permission to
accept my well-earned honorarium--O Galen! O Hippocrates! is the
graduate's cap and doctor's scarlet brought to this pass! _Frustra
fatigamus remediis aegros!_"
He wiped his eyes, stepped on the gunwale, and the boat pushed off
from the shore, and went merrily across the lake, which was dimpled by
the summer wind. [Footnote: A romancer, to use a Scottish phrase,
wants but a hair to make a tether of. The whole detail of the
steward's supposed conspiracy against the life of Mary, is grounded
upon an expression in one of her letters, which affirms, that Jasper
Dryfesdale, one of the Laird of Lochleven's servants, had threatened
to murder William Douglas, (for his share in the Queen's escape,) and
averred that he would plant a dagger in Mary's own heart.--CHALMER'S
_Life of Queen Mary_, vol. i. p. 278.]
Chapter the Thirty-Third.
Death distant?--No, alas! he's ever with us,
And shakes the dart at us in all our actings:
He lurks within our cup, while we're in health;
Sits by our sick-bed, mocks our medicines;
We cannot walk, or sit, or ride, or travel,
But Death is by to seize us when he lists.
THE SPANISH FATHER.
From the agitating scene in the Queen's presence-chamber, the Lady of
Lochleven retreated to her own apartment, and ordered the steward to
be called before her.
"Have they not disarmed thee, Dryfesdale?" she said, on seeing him
enter, accoutred, as usual, with sword and dagger.
"No!" replied the old man; "how should they?--Your ladyship, when you
commanded me to ward, said nought of laying down my arms; and, I think
none of your menials, without your order, or your son's, dare approach
Jasper Dryfesdale for such a purpose.--Shall I now give up my sword to
you?--it is worth little now, for it has fought for your house till it
is worn down to old iron, like the pantler's old chipping knife."
"You have attempted a deadly crime--poison under trust."
"Under trust?--hem!--I know not what your ladyship thinks of it, but
the world without thinks the trust was given you even for that very
end; and you would have been well off had it been so ended as I
proposed, and you neither the worse nor the wiser."
"Wretch!" exclaimed the lady, "and fool as well as villain, who could
not even execute the crime he had planned!"
"I bid as fair for it as man could," replied Dryfesdale; "I went to a
woman--a witch and a Papist--If I found not poison, it was because it
was otherwise predestined. I tried fair for it; but the half-done job
may be clouted, if you will."
"Villain! I am even now about to send off an express messenger to my
son, to take order how thou shouldst be disposed of. Prepare thyself
for death, if thou canst."
"He that looks on death, Lady," answered Dryfesdale, "as that which he
may not shun, and which has its own fixed and certain hour, is ever
prepared for it. He that is hanged in May will eat no flaunes
[footnote: Pancakes] in midsummer--so there is the moan made for the
old serving-man. But whom, pray I, send you on so fair an errand?"
"There will be no lack of messengers," answered his mistress.
"By my hand, but there will," replied the old man; "your castle is but
poorly manned, considering the watches that you must keep, having this
charge--There is the warder, and two others, whom you discarded for
tampering with Master George; then for the warder's tower, the bailie,
the donjon--five men mount each guard, and the rest must sleep for the
most part in their clothes. To send away another man, were to harass
the sentinels to death--unthrifty misuse for a household. To take in
new soldiers were dangerous, the charge requiring tried men. I see but
one thing for it--I will do your errand to Sir William Douglas
"That were indeed a resource!--And on what day within twenty years
would it be done?" said the Lady.
"Even with the speed of man and horse," said Dryfesdale; "for though I
care not much about the latter days of an old serving-man's life, yet
I would like to know as soon as may be, whether my neck is mine own or
"Holdest thou thy own life so lightly?" said the Lady.
"Else I had reckoned more of that of others," said the
predestinarian--"What is death?--it is but ceasing to live--And what
is living?--a weary return of light and darkness, sleeping and waking,
being hungered and eating. Your dead man needs neither candle nor can,
neither fire nor feather-bed; and the joiner's chest serves him for an
"Wretched man! believest thou not that after death comes the
"Lady," answered Dryfesdale, "as my mistress, I may not dispute your
words; but, as spiritually speaking, you are still but a burner of
bricks in Egypt, ignorant of the freedom of the saints; for, as was
well shown to me by that gifted man, Nicolaus Schoefferbach, who was
martyred by the bloody Bishop of Munster, he cannot sin who doth but
execute that which is predestined, since--"
"Silence!" said the Lady, interrupting him,--"Answer me not with thy
bold and presumptuous blasphemy, but hear me. Thou hast been long the
servant of our house--"
"The born servant of the Douglas--they have had the best of me--I
served them since I left Lockerbie: I was then ten years old, and you
may soon add the threescore to it."
"Thy foul attempt has miscarried, so thou art guilty only in
intention. It were a deserved deed to hang thee on the warder's
tower; and yet in thy present mind, it were but giving a soul to
Satan. I take thine offer, then--Go hence--here is my packet--I will
add to it but a line, to desire him to send me a faithful servant or
two to complete the garrison. Let my son deal with you as he will. If
thou art wise, thou wilt make for Lockerbie so soon as thy foot
touches dry land, and let the packet find another bearer; at all
rates, look it miscarries not."
"Nay, madam," replied he--"I was born, as I said, the Douglas's
servant, and I will be no corbie-messenger in mine old age--your
message to your son shall be done as truly by me as if it concerned
another man's neck. I take my leave of your honour."
The Lady issued her commands, and the old man was ferried over to the
shore, to proceed on his extraordinary pilgrimage. It is necessary the
reader should accompany him on his journey, which Providence had
determined should not be of long duration.
On arriving at the village, the steward, although his disgrace had
transpired, was readily accommodated with a horse, by the
Chamberlain's authority; and the roads being by no means esteemed
safe, he associated himself with Auchtermuchty, the common carrier, in
order to travel in his company to Edinburgh.
The worthy waggoner, according to the established customs of all
carriers, stage-coachmen, and other persons in public authority, from
the earliest days to the present, never wanted good reasons for
stopping upon the road, as often as he would; and the place which had
most captivation for him as a resting-place was a change-house, as it
was termed, not very distant from a romantic dell, well known by the
name of Keirie Craigs. Attractions of a kind very different from those
which arrested the progress of John Auchtermuchty and his wains, still
continue to hover round this romantic spot, and none has visited its
vicinity without a desire to remain long and to return soon.
Arrived near his favourite _howss_, not all the authority of
Dryfesdale (much diminished indeed by the rumours of his disgrace)
could prevail on the carrier, obstinate as the brutes which he drove,
to pass on without his accustomed halt, for which the distance he had
travelled furnished little or no pretence. Old Keltie, the landlord,
who had bestowed his name on a bridge in the neighbourhood of his
quondam dwelling, received the carrier with his usual festive
cordiality, and adjourned with him into the house, under pretence of
important business, which, I believe, consisted in their emptying
together a mutchkin stoup of usquebaugh. While the worthy host and
his guest were thus employed, the discarded steward, with a double
portion of moroseness in his gesture and look, walked discontentedly
into the kitchen of the place, which was occupied but by one guest.
The stranger was a slight figure, scarce above the age of boyhood, and
in the dress of a page, but bearing an air of haughty aristocratic
boldness and even insolence in his look and manner, that might have
made Dryfesdale conclude he had pretensions to superior rank, had not
his experience taught him how frequently these airs of superiority
were assumed by the domestics and military retainers of the Scottish
nobility.--"The pilgrim's morning to you, old sir," said the youth;
"you come, as I think, from Lochleven Castle--What news of our bonny
Queen?--a fairer dove was never pent up in so wretched a dovecot."
"They that speak of Lochleven, and of those whom its walls contain,'
answered Dryfesdale," speak of what concerns the Douglas; and they who
speak of what concerns the Douglas, do it at their peril."
"Do you speak from fear of them, old man, or would you make a quarrel
for them?--I should have deemed your age might have cooled your
"Never, while there are empty-pated coxcombs at each corner to keep it
"The sight of thy gray hairs keeps mine cold," said the boy, who had
risen up and now sat down again.
"It is well for thee, or I had cooled it with this holly-rod," replied
the steward. "I think thou be'st one of those swash-bucklers, who
brawl in alehouses and taverns; and who, if words were pikes, and
oaths were Andrew Ferraras, would soon place the religion of Babylon
in the land once more, and the woman of Moab upon the throne."
"Now, by Saint Bennet of Seyton," said the youth, "I will strike thee
on the face, thou foul-mouthed old railing heretic!"
"Saint Bennet of Seyton," echoed the steward; "a proper warrant is
Saint Bennet's, and for a proper nest of wolf-birds like the
Seytons!--I will arrest thee as a traitor to King James and the good
Regent.--Ho! John Auchtermuchty, raise aid against the King's
So saying, he laid his hand on the youth's collar, and drew his sword.
John Auchtermuchty looked in, but, seeing the naked weapon, ran faster
out than he entered. Keltie, the landlord, stood by and helped neither
party, only exclaiming, "Gentlemen! gentlemen! for the love of
Heaven!" and so forth. A struggle ensued, in which the young man,
chafed at Dryfesdale's boldness, and unable, with the ease he
expected, to extricate himself from the old man's determined grasp,
drew his dagger, and with the speed of light, dealt him three wounds
in the breast and body, the least of which was mortal. The old man
sunk on the ground with a deep groan, and the host set up a piteous
exclamation of surprise.
"Peace, ye brawling hound!" said the wounded steward; "are
dagger-stabs and dying men such rarities in Scotland, that you should
cry as if the house were falling?--Youth, I do not forgive thee, for
there is nought betwixt us to forgive. Thou hast done what I have done
to more than one--And I suffer what I have seen them suffer--it was
all ordained to be thus and not otherwise. But if thou wouldst do me
right, thou wilt send this packet safely to the hands of Sir William
Douglas; and see that my memory suffer not, as if I would have
loitered on mine errand for fear of my life."
The youth, whose passion had subsided the instant he had done the
deed, listened with sympathy and attention, when another person,
muffled in his cloak, entered the apartment, and exclaimed--"Good God!
Dryfesdale, and expiring!"
"Ay, and Dryfesdale would that he had been dead," answered the wounded
man, "rather than that his ears had heard the words of the only
Douglas that ever was false--but yet it is better as it is. Good my
murderer, and the rest of you, stand back a little, and let me speak
with this unhappy apostate.--Kneel down by me, Master George--You have
heard that I failed in my attempt to take away that Moabitish
stumbling-block and her retinue--I gave them that which I thought
would have removed the temptation out of thy path--and this, though I
had other reasons to show to thy mother and others, I did chiefly
purpose for love of thee."
"For the love of me, base poisoner!" answered Douglas, "wouldst thou
have committed so horrible, so unprovoked a murder, and mentioned my
name with it?"
"And wherefore not, George of Douglas?" answered Dryfesdale. "Breath
is now scarce with me, but I would spend my last gasp on this
argument. Hast thou not, despite the honour thou owest to thy
parents, the faith that is due to thy religion, the truth that is due
to thy king, been so carried away by the charms of this beautiful
sorceress, that thou wouldst have helped her to escape from her
prison-house, and lent her thine arm again to ascend the throne, which
she had made a place of abomination?--Nay, stir not from me--my hand,
though fast stiffening, has yet force enough to hold thee--What dost
thou aim at?--to wed this witch of Scotland?--I warrant thee, thou
mayest succeed--her heart and hand have been oft won at a cheaper
rate, than thou, fool that thou art, would think thyself happy to pay.
But, should a servant of thy father's house have seen thee embrace the
fate of the idiot Darnley, or of the villain Bothwell--the fate of the
murdered fool, or of the living pirate--while an ounce of ratsbane
would have saved thee?"
"Think on God, Dryfesdale," said George Douglas, "and leave the
utterance of those horrors--Repent, if thou canst--if not, at least be
silent.--Seyton, aid me to support this dying wretch, that he may
compose himself to better thoughts, if it be possible."
"Seyton!" answered the dying man; "Seyton! Is it by a Seyton's hand
that I fall at last?--There is something of retribution in that--since
the house had nigh lost a sister by my deed." Fixing his fading eyes
on the youth, he added, "He hath her very features and presence!--
Stoop down, youth, and let me see thee closer--I would know thee when
we meet in yonder world, for homicides will herd together there, and I
have been one." He pulled Seyton's face, in spite of some resistance,
closer to his own, looked at him fixedly, and added, "Thou hast begun
young--thy career will be the briefer--ay, thou wilt be met with, and
that anon--a young plant never throve that was watered with an old
man's blood.--Yet why blame I thee? Strange turns of fate," he
muttered, ceasing to address Seyton; "I designed what I could not do,
and he has done what he did not perchance design.--Wondrous, that our
will should ever oppose itself to the strong and uncontrollable tide
of destiny--that we should strive with the stream when we might drift
with the current! My brain will serve me to question it no farther--I
would Schoefferbach were here--yet why?--I am on a course which the
vessel can hold without a pilot.--Farewell, George of Douglas--I die
true to thy father's house." He fell into convulsions at these words,
and shortly after expired.
Seyton and Douglas stood looking on the dying man, and when the scene
was closed, the former was the first to speak. "As I live, Douglas, I
meant not this, and am sorry; but he laid hands on me, and compelled
me to defend my freedom, as I best might, with my dagger. If he were
ten times thy friend and follower, I can but say that I am sorry."
"I blame thee not, Seyton," said Douglas, "though I lament the chance.
There is an overruling destiny above us, though not in the sense in
which it was viewed by that wretched man, who, beguiled by some
foreign mystagogue, used the awful word as the ready apology for
whatever he chose to do--we must examine the packet."
They withdrew into an inner room, and remained deep in consultation,
until they were disturbed by the entrance of Keltie, who, with an
embarrassed countenance, asked Master George Douglas's pleasure
respecting the disposal of the body. "Your honour knows," he added,
"that I make my bread by living men, not by dead corpses; and old Mr.
Dryfesdale, who was but a sorry customer while he was alive, occupies
my public room now that he is deceased, and can neither call for ale
"Tie a stone round his neck," said Seyton, "and when the sun is down,
have him to the Loch of Ore, heave him in, and let him alone for
finding out the bottom."
"Under your favour, sir," said George Douglas, "it shall not be
so.--Keltie, thou art a true fellow to me, and thy having been so
shall advantage thee. Send or take the body to the chapel at
Scotland's wall, or to the church of Ballanry, and tell what tale thou
wilt of his having fallen in a brawl with some unruly guests of thine.
Auchtermuchty knows nought else, nor are the times so peaceful as to
admit close-looking into such accounts."
"Nay, let him tell the truth," said Seyton, "so far as it harms not
our scheme.--Say that Henry Seyton met with him, my good fellow;--I
care not a brass bodle for the feud."
"A feud with the Douglas was ever to be feared, however," said George,
displeasure mingling with his natural deep gravity of manner.
"Not when the best of the name is on my side," replied Seyton.
"Alas! Henry, if thou meanest me, I am but half a Douglas in this
emprize--half head, half heart, and half hand.--But I will think on
one who can never be forgotten, and be all, or more, than any of my
ancestors was ever.--Keltie, say it was Henry Seyton did the deed; but
beware, not a word of me!--Let Auchtermuchty carry this packet" (which
he had resealed with his own signet) "to my father at Edinburgh; and
here is to pay for the funeral expenses, and thy loss of custom."
"And the washing of the floor," said the landlord, "which will be an
extraordinary job; for blood they say, will scarcely ever cleanse
"But as for your plan," said George of Douglas, addressing Seyton, as
if in continuation of what they had been before treating of, "it has a
good face; but, under your favour, you are yourself too hot and too
young, besides other reasons which are much against your playing the
part you propose."
"We will consult the Father Abbot upon it," said the youth. "Do you
ride to Kinross to-night?"
"Ay--so I purpose," answered Douglas; "the night will be dark, and
suits a muffled man. [Footnote: Generally, a disguised man; originally
one who wears the cloak or mantle muffled round the lower part of the
face to conceal his countenance. I have on an ancient, piece of iron
the representation of a robber thus accoutred, endeavouring to make
his way into a house, and opposed by a mastiff, to whom he in vain
offers food. The motto is _spernit dona fides_. It is part of a
fire-grate said to have belonged to Archbishop Sharpe.]--Keltie, I
forgot, there should be a stone laid on that man's grave, recording
his name, and his only merit, which was being a faithful servant to
"What religion was the man of?" said Seyton; "he used words, which
make me fear I have sent Satan a subject before his time."
"I can tell you little of that," said George Douglas; "he was noted
for disliking both Rome and Geneva, and spoke of lights he had learned
among the fierce sectaries of Lower Germany--an evil doctrine it was,
if we judge by the fruits. God keep us from presumptuously judging of
"Amen!" said the young Seyton, "and from meeting any encounter this
"It is not thy wont to pray so," said George Douglas.
"No! I leave that to you," replied the youth, "when you are seized
with scruples of engaging with your father's vassals. But I would fain
have this old man's blood off these hands of mine ere I shed more--I
will confess to the Abbot to-night, and I trust to have light penance
for ridding the earth of such a miscreant. All I sorrow for is, that
he was not a score of years younger--He drew steel first, however,
that is one comfort."
Chapter the Thirty-Fourth.
Ay, Pedro,--Come you here with mask and lantern.
Ladder of ropes and other moonshine tools--
Why, youngster, thou mayst cheat the old Duenna,
Flatter the waiting-woman, bribe the valet;
But know, that I her father play the Gryphon,
Tameless and sleepless, proof to fraud or bribe,
And guard the hidden, treasure of her beauty.
THE SPANISH FATHER.
The tenor of our tale carries us back to the Castle of Lochleven,
where we take up the order of events on the same remarkable day on
which Dryfesdale had been dismissed from the castle. It was past noon,
the usual hour of dinner, yet no preparations seemed made for the
Queen's entertainment. Mary herself had retired into her own
apartment, where she was closely engaged in writing. Her attendants
were together in the presence-chamber, and much disposed to speculate
on the delay of the dinner; for it may be recollected that their
breakfast had been interrupted. "I believe in my conscience," said the
page, "that having found the poisoning scheme miscarry, by having gone
to the wrong merchant for their deadly wares, they are now about to
try how famine will work upon us."
Lady Fleming was somewhat alarmed at this surmise, but comforted
herself by observing that the chimney of the kitchen had reeked that
whole day in a manner which contradicted the supposition.--Catherine
Seyton presently exclaimed, "They were bearing the dishes across the
court, marshalled by the Lady Lochleven herself, dressed out in her
highest and stiffest ruff, with her partlet and sleeves of cyprus, and
her huge old-fashioned farthingale of crimson velvet."
"I believe on my word," said the page, approaching the window also,
"it was in that very farthingale that she captivated the heart of
gentle King Jamie, which procured our poor Queen her precious bargain
of a brother."
"That may hardly be, Master Roland," answered the Lady Fleming, who
was a great recorder of the changes of fashion, "since the
farthingales came first in when the Queen Regent went to Saint
Andrews, after the battle of Pinkie, and were then called
She would have proceeded farther in this important discussion, but was
interrupted by the entrance of the Lady of Lochleven, who preceded the
servants bearing the dishes, and formally discharged the duty of
tasting each of them. Lady Fleming regretted, in courtly phrase, that
the Lady of Lochleven should have undertaken so troublesome an
"After the strange incident of this day, madam," said the Lady, "it is
necessary for my honour and that of my son, that I partake whatever is
offered to my involuntary guest. Please to inform the Lady Mary that I
attend her commands."
"Her Majesty," replied Lady Fleming, with due emphasis on the word,
"shall be informed that the Lady Lochleven waits."
Mary appeared instantly, and addressed her hostess with courtesy,
which even approached to something more cordial. "This is nobly done,
Lady Lochleven," she said; "for though we ourselves apprehend no
danger under your roof, our ladies have been much alarmed by this
morning's chance, and our meal will be the more cheerful for your
presence and assurance. Please you to sit down."
The Lady Lochleven obeyed the Queen's commands, and Roland performed
the office of carver and attendant as usual. But, notwithstanding what
the Queen had said, the meal was silent and unsocial; and every effort
which Mary made to excite some conversation, died away under the
solemn and chill replies of the Lady of Lochleven. At length it became
plain that the Queen, who had considered these advances as a
condescension on her part, and who piqued herself justly on her powers
of pleasing, became offended at the repulsive conduct of her hostess.
After looking with a significant glance at Lady Fleming and Catherine,
she slightly shrugged her shoulders, and remained silent. A pause
ensued, at the end of which the Lady Douglas spoke:--"I perceive,
madam, I am a check on the mirth of this fair company. I pray you to
excuse me--I am a widow--alone here in a most perilous charge---
deserted by my grandson--betrayed by my servant--I am little worthy of
the grace you do me in offering me a seat at your table, where I am
aware that wit and pastime are usually expected from the guests."
"If the Lady Lochleven is serious," said the Queen, "we wonder by what
simplicity she expects our present meals to be seasoned with mirth.
If she is a widow, she lives honoured and uncontrolled, at the head of
her late husband's household. But I know at least of one widowed woman
in the world, before whom the words desertion and betrayal ought never
to be mentioned, since no one has been made so bitterly acquainted
with their import."
"I meant not, madam, to remind you of your misfortunes, by the mention
of mine," answered the Lady Lochleven, and there was again a deep
Mary at length addressed Lady Fleming. "We can commit no deadly sins
here, _ma bonne_, where we are so well warded and looked to; but
if we could, this Carthusian silence might be useful as a kind of
penance. If thou hast adjusted my wimple amiss, my Fleming, or if
Catherine hath made a wry stitch in her broidery, when she was
thinking of something else than her work, or if Roland Graeme hath
missed a wild-duck on the wing, and broke a quarrel-pane [Footnote:
Diamond-shaped; literally, formed like the head of a _quarrel_,
or arrow for the crossbow.] of glass in the turret window, as chanced
to him a week since, now is the time to think on your sins and to
repent of them."
"Madam, I speak with all reverence," said the Lady Lochleven; "but I
am old, and claim the privilege of age. Methinks your followers might
find fitter subjects for repentance than the trifles you mention, and
so mention--once more, I crave your pardon--as if you jested with sin
and repentance both."
"You have been our taster, Lady Lochleven," said the Queen, "I
perceive you would eke out your duty with that of our Father
Confessor--and since you choose that our conversation should be
serious, may I ask you why the Regent's promise--since your son so
styles himself--has not been kept to me in that respect? From time to
time this promise has been renewed, and as constantly broken. Methinks
those who pretend themselves to so much gravity and sanctity, should
not debar from others the religious succours which their consciences
"Madam, the Earl of Murray was indeed weak enough," said the Lady
Lochleven, "to give so far way to your unhappy prejudices, and a
religioner of the Pope presented himself on his part at our town of
Kinross. But the Douglass is Lord of his own castle, and will not
permit his threshold to be darkened, no not for a single moment, by an
emissary belonging to the Bishop of Rome."
"Methinks it were well, then," said Mary, "that my Lord Regent would
send me where there is less scruple and more charity."
"In this, madam," answered the Lady Lochleven, "you mistake the nature
both of charity and of religion. Charity giveth to those who are in
delirium the medicaments which may avail their health, but refuses
those enticing cates and liquors which please the palate, but augment
"This your charity, Lady Lochleven, is pure cruelty, under the
hypocritical disguise of friendly care. I am oppressed amongst you as
if you meant the destruction both of my body and soul; but Heaven will
not endure such iniquity for ever, and they who are the most active
agents in it may speedily expect their reward."
At this moment Randal entered the apartment, with a look so much
perturbed, that the Lady Fleming uttered a faint scream, the Queen was
obviously startled, and the Lady of Lochleven, though too bold and
proud to evince any marked signs of alarm, asked hastily what was the
"Dryfesdale has been slain, madam," was the reply; "murdered as soon
as he gained the dry land by young Master Henry Seyton."
It was now Catherine's turn to start and grow pale--"Has the murderer
of the Douglas's vassal escaped?" was the Lady's hasty question.
"There was none to challenge him but old Keltie, and the carrier
Auchtermuchty," replied Randal; "unlikely men to stay one of the
frackest [Footnote: Boldest--most forward.] youths in Scotland of his
years, and who was sure to have friends and partakers at no great
"Was the deed completed?" said the Lady.
"Done, and done thoroughly," said Randal; "a Seyton seldom strikes
twice--But the body was not despoiled, and your honour's packet goes
forward to Edinburgh by Auchtermuchty, who leaves Keltie-Bridge early
to-morrow--marry, he has drunk two bottles of aquavitae to put the
fright out of his head, and now sleeps them off beside his
cart-avers." [Footnote: Cart-horses.]
There was a pause when this fatal tale was told. The Queen and Lady
Douglas looked on each other, as if each thought how she could best
turn the incident to her own advantage in the controversy, which was
continually kept alive betwixt them--Catherine Seyton kept her
kerchief at her eyes and wept.
"You see, madam, the bloody maxims and practice of the deluded
Papists," said Lady Lochleven.
"Nay, madam," replied the Queen, "say rather you see the deserved
judgment of Heaven upon a Calvinistical poisoner."
"Dryfesdale was not of the Church of Geneva, or of Scotland," said the
Lady of Lochleven, hastily.
"He was a heretic, however," replied Mary; "there is but one true and
unerring guide; the others lead alike into error."
"Well, madam, I trust it will reconcile you to your retreat, that this
deed shows the temper of those who might wish you at liberty.
Blood-thirsty tyrants, and cruel men-quellers are they all, from the
Clan-Ranald and Clan-Tosach in the north, to the Ferniherst and
Buccleuch in the south--the murdering Seytons in the east, and--"
"Methinks, madam, you forget that I am a Seyton?" said Catherine,
withdrawing her kerchief from her face, which was now coloured with
"If I had forgot it, fair mistress, your forward bearing would have
reminded me," said Lady Lochleven.
"If my brother has slain the villain that would have poisoned his
Sovereign, and his sister," said Catherine, "I am only so far sorry
that he should have spared the hangman his proper task. For aught
farther, had it been the best Douglas in the land, he would have been
honoured in falling by the Seyton's sword."
"Farewell, gay mistress," said the Lady of Lochleven, rising to
withdraw; "it is such maidens as you, who make giddy-fashioned
revellers and deadly brawlers. Boys must needs rise, forsooth, in the
grace of some sprightly damsel, who thinks to dance through life as
through a French galliard." She then made her reverence to the Queen,
and added, "Do you also, madam, fare you well, till curfew time, when
I will make, perchance, more bold than welcome in attending upon your
supper board.--Come with me, Randal, and tell me more of this cruel
"'Tis an extraordinary chance," said the Queen, when she had departed;
"and, villain as he was, I would this man had been spared time for
repentance. We will cause something to be done for his soul, if we
ever attain our liberty, and the Church will permit such grace to a
heretic.--But, tell me, Catherine, _ma mignóne_--this brother of
thine, who is so _frack_, as the fellow called him, bears he the
same wonderful likeness to thee as formerly?"
"If your Grace means in temper, you know whether I am so _frack_
as the serving-man spoke him."
"Nay, thou art prompt enough in all reasonable conscience," replied
the Queen; "but thou art my own darling notwithstanding--But I meant,
is this thy twin-brother as like thee in form and features as
formerly? I remember thy dear mother alleged it as a reason for
destining thee to the veil, that, were ye both to go at large, thou
wouldst surely get the credit of some of thy brother's mad pranks."
"I believe, madam," said Catherine, "there are some unusually simple
people even yet, who can hardly distinguish betwixt us, especially
when, for diversion's sake, my brother hath taken a female
dress,"--and as she spoke, she gave a quick glance at Roland Graeme,
to whom this conversation conveyed a ray of light, welcome as ever
streamed into the dungeon of a captive through the door which opened
to give him freedom.
"He must be a handsome cavalier this brother of thine, if he be so
like you," replied Mary. "He was in France, I think, for these late
years, so that I saw him not at Holyrood."
"His looks, madam, have never been much found fault with," answered
Catherine Seyton; "but I would he had less of that angry and heady
spirit which evil times have encouraged amongst our young nobles. God
knows, I grudge not his life in your Grace's quarrel; and love him for
the willingness with which he labours for your rescue. But wherefore
should he brawl with an old ruffianly serving-man, and stain at once
his name with such a broil, and his hands with the blood of an old and
"Nay, be patient, Catherine; I will not have thee traduce my gallant
young knight. With Henry for my knight, and Roland Graeme for my
trusty squire, methinks I am like a princess of romance, who may
shortly set at defiance the dungeons and the weapons of all wicked
sorcerers.--But my head aches with the agitation of the day. Take me
_La Mer Des Histoires_, and resume where we left off on
Wednesday.--Our Lady help thy head, girl, or rather may she help thy
heart!--I asked thee for the Sea of Histories, and thou hast brought
_La Cronique d'Amour_."
Once embarked upon the Sea of Histories, the Queen continued her
labours with her needle, while Lady Fleming and Catherine read to her
alternately for two hours.
As to Roland Graeme, it is probable that he continued in secret intent
upon the Chronicle of Love, notwithstanding the censure which the
Queen seemed to pass upon that branch of study. He now remembered a
thousand circumstances of voice and manner, which, had his own
prepossession been less, must surely have discriminated the brother
from the sister; and he felt ashamed, that, having as it were by heart
every particular of Catherine's gestures, words, and manners, he
should have thought her, notwithstanding her spirits and levity,
capable of assuming the bold step, loud tones, and forward assurance,
which accorded well enough with her brother's hasty and masculine
character. He endeavoured repeatedly to catch a glance of Catherine's
eye, that he might judge how she was disposed to look upon him since
he had made the discovery, but he was unsuccessful; for Catherine,
when she was not reading herself, seemed to take so much interest in
the exploits of the Teutonic knights against the Heathens of Esthonia
and Livonia, that he could not surprise her eye even for a second. But
when, closing the book, the Queen commanded their attendance in the
garden, Mary, perhaps of set purpose, (for Roland's anxiety could not
escape so practised an observer,) afforded him a favourable
opportunity of accosting his mistress. The Queen commanded them to a
little distance, while she engaged Lady Fleming in a particular and
private conversation; the subject whereof we learn, from another
authority, to have been the comparative excellence of the high
standing ruff and the falling band. Roland must have been duller, and
more sheepish than ever was youthful lover, if he had not endeavoured
to avail himself of this opportunity.
"I have been longing this whole evening to ask of you, fair
Catherine," said the page, "how foolish and unapprehensive you must
have thought me, in being capable to mistake betwixt your brother and
"The circumstance does indeed little honour to my rustic manners,"
said Catherine, "since those of a wild young man were so readily
mistaken for mine. But I shall grow wiser in time; and with that view
I am determined not to think of your follies, but to correct my own."
"It will be the lighter subject of meditation of the two," said
"I know not that," said Catherine, very gravely; "I fear we have been
both unpardonably foolish."
"I have been mad," said Roland, "unpardonably mad. But you, lovely
"I," said Catherine, in the same tone of unusual gravity, "have too
long suffered you to use such expressions towards me--I fear I can
permit it no longer, and I blame myself for the pain it may give you."
"And what can have happened so suddenly to change our relation to each
other, or alter, with such sudden cruelty, your whole deportment to
"I can hardly tell," replied Catherine, "unless it is that the events
of the day have impressed on my mind the necessity of our observing
more distance to each other. A chance similar to that which betrayed
to you the existence of my brother, may make known to Henry the terms
you have used to me; and, alas! his whole conduct, as well as his
deed, this day, makes me too justly apprehensive of the consequences."
"Fear nothing for that, fair Catherine," answered the page; "I am well
able to protect myself against risks of that nature."
"That is to say," replied she, "that you would fight with my
twin-brother to show your regard for his sister? I have heard the
Queen say, in her sad hours, that men are, in love or in hate, the
most selfish animals of creation; and your carelessness in this matter
looks very like it. But be not so much abashed--you are no worse than
"You do me injustice, Catherine," replied the page, "I thought but of
being threatened with a sword, and did not remember in whose hand your
fancy had placed it. If your brother stood before me, with his drawn
weapon in his hand, so like as he is to you in word, person, and
favour, he might shed my life's blood ere I could find in my heart to
resist him to his injury."
"Alas!" said she, "it is not my brother alone. But you remember only
the singular circumstances in which we have met in equality, and I may
say in intimacy. You think not, that whenever I re-enter my father's
house, there is a gulf between us you may not pass, but with peril of
your life.--Your only known relative is of wild and singular habits,
of a hostile and broken clan [Footnote: A broken clan was one who had
no chief able to find security for their good behaviour--a clan of
outlaws; And the Graemes of the Debateable Land were in that
condition.]--the rest of your lineage unknown--forgive me that I speak
what is the undeniable truth."
"Love, my beautiful Catherine, despises genealogies," answered Roland
"Love may, but so will not the Lord Seyton," rejoined the damsel.
"The Queen, thy mistress and mine, she will intercede. Oh! drive me
not from you at the moment I thought myself most happy!--and if I
shall aid her deliverance, said not yourself that you and she would
become my debtors?"
"All Scotland will become your debtors," said Catherine; "but for the
active effects you might hope from our gratitude, you must remember I
am wholly subjected to my father; and the poor Queen is, for a long
time, more likely to be dependant on the pleasure of the nobles of her
party, than possessed of power to control them."
"Be it so," replied Roland; "my deeds shall control prejudice
itself--it is a bustling world, and I will have my share. The Knight
of Avenel, high as he now stands, rose from as obscure an origin as
"Ay!" said Catherine, "there spoke the doughty knight of romance, that
will cut his way to the imprisoned princess, through fiends and fiery
"But if I can set the princess at large, and procure her the freedom
of her own choice," said the page, "where, dearest Catherine, will
that choice alight?"
"Release the princess from duresse, and she will tell you," said the
damsel; and breaking off the conversation abruptly, she joined the
Queen so suddenly, that Mary exclaimed, half aloud--
"No more tidings of evil import--no dissension, I trust, in my limited
household?"--Then looking on Catherine's blushing cheek, and Roland's
expanded brow and glancing eye--"No--no," she said, "I see all is
well--_Ma petite mignone_, go to my apartment and fetch me
down--let me see--ay, fetch my pomander box."
And having thus disposed of her attendant in the manner best qualified
to hide her confusion, the Queen added, speaking apart to Roland, "I
should at least have two grateful subjects of Catherine and you; for
what sovereign but Mary would aid true love so willingly?--Ay, you lay
your hand on your sword--your _petite flamberge à rien_
there--Well, short time will show if all the good be true that is
protested to us--I hear them toll curfew from Kinross. To our
chamber--this old dame hath promised to be with us again at our
evening meal. Were it not for the hope of speedy deliverance, her
presence would drive me distracted. But I will be patient."
"I profess," said Catherine, who just then entered, "I would I could
be Henry, with all a man's privileges, for one moment--I long to throw
my plate at that confect of pride and formality, and ill-nature."
The Lady Fleming reprimanded her young companion for this explosion of
impatience; the Queen laughed, and they went to the presence-chamber,
where almost immediately entered supper, and the Lady of the castle.
The Queen, strong in her prudent resolutions, endured her presence
with great fortitude and equanimity, until her patience was disturbed
by a new form, which had hitherto made no part of the ceremonial of
the castle. When the other attendant had retired, Randal entered,
bearing the keys of the castle fastened upon a chain, and, announcing
that the watch was set, and the gates locked, delivered the keys with
all reverence to the Lady of Lochleven.
The Queen and her ladies exchanged with each other a look of
disappointment, anger, and vexation; and Mary said aloud, "We cannot
regret the smallness of our court, when we see our hostess discharge
in person so many of its offices. In addition to her charges of
principal steward of our household and grand almoner, she has to-night
done duty as captain of our guard."
"And will continue to do so in future, madam," answered the Lady
Lochleven, with much gravity; "the history of Scotland may teach me
how ill the duty is performed, which is done by an accredited
deputy--We have heard, madam, of favourites of later date, and as
little merit, as Oliver Sinclair." [Footnote: A favourite, and said to
be an unworthy one, of James V.]
"Oh, madam," replied the Queen, "my father had his female as well as
his male favourites--there were the Ladies Sandilands and Olifaunt,
[Footnote: The names of these ladies, and a third frail favourite of
James, are preserved in an epigram too _gaillard_ for quotation.]
and some others, methinks; but their names cannot survive in the
memory of so grave a person as you."
The Lady Lochleven looked as if she could have slain the Queen on the
spot, but commanded her temper and retired from the apartment, bearing
in her hand the ponderous bunch of keys.
"Now God be praised for that woman's youthful frailty!" said the
Queen. "Had she not that weak point in her character, I might waste
my words on her in vain--But that stain is the very reverse of what is
said of the witch's mark--I can make her feel there, though she is
otherwise insensible all over.--But how say you, girls--here is a new
difficulty--How are these keys to be come by?--there is no deceiving
or bribing this dragon, I trow."
"May I crave to know," said Roland, "whether, if your Grace were
beyond the walls of the castle, you could find means of conveyance to
the firm land, and protection when you are there?"
"Trust us for that, Roland," said the Queen; "for to that point our
scheme is indifferent well laid."
"Then if your Grace will permit me to speak my mind, I think I could
be of some use in this matter."
"As how, my good youth?--speak on," said the Queen, "and fearlessly."
"My patron the Knight of Avenel used to compel the youth educated in
his household to learn the use of axe and hammer, and working in wood
and iron--he used to speak of old northern champions, who forged their
own weapons, and of the Highland Captain, Donald nan Ord, or Donald of
the Hammer, whom he himself knew, and who used to work at the anvil
with a sledge-hammer in each hand. Some said he praised this art,
because he was himself of churl's blood. However, I gained some
practice in it, as the Lady Catherine Seyton partly knows; for since
we were here, I wrought her a silver brooch."
"Ay," replied Catharine, "but you should tell her Grace that your
workmanship was so indifferent that it broke to pieces next day, and I
flung it away."
"Believe her not, Roland," said the Queen; "she wept when it was
broken, and put the fragments into her bosom. But for your
scheme--could your skill avail to forge a second set of keys?"
"No, madam, because I know not the wards. But I am convinced I could
make a set so like that hateful bunch which the Lady bore off even
now, that could they be exchanged against them by any means, she would
never dream she was possessed of the wrong."
"And the good dame, thank Heaven, is somewhat blind," said the Queen;
"but then for a forge, my boy, and the means of labouring unobserved?"
"The armourer's forge, at which I used sometimes to work with him, is
the round vault at the bottom of the turret--he was dismissed with the
warder for being supposed too much attached to George Douglas. The
people are accustomed to see me work there, and I warrant I shall find
some excuse that will pass current with them for putting bellows and
anvil to work."
"The scheme has a promising face," said the Queen; "about it, my lad,
with all speed, and beware the nature of your work is not discovered."
"Nay, I will take the liberty to draw the bolt against chance
visitors, so that I will have time to put away what I am working upon,
before I undo the door."
"Will not that of itself attract suspicion, in a place where it is so
current already?" said Catherine.
"Not a whit," replied Roland; "Gregory the armourer, and every good
hammerman, locks himself in when he is about some master piece of
craft. Besides, something must be risked."
"Part we then to-night," said the Queen, "and God bless you my
children!--If Mary's head ever rises above water, you shall all rise
along with her."
Chapter the Thirty-Fifth.
It is a time of danger, not of revel,
When churchmen turn to masquers.
The enterprise of Roland Graeme appeared to prosper. A trinket or two,
of which the work did not surpass the substance, (for the materials
were silver, supplied by the Queen,) were judiciously presented to
those most likely to be inquisitive into the labours of the forge and
anvil, which they thus were induced to reckon profitable to others and
harmless in itself. Openly, the page was seen working about such
trifles. In private, he forged a number of keys resembling so nearly
in weight and in form those which were presented every evening to the
Lady Lochleven, that, on a slight inspection, it would have been
difficult to perceive the difference. He brought them to the dark
rusty colour by the use of salt and water; and, in the triumph of his
art, presented them at length to Queen Mary in her presence-chamber,
about an hour before the tolling of the curfew. She looked at them
with pleasure, but at the same time with doubt.--"I allow," she said,
"that the Lady Lochleven's eyes, which are not of the clearest, may be
well deceived, could we pass those keys on her in place of the real
implements of her tyranny. But how is this to be done, and which of my
little court dare attempt this _tour de jongleur_ with any chance
of success? Could we but engage her in some earnest matter of
argument--but those which I hold with her, always have been of a kind
which make her grasp her keys the faster, as if she said to
herself--Here I hold what sets me above your taunts and
reproaches--And even for her liberty, Mary Stuart could not stoop to
speak the proud heretic fair.--What shall we do? Shall Lady Fleming
try her eloquence in describing the last new head-tire from
Paris?--alas! the good dame has not changed the fashion of her
head-gear since Pinkie-field for aught that I know. Shall my
_mignóne_ Catherine sing to her one of those touching airs, which
draw the very souls out of me and Roland Graeme?--Alas! Dame Margaret
Douglas would rather hear a Huguenot psalm of Clement Marrot, sung to
the tune of _Reveillez vous, belle endormie._--Cousins and liege
counsellors, what is to be done, for our wits are really astray in
this matter?--Must our man-at-arms and the champion of our body,
Roland Graeme, manfully assault the old lady, and take the keys from
her _par voie du fait?_"
"Nay! with your Grace's permission." said Roland, "I do not doubt
being able to manage the matter with more discretion; for though, in
your Grace's service, I do not fear--"
"A host of old women," interrupted Catherine, "each armed with rock
and spindle, yet he has no fancy for pikes and partisans, which might
rise at the cry of _Help! a Douglas, a Douglas!_"
"They that do not fear fair ladies' tongues," continued the page,
"need dread nothing else.--But, gracious Liege, I am well-nigh
satisfied that I could pass the exchange of these keys on the Lady
Lochleven; but I dread the sentinel who is now planted nightly in the
garden, which, by necessity, we must traverse."
"Our last advices from our friends on the shore have promised us
assistance in that matter," replied the Queen.
"And is your Grace well assured of the fidelity and watchfulness of
"For their fidelity, I will answer with my life, and for their
vigilance, I will answer with my life--I will give thee instant proof,
my faithful Roland, that they are ingenuous and trusty as thyself.
Come hither--Nay, Catherine, attend us; we carry not so deft a page
into our private chamber alone. Make fast the door of the parlour,
Fleming, and warn us if you hear the least step--or stay, go thou to
the door, Catherine," (in a whisper, "thy ears and thy wits are both
sharper.)--Good Fleming, attend us thyself"--(and again she
whispered, "her reverend presence will be as safe a watch on Roland as
thine can--so be not jealous, _mignone_.")
Thus speaking, they were lighted by the Lady Fleming into the Queen's
bedroom, a small apartment enlightened by a projecting window.
"Look from that window, Roland," she said; "see you amongst the
several lights which begin to kindle, and to glimmer palely through
the gray of the evening from the village of Kinross-seest thou, I say,
one solitary spark apart from the others, and nearer it seems to the
verge of the water?--It is no brighter at this distance than the torch
of the poor glowworm, and yet, my good youth, that light is more dear
to Mary Stuart, than every star that twinkles in the blue vault of
heaven. By that signal, I know that more than one true heart is
plotting my deliverance; and without that consciousness, and the hope
of freedom it gives me, I had long since stooped to my fate, and died
of a broken heart. Plan after plan has been formed and abandoned, but
still the light glimmers; and while it glimmers, my hope lives.--Oh!
how many evenings have I sat musing in despair over our ruined
schemes, and scarce hoping that I should again see that blessed
signal; when it has suddenly kindled, and, like the lights of Saint
Elmo in a tempest, brought hope and consolation, where there, was only
dejection and despair!"
"If I mistake not," answered Roland, "the candle shines from the house
of Blinkhoolie, the mail-gardener."
"Thou hast a good eye," said the Queen; "it is there where my trusty
lieges--God and the saints pour blessings on them!--hold consultation
for my deliverance. The voice of a wretched captive would die on these
blue waters, long ere it could mingle in their councils; and yet I can
hold communication--I will confide the whole to thee--I am about to
ask those faithful friends if the moment for the great attempt is
nigh.--Place the lamp in the window, Fleming."
She obeyed, and immediately withdrew it. No sooner had she done so,
than the light in the cottage of the gardener disappeared.
"Now count," said Queen Mary, "for my heart beats so thick that I
cannot count myself."
The Lady Fleming began deliberately to count one, two, three, and when
she had arrived at ten, the light on the shore showed its pale
"Now, our Lady be praised!" said the Queen; "it was but two nights
since, that the absence of the light remained while I could tell
thirty. The hour of deliverance approaches. May God bless those who
labour in it with such truth to me!--alas! with such hazard to
themselves--and bless you, too, my children!--Come, we must to the
audience-chamber again. Our absence might excite suspicion, should
they serve supper."
They returned to the presence-chamber, and the evening concluded as
The next morning, at dinner-time, an unusual incident occurred. While
Lady Douglas of Lochleven performed her daily duty of assistant and
taster at the Queen's table, she was told a man-at-arms had arrived,
recommended by her son, but without any letter or other token than
what he brought by word of mouth.
"Hath he given you that token?" demanded the Lady.
"He reserved it, as I think, for your Ladyship's ear," replied Randal.
"He doth well," said the Lady; "tell him to wait in the hall--But
no--with your permission, madam," (to the Queen) "let him attend me
"Since you are pleased to receive your domestics in my presence," said
the Queen, "I cannot choose--"
"My infirmities must plead my excuse, madam," replied the Lady; "the
life I must lead here ill suits with the years which have passed over
my head, and compels me to waive ceremonial."
"Oh, my good Lady," replied the Queen, "I would there were nought in
this your castle more strongly compulsive than the cobweb chains of
ceremony; but bolts and bars are harder matters to contend with."
As she spoke, the person announced by Randal entered the room, and
Roland Graeme at once recognized in him the Abbot Ambrosius.
"What is your name, good fellow?" said the Lady.
"Edward Glendinning," answered the Abbot, with a suitable reverence.
"Art thou of the blood of the Knight of Avenel?" said the Lady of
"Ay, madam, and that nearly," replied the pretended soldier.
"It is likely enough," said the Lady, "for the Knight is the son of
his own good works, and has risen from obscure lineage to his present
high rank in the Estate--But he is of sure truth and approved worth,
and his kinsman is welcome to us. You hold, unquestionably, the true
"Do not doubt of it, madam," said the disguised churchman.
"Hast thou a token to me from Sir William Douglas?" said the Lady.
"I have, madam," replied he; "but it must be said in private."
"Thou art right," said the Lady, moving towards the recess of a
window; "say in what does it consist?"
"In the words of an old bard," replied the Abbot.
"Repeat them," answered the Lady; and he uttered, in a low tone, the
lines from an old poem, called The Howlet,--
"O Douglas! Douglas!
Tender and true."
"Trusty Sir John Holland!" [Footnote: Sir John Holland's poem of the
Howlet is known to collectors by the beautiful edition presented to
the Bannatyne Club, by Mr. David Laing.] said the Lady Douglas,
apostrophizing the poet, "a kinder heart never inspired a rhyme, and
the Douglas's honour was ever on thy heart-string! We receive you
among our followers, Glendinning--But, Randal, see that he keep the
outer ward only, till we shall hear more touching him from our
son.--Thou fearest not the night air. Glendinning?"
"In the cause of the Lady before whom I stand, I fear nothing, madam,"
answered the disguised Abbot.
"Our garrison, then, is stronger by one trustworthy soldier," said the
matron--"Go to the buttery, and let them make much of thee."
When the Lady Lochleven had retired, the Queen said to Roland Graeme,
who was now almost constantly in her company, "I spy comfort in that
stranger's countenance; I know not why it should be so, but I am well
persuaded he is a friend."
"Your Grace's penetration does not deceive you," answered the page;
and he informed her that the Abbot of St. Mary's himself played the
part of the newly arrived soldier.
The Queen crossed herself and looked upwards. "Unworthy sinner that I
am," she said, "that for my sake a man so holy, and so high in
spiritual office, should wear the garb of a base sworder, and run the
risk of dying the death of a traitor!"
"Heaven will protect its own servant, madam," said Catherine Seyton;
"his aid would bring a blessing on our undertaking, were it not
already blest for its own sake."
"What I admire in my spiritual father," said Roland, "was the steady
front with which he looked on me, without giving the least sign of
former acquaintance. I did not think the like was possible, since I
have ceased to believe that Henry was the same person with Catherine."
"But marked you not how astuciously the good father," said the Queen,
"eluded the questions of the woman Lochleven, telling her the very
truth, which yet she received not as such?"
Roland thought in his heart, that when the truth was spoken for the
purpose of deceiving, it was little better than a lie in disguise. But
it was no time to agitate such questions of conscience.
"And now for the signal from the shore," exclaimed Catherine; "my
bosom tells me we shall see this night two lights instead of one gleam
from that garden of Eden--And then, Roland, do you play your part
manfully, and we will dance on the greensward like midnight fairies!"
Catherine's conjecture misgave not, nor deceived her. In the evening
two beams twinkled from the cottage, instead of one; and the page
heard, with beating heart, that the new retainer was ordered to stand
sentinel on the outside of the castle. When he intimated this news to
the Queen, she held her hand out to him--he knelt, and when he raised
it to his lips in all dutiful homage, he found it was damp and cold as
marble. "For God's sake, madam, droop not now,--sink not now!"
"Call upon our Lady, my Liege," said the Lady Fleming--"call upon
your tutelar saint."
"Call the spirits of the hundred kings you are descended from,"
exclaimed the page; "in this hour of need, the resolution of a monarch
were worth the aid of a hundred saints."
"Oh! Roland Graeme," said Mary, in a tone of deep despondency, "be
true to me--many have been false to me. Alas! I have not always been
true to myself. My mind misgives me that I shall die in bondage, and
that this bold attempt will cost all our lives. It was foretold me by
a soothsayer in France, that I should die in prison, and by a violent
death, and here comes the hour--Oh, would to God it found me
"Madam," said Catherine Seyton, "remember you are a Queen. Better we
all died in bravely attempting to gain our freedom, than remained here
to be poisoned, as men rid them of the noxious vermin that haunt old
"You are right, Catherine," said the Queen; "and Mary will bear her
like herself. But alas! your young and buoyant spirit can ill spell
the causes which have broken mine. Forgive me, my children, and
farewell for a while--I will prepare both mind and body for this awful
They separated, till again called together by the tolling of the
curfew. The Queen appeared grave, but firm and resolved; the Lady
Fleming, with the art of an experienced courtier, knew perfectly how
to disguise her inward tremors; Catherine's eye was fired, as if with
the boldness of the project, and the half smile which dwelt upon her
beautiful mouth seemed to contemn all the risk and all the
consequences of discovery; Roland, who felt how much success depended
on his own address and boldness, summoned together his whole presence
of mind, and if he found his spirits flag for a moment, cast his eye
upon Catherine, whom he thought he had never seen look so
beautiful.--"I may be foiled," he thought, "but with this reward in
prospect, they must bring the devil to aid them ere they cross me."
Thus resolved, he stood like a greyhound in the slips, with hand,
heart, and eye intent upon making and seizing opportunity for the
execution of their project.
The keys had, with the wonted ceremonial, been presented to the Lady
Lochleven. She stood with her back to the casement, which, like that
of the Queen's apartment, commanded a view of Kinross, with the
church, which stands at some distance from the town, and nearer to the
lake, then connected with the town by straggling cottages. With her
back to this casement, then, and her face to the table, on which the
keys lay for an instant while she tasted the various dishes which were
placed there, stood the Lady of Lochleven, more provokingly intent
than usual--so at least it seemed to her prisoners--upon the huge and
heavy bunch of iron, the implements of their restraint. Just when,
having finished her ceremony as taster of the Queen's table, she was
about to take up the keys, the page, who stood beside her, and had
handed her the dishes in succession, looked sideways to the
churchyard, and exclaimed he saw corpse-candles in the churchyard. The
Lady of Lochleven was not without a touch, though a slight one, of the
superstitions of the time; the fate of her sons made her alive to
omens, and a corpse-light, as it was called, in the family
burial-place boded death. She turned her head towards the
casement--saw a distant glimmering--forgot her charge for one second,
and in that second were lost the whole fruits of her former vigilance.
The page held the forged keys under his cloak, and with great
dexterity exchanged them for the real ones. His utmost address could
not prevent a slight clash as he took up the latter bunch. "Who
touches the keys?" said the Lady; and while the page answered that the
sleeve of his cloak had stirred them, she looked round, possessed
herself of the bunch which now occupied the place of the genuine keys,
and again turned to gaze on the supposed corpse-candles.
"I hold these gleams," she said, after a moment's consideration, "to
come, not from the churchyard, but from the hut of the old gardener
Blinkhoolie. I wonder what thrift that churl drives, that of late he
hath ever had light in his house till the night grew deep. I thought
him an industrious, peaceful man--If he turns resetter of idle
companions and night-walkers, the place must be rid of him."
"He may work his baskets perchance," said the page, desirous to stop
the train of her suspicion.
"Or nets, may he not?" answered the Lady.
"Ay, madam," said Roland, "for trout and salmon."
"Or for fools and knaves," replied the Lady: "but this shall be looked
after to-morrow.--I wish your Grace and your company a good
evening.--Randal, attend us." And Randal, who waited in the
antechamber after having surrendered his bunch of keys, gave his
escort to his mistress as usual, while, leaving the Queen's
apartments, she retired to her own [End of paragraph missing in original]
"To-morrow" said the page, rubbing his hands with glee as he repeated
the Lady's last words, "fools look to-morrow, and wise folk use
to-night.--May I pray you, my gracious Liege, to retire for one half
hour, until all the castle is composed to rest? I must go and rub with
oil these blessed implements of our freedom. Courage and constancy,
and all will go well, provided our friends on the shore fail not to
send the boat you spoke of."
"Fear them not," said Catherine, "they are true as steel--if our dear
mistress do but maintain her noble and royal courage."
[Footnote: In the dangerous expedition to Aberdeenshire, Randolph, the
English Ambassador, gives Cecil the following account of Queen Mary's
"In all those garbulles, I assure your honour, I never saw the Queen
merrier, never dismayed; nor never thought I that stomache to be in
her that I find. She repented nothing but, when the Lords and others,
at Inverness, came in the morning from the watches, that she was not a
man, to know what life it was to lye all night in the fields, or to
walk upon the causeway with a jack and a knaps-cap, a Glasgow buckler,
and a broadsword."--RANDOLPH _to_ CECIL, _September_ 18,
The writer of the above letter seems to have felt the same impression
which Catherine Seyton, in the text, considered as proper to the
Queen's presence among her armed subjects.
"Though we neither thought nor looked for other than on that day to
have fought or never-what desperate blows would not have been given,
when every man should have fought in the sight of so noble a Queen,
and so many fair ladies, our enemies to have taken them from us, and
we to save our honours, not to be reft of them, your honour can easily
judge."--_The same to the same, September_ 24, 1562. ]
"Doubt not me, Catherine," replied the Queen; "a while since I was
overborne, but I have recalled the spirit of my earlier and more
sprightly days, when I used to accompany my armed nobles, and wish to
be myself a man, to know what life it was to be in the fields with
sword and buckler, jack, and knapscap."
"Oh, the lark lives not a gayer life, nor sings a lighter and gayer
song than the merry soldier," answered Catherine. "Your Grace shall be
in the midst of them soon, and the look of such a liege Sovereign will
make each of your host worth three in the hour of need:--but I must to
"We have but brief time," said Queen Mary; "one of the two lights in
the cottage is extinguished--that shows the boat is put off."
"They will row very slow," said the page, "or kent where depth
permits, to avoid noise.--To our several tasks--I will communicate
with the good Father."
At the dead hour of midnight, when all was silent in the castle, the
page put the key into the lock of the wicket which opened into the
garden, and which was at the bottom of a staircase which descended
from the Queen's apartment. "Now, turn smooth and softly, thou good
bolt," said he, "if ever oil softened rust!" and his precautions had
been so effectual, that the bolt revolved with little or no sound of
resistance. He ventured not to cross the threshold, but exchanging a
word with the disguised Abbot, asked if the boat were ready?
"This half hour," said the sentinel. "She lies beneath the wall, too
close under the islet to be seen by the warder, but I fear she will
hardly escape his notice in putting off again."
"The darkness," said the page, "and our profound silence, may take
her off unobserved, as she came in. Hildebrand has the watch on the
tower--a heavy-headed knave, who holds a can of ale to be the best
headpiece upon a night-watch. He sleeps, for a wager."
"Then bring the Queen," said the Abbot, "and I will call Henry
Seyton to assist them to the boat."
On tiptoe, with noiseless step and suppressed breath, trembling at
every rustle of their own apparel, one after another the fair
prisoners glided down the winding stair, under the guidance of Roland
Graeme, and were received at the wicket-gate by Henry Seyton and the
churchman. The former seemed instantly to take upon himself the whole
direction of the enterprise. "My Lord Abbot," he said, "give my
sister your arm--I will conduct the Queen--and that youth will have
the honour to guide Lady Fleming."
This was no time to dispute the arrangement, although it was not that
which Roland Graeme would have chosen. Catherine Seyton, who well knew
the garden path, tripped on before like a sylph, rather leading the
Abbot than receiving assistance--the Queen, her native spirit
prevailing over female fear, and a thousand painful reflections, moved
steadily forward, by the assistance of Henry Seyton--while the Lady
Fleming, encumbered with her fears and her helplessness Roland Graeme,
who followed in the rear, and who bore under the other arm a packet of
necessaries belonging to the Queen. The door of the garden, which
communicated with the shore of the islet, yielded to one of the keys
of which Roland had possessed himself, although not until he had tried
several,--a moment of anxious terror and expectation. The ladies were
then partly led, partly carried, to the side of the lake, where a boat
with six rowers attended them, the men couched along the bottom to
secure them from observation. Henry Seyton placed the Queen in the
stern; the Abbot offered to assist Catherine, but she was seated by
the Queen's side before he could utter his proffer of help; and Roland
Graeme was just lifting Lady Fleming over the boat-side, when a
thought suddenly occurred to him, and exclaiming, "Forgotten,
forgotten! wait for me but one half-minute," he replaced on the shore
the helpless Lady of the bed-chamber, threw the Queen's packet into
the boat, and sped back through the garden with the noiseless speed of
a bird on the wing.
"By Heaven, he is false at last!" said Seyton; "I ever feared it!"
"He is as true," said Catherine, "as Heaven itself, and that I will
"Be silent, minion," said her brother, "for shame, if not for fear--
Fellows, put off, and row for your lives!"
"Help me, help me on board!" said the deserted Lady Fleming, and
that louder than prudence warranted.
"Put off--put off!" cried Henry Seyton; "leave all behind, so the
Queen is safe."
"Will you permit this, madam?" said Catherine, imploringly; "you
leave your deliverer to death."
"I will not," said the Queen.--"Seyton I command you to stay at every
"Pardon me, madam, if I disobey," said the intractable young man; and
with one hand lifting in Lady Fleming, he began himself to push off
She was two fathoms' length from the shore, and the rowers were
getting her head round, when Roland Graeme, arriving, bounded from the
beach, and attained the boat, overturning Seyton, on whom he lighted.
The youth swore a deep but suppressed oath, and stopping Graeme as he
stepped towards the stern, said, "Your place is not with high-born
dames--keep at the head and trim the vessel--Now give way--give
way--Row, for God and the Queen!"
The rowers obeyed, and began to pull vigorously.
"Why did ye not muffle the oars?" said Roland Graeme; "the dash must
awaken the sentinel--Row, lads, and get out of reach of shot; for had
not old Hildebrand, the warder, supped upon poppy-porridge, this
whispering must have waked him."
"It was all thine own delay," said Seyton; "thou shalt reckon, with me
hereafter for that and other matters."
But Roland's apprehension was verified too instantly to permit him to
reply. The sentinel, whose slumbering had withstood the whispering,
was alarmed by the dash of the oars. His challenge was instantly
heard. "A boat---a boat!--bring to, or I shoot!" And, as they
continued to ply their oars, he called aloud, "Treason! treason!" rung
the bell of the castle, and discharged his harquebuss at the boat. The
ladies crowded on each other like startled wild foul, at the flash and
report of the piece, while the men urged the rowers to the utmost
speed. They heard more than one ball whiz along the surface of the
lake, at no great distance from their little bark; and from the
lights, which glanced like meteors from window to window, it was
evident the whole castle was alarmed, and their escape discovered.
"Pull!" again exclaimed Seyton; "stretch to your oars, or I will spur
you to the task with my dagger--they will launch a boat immediately."
"That is cared for," said Roland; "I locked gate and wicket on them
when I went back, and no boat will stir from the island this night, if
doors of good oak and bolts of iron can keep men within
stone-walls.--And now I resign my office of porter of Lochleven, and
give the keys to the Kelpie's keeping."
As the heavy keys plunged in the lake, the Abbot,--who till then had
been repeating his prayers, exclaimed, "Now, bless thee, my son! for
thy ready prudence puts shame on us all."
[Footnote: It is well known that the escape of Queen Mary from
Lochleven was effected by George Douglas, the youngest brother of Sir
William Douglas, the lord of the castle; but the minute circumstances
of the event have been a good deal confused, owing to two agents
having been concerned in it who bore the same name. It has been
always supposed that George Douglas was induced to abet Mary's escape
by the ambitions hope that, by such service, he might merit her hand.
But his purpose was discovered by his brother Sir William, and he was
expelled from the castle. He continued, notwithstanding, to hover in
the neighbourhood, and maintain a correspondence with the royal
prisoner and others in the fortress.
If we believe the English ambassador Drury, the Queen was grateful to
George Douglas, and even proposed a marriage with him; a scheme which
could hardly be serious, since she was still the wife of Bothwell, but
which, if suggested at all, might be with a purpose of gratifying the
Regent Murray's ambition, and propitiating his favour; since he was,
it must be remembered, the brother uterine of George Douglas, for whom
such high honour was said to be designed.
The proposal, if seriously made, was treated as inadmissible, and Mary
again resumed her purpose of escape. Her failure in her first attempt
has some picturesque particulars, which might have been advantageously
introduced in fictitious narrative. Drury sends Cecil the following
account of the matter:--
"But after, upon the 25th of the last, (April 1567,) she interprised
an escape, and was the rather near effect, through her accustomed long
lying in bed all the morning. The manner of it was thus: there cometh
in to her the laundress early as other times before she was wanted,
and the Queen according to such a secret practice putteth on her the
hood of the laundress, and so with the fardel of clothes and the
muffler upon her face, passeth, out and entereth the boat to pass the
Loch; which, after some space, one of them that rowed said merrily,
'Let us see what manner of dame this is,' and therewith offered to
pull down her muffler, which to defend, she put up her hands, which
they spied to be very fair and white; wherewith they entered into
suspicion whom she was, beginning to wonder at her enterprise. Whereat
she was little dismayed, but charged them, upon danger of their lives,
to row her over to the shore, which they nothing regarded, but
eftsoons rowed her back again, promising her it should be secreted,
and especially from the lord of the house, under whose guard she
lyeth. It seemeth she knew her refuge, and--where to have found it if
she had once landed; for there did, and yet do linger, at a little
village called Kinross, hard at the Loch side, the same George
Douglas, one Sempel and one Beton, the which two were sometime her
trusty servants, and, as yet appeareth, they mind her no less
affection."--_Bishop Keith's History of the Affairs of Church and
State in Scotland_, p. 490.
Notwithstanding this disappointment, little spoke of by historians,
Mary renewed her attempts to escape. There was in the Castle of
Lochleven a lad, named William Douglas, some relation probably of the
baron, and about eighteen years old. This youth proved as accessible
to Queen Mary's prayers and promises, as was the brother of his
patron, George Douglas, from whom this William must be carefully kept
distinct. It was young William who played the part commonly assigned
to his superior, George, stealing the keys of the castle from the
table on which they lay, while his lord was at supper. He let the
Queen and a waiting woman out of the apartment where they were
secured, and out of the tower itself, embarked with them in a small
skiff, and rowed them to the shore. To prevent instant pursuit, he,
for precaution's sake, locked the iron grated door of the tower, and
threw the keys into the lake. They found George Douglas and the
Queen's servant, Beton, waiting for them, and Lord Seyton and James
Hamilton of Orbeiston in attendance, at the head of a party of
faithful followers, with whom they fled to Niddrie Castle, and from
thence to Hamilton.
In narrating this romantic story, both history and tradition confuse
the two Douglasses together, and confer on George the successful
execution of the escape from the castle, the merit of which belongs,
in reality, to the boy called William, or, more frequently, the Little
Douglas, either from his youth or his slight stature. The reader will
observe, that in the romance, the part of the Little Douglas has been
assigned to Roland Graeme. In another case, it would be tedious to
point out in a work of amusement such minute points of historical
fact; but the general interest taken in the fate of Queen Mary,
renders every thing of consequence which connects itself with her
"I knew," said Mary, drawing her breath more freely, as they were now
out of reach of the musketry--"I knew my squire's truth, promptitude,
and sagacity.--I must have him my dear friends--with my no less true
knights, Douglas and Seyton--but where, then, is Douglas?"
"Here, madam," answered the deep and melancholy voice of the boatman
who sat next her, and who acted as steersman.
"Alas! was it you who stretched your body before me," said the Queen,
"when the balls were raining around us?"
"Believe you," said he, in a low tone, "that Douglas would have
resigned to any one the chance of protecting his Queen's life with his
The dialogue was here interrupted by a shot or two from one of those
small pieces of artillery called falconets, then used in defending
castles. The shot was too vague to have any effect, but the broader
flash, the deeper sound, the louder return which was made by the
midnight echoes of Bennarty, terrified and imposed silence on the
liberated prisoners. The boat was alongside of a rude quay or landing
place, running out from a garden of considerable extent, ere any of
them again attempted to speak. They landed, and while the Abbot
returned thanks aloud to Heaven,--which had thus far favoured their
enterprise, Douglas enjoyed the best reward of his desperate
undertaking, in conducting the Queen to the house of the gardener.
Yet, not unmindful of Roland Graeme even in that moment of terror and
exhaustion, Mary expressly commanded Seyton to give his assistance to
Fleming, while Catherine voluntarily, and without bidding, took the
arm of the page. Seyton presently resigned Lady Fleming to the care of
the Abbot, alleging, he must look after their horses; and his
attendants, disencumbering themselves of their boat-cloaks, hastened
to assist him.
While Mary spent in the gardener's cottage the few minutes which were
necessary to prepare the steeds for their departure, she perceived, in
a corner, the old man to whom the garden belonged, and called him to
approach. He came as it were with reluctance.
"How, brother," said the Abbot, "so slow to welcome thy royal Queen
and mistress to liberty and to her kingdom!"
The old man, thus admonished, came forward, and, in good terms of
speech, gave her Grace joy of her deliverance. The Queen returned him
thanks in the most gracious manner, and added, "It will remain to us
to offer some immediate reward for your fidelity, for we wot well your
house has been long the refuge in which our trusty servants have met
to concert measures for our freedom." So saying, she offered gold, and
added, "We will consider your services more fully hereafter."
"Kneel, brother," said the Abbot, "kneel instantly, and thank her
"Good brother, that wert once a few steps under me, and art still many
years younger," replied the gardener, pettishly, "let me do mine
acknowledgments in my own way. Queens have knelt to me ere now, and in
truth my knees are too old and stiff to bend even to this lovely-faced
lady. May it please your Grace, if your Grace's servants have occupied
my house, so that I could not call it mine own--if they have trodden
down my flowers in the zeal of their midnight comings and goings, and
destroyed the hope of the fruit season, by bringing their war-horses
into my garden, I do but crave of your Grace in requital, that you
will choose your residence as far from me as possible. I am an old man
who would willingly creep to my grave as easily as I can, in peace,
good-will, and quiet labour."
"I promise you fairly, good man," said the Queen, "I will not make
yonder castle my residence again, if I can help it. But let me press
on you this money--it will make some amends for the havoc we have made
in your little garden and orchard."
"I thank your Grace, but it will make me not the least amends," said
the old man. "The ruined labours of a whole year are not so easily
replaced to him who has perchance but that one year to live; and
besides, they tell me I must leave this place and become a wanderer in
mine old age--I that have nothing on earth saving these fruit-trees,
and a few old parchments and family secrets not worth knowing. As for
gold, if I had loved it, I might have remained Lord Abbot of St.
Mary's--and yet, I wot not--for, if Abbot Boniface be but the poor
peasant Blinkhoolie, his successor, the Abbot Ambrosius, is still
transmuted for the worse into the guise of a sword-and-buckler-man."
"Is this indeed the Abbot Boniface of whom I have heard?" said the
Queen. "It is indeed I who should have bent the knee for your
blessing, good Father."
"Bend no knee to me, Lady! The blessing of an old man, who is no
longer an Abbot, go with you over dale and down--I hear the trampling
of your horses."
"Farewell, Father," said the Queen. "When we are once more seated at
Holyrood, we will neither forget thee nor thine injured garden."
"Forget us both," said the Ex-Abbot Boniface, "and may God be with
As they hurried out of the house, they heard the old man talking and
muttering to himself, as he hastily drew bolt and bar behind them.
"The revenge of the Douglasses will reach the poor old man," said the
Queen. "God help me, I ruin every one whom I approach!"
"His safety is cared for," said Seyton; "he must not remain here, but
will be privately conducted to a place of greater security. But I
would your Grace were in the saddle.--To horse! to horse!"
The party of Seyton and of Douglas were increased to about ten by
those attendants who had remained with the horses. The Queen and her
ladies, with all the rest who came from the boat, were instantly
mounted; and holding aloof from the village, which was already alarmed
by the firing from the castle, with Douglas acting as their guide,
they soon reached the open ground and began to ride as fast as was
consistent with keeping together in good order.
Chapter the Thirty-Sixth.
He mounted himself on a coal-black steed,
And her on a freckled gray,
With a bugelet horn hung down from his side,
And roundly they rode away.
The influence of the free air, the rushing of the horses over high and
low, the ringing of the bridles, the excitation at once arising from a
sense of freedom and of rapid motion, gradually dispelled the confused
and dejected sort of stupefaction by which Queen Mary was at first
overwhelmed. She could not at last conceal the change of her feelings
to the person who rode at her rein, and who she doubted not was the
Father Ambrosius; for Seyton, with all the heady impetuosity of a
youth, proud, and justly so, of his first successful adventure,
assumed all the bustle and importance of commander of the little
party, which escorted, in the language of the time, the Fortune of
Scotland. He now led the van, now checked his bounding steed till the
rear had come up, exhorted the leaders to keep a steady, though rapid
pace, and commanded those who were hindmost of the party to use their
spurs, and allow no interval to take place in their line of march; and
anon he was beside the Queen, or her ladies, inquiring how they
brooked the hasty journey, and whether they had any commands for him.
But while Seyton thus busied himself in the general cause with some
advantage to the regular order of the march, and a good deal of
personal ostentation, the horseman who rode beside the Queen gave her
his full and undivided attention, as if he had been waiting upon some
superior being. When the road was rugged and dangerous, he abandoned
almost entirely the care of his own horse, and kept his hand
constantly upon the Queen's bridle; if a river or larger brook
traversed their course, his left arm retained her in the saddle, while
his right held her palfrey's rein.
"I had not thought, reverend Father," said the Queen, when they
reached the other bank, "that the convent bred such good
horsemen."--The person she addressed sighed, but made no other
answer.--"I know not how it is," said Queen Mary, "but either the
sense of freedom, or the pleasure of my favourite exercise, from which
I have been so long debarred, or both combined, seem to have given
wings to me--no fish ever shot through the water, no bird through the
air, with the hurried feeling of liberty and rapture with which I
sweep through, this night-wind, and over these wolds. Nay, such is the
magic of feeling myself once more in the saddle, that I could almost
swear I am at this moment mounted on my own favourite Rosabelle, who
was never matched in Scotland for swiftness, for ease of motion, and
for sureness of foot."
"And if the horse which bears so dear a burden could speak," answered
the deep voice of the melancholy George of Douglas, "would she not
reply, who but Rosabelle ought at such an emergence as this to serve
her beloved mistress, or who but Douglas ought to hold her
Queen Mary started; she foresaw at once all the evils like to arise to
herself and him from the deep enthusiastic passion of this youth; but
her feelings as a woman, grateful at once and compassionate, prevented
her assuming the dignity of a Queen, and she endeavoured to continue
the conversation in an indifferent tone.
"Methought," she said, "I heard that, at the division of my spoils,
Rosabelle had become the property of Lord Morton's paramour and
"The noble palfrey had indeed been destined to so base a lot,"
answered Douglas; "she was kept under four keys, and under the charge
of a numerous crew of grooms and domestics--but Queen Mary needed
Rosabelle, and Rosabelle is here."
"And was it well, Douglas," said Queen Mary, "when such fearful risks
of various kinds must needs be encountered, that you should augment
their perils to yourself for a subject of so little moment as a
"Do you call that of little moment," answered Douglas, "which has
afforded you a moment's pleasure?--Did you not start with joy when I
first said you were mounted on Rosabelle?--And to purchase you that
pleasure, though it were to last no longer than the flash of lightning
doth, would not Douglas have risked his life a thousand times?"
"Oh, peace, Douglas, peace," said the Queen, "this is unfitting
language; and, besides, I would speak," said she, recollecting
herself, "with the Abbot of Saint Mary's--Nay, Douglas, I will not let
you quit my rein in displeasure."
"Displeasure, lady!" answered Douglas: "alas! sorrow is all that I can
feel for your well-warranted contempt--I should be as soon displeased
with Heaven for refusing the wildest wish which mortal can form."
"Abide by my rein, however," said Mary, "there is room for my Lord
Abbot on the other side; and, besides, I doubt if his assistance would
be so useful to Rosabelle and me as yours has been, should the road
again require it."
The Abbot came up on the other side, and she immediately opened a
conversation with him on the topic of the state of parties, and the
plan fittest for her to pursue inconsequence of her deliverance. In
this conversation Douglas took little share, and never but when
directly applied to by the Queen, while, as before, his attention
seemed entirely engrossed by the care of Mary's personal safety. She
learned, however, she had a new obligation to him, since, by his
contrivance, the Abbot, whom he had furnished with the family
pass-word, was introduced into the castle as one of the garrison.
Long before daybreak they ended their hasty and perilous journey
before the gates of Niddrie, a castle in West Lothian, belonging to
Lord Seyton. When the Queen was about to alight, Henry Seyton,
preventing Douglas, received her in his arms, and, kneeling down,
prayed her Majesty to enter the house of his father, her faithful
"Your Grace," he added, "may repose yourself here in perfect safety--
it is already garrisoned with good men for your protection; and I have
sent a post to my father, whose instant arrival, at the head of five
hundred men, may be looked for. Do not dismay yourself, therefore,
should your sleep be broken by the trampling of horse; but only think
that here are some scores more of the saucy Seytons come to attend
"And by better friends than the Saucy Seytons, a Scottish Queen cannot
be guarded," replied Mary. "Rosabelle went fleet as the summer breeze,
and well-nigh as easy; but it is long since I have been a traveller,
and I feel that repose will be welcome.--Catherine, _ma mignone_,
you must sleep in my apartment to-night, and bid me welcome to your
noble father's castle.--Thanks, thanks to all my kind deliverers--
thanks, and a good night is all I can now offer; but if I climb once
more to the upper side of Fortune's wheel, I will not have her
bandage. Mary Stewart will keep her eyes open, and distinguish her
friends.--Seyton, I need scarcely recommend the venerable Abbot, the
Douglas, and my page, to your honour able care and hospitality."
Henry Seyton bowed, and Catherine and Lady Fleming attended the Queen
to her apartment; where, acknowledging to them that she should have
found it difficult in that moment to keep her promise of holding her
eyes open, she resigned herself to repose, and awakened not till the
morning was advanced.
Mary's first feeling when she awoke, was the doubt of her freedom; and
the impulse prompted her to start from bed, and hastily throwing her
mantle over her shoulders, to look out at the casement of her
apartment. Oh, sight of joy! instead of the crystal sheet of
Lochleven, unaltered save by the influence of the wind, a landscape of
wood and moorland lay before her, and the park around the castle was
occupied by the troops of her most faithful and most favourite nobles.
"Rise, rise, Catherine," cried the enraptured Princess; "arise and
come hither!--here are swords and spears in true hands, and glittering
armour on loyal breasts. Here are banners, my girl, floating in the
wind, as lightly as summer clouds--Great God! what pleasure to my
weary eyes to trace their devices--thine own brave father's--the
princely Hamilton's--the faithful Fleming's--See--see--they have
caught a glimpse of me, and throng towards the window!"
She flung the casement open, and with her bare head, from which the
tresses flew back loose and dishevelled, her fair arm slenderly veiled
by her mantle, returned by motion and sign the exulting shouts of the
warriors, which echoed for many a furlong around. When the first burst
of ecstatic joy was over, she recollected how lightly she was dressed,
and, putting her hands to her face, which was covered with blushes at
the recollection, withdrew abruptly from the window. The cause of her
retreat was easily conjectured, and increased the general enthusiasm
for a Princess, who had forgotten her rank in her haste to acknowledge
the services of her subjects. The unadorned beauties of the lovely
woman, too, moved the military spectators more than the highest
display of her regal state might; and what might have seemed too free
in her mode of appearing before them, was more than atoned for by the