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The Complete Celebrated Crimes by Alexander Dumas, Pere

Part 11 out of 33

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many years, and who died a virgin.'"

Melville availed himself of this opportunity to remind Elizabeth of
the desire she had shown to see Mary, three or four years before; but
Elizabeth said, besides her country's affairs, which necessitated her
presence in the heart of her possessions, she did not care, after all
she had heard said of her rival's beauty, to expose herself to a
comparison disadvantageous to her pride. She contented herself,
then, with choosing as her proxy the Earl of Bedford, who set out
with several other noblemen for Stirling Castle, where the young
prince was christened with great pomp, and received the name of
Charles James.

It was remarked that Darnley did not appear at this ceremony, and
that his absence seemed to scandalise greatly the queen of England's
envoy. On the contrary, James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, had the
most important place there.

This was because, since the evening when Bothwell, at Mary's cries,
had run to oppose the murder of Rizzio, he had made great way in the
queen's favour; to her party he himself appeared to be really
attached, to the exclusion of the two others, the king's and the Earl
of Murray's. Bothwell was already thirty-five years old, head of the
powerful family of Hepburn, which had great influence in East Lothian
and the county of Berwick; for the rest, violent, rough, given to
every kind of debauchery, and capable of anything to satisfy an
ambition that he did not even give himself the trouble to hide. In
his youth he had been reputed courageous, but for long he had had no
serious opportunity to draw the sword.

If the king's authority had been shaken by Rizzio's influence, it was
entirely upset by Bothwell's. The great nobles, following the
favourite's example, no longer rose in the presence of Darnley, and
ceased little by little to treat him as their equal: his retinue was
cut down, his silver plate taken from him, and some officers who
remained about him made him buy their services with the most bitter
vexations. As for the queen, she no longer even took the trouble to
conceal her dislike for him, avoiding him without consideration, to
such a degree that one day when she had gone with Bothwell to Alway,
she left there again immediately, because Darnley came to join her.
The king, however, still had patience; but a fresh imprudence of
Mary's at last led to the terrible catastrophe that, since the
queen's liaison with Bothwell, some had already foreseen.

Towards the end of the month of October, 1566, while the queen was
holding a court of justice at Jedburgh, it was announced to her that
Bothwell, in trying to seize a malefactor called John Elliot of Park,
had been badly wounded in the hand; the queen, who was about to
attend the council, immediately postponed the sitting till next day,
and, having ordered a horse to be saddled, she set out for Hermitage
Castle, where Bothwell was living, and covered the distance at a
stretch, although it was twenty miles, and she had to go across
woods, marshes, and rivers; then, having remained some hours tete-d-
tete with him, she set out again with the same sped for Jedburgh, to
which she returned in the night.

Although this proceeding had made a great deal of talk, which was
inflamed still more by the queen's enemies, who chiefly belonged to
the Reformed religion, Darnley did not hear of it till nearly two
months afterwards--that is to say, when Bothwell, completely
recovered, returned with the queen to Edinburgh.

Then Darnley thought that he ought not to put up any longer with such
humiliations. But as, since his treason to his accomplices, he had
not found in all Scotland a noble who would have drawn the sword for
him, he resolved to go and seek the Earl of Lennox, his father,
hoping that through his influence he could rally the malcontents, of
whom there were a great number since Bothwell had been in favour.
Unfortunately, Darnley, indiscreet and imprudent as usual, confided
this plan to some of his officers, who warned Bothwell of their
master's intention. Bothwell did not seem to oppose the journey in
any way; but Darnley was scarcely a mile from Edinburgh when he felt
violent pains none the less, he continued his road, and arrived very
ill at Glasgow. He immediately sent for a celebrated doctor, called
James Abrenets, who found his body covered with pimples, and declared
without any hesitation that he had been poisoned. However, others,
among them Walter Scott, state that this illness was nothing else
than smallpox.

Whatever it may have been, the queen, in the presence of the danger
her husband ran, appeared to forget her resentment, and at the risk
of what might prove troublesome to herself, she went to Darnley,
after sending her doctor in advance. It is true that if one is to
believe in the following letters, dated from Glasgow, which Mary is
accused of having written to Bothwell, she knew the illness with
which he was attacked too well to fear infection. As these letters
are little known, and seem to us very singular we transcribe them
here; later we shall tell how they fell into the power of the
Confederate lords, and from their hands passed into Elizabeth's, who,
quite delighted, cried on receiving them, "God's death, then I hold
her life and honour in my hands!"

FIRST LETTER

"When I set out from the place where I had left my heart, judge in
what a condition I was, poor body without a soul: besides, during the
whole of dinner I have not spoken to anyone, and no one has dared to
approach me, for it was easy to see that there was something amiss.
When I arrived within a league of the town, the Earl of Lennox sent
me one of his gentlemen to make me his compliments, and to excuse
himself for not having come in person; he has caused me to be
informed, moreover, that he did not dare to present himself before me
after the reprimand that I gave Cunningham. This gentleman begged
me, as if of his own accord, to examine his master's conduct, to
ascertain if my suspicions were well founded. I have replied to him
that fear was an incurable disease, that the Earl of Lennox would not
be so agitated if his conscience reproached him with nothing, and
that if some hasty words had escaped me, they were but just reprisals
for the letter he had written me.

"None of the inhabitants visited me, which makes me think they are
all in his interests; besides, they speak of him very favourably, as
well as of his son. The king sent for Joachim yesterday, and asked
him why I did not lodge with him, adding that my presence would soon
cure him, and asked me also with what object I had come: if it were
to be reconciled with him; if you were here; if I had taken Paris and
Gilbert as secretaries, and if I were still resolved to dismiss
Joseph? I do not know who has given him such accurate information.
There is nothing, down to the marriage of Sebastian, with which he
has not made himself acquainted. I have asked him the meaning of one
of his letters, in which he complains of the cruelty of certain
people. He replied that he was--stricken, but that my presence caused
him so much joy that he thought he should die of it. He reproached
me several times for being dreamy; I left him to go to supper; he
begged me to return: I went back. Then he told me the story of his
illness, and that he wished to make a will leaving me everything,
adding that I was a little the cause of his trouble, and that he
attributed it to my coldness. 'You ask me,' added he, 'who are the
people of whom I complain: it is of you, cruel one, of you, whom I
have never been able to appease by my tears and my repentance. I
know that I have offended you, but not on the matter that you
reproach me with: I have also offended some of your subjects, but
that you have forgiven me. I am young, and you say that I always
relapse into my faults; but cannot a young man like me, destitute of
experience, gain it also, break his promises, repent directly, and in
time improve? If you will forgive me yet once more, I will promise
to offend you never again. All the favour I ask of you is that we
should live together like husband and wife, to have but one bed and
one board: if you are inflexible, I shall never rise again from here.
I entreat you, tell me your decision: God alone knows what I suffer,
and that because I occupy myself with you only, because I love and
adore only you. If I have offended you sometimes, you must bear the
reproach; for when someone offends me, if it were granted me to
complain to you, I should not confide my griefs to others; but when
we are on bad terms, I am obliged to keep them to myself, and that
maddens me.'

"He then urged me strongly to stay with him and lodge in his house;
but I excused myself, and replied that he ought to be purged, and
that he could not be, conveniently, at Glasgow; then he told me that
he knew I had brought a letter for him, but that he would have
preferred to make the journey with me. He believed, I think, that I
meant to send him to some prison: I replied that I should take him to
Craigmiller, that he would find doctors there, that I should remain
near him, and that we should be within reach of seeing my son. He
has answered that he will go where I wish to take him, provided that
I grant him what he has asked. He does not, however, wish to be seen
by anyone.

"He has told me more than a hundred pretty things that I cannot
repeat to you, and at which you yourself would be surprised: he did
not want to let me go; he wanted to make me sit up with him all
night. As for me, I pretended to believe everything, and I seemed to
interest myself really in him. Besides, I have never seen him so
small and humble; and if I had not known how easily his heart
overflows, and how mine is impervious to every other arrow than those
with which you have wounded it, I believe that I should have allowed
myself to soften; but lest that should alarm you, I would die rather
than give up what I have promised you. As for you, be sure to act in
the same way towards those traitors who will do all they can to
separate you from me. I believe that all those people have been cast
in the same mould: this one always has a tear in his eye; he bows
down before everyone, from the greatest to the smallest; he wishes to
interest them in his favour, and make himself pitied. His father
threw up blood to-day through the nose and mouth; think what these
symptoms mean. I have not seen him yet, for he keeps to the house.
The king wants me to feed him myself; he won't eat unless I do. But,
whatever I may do, you will be deceived by it no more than I shall be
deceiving myself. We are united, you and I, to two kinds of very
detestable people [Mary means Miss Huntly, Bothwell's wife, whom he
repudiated, at the king's death, to marry the queen.]: that hell may
sever these knots then, and that heaven may form better ones, that
nothing can break, that it may make of us the most tender and
faithful couple that ever was; there is the profession of faith in
which I would die.

"Excuse my scrawl: you must guess more than the half of it, but I
know no help for this. I am obliged to write to you hastily while
everyone is asleep here: but be easy, I take infinite pleasure in my
watch; for I cannot sleep like the others, not being able to sleep as
I would like--that is to say, in your arms.

"I am going to get into bed; I shall finish my letter tomorrow: I
have too many things to tell to you, the night is too far advanced:
imagine my despair. It is to you I am writing, it is of myself that
I converse with you, and I am obliged to make an end.

"I cannot prevent myself, however, from filling up hastily the rest
of my paper. Cursed be the crazy creature who torments me so much!
Were it not for him, I could talk to you of more agreeable things: he
is not greatly changed; and yet he has taken a great deal o f %t.
But he has nearly killed me with the fetid smell of his breath; for
now his is still worse than your cousin's: you guess that this is a
fresh reason for my not approaching him; on the contrary, I go away
as far as I can, and sit on a chair at the foot of his bed.

"Let us see if I forget anything.

"His father's messenger on the road;
The question about Joachim;
The-state of my house;
The people of my suite;
Subject of my arrival;
Joseph;
Conversation between him and me;
His desire to please me and his repentance;
The explanation of his letter;
Mr. Livingston.

"Ah! I was forgetting that. Yesterday Livingston during supper told
de Rere in a low voice to drink to the health of one I knew well, and
to beg me to do him the honour. After supper, as I was leaning on
his shoulder near the fire, he said to me, 'Is it not true that there
are visits very agreeable for those who pay them and those who
receive them? But, however satisfied they seem with your arrival, I
challenge their delight to equal the grief of one whom you have left
alone to-day, and who will never be content till he sees you again.'
I asked him of whom he wished to speak to me. He then answered me by
pressing my arm: 'Of one of those who have not followed you; and
among those it is easy for you to guess of whom I want to speak.'

"I have worked till two o'clock at the bracelet; I have enclosed a
little key which is attached by two strings: it is not as well worked
as I should like, but I have not had time to make it better; I will
make you a finer one on the first occasion. Take care that it is not
seen on you; for I have worked at it before everyone, and it would be
recognised to a certainty.

"I always return, in spite of myself, to the frightful attempt that
you advise. You compel me to concealments, and above all to
treacheries that make me shudder; I would rather die, believe me,
than do such things; for it makes my heart bleed. He does not want
to follow me unless I promise him to have the selfsame bed and board
with him as before, and not to abandon him so often. If I consent to
it, he says he will do all I wish, and will follow me everywhere; but
he has begged me to put off my departure for two days. I have
pretended to agree to all he wishes; but I have told him not to speak
of our reconciliation to anyone, for fear it should make some lords
uneasy. At last I shall take him everywhere I wish.... Alas! I have
never deceived anyone; but what would I not do to please you?
Command, and whatever happens, I shall obey. But see yourself if one
could not contrive some secret means in the shape of a remedy. He
must purge himself at Craigmiller and take baths there; he will be
some days without going out. So far as I can see, he is very uneasy;
but he has great trust in what I tell him: however, his confidence
does not go so far as to allow him to open his mind to me. If you
like, I will tell him every thing: I can have no pleasure in
deceiving someone who is trusting. However, it will be just as you
wish: do not esteem me the less for that. It is you advised it;
never would vengeance have taken me so far. Sometimes he attacks me
in a very sensitive place, and he touches me to the quick when he
tells me that his crimes are known, but that every day greater ones
are committed that one uselessly attempts to hide, since all crimes,
whatsoever they be, great or small, come to men's knowledge and form
the common subject of their discourse. He adds sometimes, in
speaking to me of Madame de Rere, 'I wish her services may do you
honour.' He has assured me that many people thought, and that he
thought himself, that I was not my own mistress; this is doubtless
because I had rejected the conditions he offered me. Finally, it is
certain that he is very uneasy about you know what, and that he even
suspects that his life is aimed at. He is in despair whenever the
conversation turns on you, Livingston, and my brother. However, he
says neither good nor ill of absent people; but, on the contrary, he
always avoids speaking of them. His father keeps to the house: I
have not seen him yet. A number of the Hamiltons are here, and
accompany me everywhere; all the friends of the other one follow me
each time I go to see him. He has begged me to be at his rising to-
morrow. My messenger will tell you the rest.

"Burn my letter: there would be danger in keeping it. Besides, it is
hardly worth the trouble, being filled only with dark thoughts.

"As for you, do not be offended if I am sad and uneasy to-day, that
to please you I rise above honour, remorse, and dangers. Do not take
in bad part what I tell you, and do not listen to the malicious
explanations of your wife's brother; he is a knave whom you ought not
to hear to the prejudice of the most tender and most faithful
mistress that ever was. Above all, do not allow yourself to be moved
by that woman: her sham tears are nothing in comparison with the real
tears that I shed, and with what love and constancy make me suffer at
succeeding her; it is for that alone that in spite of myself I betray
all those who could cross my love. God have mercy on me, and send
you all the prosperity that a humble and tender friend who awaits
from you soon another reward wishes you. It is very late; but it is
always with regret that I lay down my pen when I write to you;
however, I shall not end my letter until I shall have kissed your
hands. Forgive me that it is so ill-written: perhaps I do so
expressly that you may be obliged to re-read it several times: I have
transcribed hastily what I had written down on my tablets, and my
paper has given out. Remember a tender friend, and write to her
often: love me as tenderly as I love you, and remember

"Madame de Rere's words;
The English;
His mother;
The Earl of Argyll;
The Earl of Bothwell;
The Edinburgh dwelling."

SECOND LETTER

"It seems that you have forgotten me during your absence, so much the
more that you had promised me, at setting out, to let me know in
detail everything fresh that should happen. The hope of receiving
your news was giving me almost as much delight as your return could
have brought me: you have put it off longer than you promised me. As
for me, although you do not write, I play my part always. I shall
take him to Craigmiller on Monday, and he will spend the whole of
Wednesday there. On that day I shall go to Edinburgh to be bled
there, unless you arrange otherwise at least. He is more cheerful
than usual, and he is better than ever.

"He says everything he can to persuade me that he loves me; he has a
thousand attentions for me, and he anticipates me in everything: all
that is so pleasant for me, that I never go to him but the pain in my
side comes on again, his company weighs on me so much. If Paris
brought me what I asked him, I should be soon cured. If you have not
yet returned when I go you know where, write to me, I beg you, and
tell me what you wish me to do; for if you do not manage things
prudently, I foresee that the whole burden will fall on me: look into
everything and weigh the affair maturely. I send you my letter by
Beaton, who will set out the day which has been assigned to Balfour.
It only remains for me to beg you to inform me of your journey.

"Glasgow, this Saturday morning."

THIRD LETTER

"I stayed you know where longer than I should have done, if it had
not been to get from him something that the bearer of these presents
will tell you it was a good opportunity for covering up our designs:
I have promised him to bring the person you know to-morrow. Look
after the rest, if you think fit. Alas! I have failed in our
agreement, for you have forbidden me to write to you, or to despatch
a messenger to you. However, I do not intend to offend you: if you
knew with what fears I am agitated, you would not have yourself so
many doubts and suspicions. But I take them in good part, persuaded
as I am that they have no other cause than love--love that I esteem
more than anything on earth.

"My feelings and my favours are to me sure warrants for that love,
and answer to me for your heart; my trust is entire on this head: but
explain yourself, I entreat you, and open your soul to me; otherwise,
I shall fear lest, by the fatality of my star, and by the too
fortunate influence of the stars on women less tender and less
faithful than I, I may be supplanted in your heart as Medea was in
Jason's; not that I wish to compare you to a lover as unfortunate as
Jason, and to parallel myself with a monster like Medea, although you
have enough influence over me to force me to resemble her each time
our love exacts it, and that it concerns me to keep your heart, which
belongs to me, and which belongs to me only. For I name as belonging
to me what I have purchased with the tender and constant love with
which I have burned for you, a love more alive to-day than ever, and
which will end only with my life; a love, in short, which makes me
despise both the dangers and the remorse which will be perhaps its
sad sequel. As the price of this sacrifice, I ask you but one
favour, it is to remember a spot not far from here: I do not exact
that you should keep your promise to-morrow; but I want to see you to
disperse your suspicions. I ask of God only one thing: it is that He
should make you read my heart, which is less mine than yours, and
that He should guard you from every ill, at least during my life:
this life is dear to me only in so far as it pleases you, and as I
please you myself. I am going to bed: adieu; give me your news to-
morrow morning; for I shall be uneasy till I have it. Like a bird
escaped from its cage, or the turtle-dove which has lost her mate, I
shall be alone, weeping your absence, short as it may be. This
letter, happier than I, will go this evening where I cannot go,
provided that the messenger does not find you asleep, as I fear. I
have not dared to write it in the presence of Joseph, of Sebastian,
and of Joachim, who had only just left me when I began it."

Thus, as one sees, and always supposing these letters to be genuine,
Mary had conceived for Bothwell one of those mad passions, so much
the stronger in the women who are a prey to them, that one the less
understands what could have inspired them. Bothwell was no longer
young, Bothwell was not handsome, and yet Mary sacrificed for him a
young husband, who was considered one of the handsomest men of his
century. It was like a kind of enchantment. Darnley, the sole
obstacle to the union, had been already condemned for a long time, if
not by Mary, at least by Bothwell; then, as his strong constitution
had conquered the poison, another kind of death was sought for.

The queen, as she announces in her letter to Bothwell, had refused to
bring back Darnley with her, and had returned alone to Edinburgh.
Arrived there, she gave orders for the king to be moved, in his turn,
in a litter; but instead of taking him to Stirling or Holyrood, she
decided to lodge him in the abbey of the Kirk of Field. The king
made some objections when he knew of this arrangement; however, as he
had no power to oppose it, he contented himself with complaining of
the solitude of the dwelling assigned him; but the queen made answer
that she could not receive him at that moment, either at Holyrood or
at Stirling, for fear, if his illness were infectious, lest he might
give it to his son: Darnley was then obliged to make the best of the
abode allotted him.

It was an isolated abbey, and little calculated by its position to
dissipate the fears that the king entertained; for it was situated
between two ruined churches and two cemeteries: the only house, which
was distant about a shot from a cross-bow, belonged to the Hamiltons,
and as they were Darnley's mortal enemies the neighbourhood was none
the more reassuring: further, towards the north, rose some wretched
huts, called the "Thieves' cross-roads". In going round his new
residence, Darnley noticed that three holes, each large enough for a
man to get through, had been made in the walls; he asked that these
holes, through which ill-meaning persons could get in, should be
stopped up: it was promised that masons should be sent; but nothing
was done, and the holes remained open.

The day after his arrival at Kirk of Field, the king saw a light in
that house near his which lie believed deserted; next day he asked
Alexander Durham whence it came, and he heard that the Archbishop of
St. Andrew's had left his palace in Edinburgh and had housed there
since the preceding evening, one didn't know why: this news still
further increased the king's uneasiness; the Archbishop of St.
Andrew's was one of his most declared enemies.

The king, little by little abandoned by all his servants lived on the
first floor of an isolated pavilion, having about him only this same
Alexander Durham, whom we have mentioned already, and who was his
valet. Darnley, who had quite a special friendship for him, and who
besides, as we have said, feared some attack on his life at every
moment, had made him move his bed into his own apartment, so that
both were sleeping in the same room.

On the night of the 8th February, Darnley awoke Durham: he thought he
heard footsteps in the apartment beneath him. Durham rose, took a
sword in one hand, a taper in the other, and went down to the ground
floor; but although Darnley was quite certain he had not been
deceived, Durham came up again a moment after, saying he had seen no
one.

The morning of the next day passed without bringing anything fresh.
The queen was marrying one of her servants named Sebastian: he was an
Auvergnat whom she had brought with her from France, and whom she
liked very much. However, as the king sent word that he had not seen
her for two days, she left the wedding towards six o'clock in the
evening, and came to pay him a visit, accompanied by the Countess of
Argyll and the Countess of Huntly. While she was there, Durham, in
preparing his bed, set fire to his palliasse, which was burned as
well as a part of the mattress; so that, having thrown them out of
the window all in flames, for fear lest the fire should reach the
rest of the furniture, he found himself without a bed, and asked
permission to return to the town to sleep; but Darnley, who
remembered his terror the night before, and who was surprised at the
promptness that had made Durham throw all his bedding out of the
window, begged him not to go away, offering him one of his
mattresses, or even to take him into his own bed. However, in spite
of this offer, Durham insisted, saying that he felt unwell, and that
he should like to see a doctor the same evening. So the queen
interceded for Durham, and promised Darnley to send him another valet
to spend the night with him: Darnley was then obliged to yield, and,
making Mary repeat that she would send him someone, he gave Durham
leave for that evening. At that moment Paris; of whom the queen
speaks in her letters, came in: he was a young Frenchman who had been
in Scotland for some years, and who, after having served with
Bothwell and Seyton, was at present with the queen. Seeing him, she
got up, and as Darnley still wished to keep her--

"Indeed, my lord, it is impossible," said she, "to come and see you.
I have left this poor Sebastian's wedding, and I must return to it;
for I promised to came masked to his ball."

The king dared not insist; he only reminded her of the promise that
she had made to send him a servant: Mary renewed it yet once again,
and went away with her attendants. As for Durham, he had set out the
moment he received permission.

It was nine o'clock in the evening. Darnley, left alone, carefully
shut the doors within, and retired to rest, though in readiness to
rise to let in the servant who should come to spend the night with
him. Scarcely was he in bed than the same noise that he had heard
the night before recommenced; this time Darnley listened with all the
attention fear gives, and soon he had no longer any doubt but that
several men were walking about beneath him. It was useless to call,
it was dangerous to go out; to wait was the only course that remained
to the king. He made sure again that the doors were well fastened,
put his sword under his pillow, extinguished his lamp for fear the
light might betray him, and awaited in silence for his servant's
arrival; but the hours passed away, and the servant did not come.
At one o'clock in the morning, Bothwell, after having talked some
while with the queen, in the presence of the captain of the guard,
returned home to change his dress; after some minutes, he came out
wrapped up in the large cloak of a German hussar, went through the
guard-house, and had the castle gate opened. Once outside, he took
his way with all speed to Kirk of Field, which he entered by the
opening in the wall: scarcely had he made a step in the garden than
he met James Balfour, governor of the castle.

"Well," he said to him, "how far have we got?

"Everything is ready," replied Balfour, "and we were waiting for you
to set fire to the fuse". "That is well," Bothwell answered--"but
first I want to make sure that he is in his room."

At these words, Bothwell opened the pavilion door with a false key,
and, having groped his way up the stairs; he went to listen at
Darnley's door. Darnley, hearing no further noise, had ended by
going to sleep; but he slept with a jerky breathing which pointed to
his agitation. Little mattered it to Bothwell what kind of sleep it
was, provided that he was really in his room. He went down again in
silence, then, as he had come up, and taking a lantern from one of
the conspirators, he went himself into the lower room to see if
everything was in order: this room was full of barrels of powder, and
a fuse ready prepared wanted but a spark to set the whole on fire.
Bothwell withdrew, then, to the end of the garden with Balfour,
David, Chambers, and three or four others, leaving one man to ignite
the fuse. In a moment this man rejoined them.

There ensued some minutes of anxiety, during which the five men
looked at one another in silence and as if afraid of themselves;
then, seeing that nothing exploded, Bothwell impatiently turned round
to the engineer, reproaching him for having, no doubt through fear,
done his work badly. He assured his master that he was certain
everything was all right, and as Bothwell, impatient, wanted to
return to the house himself, to make sure, he offered to go back and
see how things stood. In fact, he went back to the pavilion, and,
putting his head through a kind of air-hole, he saw the fuse, which
was still burning. Some seconds afterwards, Bothwell saw him come
running back, making a sign that all was going well; at the same
moment a frightful report was heard, the pavilion was blown to
pieces, the town and the firth were lit up with a clearness exceeding
the brightest daylight; then everything fell back into night, and the
silence was broken only by the fall of stones and joists, which came
down as fast as hail in a hurricane.

Next day the body of the king was found in a garden in the
neighbourhood: it had been saved from the action of the fire by the
mattresses on which he was lying, and as, doubtless, in his terror he
had merely thrown himself on his bed wrapped in his dressing-gown and
in his slippers, and as he was found thus, without his slippers,
which were flung some paces away, it was believed that he had been
first strangled, then carried there; but the most probable version
was that the murderers simply relied upon powder--an auxiliary
sufficiently powerful in itself for them to have no fear it would
fail them.

Was the queen an accomplice or not? No one has ever known save
herself, Bothwell, and God; but, yes or no, her conduct, imprudent
this time as always, gave the charge her enemies brought against her,
if not substance, at least an appearance of truth. Scarcely had she
heard the news than she gave orders that the body should be brought
to her, and, having had it stretched out upon a bench, she looked at
it with more curiosity than sadness; then the corpse, embalmed, was
placed the same evening, without pomp, by the side of Rizzio's.

Scottish ceremonial prescribes for the widows of kings retirement for
forty days in a room entirely closed to the light of day: on the
twelfth day Mary had the windows opened, and on the fifteenth set out
with Bothwell for Seaton, a country house situated five miles from
the capital, where the French ambassador, Ducroc, went in search of
her, and made her remonstrances which decided her to return to
Edinburgh; but instead of the cheers which usually greeted her
coming, she was received by an icy silence, and a solitary woman in
the crowd called out, "God treat her as she deserves!"

The names of the murderers were no secret to the people. Bothwell
having brought a splendid coat which was too large for him to a
tailor, asking him to remake it to his measure, the man recognised it
as having belonged to the king. "That's right," said he; "it is the
custom for the executioner to inherit from the-condemned".
Meanwhile, the Earl of Lennox, supported by the people's murmurs,
loudly demanded justice for his son's death, and came forward as the
accuser of his murderers. The queen was then obliged, to appease
paternal clamour and public resentment, to command the Earl of
Argyll, the Lord Chief justice of the kingdom, to make
investigations; the same day that this order was given, a
proclamation was posted up in the streets of Edinburgh, in which the
queen promised two thousand pounds sterling to whoever would make
known the king's murderers. Next day, wherever this letter had been
affixed, another placard was found, worded thus:

"As it has been proclaimed that those who should make known the
king's murderers should have two thousand pounds sterling, I, who
have made a strict search, affirm that the authors of the murder are
the Earl of Bothwell, James Balfour, the priest of Flisk, David,
Chambers, Blackmester, Jean Spens, and the queen herself."

This placard was torn down; but, as usually happens, it had already
been read by the entire population.

The Earl of Lennox accused Bothwell, and public opinion, which also
accused him, seconded the earl with such violence, that Mary was
compelled to bring him to trial: only every precaution was taken to
deprive the prosecutor of the power of convicting the accused. On
the 28th March, the Earl of Lennox received notice that the 12th
April was fixed for the trial: he was granted a fortnight to collect
decisive proofs against the most powerful man in all Scotland; but
the Earl of Lennox, judging that this trial was a mere mockery, did
not appear. Bothwell, on the contrary, presented himself at the
court, accompanied by five thousand partisans and two hundred picked
fusiliers, who guarded the doors directly he had entered; so that he
seemed to be rather a king who is about to violate the law than an
accused who comes to submit to it. Of course there happened what was
certain to happen--that is to say, the jury acquitted Bothwell of the
crime of which everyone, the judges included, knew him to be guilty.

The day of the trial, Bothwell had this written challenge placarded:

"Although I am sufficiently cleared of the murder of the king, of
which I have been falsely accused, yet, the better to prove my
innocence, I am, ready to engage in combat with whomsoever will dare
to maintain that I have killed the king."

The day after, this reply appeared:

"I accept the challenge, provided that you select neutral ground."

However, judgment had been barely given, when rumours of a marriage
between the queen and the Earl of Bothwell were abroad. However
strange and however mad this marriage, the relations of the two
lovers were so well known that no one doubted but that it was true.
But as everyone submitted to Bothwell, either through fear or through
ambition, two men only dared to protest beforehand against this
union: the one was Lord Herries, and the other James Melville.

Mary was at Stirling when Lord Herries, taking advantage of
Bothwell's momentary absence, threw himself at her feet, imploring
her not to lose her honour by marrying her husband's murderer, which
could not fail to convince those who still doubted it that she was
his accomplice. But the queen, instead of thanking Herries for this
devotion, seemed very much surprised at his boldness, and scornfully
signing to him to rise, she coldly replied that her heart was silent
as regarded the Earl of Bothwell, and that, if she should ever re-
marry, which was not probable, she would neither forget what she owed
to her people nor what she owed to herself.

Melville did not allow himself to be discouraged by this experience,
and pretended, to have received a letter that one of his friends,
Thomas Bishop, had written him from England. He showed this letter
to the queen; but at the first lines Mary recognised the style, and
above all the friendship of her ambassador, and giving the letter to
the Earl of Livingston, who was present, "There is a very singular
letter," said she. "Read it. It is quite in Melvine's manner."

Livingston glanced through the letter, but had scarcely read the half
of it when he took Melville by the hand, and drawing him into the
embrasure of a window

"My dear Melville," said he, "you were certainly mad when you just
now imparted this letter to the queen: as soon as the Earl of
Bothwell gets wind of it, and that will not be long, he will have you
assassinated. You have behaved like an honest man, it is true; but
at court it is better to behave as a clever man. Go away, then, as
quickly as possible; it is I who recommend it."

Melville did not require to be told twice, and stayed away for a
week. Livingston was not mistaken: scarcely had Bothwell returned to
the queen than he knew all that had passed. He burst out into curses
against Melville, and sought for him everywhere; but he could not
find him.

This beginning of opposition, weak as it was, none the less
disquieted Bothwell, who, sure of Mary's love, resolved to make short
work of things. Accordingly, as the queen was returning from
Stirling to Edinburgh some days after the scenes we have just
related, Bothwell suddenly appeared at the Bridge of Grammont with a
thousand horsemen, and, having disarmed the Earl of Huntly,
Livingston, and Melville, who had returned to his mistress, he seized
the queen's horse by the bridle, and with apparent violence he forced
Mary to turn back and follow him to Dunbar; which the queen did
without any resistance--a strange thing for one of Mary's character.

The day following, the Earls of Huntly, Livingston, Melville, and the
people in their train were set at liberty; then, ten days afterwards,
Bothwell and the queen, perfectly reconciled, returned to Edinburgh
together.

Two days after this return, Bothwell gave a great dinner to the
nobles his partisans in a tavern. When the meal was ended, on the
very same table, amid half-drained glasses and empty bottles,
Lindsay, Ruthven, Morton, Maitland, and a dozen or fifteen other
noblemen signed a bond which not only set forth that upon their souls
and consciences Bothwell was innocent, but which further denoted him
as the most suitable husband for the queen. This bond concluded with
this sufficiently strange declaration:

"After all, the queen cannot do otherwise, since the earl has carried
her off and has lain with her."

Yet two circumstances were still opposed to this marriage: the first,
that Bothwell had already been married three times, and that his
three wives were living; the second, that having carried off the
queen, this violence might cause to be regarded as null the alliance
which she should contract with him: the first of these objections was
attended to, to begin with, as the one most difficult to solve.

Bothwell's two first wives were of obscure birth, consequently he
scorned to disquiet himself about them; but it was not so with the
third, a daughter of that Earl of Huntly who been trampled beneath
the horses' feet, and a sister of Gordon, who had been decapitated.
Fortunately for Bothwell, his past behaviour made his wife long for a
divorce with an eagerness as great as his own. There was not much
difficulty, then, in persuading her to bring a charge of adultery
against her husband. Bothwell confessed that he had had criminal
intercourse with a relative of his wife, and the Archbishop of St.
Andrews, the same who had taken up his abode in that solitary house
at Kirk of Field to be present at Darnley's death, pronounced the
marriage null. The case was begun, pushed on, and decided in ten
days.

As to the second obstacle, that of the violence used to the queen,
Mary undertook to remove it herself; for, being brought before the
court, she declared that not only did she pardon Bothwell for his
conduct as regarded her, but further that, knowing him to be a good
and faithful subject, she intended raising him immediately to new
honours. In fact, some days afterwards she created him Duke of
Orkney, and on the 15th of the same month--that is to say, scarcely
four months after the death of Darnley--with levity that resembled
madness, Mary, who had petitioned for a dispensation to wed a
Catholic prince, her cousin in the third degree, married Bothwell, a
Protestant upstart, who, his divorce notwithstanding, was still
bigamous, and who thus found himself in the position of having four
wives living, including the queen.

The wedding was dismal, as became a festival under such outrageous
auspices. Morton, Maitland, and some base flatterers of Bothwell
alone were present at it. The French ambassador, although he was a
creature of the House of Guise, to which the queen belonged, refused
to attend it.

Mary's delusion was short-lived: scarcely was she in Bothwell's power
than she saw what a master she had given herself. Gross, unfeeling,
and violent, he seemed chosen by Providence to avenge the faults of
which he had been the instigator or the accomplice. Soon his fits of
passion reached such a point, that one day, no longer able to endure
them, Mary seized a dagger from Erskine, who was present with
Melville at one of these scenes, and would have struck herself,
saying that she would rather die than continue living unhappily as
she did; yet, inexplicable as it seems, in spite of these miseries,
renewed without ceasing, Mary, forgetting that she was wife and
queen, tender and submissive as a child, was always the first to be
reconciled with Bothwell.

Nevertheless, these public scenes gave a pretext to the nobles, who
only sought an opportunity for an outbreak. The Earl of Mar, the
young prince's tutor, Argyll, Athol, Glencairn, Lindley, Boyd, and
even Morton and Maitland themselves, those eternal accomplices of
Bothwell, rose, they said, to avenge the death of the king, and to
draw the son from hands which had killed the father and which were
keeping the mother captive. As to Murray, he had kept completely in
the background during all the last events; he was in the county of
Fife when the king was assassinated, and three days before the trial
of Bothwell he had asked and obtained from his sister permission to
take a journey on the Continent.

The insurrection took place in such a prompt and instantaneous
manner, that the Confederate lords, whose plan was to surprise and
seize both Mary and Bothwell, thought they would succeed at the first
attempt.

The king and queen were at table with Lord Borthwick, who was
entertaining them, when suddenly it was announced that a large body
of armed men was surrounding the castle: Bothwell and Mary suspected
that they were aimed at, and as they had no means of resistance,
Bothwell dressed himself as a squire, Mary as a page, and both
immediately taking horse, escaped by one door just as the
Confederates were coming in by the other. The fugitives withdrew to
Dunbar.

There they called together all Bothwell's friends, and made them sign
a kind of treaty by which they undertook to defend the queen and her
husband. In the midst of all this, Murray arrived from France, and
Bothwell offered the document to him as to the others; but Murray
refused to put his signature to it, saying that it was insulting him
to think he need be bound by a written agreement when it was a
question of defending his sister and his queen. This refusal having
led to an altercation between him and Bothwell, Murray, true to his
system of neutrality, withdrew into his earldom, and let affairs
follow without him the fatal decline they had taken.

In the meantime the Confederates, after having failed at Borthwick,
not feeling strong enough to attack Bothwell at Dunbar, marched upon
Edinburgh, where they had an understanding with a man of whom
Bothwell thought himself sure. This man was James Balfour, governor
of the citadel, the same who had presided over the preparation of the
mine which had blown up Darnley, and whom Bothwell had, met on
entering the garden at Kirk of Field. Not only did Balfour deliver
Edinburgh Castle into the hands of the Confederates, but he also gave
them a little silver coffer of which the cipher, an "F" crowned,
showed that it had belonged to Francis II; and in fact it was a gift
from her first husband, which the queen had presented to Bothwell.
Balfour stated that this coffer contained precious papers, which in
the present circumstances might be of great use to Mary's enemies.
The Confederate lords opened it, and found inside the three genuine
or spurious letters that we have quoted, the marriage contract of
Mary and Bothwell, and twelve poems in the queen's handwriting. As
Balfour had said, therein lay, for her enemies, a rich and precious
find, which was worth more than a victory; for a victory would yield
them only the queen's life, while Balfour's treachery yielded them
her honour.

CHAPTER IV

Meanwhile Bothwell had levied some troops, and thought himself in a
position to hold the country: accordingly, he set out with his army,
without even waiting for the Hamiltons, who were assembling their
vassals, and June 15th, 1567, the two opposed forces were face to
face. Mary, who desired to try to avoid bloodshed, immediately sent
the French ambassador to the Confederate lords to exhort them to lay
aside their arms; but they replied "that the queen deceived herself
in taking them for rebels; that they were marching not against her,
but against Bothwell." Then the king's friends did what they could
to break off the negotiations and give battle: it was already too
late; the soldiers knew that they were defending the cause of one
man, and that they were going to fight for a woman's caprice, and not
for the good of the country: they cried aloud, then, that "since
Bothwell alone was aimed at, it was for Bothwell to defend his
cause". And he, vain and blustering as usual, gave out that he was
ready to prove his innocence in person against whomsoever would dare
to maintain that he was guilty. Immediately everyone with any claim
to nobility in the rival camp accepted the challenge; and as the
honour was given to the bravest, Kirkcaldy of Grange, Murray of
Tullibardine, and Lord Lindsay of Byres defied him successively.
But, be it that courage failed him, be it that in the moment of
danger he did not himself believe in the justice of his cause, he,
to escape the combat, sought such strange pretexts that the queen
herself was ashamed; and his most devoted friends murmured.

Then Mary, perceiving the fatal humour of men's minds, decided not to
run the risk of a battle. She sent a herald to Kirkcaldy of Grange,
who was commanding an outpost, and as he was advancing without
distrust to converse with the queen, Bothwell, enraged at his own
cowardice, ordered a soldier to fire upon him; but this time Mary
herself interposed, forbidding him under pain of death to offer the
least violence. In the meanwhile, as the imprudent order given by
Bothwell spread through the army, such murmurs burst forth that he
clearly saw that his cause was for ever lost.

That is what the queen thought also; for the result of her conference
with Lord Kirkcaldy was that she should abandon Bothwell's cause, and
pass over into the camp of the Confederates, on condition that they
would lay down their arms before her and bring her as queen to
Edinburgh. Kirkcaldy left her to take these conditions to the
nobles, and promised to return next day with a satisfactory answer.
But at the moment of leaving Bothwell, Mary was seized again with
that fatal love for him that she was never able to surmount, and felt
herself overcome with such weakness, that, weeping bitterly, and
before everyone, she wanted Kirkcaldy to be told that she broke off
all negotiations; however, as Bothwell had understood that he was no
longer safe in camp, it was he who insisted that things should remain
as they were; and, leaving Mary in tears, he mounted, and setting off
at full speed, he did not stop till he reached Dunbar.

Next day, at the time appointed, the arrival of Lord Kirkcaldy of
Grange was announced by the trumpeters preceding him. Mary mounted
directly and went to meet him; them, as he alighted to greet her, "My
lord;" said she, "I surrender to you, on the conditions that you have
proposed to me on the part of the nobles, and here is my hand as a
sign of entire confidence". Kirkcaldy then knelt down, kissed, the
queen's hand respectfully; and, rising, he took her horse by the
bridle and led it towards the Confederates' camp.
Everyone of any rank in the army received her with such marks of
respect as entirely to satisfy her; but it was not so at all with the
soldiers and common people. Hardly had the queen reached the second
line, formed by them, than great murmurs arose, and several voices
cried, "To the stake, the adulteress! To the stake, the parricide!"
However, Mary bore these outrages stoically enough but a more
terrible trial yet was in store for her. Suddenly she saw rise
before her a banner, on which was depicted on one side the king dead
and stretched out in the fatal garden, and on the other the young
prince kneeling, his hands joined and his eyes raised to heaven, with
this inscription, "O Lord! judge and revenge my cause!" Mary reined
in her horse abruptly at this sight, and wanted to turn back; but she
had scarcely moved a few paces when the accusing banner again blocked
her passage. Wherever she went, she met this dreadful apparition.
For two hours she had incessantly under her eyes the king's corpse
asking vengeance, and the young prince her son praying God to punish
the murderers. At last she could endure it no longer, and, crying
out, she threw herself back, having completely lost consciousness,
and would have fallen, if someone had not caught hold of her.
In the evening she entered Edinburgh, always preceded by the cruel
banner, and she already had rather the air of a prisoner than of a
queen; for, not having had a moment during the day to attend to her
toilet, her hair was falling in disorder about her shoulders, her
face was pale and showed traces of tears; and finally, her clothes
were covered with dust and mud. As she proceeded through the town,
the hootings of the people and the curses of the crowd followed her.
At last, half dead with fatigue, worn out with grief, bowed down with
shame, she reached the house of the Lord Provost; but scarcely had
she got there when the entire population of Edinburgh crowded into
the square, with cries that from time to time assumed a tone of
terrifying menace. Several times, then, Mary wished to go to the
window, hoping that the sight of her, of which she had so often
proved the influence, would disarm this multitude; but each time she
saw this banner unfurling itself like a bloody curtain between
herself and the people--a terrible rendering of their feelings.

However, all this hatred was meant still more for Bothwell than for
her: they were pursuing Bothwell in Darnley's widow. The curses were
for Bothwell: Bothwell was the adulterer, Bothwell was the murderer,
Bothwell was the coward; while Mary was the weak, fascinated woman,
who, that same evening, gave afresh proof of her folly.

In fact, directly the falling night had scattered the crowd and a
little quiet was regained, Mary, ceasing to be uneasy on her own
account, turned immediately to Bothwell, whom she had been obliged to
abandon, and who was now proscribed and fleeing; while she, as she
believed, was about to reassume her title and station of queen. With
that eternal confidence of the woman in her own love, by which she
invariably measures the love of another, she thought that Bothwell's
greatest distress was to have lost, not wealth and power, but to have
lost herself. So she wrote him a long letter, in which, forgetful of
herself, she promised him with the most tender expressions of love
never to desert him, and to recall him to her directly the breaking
up of the Confederate lords should give her power to do so; then,
this letter written, she called a soldier, gave him a purse of gold,
and charged him to take this letter to Dunbar, where Bothwell ought
to be, and if he were already gone, to follow him until he came up
with him.

Then she went to bed and slept more calmly; for, unhappy as she was,
she believed she had just sweetened misfortunes still greater than
hers.

Next day the queen was awakened by the step of an armed man who
entered her room. Both astonished and frightened at this neglect of
propriety, which could augur nothing good, Mary sat up in bed, and
parting the curtains, saw standing before her Lord Lindsay of Byres:
she knew he was one of her oldest friends, so she asked him in a
voice which she vainly tried to make confident, what he wanted of her
at such a time.

"Do you know this writing, madam?" Lord Lindsay asked in a rough
voice, presenting to the queen the letter she had written to Bothwell
at night, which the soldier had carried to the Confederate lords,
instead of taking to its address.

"Yes, doubtless, my lord," the queen answered; "but am I already a
prisoner, then, that my correspondence is intercepted? or is it no
longer allowed to a wife to write to her husband?"

"When the husband is a traitor," replied Lindsay, "no, madam, it is
no longer allowed to a wife to write to her husband--at least,
however, if this wife have a part in his treason; which seems to me,
besides, quite proved by the promise you make to this wretch to
recall him to you."

"My lord," cried Mary, interrupting Lindsay, "do you forget that you
are speaking to your queen."

"There was a time, madam," Lindsay replied, "when I should have
spoken to you in a more gentle voice, and bending the knee, although
it is not in the nature of us old Scotch to model ourselves on your
French courtiers; but for some time, thanks to your changing loves,
you have kept us so often in the field, in harness, that our voices
are hoarse from the cold night air, and our stiff knees can no longer
bend in our armour: you must then take me just as I am, madam; since
to-day, for the welfare of Scotland, you are no longer at liberty to
choose your favourites."

Mary grew frightfully pale at this want of respect, to which she was
not yet accustomed; but quickly containing her anger, as far as
possible--

"But still, my lord," said she, "however disposed I may be to take
you as you are, I must at least know by what right you come here.
That letter which you are holding in your hand would lead me to think
it is as a spy, if the ease with which you enter my room without
being asked did not make me believe it is as a gaoler. Have the
goodness, then, to inform me by which of these two names I must call
you."

"Neither by one nor the other, madam; for I am simply your fellow-
traveller, chef of the escort which is to take you to Lochleven
Castle, your future residence. And yet, scarcely have I arrived
there than I shall be obliged to leave you to go and assist the
Confederate lords choose a regent for the kingdom."

"So," said Mary, "it was as prisoner and not as queen that I
surrendered to Lord Kirkcaldy. It seems to me that things were
agreed upon otherwise; but I am glad to see how much time Scotch
noblemen need to betray their sworn undertakings".

"Your Grace forgets that these engagements were made on one
condition," Lindsay answered.

"On which?" Mary asked.

"That you should separate for ever from your husband's murderer; and
there is the proof," he added, showing the letter, "that you had
forgotten your promise before we thought of revoking ours."

"And at what o'clock is my departure fixed?" said Mary, whom this
discussion was beginning to fatigue.

"At eleven o'clock, madam."

"It is well, my lord; as I have no desire to make your lordship wait,
you will have the goodness, in withdrawing, to send me someone to
help me dress, unless I am reduced to wait upon myself."

And, in pronouncing these words, Mary made a gesture so imperious,
that whatever may have been Lindsay's wish to reply, he bowed and
went out. Behind him entered Mary Seyton.

CHAPTER V

At the time appointed the queen was ready: she had suffered so much
at Edinburgh that she left it without any regret. Besides, whether
to spare her the humiliations of the day before, or to conceal her
departure from any partisans who might remain to her, a litter had
been made ready. Mary got into it without any resistance, and after
two hours' journey she reached Duddington; there a little vessel was
waiting for her, which set sail directly she was on board, and next
day at dawn she disembarked on the other side of the Firth of Forth
in the county of Fife.

Mary halted at Rosythe Castle only just long enough to breakfast, and
immediately recommenced her journey; for Lord Lindsay had declared
that he wished to reach his destination that same evening. Indeed,
as the sun was setting, Mary perceived gilded with his last rays the
high towers of Lochleven Castle, situated on an islet in the midst of
the lake of the same name.

No doubt the royal prisoner was already expected at Lochleven Castle,
for, on reaching the lake side, Lord Lindsay's equerry unfurled his
banner, which till then had remained in its case, and waved it from
right to left, while his master blew a little hunting bugle which he
wore hanging from his neck. A boat immediately put off from the
island and came towards the arrivals, set in motion by four vigorous
oarsmen, who had soon propelled it across the space which separated
it from the bank. Mary silently got into it, and sat down at the
stern, while Lord Lindsay and his equerry stood up before her; and as
her guide did not seem any more inclined to speak than she was
herself to respond, she had plenty of time to examine her future
dwelling.

The castle, or rather the fortress of Lochleven, already somewhat
gloomy in its situation and architecture, borrowed fresh mournfulness
still from the hour at which it appeared to the queen's gaze. It
was, so far as she could judge amid the mists rising from the lake,
one of those massive structures of the twelfth century which seem, so
fast shut up are they, the stone armour of a giant. As she drew
near, Mary began to make out the contours of two great round towers,
which flanked the corners and gave it the severe character of a state
prison. A clump of ancient trees enclosed by a high wall, or rather
by a rampart, rose at its north front, and seemed vegetation in
stone, and completed the general effect of this gloomy abode, while,
on the contrary, the eye wandering from it and passing from islands
to islands, lost itself in the west, in the north, and in the south,
in the vast plain of Kinross, or stopped southwards at the jagged
summits of Ben Lomond, whose farthest slopes died down on the shores
of the lake.

Three persons awaited Mary at the castle door: Lady Douglas, William
Douglas her son, and a child of twelve who was called Little Douglas,
and who was neither a son nor a brother of the inhabitants of the
castle, but merely a distant relative. As one can imagine, there
were few compliments between Mary and her hosts; and the queen,
conducted to her apartment, which was on the first floor, and of
which the windows overlooked the lake, was soon left with Mary
Seyton, the only one of the four Marys who had been allowed to
accompany her.

However, rapid as the interview had been, and short and measured the
words exchanged between the prisoner and her gaolers, Mary had had
time, together with what she knew of them beforehand, to construct
for herself a fairly accurate idea of the new personages who had just
mingled in her history.

Lady Lochleven, wife of Lord William Douglas, of whom we have already
said a few words at the beginning of this history, was a woman of
from fifty-five to sixty years of age, who had been handsome enough
in her youth to fix upon herself the glances of King James V, and who
had had a son by him, who was this same Murray whom we have already
seen figuring so often in Mary's history, and who, although his birth
was illegitimate, had always been treated as a brother by the queen.

Lady Lochleven had had a momentary hope, so great was the king's love
for her, of becoming his wife, which upon the whole was possible, the
family of Mar, from which she was descended, being the equal of the
most ancient and the noblest families in Scotland. But, unluckily,
perhaps slanderously, certain talk which was circulating among the
young noblemen of the time came to James's ears; it was said that
together with her royal lover the beautiful favourite had another,
whom she had chosen, no doubt from curiosity, from the very lowest
class. It was added that this Porterfeld, or Porterfield, was the
real father of the child who had already received the name of James
Stuart, and whom the king was educating as his son at the monastery
of St. Andrews. These rumours, well founded or not, had therefore
stopped James V at the moment when, in gratitude to her who had given
him a son, he was on the point of raising her to the rank of queen;
so that, instead of marrying her himself, he had invited her to
choose among the nobles at court; and as she was very handsome, and
the king's favour went with the marriage, this choice, which fell on
Lord William Douglas of Lochleven, did not meet with any resistance
on his part. However, in spite of this direct protection, that James
V preserved for her all his life, Lady Douglas could never forget
that she had fingered higher fortune; moreover, she had a hatred for
the one who, according to herself, had usurped her place, and poor
Mary had naturally inherited the profound animosity that Lady Douglas
bore to her mother, which had already come to light in the few words
that the two women had exchanged. Besides, in ageing, whether from
repentance for her errors or from hypocrisy, Lady Douglas had become
a prude and a puritan; so that at this time she united with the
natural acrimony of her character all the stiffness of the new
religion she had adopted.

William Douglas, who was the eldest son of Lord Lochleven, on his
mother's side half-brother of Murray, was a man of from thirty-five
to thirty-six years of age, athletic, with hard and strongly
pronounced features, red-haired like all the younger branch, and who
had inherited that paternal hatred that for a century the Douglases
cherished against the Stuarts, and which was shown by so many plots,
rebellions, and assassinations. According as fortune had favoured or
deserted Murray, William Douglas had seen the rays of the fraternal
star draw near or away from him; he had then felt that he was living
in another's life, and was devoted, body and soul, to him who was his
cause of greatness or of abasement. Mary's fall, which must
necessarily raise Murray, was thus a source of joy for him, and the
Confederate lords could not have chosen better than in confiding the
safe-keeping of their prisoner to the instinctive spite of Lady
Douglas and to the intelligent hatred of her son.

As to Little Douglas, he was, as we have said, a child of twelve, for
some months an orphan, whom the Lochlevens had taken charge of, and
whom they made buy the bread they gave him by all sorts of harshness.
The result was that the child, proud and spiteful as a Douglas, and
knowing, although his fortune was inferior, that his birth was equal
to his proud relatives, had little by little changed his early
gratitude into lasting and profound hatred: for one used to say that
among the Douglases there was an age for loving, but that there was
none for hating. It results that, feeling his weakness and
isolation, the child was self-contained with strength beyond his
years, and, humble and submissive in appearance, only awaited the
moment when, a grown-up young man, he could leave Lochleven, and
perhaps avenge himself for the proud protection of those who dwelt
there. But the feelings that we have just expressed did not extend
to all the members of the family: as much as from the bottom of his
heart the little Douglas detested William and his mother, so much he
loved George, the second of Lady Lochleven's sons, of whom we have
not yet spoken, because, being away from the castle when the queen
arrived, we have not yet found an opportunity to present him to our
readers.

George, who at this time might have been about twenty-five or twenty-
six years old, was the second son of Lord Lochleven; but by a
singular chance, that his mother's adventurous youth had caused Sir
William to interpret amiss, this second son had none of the
characteristic features of the Douglases' full cheeks, high colour,
large ears, and red hair. The result was that poor George, who, on
the contrary, had been given by nature pale cheeks, dark blue eyes,
and black hair, had been since coming into the world an object of
indifference to his father and of dislike to his elder brother. As
to his mother, whether she were indeed in good faith surprised like
Lord Douglas at this difference in race, whether she knew the cause
and inwardly reproached herself, George had never been, ostensibly at
least, the object of a very lively maternal affection; so the young
man, followed from his childhood by a fatality that he could not
explain, had sprung up like a wild shrub, full of sap and strength,
but uncultivated and solitary. Besides, from the time when he was
fifteen, one was accustomed to his motiveless absences, which the
indifference that everyone bore him made moreover perfectly
explicable; from time to time, however, he was seen to reappear at
the castle, like those migratory birds which always return to the
same place but only stay a moment, then take their way again without
one's knowing towards what spot in the world they are directing their
flight.

An instinct of misfortune in common had drawn Little Douglas to
George. George, seeing the child ill-treated by everyone, had
conceived an affection for him, and Little Douglas, feeling himself
loved amid the atmosphere of indifference around him, turned with
open arms and heart to George: it resulted from this mutual liking
that one day, when the child had committed I do not know what fault,
and that William Douglas raised the whip he beat his dogs with to
strike him, that George, who was sitting on a stone, sad and
thoughtful, had immediately sprung up, snatched the whip from his
brother's hands and had thrown it far from him. At this insult
William had drawn his sword, and George his, so that these two
brothers, who had hated one another for twenty years like two
enemies, were going to cut one another's throats, when Little
Douglas, who had picked up the whip, coming back and kneeling before
William, offered him the ignominious weapon, saying

"Strike, cousin; I have deserved it."

This behaviour of the child had caused some minutes' reflection to
the two young men, who, terrified at the crime they were about to
commit, had returned their swords to their scabbards and had each
gone away in silence. Since this incident the friendship of George
and Little Douglas had acquired new strength, and on the child's side
it had become veneration.

We dwell upon all these details somewhat at length, perhaps, but no
doubt our readers will pardon us when they see the use to be made of
them.

This is the family, less George, who, as we have said, was absent at
the time of her arrival, into the midst of which the queen had
fallen, passing in a moment from the summit of power to the position
of a prisoner; for from the day following her arrival Mary saw that
it was by such a title she was an inmate of Lochleven Castle. In
fact, Lady Douglas presented herself before her as soon as it was
morning, and with an embarrassment and dislike ill disguised beneath
an appearance of respectful indifference, invited Mary to follow her
and take stock of the several parts of the fortress which had been
chosen beforehand for her private use. She then made her go through
three rooms, of which one was to serve as her bedroom, the second as
sitting-room, and the third as ante-chamber; afterwards, leading the
way down a spiral staircase, which looked into the great hall of the
castle, its only outlet, she had crossed this hall, and had taken
Mary into the garden whose trees the queen had seen topping the high
walls on her arrival: it was a little square of ground, forming a
flower-bed in the midst of which was an artificial fountain. It was
entered by a very low door, repeated in the opposite wall; this
second door looked on to the lake and, like all the castle doors,
whose keys, however, never left the belt or the pillow of William
Douglas, it was guarded night and day by a sentinel. This was now
the whole domain of her who had possessed the palaces, the plains,
and the mountains of an entire kingdom.

Mary, on returning to her room, found breakfast ready, and William
Douglas standing near the table he was going to fulfil about the
queen the duties of carver and taster.

In spite of their hatred for Mary, the Douglases would have
considered it an eternal blemish on their honour if any accident
should have befallen the queen while she was dwelling in their
castle; and it was in order that the queen herself should not
entertain any fear in this respect that William Douglas, in his
quality of lord of the manor, had not only desired to carve before
the queen, but even to taste first in her presence, all the dishes
served to her, as well as the water and the several wines to be
brought her. This precaution saddened Mary more than it reassured
her; for she understood that, while she stayed in the castle, this
ceremony would prevent any intimacy at table. However, it proceeded
from too noble an intention for her to impute it as a crime to her
hosts: she resigned herself, then, to this company, insupportable as
it was to her; only, from that day forward, she so cut short her
meals that all the time she was at Lochleven her longest dinners
barely lasted more than a quarter of an hour.

Two days after her arrival, Mary, on sitting down to table for
breakfast, found on her plate a letter addressed to her which had
been put there by William Douglas. Mary recognised Murray's
handwriting, and her first feeling was one of joy; for if a ray of
hope remained to her, it came from her brother, to whom she had
always been perfectly kind, whom from Prior of St. Andrew's she had
made an earl in bestowing on him the splendid estates which formed
part of the old earldom of Murray, and to whom, which was of more
importance, she had since pardoned, or pretended to pardon, the part
he had taken in Rizzio's assassination.

Her astonishment was great, then, when, having opened the letter, she
found in it bitter reproaches for her conduct, an exhortation to do
penance, and an assurance several times repeated that she should
never leave her prison. He ended his letter in announcing to her
that, in spite of his distaste for public affairs, he had been
obliged to accept the regency, which he had done less for his country
than for his sister, seeing that it was the sole means he had of
standing in the way of the ignominious trial to which the nobles
wished to bring her, as author, or at least as chief accomplice, of
Darnley's death. This imprisonment was then clearly a great good
fortune for her, and she ought to thank Heaven for it, as an
alleviation of the fate awaiting her if he had not interceded for
her.

This letter was a lightning stroke for Mary: only, as she did not
wish to give her enemies the delight of seeing her suffer, she
contained her grief, and, turning to William Douglas--

"My lord," said she, "this letter contains news that you doubtless
know already, for although we are not children by the same mother, he
who writes to me is related to us in the same degree, and will not
have desired to write to his sister without writing to his brother at
the same time; besides, as a good son, he will have desired to
acquaint his mother with the unlooked-for greatness that has befallen
him."

"Yes, madam," replied William, "we know since yesterday that, for the
welfare of Scotland, my brother has been named regent; and as he is a
son as respectful to his mother as he is devoted to his country, we
hope that he will repair the evil that for five years favourites of
every sort and kind have done to both."

"It is like a good son, and at the same time like a courteous host,
to go back no farther into the history of Scotland," replied Mary
Stuart," and not to make the daughter blush for the father's errors;
for I have heard say that the evil which your lordship laments was
prior to the time to which you assign it, and that King James V also
had formerly favourites, both male and female. It is true that they
add that the ones as ill rewarded his friendship as the others his
love. In this, if you are ignorant of it, my lord, you can be
instructed, if he is still living, by a certain. Porterfeld or
Porterfield, I don't know which, understanding these names of the
lower classes too ill to retain and pronounce them, but about which,
in my stead, your noble mother could give you information."

With these words, Mary Stuart rose, and, leaving William Douglas
crimson with rage, she returned into her bedroom, and bolted the door
behind her.

All that day Mary did not come down, remaining at her window, from
which she at least enjoyed a splendid view over the plains and
village of Kinross; but this vast extent only contracted her heart
the more, when, bringing her gaze back from the horizon to the
castle, she beheld its walls surrounded on all sides by the deep
waters of the lake, on whose wide surface a single boat, where Little
Douglas was fishing, was rocking like a speck. For some moments
Mary's eyes mechanically rested on this child, whom she had already
seen upon her arrival, when suddenly a horn sounded from the Kinross
side. At the same moment Little Douglas threw away his line, and
began to row towards the shore whence the signal had come with skill
and strength beyond his years. Mary, who had let her gaze rest on
him absently, continued to follow him with her eyes, and saw him make
for a spot on the shore so distant that the boat seemed to her at
length but an imperceptible speck; but soon it reappeared, growing
larger as it approached, and Mary could then observe that it was
bringing back to the castle a new passenger, who, having in his turn
taken the oars, made the little skiff fly over the tranquil water of
the lake, where it left a furrow gleaming in the last rays of the
sun. Very soon, flying on with the swiftness of a bird, it was near
enough for Mary to see that the skilful and vigorous oarsman was a
young man from twenty-five to twenty-six years of age, with long
black hair, clad in a close coat of green cloth, and wearing a
Highlander's cap, adorned with an eagle's feather; then, as with his
back turned to the window he drew nearer, Little Douglas, who was
leaning on his shoulder, said a few words which made him turn round
towards the queen: immediately Mary, with an instinctive movement
rather than with the dread of being an object of idle curiosity, drew
back, but not so quickly, however, but that she had been able to see
the handsome pale face of the unknown, who, when she returned to the
window, had disappeared behind one of the corners of the castle.

Everything is a cause of conjecture to a prisoner: it seemed to Mary
that this young man's face was not unknown to her, and that he had
seen her already; but though great the care with which she questioned
her memory, she could not recall any distinct remembrance, so much so
that the queen ended in thinking it the play of her imagination, or
that some vague and distinct resemblance had deceived her.

However, in spite of Mary, this idea had taken an important place in
her mind: she incessantly saw this little boat skimming the water,
and the young man and the child who were in it drawing near her, as
if to bring her help. It followed that, although there had been
nothing real in all these captive's dreams, she slept that night a
calmer sleep than she had yet done since she had been in Lochleven
Castle.

Next day, on rising, Mary ran to her window: the weather was fine,
and everything seemed to smile on her, the water, the heavens and the
earth. But, without being able to account for the restraining
motive, she did not want to go down into the ga den before breakfast.
When the door opened, 'she turned quickly round: it was, as on the
day before, William Douglas, who came to fulfil his duty as taster.

The breakfast was a short and silent one; then, as soon as Douglas
had withdrawn, Mary descended in her turn: in crossing the courtyard
she saw two horses ready saddled, which pointed to the near departure
of a master and a squire. Was it the young man with the black hair
already setting out again? This is what Mary did not dare or did not
wish to ask. She consequently went her way, and entered the garden:
at the first glance she took it in in its full extent; it was
deserted.

Mary walked there a moment; then, soon tiring of the promenade, she
went up again to her room: in passing back through the courtyard she
had noticed that the horses were no longer there. Directly she
returned into her apartment, she went then to the window to see if
she could discover anything upon the lake to guide her in her
conjectures: a boat was in fact receding, and in this boat were the
two horses and the two horsemen; one was William Douglas, the other a
simple squire from the house.

Mary continued watching the boat until it had touched the shore.
Arrived there, the two horsemen got out, disembarked their horses,
and went away at full gallop, taking the same road by which the queen
had come; so that, as the horses were prepared for a long journey,
Mary thought that William Douglas was going to Edinburgh. As to the
boat, scarcely had it landed its two passengers on the opposite shore
than it returned towards the castle.

At that moment Mary Seyton announced to the queen that Lady Douglas
was asking permission to visit her.

It was the second time, after long hatred on Lady Douglas's part and
contemptuous indifference on the queen's, that the two women were
face to face; therefore the queen, with that instinctive impulse of
coquetry which urges women, in whatever situation they find
themselves, to desire to be beautiful, above all for women, made a
sign to Mary Seyton, and, going to a little mirror fastened to the
wall in a heavy Gothic frame, she arranged her curls, and readjusted
the lace of her collar; then; having seated herself in the pose most
favourable to her, in a great arm-chair, the only one in her sitting-
room, she said smilingly to Mary Seyton that she might admit Lady
Douglas, who was immediately introduced.

Mary's expectation was not disappointed: Lady Douglas, in spite of
her hatred for James Vs daughter, and mistress of herself as she
thought she as, could not prevent herself from showing by a movement
of surprise the impression that this marvelous beauty was making on
her: she thought she should find Mary crushed by her unhappiness,
pallid from her fatigues, humbled by captivity, and she saw hers
calm, lovely, and haughty as usual. Mary perceived the effect that
she was producing, and addressing herself with an ironical smile
partly to Mary Seyton, who was leaning on the back of her chair, and
partly to her who was paying her this unforeseen visit

"We are fortunate to-day," said she, "for we are going as it seems to
enjoy the society of our good hostess, whom we thank besides for
having kindly maintained with us the empty ceremony of announcing
herself--a ceremony with which, having the keys of our apartment, she
could have dispensed."

"If my presence is inconvenient to your grace," replied Lady
Lochleven, "I am all the more sorry for it, as circumstances will
oblige me to impose it twice daily, at least during the absence of my
son, who is summoned to Edinburgh by the regent; this is of what I
came to inform your grace, not with the empty ceremonial of the
court, but with the consideration which Lady Lochleven owes to
everyone who has received hospitality in her castle."

"Our good hostess mistakes our intention," Mary answered, with
affected good-nature; "and the regent himself can bear witness to the
pleasure we have always had in bringing nearer to us the persons who
can recall to us, even indirectly, our well-beloved father, James V.
It will be therefore unjustly that Lady Douglas will interpret in a
manner disagreeable to herself our surprise at seeing her; and the
hospitality that she offers us so obligingly does not promise us, in
spite of her goodwill, sufficient distractions that we should deprive
ourselves of those that her visits cannot fail to procure us."

"Unfortunately, madam," replied Lady Lochleven, whom Mary was keeping
standing before her, "whatever pleasure I myself derive from these
visits, I shall be obliged to deprive myself of, except at the times
I have mentioned. I am now too old to bear fatigue, and I have,
always been too proud to endure sarcasms."

"Really, Seyton," cried Mary, seeming to recollect herself, "we had
not dreamed that Lady Lochleven, having won her right to a stool at
the court of the king my father, would have need to preserve it in
the prison of the queen his daughter. Bring forward a seat, Seyton,
that we be not deprived so soon, and by a failure of memory on our
part, of our gracious hostess's company; or even," went on Mary,
rising and pointing out her own seat to Lady Lochleven, who was
making a motion to withdraw, "if a stool does not suit you, my lady,
take this easy-chair: you will not be the first member of your family
to sit in my place."

At this last allusion, which recalled to her Murray's usurpation,
Lady Lochleven was no doubt about to make some exceedingly bitter
reply, when the young man with the dark hair appeared on the
threshold, without being announced, and, advancing towards Lady
Lochleven, without saluting Mary--

"Madam," said he, bowing to the former, "the boat which took my
brother has just returned, and one of the men in it is charged with a
pressing charge that Lord William forgot to make to you himself."

Then, saluting the old lady with the same respect, he immediately
went out of the room, without even glancing at the queen, who, hurt
by this impertinence, turned round to Mary Seyton, and, with her
usual calm--

"What have they told us, Seyton, of injurious rumours which were
spread about our worthy hostess apropos of a child with a pale face
and dark hair? If this child, as I have every reason to believe, has
become the young man who just went out of the room, I am ready to
affirm to all the incredulous that he is a true Douglas, if not for
courage, of which we cannot judge, then for insolence, of which he
has just given us proofs. Let us return, darling," continued the
queen, leaning on Mary Seyton's arm;" for our good hostess, out of
courtesy, might think herself obliged to keep us company longer,
while we know that she is impatiently awaited elsewhere."

With these words, Mary went into her bedroom; while the old lady,
still quite stunned with the shower of sarcasms that the queen had
rained on her, withdrew, murmuring, "Yes, yes, he is a Douglas, and
with God's help he will prove it, I hope."

The queen had had strength as long as she was sustained by her
enemy's presence, but scarcely was she alone than she sank into a
chair, and no longer having any witness of her weakness than Mary
Seyton, burst into tears. Indeed, she had just been cruelly wounded:
till then no man had come near her who had not paid homage either to
the majesty of her rank or to the beauty of her countenance. But
precisely he, on whom she had reckoned, without knowing why, with
instinctive hopes, insulted her at one and the same time in her
double pride of queen and woman: thus she remained shut up till
evening.

At dinner-time, just as Lady Lochleven had informed Mary, she
ascended to the queen's apartment, in her dress of honour, and
preceding four servants who were carrying the several dishes
composing the prisoner's repast, and who, in their turn, were
followed by the old castle steward, having, as on days of great
ceremony, his gold chain round his neck and his ivory stick in his
hand. The servants' placed the dishes on the table, and waited in
silence for the moment when it should please the queen to come out of
her room; but at this moment the door opened, and in place of the
queen Mary Seyton appeared.

"Madam," said she on entering, "her grace was indisposed during the
day, and will take nothing this evening; it will be useless, then,
for you to wait longer."

"Permit me to hope," replied Lady Lochleven, "that she will change
her decision; in any case, see me perform my office."

At these words, a servant handed Lady Lochleven bread and salt on a
silver salver, while the old steward, who, in the absence of William
Douglas, fulfilled the duties of carver, served to her on a plate of
the same metal a morsel from each of the dishes that had been
brought; then, this transaction ended

"So the queen will not appear to-day?" Lady Lochleven inquired.

"It is her Majesty's resolve," replied Mary Seyton.

"Our presence is then needless," said the old lady; "but in any case
the table is served, and if her grace should have need of anything
else, she would have but to name it."

With these words, Lady Lochleven, with the same stiffness and the
same dignity with which she had come, withdrew, followed by her four
servants and her steward.

As Lady Lochleven had foreseen, the queen, yielding to the entreaties
of Mary Seyton, came out of her room at last, towards eight o'clock
in the evening, sat down to table, and, served by the only maid of
honour left her, ate a little; then, getting up, she went to the
window.

It was one of those magnificent summer evenings on which the whole of
nature seems making holiday: the sky was studded with stars, which
were reflected in the lake, and in their midst, like a more fiery
star, the flame of the chafing-dish shone, burning at the stern of a
little boat: the queen, by the gleam of the light it shed, perceived
George Douglas and Little Douglas, who were fishing. However great
her wish to profit by this fine evening to breathe the pure night
air, the sight of this young man who had so grossly insulted her this
very day made such a keen impression on her that she shut her window
directly, and, retiring into her room, went to bed, and made her
companion in captivity read several prayers aloud; then, not being
able to sleep, so greatly was she agitated, she rose, and throwing on
a mantle went again to the window the boat had disappeared.

Mary spent part of the night gazing into the immensity of the
heavens, or into the depths of the lake; but in spite of the nature
of the thoughts agitating her, she none the less found very great
physical alleviation in contact with this pure air and in
contemplation of this peaceful and silent night: thus she awoke next
day calmer and more resigned. Unfortunately, the sight of Lady
Lochleven, who presented herself at breakfast-time, to fulfil her
duties as taster, brought back her irritability. Perhaps, however,
things would have gone on smoothly if Lady Lochleven, instead of
remaining standing by the sideboard, had withdrawn after having
tasted the various dishes of the courses; but this insisting on
remaining throughout the meal, which was at bottom a mark of respect,
seemed to the queen unbearable tyranny.

"Darling," said she, speaking to Mary Seyton, "have you already
forgotten that our good hostess complained yesterday of the fatigue
she felt inn standing? Bring her, then, one of the two stools
which compose our royal furniture, and take care that it is not the
one with the leg broken". "If the furniture of Lochleven Castle is
in such bad condition, madam," the old lady replied, "it is the fault
of the kings of Scotland: the poor Douglases for nearly a century
have had such a small part of their sovereigns' favour, that they
have not been able to keep up the splendour of their ancestors to the
level of that of private individuals, and because there was in
Scotland a certain musician, as I am informed, who spent their income
for a whole year in one month."

"Those who know how to take so well, my lady," the queen answered,
"have no need of being given to: it seems to me the Douglases have
lost nothing by waiting, and there is not a younger son of this noble
family who might not aspire to the highest alliances; it is truly
vexatious that our sister the queen of England has taken a vow of
virginity; as is stated."

"Or rather," interrupted Lady Lochleven, "that the Queen of Scotland
is not a widow by her third husband. But," continued the old lady,
pretending to recollect herself, "I do not say that to reproach your
grace. Catholics look upon marriage as a sacrament, and on this head
receive it as often as they can."

"This, then," returned Mary, "is the difference between them and the
Huguenots; for they, not having the same respect for it, think it is
allowed them to dispense with it in certain circumstances."

At this terrible sarcasm Lady Lochleven took a step towards Mary
Stuart, holding in her hand the knife which she had just been using
to cut off a piece of meat brought her to taste; but the queen rose
up with so great a calm and with such majesty, that either from
involuntary respect or shame of her first impulse, she let fall the
weapon she was holding, and not finding anything sufficiently strong
in reply to express her feelings, she signed to the servants to
follow her, and went out of the apartment with all the dignity that
anger permitted her to summon to her aid.

Scarcely had Lady Lochleven left the room than the queen sat down
again, joyful and triumphant at the victory she had just gained, and
ate with a better appetite than she had yet done since she was a
prisoner, while Mary Seyton deplored in a low tone and with all
possible respect this fatal gift of repartee that Mary had received,
and which, with her beauty, was one of the causes of all her
misfortunes; but the queen did nothing but laugh at all her
observations, saying she was curious to see the figure her good
hostess would cut at dinnertime.

After breakfast, the queen went down into the garden: her satisfied
pride had restored some of her cheerfulness, so much so that, seeing,
while crossing the hall, a mandolin lying forgotten on a chair, she
told Mary Seyton to take it, to see, she said, if she could recall
her old talent. In reality the queen was one of the best musicians
of the time, and played admirably, says Brantome, on the lute and
viol d'amour, an instrument much resembling the mandolin.

Mary Seyton obeyed.

Arrived in the garden, the queen sat down in the deepest shade, and
there, having tuned her instrument, she at first drew from it lively
and light tones, which soon darkened little by little, at the same
time that her countenance assumed a hue of deep melancholy. Mary
Seyton looked at her with uneasiness, although for a long time she
had been used to these sudden changes in her mistress's humour, and
she was about to ask the reason of this gloomy veil suddenly spread
over her face, when, regulating her harmonies, Mary began to sing in
a low voice, and as if for herself alone, the following verses:--

"Caverns, meadows, plains and mounts,
Lands of tree and stone,
Rivers, rivulets and founts,
By which I stray alone,
Bewailing as I go,
With tears that overflow,
Sing will I
The miserable woe
That bids me grieve and sigh.

Ay, but what is here to lend
Ear to my lament?
What is here can comprehend
My dull discontent?
Neither grass nor reed,
Nor the ripples heed,
Flowing by,
While the stream with speed
Hastens from my eye.

Vainly does my wounded heart
Hope, alas, to heal;
Seeking, to allay its smart,
Things that cannot feel.
Better should my pain
Bitterly complain,
Crying shrill,
To thee who dost constrain
My spirit to such ill.

Goddess, who shalt never die,
List to what I say;
Thou who makest me to lie
Weak beneath thy sway,
If my life must know
Ending at thy blow,
Cruellest!
Own it perished so
But at thy behest.

Lo! my face may all men see
Slowly pine and fade,
E'en as ice doth melt and flee
Near a furnace laid.
Yet the burning ray
Wasting me away
Passion's glow,
Wakens no display
Of pity for my woe.

Yet does every neighbour tree,
Every rocky wall,
This my sorrow know and see;
So, in brief, doth all
Nature know aright
This my sorry plight;
Thou alone
Takest thy delight
To hear me cry and moan.

But if it be thy will,
To see tormented still
Wretched me,
Then let my woful ill
Immortal be."

This last verse died away as if the queen were exhausted, and at the
same time the mandolin slipped from her hands, and would have fallen
to the ground had not Mary Seyton thrown herself on her knees and
prevented it. The young girl remained thus at her mistress's feet
for some time, gazing at her silently, and as she saw that she was
losing herself more and more in gloomy reverie--

"Have those lines brought back to your Majesty some sad remembrance?"
she asked hesitatingly.

"Oh, yes," answered the queen; "they reminded me of the unfortunate
being who composed them."

"And may I, without indiscretion, inquire of your grace who is their
author?"

"Alas! he was a noble, brave, and handsome young man, with a faithful
heart and a hot head, who would defend me to-day, if I had defended
him then; but his boldness seemed to me rashness, and his fault a
crime. What was to be done? I did not love him. Poor Chatelard! I
was very cruel to him."

"But you did not prosecute him, it was your brother; you did not
condemn him, the judges did."

"Yes, yes; I know that he too was Murray's victim, and that is no
doubt the reason that I am calling him to mind just now. But I was
able to pardon him, Mary, and I was inflexible; I let ascend the
scaffold a man whose only crime was in loving me too well; and now I
am astonished and complain of being abandoned by everyone. Listen,
darling, there is one thing that terrifies me: it is, that when I
search within myself I find that I have not only deserved my fate,
but even that God did not punish me severely enough."

"What strange thoughts for your grace!" cried Mary; "and see where
those unlucky lines which returned to your mind have led you, the
very day when you were beginning to recover a little of your
cheerfulness."

"Alas!" replied the queen, shaking her head and uttering a deep sigh,
"for six years very few days have passed that I have not repeated
those lines to myself, although it may be for the first time to-day
that I repeat them aloud. He was a Frenchman too, Mary: they have
exiled from me, taken or killed all who came to me from France. Do
you remember that vessel which was swallowed up before our eyes when
we came out of Calais harbour? I exclaimed then that it was a sad
omen: you all wanted to reassure me. Well, who was right, now, you
or I?"

The queen was in one of those fits of sadness for which tears are the
sole remedy; so Mary Seyton, perceiving that not only would every
consolation be vain, but also unreasonable, far from continuing to
react against her mistress's melancholy, fully agreed with her: it
followed that the queen, who was suffocating, began to weep, and that
her tears brought her comfort; then little by little she regained
self-control, and this crisis passed as usual, leaving her firmer and
more resolute than ever, so that when she went up to her room again
it was impossible to read the slightest alteration in her
countenance.

The dinner-hour was approaching, and Mary, who in the morning was
looking forward impatiently to the enjoyment of her triumph over Lady
Lochleven, now saw her advance with uneasiness: the mere idea of
again facing this woman, whose pride one was always obliged to oppose
with insolence, was, after the moral fatigues of the day, a fresh
weariness. So she decided not to appear for dinner, as on the day
before: she was all the more glad she had taken this resolution, that
this time it was not Lady Lochleven who came to fulfil the duties
enjoined on a member of the family to make the queen easy, but George
Douglas, whom his mother in her displeasure at the morning scene sent
to replace her. Thus, when Mary Seyton told the queen that she saw
the young man with dark hair cross the courtyard on his way to her,
Mary still further congratulated herself on her decision; for this
young man's insolence had wounded her more deeply than all his
mother's haughty insults. The queen was not a little astonished,
then, when in a few minutes Mary Seyton returned and informed her
that George Douglas, having sent away the servants, desired the
honour of speaking to her on a matter of importance. At first the
queen refused; but Mary Seyton told her that the young man's air and
manner this time were so different from what she had seen two days
before, that she thought her mistress would be wrong to refuse his
request.

The queen rose then, and with the pride and majesty habitual to her,
entered the adjoining room, and, having taken three steps, stopped
with a disdainful air, waiting for George to address her.

Mary Seyton had spoken truly: George Douglas was now another man.
To-day he seemed to be as respectful and timid as the preceding day
he had seemed haughty and proud. He, in his turn, made a step
towards the queen; but seeing Mary Seyton standing behind her--

"Madam," said he, "I wished to speak with your Majesty alone: shall I
not obtain this favour?"

"Mary Seyton is not a stranger to me, Sir: she is my sister, my
friend; she is more than all that, she is my companion in captivity."

"And by all these claims, madam, I have the utmost veneration for
her; but what I have to tell you cannot be heard by other ears than
yours. Thus, madam, as the opportunity furnished now may perhaps
never present itself again, in the name of what is dearest to you,
grant me what I ask."

There was such a tone of respectful prayer in George's voice that
Mary turned to the young girl, and, making her a friendly sign with
her hand--

"Go, then, darling," said she; "but be easy, you will lose nothing by
not hearing. Go."

Mary Seyton withdrew; the queen smilingly looked after her, till the
door was shut; then, turning to George--

"Now, sir," said she, "we are alone, speak."

But George, instead of replying, advanced to the queen, and, kneeling
on one knee, drew from his breast a paper which he presented to her.
Mary took it with amazement, unfolded it, glancing at Douglas, who
remained in the same posture, and read as follows:

We, earls, lords, and barons, in consideration that our queen is
detained at Lochleven, and that her faithful subjects cannot have
access to her person; seeing, on the other hand, that our duty
pledges us to provide for her safety, promise and swear to employ all
reasonable means which will depend on us to set her at liberty again
on conditions compatible with the honour of her Majesty, the welfare
of the kingdom, and even with the safety of those who keep her in
prison, provided that they consent to give her up; that if they
refuse, we declare that we are prepared to make use of ourselves, our
children, our friends, our servants, our vassals, our goods, our
persons, and our lives, to restore her to liberty, to procure the
safety of the prince, and to co-operate in punishing the late king's
murderers. If we are assailed for this intent, whether as a body or
in private, we promise to defend ourselves, and to aid one another,
under pain of infamy and perjury. So may God help us.

"Given with our own hands at Dumbarton,

"St. Andrews, Argyll, Huntly, Arbroath, Galloway, Ross, Fleming,
Herries, Stirling, Kilwinning, Hamilton, and Saint-Clair, Knight."

"And Seyton!" cried Mary, "among all these signatures, I do not see
that of my faithful Seyton."

Douglas, still kneeling, drew from his breast a second paper, and
presented it to the queen with the same marks of respect. It
contained only these few words:

"Trust George Douglas; for your Majesty has no more devoted friend in
the entire kingdom.

"SEYTON."

Mary lowered her eyes to Douglas with an expression which was hers
only; then, giving him her hand to raise him--

"Ah!" said she, with a sigh more of joy than of sadness, "now I see
that God, in spite of my faults, has not yet abandoned me. But how
is it, in this castle, that you, a Douglas.... oh! it is incredible!"

"Madam," replied George, "seven years have passed since I saw you in
France for the first time, and for seven years I have loved you".
Mary moved; but Douglas put forth his hand and shook his head with an
air of such profound sadness, that she understood that she might hear
what the young man had to say. He continued: "Reassure yourself,
madam; I should never have made this confession if, while explaining
my conduct to you, this confession would not have given you greater
confidence in me. Yes, for seven years I have loved you, but as one
loves a star that one can never reach, a madonna to whom one can only
pray; for seven years I have followed you everywhere without you ever
having paid attention to me, without my saying a word or making a
gesture to attract your notice. I was on the knight of Mevillon's
galley when you crossed to Scotland; I was among the regent's
soldiers when you beat Huntly; I was in the escort which accompanied
you when you went to see the sick king at Glasgow; I reached
Edinburgh an hour after you had left it for Lochleven; and then it
seemed to me that my mission was revealed to me for the first time,
and that this love for which till then, I had reproached myself as a
crime, was on the contrary a favour from God. I learned that the
lords were assembled at Dumbarton: I flew thither. I pledged my
name, I pledged my honour, I pledged my life; and I obtained from
them, thanks to the facility I had for coming into this fortress, the
happiness of bringing you the paper they have just signed. Now,
madam, forget all I have told you, except the assurance of my
devotion and respect: forget that I am near you; I am used to not
being seen: only, if you have need of my life, make a sign; for seven
years my life has been yours."

"Alas!" replied Mary, "I was complaining this morning of no longer
being loved, and I ought to complain, on the contrary, that I am
still loved; for the love that I inspire is fatal and mortal. Look
back, Douglas, and count the tombs that, young as I am, I have
already left on my path--Francis II, Chatelard, Rizzio, Darnley....
Oh to attach one's self to my fortunes more than love is needed now
heroism and devotion are requisite so much the more that, as you have
said, Douglas, it is love without any possible reward. Do you
understand?"

"Oh, madam, madam," answered Douglas, "is it not reward beyond my
deserts to see you daily, to cherish the hope that liberty will be
restored to you through me, and to have at least, if I do not give it
you, the certainty of dying in your sight?"

"Poor young man!" murmured Mary, her eyes raised to heaven, as if she
were reading there beforehand the fate awaiting her new defender.

"Happy Douglas, on the contrary," cried George, seizing the queen's
hand and kissing it with perhaps still more respect than love, "happy
Douglas! for in obtaining a sigh from your Majesty he has already
obtained more than he hoped."

"And upon what have you decided with my friends?" said the queen,
raising Douglas, who till then had remained on his knees before her.

"Nothing yet," George replied; "for we scarcely had time to see one
another. Your escape, impossible without me, is difficult even with
me; and your Majesty has seen that I was obliged publicly to fail in
respect, to obtain from my mother the confidence which gives me the
good fortune of seeing you to-day: if this confidence on my mother's
or my brother's part ever extends to giving up to me the castle keys,
then you are saved! Let your Majesty not be surprised at anything,
then: in the presence of others, I shall ever be always a Douglas,
that is an enemy; and except your life be in danger, madam, I shall
not utter a word, I shall not make a gesture which might betray the
faith that I have sworn you; but, on your side, let your grace know
well, that present or absent, whether I am silent or speak, whether I
act or remain inert, all will be in appearance only, save my
devotion. Only," continued Douglas, approaching the window and
showing to the queen a little house on Kinross hill,--"only, look
every evening in that direction, madam, and so long as you see a
light shine there, your friends will be keeping watch for you, and
you need not lose hope."

"Thanks, Douglas, thanks," said the queen; "it does one good to meet
with a heart like yours from time to time--oh! thanks."

"And now, madam," replied the young man, "I must leave your Majesty;
to remain longer with you would be to raise suspicions, and a single
doubt of me, think of it well, madam, and that light which is your
sole beacon is extinguished, and all returns into night."

With these words, Douglas bowed more respectfully than he had yet
done, and withdrew, leaving Mary full of hope, and still more full of
pride; for this time the homage that she had just received was
certainly for the woman and not for the queen.

As the queen had told him, Mary Seyton was informed of everything,
even the love of Douglas, and, the two women impatiently awaited the
evening to see if the promised star would shine on the horizon.
Their hope was not in vain: at the appointed time the beacon was lit.
The queen trembled with joy, for it was the confirmation of her
hopes, and her companion could not tear her from the window, where
she remained with her gaze fastened on the little house in Kinross.
At last she yielded to Mary Seyton's prayers, and consented to go to
bed; but twice in the night she rose noiselessly to go to the window:
the light was always shining, and was not extinguished till dawn,
with its sisters the stars.

Next day, at breakfast, George announced to the queen the return of
his brother, William Douglas: he arrived the same evening; as to
himself, George, he had to leave Lochleven next morning, to confer
with the nobles who had signed the declaration, and who had
immediately separated to raise troops in their several counties. The
queen could not attempt to good purpose any escape but at a time when
she would be sure of gathering round her an army strong enough to
hold the country; as to him, Douglas, one was so used to his silent
disappearances and to his unexpected returns, that there was no
reason to fear that his departure would inspire any suspicion.

All passed as George had said: in the evening the sound of a bugle
announced the arrival of William Douglas; he had with him Lord
Ruthven, the son of him who had assassinated Rizzio, and who, exiled
with Morton after the murder, died in England of the sickness with
which he was already attacked the day of the terrible catastrophe in
which we have seen him take such a large share. He preceded by one
day Lord Lindsay of Byres and Sir Robert Melville, brother of Mary's
former ambassador to Elizabeth: all three were charged with a mission
from the regent to the queen.

On the following day everything fell back into the usual routine, and
William Douglas reassumed his duties as carver. Breakfast passed
without Mary's having learned anything of George's departure or
Ruthven's arrival. On rising from the table she went to her window:
scarcely was she there than she heard the sound of a horn echoing on
the shores of the lake, and saw a little troop of horsemen halt,
while waiting for the boat to came and take those who were going to
the castle.

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