Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

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

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com