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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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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.


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

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

"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

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