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

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