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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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instructed me on that head: what more will he do than he has done
already?  A public trial! Oh! it is all I ask: let me only plead my
cause, and we shall see what judges will dare to condemn me."

"But that is what they will take good care not to do, madam; for they
would be mad to do it when they keep you here in this isolated
castle, in the care of your enemies, having no witness but God, who
avenges crime, but who does not prevent it.  Recollect, madam, what
Machiavelli has said, 'A king's tomb is never far from his prison.'
You come of a family in which one dies young, madam, and almost
always of a sudden death: two of your ancestors perished by steel,
and one by poison."

"Oh, if my death were sudden and easy," cried Mary, "yes, I should
accept it as an expiation for my faults; for if I am proud when I
compare myself with others, Melville, I am humble when I judge
myself.  I am unjustly accused of being an accomplice of Darnley's
death, but I am justly condemned for having married Bothwell."

"Time presses, madam; time presses," cried Melville, looking at the
sand, which, placed on the table, was marking the time.  "They are
coming back, they will be here in a minute; and this time you must
give them an answer.  Listen, madam, and at least profit by your
situation as much as you can.  You are alone here with one woman,
without friends, without protection, without power: an abdication
signed at such a juncture will never appear to your people to have
been freely given, but will always pass as having been torn from you
by force; and if need be, madam, if the day comes when such a solemn
declaration is worth something, well, then you will have two
witnesses of the violence done you: the one will be Mary Seyton, and
the other," he added in a low voice and looking uneasily about him,--
"the other will be Robert Melville."

Hardly had he finished speaking when the footsteps of the two nobles
were again heard on the staircase, returning even before the quarter
of an hour had elapsed; a moment afterwards the door opened, and
Ruthven appeared, while over his shoulder was seen Lindsay's head.

"Madam," said Ruthven, "we have returned.  Has your Grace decided?
We come for your answer."

"Yes," said Lindsay, pushing aside Ruthven, who stood in his way, and
advancing to the table,--" yes, an answer, clear, precise, positive,
and without dissimulation."

"You are exacting, my lord," said the queen: "you would scarcely have
the right to expect that from me if I were in full liberty on the
other side of the lake and surrounded with a faithful escort; but
between these walls, behind these bars, in the depths of this
fortress, I shall not tell you that I sign voluntarily, lest you
should not believe it.  But no matter, you want my signature; well, I
am going to give it to you.  Melville, pass me the pen."

"But I hope," said Lord Ruthven, "that your Grace is not counting on
using your present position one day in argument to protest against
what you are going to do?"

The queen had already stooped to write, she had already set her hand
to the paper, when Ruthven spoke to her.  But scarcely had he done
so, than she rose up proudly, and letting fall the pen, "My lord,"
said she, "what you asked of me just now was but an abdication pure
and simple, and I was going to sign it.  But if to this abdication is
joined this marginal note, then I renounce of my own accord, and as
judging myself unworthy, the throne of Scotland.  I would not do it
for the three united crowns that I have been robbed of in turn."

"Take care, madam," cried Lord Lindsay, seizing the queen's wrist
with his steel gauntlet and squeezing it with all his angry strength
--"take care, for our patience is at an end, and we could easily end
by breaking what would not bend."

The queen remained standing, and although a violent flush had passed
like a flame over her countenance, she did not utter a word, and did
not move: her eyes only were fixed with such a great expression of
contempt on those of the rough baron, that he, ashamed of the passion
that had carried him away, let go the hand he had seized and took a
step back.  Then raising her sleeve and showing the violet marks made
on her arm by Lord Lindsay's steel gauntlet,

"This is what I expected, my lords," said she, "and nothing prevents
me any longer from signing; yes, I freely abdicate the throne and
crown of Scotland, and there is the proof that my will has not been
forced."

With these words, she took the pen and rapidly signed the two
documents, held them out to Lord Ruthven, and bowing with great
dignity, withdrew slowly into her room, accompanied by Mary Seyton.
Ruthven looked after her, and when she had disappeared, "It doesn't
matter," he said; "she has signed, and although the means you
employed, Lindsay, may be obsolete enough in diplomacy, it is not the
less efficacious, it seems."

"No joking, Ruthven," said Lindsay; "for she is a noble creature, and
if I had dared, I should have thrown myself at her feet to ask her
forgiveness."

"There is still time," replied Ruthven, "and Mary, in her present
situation, will not be severe upon you: perhaps she has resolved to
appeal to the judgment of God to prove her innocence, and in that
case a champion such as you might well change the face of things."

"Do not joke, Ruthven," Lindsay answered a second time, with more
violence than the first; "for if I were as well convinced of her
innocence as I am of her crime, I tell you that no one should touch a
hair of her head, not even the regent."

"The devil! my lord," said Ruthven.  "I did not know you were so
sensitive to a gentle voice and a tearful eye; you know the story of
Achilles' lance, which healed with its rust the wounds it made with
its edge: do likewise my lord, do likewise."

"Enough, Ruthven, enough," replied Lindsay; "you are like a corselet
of Milan steel, which is three times as bright as the steel armour of
Glasgow, but which is at the same time thrice as hard: we know one
another, Ruthven, so an end to railleries or threats; enough, believe
me, enough."

And after these words, Lord Lindsay went out first, followed by
Ruthven and Melville, the first with his head high and affecting an
air of insolent indifference, and the second, sad, his brow bent, and
not even trying to disguise the painful impression which this scene
had made on him.' ["History of Scotland, by Sir Walter Scott.--'The
Abbott": historical part.]




CHAPTER VI

The queen came out of her room only in the evening, to take her place
at the window which looked over the lake: at the usual time she saw
the light which was henceforth her sole hope shine in the little
house in Kinross; for a whole long month she had no other consolation
than seeing it, every night, fixed and faithful.

At last, at the end of this time, and as she was beginning to despair
of seeing George Douglas again, one morning, on opening the window,
she uttered a cry.  Mary Seyton ran to her, and the queen, without
having strength to speak, showed her in the middle of the lake the
tiny boat at anchor, and in the boat Little Douglas and George, who
were absorbed in fishing, their favourite amusement.  The young man
had arrived the day before, and as everyone was accustomed to his
unexpected returns, the sentinel had not even blown the horn, and the
queen had not known that at last a friend had come.

However, she was three days yet without seeing this friend otherwise
than she had just done-that is, on the lake.  It is true that from
morning till evening he did not leave that spot, from which he could
view the queen's windows and the queen herself, when, to gaze at a
wider horizon, she leaned her face against the bars.  At last, on the
morning of the fourth day, the queen was awakened by a great noise of
dogs and horns: she immediately ran to the window, for to a prisoner
everything is an event, and she saw William Douglas, who was
embarking with a pack of hounds and some huntsmen.  In fact, making a
truce, for a day, with his gaoler's duties, to enjoy a pleasure more
in harmony with his rank and birth, he was going to hunt in the woods
which cover the last ridge of Ben Lomond, and which, ever sinking,
die down on the banks of the lake.

The queen trembled with delight, for she hoped that Lady Lochleven
would maintain her ill-will, and that then George would replace his
brother: this hope was not disappointed.  At the usual time the queen
heard the footsteps of those who were bringing her her breakfast; the
door opened, and she saw George Douglas enter, preceded by the
servants who were carrying the dishes.  George barely bowed; but the
queen, warned by him not to be surprised at anything, returned him
his greeting with a disdainful air; then the servants performed their
task and went out, as they were accustomed.

"At last," said the queen, "you are back again, then."

George motioned with his finger, went to the door to listen if all
the servants had really gone away, and if no one had remained to spy.
Then, returning more at ease, and bowing respectfully--

"Yes, madam," returned he; "and, Heaven be thanked, I bring good
news."

"Oh, tell me quickly!" cried the queen; "for staying in this castle
is hell.  You knew that they came, did you not, and that they made me
sign an abdication?"

"Yes, madam," replied Douglas; "but we also knew that your signature
had been obtained from you by violence alone, and our devotion to
your Majesty is increased thereby, if possible."

"But, after all, what have you done?"

"The Seytons and the Hamiltons, who are, as your Majesty knows, your
most faithful servants,"--Mary turned round, smiling, and put out her
hand to Mary Seyton,--" have already," continued George, "assembled
their troops, who keep themselves in readiness for the first signal;
but as they alone would not be sufficiently numerous to hold the
country, we shall make our way directly to Dumbarton, whose governor
is ours, and which by its position and its strength can hold out long
enough against all the regent's troops to give to the faithful hearts

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