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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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remaining to you time to come and join us."

"Yes, yes," said the queen; "I see clearly what we shall do once we
get out of this; but how are we to get out?"

"That is the occasion, madam," replied Douglas, "for which your
Majesty must call to your aid that courage of which you have given
such great proofs."

"If I have need only of courage and coolness," replied the queen, "be
easy; neither the one nor the other will fail me."

"Here is a file," said George, giving Mary Seyton that instrument
which he judged unworthy to touch the queen's hands, "and this
evening I shall bring your Majesty cords to construct a ladder.  You
will cut through one of the bars of this window, it is only at a
height of twenty feet; I shall come up to you, as much to try it as
to support you; one of the garrison is in my pay, he will give us
passage by the door it is his duty to guard, and you will be free."

"And when will that be?" cried the queen.

"We must wait for two things, madam," replied Douglas: "the first, to
collect at Kinross an escort sufficient for your Majesty's safety;
the second, that the turn for night watch of Thomas Warden should
happen to be at an isolated door that we can reach without being
seen."

"And how will you know that?  Do you stay at the castle, then?"

"Alas! no, madam," replied George; "at the castle I am a useless and
even a dangerous fried for you, while once beyond the lake I can
serve you in an effectual manner."

"And how will you know when Warden's turn to mount guard has come?"

"The weathercock in the north tower, instead of turning in the wind
with the others, will remain fixed against it."

"But I, how shall I be warned?"

"Everything is already provided for on that side: the light which
shines each night in the little house in Kinross incessantly tells
you that your friends keep watch for you; but when you would like to
know if the hour of your deliverance approaches or recedes, in your
turn place a light in this window.  The other will immediately
disappear; then, placing your hand on your breast, count your
heartbeats: if you reach the number twenty without the light
reappearing, nothing is yet settled; if you only reach ten, the
moment approaches; if the light does not leave you time to count
beyond five, your escape is fixed for the following night; if it
reappears no more, it is fixed for the same evening; then the owl's
cry, repeated thrice in the courtyard, will be the signal; let down
the ladder when you hear it".

"Oh, Douglas," cried the queen, "you alone could foresee and
calculate everything thus.  Thank you, thank you a hundred times!"
And she gave him her hand to kiss.

A vivid red flushed the young man's cheeks; but almost directly
mastering his emotion, he kneeled down, and, restraining the
expression of that love of which he had once spoken to the queen,
while promising her never more to speak of it, he took the hand that
Mary extended, and kissed it with such respect that no one could have
seen in this action anything but the homage of devotion and fidelity.

Then, having bowed to the queen, he went out, that a longer stay with
her should not give rise to any suspicions.

At the dinner-hour Douglas brought, as he had said, a parcel of cord.
It was not enough, but when evening came Mary Seyton was to unroll it
and let fall the end from the window, and George would fasten the
remainder to it: the thing was done as arranged, and without any
mishap, an hour after the hunters had returned.

The following day George left the castle.

The queen and Mary Seyton lost no time in setting about the rope
ladder, and it was finished on the third day.  The same evening, the
queen in her impatience, and rather to assure herself of her
partisans' vigilance than in the hope that the time of her
deliverance was so near, brought her lamp to the window: immediately,
and as George Douglas had told her, the light in the little house at
Kinross disappeared: the queen then laid her hand on her heart and
counted up to twenty-two; then the light reappeared; they were ready
for everything, but nothing was yet settled.  For a week the queen
thus questioned the light and her heart-beats without their number
changing; at last, on the eighth day, she counted only as far as ten;
at the eleventh the light reappeared.

The queen believed herself mistaken: she did not dare to hope what
this announced.  She withdrew the lamp; then, at the end of a quarter
of an hour, showed it again: her unknown correspondent understood.
with his usual intelligence that a fresh trial was required of him,
and the light in the little house disappeared in its turn.  Mary
again questioned the pulsations of her heart, and, fast as it leaped,
before the twelfth beat the propitious star was shining on the
horizon: there was no longer any doubt; everything was settled.

Mary could not sleep all night: this persistency of her partisans
inspired her with gratitude to the point of tears.  The day came, and
the queen several times questioned her companion to assure herself
that it was not all a dream; at every sound it seemed to her that the
scheme on which her liberty hung was discovered, and when, at
breakfast and at dinner time, William Douglas entered as usual, she
hardly dared look at him, for fear of reading on his face the
announcement that all was lost.

In the evening the queen again questioned the light: it made the same
answer; nothing had altered; the beacon was always one of hope.

For four days it thus continued to indicate that the moment of escape
was at hand; on the evening of the fifth, before the queen had
counted five beats, the light reappeared: the queen leaned upon Mary
Seyton; she was nearly fainting, between dread and 'delight.  Her
escape was fixed for the next evening.

The queen tried once more, and obtained the same reply: there was no
longer a doubt; everything was ready except the prisoner's courage,
for it failed her for a moment, and if Mary Seyton had not drawn up a
seat in time, she would have fallen prone; but, the first moment
over, she collected herself as usual, and was stronger and more
resolute than ever.

Till midnight the queen remained at the window, her eyes fixed on
that star of good omen: at last Mary Seyton persuaded her to go to
bed, offering, if she had no wish to sleep, to read her some verses
by M. Ronsard, or some chapters from the Mer des Histoires; but Mary
had no desire now for any profane reading, and had her Hours read,
making the responses as she would have done if she had been present
at a mass said by a Catholic priest: towards dawn, however, she grew
drowsy, and as Mary Seyton, for her part, was dropping with fatigue,
she fell asleep directly in the arm-chair at the head of the queen's
bed.

Next day she awoke, feeling that someone was tapping her on the
shoulder: it was the queen, who had already arisen.

"Come and see, darling," said she,--"come and see the fine day that
God is giving us.  Oh! how alive is Nature! How happy I shall be to
be once more free among those plains and mountains! Decidedly, Heaven
is on our side."

"Madam," replied Mary, "I would rather see the weather less fine: it
would promise us a darker night; and consider, what we need is
darkness, not light."

"Listen," said the queen; "it is by this we are going to see if God
is indeed for us; if the weather remains as it is, yes, you are
right, He abandons us; but if it clouds over, oh! then, darling, this
will be a certain proof of His protection, will it not?"

Mary Seyton smiled, nodding that she adopted her mistress's
superstition; then the queen, incapable of remaining idle in her
great preoccupation of mind, collected the few jewels that she had
preserved, enclosed them in a casket, got ready for the evening a
black dress, in order to be still better hidden in the darkness: and,
these preparations made, she sat down again at the window,
ceaselessly carrying her eyes from the lake to the little house in
Kinross, shut up and dumb as usual.

The dinner-hour arrived: the queen was so happy that she received
William Douglas with more goodwill than was her wont, and it was with
difficulty she remained seated during the time the meal lasted; but
she restrained herself, and William Douglas withdrew, without seeming
to have noticed her agitation.

Scarcely had he gone than Mary ran to the window; she had need of
air, and her gaze devoured in advance those wide horizons which she
was about to cross anew; it seemed to her that once at liberty she
would never shut herself up in a palace again, but would wander about
the countryside continually: then, amid all these tremors of delight,
from time to time she felt unexpectedly heavy at heart.  She then
turned round to Mary Seyton, trying to fortify her strength with
hers, and the young girl kept up her hopes, but rather from duty than
from conviction.

But slow as they seemed to the queen, the hours yet passed: towards
the afternoon some clouds floated across the blue sky; the queen
remarked upon them joyfully to her companion; Mary Seyton
congratulated her upon them, not on account of the imaginary omen
that the queen sought in them, but because of the real importance
that the weather should be cloudy, that darkness might aid them in
their flight.  While the two prisoners were watching the billowy,
moving vapours, the hour of dinner arrived; but it was half an hour
of constraint and dissimulation, the more painful that, no doubt in
return for the sort of goodwill shown him by the queen in the
morning, William Douglas thought himself obliged, in his turn, to
accompany his duties with fitting compliments, which compelled the
queen to take a more active part in the conversation than her
preoccupation allowed her; but William Douglas did not seem in any
way to observe this absence of mind, and all passed as at breakfast.

Directly he had gone the queen ran to the window: the few clouds
which were chasing one another in the sky an hour before had
thickened and spread, and--all the blue was blotted out, to give

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