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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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place to a hue dull and leaden as pewter.  Mary Stuart's
presentiments were thus realised: as to the little house in Kinross,
which one could still make out in the dusk, it remained shut up, and
seemed deserted.

Night fell: the light shone as usual; the queen signalled, it
disappeared.  Mary Stuart waited in vain; everything remained in
darkness: the escape was for the same evening.  The queen heard eight
o'clock, nine o'clock, and ten o'clock strike successively.  At ten
o'clock the sentinels were relieved; Mary Stuart heard the patrols
pass beneath her windows, the steps of the watch recede: then all
returned to silence.  Half an hour passed away thus; suddenly the
owl's cry resounded thrice, the queen recognised George Douglas's
signal: the supreme moment had come.

In these circumstances the queen found all her strength revive: she
signed to Mary Seyton to take away the bar and to fix the rope
ladder, while, putting out the lamp, she felt her way into the
bedroom to seek the casket which contained her few remaining jewels.
When she came back, George Douglas was already in the room.

"All goes well, madam," said he.  "Your friends await you on the
other side of the lake, Thomas Warden watches at the postern, and God
has sent us a dark night."

The queen, without replying, gave him her hand.  George bent his knee
and carried this hand to his lips; but on touching it, he felt it
cold and trembling.

"Madam," said he, "in Heaven's name summon all your courage, and do
not let yourself be downcast at such a moment."

"Our Lady-of-Good-Help," murmured Seyton, "come to our aid!"

"Summon to you the spirit of the kings your ancestors," responded
George, "for at this moment it is not the resignation of a Christian
that you require, but the strength and resolution of a queen"

"Oh, Douglas! Douglas," cried Mary mournfully, "a fortune-teller
predicted to me that I should die in prison and by a violent death:
has not the hour of the prediction arrived?"

"Perhaps," George said, "but it is better to die as a queen than to
live in this ancient castle calumniated and a prisoner."

"You are right, George," the queen answered; "but for a woman the
first step is everything: forgive me".  Then, after a moment's pause,
"Come," said she; "I am ready."

George immediately went to the window, secured the ladder again and
more firmly, then getting up on to the sill and holding to the bars
with one hand, he stretched out the other to the queen, who, as
resolute as she had been timid a moment before, mounted on a stool,
and had already set one foot on the window-ledge, when suddenly the
cry, "Who goes there?" rang out at the foot of the tower.  The queen
sprang quickly back, partly instinctively and partly pushed by
George, who, on the contrary, leaned out of the window to see whence
came this cry, which, twice again renewed, remained twice unanswered,
and was immediately followed by a report and the flash of a firearm:
at the same moment the sentinel on duty on the tower blew his bugle,
another set going the alarm bell, and the cries, "To arms, to arms!"
and "Treason, treason!" resounded throughout the castle.

"Yes, yes, treason, treason!" cried George Douglas, leaping down into
the room.  "Yes, the infamous Warden has betrayed us!"  Then,
advancing to Mary, cold and motionless as a statue, "Courage, madam,"
said he, "courage!  Whatever happens, a friend yet remains for you in
the castle; it is Little Douglas."

Scarcely had he finished speaking when the door of the queen's
apartment opened, and William Douglas and Lady Lochleven, preceded by
servants carrying torches and armed soldiers, appeared on the
threshold: the room was immediately filled with people and light.

"Mother," said William Douglas, pointing to his brother standing
before Mary Stuart and protecting her with his body, "do you believe
me now?  Look!"

The old lady was for a moment speechless; then finding a word at
last, and taking a step forward--

"Speak, George Douglas," cried she, "speak, and clear yourself at
once of the charge which weighs on your honour; say but these words,
'A Douglas was never faithless to his trust,' and I believe you".

"Yes, mother," answered William, "a Douglas!...  but he--he is not a
Douglas."

"May God grant my old age the strength needed to bear on the part of
one of my sons such a misfortune, and on the part of the other such
an injury!" exclaimed Lady Lochleven.  "O woman born under a fatal
star," she went on, addressing the queen, "when will you cease to be,
in the Devil's hands, an instrument of perdition and death to all who
approach you?  O ancient house of Lochleven, cursed be the hour when
this enchantress crossed thy threshold!"

"Do not say that, mother, do not say that," cried George; "blessed
be, on the contrary, the moment which proves that, if there are
Douglases who no longer remember what they owe to their sovereigns,
there are others who have never forgotten it."

"Douglas! Douglas!" murmured Mary Stuart, "did I not tell you?"

"And I, madam," said George, "what did I reply then?  That it was an
honour and a duty to every faithful subject of your Majesty to die
for you."

"Well, die, then!" cried William Douglas, springing on his brother
with raised sword, while he, leaping back, drew his, and with a
movement quick as thought and eager as hatred defended himself.  But
at the same moment Mary Stuart darted between the two young people.

"Not another step, Lord Douglas," said she.  "Sheathe your sword,
George, or if you use it, let be to go hence, and against everyone
but your b other.  I still have need of your life; take care of it."

"My life, like my arm and my honour, is at your service, madam, and
from the moment you command it I shall preserve it for you."

With these words, rushing to the door with a violence and resolve
which prevented anyone's stopping him--

"Back!" cried he to the domestics who were barring the passage; "make
way for the young master of Douglas, or woe to you!".

"Stop him!" cried William.  "Seize him, dead or alive! Fire upon him!
Kill him like a dog!"

Two or three soldiers, not daring to disobey William, pretended to
pursue his brother.  Then some gunshots were heard, and a voice
crying that George Douglas had just thrown himself into the lake.

"And has he then escaped?" cried William.

Mary Stuart breathed again; the old lady raised her hands to Heaven.

"Yes, yes," murmured William,--"yes, thank Heaven for your son's
flight; for his flight covers our entire house with shame; counting
from this hour, we shall be looked upon as the accomplices of his
treason."

"Have pity on me, William!" cried Lady Lochleven, wringing her hands.
"Have compassion o your old mother! See you not that I am dying?"

With these words, she fell backwards, pale and tottering; the steward
and a servant supported er in their arms.

"I believe, my lord," said Mary Seyton, coming forward, "that your
mother has as much need of attention just now as the queen has need
of repose: do you not consider it is time for you to withdraw?"

"Yes, yes," said William, "to give you time to spin fresh webs, I
suppose, and to seek what fresh flies you can take in them?  It is
well, go on with your work; but you have just seen that it is not
easy to deceive William Douglas.  Play your game, I shall play mine".
Then turning to the servants, "Go out, all of you," said he; "and
you, mother, come."

The servants and the soldiers obeyed; then William Douglas went out
last, supporting Lady Lochleven, and the queen heard him shut behind
him and double-lock the two doors of her prison.

Scarcely was Mary alone, and certain that she was no longer seen or
heard, than all her strength deserted her, and, sinking into an arm-
chair, she burst out sobbing.

Indeed, all her courage had been needed to sustain her so far, and
the sight of her enemies alone had given her this courage; but hardly
had they gone than her situation appeared before her in all its fatal
hardship.  Dethroned, a prisoner, without another fiend in this
impregnable castle than a child to whom she had scarce given
attention, and who was the sole and last thread attaching her past
hopes to her hopes for the future, what remained to Mary Stuart of
her two thrones and her double power?  Her name, that was all; her,
name with which, free, she had doubtless stirred Scotland, but which
little by little was about to be effaced in the hearts of her
adherents, and which during her lifetime oblivion was to cover
perhaps as with a shroud.  Such an idea was insupportable to a soul
as lofty as Mary Stuart's, and to an organisation which, like that of
the flowers, has need, before everything, of air, light, and sun.

Fortunately there remained to her the best beloved of her four Marys,
who, always devoted and consoling, hastened to succour and comfort
her; but this time it was no easy matter, and the queen let her act
and speak without answering her otherwise than with sobs and tears;
when suddenly, looking through the window to which she had drawn up
her mistress's armchair--

"The light!" cried she, "madam, the light!"

At the same time she raised the queen, and with arm outstretched from
the window, she showed her the beacon, the eternal symbol of hope,
relighted in the midst of this dark night on Kinross hill: there was
no mistake possible, not a star was shining in the sky.

"Lord God, I give Thee thanks," said the queen, falling on her knees
and raising her arms to heaven with a gesture of gratitude: "Douglas
has escaped, and my friends still keep watch."

Then, after a fervent prayer, which restored to her a little
strength, the queen re-entered her room, and, tired out by her varied
successive emotions, she slept an uneasy, agitated sleep, over which
the indefatigable Mary Seyton kept watch till daybreak.

As William Douglas had said, from this time forward the queen was a
prisoner indeed, and permission to go down into the garden was no
longer granted but under the surveillance of two soldiers; but this
annoyance seemed to her so unbearable that she preferred to give up

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