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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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All day long the bell and the bugle resounded: Lord Douglas, like a
true feudal lord, travelled with the retinue of a prince.  One saw
nothing but new soldiers and servants passing and repassing beneath
the queen's windows: the footmen and horsemen were wearing, moreover,
a livery similar to that which the queen and Mary Seyton had
received.

Mary awaited the night with impatience.  The day before, she had
questioned her light, and it had informed her as usual, in
reappearing at her eleventh or twelfth heart-beat, that the moment of
escape was near; but she greatly feared that Lord Douglas's arrival
might have upset everything, and that this evening's signal could
only announce a postponement.  But hardly had she seen the light
shine than she placed her lamp in the window; the other disappeared
directly, and Mary Stuart, with terrible anxiety, began to question
it.  This anxiety increased when she had counted more than fifteen
beats.  Then she stopped, cast down, her eyes mechanically fixed on
the spot where the light had been.  But her astonishment was great
when, at the end of a few minutes, she did not see it reappear, and
when, half an hour having elapsed, everything remained in darkness.
The queen then renewed her signal, but obtained no response: the
escape was for the same evening.

The queen and Mary Seyton were so little expecting this issue, that,
contrary to their custom, they had not put on their men's clothes
that evening.  They immediately flew to the queen's bed-chamber,
bolted the door behind them, and began to dress.

They had hardly finished their hurried toilette when they heard a key
turn in the lock: they immediately blew out the lamp.  Light steps
approached the door.  The two women leaned one against the other; for
they both were near falling.  Someone tapped gently.  The queen asked
who was there, and Little Douglas's voice answered in the two first
lines of an old ballad--

"Douglas, Douglas,
Tender and true."

Mary opened, directly: it was the watchword agreed upon with George
Douglas.

The child was without a light.  He stretched out his hand and
encountered the queen's: in the starlight, Mary Stuart saw him kneel
down; then she felt the imprint of his lips on her fingers.

"Is your Majesty ready to follow me?" he asked in a low tone, rising.

"Yes, my child," the queen answered: "it is for this evening, then?"

"With your Majesty's permission, yes, it is for this evening."

"Is everything ready?"

"Everything."

"What are we to do?"

"Follow me everywhere."

"My God! my God!" cried Mary Stuart, "have pity on us!" Then, having
breathed a short prayer in a low voice, while Mary Seyton was taking
the casket in which were the queen's jewels, "I am ready," said she:
"and you, darling?"

"I also," replied Mary Seyton.

"Come, then," said Little Douglas.

The two prisoners followed the child; the queen going first, and Mary
Seyton after.  Their youthful guide carefully shut again the door
behind him, so that if a warder happened to pass he would see
nothing; then he began to descend the winding stair.  Half-way down,
the noise of the feast reached them, a mingling of shouts of
laughter, the confusion of voices, and the clinking of glasses.  The
queen placed her hand on her young guide's shoulder.

"Where are you leading us?" she asked him with terror.

"Out of the castle," replied the child.

"But we shall have to pass through the great hall?"

"Without a doubt; and that is exactly what George foresaw.  Among the
footmen, whose livery your Majesty is wearing, no one will recognise
you."

"My God! my God!" the queen murmured, leaning against the wall.

"Courage, madam," said Mary Seyton in a low voice, "or we are lost."

"You are right," returned the queen; "let us go".  And they started
again still led by their guide.

At the foot of the stair he stopped, and giving the queen a stone
pitcher full of wine

"Set this jug on your right shoulder, madam," said he; "it will hide
your face from the guests, and your Majesty will give rise to less
suspicion if carrying something.  You, Miss Mary, give me that
casket, and put on your head this basket of bread.  Now, that's
right: do you feel you have strength?"

"Yes," said the queen.

"Yes," said Mary Seyton.

"Then follow me."

The child went on his way, and after a few steps the fugitives found
themselves in a kind of antechamber to the great hall, from which
proceeded noise and light.  Several servants were occupied there with
different duties; not one paid attention to them, and that a little
reassured the queen.  Besides, there was no longer any drawing back:
Little Douglas had just entered the great hall.

The guests, seated on both sides of a long table ranged according to
the rank of those assembled at it, were beginning dessert, and
consequently had reached the gayest moment of the repast.  Moreover,
the hall was so large that the lamps and candles which lighted it,
multiplied as they were, left in the most favourable half-light both
sides of the apartment, in which fifteen or twenty servants were
coming and going.  The queen and Mary Seyton mingled with this crowd,
which was too much occupied to notice them, and without stopping,
without slackening, without looking back, they crossed the whole
length of the hall, reached the other door, and found themselves in
the vestibule corresponding to the one they had passed through on
coming in.  The queen set down her jug there, Mary Seyton her basket,
and both, still led by the child, entered a corridor at the end of
which they found themselves in the courtyard.  A patrol was passing
at the moment, but he took no notice of them.

The child made his way towards the garden, still followed by the two
women.  There, for no little while, it was necessary to try which of
all the keys opened the door; it--was a time of inexpressible
anxiety.  At last the key turned in the lock, the door opened; the
queen and Mary Seyton rushed into the garden.  The child closed the
door behind them.

About two-thirds of the way across, Little Douglas held out his hand
as a sign to them to stop; then, putting down the casket and the keys
on the ground, he placed his hands together, and blowing into them,
thrice imitated the owl's cry so well that it was impossible to
believe that a human voice was uttering the sounds; then, picking up
the casket and the keys, he kept on his way on tiptoe and with an
attentive ear.  On getting near the wall, they again stopped, and
after a moment's anxious waiting they heard a groan, then something
like the sound of a falling body.  Some seconds later the owl's cry
was--answered by a tu-whit-tu-whoo.

"It is over," Little Douglas said calmly; "come."

"What is over?" asked the queen; "and what is that groan we heard?"

"There was a sentry at the door on to the lake," the child answered,
"but he is no longer there."

The queen felt her heart's blood grow cold, at the same tine that a
chilly sweat broke out to the roots of her hair; for she perfectly
understood: an unfortunate being had just lost his life on her
account.  Tottering, she leaned on Mary Seyton, who herself felt her
strength giving way.  Meanwhile Little Douglas was trying the keys:
the second opened the door.

"And the queen?" said in a low voice a man who was waiting on the
other side of the wall.

"She is following me," replied the child.

George Douglas, for it was he, sprang into the garden, and, taking
the queen's arm on one side and Mary Seyton's on the other, he
hurried them away quickly to the lake-side.  When passing through the
doorway Mary Stuart could not help throwing an uneasy look about her,
and it seemed to her that a shapeless object was lying at the bottom
of the wall, and as she was shuddering all over

"Do not pity him," said George in a low voice, "for it is a judgment
from heaven.  That man was the infamous Warden who betrayed us."

"Alas!" said the queen, "guilty as he was, he is none the less dead
on my account."

"When it concerned your safety, madam, was one to haggle over drops
of that base blood?  But silence!  This way, William, this way; let
us keep along the wall, whose shadow hides us.  The boat is within
twenty steps, and we are saved."

With these words, George hurried on the two women still more quickly,
and all four, without having been detected, reached the banks of the
lake.  'As Douglas had said, a little boat was waiting; and, on
seeing the fugitives approach, four rowers, couched along its bottom,
rose, and one of them, springing to land, pulled the chain, so that
the queen and Mary Seyton could get in.  Douglas seated them at the
prow, the child placed himself at the rudder, and George, with a
kick, pushed off the boat, which began to glide over the lake.

"And now," said he, "we are really saved; for they might as well
pursue a sea swallow on Solway Firth as try to reach us.  Row,
children, row; never mind if they hear us: the main thing is to get
into the open."

"Who goes there?" cried a voice above, from the castle terrace.

"Row, row," said Douglas, placing himself in front of the queen.

"The boat! the boat!" cried the same voice; "bring to the boat!"
Then, seeing that it continued to recede, "Treason! treason!" cried
the sentinel.  "To arms!"

At the same moment a flash lit up the lake; the report of a firearm
was heard, and a ball passed, whistling.  The queen uttered a little
cry, although she had run no danger, George, as we have said, having
placed himself in front of her, quite protecting her with his body.

The alarm bell now rang, and all the castle lights were seen moving
and glancing about, as if distracted, in the rooms.

"Courage, children!" said Douglas.  "Row as if your lives depended on
each stroke of the oar; for ere five minutes the skiff will be out
after us."

"That won't be so easy for them as you think, George," said Little
Douglas; "for I shut all the doors behind me, and some time will
elapse before the keys that I have left there open them.  As to
these," added he, showing those he had so skilfully abstracted, "I

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