Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Byres, Lord Lochleven, and William Douglas hastened to him, and six
thousand of the best troops in the kingdom gathered round them, while
Lord Ruthven in the counties of Berwick and Angus raised levies with
which to join them.

The 13th May, Morton occupied from daybreak the village of Langside,
through which the queen must pass to get to Dumbarton.  The news of
the occupation reached the queen as the two armies were yet seven
miles apart.  Mary's first instinct was to escape an engagement: she
remembered her last battle at Carberry Hill, at the end of which she
had been separated from Bothwell and brought to Edinburgh; so she
expressed aloud this opinion, which was supported by George Douglas,
who, in black armour, without other arms, had continued at the
queen's side.

"Avoid an engagement!" cried Lord Seyton, not daring to answer his
sovereign, and replying to George as if this opinion had originated
with him.  "We could do it, perhaps, if we were one to ten; but we
shall certainly not do so when we are three to two.  You speak a
strange tongue, my young master," continued he, with some contempt;
"and you forget, it seems to me, that you are a Douglas and that you
speak to a Seyton."

"My lord," returned George calmly, "when we only hazard the lives of
Douglases and Seytons, you will find me, I hope, as ready to fight as
you, be it one to ten, be it three to two; but we are now answerable
for an existence dearer to Scotland than that of all the Seytons and
all the Douglases.  My advice is then to avoid battle."

"Battle! battle!" cried all the chieftains.

"You hear, madam?" said Lord Seyton to Mary Stuart: "I believe that
to wish to act against such unanimity would be dangerous.  In
Scotland, madam, there is an ancient proverb which has it that 'there
is most prudence in courage.'"

"But have you not heard that the regent has taken up an advantageous
position?" the queen said.

"The greyhound hunts the hare on the hillside as well as in the
plain," replied Seyton: "we will drive him out, wherever he is."

"Let it be as you desire, then, my lords.  It shall not be said that
Mary Stuart returned to the scabbard the sword her defenders had
drawn for her."

Then, turning round to Douglas

"George," she said to him, "choose a guard of twenty men for me, and
take command of them: you will not quit me."

George bent low in obedience, chose twenty from among the bravest
men, placed the queen in their midst, and put himself at their head;
then the troops, which had halted, received the order to continue
their road.  In two hours' time the advance guard was in sight of the
enemy; it halted, and the rest of the army rejoined it.

The queen's troops then found themselves parallel with the city of
Glasgow, and the heights which rose in front of them were already
occupied by a force above which floated, as above that of Mary, the
royal banners of Scotland, On the other side, and on the opposite
slope, stretched the village of Langside, encircled with enclosures
and gardens.  The road which led to it, and which followed all the
variations of the ground, narrowed at one place in such a way that
two men could hardly pass abreast, then, farther on, lost itself in a
ravine, beyond which it reappeared, then branched into two, of which
one climbed to the village of Langside, while the other led to
Glasgow.

On seeing the lie of the ground, the Earl of Argyll immediately
comprehended the importance of occupying this village, and, turning
to Lord Seyton, he ordered him to gallop off and try to arrive there
before the enemy, who doubtless, having made the same observation as
the commander of the royal forces, was setting in motion at that very
moment a considerable body of cavalry.

Lord Seyton called up his men directly, but while he was ranging them
round his banner, Lord Arbroath drew his sword, and approaching the
Earl of Argyll

"My lord," said he, "you do me a wrong in charging Lord Seyton to
seize that post: as commander of the vanguard, it is to me this
honour belongs.  Allow me, then, to use my privilege in claiming it."

"It is I who received the order to seize it; I will seize it!" cried
Seyton.

"Perhaps," returned Lord Arbroath, "but not before me!"

"Before you and before every Hamilton in the world!" exclaimed
Seyton, putting his horse to the gallop and rushing down into the
hollow road

"Saint Bennet! and forward!"

"Come, my faithful kinsmen!" cried Lord Arbroath, dashing forward on
his side with the same object; "come, my men-at-arms! For God and the
queen!"

The two troops precipitated themselves immediately in disorder and
ran against one another in the narrow way, where, as we have said,
two men could hardly pass abreast.  There was a terrible collision
there, and the conflict began among friends who should have been
united against the enemy.  Finally, the two troops, leaving behind
them some corpses stifled in the press, or even killed by their
companions, passed through the defile pell-mell and were lost sight
of in the ravine.  But during this struggle Seyton and Arbroath had
lost precious time, and the detachment sent by Murray, which had
taken the road by Glasgow, had reached the village beforehand; it was
now necessary not to take it, but to retake it.

Argyll saw that the whole day's struggle would be concentrated there,
and, understanding more and more the importance of the village,
immediately put himself at the head of the body of his army,
commanding a rearguard of two thousand men to remain there and await
further orders to take part in the fighting.  But whether the captain
who commanded them had ill understood, or whether he was eager to
distinguish himself in the eyes of the queen, scarcely had Argyll
vanished into the ravine, at the end of which the struggle had
already commenced between Kirkcaldy of Grange and Morton on the one
side, and on the other between Arbroath and Seyton, than, without
regarding the cries of Mary Stuart, he set off in his turn at a
gallop, leaving the queen without other guard than the little escort
of twenty men which Douglas had chosen for her.  Douglas sighed.

"Alas!" said the queen, hearing him, "I am not a soldier, but there
it seems to me is a battle very badly begun."

"What is to be done?" replied Douglas.  "We are every one of us
infatuated, from first to last, and all these men are behaving to-day
like madmen or children."

"Victory! victory!" said the queen; "the enemy is retreating,
fighting.  I see the banners of Seyton and Arbroath floating near the
first houses in the village.  Oh! my brave lords," cried she,
clapping her hands.  "Victory! victory!"

But she stopped suddenly on perceiving a body of the enemy's army
advancing to charge the victors in flank.

"It is nothing, it is nothing," said Douglas; "so long as there is
only cavalry we have nothing much to fear, and besides the Earl of
Argyll will fall in in time to aid them."

"George," said Little William.

"Well?" asked Douglas.

"Don't you see?  "the child went on, stretching out his arms towards
the enemy's force, which was coming on at a gallop.

"What?"

"Each horseman carries a footman armed with an arquebuse behind him,
so that the troop is twice as numerous as it appears."

"That's true; upon my soul, the child has good sight.  Let someone go
at once full gallop and take news of this to the Earl or Argyll."

"I! I!" cried Little William.  "I saw them first; it is my right to
bear the tidings."

"Go, then, my child," said Douglas; "and may God preserve thee!"

The child flew, quick as lightning, not hearing or feigning not to
hear the queen, who was recalling him.  He was seen to cross the
gorge and plunge into the hollow road at the moment when Argyll was
debouching at the end and coming to the aid of Seyton and Arbroath.
Meanwhile, the enemy's detachment had dismounted its infantry, which,
immediately formed up, was scattering on the sides of the ravine by
paths impracticable for horses.

"William will come too late!" cried Douglas, "or even, should he
arrive in time, the news is now useless to them.  Oh madmen, madmen
that we are!  This is how we have always lost all our battles!"

"Is the battle lost, then?" demanded Mary, growing pale.

"No, madam, no," cried Douglas; "Heaven be thanked, not yet; but
through too great haste we have begun badly."

"And William?" said Mary Stuart.

"He is now serving his apprenticeship in arms; for, if I am not
mistaken, he must be at this moment at the very spot where those
marksmen are making such quick firing."

"Poor child!" cried the queen; "if ill should befall him, I shall
never console myself."

"Alas! madam," replied Douglas, "I greatly fear that his first battle
is his last, and that everything is already over for him; for, unless
I mistake, there is his horse returning riderless."

"Oh, my God! my God!" said the queen, weeping, and raising her hands
to heaven, "it is then decreed that I should be fatal to all around
me!"

George was not deceived: it was William's horse coming back without
his young master and covered with blood.

"Madam," said Douglas, "we are ill placed here; let us gain that
hillock on which is the Castle of Crookstone: from thence we shall
survey the whole battlefield."

"No, not there! not there!" said the queen in terror: "within that
castle I came to spend the first days of my marriage with Darnley; it
will bring me misfortune."

"Well, beneath that yew-tree, then," said George, pointing to another
slight rise near the first; "but it is important for us to lose no
detail of this engagement.  Everything depends perhaps for your
Majesty on an ill-judged manoeuvre or a lost moment."

"Guide me, then," the queen said; "for, as for me, I no longer see
it.  Each report of that terrible cannonade echoes to the depths of
my heart."

However well placed as was this eminence for overlooking from its
summit the whole battlefield, the reiterated discharge of cannon and
musketry covered it with such a cloud of smoke that it was impossible
to make out from it anything but masses lost amid a murderous fog.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com