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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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entered alone, a white wand in his hand, and as everyone stayed on
their knees praying, he crossed the room with a slow step and stood
behind the queen: he waited a moment there, and as Mary Stuart did
not seem to see him--

"Madam," said he, "the earls have sent me to you."

At these words the queen turned round, and at once rising in the
middle of her prayer, "Let us go," she replied, and she made ready to
follow him; then Bourgoin, taking the cross of black wood with an
ivory Christ which was over the altar, said--

"Madam, would you not like to take this little cross?"

"Thank you for having reminded me," Mary answered; "I had intended
to, but I forgot".  Then, giving it to Annibal Stewart, her footman,
that he might present it when she should ask for it, she began to
move to the door, and on account of the great pain in her limbs,
leaning on Bourgoin, who, as they drew near, suddenly let her go,
saying--

"Madam, your Majesty knows if we love you, and all, such as we are,
are ready to obey you, should you command us to die for you; but I,
I have not the strength to lead you farther; besides, it is not
becoming that we, who should be defending you to the last drop of our
blood, should seem to be betraying you in giving you thus into the
hands of these infamous English."

"You are right, Bourgoin," said the queen; "moreover, my death would
be a sad sight for you, which I ought to spare your age and your
friendship.  Mr. Sheriff," added she, "call someone to support me,
for you see that I cannot walk."

The sheriff bowed, and signed to two guards whom he had kept hidden
behind the door to lend him assistance in case the queen should
resist, to approach and support her; which they at once did; and Mary
Stuart went on her way, preceded and followed by her servants weeping
and wringing their hands.  But at the second door other guards
stopped them, telling them they must go no farther.  They all cried
out against such a prohibition: they said that for the nineteen years
they had been shut up with the queen they had always accompanied her
wherever she went; that it was frightful to deprive their mistress of
their services at the last moment, and that such an order had
doubtless been given because they wanted to practise some shocking
cruelty on her, of which they desired no witnesses.  Bourgoin, who
was at their head, seeing that he could obtain nothing by threats or
entreaties, asked to speak with the earls; but this claim was not
allowed either, and as the servants wanted to pass by force, the
soldiers repulsed them with blows of their arquebuses; then, raising
her voice--

"It is wrong of you to prevent my servants following me," said the
queen, "and I begin to think, like them, that you have some ill
designs upon me beyond my death."

The sheriff replied, "Madam, four of your servants are chosen to
follow you, and no more; when you have come down, they will be
fetched, and will rejoin you."

"What!" said the queen, "the four chosen persons cannot even follow
me now?"

"The order is thus given by the earls," answered the sheriff, "and,
to my great regret, madam, I can do nothing."

Then the queen turned to them, and taking the cross from Annibal
Stewart, and in her other hand her book of Hours and her
handkerchief, "My children," said she, "this is one more grief to add
to our other griefs; let us bear it like Christians, and offer this
fresh sacrifice to God."

At these words sobs and cries burst forth on all sides: the unhappy
servants fell on their knees, and while some rolled on the ground,
tearing their hair, others kissed her hands, her knees, and the hem
of her gown, begging her forgiveness for every possible fault,
calling her their mother and bidding her farewell.  Finding, no
doubt, that this scene was lasting too long, the sheriff made a sign,
and the soldiers pushed the men and women back into the room and shut
the door on them; still, fast as was the door, the queen none the
less heard their cries and lamentations, which seemed, in spite of
the guards, as if they would accompany her to the scaffold.

At the stair-head, the queen found Andrew Melville awaiting her: he
was the Master of her Household, who had been secluded from her for
some time, and who was at last permitted to see her once more to say
farewell.  The queen, hastening her steps, approached him, and
kneeling down to receive his blessing, which he gave her, weeping--

"Melville," said she, without rising, and addressing him as "thou"
for the first time, "as thou hast been an honest servant to me, be
the same to my son: seek him out directly after my death, and tell
him of it in every detail; tell him that I wish him well, and that I
beseech God to send him His Holy Spirit."

"Madam," replied Melville, "this is certainly the saddest message
with which a man can be charged: no matter, I shall faithfully fulfil
it, I swear to you."

"What sayest thou, Melville?" responded the queen, rising; "and what
better news canst thou bear, on the contrary, than that I am
delivered from all my ills?  Tell him that he should rejoice, since
the sufferings of Mary Stuart are at an end; tell him that I die a
Catholic, constant in my religion, faithful to Scotland and France,
and that I forgive those who put me to death.  Tell him that I have
always desired the union of England and Scotland; tell him, finally,
that I have done nothing injurious to his kingdom, to his honour, or
to his rights.  And thus, good Melville, till we meet again in
heaven."

Then, leaning on the old man, whose face was bathed in tears, she
descended the staircase, at the foot of which she found the two
earls, Sir Henry Talbot, Lord Shrewsbury's son, Amyas Paulet, Drue
Drury, Robert Beale, and many gentlemen of the neighbourhood: the
queen, advancing towards them without pride, but without humility,
complained that her servants had been refused permission to follow
her, and asked that it should be granted.  The lords conferred
together; and a moment after the Earl of Kent inquired which ones she
desired to have, saying she might be allowed six.  So the queen chose
from among the men Bourgoin, Gordon, Gervais, and Didier; and from
the women Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle, the ones she preferred to
all, though the latter was sister to the secretary who had betrayed
her.  But here arose a fresh difficulty, the earls saying that this
permission did not extend to women, women not being used to be
present at such sights, and when they were, usually upsetting
everyone with cries and lamentations, and, as soon as the
decapitation was over, rushing to the scaffold to staunch the blood
with their handkerchiefs--a most unseemly proceeding.

"My lords," then said the queen, "I answer and promise for my
servants, that they will not do any of the things your honours fear.
Alas! poor people! they would be very glad to bid me farewell; and I
hope that your mistress, being a maiden queen, and accordingly
sensitive for the honour of women, has not given you such strict
orders that you are unable to grant me the little I ask; so much the
more," added she in a profoundly mournful tone, "that my rank should
be taken into consideration; for indeed I am your queen's cousin,
granddaughter of Henry VII, Queen Dowager of France and crowned Queen
of Scotland."

The lords consulted together for another moment, and granted her
demands.  Accordingly, two guards went up immediately to fetch the
chosen individuals.

The queen then moved on to the great hall, leaning on two of Sir
Amyas Paulet's gentlemen, accompanied and followed by the earls and
lords, the sheriff walking before her, and Andrew Melville bearing
her train.  Her dress, as carefully chosen as possible, as we have
said, consisted of a coif of fine cambric, trimmed with lace, with a
lace veil thrown back and falling to the ground behind.  She wore a
cloak of black stamped satin lined with black taffetas and trimmed in
front with sable, with a long train and sleeves hanging to the
ground; the buttons were of jet in the shape of acorns and surrounded
with pearls, her collar in the Italian style; her doublet was of
figured black satin, and underneath she wore stays, laced behind, in
crimson satin, edged with velvet of the same colour; a gold cross
hung by a pomander chain at her neck, and two rosaries at her girdle:
it was thus she entered the great hall where the scaffold was
erected.

It was a platform twelve feet wide, raised about two feet from the
floor, surrounded with barriers and covered with black serge, and on
it were a little chair, a cushion to kneel on, and a block also
covered in black.  Just as, having mounted the steps, she set foot on
the fatal boards, the executioner came forward, and; asking
forgiveness for the duty he was about to perform, kneeled, hiding
behind him his axe.  Mary saw it, however, and cried--

"Ah! I would rather have been beheaded in the French way, with a
sword!..."

"It is not my fault, madam," said the executioner, "if this last wish
of your Majesty cannot be fulfilled; but, not having been instructed
to bring a sword, and having found this axe here only, I am obliged
to use it.  Will that prevent your pardoning me, then?"

"I pardon you, my friend," said Mary, "and in proof of it, here is my
hand to kiss."

The executioner put his lips to the queen's hand, rose and approached
the chair.  Mary sat down, and the Earls of Kent and Shrewsbury
standing on her left, the sheriff and his officers before her, Amyas
Paulet behind, and outside the barrier the lords, knights, and
gentlemen, numbering nearly two hundred and fifty, Robert Beale for
the second time read the warrant for execution, and as he was
beginning the servants who had been fetched came into the hall and
placed themselves behind the scaffold, the men mounted upon a bench
put back against the wall, and the women kneeling in front of it; and
a little spaniel, of which the queen was very fond, came quietly, as
if he feared to be driven away, and lay down near his mistress.

The queen listened to the reading of the warrant without seeming to

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