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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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pay much attention, as if it had concerned someone else, and with a
countenance as calm and even as joyous as if it had been a pardon and
not a sentence of death; then, when Beale had ended, and having
ended, cried in a loud voice, "God save Queen Elizabeth!" to which no
one made any response, Mary signed herself with the cross, and,
rising without any change of expression, and, on the contrary,
lovelier than ever--

"My lords," said she, "I am a queen-born sovereign princess, and not
subject to law,--a near relation of the Queen of England, and her
rightful heir; for a long time I have been a prisoner in this
country, I have suffered here much tribulation and many evils that no
one had the right to inflict, and now, to crown all, I am about to
lose my life.  Well, my lords, bear witness that I die in the
Catholic faith, thanking God for letting me die for His holy cause,
and protesting, to-day as every day, in public as in private, that I
have never plotted, consented to, nor desired the queen's death, nor
any other thing against her person; but that, on the contrary, I have
always loved her, and have always offered her good and reasonable
conditions to put an end to the troubles of the kingdom and deliver
me from my captivity, without my having ever been honoured with a
reply from her; and all this, my lords, you well know.  Finally, my
enemies have attained their end, which was to put me to death:
I do not pardon them less for it than I pardon all those who have
attempted anything against me.  After my, death, the authors of it
will be known.  But I die without accusing anyone, for fear the Lord
should hear me and avenge me."

Upon this, whether he was afraid that such a speech by so great a
queen should soften the assembly too much, or whether he found that
all these words were making too much delay, the Dean of Peterborough
placed himself before Mary, and, leaning on the barrier--

"Madam," he said, "my much honoured mistress has commanded me to come
to you--"  But at these words, Mary, turning and interrupting him

"Mr. Dean," she answered in a loud voice, "I have nothing to do with
you; I do not wish to hear you, and beg you to withdraw."

"Madam," said the dean, persisting in spite of this resolve expressed
in such firm and precise terms, "you have but a moment longer: change
your opinions, abjure your errors, and put your faith in Jesus Christ
alone, that you may be saved through Him."

"Everything you can say is useless," replied the queen, "and you will
gain nothing by it; be silent, then, I beg you, and let me die in
peace."

And as she saw that he wanted to go on, she sat down on the other
side of the chair and turned her back to him; but the dean
immediately walked round the scaffold till he faced her again; then,
as he was going to speak, the queen turned about once more, and sat
as at first.  Seeing which the Earl of Shrewsbury said--

"Madam, truly I despair that you are so attached to this folly of
papacy: allow us, if it please you, to pray for you."

"My lord," the queen answered, "if you desire to pray for me, I thank
you, for the intention is good; but I cannot join in your prayers,
for we are not of the same religion."

The earls then called the dean, and while the queen, seated in her
little chair, was praying in a low tone, he, kneeling on the scaffold
steps, prayed aloud; and the whole assembly except the queen and her
servants prayed after him; then, in the midst of her orison, which
she said with her Agnus Dei round her neck, a crucifix in one hand,
and her book of Hours in the other, she fell from her seat on to, her
knees, praying aloud in Latin, whilst the others prayed in English,
and when the others were silent, she continued in English in her
turn, so that they could hear her, praying for the afflicted Church
of Christ, for an end to the persecution of Catholics, arid for the
happiness of her son's reign; then she said, in accents full of faith
and fervour, that she hoped to be saved by the merits of Jesus
Christ, at the foot of whose cross she was going to shed her blood.

At these words the Earl of Kent could no longer contain himself, and
without respect for the sanctity of the moment--

"Oh, madam," said he, "put Jesus Christ in your heart, and reject
all this rubbish of popish deceptions."

But she, without listening, went on, praying the saints to intercede
with God for her, and kissing the crucifix, she cried--

"Lord! Lord! receive me in Thy arms out stretched on the cross, and
forgive me all my sins!"

Thereupon,--she being again seated in the chair, the Earl of Kent
asked her if she had any confession to make; to which she replied
that, not being guilty of anything, to confess would be to give
herself, the lie.

"It is well," the earl answered; "then, madam, prepare."

The queen rose, and as the executioner approached to assist her
disrobe--

"Allow me, my friend," said she; I know how to do it better than you,
and am not accustomed to undress before so many spectators, nor to be
served by such valets."

And then, calling her two women, she began to unpin her coiffure, and
as Jeanne Kennedy and Elspeth Curle, while performing this last
service for their mistress, could not help weeping bitterly--

"Do not weep," she said to them in French; "for I have promised and
answered for you."

With these words, she made the sign of the cross upon the forehead of
each, kissed them, and recommended them to pray for her.

Then the queen began to undress, herself assisting, as she was wont
to do when preparing for bed, and taking the gold cross from her
neck, she wished to give it to Jeanne, saying to the executioner--

"My friend, I know that all I have upon me belongs to you; but this
is not in your way: let me bestow it, if you please, on this young
lady, and she will give you twice its value in money."

But the executioner, hardly allowing her to finish, snatched it from
her hands with--

"It is my right."

The queen was not moved much by this brutality, and went on taking
off her garments until she was simply in her petticoat.

Thus rid of all her garb, she again sat down, and Jeanne Kennedy
approaching her, took from her pocket the handkerchief of gold-
embroidered cambric which she had prepared the night before, and
bound her eyes with it; which the earls, lords; and gentlemen looked
upon with great surprise, it not being customary in England, and as
she thought that she was to be beheaded in the French way--that is to
say, seated in the chair--she held herself upright, motionless, and
with her neck stiffened to make it easier for the executioner, who,
for his part, not knowing how to proceed, was standing, without
striking, axe in hand: at last the man laid his hand on the queen's
head, and drawing her forward, made her fall on her knees: Mary then
understood what was required of her, and feeling for the block with
her hands, which were still holding her book of Hours and her
crucifix, she laid her neck on it, her hands joined beneath her chin,
that she might pray till the last moment: the executioner's assistant
drew them away, for fear they should be cut off with her head; and as
the queen was saying, "In manes teas, Domine," the executioner raised
his axe, which was simply an axe far chopping wood, and struck the
first blow, which hit too high, and piercing the skull, made the
crucifix and the book fly from the condemned's hands by its violence,
but which did not sever the head.  However, stunned with the blow,
the queen made no movement, which gave the executioner time to
redouble it; but still the head did not fall, and a third stroke was
necessary to detach a shred of flesh which held it to the shoulders.

At last, when the head was quite severed, the executioner held it up
to show to the assembly, saying

"God save Queen Elizabeth!"

"So perish all Her Majesty's enemies!" responded the Dean of
Peterborough.

"Amen," said the Earl of Kent; but he was the only one: no other
voice could respond, for all were choked with sobs.

At that moment the queen's headdress falling, disclosed her hair, cut
very short, and as white as if she had been aged seventy: as to her
face, it had so changed during her death-agony that no one would have
recognised it had he not known it was hers.  The spectators cried out
aloud at this sign; for, frightful to see, the eyes were open, and
the lids went on moving as if they would still pray, and this
muscular movement lasted for more than a quarter of an hour after the
head had been cut off.

The queen's servants had rushed upon the scaffold, picking up the
book of Hours and the crucifix as relics; and Jeanne Kennedy,
remembering the little dog who had come to his mistress, looked about
for him on all sides, seeking him and calling him, but she sought and
called in vain.  He had disappeared.

At that moment, as one of the executioners was untying the queen's
garters, which were of blue satin embroidered in silver, he saw the
poor little animal, which had hidden in her petticoat, and which he
was obliged to bring out by force; then, having escaped from his
hands, it took refuge between the queen's shoulders and her head,
which the executioner had laid down near the trunk.  Jeanne took him
then, in spite of his howls, and carried him away, covered with
blood; for everyone had just been ordered to leave the hall.
Bourgoin and Gervais stayed behind, entreating Sir Amyas Paulet to
let them take the queen's heart, that they might carry it to France,
as they had promised her; but they were harshly refused and pushed
out of the hall, of which all the doors were closed, and there there
remained only the executioner and the corpse.

Brantome relates that something infamous took place there!




CHAPTER X

Two hours after the execution, the body and the head were taken into
the same hall in which Mary Stuart had appeared before the
commissioners, set down on a table round which the judges had sat,
and covered over with a black serge cloth; and there remained till
three o'clock in the afternoon, when Waters the doctor from Stamford

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