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List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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and the surgeon from Fotheringay village came to open and embalm
them--an operation which they carried out under the eyes of Amyas
Paulet and his soldiers, without any respect for the rank and sex of
the poor corpse, which was thus exposed to the view of anyone who
wanted to see it: it is true that this indignity did not fulfil its
proposed aim; for a rumour spread about that the queen had swollen
limbs and was dropsical, while, on the contrary, there was not one of
the spectators but was obliged to confess that he had never seen the
body of a young girl in the bloom of health purer and lovelier than
that of Mary Stuart, dead of a violent death after nineteen years of
suffering and captivity.

When the body was opened, the spleen was in its normal state, with
the veins a little livid only, the lungs yellowish in places, and the
brain one-sixth larger than is usual in persons of the same age and
sex; thus everything promised a long life to her whose end had just
been so cruelly hastened.

A report having been made of the above, the body was embalmed after a
fashion, put in a leaden coffin and that in another of wood, which
was left on the table till the first day of August--that is, for
nearly five months--before anyone was allowed to come near it; and
not only that, but the English having noticed that Mary Stuart's
unhappy servants, who were still detained as prisoners, went to look
at it through the keyhole, stopped that up in such a way that they
could not even gaze at the coffin enclosing the body of her whom they
had so greatly loved.

However, one hour after Mary Stuart's death, Henry Talbot, who had
been present at it, set out at full speed for London, carrying to
Elizabeth the account of her rival's death; but at the very first
lines she read, Elizabeth, true to her character, cried out in grief
and indignation, saying that her orders had been misunderstood, that
there had been too great haste, and that all this was the fault of
Davison the Secretary of State, to whom she had given the warrant to
keep till she had made up her mind, but not to send to Fotheringay.
Accordingly, Davison was sent to the Tower and condemned to pay a
fine of ten thousand pounds sterling, for having deceived the queen.
Meanwhile, amid all this grief, an embargo was laid on all vessels in
all the ports of the realm, so that the news of the death should not
reach abroad, especially France, except through skilful emissaries
who could place the execution in the least unfavourable light for
Elizabeth.  At the same time the scandalous popular festivities which
had marked the announcement of the sentence again celebrated the
tidings of the execution.  London was illuminated, bonfires lit, and
the enthusiasm was such that the French Embassy was broken into and
wood taken to revive the fires when they began to die down.

Crestfallen at this event, M. de Chateauneuf was still shut up at the
Embassy, when, a fortnight later, he received an invitation from
Elizabeth to visit her at the country house of the Archbishop of
Canterbury.  M. de Chateauneuf went thither with the firm resolve to
say no word to her on what had happened; but as soon as she saw him,
Elizabeth, dressed in black, rose, went to him, and, overwhelming him
with kind attentions, told him that she was ready to place all the
strength of her kingdom at Henry III's disposal to help him put down
the League.  Chateauneuf received all these offers with a cold and
severe expression, without saying, as he had promised himself, a
single word about the event which had put both the queen and himself
into mourning.  But, taking him by the hand, she drew him aside, and
there, with deep sighs, said--

"Ah! sir, since I saw you the greatest misfortune which could befall
me has happened: I mean the death of my good sister, the Queen of
Scotland, of which I swear by God Himself, my soul and my salvation,
that I am perfectly innocent.  I had signed the order, it is true;
but my counsellors have played me a trick for which I cannot calm
myself; and I swear to God that if it were not for their long service
I would have them beheaded.  I have a woman's frame, sir, but in this
woman's frame beats a man's heart."

Chateauneuf bowed without a response; but his letter to Henry III and
Henry's answer prove that neither the one nor the other was the dupe
of this female Tiberius.

Meanwhile, as we have said, the unfortunate servants were prisoners,
and the poor body was in that great hall waiting for a royal
interment.  Things remained thus, Elizabeth said, to give her time to
order a splendid funeral for her good sister Mary, but in reality
because the queen dared not place in juxtaposition the secret and
infamous death and the public and royal burial; then, was not time
needed for the first reports which it pleased Elizabeth to spread to
be credited before the truth should be known by the mouths of the
servants?  For the queen hoped that once this careless world had made
up its mind about the death of the Queen of Scots, it would not take
any further trouble to change it.  Finally, it was only when the
warders were as tired as the prisoners, that Elizabeth, having
received a report stating that the ill-embalmed body could no longer
be kept, at last ordered the funeral to take place.

Accordingly, after the 1st of August, tailors and dressmakers arrived
at Fotheringay Castle, sent by Elizabeth, with cloth and black silk
stuffs, to clothe in mourning all Mary's servants.  But they refused,
not having waited for the Queen of England's bounty, but having made
their funeral garments at their own expense, immediately after their
mistress's death.  The tailors and dressmakers, however, none the
less set so actively to work that on the 7th everything was finished.

Next day, at eight o'clock in the evening, a large chariot, drawn by
four horses in mourning trappings, and covered with black velvet like
the chariot, which was, besides, adorned with little streamers on
which were embroidered the arms of Scotland, those of the queen, and
the arms of Aragon, those of Darnley, stopped at the gate of
Fotheringay Castle.  It was followed by the herald king, accompanied
by twenty gentlemen on horseback, with their servants and lackeys,
all dressed in mourning, who, having alighted, mounted with his whole
train into the room where the body lay, and had it brought down and
put into the chariot with all possible respect, each of the
spectators standing with bared head and in profound silence.

This visit caused a great stir among the prisoners, who debated a
while whether they ought not to implore the favour of being allowed
to follow their mistress's body, which they could not and should not
let go alone thus; but just as they were about to ask permission to
speak to the herald king, he entered the room where they were
assembled, and told them that he was charged by his mistress, the
august Queen of England, to give the Queen of Scotland the most
honourable funeral he could; that, not wishing to fail in such a high
undertaking, he had already made most of the preparations for the
ceremony, which was to take place on the 10th of August, that is to
say, two days later,--but that the leaden shell in which the body was
enclosed being very heavy, it was better to move it beforehand, and
that night, to where the grave was dug, than to await the day of the
interment itself; that thus they might be easy, this burial of the
shell being only a preparatory ceremony; but that if some of them
would like to accompany the corpse, to see what was done with it,
they were at liberty, and that those who stayed behind could follow
the funeral pageant, Elizabeth's positive desire being that all, from
first to last, should be present in the funeral procession.  This
assurance calmed the unfortunate prisoners, who deputed Bourgoin,
Gervais, and six others to follow their mistress's body: these were
Andrew Melville, Stewart, Gorjon, Howard, Lauder, and Nicholas
Delamarre.

At ten o'clock at night they set out, walking behind the chariot,
preceded by the herald, accompanied by men on foot, who carried
torches to light the way, and followed by twenty gentlemen and their
servants.  In this manner, at two o'clock in the morning, they
reached Peterborough, where there is a splendid cathedral built by an
ancient Saxon king, and in which, on the left of the choir, was
already interred good Queen Catharine of Aragon, wife of Henry VIII,
and where was her tomb, still decked with a canopy bearing her arms.

On arriving, they found the cathedral all hung with black, with a
dome erected in the middle of the choir, much in the way in which
'chapelles ardentes' are set up in France, except that there were no
lighted candles round it.  This dome was covered with black velvet,
and overlaid with the arms of Scotland and Aragon, with streamers
like those on the chariot yet again repeated.  The state coffin was
already set up under this dome: it was a bier, covered like the rest
in black velvet fringed with silver, on which was a pillow of the
same supporting a royal crown.

To the right of this dome, and in front of the burial-place of Queen
Catharine of Aragon, Mary of Scotland's sepulchre had been dug: it
was a grave of brick, arranged to be covered later with a slab or a
marble tomb, and in which was to be deposited the coffin, which the
Bishop of Peterborough, in his episcopal robes, but without his
mitre, cross, or cope, was awaiting at the door, accompanied by his
dean and several other clergy.  The body was brought into the
cathedral, without chant or prayer, and was let down into the tomb
amid a profound silence.  Directly it was placed there, the masons,
who had stayed their hands, set to work again, closing the grave
level with the floor, and only leaving an opening of about a foot and
a half, through which could be seen what was within, and through
which could be thrown on the coffin, as is customary at the obsequies
of kings, the broken staves of the officers and the ensigns and
banners with their arms.  This nocturnal ceremony ended, Melville,

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