List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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characteristic features of the Douglases' full cheeks, high colour,
large ears, and red hair.  The result was that poor George, who, on
the contrary, had been given by nature pale cheeks, dark blue eyes,
and black hair, had been since coming into the world an object of
indifference to his father and of dislike to his elder brother.  As
to his mother, whether she were indeed in good faith surprised like
Lord Douglas at this difference in race, whether she knew the cause
and inwardly reproached herself, George had never been, ostensibly at
least, the object of a very lively maternal affection; so the young
man, followed from his childhood by a fatality that he could not
explain, had sprung up like a wild shrub, full of sap and strength,
but uncultivated and solitary.  Besides, from the time when he was
fifteen, one was accustomed to his motiveless absences, which the
indifference that everyone bore him made moreover perfectly
explicable; from time to time, however, he was seen to reappear at
the castle, like those migratory birds which always return to the
same place but only stay a moment, then take their way again without
one's knowing towards what spot in the world they are directing their

An instinct of misfortune in common had drawn Little Douglas to
George.  George, seeing the child ill-treated by everyone, had
conceived an affection for him, and Little Douglas, feeling himself
loved amid the atmosphere of indifference around him, turned with
open arms and heart to George: it resulted from this mutual liking
that one day, when the child had committed I do not know what fault,
and that William Douglas raised the whip he beat his dogs with to
strike him, that George, who was sitting on a stone, sad and
thoughtful, had immediately sprung up, snatched the whip from his
brother's hands and had thrown it far from him.  At this insult
William had drawn his sword, and George his, so that these two
brothers, who had hated one another for twenty years like two
enemies, were going to cut one another's throats, when Little
Douglas, who had picked up the whip, coming back and kneeling before
William, offered him the ignominious weapon, saying

"Strike, cousin; I have deserved it."

This behaviour of the child had caused some minutes' reflection to
the two young men, who, terrified at the crime they were about to
commit, had returned their swords to their scabbards and had each
gone away in silence.  Since this incident the friendship of George
and Little Douglas had acquired new strength, and on the child's side
it had become veneration.

We dwell upon all these details somewhat at length, perhaps, but no
doubt our readers will pardon us when they see the use to be made of

This is the family, less George, who, as we have said, was absent at
the time of her arrival, into the midst of which the queen had
fallen, passing in a moment from the summit of power to the position
of a prisoner; for from the day following her arrival Mary saw that
it was by such a title she was an inmate of Lochleven Castle.  In
fact, Lady Douglas presented herself before her as soon as it was
morning, and with an embarrassment and dislike ill disguised beneath
an appearance of respectful indifference, invited Mary to follow her
and take stock of the several parts of the fortress which had been
chosen beforehand for her private use.  She then made her go through
three rooms, of which one was to serve as her bedroom, the second as
sitting-room, and the third as ante-chamber; afterwards, leading the
way down a spiral staircase, which looked into the great hall of the
castle, its only outlet, she had crossed this hall, and had taken
Mary into the garden whose trees the queen had seen topping the high
walls on her arrival: it was a little square of ground, forming a
flower-bed in the midst of which was an artificial fountain.  It was
entered by a very low door, repeated in the opposite wall; this
second door looked on to the lake and, like all the castle doors,
whose keys, however, never left the belt or the pillow of William
Douglas, it was guarded night and day by a sentinel.  This was now
the whole domain of her who had possessed the palaces, the plains,
and the mountains of an entire kingdom.

Mary, on returning to her room, found breakfast ready, and William
Douglas standing near the table he was going to fulfil about the
queen the duties of carver and taster.

In spite of their hatred for Mary, the Douglases would have
considered it an eternal blemish on their honour if any accident
should have befallen the queen while she was dwelling in their
castle; and it was in order that the queen herself should not
entertain any fear in this respect that William Douglas, in his
quality of lord of the manor, had not only desired to carve before
the queen, but even to taste first in her presence, all the dishes
served to her, as well as the water and the several wines to be
brought her.  This precaution saddened Mary more than it reassured
her; for she understood that, while she stayed in the castle, this
ceremony would prevent any intimacy at table.  However, it proceeded
from too noble an intention for her to impute it as a crime to her
hosts: she resigned herself, then, to this company, insupportable as
it was to her; only, from that day forward, she so cut short her
meals that all the time she was at Lochleven her longest dinners
barely lasted more than a quarter of an hour.

Two days after her arrival, Mary, on sitting down to table for
breakfast, found on her plate a letter addressed to her which had
been put there by William Douglas.  Mary recognised Murray's
handwriting, and her first feeling was one of joy; for if a ray of
hope remained to her, it came from her brother, to whom she had
always been perfectly kind, whom from Prior of St.  Andrew's she had
made an earl in bestowing on him the splendid estates which formed
part of the old earldom of Murray, and to whom, which was of more
importance, she had since pardoned, or pretended to pardon, the part
he had taken in Rizzio's assassination.

Her astonishment was great, then, when, having opened the letter, she
found in it bitter reproaches for her conduct, an exhortation to do
penance, and an assurance several times repeated that she should
never leave her prison.  He ended his letter in announcing to her
that, in spite of his distaste for public affairs, he had been
obliged to accept the regency, which he had done less for his country
than for his sister, seeing that it was the sole means he had of
standing in the way of the ignominious trial to which the nobles
wished to bring her, as author, or at least as chief accomplice, of
Darnley's death.  This imprisonment was then clearly a great good
fortune for her, and she ought to thank Heaven for it, as an
alleviation of the fate awaiting her if he had not interceded for

This letter was a lightning stroke for Mary: only, as she did not
wish to give her enemies the delight of seeing her suffer, she
contained her grief, and, turning to William Douglas--

"My lord," said she, "this letter contains news that you doubtless
know already, for although we are not children by the same mother, he
who writes to me is related to us in the same degree, and will not
have desired to write to his sister without writing to his brother at
the same time; besides, as a good son, he will have desired to
acquaint his mother with the unlooked-for greatness that has befallen

"Yes, madam," replied William, "we know since yesterday that, for the
welfare of Scotland, my brother has been named regent; and as he is a
son as respectful to his mother as he is devoted to his country, we
hope that he will repair the evil that for five years favourites of
every sort and kind have done to both."

"It is like a good son, and at the same time like a courteous host,
to go back no farther into the history of Scotland," replied Mary
Stuart," and not to make the daughter blush for the father's errors;
for I have heard say that the evil which your lordship laments was
prior to the time to which you assign it, and that King James V also
had formerly favourites, both male and female.  It is true that they
add that the ones as ill rewarded his friendship as the others his
love.  In this, if you are ignorant of it, my lord, you can be
instructed, if he is still living, by a certain.  Porterfeld or
Porterfield, I don't know which, understanding these names of the
lower classes too ill to retain and pronounce them, but about which,
in my stead, your noble mother could give you information."

With these words, Mary Stuart rose, and, leaving William Douglas
crimson with rage, she returned into her bedroom, and bolted the door
behind her.

All that day Mary did not come down, remaining at her window, from
which she at least enjoyed a splendid view over the plains and
village of Kinross; but this vast extent only contracted her heart
the more, when, bringing her gaze back from the horizon to the
castle, she beheld its walls surrounded on all sides by the deep
waters of the lake, on whose wide surface a single boat, where Little
Douglas was fishing, was rocking like a speck.  For some moments
Mary's eyes mechanically rested on this child, whom she had already
seen upon her arrival, when suddenly a horn sounded from the Kinross
side.  At the same moment Little Douglas threw away his line, and
began to row towards the shore whence the signal had come with skill
and strength beyond his years.  Mary, who had let her gaze rest on
him absently, continued to follow him with her eyes, and saw him make
for a spot on the shore so distant that the boat seemed to her at
length but an imperceptible speck; but soon it reappeared, growing
larger as it approached, and Mary could then observe that it was
bringing back to the castle a new passenger, who, having in his turn
taken the oars, made the little skiff fly over the tranquil water of
the lake, where it left a furrow gleaming in the last rays of the
sun.  Very soon, flying on with the swiftness of a bird, it was near

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