List Of Contents | Contents of Mary Stuart, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
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With these words, and before the conspirators hid had time to collect
themselves, she shut the door again, and vanished like a passing but
threatening vision.  All remained thunderstruck.  Morton was the
first to find his tongue.

"My lords," said he, "this is a game of life and death, and the
winner will not be the cleverest or the strongest, but the readiest.
If we do not destroy this man, we are lost.  We must strike him down,
this very evening, not the day after to-morrow."

Everyone applauded, even Ruthven, who, still pale and feverish from
riotous living, promised not to be behindhand.  The only point
changed, on Morton's suggestion, was that the murder should take
place next day; for, in the opinion of all, not less than a day's
interval was needed to collect the minor conspirators, who numbered
not less than five hundred.

The next day, which was Saturday, March 9th, 1566, Mary Stuart, who
had inherited from her father, James V, a dislike of ceremony and the
need of liberty, had invited to supper with her six persons, Rizzio
among the number.  Darnley, informed of this in the morning,
immediately gave notice of it to the conspirators, telling them that
he himself would let them into the palace between six and seven
o'clock in the evening.  The conspirators replied that they would be
in readiness.

The morning had been dark and stormy, as nearly all the first days of
spring are in Scotland, and towards evening the snow and wind
redoubled in depth and violence.  So Mary had remained shut up with
Rizzio, and Darnley, who had gone to the secret door several times,
could hear the sound of instruments and the voice of the favourite,
who was singing those sweet melodies which have come down to our
time, and which Edinburgh people still attribute to him.  These songs
were for Mary a reminder of her stay in France, where the artists in
the train of the Medicis had already brought echoes from Italy; but
for Darnley they were an insult, and each time he had withdrawn
strengthened in his design.

At the appointed time, the conspirators, who had been given the
password during the day, knocked at the palace gate, and were
received there so much the more easily that Darnley himself, wrapped
in a great cloak, awaited them at the postern by which they were
admitted.  The five hundred soldiers immediately stole into an inner
courtyard, where they placed themselves under some sheds, as much to
keep themselves from the cold as that they might not be seen on the
snow-covered ground.  A brightly lighted window looked into this
courtyard; it was that of the queen's study: at the first signal give
them from this window, the soldiers were to break in the door and go
to the help of the chief conspirators.

These instructions given, Darnley led Morton, Ruthven, Lennox,
Lindley, Andrew Carew, and Douglas's bastard into the room adjoining
the study, and only separated from it by a tapestry hanging before
the door.  From there one could overhear all that was being said, and
at a single bound fall upon the guests.

Darnley left them in this room, enjoining silence; then, giving them
as a signal to enter the moment when they should hear him cry, "To
me, Douglas!" he went round by the secret passage, so that seeing him
come in by his usual door the queen's suspicions might not be roused
by his unlooked-for visit.

Mary was at supper with six persons, having, say de Thou and
Melville, Rizzio seated on her right; while, on the contrary,
Carapden assures us that he was eating standing at a sideboard.  The
talk was gay and intimate; for all were giving themselves up to the
ease one feels at being safe and warm, at a hospitable board, while
the snow is beating against the windows and the wind roaring in the
chimneys.  Suddenly Mary, surprised that the most profound silence
had succeeded to the lively and animated flow of words among her
guests since the beginning of supper, and suspecting, from their
glances, that the cause of their uneasiness was behind her, turned
round and saw Darnley leaning on the back of her chair.  The queen
shuddered; for although her husband was smiling when looking at
Rizzio, this smile lead assumed such a strange expression that it was
clear that something terrible was about to happen.  At the same
moment, Mary heard in the next room a heavy, dragging step drew near
the cabinet, then the tapestry was raised, and Lord Ruthven, in
armour of which he could barely support the weight, pale as a ghost,
appeared on the threshold, and, drawing his sword in silence, leaned
upon it.

The queen thought he was delirious.

"What do you want, my lord?" she said to him; "and why do you come to
the palace like this?"

"Ask the king, madam," replied Ruthven in an indistinct voice. "It is
for him to answer."

"Explain, my lord," Mary demanded, turning again towards Darnley;
"what does such a neglect of ordinary propriety mean?"

"It means, madam," returned Darnley, pointing to Rizzio, "that that
man must leave here this very minute."

"That man is mine, my lord," Mary said, rising proudly, "and
consequently takes orders only from me."

"To me, Douglas!" cried Darnley.

At these words, the conspirators, who for some moments had drawn
nearer Ruthven, fearing, so changeable was Darnley's character, lest
he had brought them in vain and would not dare to utter the signal
--at these words, the conspirators rushed into the room with such
haste that they overturned the table.  Then David Rizzio, seeing that
it was he alone they wanted, threw himself on his knees behind the
queen, seizing the hem of her robe and crying in Italian, "Giustizia!
giustizia!"  Indeed, the queen, true to her character, not allowing
herself to be intimidated by this terrible irruption, placed herself
in front of Rizzio and sheltered him behind her Majesty.  But she
counted too much on the respect of a nobility accustomed to struggle
hand to hand with its kings for five centuries.  Andrew Carew held a
dagger to her breast and threatened to kill her if she insisted on
defending any longer him whose death was resolved upon.  Then
Darnley, without consideration for the queen's pregnancy, seized her
round the waist and bore her away from Rizzio, who remained on his
knees pale and trembling, while Douglas's bastard, confirming the
prediction of the astrologer who had warned Rizzio to beware of a
certain bastard, drawing the king's own dagger, plunged it into the
breast of the minister, who fell wounded, but not dead.  Morton
immediately took him by the feet and dragged him from the cabinet
into the larger room, leaving on the floor that long track of blood
which is still shown there; then, arrived there, each rushed upon him
as upon a quarry, and set upon the corpse, which they stabbed in
fifty-six places.  Meanwhile Darnley held the queen, who, thinking
that all was not over, did not cease crying for mercy.  But Ruthven
came back, paler than at first, and at Darnley's inquiry if Rizzio
were dead, he nodded in the affirmative; then, as he could not bear
further fatigue in his convalescent state, he sat down, although the
queen, whom Darnley had at last released, remained standing on the
same spot.  At this Mary could not contain herself.

"My lord," cried she, "who has given you permission to sit down in my
presence, and whence comes such insolence?"

"Madam," Ruthven answered, "I act thus not from insolence, but from
weakness; for, to serve your husband, I have just taken more exercise
than my doctors allow".  Then turning round to a servant, "Give me a
glass of wine," said he, showing Darnley his bloody dagger before
putting it back in its sheath, "for here is the proof that I have
well earned it".  The servant obeyed, and Ruthven drained his glass
with as much calmness as if he had just performed the most innocent

"My lord," the queen then said, taking a step towards him, "it may be
that as I am a woman, in spite of my desire and my will, I never find
an opportunity to repay you what you are doing to me;  but," she
added, energetically striking her womb with her hand, "he whom I bear
there, and whose life you should have respected, since you respect my
Majesty so little, will one day revenge me for all these insults".
Then, with a gesture at once superb and threatening, she withdrew by
Darnley's door, which she closed behind her.

At that moment a great noise was heard in the queen's room.  Huntly,
Athol, and Bothwell, who, we are soon about to see, play such an
important part in the sequel of this history, were supping together
in another hall of the palace, when suddenly they had heard outcries
and the clash of arms, so that they had run with all speed.  When
Athol, who came first, without knowing whose it was, struck against
the dead body of Rizzio, which was stretched at the top of the
staircase, they believed, seeing someone assassinated, that the lives
of the king and queen were threatened, and they had drawn their
swords to force the door that Morton was guarding.  But directly
Darnley understood what was going on, he darted from the cabinet,
followed by Ruthven, and showing himself to the newcomers--

"My lords," he said, "the persons of the queen and myself are safe,
and nothing has occurred here but by our orders.  Withdraw, then; you
will know more about it in time.  As to him," he added, holding up
Rizzio's head by the hair, whilst the bastard of Douglas lit up the
face with a torch so that it could be recognised, "you see who it is,
and whether it is worth your while to get into trouble for him".

And in fact, as soon as Huntly, Athol, and Bothwell had recognised
the musician-minister, they sheathed their swords, and, having
saluted the king, went away.

Mary had gone away with a single thought in her heart, vengeance.
But she understood that she could not revenge herself at one and the
same time on her husband and his companions: she set to work, then,
with all the charms of her wit and beauty to detach the kind from his
accomplices.  It was not a difficult task: when that brutal rage
which often carried Darnley beyond all bounds was spent, he was

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