IT was August when Queen Mary arrived in Scotland and
landed in Leith, but the day was bleak and grey. A thick mist covered sea
and shore, and as she arrived sooner than was expected, nothing was ready.
But it soon became known that the Queen had come, and after waiting some
hours, a few poor horses were got together, and the procession started for
Holyrood. It was not a very grand procession, and everything seemed poor and
plain to Mary after the splendour of the French court. Yet the people were
glad to have their Queen among them once again, and they did their best to
show their gladness. Bon-fires were lit, and crowds gathered under the
Queen's windows, singing doleful psalms, and playing on instruments much out
of tune. It was anything but beautiful music, yet Mary was so good-natured
that she would not have it stopped, but said she liked the melody well, for
she knew that the people did it to honour her.
Soon, however, Mary was to learn how fierce her
subjects could be. She had made up her mind to allow the people to worship
God in their own way, and she meant to worship in her way. But it had been
made a crime for any one to read Mass, as the Roman Catholic service is
called, and when it became known that a priest was going to read Mass for
the Queen in her own private chapel at 1-lolyrood, there was a terrible
uproar among the Protestants. 'I will rather see ten thousand French
soldiers landed in Scotland, than suffer a single mass,' cried Knox. Another
fierce Protestant buckled on his armour, and rushed into the palace
courtyard, shouting that every priest should die. But the Earl of Murray,
the Queen's half-brother, Protestant though he was, put his back to the
chapel door, and with his sword prepared to defend it. Others joined him,
and so the uproar ceased.
Afterwards, Queen Mary sent for Knox and talked to
him. She wanted to be friends with Knox, but although Knox was a good man,
he was very stem and narrow. He could only see his own side, and could not
believe that any one was right who thought differently from himself. Mary
was clever, and answered Knox and his arguments very well. But although they
had many talks, they could never understand each other, and could never be
friends. Knox often preached against Mary, saying cruel things of her and
her way of living, and yet, perhaps, with all his sternness, he had a kindly
feeling for the young Queen, and only spoke cruelly because he wished to
make her better.
In spite of difficulties, the first few years after
Mary returned to Scotland passed quietly. She was so beautiful and clever,
that even stern Protestant nobles were glad to fight for their Catholic
Many men loved Mary and were anxious to marry her. But
it was difficult to find a prince worthy of this young, beautiful Queen. At
last she married her Cousin, Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. He was tall and
handsome. 'The handsomest long man I have ever seen,' said Mary. He was
cousin to Queen Elizabeth as well as to Queen Mary, and if neither of them
should have children, he was the next heir to both thrones. So it seemed a
good thing that Darnley and Mary should marry.
Darnley came from England, where he had been living,
to visit Mary. They soon loved each other and were married.
Some people, especially the Protestants, were very
angry about the marriage, for Darnley, like Mary, was a Roman Catholic.
Among those who were angry was the Queen's hall-brother, the Earl of Murray.
He and the chief Lords of the Congregation banded together and raised a
rebellion. But Mary called her army together, and wearing a helmet upon her
head, with pistols at her saddle-bow, and her husband beside her in gilded
armour, she rode out to meet the rebels. She swept through the country,
chasing them from place to place, till at last Murray and the other leaders
fled into England. This rebellion was called the Run-about-Raid, from the
way in which the rebels were hunted about from place to place.
For a short time Mary and Darnley were happy. But soon
the Queen began to find out that her 'handsome long man' was only a silly,
jealous boy. I-Ic was wicked as well, and instead of loving her husband,
Mary grew to hate him, and became very unhappy. The people, too, would not
allow Darnley any power as King. He was only the Queen's husband, they said.
This made Darnley very angry with Mary, for he thought she was to blame.
Among Mary's servants there was an Italian musician,
named David Rizzio. He was clever and useful. He wrote the Queen's letters,
advised and helped her in many ways, and also amused her by writing poetry
and music. The Queen also wrote poetry, and she became fond of Rizzio, and
made much of him. This made Rizzio very proud and haughty. He dressed in
splendid robes, and was insolent to the great lords, who hated him because
he was only a common man and a foreigner.
Darnley, too, hated Rizzio. He hated him so much. that
he made up his mind to kill him. He made friends with some of the nobles who
were Rizzio's enemies, and together they planned his murder. One windy March
night, the Queen and Rizzio, with a few of her ladies and friends, were
sitting at supper in a tiny room, off Mary's bedroom in 1-lolyrood. it is
such a tiny room that, if you ever go to see it, you will wonder how so many
people found room to sit there.
It was about seven o'clock. The curtains were drawn,
the candles were lit, and Mary sat talking merrily with her friends. But
while they talked and smiled, the courtyard of the palace was filled with
armed men, who took possession of the great gates and closed them, so that
none of the Queen's friends might enter. Then, led by Darnley, they crept
quietly up the secret stairway which led to the Queen's rooms, and which no
one but he might use.
'felling the men to wait, Darnley went into the room
alone. No one was surprised that he should come to see the Queen, and he sat
down beside her, put his arm round her waist, and talked kindly to her.
Suddenly the door opened again. Mary looked up, and
saw before her another of the conspirators called Lord Ruthven. He had been
very ill, but such was his hatred of Rizzio, that he had risen from his bed
so that he might help to kill him.
Ruthven's face was pale, his eyes were sunken, and he
was so weak that he had to he helped up the stair. As he stood in the
doorway, gaunt and terrible in his armour, his looks frightened the Queen so
that she cried out in fear, and told him to be gone. But behind him crowded
steel-clad men with drawn swords and fierce looks.
'If it please your Majesty,' said Ruthven in his hollow, dreadful voice,
'let yonder man Davy come forth from your presence. He has been over long
'Ah,' cried Mary, turning to Darnley with a bitter look, 'is this your
'Nay, but I know nothing of it,' replied Darnley.
Ruthven drew his dagger, and Rizzio, pale with terror, threw himself upon
his knees, trying to hide behind the Queen. Holding on to her skirts he
shrieked, 'Save me, save me!'
In a moment all was confusion. The little room was filled to overflowing
with armed men. The table was overturned. As it fell, a lady caught up one
of the candles upon it, otherwise the room would have been left in complete
darkness. Roughly the men tore Rizzio from the Queen. Ruthven himself took
hold of her, and placing her in Darnley's arms, bade him to take care of his
wife, and her to fear nothing.
Mary could do no more to save her favourite. Darnley held her fast, while
the fierce soldiers dragged the poor, trembling, shrieking wretch away.
They had meant to try him in some kind of a rough fashion, but now that they
had him in their power, they thought no more of a trial, but as soon as he
was out of the Queen's rooms they stabbed him to death. So eager were they,
that in the struggle, they wounded each other, and at last left their victim
lying in a pool of blood, with fifty-six wounds in his poor body.
Wreak and ill, Ruthven staggered back to the little room where Mary stood
trembling and weeping with fear and anger. Too weak to stand, he sat down in
the Queen's presence, hardly begging pardon for his rudeness, and called for
'Ah, traitor!' cried the Queen, 'how dare you come into my presence? How
dare you sit when I stand?'
'Madam,' he replied, 'I do it not out of pride, but out of weakness of
body.' Then he told her that what was done, was done with the knowledge of
her husband, which, far from comforting the Queen, only hurt her the more.
But not knowing that Rizzio was already dead, she still begged for his life.
Then one of the Queen's Manes came running in with a pale face, and the news
that Rizzio was killed. 'And is it so?' cried Mary, dashing the tears from
her eyes. 'Then farewell weeping. Now will I study revenge.'