THAT night the Queen was kept a prisoner, and Darnley
acted as if he were the King. But he could not act like a King for long. He
was as weak as he was bad, and no sooner was Rizzio dead, than he began to
be afraid of what he had done.
The Queen now feared her husband as much as she hated
him. She knew that he had made the others murder Rizzio, and she wondered at
times if he would not murder her too. But in order to get away from the
fierce men who held her prisoner, she smiled on Darnley and hid her hatred,
until at last he, who had led her enemies on, helped her to escape from
them. One night in the darkness she fled away, accompanied only by Darnley
and a few faithful friends. When morning dawned, her fierce jailers woke to
find their prisoner gone.
Once more Mary was a Queen, and free. She gathered her
army and drove the traitors out of the country. Then she rode in triumph
through the streets of Edinburgh— the same streets through which, but a week
before, she had fled in darkness and in fear, and almost alone.
Soon after this, Mary had a little baby whom she
called James. But Mary hated Darnley so much, that she could not love her
little boy. 'He is too much your son,' she said to her husband.
Although Mary hated her husband, she could not live
without being loved. She always tried to make people love her. And many
people, both men and women, loved her very much, and were ready to die for
her. But the sad thing was, that of all the men who loved Mary, none were
strong enough, or noble enough, to protect and help her. If Mary had found
some strong, good, brave man to be her husband, her life might have been
very different and much happier. But the King of France bad been a sickly
boy. Darnley was a weak and foolish, not to say wicked, boy, and all around
her were men who plotted, and spied, arid worked for their own ends, caring
little for the happiness of Scotland or its Queen.
Now there came into Mary's life another man called
James, Earl of Bothwell. He was a handsome, swaggering, brutal, brave man.
He had lived a great deal in France, and had fine manners and a
light-hearted jolly laugh. He was bad, but he was brave, and Mary, who loved
brave men, and who was tired and sick to death of her foolish, cowardly
husband, loved him. She heaped honours and favours upon this man, who, an
old writer says, was 'as naughty a man as liveth, and much given to
Mary's love for this swaggering Earl made Darnley very
angry. He became sullen and sulky, would hardly speak to the Queen, and at
last went home to Glasgow, to live with his father and mother. While there,
he became ill of a dreadful disease called small-pox. When the Queen heard
that he was ill, she went to visit him, and it seemed as if their quarrels
were forgotten and that they were friends again.
Darnley was quite pleased to be friends with his
beautiful wife, and when he was well enough he went with her to Edinburgh.
But instead of taking him to the palace at Holyrood, Mary took Darnley to a
little house called Kirk of Field, just outside the walls of the town. She
said as he was ill, he would be more comfortable there. For the house stood
high, and was surrounded by a garden, whereas Holyrood lies very low.
Every day, Mary came and sat some hours with Darnley,
talking with him and amusing him. Once or twice she spent the whole night in
the little house, sleeping in the room below Darnley's. It seemed as if the
old days had come back, and they would be happy again. But alas! it was all
a trap. While Mary talked and smiled with Darnley, Bothwell and his friends
were laying their plans.
One night as the Queen sat with her husband, dark
figures might have been seen passing and re-passing through the garden,
carrying sacks upon their backs. The sacks were full of gunpowder; and it
was Bothwell's men who carried them,—Bothwell who directed where they should
be put. They were piled up in the Queen's room, right under Darnley's bed.
While this dark work went on, the Queen sat in the
firelit room, in a high chair covered with purple velvet, which gleamed red
in the flickering light. Never had she seemed so beautiful and gentle to the
sick boy. She had said that she would stay all night, but she suddenly
remembered that she could not, for it was the wedding night of one of her
maids, and she had promised to dance at the feast. So she kissed Darnley,
and said good-night, telling him that she would come again next morning.
Did she know what would happen before morning, or did
she not? That is a question which has puzzled many wise heads for hundreds
of years. Perhaps it will never be settled. But we would like to believe
that the beautiful Queen knew nothing about those black bags of gunpowder,
and that the plot and the guilt were Bothwell's only.
The dance went merrily on, but Bothwell soon left it.
He went to his room, and changed his fine dress of velvet and silver for a
coarse, dark suit. Then he hurried away to Kirk of Field.
The dance was over, the lights were out, every one was
quietly sleeping, when the noise of a terrible explosion startled the whole
town. People leaped from their beds in terror. What had happened? Soon it
became known, that Kirk of Field House had been blown to pieces. The King
The deed done, Bothwell had crept back to his room,
thrown off his clothes, and tumbled into bed again. There he lay, pretending
to be asleep, when he was aroused by the sound of hurrying feet, strange
cries, and loud knocking at his door. 'The King's house is blown up, and I
trow the King is slain,' cried the messenger, hardly able to speak for
terror and excitement.
'Treason! treason!' shouted Bothwell, springing from his bed. Hurriedly he
dressed, and was soon out in the streets, at the head of a company of
soldiers, riding towards the Kirk of Field.
But pretend how he would, Bothwell could not deceive the people. Every one
pointed to him as the murderer, and as Queen Mary still continued to be kind
to him, and let it be seen, even more plainly than before, that she loved
him, the people grew angry with her too, and called her murderess. All
Europe rang with the horror of the deed. Queens and princes wrote to Mary,
urging her to punish the murderers. So Mary at last yielded. J3othiweIl was
brought to trial. But the trial was a mere farce. Riding upon the dead
Darnley's favourite horse, Bothwell appeared with five thousand soldiers at
his back. So the judges, afraid perhaps to do anything else, said that he
But the people still believed him guilty. Pictures and writings, accusing
Bothwell and his friends, were pasted upon the walls and doors of the public
buildings of Edinburgh. Voices in the night cried ou the names of the guilty
ones. Yet Mary would neither listen nor see.
One day the Queen rode to Stirling to visit her little boy. Oil way back,
when she was very near Edinburgh, Bothwell suddenly came towards her at the
head of eight hundred horsemen. The cold April sunshine gleamed on steel
armour, sword and spear, as Bothwell and his men dashed recklessly along.
They surrounded Mary's small company. Right up to the Queen's horse rode the
Earl, and laid his hand upon her bridle rein. Without a struggle, without
one cry for help, without one blow being struck, the Queen was taken
prisoner by her bold and swaggering earl, for he had sworn to marry her, '
Yea, whether she would herself or not.' ]tight about wheeled the horses, and
with clatter and jangle they started off again, not towards Edinburgh, but
towards Bothwell's strong castle of Dunbar.
It was like a fairy tale. The ogre had carried off the beautiful princess.
But there was no knight in shining armour to rescue her, and soon Mary
married the ogre,— just three months after he had murdered Darnley.
Bothwell was already married to another beautiful lady, who had done him no
harm, but he was so eager to be great, to have the power of a king, that he
made the priests and clergymen say that he might put her away. Then he
married the Queen.
For a few short weeks Mary seemed happy. Then dark days came again. Her new
husband was brutal and coarse, and the people were angry that she had
married the man who had killed her last husband.
But neither Bothwell nor
Mary knew how angry the people were, and when at last an army gathered
against them, they were surprised and unprepared. They had left Dunbar, and
the castle in which they were was not strong. It was surrounded by the
enemy, and Bothwell, rather than be taken prisoner by the nobles, fled away,
leaving Mary alone.
But next night, when all was dark and still, a tall, slim page slipped out
of the castle gates. A pony stood ready saddled. The page mounted, and rode
out into the darkness. Over wild moorland, by lonely ways, the page galloped
on, until he met with Bothwell and a few followers. Then it was seen that
the tall, slim boy was no boy, but Scotland's beautiful Queen. At three
o'clock in the morning she rode once more into Bothwell's strong castle of
Mary had come quite alone. At Bothwell castle there was no lady, so the
Queen had to borrow a dress from a servant. A short red skirt, a white
sleeved bodice, and a black velvet hat, was all that could be found for her.
Dressed in this, she rode out at the head of the little army which had now
gathered to her.
Early in the morning, Mary took up her position on Carberry Hill almost on
the same place where the battle of Pinkie had been fought twenty years
before. Opposite, lay the army of the lords. All day long they lay there,
neither side advancing or striking a blow; for the lords did not wish to
fight until the afternoon, when the sun would be behind them, and the
Queen's captains would not strike the first blow.
Hour after hour went past. The day was hot Many in Mary's army were not
soldiers, but simple peasants. They grew thirsty, and weary of waiting under
the burning sun. Some of them went off to drink at the stream which flowed
near. They never came back again. For one reason or another, others left,
and little by little, Mary's army grew smaller and smaller.
With tears, and threats, and smiles, and promises, the Queen rode up and
down before the soldiers. It was in vain. They would not fight. At last,
sick and sad at heart, she gave it up. All was lost. There was nothing left
for Bothwell but to fly.
So there, on this bloodless battlefield, they kissed each other, and said
good-bye. For the last time Bothwell bent over the Queen's hand; then he
galloped off. Just one month after her marriage day, Mary was thus once more
left alone. They never saw each other again. After a wild and wandering life
of fierce adventure, Bothwell died, mad, in a foreign prison.
Meantime, with tear-stained face and bitter words, Queen Mary turned to the
rebel lords. She was their prisoner. 'I render myself,' she said, and one of
them gravely and sternly took her horse by the bridle, and led her down the
hill to the rebel camp.
So, riding among her captors, the Queen returned to Edinburgh. Before her
was carried a horrid banner, with a picture of the little Prince James
kneeling beside the body of his murdered father. Underneath was the motto,
'Judge and avenge my cause, 0 God.' Through the streets she rode, the mob
yelling and cursing, her fair face all soiled and wet with tears and dust,
till at last she reached the kindly shelter of the provost's house.