Most ViewedMary's Marriage Personal Appearance And Popularity
Mary The Queen Dauphiness The Queen And The Queen Dowager Of France
Occurrences Immediately Preceding Darnley's Death
An Examination Of The Letters Sonnets And Other Writings Adduced In Evidence Against Mary Queen Of Scots
The Little Waif
The Fall Of Bothwell
Mary's Birth And Subsequent Residence At The French Court
Mary's Escape From Lochleven And The Battle Of Langside
Least ViewedThe Ebbing Well
Loch Leven Castle
The Love Token
My Lady's Remorse
The Huckstering Woman
A Lioness At Bay
Queen Mary's Presence Chamber
The Rebellion Of The Nobles The Meeting At Carberry Hill And Its Consequences
James VI. again cruelly tore his mother's heart and dashed her hopes by
an unfeeling letter, in which he declared her incapable of being
treated with, since she was a prisoner and deposed. The not
unreasonable expectation, that his manhood might reverse the
proceedings wrought in his name in his infancy, was frustrated. Mary
could no longer believe that he was constrained by a faction, but
perceived clearly that he merely considered her as a rival, whose
liberation would endanger his throne, and that whatever scruples he
might once have entertained had given way to English gold and Scottish
"The more simple was I to look for any other in the son of Darnley and
the pupil of Buchanan," said she, "but a mother's heart is slow to give
up her trust."
"And is there now no hope?" asked Cicely.
"Hope, child? Dum spiro, spero. The hope of coming forth honourably
to him and to Elizabeth is at an end. There is another mode of coming
forth," she added with a glittering eye, "a mode which shall make them
rue that they have driven patience to extremity."
"By force of arms? Oh, madam!" cried Cicely.
"And wherefore not? My noble kinsman, Guise, is the paramount ruler in
France, and will soon have crushed the heretics there; Parma is
triumphant in the Low Countries, and has only to tread out the last
remnants of faction with his iron boot. They wait only the call, which
my motherly weakness has delayed, to bring their hosts to avenge my
wrongs, and restore this island to the true faith. Then thou, child,
wilt be my heiress. We will give thee to one who will worthily bear
the sceptre, and make thee blessed at home. The Austrians make good
husbands, I am told. Matthias or Albert would be a noble mate for
thee; only thou must be trained to more princely bearing, my little
In spite--nay, perhaps, in consequence--of these anticipations, an
entire change began for Cicely. It was as if all the romance of her
princely station had died out and the reality had set in. Her freedom
was at an end. As one of the suite of the Queen of Scots, she was as
much a prisoner as the rest; whereas before, both at Buxton and
Sheffield, she had been like a dog or kitten admitted to be petted and
played with, but living another life elsewhere, while now there was
nothing to relieve the weariness and monotony of the restraint.
Nor was the petting what it was at first. Mary was far from being in
the almost frolicsome mood which had possessed her at Buxton; her hopes
and spirits had sunk to the lowest pitch, and though she had an
admirably sweet and considerate temper, and was scarcely ever fretful
or unreasonable with her attendants, still depression, illness, and
anxiety could not but tell on her mode of dealing with her
surroundings. Sometimes she gave way entirely, and declared she should
waste away and perish in her captivity, and that she only brought
misery and destruction on all who tried to befriend her; or, again,
that she knew that Burghley and Walsingham were determined to have her
It was in these moments that Cicely loved her most warmly, for caresses
and endearments soothed her, and the grateful affection which received
them would be very sweet. Or in a higher tone, she would trust that,
if she were to perish, she might be a martyr and confessor for her
Church, though, as she owned, the sacrifice would be stained by many a
sin; and she betook herself to the devotions which then touched her
daughter more than in any other respect.
More often, however, her indomitable spirit resorted to fresh schemes,
and chafed fiercely and hotly at thought of her wrongs; and this made
her the more critical of all that displeased her in Cicely.
Much that had been treated as charming and amusing when Cicely was her
plaything and her visitor was now treated as unbecoming English
rusticity. The Princess Bride must speak French and Italian, perhaps
Latin; and the girl, whose literary education had stopped short when
she ceased to attend Master Sniggius's school, was made to study her
Cicero once more with the almoner, who was now a French priest named De
Preaux, while Queen Mary herself heard her read French, and, though
always good-natured, was excruciated by her pronunciation.
Moreover, Mary was too admirable a needlewoman not to wish to make her
daughter the same; whereas Cicely's turn had always been for the
department of housewifery, and she could make a castle in pastry far
better than in tapestry; but where Queen Mary had a whole service of
cooks and pantlers of her own, this accomplishment was uncalled for,
and was in fact considered undignified. She had to sit still and learn
all the embroidery stitches and lace-making arts brought by Mary from
the Court of France, till her eyes grew weary, her heart faint, and her
young limbs ached for the freedom of Bridgefield Pleasaunce and
Her mother sometimes saw her weariness, and would try to enliven her by
setting her to dance, but here poor Cicely's untaught movements were
sure to incur reproof; and even if they had been far more satisfactory
to the beholders, what refreshment were they in comparison with
gathering cranberries in the park, or holding a basket for Ned in the
apple-tree? Mrs. Kennedy made no scruple of scolding her roundly for
fretting in a month over what the Queen had borne for full eighteen
"Ah!" said poor Cicely, "but she had always been a queen, and was used
to being mewed up close!"
And if this was the case at Wingfield, how much more was it so at
Tutbury, whither Mary was removed in January. The space was far
smaller, and the rooms were cold and damp; there was much less outlet,
the atmosphere was unwholesome, and the furniture insufficient. Mary
was in bed with rheumatism almost from the time of her arrival, but she
seemed thus to become the more vigilant over her daughter, and
distressed by her shortcomings. If the Queen did not take exercise,
the suite were not supposed to require any, and indeed it was never
desired by her elder ladies, but to the country maiden it was absolute
punishment to be thus shut up day after day. Neither Sir Ralf Sadler
nor his colleague, Mr. Somer, had brought a wife to share the charge,
so that there was none of the neutral ground afforded by intercourse
with the ladies of the Talbot family, and at first the only variety
Cicely ever had was the attendance at chapel on the other side of the
It was remarkable that Mary discouraged all proselytising towards the
Protestants of her train, and even forbore to make any open attempt on
her daughter's faith. "Cela viendra," she said to Marie de Courcelles.
"The sermons of M. le Pasteur will do more to convert her to our side
than a hundred controversial arguments of our excellent Abbe; and when
the good time comes, one High Mass will be enough to win her over."
"Alas! when shall we ever again assist at the Holy Sacrifice in all its
glory!" sighed the lady.
"Ah, my good Courcelles! of what have you not deprived yourself for me!
Sacrifice, ah! truly you share it! But for the child, it would give
needless offence and difficulty were she to embrace our holy faith at
present. She is simple and impetuous, and has not yet sufficiently
outgrown the rude straightforward breeding of the good housewife, Madam
Susan, not to rush into open confession of her faith, and then! oh the
fracas! The wicked wolves would have stolen a precious lamb from M. le
Pasteur's fold! Master Richard would be sent for! Our restraint would
be the closer! Moreover, even when the moment of freedom strikes, who
knows that to find her of their own religion may not win us favour with
So, from whatever motive, Cis remained unmolested in her religion, save
by the weariness of the controversial sermons, during which the young
lady contrived to abstract her mind pretty completely. If in good
spirits she would construct airy castles for her Archduke; if
dispirited, she yearned with a homesick feeling for Bridgefield and
Mrs. Talbot. There was something in the firm sober wisdom and steady
kindness of that good lady which inspired a sense of confidence, for
which no caresses nor brilliant auguries could compensate.
Weary and cramped she was to the point of having a feverish attack, and
on one slightly delirious night she fretted piteously after "mother,"
and shook off the Queen's hand, entreating that "mother, real mother,"
would come. Mary was much pained, and declared that if the child were
not better the next day she should have a messenger sent to summon Mrs.
Talbot. However, she was better in the morning; and the Queen, who had
been making strong representations of the unhealthiness and other
inconveniences of Tutbury, received a promise that she should change
her abode as soon as Chartley, a house belonging to the young Earl of
Essex, could be prepared for her.
The giving away large alms had always been one of her great
solaces--not that she was often permitted any personal contact with the
poor: only to sit at a window watching them as they flocked into the
court, to be relieved by her servants under supervision from some
officer of her warders, so as to hinder any surreptitious communication
from passing between them. Sometimes, however, the poor would accost
her or her suite as she rode out; and she had a great compassion for
them, deprived, as she said, of the alms of the religious houses, and
flogged or branded if hunger forced them into beggary. On a fine
spring day Sir Ralf Sadler invited the ladies out to a hawking party on
the banks of the Dove, with the little sparrow hawks, whose prey was
specially larks. Pity for the beautiful soaring songster, or for the
young ones that might be starved in their nests, if the parent birds
were killed, had not then been thought of. A gallop on the moors,
though they were strangely dull, gray, and stony, was always the best
remedy for the Queen's ailments; and the party got into the saddle
gaily, and joyously followed the chase, thinking only of the dexterity
and beauty of the flight of pursuer and pursued, instead of the deadly
terror and cruel death to which they condemned the created creature,
the very proverb for joyousness.
It was during the halt which followed the slaughter of one of the
larks, and the reclaiming of the hawk, that Cicely strayed a little
away from the rest of the party to gather some golden willow catkins
and sprays of white sloe thorn wherewith to adorn a beaupot that might
cheer the dull rooms at Tutbury.
She had jumped down from her pony for the purpose, and was culling the
branch, when from the copsewood that clothed the gorge of the river a
ragged woman, with a hood tied over her head, came forward with
outstretched hand asking for alms.
"Yon may have something from the Queen anon, Goody, when I can get back
to her," said Cis, not much liking the looks or the voice of the woman.
"And have you nothing to cross the poor woman's hand with, fair
mistress?" returned the beggar. "She brought you fair fortune once;
how know you but she can bring you more?"
And Cicely recognised the person who had haunted her at Sheffield,
Tideswell, and Buxton, and whom she had heard pronounced to be no woman
"I need no fortune of your bringing," she said proudly, and trying to
get nearer the rest of the party, heartily wishing she was on, not off,
her little rough pony.
"My young lady is proud," said her tormentor, fixing on her the little
pale eyes she so much disliked. "She is not one of the maidens who
would thank one who can make or mar her life, and cast spells that can
help her to a princely husband or leave her to a prison."
"Let go," said Cicely, as she saw a retaining hand laid on her pony's
bridle; "I will not be beset thus."
"And this is your gratitude to her who helped you to lie in a queen's
bosom; ay, and who could aid you to rise higher or fall lower?"
"I owe nothing to you," said Cicely, too angry to think of prudence.
"Let me go!"
There was a laugh, and not a woman's laugh. "You owe nothing, quoth my
mistress? Not to one who saw you, a drenched babe, brought in from the
wreck, and who gave the sign which has raised you to your present
By this time, however, the conversation had attracted notice, and
several riders were coming towards them.
There was an immediate change of voice from the threatening tone to the
beggar's whine; but the words were--"I must have my reward ere I speak
"What is this? A masterful beggar wife besetting Mistress Talbot,"
said Mr. Somer, who came first.
"I had naught to give her," said Cicely.
"She should have the lash for thus frightening you," said Somer.
"Yonder lady is too good to such vagabonds, and they come about us in
swarms. Stand back, woman, or it may be the worse for you. Let me
help you to your horse, Mistress Cicely."
Instead of obeying, the seeming woman, to gain time perhaps, began a
story of woe; and Mr. Somer, being anxious to remount the young lady,
did not immediately stop it, so that before Cis was in her saddle the
Queen had ridden up, with Sir Ralf Sadler a little behind her. There
were thus a few seconds free, in which the stranger sprang to the
Queen's bridle and said a few hasty words almost inaudibly, and as Cis
thought, in French; but they were answered aloud in English--"My good
woman, I know all that you can tell me, and more, of this young lady's
fortune. Here are such alms as are mine to give; but hold your peace,
and quit us now."
Sir Ralf Sadler and his son-in-law both looked suspicious at this
interview, and bade one of the grooms ride after the woman and see what
became of her, but the fellow soon lost right of her in the broken
ground by the river-side.
When the party reached home, there was an anxious consultation of the
inner circle of confidantes over Cicely's story. Neither she nor the
Queen had the least doubt that the stranger was Cuthbert Langston, who
had been employed as an agent of hers for many years past; his
insignificant stature and colourless features eminently fitting him for
it. No concealment was made now that he was the messenger with the
beads and bracelets, which were explained to refer to some ivory beads
which had been once placed among some spare purchased by the Queen, and
which Jean had recognised as part of a rosary belonging to poor Alison
Hepburn, the nurse who had carried the babe from Lochleven. This had
opened the way to the recovery of her daughter. Mary and Sir Andrew
Melville had always held him to be devotedly faithful, but there had
certainly been something of greed, and something of menace in his
language which excited anxiety. Cicely was sure that his expressions
conveyed that he really knew her royal birth, and meant to threaten her
with the consequences, but the few who had known it were absolutely
persuaded that this was impossible, and believed that he could only
surmise that she was of more importance than an archer's daughter.
He had told the Queen in French that he was in great need, and expected
a reward for his discretion respecting what he had brought her. And
when he perceived the danger of being overheard, he had changed it into
a pleading, "I did but tell the fair young lady that I could cast a
spell that would bring her some good fortune. Would her Grace hear it?"
"So," said Mary, "I could but answer him as I did, Sadler and Somer
being both nigh. I gave him my purse, with all there was therein. How
much was it, Andrew?"
"Five golden pieces, besides groats and testers, madam," replied Sir
"If he come again, he must have more, if it can be contrived without
suspicion," said the Queen. "I fear me he may become troublesome if he
guess somewhat, and have to be paid to hold his tongue."
"I dread worse than that," said Melville, apart to Jean Kennedy; "there
was a scunner in his een that I mislikit, as though her Grace had
offended him. And if the lust of the penny-fee hath possessed him,
'tis but who can bid the highest, to have him fast body and soul.
Those lads! those lads! I've seen a mony of them. They'll begin for
pure love of the Queen and of Holy Church, but ye see, 'tis lying and
falsehood and disguise that is needed, and one way or other they get so
in love with it, that they come at last to lie to us as well as to the
other side, and then none kens where to have them! Cuthbert has been
over to that weary Paris, and once a man goes there, he leaves his
truth and honour behind him, and ye kenna whether he be serving you, or
Queen Elizabeth, or the deil himsel'. I wish I could stop that loon's
thrapple, or else wot how much he kens anent our Lady Bride."
Next: The Love Token
Previous: A Tangle