Tutbury





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

intimidation.



"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

home-bred lassie."



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

blood.



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

Sheffield Park.



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

years.



"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

court.



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

the English?"



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

at all.



"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

honours? Beware!"



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

out."



"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

Andrew.



"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."





The Warrant Unquiet facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feedback