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“ You are the cause of it,” he said ; "it comes only from you, who will not pardon my faults when I am sorry for them. I have done wrong, I confess it; but others besides me have done wrong, and you have forgiven them, and I am but young. You have forgiven me often, you may say; but may not a man of my age, for want of counsel, of which I am very destitute, fall twice or thrice, and yet repent and learn from experience? Whatever I have done wrong, forgive me; I will do so no more. Take me back to you; let me be your husband again, or may I never rise from this bed. Say that it shall be so," he went on with wild eagerness;
“ God knows I am punished for making my God of you — for having no thought but of you.”
When she attempted to leave the room he implored her to stay with him. He had been told, he said, that she had brought a litter with her ; did she mean to take him away?
She said she thought the air of Craigmillar would do him good; and, as he could not sit on horseback, she had contrived a means by which he could be carried.
The name of Craigmillar had an ominous sound. The words were kind, but there was perhaps some odd glitter of the eyes not wholly satisfactory.
He answered that if she would promise him on her honor to live with him as his wife, and not to leave him any more, he would go with her to the world's end, and care for nothing; if not, he would stay where he was.
It was for that purpose, she said, tenderly, that she had come to Glasgow; the separation had injured both of them, and it was time that it should end : "and so she granted his desire, and promised it should be as he had spoken, and thereupon gave him her hand and faith of her body that she would love him and use him as her husband ;” she would wait only till his health was restored ; he should use cold baths at Craigmillar, and then all should be well.
She had gained her point; he would go with her, and that was all she wanted. A slight cloud rose between them before she left the
He was impatient at her going, and complained that she would not stay with him: she on her part said that he must keep her promise secret; the Lords would be suspicious of their agreement, and must not know of it.
He did not like the mention of the Lords; the Lords, he said, had
no right to interfere; he would never excite the Lords against her, and she, he trusted, would not again make a party against him.
She said that their past disagreements had been no fault of hers. He, and he alone, was to blame for all that had gone wrong.
With these words she left him. Mary Stuart was an admirable actress; rarely, perhaps, on the world's stage, has there been a more skilful player. But the game was a difficult one; she had still some natural compunction, and the performance was not quite perfect.
Darnley, perplexed between hope and fear, affection and misgiving, sent for Crawford. He related the conversation which had passed, so far as he could recollect it, word for word, and asked him what he thought.
Crawford, unblinded by passion, answered at once “ that he liked it not ;” if the Queen wished to have him living with her, why did she not take him to Holyrood ? Craigmillar — a remote and lonely country house — was no proper place for him ; if he went with her, he would go rather as her prisoner than her husband.
Darnley answered that he thought little less himself; he had but her promise to trust to, and he feared what she might mean; he had resolved to go, however; "he would trust himself in her hands tough she should cut his throat.”
And Mary, what was her occupation after parting thus from her hısband ? Late into the night she sat writing an account of that day's business to her lover, “with whom,” as she said, “she had left he heart.” She told him of her meeting with Crawford, and of her coning to the King; she related, with but slight verbal variations, Danley's passionate appeal to her, as Darnley himself had told it to lis friend.
The next morning the Queen added a few closing words:
“f in the mean time I hear nothing to the contrary, according to my ommission, I will bring the man to Craigmillar on Monday,– where he will be all Wednesday, — and I will go to Edinburgh to drawblood of me. Provide for all things and discourse upon it first with yourself.”
St. Mary's-in-the-Fields, called commonly Kirk-a-Field, was a roofless and ruined church, standing just inside the old town walls of Ednburgh, at the north-western corner of the present College. Adjoinng it there stood a quadrangular building which had at one time belonged to the Dominican monks. The north front was
built along the edge of the slope which descends to the Cowgate ; the south side contained a low range of unoccupied rooms which had been "priests' chambers ;” the east consisted of offices and servants' rooms; the principal apartments in the dwelling, into which the place had been converted, were in the western wing, which completed the square. Under the windows there was a narrow strip of grass-plat dividing the house from the town wall; and outside the wall were gardens into which there was an opening through the cellars by an underground passage. The principal gateway faced north, and direct into the quadrangle.
Here it was that Paris found Bothwell with Sir James Balfour. He delivered his letter and gave his message. The Earl wrote a few words in reply. “Commend me to the Queen,” he said as he gave the note, “ and tell her that all will go well. Say that Balfour and I have not slept all night, that everything is arranged, and that the King's lodgings are ready for him. I have sent her a diamond. You may say I would send my heart too were it in my power — but she has it already."
A few hours later she was on the road with her victim. He could be moved but slowly. She was obliged to rest with him two days at Linlithgow; and it was not till the 30th that she was able to bring him to Edinburgh. As yet he knew nothing of the change of his destination, and supposed that he was going on to Craigmilar. Bothwell, however, met the cavalcade outside the gates, and tok charge of it. No attention was paid either to the exclamations of the attendants, or the remonstrances of Darnley himself; he was informed that the Kirk-a-Field house was most convenient for him, and to Kirk-a-Field he was conducted.
“The lodgings” prepared for him were in the west wing, which was divided from the rest of the house by a large door at the foot of the staircase. A passage ran along the ground floor, from which a room opened which had been fitted up for the Queen. At the head of the stairs a similar passage led first to the King's room, – which was immediately over that of the Queen, — and farther on to closets and rooms for the servants.
Here it was that Darnley was established during the last hours which he was to know on earth. The keys of the doors were given ostentatiously to his groom of the chamber, Thomas Nelson; the Earl of Bothwell being already in possession of duplicates. The door from the cellar into the garden had no lock, but the servants
were told that it could be secured with bolts from within. The rooms themselves had been comfortably furnished, and a handsome bed had been set up for the King with new hangings of black velvet. The Queen, however, seemed to think that they would be injured by 'the splashing from Darnley's bath, and desired that they might be changed. Being a person of ready expedients, too, she suggested that the door at the bottom of the staircase was not required for protection. She had it taken down and turned into a cover for the bath-vat; “so that there was nothing left to stop the passage into the said chamber but only the portal door."
The Queen meanwhile spent her days at her husband's side, watching over his convalescence with seemingly anxious affection, and returning only to sleep at Holyrood.
After a few days her apartment at Kirk-a-Field was made habitable ; a bed was set up there in which she could sleep, and particular directions were given as to the part of the room where it was to stand. Paris through some mistake misplaced it.
“Fool that you are,” the Queen said to him when she saw it, “the bed is not to stand there; move it yonder to the other side." She perhaps meant nothing, but the words afterwards seemed ominously significant. A powder-barrel was to be lighted in that room to blow the house and every one in it into the air. They had placed the bed on the spot where the powder was to stand, immediately below the bed of the King.
Whatever she meant, she contrived when it was moved to pass two nights there. The object was, to make it appear as if in whatever was to follow her own life had been aimed at as well as her husband's. Wednesday, the 5th, she slept there, and Friday, the 7th, and then her penance was almost over, for on Saturday the thing was to have been done.
So at last came Sunday, eleven months exactly from the day of Rizzio's murder; and Mary Stuart's words that she never would rest till that dark business was revenged were about to be fulfilled.
It was a high day at the Court ; Sebastian, one of the musicians, was married in the afternoon to Margaret Cawood, Mary Stuart's favorite waiting-woman. When the service was over, the Queen took an early supper with Lady Argyle, and afterwards, accompanied by Cassilis, Huntley, and the Earl of Argyle himself, she went as
usual to spend the evening with her husband, and professed to intend to stay the night with him. The hours passed on. She was more than commonly tender; and Darnley, absorbed in her caresses, paid no attention to sounds in the room below him, which, had he heard them, might have disturbed his enjoyment.
There was a pause, - the length of a Paternoster, - when the Queen suddenly recollected that there was a masque and a dance at the Palace on the occasion of the marriage, and that she had promised to be present. She rose, and, with many regrets that she could not stay as she intended, kissed her husband, put a ring on his finger, wished him good night, and went. The lords followed her. As she left the room, she said, as if by accident, “ It was just this time last year that Rizzio was slain.”
In a few moments the gay train was gone. The Queen walked back to the glittering halls in Holyrood; Darnley was left alone with his page, Taylor, who slept in his room, and his two servants, Nelson and Edward Seymour. Below in the darkness, Bothwell's two followers shivered beside the powder heap, and listened with hushed breath till all was still.
The King, though it was late, was in no mood for sleep, and Mary's last words sounded awfully in his ears.
“She was very kind,” he said to Nelson, “but why did she speak of Davie's slaughter?”
Just then Paris came back to fetch a fur wrapper which the Queen had left, and which she thought too pretty to be spoiled.
“What will she do ?” Darnley said again when he was gone; “it is very lonely."
The shadow of death was creeping over him; he was no longer the random boy who two years before had come to Scotland filled with idle dreams of vain ambition. Sorrow, suffering, disease, and fear had done their work. He was said to have opened his Prayerbook, and to have read over the 55th Psalm, which, by a strange coincidence, was in the English service for the day that was dawning.
If his servant's tale was true, these are the last words that passed the lips of Mary Stuart's husband :
“ Hear my prayer, O Lord, and hide not thyself from my petition.
“My heart is disquieted within me, and the fear of death is fallen upon me.