MARY—HOW THE QUEEN ESCAPED, AND HOW SHE
WAS MADE PRISONER AGAIN
The Queen was now a prisoner, and to keep her quite
safe, the lords took her away from Edinburgh, and put her
in a lonely castle in the middle of a loch called Loch Leven.
Then they wrote out two papers, which they made her
sign. One paper said that Mary gave up her crown to
her little son James ; the other, that the Earl of Murray
should be Regent until James was old enough to reign.
Mary did not want to sign these papers. But she was
helpless ; she seemed to have no friends left. Stern,
grave men stood round her, and it is even said that one,
more fierce than the others, seized her arm so roughly
with his iron-gloved hand that she cried out in pain. So
Mary signed away her crown, which had given her, she
said, ‘ Long, great and intolerable pains,’ and which left
her, ‘ vexed in spirit, body, and senses.’
A few days later, the baby King was crowned. He
was scarcely more than a year old. The Earl of Mar held
him in his arms as the crown was placed upon his little
head. Two other lords, laying their hands upon the
crown, promised in his name to fear God and to keep the
laws. He was then made to touch the sceptre and the
sword with his tiny fingers. John Knox thundered out a
sermon, and after it was all over, the little King was
lifted from the throne and carried back to his nurse.
HOW THE QUEEN ESCAPED 317
There was great rejoicing over the coronation of the
new King. Bonfires blazed, cannon boomed, and people
shouted. In her lonely prison, Mary heard the sounds.
‘ What is it ?’ she asked.
‘ The people rejoice for the crowning of the King,’ was
Then Mary laid her head upon the table and wept.
Her reign was ended.
When Mary signed away her crown, she was only
twenty-five. Although she had become Queen of Scot
land when she was seven days old, she had really ruled
but six years, and into the last two of these six years had
been crowded all the passion and sorrow of a lifetime.
But she was still young and still beautiful, and, if the
rebel lords had triumphed for the time, there were still
men ready to love her and to fight for her.
Soon, plots were formed to free the Queen. Secret
messages and letters found their way within the prison
walls. At last all was arranged. A washerwoman had
brought some clean clothes to the castle. Mary changed
dresses with this woman, and taking a bundle of clothes
in her arms, and drawing her hood well over her face, she
passed the guards safely and stepped into the boat The
boat started to recross the loch again to the shore. Mary
sat very still and quiet, with her head bent Perhaps she
sat too still, for one of the boatmen thought something
was strange. ‘ Let us see what manner of dame this is,’
he said, and stooping forward, he tried to peer under her
hood. Queen Mary quickly put up her hands to cover
her face. Alas, they were no workwoman‘s hands, they
were long, and slender, and white. She was discovered,
and, in spite of all her tears and entreaties, the boatmen
turned and rowed her back to the castle again.
But although they had failed once, Marys friends
318 SCOTLAND’S STORY
did not despair. At last, with the help of a boy of
fourteen, called Little Douglas, who lived in the castle,
The keys of the gate of the castle were always placed
on the table, beside the Governor, when he was at supper.
But one night, while Little Douglas waited upon the
Governor, he dropped a napkin, and in picking it up he
also picked up the keys. The Governor did not notice
that they were gone, and as soon as he dared, Little
Douglas left the supper room and hastened to the Queen.
A few minutes later, with beating hearts they were
hurrying down the silent passages. No one noticed them ;
no one questioned them. The gates were safely passed
and locked behind them. Mary’s friends on shore were
watching, and they saw three figures glide quickly from
the outer gate to the water’s edge. It was Mary, with her
little frightened maid and Douglas.
They sprang into a boat which lay ready, and Douglas,
bending to the oars, rowed as fast as he could away from
the dark castle. Half way across, he paused, and dropped
the keys into the water. They were safe for a time from
pursuit. So eager was Mary to reach the shore, that she
took an oar and helped to row. At last, breathless with
excitement and delight, she sprang to land. In a moment
her friends were round her. A horse was ready, and
leaping into the saddle she sped away.
Oh ! the wild, sweet ride, through the cool night air
She was free again I A Queen again ! At every bound,
her horse carried her further and further away from prison.
At every bound her heart grew lighter, her hopes rose
higher. With only a few hours rest she rode half across
Scotland, to Hamilton, near Glasgow.
The news of the Queen‘s escape flew like wildfire
through the land. From far and near, those who loved
HOW THE QUEEN ESCAPED 319
her gathered to her, till she was at the head of an army
of six thousand men.
The Regent Murray was in Glasgow, not many miles
away, and he too gathered his army and marched against
his sister. At Langside, a village near Glasgow, a battle
took place. It lasted only three-quarters of an hour, and
ended in the total defeat of Mary’s troops.
On a little hill, about half a mile from the battle-field,
the Queen stood to watch. She was full of hope and
gladness. Eagerly she watched the fight sway this way
and that. But when she saw her troops beaten and
scattered, when she saw them at last put to utter flight,
she lost all hope. Turning from the field, she too fled,
never pausing until she was sixty miles away.
Mary knew not where to go. She feared to remain in
Scotland lest she should again be put in prison. France,
where she had been so happy, was far off. England lay
nearer. Surely, she thought, Elizabeth, her cousin, would
be kind to an unhappy sister queen. So to England
Alas poor Mary ! In her need and trouble, she had
forgotten the years of hate and distrust that lay between
herself and Elizabeth.
Elizabeth could not forgive Mary for having claimed
the throne of England. She could not forgive her for
being more young and beautiful than herself. She would
not receive, and would not help her cousin. Mary found
that she had only escaped from a Scottish prison to be
shut up in an English one.
Elizabeth had to give a reason for putting Mary in
prison. She said it was because she had helped to murder
her husband Darnley. But, whether Mary had killed
her husband or not, Elizabeth had no right to imprison
her, for Mary was not an English subject, and the English
Queen had no right to interfere between the Scottish
Queen and her people.
There was a trial, held first at York and then at
Westminster, to which Mary’s accusers came, but to
which Mary was not allowed to go to defend herself.
Among those who came to accuse her was her half-
brother, the Regent Murray.
There was a great deal of talking, but nothing was
proved one way or another. And after a long time,
Elizabeth said that although she did not doubt the truth
and honour of the Regent, he had proved nothing against
the Queen, and she had made up her mind not to interfere
with Scottish matters. She said this, but she kept Mary
in prison, while Murray was allowed to go back to Scot
land with plenty of good English gold in his pockets.
For nineteen years beautiful Queen Mary was kept
prisoner in England. From castle to castle she was
moved about, always strongly and carefully guarded.
She had still many friends, and again and again they
plotted to free her, but they never succeeded.
‘ Now blooms the lily by the bank,
The primrose down the brae ;
The hawthorn ’s budding in the glen,
And milk-white is the slae,
The meanest hind in fair Scotland
May rove their sweets amang ;
But I, the Queen of a’ Scotland,
Maun lie in prison strang.
‘ I was the Queen o’ bonny France,
Where happy I hae been,
Fu’ lightly raise I in the morn,
As blithe lay down at e’en :
And I ’m the sovereign of Scotland,
And mony a traitor there ;
Yet here I lie in foreign bands
And never-ending care.’
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