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
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 had 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, and 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, swagger
ing, 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 detestable vices.’
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 smallpox. 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
BOTH WELL 311
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 comfort
able 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, sleep
ing 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
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 re
membered 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 goodnight,
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 gun-
312 SCOTLAND’S STORY
powder, and that the plot and the guilt were Bothwell’s
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 was dead.
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 knock
ing 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. Bothwell
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 out the names
of the guilty ones. Yet Mary would neither listen nor
One day the Queen rode to Stirling to visit her little
boy. On her way back, when she was very near Edin
burgh, 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.’ Right
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
314 SCOTLAND’S STORY
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 dark
ness. 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 Dunbar.
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 burn
ing 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 Both-
well 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, Both-
well 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, O 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.
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