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Scarcely had he gone than Mary ran to the window; she had need of air, and her gaze devoured in advance those wide horizons which she was about to cross anew; it seemed to her that once at liberty she would never shut herself up in a palace again, but would wander about the countryside continually: then, amid all these tremors of delight, from time to time she felt unexpectedly heavy at heart. She then turned round to Mary 长沙桑拿服务 Seyton, trying to fortify her strength with hers, and the young girl kept up her hopes, but rather from duty than from conviction.

But slow as they seemed to the queen, the hours yet passed: towards the afternoon some clouds floated across the blue sky; the queen remarked upon them joyfully to her companion; Mary Seyton congratulated her upon them, not on account of the imaginary omen that the queen sought in them, but because of the real importance that the weather should be cloudy, that darkness might aid them in their flight. While the two prisoners were


watching the billowy, moving vapours, the hour of dinner arrived; but it was half an hour of constraint and dissimulation, the more painful that, no doubt in return for the sort of goodwill shown him by the queen in the morning, William Douglas thought himself obliged, 长沙桑拿会所 in his turn, to accompany his duties with fitting compliments, which compelled the queen to take a more active part in the conversation than her preoccupation allowed her; but William Douglas did not seem in any way to observe this absence of mind, and all passed as at breakfast.

Directly he had gone the queen ran to the window: the few clouds which were chasing one another in the sky an hour before had thickened and spread, and—all the blue was blotted out, to give place to a hue dull and leaden as pewter. Mary Stuart’s presentiments were thus realised: as to the


little house in Kinross, which one could still make out in the dusk, it remained shut up, and seemed deserted.

Night fell: the light shone as usual; the queen signalled, it disappeared. Mary Stuart waited in vain; everything remained in darkness: the escape was for the same evening. The queen heard eight o’clock, nine o’clock, and ten o’clock strike successively. At ten o’clock the sentinels were relieved; Mary Stuart heard the patrols pass beneath her windows, the steps of the watch recede: then all returned to silence. Half an hour passed away thus; suddenly the owl’s cry resounded thrice, the queen recognised George Douglas’s signal: the supreme moment had come.

In these circumstances the queen found all her strength revive: she signed to Mary Seyton to take away the bar and to fix the rope ladder, while, putting out


the lamp, she felt her way into the bedroom to seek the casket which contained her few remaining jewels. When she came back, George Douglas was already in the room.

“All goes well, madam,” said he. “Your friends await you on the other side of the lake, Thomas Warden watches at the postern, and God has sent us a dark night.”

The queen, without replying, gave him her hand. George bent his knee and carried this hand to his lips; but on touching it, he felt it cold and trembling.

“Madam,” said he, “in Heaven’s name summon all your courage, and do not let yourself be downcast at such a moment.”

“Our Lady-of-Good-Help,” murmured Seyton, “come to our aid!”

“Summon to you the spirit of the kings your ancestors,” responded George, “for at this moment it is not the resignation of a Christian that you require, but the strength and resolution of a queen”

“Oh, Douglas! Douglas,” cried Mary mournfully, “a fortune-teller predicted to me that I should die in prison and by a violent death: has not the hour of the prediction arrived?”

“Perhaps,” George said, “but it is better to die 长沙桑拿全套 as a queen than to live in this ancient castle calumniated and a prisoner.”

“You are right, George,” the queen answered; “but for a woman the first step is everything: forgive me”. Then, after a moment’s pause, “Come,” said she; “I am ready.”

George immediately went to the window, secured the ladder again and more firmly, then getting up on to the sill and holding to the bars with one hand, he stretched out the other to the queen, who, as resolute as she had been timid a moment before, mounted on a stool, and had already set one foot on the window-ledge, when suddenly the cry, “Who goes there?” rang out at the foot of the tower. The queen sprang quickly back, partly instinctively and partly pushed by George, who, on the contrary, leaned out of the window to see whence came this cry, which, twice again renewed, remained 长沙桑拿论坛 twice unanswered, and was immediately followed by a report and the flash of a firearm: at the same moment the sentinel on duty on the tower blew his bugle, another set going the alarm bell, and the cries, “To arms, to arms!” and “Treason, treason!” resounded throughout the castle.

“Yes, yes, treason, treason!” cried George Douglas, leaping down into the room. “Yes, the infamous Warden has betrayed us!” Then, advancing to Mary, cold and motionless as a statue, “Courage, madam,” said he, “courage! Whatever happens, a friend yet remains for you in the castle; it is Little Douglas.”

Scarcely had he finished speaking when the door of the queen’s apartment opened, and William Douglas and Lady Lochleven, preceded by servants carrying torches and armed soldiers, appeared on the threshold: the room was immediately filled with people 长沙桑拿场子推荐 and light.

“Mother,” said William Douglas, pointing to his brother standing before Mary Stuart and protecting her with his body, “do you believe me now? Look!”

The old lady was for a moment speechless; then finding a word at last, and taking a step forward—

“Speak, George Douglas,” cried she, “speak, and clear yourself at once of the charge which weighs on your honour; say but these words, ‘A Douglas was never faithless to his trust,’ and I believe you”.

“Yes, mother,” answered William, “a Douglas!… but he—he is not a Douglas.”

“May God grant my old age the strength needed to bear on the part of one of my sons such a misfortune, and on the part of the other such an injury!” exclaimed Lady Lochleven. “O woman born under a fatal star,” she went on, addressing the queen, “when will you cease to be, in the Devil’s 长沙桑拿休闲 hands, an instrument of perdition and death to all who approach you? O ancient house of Lochleven, cursed be the hour when this enchantress crossed thy threshold!”

“Do not say that, mother, do not say that,” cried George; “blessed be, on the contrary, the moment which proves that, if there are Douglases who no longer remember what they owe to their sovereigns, there are others who have never forgotten it.”