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Mary Stuart

Chapter 7
A week after the events we have related, as nine o'clock in the evening had just
sounded from the castle bell, and the queen and Mary Seyton were sitting at a
table where they were working at their tapestry, a stone thrown from the
courtyard passed through the window bars, broke a pane of glass, and fell into
the room. The queen's first idea was to believe it accidental or an insult; but Mary
Seyton, turning round, noticed that the stone was wrapped up in a paper: she
immediately picked it up. The paper was a letter from George Douglas,
conceived in these terms:
"You have commanded me to live, madam: I have obeyed, and your Majesty has
been able to tell, from the Kinross light, that your servants continue to watch over
you. However, not to raise suspicion, the soldiers collected for that fatal night
dispersed at dawn, and will not gather again till a fresh attempt makes their
presence necessary. But, alas! to renew this attempt now, when your Majesty's
gaolers are on their guard, would be your ruin. Let them take every precaution,
then, madam; let them sleep in security, while we, we, in our devotion, shall go
on watching.
"Patience and courage!"
"Brave and loyal heart!" cried Mary, "more constantly devoted to misfortune than
others are to prosperity! Yes, I shall have patience and courage, and so long as
that light shines I shall still believe in liberty."
This letter restored to the queen all her former courage: she had means of
communication with George through Little Douglas; for no doubt it was he who
had thrown that stone. She hastened, in her turn, to write a letter to George, in
which she both charged him to express her gratitude to all the lords who had
signed the protestation; and begged them, in the name of the fidelity they had
sworn to her, not to cool in their devotion, promising them, for her part, to await
the result with that patience and courage they asked of her.
The queen was not mistaken: next day, as she was at her window, Little Douglas
came to play at the foot of the tower, and, without raising his head, stopped just
beneath her to dig a trap to catch birds. The queen looked to see if she were
observed, and assured that that part of the courtyard was deserted. she let fail
the stone wrapped in her letter: at first she feared to have made a serious error;
for Little Douglas did not even turn at the noise, and it was only after a moment,
during which the prisoner's heart was torn with frightful anxiety, that indifferently,
and as if he were looking for something else, the child laid his hand on the stone,
and without hurrying, without raising his head, without indeed giving any sign of
intelligence to her who had thrown it, he put the letter in his pocket, finishing the
work he had begun with the greatest calm, and showing the queen, by this
coolness beyond his years, what reliance she could place in him.
>From that moment the queen regained fresh hope; but days, weeks, months
passed without bringing any change in her situation: winter came; the prisoner
saw snow spread over the plains and mountains, and the lake afforded her, if she
had only been able to pass the door, a firm road to gain the other bank; but no