Mary Stuart HTML version

Chapter 5
At the time appointed the queen was ready: she had suffered so much at
Edinburgh that she left it without any regret. Besides, whether to spare her the
humiliations of the day before, or to conceal her departure from any partisans
who might remain to her, a litter had been made ready. Mary got into it without
any resistance, and after two hours' journey she reached Duddington; there a
little vessel was waiting for her, which set sail directly she was on board, and
next day at dawn she disembarked on the other side of the Firth of Forth in the
county of Fife.
Mary halted at Rosythe Castle only just long enough to breakfast, and
immediately recommenced her journey; for Lord Lindsay had declared that he
wished to reach his destination that same evening. Indeed, as the sun was
setting, Mary perceived gilded with his last rays the high towers of Lochleven
Castle, situated on an islet in the midst of the lake of the same name.
No doubt the royal prisoner was already expected at Lochleven Castle, for, on
reaching the lake side, Lord Lindsay's equerry unfurled his banner, which till then
had remained in its case, and waved it from right to left, while his master blew a
little hunting bugle which he wore hanging from his neck. A boat immediately put
off from the island and came towards the arrivals, set in motion by four vigorous
oarsmen, who had soon propelled it across the space which separated it from the
bank. Mary silently got into it, and sat down at the stern, while Lord Lindsay and
his equerry stood up before her; and as her guide did not seem any more
inclined to speak than she was herself to respond, she had plenty of time to
examine her future dwelling.
The castle, or rather the fortress of Lochleven, already somewhat gloomy in its
situation and architecture, borrowed fresh mournfulness still from the hour at
which it appeared to the queen's gaze. It was, so far as she could judge amid the
mists rising from the lake, one of those massive structures of the twelfth century
which seem, so fast shut up are they, the stone armour of a giant. As she drew
near, Mary began to make out the contours of two great round towers, which
flanked the corners and gave it the severe character of a state prison. A clump of
ancient trees enclosed by a high wall, or rather by a rampart, rose at its north
front, and seemed vegetation in stone, and completed the general effect of this
gloomy abode, while, on the contrary, the eye wandering from it and passing
from islands to islands, lost itself in the west, in the north, and in the south, in the
vast plain of Kinross, or stopped southwards at the jagged summits of Ben
Lomond, whose farthest slopes died down on the shores of the lake.
Three persons awaited Mary at the castle door: Lady Douglas, William Douglas
her son, and a child of twelve who was called Little Douglas, and who was
neither a son nor a brother of the inhabitants of the castle, but merely a distant
relative. As one can imagine, there were few compliments between Mary and her
hosts; and the queen, conducted to her apartment, which was on the first floor,
and of which the windows overlooked the lake, was soon left with Mary Seyton,
the only one of the four Marys who had been allowed to accompany her.