Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Unknown to history; a story of the captivity of Mary of Scotland (Volume 2) online

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Poor scape-goat of crimes, where,— her part what it may,

So tortured, so hunted to die,

Foul age of deceit and of hate,— on her head

Least stains of gore-guiltiness lie ;

To the hearts of the just her blood from the dust

Not in vain for mercy will cry.

Poor scape-goat of nations and faiths in their strife

So cruel,— and thou so fair !

Poor girl !— so, best, in her misery named,—

Discrown'd of two kingdoms, and bare ;

Not first nor last on this one was cast

The burden that others should share.

Visions of England, by F. T. Palgrave.









Printed by R. & R. Clark, Edinburgh.




The Love Token 1

A Lioness at Bay 12

Paul's Walk 24

In the Web 36

The Castle Well 46

Hunting down the Deer 53




The Seakch 64

Tete-a-Tete 79

Evidence ......•• 93

Westminster Hall 101

In the Tower HO

Fotheringhay 126


Before the Commissioners 140

A Venture 153


My Lady's Remorse 162



Mastee Talbot and his Charge . . . .176



The Fetterlock Court 186

The Sentence 195

Her Royal Highness 211

The Supplication 222

The Warrant 236

On the Humber 250

Ten Years after 271




"Yonder woman came to tell this young lady's
fortune," said Sir Ealf, a few days later. "Did she
guess what I, an old man, have to bode for her !" and
he smiled at the Queen. " Here is a token I was
entreated by a young gentleman to deliver to this
young lady, with his humble suit that he may pay his
devoirs to her to-morrow, your Grace permitting."

" I knew not," said Mary, " that my women had
license to receive visitors."

" Assuredly not, as a rule, but this young gentle-
man, Mr. Babington of Dethick, has my Lord and
Lady of Shrewsbury's special commendation."

" I knew the young man," said Mary, with perfectly
acted heedlessness. " He was my Lady Shrewsbury's
page in his boyhood. I should have no objection to
receive him."

" That, madam, may not be," returned Sadler. " I
am sorry to say it is contrary to the orders of the
council, but if Mr. and Mrs. Curll, and the fair
Mistress Cicely, will do me the honour to dine with
me to-morrow in the hall, we may bring about the
auspicious meeting my Lady desires."

Cicely's first impulse had been to pout and say she

vol. il b



wanted none of Mr. Babington's tokens, nor his com-
pany ; but her mother's eye held her back, and besides
any sort of change of scene, or any new face, could not
but be deKghtful, so there was a certain leap of the
young heart when the invitation was accepted for her ;
and she let Sir Ealf put the token into her hand, and
a choice one it was. Everybody pressed to look at it,
while she stood blushing, coy and unwilling to display
the small egg-shaped watch of the kind recently in-
vented at Nuremberg. Sir Ealf observed that the
young lady showed a comely shamefast maidenliness,
and therewith bowed himself out of the room.

Cicely laughed with impatient scorn. " Well
spoken, reverend seignior," she said, as she found
herself alone with the Queen. " I wish my Lady
Countess would leave me alone. I am none of hers."

" Nay, mademoiselle, be not thus disdainful," said
the Queen, in a gay tone of banter ; " give me here
this poor token that thou dost so despise, when many
a maiden would be distraught with delight and grati-
tude. Let me see it, I say."

And as Cicely, restraining with difficulty an im-
patient, uncourtly gesture, placed the watch in her hand,
her delicate deft fingers opened the case, disregarding
both the face and the place for inserting the key ; but
dealing with a spring, which revealed that the case
was double, and that between the two thin plates of
silver which formed it, was inserted a tiny piece of
the thinnest paper, written from corner to corner with
the smallest characters in cipher. Mary laughed
joyously and triumphantly as she held it up. " There,
mignonne ! AVhat sayest thou to thy token now ?
This is the first secret news I have had from the
outer world since we came to this weary Tutbury


And oh ! the exquisite jest that my Lady and Sir
Ealf Sadler should be the bearers ! I always knew
some good would come of that suitor of thine ! Thou
must not flout him, my fair lady, nor scowl at him so
with thy beetle brows."

" It seems but hard to lure him on with false
hopes," said Cicely, gravely.

" Hoots, lassie," as Dame Jean would say, " 'tis but
joy and delight to men to be thus tickled. 'Tis the
greatest kindness we can do them thus to amuse
them," said Mary, drawing up her head with the
conscious fascination of the serpent of old Nile, and
toying the while with the ciphered letter, in eagerness,
and yet dread, of what it might contain.

Such things were not easy to make out, even to
those who had the key, and Mary, unwilling to trust
it out of her own hands, leant over it, spelling it out
for many minutes, but at last broke forth into a clear
ringing burst of girlish laughter and clasped her hands
together, " Mignonne, mignonne, it is too rare a jest to
hold back. Deem not that your Highness stands first
here ! Oh no ! 'Tis a letter from Bernardo de Mendoza
with a proposition for whose hand thinkest thou ? For
this poor old captive hand ! For mine, maiden. Ay,
and from whom ? From his Excellency, the Prince of
Parma, Lieutenant of the Netherlands. Anon will he be
here with 30,000 picked men and the Spanish fleet;
and then I shall ride once again at the head of my brave
men, hear trumpets bray, and see banners fly ! We
will begin to work our banner at once, child, and let
Sir Ealf think it is a bed-quilt for her sacred Majesty,
Elizabeth. Thou look'st dismayed, little maiden."

"Spanish ships and men, madam, ah ! and how would
it be with my father — Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, I mean ?"


"Not a hair of their heads shall be touched, child.
We will send down a chosen troop to protect them,
with Babington at its head if thou wilt. But,"
added the Queen, recollecting herself, and perceiving
that she had startled and even shocked her daughter,
"it is not to be to-morrow, nor for many a weary
month. All that is here demanded is whether, all
being well, he might look for my hand as his guerdon.
Shall I propose thine instead ?"

" madam, he is an old man and full of gout !"

" Well ! we will not pull caps for him just yet.
And see, thou must be secret as the grave, child, or
thou v/ilt ruin thy mother. I ought not to have told
thee, but the surprise was too much for me, and thou
canst keep a secret. Leave me now, child, and send
me Monsieur ISTau."

The next time any converse was held between
mother and daughter. Queen Mary said, " Will it grieve
thee much, my lassie, to return this bauble, on the
plea of thy duty to the good couple at Bridgefield?"

After all Cicely had become so fond of the curious
and ingenious egg that she was rather sorry to part
with it, and there was a little dismal resignation in her
answer, " I will do your bidding, madam."

" Thou shalt have a better. I will write to
Chateauneuf for the choicest that Paris can furnish,"
said Mary, " but seest thou, none other mode is so safe
for conveying an answer to this suitor of mine ! Nay,
little one, do not fear. He is not at hand, and if he
be so gout-ridden and stern as I have heard, we will
find some way to content him and make him do the
service without giving thee a stepfather, even though
he be grandson to an emperor."

There was something perplexing and distressing to


Cis in this sudden mood of exultation at such a suitor.
However, Parma's proposal might mean liberty and a
recovered throne, and who could wonder at the joy
that even the faintest gleam of light afforded to one
whose captivity had lasted longer than Cicely's young
life ? — and then once more there was an alternation of
feeling at the last moment, when Cicely, dressed in
her best, came to receive instructions.

" I ken not, I ken not," said Mary, speaking the
Scottish tongue, to which she recurred in her moments
of deepest feeling, " I ought not to let it go. I ought
to tell the noble Prince to have naught to do with a
being like me. 'Tis not only the jettatura wherewith
the Queen Mother used to reproach me. Men need
but bear me good will, and misery overtakes them.
Death is the best that befalls them ! The gentle
husband of my girlhood — then the frantic Chastelar,
my poor, poor good Davie, Darnley, Bothwell, Geordie
Douglas, young Willie, and again Norfolk, and the
noble and knightly Don John ! One spark of love
and devotion to the wretched Mary, and all is over
with them ! Give me back that paper, child, and
warn Babington against ever dreaming of aid to a
wretch like me. I will perish alone ! It is enough i
I will drag down no more generous spirits in the
whirlpool around me."

" Madam ! madam !" exclaimed De Preaux the
almoner, who was standing, "this is not like your
noble self. Have you endured so much to be faint-
hearted when the end is near, and you are made a
smooth and polished instrument, welded in the fire, for
the triumph of the Church over her enemies?"

"Ah, Father!" said the Queen, "how should not
my heart fail me when I think of the many high


spirits who have fallen for my sake ? Ay, and when
I look out on yonder peaceful vales and happy home-
steads, and think of them ravaged by those furious
Spaniards and Italians, whom my brother of Anjou
himself called very fiends ! "

" Fiends are the tools of Divine wrath," returned
Preaux. " Look at the profaned sanctuaries and out-
raged convents on which these proud English have
waxen fat, and say whether a heavy retribution be not
due to them."

" Ah, father ! I may be weak, but I never loved
persecution. King Francis and I were dragged to
behold the executions at Amboise. That was enough
for us. His gentle spirit never recovered it, and I — I
see their contorted visages and forms still in my
restless nights ; and if the Spanish dogs should deal
with England as with Haarlem or Antwerp, and all
through me ! — Oh ! I should be happier dying within
these walls !"

"Nay, madam, as Queen you would have the reins
in your own hand : you could exercise what wholesome
severity or well -tempered leniency you chose," urged
the almoner ; "it were ill requiting the favour of
the saints who have opened this door to you at last
to turn aside now in terror at the phantasy that long
weariness of spirit hath conjured up before you."

So Mary rallied herself, and in five minutes more
was as eager in giving her directions to Cicely and to
the Curlls as though her heart had not recently failed

Cis was to go forth with her chaperons, not by any
means enjoying the message to Babington, and yet
unable to help being very glad to escape for ever so
short a time from the dull prison apartments. There


might be no great faitli in her powers of diplomacy,
but as it was probable that Babington would have
more opportunity of conversing with her than with
the Curlls, she was charged to attend heedfully to
whatever he might say.

Sir Ealf s son-in-law, Mr. Somer, was sent to escort
the trio to the hall at the hour of noon ; and there,
pacing the ample chamber, while the board at the
upper end was being laid, were Sir Ealf Sadler and
his guest Mr. Babington. Antony was dressed in
green velvet slashed with primrose satin, setting off his
good mien to the greatest advantage, and he came up
with suppressed but rapturous eagerness, bowing low
to Mrs. Curll and the secretary, but falhng on his knee
to kiss the hand of the dark-browed girl. Her recent
courtly training made her much less rustically
awkward than she would have been a few months
before, but she was extremely stiff, and held her head
as though her ruff were buckram, as she began her
lesson. " Sir, I am greatly beholden to you for this
token, but if it be not sent with the knowledge and
consent of my honoured father and mother I may not
accept of it."

" Alas ! that you will say so, fair mistress," said
Antony, but he was probably prepared for this re-
jection, for he did not seem u.tterly overwhelmed by it.

" The young lady exercises a wise discretion," said
Sir PtaK Sadler to Mrs. Curll. " If I had known that
mine old friend Mr. Talbot of Bridgefield was un-
favourable to the suit, I would not have harboured
the young spark, but when he brought my Lady
Countess's commendation, I thought all was well."

Barbara Curll had her cue, namely, to occupy Sir
EaK so as to leave the young people to themselves, so


she drew him off to tell him in confidence a long and
not particularly veracious story of the objections of
the Talbots to Antony Babington ; whilst her husband
engaged the attention of Mr. Somer, and there was a
space in which, as Antony took back the watch, he
was able to inquire "Was the egg-shell opened ?"

" Ay," said Cis, blushing furiously and against her
will, " the egQ was sucked and replenished."

" Take consolation," said Antony, and as some one
came near them, "Duty and discretion shall, I trust,
both be satisfied when I next sun myself in the light
of those lovely eyes." Then, as the coast became
more clear, "You are about shortly to move. Chart-
ley is preparing for you."

" So we are told."

" There are others preparing," said Antony, bending
over her, holdiug her hand, and apparently making
love to her with all his might. " Tell me, lady, who
hath charge of the Queen's buttery ? Is it faithful
old Halbert as at Sheffield?"

" It is," replied Cis.

" Then let him look well at the bottom of each
barrel of beer supplied for the use of her household.
There is an honest man, a brewer, at Burton, whom
Paulett will employ, who will provide that letters be
sent to and fro. Gifford and Langston, who are both
of these parts, know him well." Cis started at the
name. " Do you trust Langston then ? " she asked.

"Wholly! Why, he is the keenest and ablest of
us aU. Have you not seen him and had speech with
him in many strange shapes ? He can change his
voice, and whine like any beggar wife."

" Yea," said Cis, " but the Queen and Sir Andrew
doubted a little if he meant not threats last time we met."


" All put on — excellent dissembling to beguile the
keepers. He told me all," said Antony, " and bow he
had to scare thee and change tone suddenly. Why,
he it is who laid this same egg, and will receive
it. There is a sworn band, as you know already, who
will let her know our plans, and be at her com-
mands through that means. Then, when we have
done service approaching to be worthy of her, then
it may be that I shall have earned at least a look or

" Alas ! sir," said Cicely, " how can I give you
false hopes ?" For her honest heart burnt to tell the
poor fellow that she would in case of his success
be farther removed from him than ever.

" What would be false now shall be true then.
I will wring love from thee by my deeds for her whom
we both alike love, and then wilt thou be mine own,
my true Bride !"

By this time other guests had arrived, and the
dinner was ready. Babington was, in deference to the
Countess, allowed to sit next to his lady-love. She
found he had been at Sheffield, and had visited Bridge-
field, vainly endeavouring to obtain sanction to his
addresses from her adopted parents. He saw how her
eyes brightened and heard how her voice quivered with
eagerness to hear of what still seemed home to her,
and he was pleased to feel himself gratifying her by
telling her how Mrs. Talbot looked, and how Brown
Dumpling had been turned out in the Park, and Mr.
Talbot had taken a new horse, which Ned had in-
sisted on calling " Fulvius," from its colour, for Ned
was such a scholar that he was to be sent to study at
Cambridge. Then he would have wandered off to
little Lady Arbell's being put under Master Sniggius's


tuition, but Cicely would bring him back to Bridge-
field, and to Ned's brothers.

No, the boasted expedition to Spain had not
begun yet. Sir Francis Drake was lingering about
Plymouth, digging a ditch, it was said, to bring water
from Dartmoor. He would never get license to attack
King Philip on his own shores. The Queen knew
better than to give it. Humfrey and Diccon would
get no better sport than robbing a ship or two on the
way to the Netherlands. Antony, for his part, could
not see that piracy on the high seas was fit work for
a gentleman.

" A gentleman loves to serve his queen and country
in all places," said Cicely.

" Ah ! " said Antony, with a long breath, as though
making a discovery, " sits the wind in that quarter ? "

"Antony," exclaimed she, in her eagerness calling
him by the familiar name of childhood, " you are in
error. I declare most solemnly that it is quite another
matter that stands in your way."

" And you will not tell me wherefore you are thus
cruel ?"

" I cannot, sir. You will understand in time that
what you call cruelty is true kindness."

This was the gist of the interview. All the rest
only repeated it in one form or another; and when
Cis returned, it was with a saddened heart, for she
could not but perceive that Antony was well-nigh
crazed, not so much mth love of her, as with the con-
tem]3lation of the wrongs of the Church and the Queen,
whom he regarded with equally passionate devotion,
and with burning zeal and indignation to avenge
their sufferings, and restore them to their pristine
glory. He did, indeed, love her, as he professed to

xxiil] the love token. 11

have done from infancy, but as if she were to be his
own personal portion of the reward. Indeed there was
magnanimity enough in the youth almost to lose the
individual hope in the dazzle of the great victory for
which he was wilhng to devote his own life and happi-
ness in the true spirit of a crusader. Cicely did not
fully or consciously realise all this, but she had such
a glimpse of it as to give her a guilty feeling in con-
cealing from him the whole truth, which would have
shown how fallacious were the hopes that her mother
did not scruple, for her own purposes, to encourage.
Poor Cicely ! she had not had royal training enough to
look on all subjects as simply pawns on the monarch's
chess-board ; and she was so evidently unhappy over
Babington's courtship, and so little disposed to enjoy
her first feminine triumph, that the Queen declared
that Nature had designed her for the convent she had
so narrowly missed ; and, valuable as was the intelli-
gence she had brought, she was never trusted with
the contents of the correspondence. On the removal
of Mary to Chartley the barrel with the false bottom
came into use, but the secretaries Nau and Curll alone
knew in full what was there conveyed. Little more
was said to Cicely of Babington.

However, it was a relief when, before the end of
this summer. Cicely heard of his marriage to a young
lady selected by the Earl. She hoped it would make
him forget his dangerous inclination to herself; but
yet there was a little lurking vanity which believed
that it had been rather a marriage for property's than
for love's sake.




It was in the middle of the summer of 1586 that
Humfrey and his young brother Richard, in broad
grass hats and long feathers, found themselves again
in London, Diccon looking considerably taller and
leaner than when he went away. For when, after
many months' delay, the naval expedition had taken
place, he had been laid low with fever during the attack
on Florida by Sir Francis Drake's little fleet ; and the
return to England had been only just in time to save
his life. Though Humfrey had set forth merely as a
lieutenant, he had returned in command of a vessel, and
stood in high repute for good discipline, readiness of
resource, and personal exploits. His ship had, how-
ever, suffered so severely as to be scarcely seaworthy
when the fleet arrived in Pljmiouth harbour ; and Sir
Francis, finding it necessary to put her into dock and
dismiss her crew, had cliosen the young Captain
Talbot to ride to London with his despatches to her

The commission might well delight the brothers,
who were burning to hear of home, and to know how
it fared with Cicely, having been absolutely without
intelligence ever since they had sailed from Plymouth


ill January, since which they had plundered the
Spaniard both at home and in the West Indies, but
had had no letters.

They rode post into London, taking their last change
of horses at Kensington, on a fine June evening, when
the sun was mounting high upon the steeple of St.
Paul's, and speeding through the fields in hopes of
being able to reach the Strand in time for supper at
Lord Shrewsbury's mansion, which, even in the absence
of my Lord, was always a harbour for all of the name
of Talbot. Nor, indeed, was it safe to be out after
dark, for the neighbourhood of the city was full of
roisterers of all sorts, if not of highwaymen and cut-
purses, who might come in numbers too large even for
the two young gentlemen and the two servants, who
remained out of the four volunteers from Bridgefield.

They were just passing Westminster where the
Abbey, Hall, and St. Stephen's Chapel, and their pre-
cincts, stood up in their venerable but unstained beauty
among the fields and fine trees, and some of the
Westminster boys, flat -capped, gowned, and yellow -
stockinged, ran out with the cry that always flattered
Diccon, not to say Humfrey, though he tried to be
superior to it, " Mariners ! mariners from the Western
Main ! Hurrah for gallant Drake ! Down with the
Don !" For the tokens of the sea, in the form of
clothes and weapons, were well known and highly

Two or three gentlemen who were walking along
the road turned and looked up, and the young sailors
recomised in a moment a home face. There was an


exclamation on either side of " Antony Babington !"
and " Humfrey Talbot !" and a ready clasp of the hand
in right of old companionship.


" Welcome home !" exclaimed Antouy. " Is all well
with you ?"

" Eoyally well," returned Humfrey. " Know'st thou
aught of our father and mother ?"

" All was well with them when last I heard," said

" And Cis — my sister I mean ?" said Diccon, putting,
in his unconsciousness, the very question Humfrey was
burning to ask.

" She is still with the Queen of Scots, at Chartley,"
replied Babington.

" Chartley, where is that ? It is a new place for
her captivity."

" 'Tis a house of my Lord of Essex, not far from
Lichfield," returned Antony. " They sent her thither
this spring, after they had well-nigh slain her with the
damp and wretched lodgings they provided at Tutbury."

" Who ? Not our Cis ?" asked Diccon.

" Nay," said Antony, " it hurt not her vigorous
youth — but I meant the long-suffering princess."

"Hath Sir Ealf Sadler still the charge of her?"
inquired Humfrey.

" No, indeed. He was too gentle a jailer for the
Council. They have given her Sir Amias Paulett, a
mere Puritan and Leicestrian, who is as hard as the
nether millstone, and well-nigh as dull," said Babing-
ton, with a little significant chuckle, which perhaps
alarmed one of his companions, a small slight man
with a slight halt, clad in black like a lawyer. " Mr.
Babington," he said, "pardon me for interrupting
you, but we shall make Mr. Gage tarry supper
for us."

" Nay, Mr. Langston," said Babington, who was in
high spirits, " these are kinsmen of your own, sons of


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