“He is all yours, heart and soul, already, madam.”
“I know it, child, but men are men, and no chains are so strong as can be forged by a lady’s lip and eye, if she do it cunningly. So said my belle mere in France, and well do I believe it. Why, if one of the sour-visaged reformers who haunt this place chanced to have a daughter with sweetness enough to temper the acidity, the youth might be throwing up his cap the next hour for Queen Bess and the Reformation, unless we can tie him down with a silken cable while he is in the mind.”
“Yea, madam, you who are beautiful and winsome, you can do such things, I am homely and awkward.”
“Mort de ma vie, child! the beauty of the best of us is in the man’s eyes who looks at us. ’Tis true, thou hast more of the Border lassie than the princess. The likeness of some ewe-milking, cheese-making sonsie Hepburn hath descended to thee, and hath been fostered by country breeding. But thou hast by nature the turn of the neck, and the tread that belong to our Lorraine blood, the blood of Charlemagne, and now that I have thee altogether, see if I train thee not so as to bring out the princess that is in thee; and so, good-night, my bairnie, my sweet child; I shall sleep to-night, now that I have thy warm fresh young cheek beside mine. Thou art life to me, my little one.”
CHAPTER XXII. TUTBURY
James VI. again cruelly tore his mother’s heart and dashed her hopes by an unfeeling letter, in which he declared her incapable of being treated with, since she was a prisoner and deposed. The not unreasonable expectation, that his manhood might reverse the proceedings wrought in his name in his infancy, was frustrated. Mary could no longer believe that he was constrained by a faction, but perceived clearly that he merely considered her as a rival, whose liberation would endanger his throne, and that whatever scruples he might once have entertained had given way to English gold and Scottish intimidation.
“The more simple was I to look for any other in the son of Darnley and the pupil of Buchanan,” said she, “but a mother’s heart is slow to give up her trust.”
“And is there now no hope?” asked Cicely.
“Hope, child? Dum spiro, spero. The hope of coming forth honourably to him and to Elizabeth is at an end. There is another mode of coming forth,” she added with a glittering eye, “a mode which shall make them rue that they have driven patience to extremity.”
“By force of arms? Oh, madam!” cried Cicely.
“And wherefore not? My noble kinsman, Guise, is the paramount ruler in France, and will soon have crushed the heretics there; Parma is triumphant in the Low Countries, and has only to tread out the last remnants of faction with his iron boot. They wait only the call, which my motherly weakness has delayed, to bring their hosts to avenge my wrongs, and restore this island to the true faith. Then thou, child, wilt be my heiress. We will give thee to one who will worthily bear the sceptre, and make thee blessed at home. The Austrians make good husbands, I am told. Matthias or Albert would be a noble mate for thee; only thou must be trained to more princely bearing, my little home-bred lassie.”