“Nay, blame me not, good Melville,” she said. “I am wearied out with their arguments. What matters it how they do the deed on which they are bent? It was an ill thing when King Harry the Eighth brought in this fashion of forcing the law to give a colour to his will! In the good old times, the blow came without being first baited by one and another, and made a spectacle to all men, in the name of justice, forsooth!”
Mary Seaton faltered something of her Majesty’s innocence shining out like the light of day.
“Flatter not thyself so far, ma mie,” said Mary. “Were mine innocence clearer than the sun they would blacken it. All that can come of this same trial is that I may speak to posterity, if they stifle my voice here, and so be known to have died a martyr to my faith. Get we to our prayers, girls, rather than feed on vain hopes. De profundis clamavi.”
Who would be permitted to witness the trial? As small matters at hand eclipse great matters farther off, this formed the immediate excitement in Queen Mary’s little household, when it was disclosed that she was to appear only attended by Sir Andrew Melville and her two Maries before her judges.
The vast hall had space enough on the ground for numerous spectators, and a small gallery intended for musicians was granted, with some reluctance, to the ladies and gentlemen of the suite, who, as Sir Amias Paulett observed, could do no hurt, if secluded there. Thither then they proceeded, and to Cicely’s no small delight, found Humfrey awaiting them there, partly as a guard, partly as a master of the ceremonies, ready to explain the arrangements, and tell the names of the personages who appeared in sight.
“There,” said he, “close below us, where you cannot see it, is the chair with a cloth of state over it.”
“For our Queen?” asked Jean Kennedy.
“No, madam. It is there to represent the Majesty of Queen Elizabeth. That other chair, half-way down the hall, with the canopy from the beam over it, is for the Queen of Scots.”
Jean Kennedy sniffed the air a little at this, but her attention was directed to the gentlemen who began to fill the seats on either side. Some of them had before had interviews with Queen Mary, and thus were known by sight to her own attendants; some had been seen by Humfrey during his visit to London; and even now at a great distance, and a different table, he had been taking his meals with them at the present juncture.
The seats were long benches against the wall, for the Earls on one side, the Barons on the other. The Lord Chancellor Bromley, in his red and white gown, and Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, with long white beard and hard impenetrable face, sat with them.
“That a man should have such a beard, and yet dare to speak to the Queen as he did two days ago,” whispered Cis.