And as Sir Andrew Melville was in a few days more restored to her service, he was far less often required to bear messages, or do little services in the prison apartments, and he felt himself excluded, and cut off from the intimacy that had been very sweet, and even a little hopeful to him.
CHAPTER XLI. HER ROYAL HIGHNESS.
Cicely had been living in almost as much suspense in London as her mother at Fotheringhay. For greater security Mr. Talbot had kept her on board the Mastiff till he had seen M. d’Aubepine Chateauneuf, and presented to him Queen Mary’s letter. The Ambassador, an exceedingly polished and graceful Frenchman, was greatly astonished, and at first incredulous; but he could not but accept the Queen’s letter as genuine, and he called into his counsels his Secretary De Salmonnet, an elderly man, whose wife, a Scotswoman by birth, preferred her husband’s society to the delights of Paris. She was a Hamilton who had been a pensionnaire in the convent at Soissons, and she knew that it had been expected that an infant from Lochleven might be sent to the Abbess, but that it had never come, and that after many months of waiting, tidings had arrived that the vessel which carried the babe had been lost at sea.
M. de Chateauneuf thereupon committed the investigation to her and her husband. Richard Talbot took them first to the rooms where Mrs. Barbara Curll had taken up her abode, so as to be near her husband, who was still a prisoner in Walsingham’s house. She fully confirmed all that Mr. Talbot said of the Queen’s complete acceptance of Cis as her daughter, and moreover consented to come with the Salmonnets and Mr. Talbot, to visit the young lady on board the Mastiff.
Accordingly they went down the river together in Mr. Talbot’s boat, and found Cicely, well cloaked and muffled, sitting under an awning, under the care of old Goatley, who treated her like a little queen, and was busy explaining to her all the different craft which filled the river.
She sprang up with the utmost delight at the sight of Mrs. Curll, and threw herself into her arms. There was an interchange of inquiries and comments that—unpremeditated as they were—could not but convince the auditor of the terms on which the young lady had stood with Queen Mary and her suite.
Afterwards Cicely took the two ladies to her cabin, a tiny box, but not uncomfortable according to her habits, and there, on Barbara’s persuasion, she permitted Madame de Salmonnet to see the monograms on her shoulders. The lady went home convinced of her identity, and came again the next day with a gentleman in slouched hat, mask, and cloak.
As Cicely rose to receive him he uttered an exclamation of irrepressible astonishment, then added, “Your Highness will pardon me. Exactly thus did her royal mother stand when I took leave of her at Calais.”
The Ambassador had thus been taken by storm, although the resemblance was more in figure and gesture than feature, but Mrs. Curll could aver that those who had seen Bothwell were at no loss to trace the derivation of the dark brows and somewhat homely features, in which the girl differed from the royal race of Scotland.