Even in this place of imprisonment, however, her fascination had power to charm. Among those who guarded her, two of the Douglas family—George Douglas and William Douglas—for love of her, effected her escape. The first attempt failed. Mary, disguised as a laundress, was betrayed by the delicacy of her hands. But a second attempt was successful. The queen passed through a postern gate and made her way to the lake, where George Douglas met her with a boat. Crossing the lake, fifty horsemen under Lord Claude Hamilton gave her their escort and bore her away in safety.
But Mary was sick of Scotland, for Bothwell could not be there. She had tasted all the bitterness of life, and for a few months all the sweetness; but she would have no more of this rough and barbarous country. Of her own free will she crossed the Solway into England, to find herself at once a prisoner.
Never again did she set eyes on Bothwell. After the battle of Carberry Hill he escaped to the north, gathered some ships together, and preyed upon English merchantmen, very much as a pirate might have done. Ere long, however, when he had learned of Mary’s fate, he set sail for Norway. King Frederick of Denmark made him a prisoner of state. He was not confined within prison walls, however, but was allowed to hunt and ride in the vicinity of Malmo Castle and of Dragsholm. It is probably in Malmo Castle that he died. In 1858 a coffin which was thought to be the coffin of the earl was opened, and a Danish artist sketched the head— which corresponds quite well with the other portraits of the ill-fated Scottish noble.
It is a sad story. Had Mary been less ambitious when she first met Bothwell, or had he been a little bolder, they might have reigned together and lived out their lives in the plenitude of that great love which held them both in thrall. But a queen is not as other women; and she found too late that the teaching of her heart was, after all, the truest teaching. She went to her death as Bothwell went to his, alone, in a strange, unfriendly land.
Yet, even this, perhaps, was better so. It has at least touched both their lives with pathos and has made the name of Mary Stuart one to be remembered throughout all the ages.
Sweden to-day is one of the peaceful kingdoms of the world, whose people are prosperous, well governed, and somewhat apart from the clash and turmoil of other states and nations. Even the secession of Norway, a few years ago, was accomplished without bloodshed, and now the two kingdoms exist side by side as free from strife as they are with Denmark, which once domineered and tyrannized over both.
It is difficult to believe that long ago, in the Middle Ages, the cities of southern Sweden were among the great commercial centers of the world. Stockholm and Lund ranked with London and Paris. They absorbed the commerce of the northern seas, and were the admiration of thousands of travelers and merchants who passed through them and trafficked with them.