Mary Queen of Scots

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    1 Fotheringhay
    My name is Bess Curle, but this is not my story. It is the story of my lady Mary, Queen of Scots.She wrote the story, and then she gave it to me. I am going to give it to her son.
    She began the story a week ago. It was January 1587, and we sat here in our cold room in Fotheringhay Castle, in the north of England. We couldn't see much from the window.One or two houses, a river, some trees, some horses, and a road. That's all.
    The road goes to London, the home of Queen Elizabeth of England. Mary sat with her little dog in her hands and watched it, all day long.
    No one came along the road. Nothing happened. I watched Mary, unhappily.
    ‘Please, Your Majesty, come away from that window,'I said.‘ It doesn't help. No one is going to come. Queen Eliza-beth can't do it—Queens don't kill Queens.'
    ‘Don't they, Bess?'mary said.‘Then why are we here, in this prison?Why am I not free?'
    ‘Why, Your Majesty?Because Queen Elizabeth is afraid of you.'
    ‘That's right,'mary said.‘She's afraid of me, and she hates me too. She hates me because I am beautiful, and she is not; because I had three husbands, and she never married.And because many people—good Catnolic people in England,France,Scotland,Spain—say that I, Mary, am the true Queen of England, not Elizabeth.And Elizabeth has no chil-dren, so, when she is dead, my son James…'
    She came away from the window and stood in front of me.‘James,'she said quietly,‘my son.Does he think about me sometimes? He was only ten months old when I last saw him. It is nearly twenty years…'
    ‘Of course he thinks about you, Your Majesty,'I said. ‘You write to him often.How can he forget his mother?'
    ‘Then why doesn't he write to me?'mary asked.‘Does he want me to stay here in an English prison?'
    ‘No, of course not, Your Majesty. But—he has a lot of work, Your Majesty.He is the King of Scotland, and…'
    ‘He is not the King of Scotland,Bess,'she said.‘Not be- fore I am dead.Remember that.'
    ‘No, Your Majesty, of course not. But perhaps people tell him things that are untrue. You know what people say. Per-haps—perhaps he thinks you killed his father.'
    Mary's face went white.She was very angry, and for a minute I was afraid.She said:‘You know that's a lie, Bess.It is a lie! I did not kill James's father—I knew nothing about it!'
    ‘I know that,Your Majesty.But perhaps James doesn't know it.He hears so many lies, all the time. He needs to know the true story.Why don't you write, and tell him?'
    Mary sat down slowly. She looked old and tired.‘All right, Bess,'she said.‘Give me a pen, please. I'm going to write to James, and tell him the true story. You can give it to him when I'm dead.'
    ‘Dead, Your Majesty? Don't say that. You aren't going to die.'
    Her old, tired eyes looked at me.‘Yes I am, Bess. You know what is going to happen. One day soon, a man is going to bring a letter from Queen Elizabeth. And then her men are going to kill me. But before I die, I would like to write to my son James. I want to tell him the story of my life.So give me a pen, please.'
    I gave her a pen. This is what she wrote:

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