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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 ScotsShe 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 windowOne 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 Elizabeth can't do itQueens don't kill Queens.’

Don't they Bess'mary said.‘Then why are we here in this prisonWhy am I not free?’

Why Your MajestyBecause 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 marriedAnd because many peoplegood Catnolic people in EnglandFranceScotlandSpainsay that I Mary am the true Queen of England not ElizabethAnd Elizabeth has no children 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 sonDoes 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 oftenHow can he forget his mother?’

Then why doesn't he write to me'mary asked.‘Does he want me to say here in an English prison?’

No of course not Your Majesty Buthe has a lot of work Your MajestyHe is the King of Scotland and…’

He is not the King of ScotlandBess'she said.‘Not be- fore I am deadRemember that.’

No Your Majesty of course not But perhaps people tell him things that are untrue You know what people say Perhapsperhaps he thinks you killed his father.’

Mary's face went whiteShe was very angry and for a minute I was afraidShe said:‘You know that's a lie BessIt is a lie I did not kill James's fatherI knew nothing about it!’

I know thatYour MajestyBut perhaps James doesn't know itHe hears so many lies all the time He needs to know the true storyWhy 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 lifeSo give me a pen please.’

I gave her a pen This is what she wrote

 


 

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