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THE HEPBURNS.
page 267


The Earl, however, had warm friends at Court, particularly Lennox, Athole, and Ochiltree—nobles of the Stewart family; and encouraged by their support, he returned to Scotland in 1593, and on the 23rd of July was brought secretly to Edinburgh, accompanied by John Colville, brother of the Lord of Castle Wemyss, and was lodged for the night in a house adjoining the palace, belonging to the Countess of Gowrie, Athole's mother-in-law. Early next morning the Countess of Athole, taking Bothwell and Colville along with her, entered the palace by a private passage which communicated with Lady Gowrie's house, and conducting them into an anteroom opening into the King's bedchamber, hid them behind the arras. She then stealthily displaced the arms of the guard, and, having locked the door of the Queen's bedchamber, to prevent the escape of the King, retired with her attendants. In a short time Bothwell, emerging from his hiding-place, knocked loudly at the King's chamber door, which was immediately opened by the Earl of Athole. James, who happened to be at the instant in a closet opening into the apartment, hearing a noise, rushed out in a state of dishabille, and seeing Bothwell and Colville standing with drawn swords, attempted to escape by the Queen's bedchamber, but finding the door locked he called out, 'Treason treason' At that moment the Duke of Lennox, Athole, Ochiltree, and others of Bothwell's friends, entered the room, and James, finding that he was completely in their power, threw himself into a chair, and with unwonted courage faced the danger which he could not avoid. Bothwell and Colville threw themselves on their knees before him, but James called out, 'Come on, Francis You seek my life, and I know I am wholly in your power. Strike, and end thy work' But Bothwell, with unexpected moderation, only stipulated for the remission of his forfeiture. He declared his willingness to submit to trial on the charges of witchcraft, and of seeking the King's life directly or indirectly, and offered that, after he had been tried and acquitted, he would leave the country, if it should be his Majesty's pleasure, and go to any place he should be pleased to appoint. James yielded to Bothwell's entreaties, and subscribed a document, promising him, on condition of his peaceable behaviour, a fair trial, and in the event of his acquittal, restoration to his rank and estates. It was further stipulated that he should in the meantime retire from the Court; and Bothwell having readily acquiesced, his peace was next day proclaimed by the heralds at the Cross of Edinburgh.

 

 
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