He paused a moment, once more to feast his eyes upon the picture which he proposed to order reserved for him on his return from the Astor Place Bank. It was gone! He started back in surprise as he saw the place of honor vacated. There was only a mawkish color reprint of "Mary Stuart and Rizzio" parading its faded romance in the show window.
Whenever he found her alone, their conversation invariably assumed a tone of irony and of raillery, in which both excelled. He had not forgotten her reckless confidences at the opera, and recalled it to her, asking her whether she had yet discovered that hero of love for whom she was looking, who should be, according to her ideas, a villain like Bothwell, or a musician like Rizzio.
In Ireland to this day the villain who shoots at his enemy from behind a hedge is too often protected from justice by public sympathy. In Scotland plans of assassination were often, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, successfully executed, though known to great numbers of persons. The murders of Beaton, of Rizzio, of Darnley, of Murray, of Sharpe, are conspicuous instances.
"I trust, madam," said Lord Ruthven, "my being unacceptable to your presence will not add to your obduracy of resolution. It may become you to remember that the death of the minion, Rizzio, cost the house of Ruthven its head and leader. My father, more worthy than a whole province of such vile sycophants, died in exile, and broken-hearted."
He met his fate without a murmur, save at the last when he stood upon the scaffold and, gazing toward the palace, cried in French: "Oh, cruel queen! I die for you!" Another favorite, the Italian, David Rizzio, or Riccio, in like manner wrote love verses to the queen, and she replied to them in kind; but there is no evidence that she valued him save for his ability, which was very great.
We saw, too, the blood-stain at the threshold of the door in the next room, opening upon the stairs. The body of Rizzio was flung down here, and the attendant told us that it lay in that spot all night.
Not till 1863 was the inventory of 1566, discovered in 1854, published for the Bannatyne Club by Dr. Joseph Robertson. Turning to the inventory we read of a valuable present made by David Rizzio to Mary, a tortoise of rubies, which she kept till her death, for it appears in a list made after her execution at Fotheringay. The murdered David Rizzio left a brother Joseph.
In their places stalked the ghosts of kings and queens and knights and nobles; Columba, Abbot of Iona; Queen Margaret and Malcolm she the sweetest saint in all the throng; King David riding towards Drumsheugh forest on Holy Rood day, with his horns and hounds and huntsmen following close behind; Anne of Denmark and Jingling Geordie; Mary Stuart in all her girlish beauty, with the four Maries in her train; and lurking behind, Bothwell, 'that ower sune stepfaither, and the murdered Rizzio and Darnley; John Knox, in his black Geneva cloak; Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora Macdonald; lovely Annabella Drummond; Robert the Bruce; George Heriot with a banner bearing on it the words 'I distribute chearfully'; James I. carrying The King's Quair; Oliver Cromwell; and a long line of heroes, martyrs, humble saints, and princely knaves.
The lords round Mary were bitterly aggrieved by Rizzio's influence; Darnley long before he was six months married, chose to be jealous of the secretary, a sentiment carefully fostered by the lords. The common hatred united them in a "band" for the murder of Rizzio, of which Sadler, the English envoy, was cognisant; Murray probably knew just so much as he chose to know.
Do you remember our own impressions of Holyrood on a rainy August morning, and the chill gloom of poor Mary's bedroom, and the adjoining dismal little boudoir where she supped with Rizzio, the room in which he was murdered as he clung to her garments for protection?