According to some accounts, Mary Queen of Scots bore a child to her last husband, the Earl of Bothwell, while imprisoned at Loch Leven. The child is christened Bride, and put on a ship bound for France. However, the ship is wrecked. Bride, the sole survivor, is rescued by one Captain Talbot. He and his wife rechristen her Cicely, and rear her as their own.
However, they live near the place where Queen Mary, having escaped from Scotland, is living under the charge of the weak Earl of Shrewsbury and his wife, Bess of Hardwick. Captain Talbot, as a gentleman in the service of the earl, has to endure the violent quarrelling of the noble family and the constant intriguing that surrounds Queen Mary.
Miss Yonge’s descriptive sketches of the personages who figured in connection with Mary’s captivity, of the inception and development of the plot, and of the social and domestic manners of the noble and middle classes of the period, are a delightful blending of fact and romance.