'He left, therefore, the Countess's door unsecured on the outside, and, under the eye of Varney, withdrew the supports which sustained the falling trap, which, therefore, kept its level position merely by a slight adhesion. They withdrew to wait the issue on the ground-floor adjoining; but they waited long in vain. At length Varney, after walking long to and fro, with his face muffled in his cloak, threw it suddenly back and exclaimed, "Surely never was a woman fool enough to neglect so fair an opportunity of escape!"
"Perhaps she is resolved," said Foster, "to await her husband's return."
"True!--most true!" said Varney, rushing out; "I had not thought of that before."
In less than two minutes, Foster, who remained behind, heard the tread of a horse in the courtyard, and then a whistle similar to that which was the Earl's usual signal. The instant after the door of the Countess's chamber opened, and in the same moment the trap-door gave way. There was a rushing sound--a heavy fall--a faint groan--and all was over...'
The real-life Amy Robsart did die a suspicious death, as portrayed in Walter Scott's "Kenilworth" (text above), and was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs at Cumnor Place. In 1558, Amy's husband Robert Dudley joined Elizabeth I's court. Elizabeth and Dudley were close, and possibly intimate. Amy may have felt betrayed, and become despondent. Many death scenarios are possible, none proven. In Scott's novel, Richard Varney, Dudley's vassal, is the villain. Amy Robsart died on September 8, 1560.