A curious deposit of an impalpably fine and unstratified silt, known by the German name bess, lies on the older drift sheets near the larger river courses of the upper Mississippi basin.
It is of inexhaustible fertility, being in this as well as in other respects closely like the bess in China and other parts of Asia, as well as in Germany.
The best explanation suggested for bess is that, during certain phases of the glacial period, it was carried as dust by the winds from the flood plains of aggrading rivers, and slowly deposited on the neighboring grass-covered plains.
Most of the bess is now generally believed to have been deposited by the wind.
The larger part of it seems to date from the closing stages of the Iowan epoch, but bess appears to have come into existence after other glacial epochs as well.
Most of the fossils of the bess are shells of terrestrial gastropods, but bones of land mammals are also found in not a few places.
Some of the bess is thought to have been derived by the wind from the surface of the drift soon after the retreat of the ice, before vegetation got a foothold upon the new-made deposit; but a large part of the bess, especially that associated with the main valleys, appears to have been blown up on to the bluffs of the valleys from the flood plains below.
Its coarser phases are closely associated with dunes in many places, and locally the bess makes a considerable part of the dune material.
It was probably at the time when a desire for revenge on her calumniatress made her think the opportunity good and safe for discharge of such a two-edged dart at the countess and the queen that Mary wrote, but abstained from despatching, the famous and terrible letter in which, with many gracious excuses and professions of regret and attachment, she transmits to Elizabeth a full and vivid report of the hideous gossip retailed by Bess of Hardwick regarding her character and person at a time when the reporter of these abominations was on friendly terms with her husband's royal charge.
His son George, who succeeded, was the earl to whom the custody of Mary Stuart was committed, his task being rendered all the more difficult for him by the intrigues of his second wife, Bess of Hardwick, the builder of Chatsworth, who had married three husbands before her union with him.
ARABELLA STUART (1575-1615), daughter of Charles Stuart, earl of Lennox, younger brother of Lord Darnley and of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir William Cavendish and "Bess of Hardwick," is interesting historically as having been (by strict pedigree) next in succession to James VI.