Scene: The same.  Coming from down the stairs, Mrs. Warren runs toward the king who stands, dressing himself, near the door, prepared to exit.  The guards stop Mrs. Warren from reaching the king.

Mrs. Warren:  You bastard!  She was not yet even sixteen years old!  And you’ve scar’d her ‘fore she could even earn a profit!  No man will want to spend a pence on her should they see what you have done with her beautiful face!

Malcolm:  Is this a question of a lost investment Lady Warren?

Mrs. Warren:  I am no lady.  You insult me to call me one.

Malcolm:  I did pay for my time.  As she is mine I may dispose of her as I please.  *Mrs. Warren leaps and claws at his face, grazing it before she is thrown to the ground.  She rises again and spits on his face.  Amon, one of the guards, knocks her to the ground.  Malcolm speaks down to her.*   Thou art bought and sold among those of any wit, like a barbarian slave, and ye have none to blame for you are thine own exploiter.

Amon:  You treasonous whore.  *Knocking Mrs. Warren down with a hazardous kick.*

Mrs. Warren:  Women may fall when there’s no strength in men, and there be no strength in such a man as you.  *Amon steps over Mrs. Warren.*

Malcolm:  Yield!  As I am king of this land, so is this woman queen of her abode.  Let her make her own laws within her territory, and carry out what justice she sees fit.  Now, Lady Warren, your Josie did clearly not depart these wise words to thee, so I shall:  Take heed what guests you receive.

Mrs. Warren:  King! Thou abominable damn’d cheater, art thou not to be called king? If kings were of my mind, they would  truncheon you out, for taking their names upon you before you have earn’d them. You a king?! You slave, for what?  For a poor whore’s ruff in a bawdy-house? He a king?! Hang him, rogue! He lives upon mouldy stew’d prunes and dried cakes. A king?  God’s light, this villain will make the word ‘king’ as the word ‘occupy’; which was an excellent good word before was ill sorted. Therefore kings had need look to’t.  You villain! There is no measure of justice that would suffice to punish your wick’d soul.

Malcolm: *Pulls out a purse string and throws it at her.*  Here is your justice, whore!  You will find it redeemable anywhere in my kingdom.  Perhaps you might be able to afford some Christian virtue now, though you may feel free to spend it how you like, after all, whilst we are in this world, we are in it.  And money is money.  Make good use of the golden yoke of sovereignty, and tell your whore I enjoy’d myself.  *McDuff is clearly not happy with this turn of events, and it shows upon his face.  The guards, Amon, Leopold, among others, show no disapproval, merely stern faces.  McDuff exits first.  Malcolm hesitates and then exits, followed by his guards.*

Mrs. Warren:  What can be worse than to dwell here?  For to be weak is miserable, and there is none more miserable than I.

*The lights go dark.*

Scene:  It is early morning on the day in which Malcolm and his forces will finally meet with his brother Donalbain and the forces which he has raised.  As is his practice, the man King Malcolm sees as his Vicegerent, David Bathsheba, is alone in an isolated part of a forest outside of the encampment of soldiers headed to meet with the army raised by Donalbain, Malcolms brother.  The Vicegerent, reading in seclusion away from the camp, is approached by Malcolm who again seeks the advice of David Bathsheba.

Bathsheba:  My lord.

Malcolm:  I hope my intrusion hath not disturb’d your studies.

Bathsheba:  My studies are done to serve my lord.  Pray, tell how may I be of service.

Malcolm:  Today I will meet my brother on the field of battle, but I have been troubled by visions that may sway what I do tomorrow.

Bathsheba:  Visions?

Malcolm:  Four women dress’d in mourning did visit me, whether they be apparitions or imagination I do not know, but real they seem’d, and so my conscience has been stirr’d, for they did speak to my sinful nature, and swore to me that should I spill my own blood,be it by sister, or mother, or child, or brother, or father or cousin or any means other, then I would be lock’d out of heaven and doom’d to hell.  Should I, or anybody under my instruction, kill my brother on the field, then I dare not think what would happen to me.  So to you I come and ask, what in me is dark, illuminate, assert your eternal providence and justify the ways of god to me.

Bathsheba:  Evil into the mind of god or man may come and go, so unapproved, and leave no spot or blame behind.  Worry not.

Malcolm:  But what if these were apparitions sent by god?

Bathsheba:  The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and a hell of heaven.  Perhaps these vision were the instrument of your imagination.  Think only what concerns thee and thy being; dream not of other worlds.

Malcolm:  And so it could be argued, but am I not god’s hand on earth?  Would god not find a means to speak to me if I were to be led astray?  I do believe these apparitions to be the work of god, or at least the heart of what little conscience I have left, and though they were veil’d, I did recognize two of them not.  Of those two, I did this evening see one in the bawdy house which we did visit.  So consuming was my fear that I did lash out at her and leave her scarred.  Two of the three that did remain I thought I knew, though veil’d they were; one my Queen and the other the girl Ardea whom I did take to know the night before last.

Bathsheba:  And what do you think was the message you were meant to take?

Malcolm:  I cannot spill the royal blood, else I go to hell.

Bathsheba:  What of your brother then?  His wonted pride hath, with high words, that bore semblance of worth, gently raised the fainting courage of the mob and dispelled their fears of you.  Should we please the profane to grieve the godly?  Should you submit to his words that are inspir’d not by truth, but by greed and envy?  And in turn be subject to his sinful whims?  To be weak?  When, as you know, to be weak is to be miserable!  I say stand against your brother.  Now at least we shall be free; but Donalbain hath built here an army inspired by his envy.  He will not drive us hence unless you do allow him to do so.  You must reign secure and by your choice.  To reign is a worthy ambition though on Earth, for it is better to reign on Earth than serve Donalbain.

Malcolm:  Is it better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven?

Bathsheba:  And what makes you believe that your reign is like hell, whilst Donalbain’s would be like heaven?

Malcolm:  I do degenerate and abuse my nation, to play with opportunity and satisfy my lust.  There is no bottom, none, in my voluptuousness.  I shout to Scotland as I did before:  Your wives, your daughters, your matrons, and your maids could not fill up the cistern of my lust; and my desire all continent impediments will o’erbear those that did oppose my will!  Better Donalbain than such a one reign.

Bathsheba:  And what of Donalbain’s malice?

Malcolm:  How all his malice might serve but to bring forth infinite goodness, grace and mercy shown on man by him.  He commits treason ’gainst me because I have made treason a crime of the state.  His sin seeks to bring forth virtue.

Bathsheba:  You were meant to befree, and to none accountable, preferring hard liberty before the easy yoke of servility.

Malcolm:  Since the original lapse, true liberty is lost.

Bathsheba:  Then take what little liberty thou may have; claim our just inheritance!

Malcolm:  What of peace?

Bathsheba:  Peace shall not prevail, save with the sword in her hand.  All have the right to fight!

Malcolm:  But none have the right to judge, and here we judge Donalbain’s nature.

Bathsheba:  Doth he not judge your own merits and weaknesses?

Malcolm:  Judge me fairly he does, for I am evil.  This I know, for only in destroying do I find ease.

Bathsheba:  Destruction clears and gives us breathing space and liberty.  Out of our evil, seek to bring forth good.  We boast of light, but if we look not wisely on the sun itself, it smites us into darkness.  How much we expel of sin, so much we expel of virtue.  Good and evil, as two twins cleaving together, leaped forth into the world, and perhaps this is that doom which Adam fell into of knowing good and evil; that is to say, of knowing good by evil, and so Adam could apprehend and consider vice.  But all this talk of vice and virtue aside was he not born of the same womb as you?  How much more moral could he be.

Malcolm:  Even mother’s milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.

Bathsheba:  You did not come to the throne by your own ambition, and did resist such authority.  You admit to your vice, and do combat it.  What of your brother’s vice?  Doth he admit to it and thus temper it?  What of his ambition?  What will not ambition and revenge descend to?  Who aspires must down as low as high he soared.

Malcolm:  I should be master to men not.  No man is good enough to be another man’s master.

Bathsheba:  And so it could be said of your brother.  To him it is with ease and confidence that ambition comes, to you it is with great contemplation and self-evaluation, with a constrain’d conscience.  With this in mind consider the maxim: Damned deeds are done with great confidence.  Do you want such a man to rule our nation?

Malcolm:  I cannot kill my blood, and nothing is ever done in this world unless men are prepared to kill one another if it is not done.

Bathsheba:  By violence?  No.  For that shall be withstood, but by deceit and lies; this let him know.  His mouth and tongue with dropping honey flows.  The relish of it is a pleasing thing, yet like the bees it has a little sting.  So too must ye speak.  For ’gainst all envy virtue is a cure.  If you let us fall from our position, it will be only pity that we find, and wretched pity ever calls on scorn.  You have a gift, sir, thank your birthright, that will never let you want, while there are men and malice to breed causes.  The dead or the lazy wait for fate,  we have found it, take fast hold or lose it.

Malcolm:  And what if I do lose my way on the field?  What if I do shed royal blood and so prove my fate.

Bathsheba:  All will not be lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield.  And what else not be overcome?  That glory never shall his wrath or might extort from us!  *Bathsheba bows and then backs out of the scene, leaving Malcolm alone.*

Malcolm:  As it has been with words that Donalbain has aim’d to usurp my place, so to shall I use words in place of swords to defend myself.

*The lights go dark.*

Scene:  Within a tent on a field in preparations for battle.  Donalbain and his supporters.  Lennox, Ross and Toirdelbach Ua Briain (called Brian by the Scots), leader of the Irish army and next in line to the Irish throne, among others. 

Brian:  My uncle, The High King of Ireland hath sent me forth in the company of the bravest sons of Ireland, in show of support to your cause.  We believe, Donalbain, that you are the rightful, and just king of Scotland, and seek to succeed in battle with you, our neighbouring brothers, that we might share in prosperous peace once the tyranny of Scotland has been purged.  Where years and months do separate most heirs in the line of succession, it is but minutes and seconds which doth separate Donalbain and Malcolm, and while in appearance there may be little difference between you two, Ireland doth believe that your virtue and reason sets you apart from your despotic brother and that reason and virtue make you the rightful king of Scotland.

Donalbain:  I thank thee noble Brian, who did provideth for me a home when exiled by the tyrannous Macbeth, and did act as a brother to me.  Your words ring true, for as we lay these honours of kingship on this man, my brother, to ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads and blood soaked fields of the tyrant Macbeth, so now Malcolm does but bear them as the ass bears gold.  It is not any Scottish brave, afflicts me so, as doth his poisoned view.  It is this poisoned view which Malcolm has bequeathed to his people, that hath, into monstrous habits, put the graces that once were his, and hath become as black as if besmear’d in hell.  As it is that all hoods make not monks, neither than do all crowns make kings.

Brian: He against whom you fight, has enthron’d himself in tyranny!  Has but made slaves of you!  And with a heavy hand curtail’d and cur’d your sweetest liberty.”

Lennox:  We have power in ourselves to do it, but it is a power that we have no power to do; for if he show us his wounds and tell us his deeds, we are to put our tongues into those wounds and speak for them; so, if he tell us his noble deeds, how he rescu’d us from the tyranny of Macbeth, we must also tell him our noble acceptance of them, for he did end the tyranny of Macbeth.  Ingratitude is monstrous, and for the multitude to be ingrateful, were to make a monster of the multitude: of the which we being members, should bring ourselves to be monstrous members.

Ross:  And his silver hairs will purchase him good opinion

Donalbain:  What’s the matter you dissentious rogues, that rubbing the poor itch of your opinion make yourselves scabs!  Are the flames of battle too warm for thee?  Hath your courage died before it could issue honour?  Do we profess ourselves to be the slaves of chance, and flies of every wind that blows?  These walls of ours were not erected by Malcolm’s hands,  from whom you have received no gifts!

Lennox:  But neither should these great towers, trophies, and schools fall for private faults in them.

Donalbain:  Scotland’s a prison!  Do not banish reason for inequality, but let your reason serve to make the truth appear where it seems hid, and hide the false seems true.  The hind that would be mated by the lion must die for love.  Doth thou wish to throw your loyalty to the despot that would devour it?  Doth thou wish to throw your loyalty to the lion who hath ravag’d this nation’s women with his insatiable appetite?  And plunder’d this nation’s riches with that same unquenchable lust of blood. He doth taketh your houses over your heads, ravish your wives and daughters before your faces!  No more!

Ross:  Hath not old custom made this life more sweet than that of painted pomp?  Are not these lands more free from peril than the envious court?”

Donalbain:  The plague of custom!  For that surely is of what you speak.  I say again!  Do not banish reason for inequality, but let your reason serve to make the truth appear where it seems hid!  Our despot shall well know the noble tribunes are the people’s mouth, and shall sooner know that we their hands!

Ross:  His great wealth though hast surely purchased a great army.

Donalbain:  He hath but bought out the law, but ‘tis not above it.  Malcolm has made treason a crime of the state!  Have we not the support of Ireland’s bravest sons?

Ross:  But what if the people should cast us as murderers?

Donalbain:  We shall be called purgers, not murderers.  Our course will seem too bloody, to cut the head off, and then hack the limbs, like wrath in death, and envy afterwards.  For Malcolm is but a limb of tyranny: but letusbe sacrificers, not butchers.  Let us kill him boldly, but not wrathfully.  Let us bathe our hands in a tyrant’sblood!  Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords.  Then walk we forth, even to the market place, and, waving our red weapons o’er our heads, let us all cry, ‘Peace! Freedom! Liberty!

Lennox:  Noble Donalbain, you weigh equally with your brother among the masses; a feather will but turn the scale.  What if he should flatter them?

Donalbain:  Faith, there had been many great men that have flattered the people, who ne’er loved them; and there be many that they have loved, they know not wherefore: so that, if they love they know not why, they hate upon no better a ground: therefore, for Malcolm neither to care whether they love or hate him manifests the true knowledge he has in their disposition; and out of his ignoble carelessness lets them plainly see’t.  When at home, noble and brave Lennox, Malcolm wasall my exercise, my mirth, my matter, my sworn friend, my brother, but power hath corrupted what virtue he once did have, and  now mine own brother is mine own enemy; my parasite, Scotland’s enemy, Scotland’s parasite! And with his varying childness cures in me thoughts that would thick my blood.  Doth it not cure your blood?

Ross, Lennox and others: Aye!

Donalbain:  Shall we fight, or shall we slip back into the darkness forever!

All present: Fight!

Enter, a soldier

Soldier:  Majesty, a herald of your brother hath come to request an audience on behalf of his master.

Donalbain:  These are the ushers of Malcolm!  Before him he carries noise, and behind him he leaves tears!  Death, that dark spirit, in his nervy arm doth lie, which being advanc’d declines, and then men die!

Soldier:  Your answer majesty?

Donalbain:  If Malcolm wishes to meet his executioner before he meets his death, then I shall grant him this dying man’s wish.  Let my reason strip away his false virtue before mine own men.

*Exit all.*

Scene:  Malcolm arrives before Donalbain and his army on the field.

Malcolm:  What charges hath thee against thine own brother that yea should raise up an army against your flesh and blood; against your noble king; and against your own lands?

endtrailsDonalbain:  Tyrant!  No father, king, or shepherd of thy realm tears his entrails with thy hands and, like a thirsty tiger, suckst her blood!  *The army cheers*  What care these roarers for the name of the king, when that same man is a tyrant and villain to his own children!

Malcolm:  I am your true and natural king, thou should knowst this by instinct.  Nature teaches even beasts to know their friends, as it doth teach them to know their own benefactors.

Donalbain:  Pray you, who does the wolf love?

Malcolm:  I know not.

Donalbain:  The lamb, that he might devour him, as the hungry tyrant might devour the noble plebeians of his own realm.  *The army cheers*

Malcolm:  Or as a treasonous deceiver might hope to spur the hungry plebeians to devour their noble king. *The army is silent*  There is a sickness which puts some of us in distemper, but I cannot name the disease; and it is caught of you that yet are well.

Donalbain: The plague of custom is that which makes us yet ill!  *Cheers*  And this plague of custom has made Scotland a prison!

Malcolm:  Then is not the world one?  A goodly one in which there are many confines, wards, cells and dungeons?  *The army is silent*

Donalbain:  And Scotland being one of the worst!  *There are scattered yeas amongst the men*

Malcolm:  Hath thee such vulgar words to share on your homeland?

Donalbain:  By the sword we shall wrest our homeland, our honour and our liberty from the hands of a tyrant!  *The army cheers*

Malcolm:  A tyrant?  Nay.  Shock’d am I, that men such as you should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains.  I am not a day of season, for thou mayst see a sunshine and a hail in me at once.  Such is the temperament a king must have, but you have chosen to see only the hail.  As to the sword, it can never win honour that is lost; and as to liberty, it is full of threats to all. *There are scattered yeas among the men*  If thou couldst, thou wouldst find me such a plain king, that thou wouldst think I had sold my farm to buy my crown.  *The scattered cheers increase in volume*

Donalbain:  Blood constraint!  *To his men*  If you were to hide the crown, even in your hearts, this tyrant will rake for it with a trident forged in hell! *The army cheers*  This mock of his hath turn’d his balls to stones and his soul shall stand sore charged for the wasteful vengeance that shall fly with them, for many thousand widows shall mourn of their dear husbands; and some are yet ungotten and unborn that shall have cause to curse Malcolm’s scorn.  So get you hence!  Your devilish rhetoric will savour but shallow wit, when thousands weep, more than did laugh.  We will not fall prey to such clever words.  *The army cheers*

Malcolm:  I appeal to you with reason, not deceit.

Donalbain:  Your reason has no manners, nor truth, nor honour.  Who else would soar above the view of men and keep us all in servile fearfulness save an oppressive despot!  Your gluttony and, lusts and greed and pride do rule this nation, better MacBeth than such one reign!  For one’s offence, why should so many fall to plague a private sin in general?  *Addressing the crowd*  Is he not approved in the height a villain?  Hath he not slander’d, dishonour’d our kinswomen?  O, that I were a king!  What, bear her in hand until they come to take hands; and then, when public accusations, uncover’d slander, unmitigated rancour, O God, *Turning back to Malcolm*  that I were a king!  I would eat your heart!  I would you were here alone, so should you be ransom’d and a many poor men’s lives saved.  *The army cheers*

Malcolm: *Aside to Donalbain*  Now you lie like a king.  *Aloud*  And your answer is war?  Your answer is death?  Turn the widow’s tears, the orphan’s cries, the dead men’s blood, the pining maiden’s groans, for husbands, fathers, and betrothed lovers, that shall be swallow’d in this controversy!  *Scattered yeas amongst the army* 

Donalbain:  *To his men*  Aye, his words sound sweet, but rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind!

Malcolm:  Let words not speak.  *Motions behind him.  A child approaches*  Already skirmishes have taken their toll.  This child’s father, who took not sides in this conflict, has seen his life stolen.  Find th’inheritance of this poor child.  His little kingdom of a forced grave, that blood which ow’d the breath of all this isle.  Thy sins are visited on this poor child.  *The Army relieves a collective gasp*  Alas, he has a mother yet.  Why then, let us depart in peace, and let the child wake her with crying, for the ewe that will not hear her in a grave and will never answer a calf when he bleats.  *Cheers amongst Donalbain’s army*

Donalbain:  Was ever a feather so lightly blown to and fro as this crowd is by words?

Malcolm:  We are two Christian armies that might combine the blood of malice in a vain league and not spend it so neighbourly?  For this down-trodden equity you tread, in warlike march to these greens before your own towns?  Towns being no further enemy to you than the constraint of hospitable zeal?  Lay down your swords and in the relief save this oppressed child *Gestures to the child again*  Be pleased to pay that duty which you truly owe to him, that I owe to him, this noble plebeian prince, nay king, for he was but  a prince in his own home, but now is that same home’s king as his father lays dead and yet unburied.  Blessed and unvex’d, retire, with unhack’d swords and helmets, and bodies all unburied.  Bear home that lusty blood again, where here you came to spout against your own lands, and leave your children, wives and your own selves in peace.  O, now doth death line his dead chaps with steel, the swords of soldiers are his teeth, his fangs, and now he prepares to feast upon the flesh and souls of men, ’neath the banner of undetermined differences of princes.  Injurious wasps, to feed on such sweet honey and kill the bees that yield it with your stings!

Donalbain:  *Aside*  Must I go show them my unbarb’d sconce?  Must I, with base tongue give to my noble heart a lie that it must bear?  Well, I will do it.  Away my disposition, and possess me, some harlot’s spirit!  My throat of war be turn’d which quired with my drum, into a pipe small as an eunuch, or the virgin voice that babies lull asleep!  *Aloud*  You fight not against your own people, not against your own lands, but for them!  Is it not better to die on your feet than to live on your knees?  Why should the king’s liberty be more than ours?  This tyrant does cast gentle words upon us, but to whom do lions cast their gentle looks?  The wretched, bloody, usurping boar that spoiled your summer fields and fruitful vines, that spoiled your liberty and honour, that has spoiled so many of our women, still warms itself in your blood and makes his trough in your embowll’d bosoms.  This foul swine lies now, even in the centre of this battlefield!  Bruis’d underneath the yoke of tyranny, this far into the bowels of lands have we march’d on without impediment, just as the otherwise peaceful dove will peck in safeguard of their blood, of their issues.  Unseasonable creatures feed their young, and though man’s face be fearful to their eyes, just as is a tyrant’s to our own, yet in protection of their tender ones, who hath not seen them, even with those wings which sometimes they have us’d in fearful flight, make war with him that climb’d unto their nest, offering their own lives in their young’s defence.  Let not his devilishly smooth word convince you.  Freedom or death.  A crown, or else a glorious tomb!  A sceptre, or an earthly sepulchre!  *A monumental roar bursts from the army*  Aye, more than we should seek after, for we know enough, if we know we are the king’s subjects: if his cause be wrong, our obedience to the king is likewise wrong, and guilt of the crimes will be wiped not out of us.  Men’s flesh preserv’d so whole do seldom win!  So tonight, either we will bask in glory on the field, or else sup with Jesus Christ!  *Addressing the king*  And if not in heaven, then surely you’ll sup in hell!

Malcolm:  Are my discourses dull?  Barren my wit?

Donalbain:  You ask of your discourses?  Your wit?  Your words?  Whose greatness answer words, let this my sword report what speech forbears! *Another roar from the army*  I intend to skirmish not for pillage, but for the crown which thou dost wear, and that I vow to have, or one of us shall fall into his grave.

Malcolm:  Why, look you, how you storm!  I would be friends with you, brothers, and have your love, forget the shame that you have stain’d me with, supply your present wants and take nothing in exchange.  Your banishment from court is self-imposed.  You are welcome.  And these men, this army, I know are acting on behalf of Scotland, even though the devil hath poisoned their thoughts.  They shall all be pardoned, and you shall take your rightful spot at my right hand side, but you’ll not hear me: This is kindness I offer.  Wouldst thou rather war against the blood that runs in thine own veins?  What shall your feast be kept with?  Slaughter’d men?  Pray you, tell me this:  If we should war this day, what should we gain by the exaction of your justice?  Men’s flesh, from men taken?  It is not so estimable, profitable neither, as flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats.  I say, in my hope to garner your favour, I extend this friendship.  If you will take it, let us then rejoice.  If not, adieu, and, for my love, I pray you wrong me not.  *The army applauds the kings words*  Brother, I feel in my heart that it is jealousy and not honour that doth move you, and how many fond fools serve jealousy?

Donalbain:  *To the army.*  Look, as I blow this feather from my face, and as the air blows it to me again, obeying with my wind when I do blow, and yielding to another when it blows, commanded always by the greater gust, such is the lightness of you common men.  *The army is silenced*  This easily swayed opinion will break out to all our sorrows, and ere long I doubt.  *Addressing the king*  You offer much, but is it not true that rich gifts wax poor when givers prove unkind?  Be not they tongue thy own shame’s orator?  Look sweet, speak fair, become disloyalty, apparel vice like virtue’s harbinger; bear a fair presence, though your heart be tainted; teach sin the carriage of a holy saint; be secret-false: what need she be acquainted?  What simple thief brags of his own attaint?   ’Tis double wrong, to truant with your bed, and let her read it in thy looks at board: shame hath a bastard fame, well managed; ill deeds is doubled with an evil word.

Malcolm:  It is the curse of kings to be attended by slaves that take their humours for a warrant to break within the bloody house of life.  And on the winking of authority, to understand a law, to know the meaning of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns more upon humours than advis’d respect.  Can you, when you have push’d out your gates the very defender of them, and, in a violent popular ignorance, given your enemy your shield, think to front his revenges with the easy groans of old women, the virginal palms of your daughters, or with the palsied intercession of such a decay’d dotant as you seem to be?  Can you be judge of your own cause?

Donalbain:  Slaves?  You see your children as slaves?  Then surely you are the tyrant I do claim you to be.  King?!  *To his men.*  He feasts upon liberty and honour and freedom. A king?!  *Loud cheers*

Malcolm:  Slaves not to me, but to the Irish poison which seeps into your minds.  Should Ireland put its own choice for king upon the Scottish throne?  That they might speak for Ireland and not for Scotland?  Then we should be slaves to the Irish throne instead of protected by our true Scottish king.  Will only war and death answer your doubts sufficiently?  Oh let us be merciful.  O God!  That one might read the book of fate and see mountains level, and the continent weary of solid firmness, melt itself into the sea.  And other the beachy girdle of the ocean too wide for Neptune’s hips.  Should we read that book we should see that war would only bring a mourning veil up with the sunrise as every family should suffer no matter the outcome.  As you suckst blood, would you some mercy show?  *A pause, waiting for a response from Donalbain who stands in silence at a loss of speech*  Knowst this my dear brother: In peace there is nothing so becomes a man as modest stillness and humility.  All have not offended, for those that were, it is not square to take on those that are.  Revenges, crimes, like lands, are not inherited, and so if you did not yet lift a sword against your own country, then a pardon will be granted to yea all.  *Cheers among Donalbains army*

Donalbain:  *Speaking to his army*  He that will give good words to thee will flatter beneath abhorring. What would you have, you curs, whose support changes now easier than doth the wind, that like nor peace nor war?  The one affrights you, the other makes you proud. He that trusts to you, where he should find you lions, finds you hares; where foxes, geese: you are no surer, no, than is the coal of fire upon the ice, or hailstone in the sun.  Your virtue is, to make him worthy whose offence subdues him, and curse that justice did it. Who deserves greatness deserves your hate; and your affections are a sick man’s appetite, who desires most that which would increase his evil.  He that depends upon your favours swims with fins of lead and hews down oaks with rushes. Hang ye! Trust ye? With every minute you do change a mind, and call him noble that was now your hate, him vile that was your garland.  What’s the matter, that in these several places of the city you cry against the noble senate, who, under the gods, keep you in awe, which else would feed on one another? What’s their seeking?  Do you find pride now in your inaction because a false king that flatter’d yea?  Why should a man be proud?  How doth pride grow?  I know not what pride is.  I, that have neither pity,justicenew pride, nor fear, but only love for that which is just, and this king knows not justice!  When first you came, you each did say that you were a better soldier than any.  Let it appear so, make your vaunting true, and it shall please me well.  For mine own part, I shall be glad to learn of noble men.  I think the king is but a man, as I am: the violet smells to him as it doth to me: the element shows to him as it doth to me; all his senses have but human conditions: his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man; and though his affections are higher mounted than ours, yet, when they stoop, they stoop with the like wing. Therefore when he sees reason of fears, as we do, his fears, out of doubt, be of the same relish as ours are: yet, in reason, no man should possess him with any appearance of fear, lest he, by showing it, should dishearten his army.  Doubt not in yourselves.  Know that you are equal to any man!  *Cheers from the army*  What through the field be lost?  And what else not be overcome?  That glory never shall his wrath or might extort from us!  Let your fainting courage dispel your fears, and now set the teeth, and stretch and bend up every spirit to his full height, and out of this evil seek to bring forth good, battle to claim our just inheritance!  What can be worse than to dwell here in the prison that is Scotland?  Free, and to none accountable, let us choose hard liberty before the easy yoke of servility!  We shall be purified by this trial!  For that which purifies us is trial!

Malcolm:  *Raising his hand*  Let us be merciful yet.  Things often spoke are seldom meant, but mean this I do: Too many Scotsmen have shed blood.  Who else must let blood?  Who else is rank?  Should we war, then these many die, their names are picked.  If I myself should die, there is no hour so fit!  Nor no instrument of half that worth as the sword you call’st your own.  A sword made rich with the most noble blood of all this world.  I do beseech ye, if you bear me hard now, whilst your purple hands do reek and smoke, fulfill your pleasure.  *Falls on bended knee, offering his neck to Donalbain*  Live a thousand years, I shall not find myself so apt to die. Thou dost prefer’st life before honour and this I respect.  I know what right thou hast in Scotland, and though flawed you may be, I basely will resign my crown rather than to see that this field shall be a pool of Scottish blood, and all our prospects as a slaughterhouse.  I’d rather mine be the only blood shed to unify this kingdom, than watch my own children spill each other’s blood.  No place will please me so, no means of death, as here by Donalbain.  I love the name of honour more than I fear death, for one death might have prevented many.  *Malcolm waits for a response from Donalbain, who has brought his hand to his sword but has not unsheathed it*  The common executioner, whose heart th’accustom’d sight of death makes hard, falls not the axe upon the humbled neck but first begs pardon: Will you sterner be than he that dies and lived by blood drops?  Win you this city, this country, and the kingship, without a stroke or wound against your men, save the one against your king.

bowDonalbain:  *Donalbain unsheathes the sword and raises it slow, hesitates, and then sheaths the sword*  I yield to great persuasion.  I accept peace and your invitation to court.  *Malcolm rises and offers his hand to Donalbain, who takes it in his own.*

Malcolm: *Aside to Donalbain*  Think only what concerns thee and thy being; dream not of other worlds, for though we may boast of the light of liberty, if we look not wisely upon the sun itself, it smites us into darkness.

*The lights go dark.*

Scene:  In the bawdyhouse.  There are women walking about eyeing up potential customers.  Spurius is present, though he is now clean shaven and his hair is short.  He has altered his appearance in hopes of disguising himself with the aim of getting closer to the king.  Elizabeth is present, though now is working as a waitress.  She brings a pint to Spurius who looks down at the table at which he sits, ignoring the woman dancing on the stage before him.  Elizabeth keeps her face down, and Spurius suddenly takes hold of her chin and forces her to look at him, eye to eye.

Spurius:  Why do you seek to conceal this face?

Elizabeth:  It is not one customers wish to look upon.

Spurius:  Though scars do aim to conceal the beauty beneath them, their attempt to do so is in vain.  I still bear witness to the splendour of your beauty as it doth shine through.  Hide not this face, for it is nothing short of a delight.  You are a woman, therefore to be admir’d.  *He drinks of the pint.*

Elizabeth: *Silence.*

Spurius:  Pray tell, how did you come to bear these scars and bruises?

Elizabeth:  I dare not speak of it for fear that I may be accus’d of treason.

Spurius:  No man is more treasonous that the tyrant who boasts that he be king of Scotland, he who has made treason a crime of the state.

Elizabeth:  Why speak you so?  *Mrs. Warren has entered the room and stays at a distance listening.* 

Spurius:  You may see not my scars, but hear them if you will.  Malcolm, who I will call not a king for a true king he is not, did move mine own wife to cuckold me, and for her reward did ravage my daughter’s innocence.  Both be now dead, and my life is set to avenge my family.

Elizabeth:  It was this selfsame man who did press these wounds upon me.  All is now lost.

Spurius:  All will not be lost; the unconquerable will, and study of revenge, immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield.  And what else not be overcome?  That glory never shall his wrath or might extort from us!  That he should be so abject, base, and poor, to choose violence and not perfect love.  *Rising to his feet, Spurius takes Elizabeths hand.*  Thou were bought and sold among those of any wit, like a barbarian slave.  Only a sword can win the honour that is lost.  And so it will be the sword I carry with me.  *Looking away, as if speaking to Malcolm.*  Take our houses over our heads, ravish our wives and daughters before our faces!  I will make shift for one; and so, god’s curse light upon you!  Things are oft spoke, but seldom meant, but know this Malcolm, I speak only words that I will defend and sustain, for they are all that sustain me now!  *Looking back to Elizabeth.*  I will win your honour back and avenge the loss of my family, or die trying.  Be my comfort and companion on this journey.

Elizabeth:  The devil’s office must thou do.

Spurius:  I wear the duty proudly, for so long as Malcolm claims to be god in the flesh, I am but an executioner from the court of hell.  Wouldst thou join me?

Elizabeth:  *Silence.*

Spurius:  Doth thou preferr’st thy life before thine honour?  Wouldst thou be a victim to preserve a wretch’d life?  Hath not the lion already left scars upon thee?  You are forever yoked to tyranny so long as Malcolm is king.

Elizabeth:  Would I were dead!  If god’s good will were so; for what is in this world but grief and woe?

Spurius:  And since I cannot prove a lover to entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain.

Elizabeth:  And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.

Spurius:  My discourses are dull, and barren is my wit, but we need not words to throw off this golden yoke of sovereignty.  And once we do dispel this yoke, by crown shall be called content, even if it doth mean my death.  From now ‘til then I shall give you what little love is left in my soul.  All I have shall be yours, thou little it be.  *Spurius consumes the pint.*  Let us be off.  *She nods.  Spurius picks up his jacket and the two walk to the door.  Elizabeth pauses as Spurius exits the room.*

Elizabeth:  My only love, sprung from my only hate.  *She looks down and exits, following Spurious.  Mrs. Warren steps forward, looking out the door which Spurius and Elizabeth have left through.*

Mrs. Warren:  Yond Caesar has a lean and hungry look, he thinks too much, such men are dangerous.  His words are true, ‘she is mad that trusts the tameness of a lion’, but he is also mad who trusts a whore’s oath.  But vengeance has blinded thee.  Vengeance is your master, for he masters you, and he that is so yoked by a fool, methinks, should not be chronicled for wise.   But alas, how man fools serve mad vengeance?

*Mrs. Warren turns.  The lights go dark.*


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Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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