Lady Macbeth entered the chamber looking tired and drained, as though even her capacity for evil could no longer cope with the implications of their butchery and ambition.
“Has Banquo left court?” she asked a servant.
“Yes, Madam, but he is returning tonight.”
“Tell the King I would like to speak to him.”
“Madam, I will.”
Alone she was gripped by the brooding she mocked in her husband: “Nothing is gained but all is lost when a fulfilled ambition turns out to be hollow. It would probably be better to be the victim than to experience destruction from the proceeds of one’s own actions.”
The resemblance the corpse of King Duncan bore to her father still haunted her. Then Macbeth entered and Lady Macbeth composed herself and spoke in almost scoffing tone.
“Well, now, my Lord! Why do you keep your own company with only those morbid notions in your head as companions – thoughts which should have died with the very people they concern? Things without remedy should be disregarded. What’s done is done.”
“We’ve wounded the snake, not killed it. She’ll heal and be herself again, while our malice will be in danger from her venom. Let the universe crack and both Heaven and earth will suffer- but we won’t eat our meals in fear and sleep in a prison of nightmares. Better to be with the dead, whom we to gain our peace have sent to their peace, rather than have the mind tortured by unrelenting agony. Duncan is in his grave. After an eventful life he sleeps peacefully. Treason has done its worst. Neither sword, nor poison, nor revolution in this land, nor foreign foe can touch him now.”
“Come, gentle husband. Throw away your haggard expression, be bright and jovial with your guests tonight.”
“So I shall, love. And so I hope will you. Spoil Banquo. Flatter him with smiles and compliments. This is a dangerous time, we must hide behind our flattery and ensure our faces mask our hearts.”
“You must stop this. Don’t overdo it!”
“Oh, my mind is full of scorpions, dear wife! You know that Banquo and Fleance live.”
“Man’s lifespan is surprisingly short.”
“There’s comfort in that. They are assailable. Cheer up! Before the bat takes flight to rendezvous with witches, and insects fill the night air, there shall be done a deed of dreadful note.”
“What’s going to happen?”
“Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chick, until you applaud the deed. Come blinding night and cover the tender eye of pitying day, with your bloody and invisible hand destroy that life which keeps me in terror. Night falls. The crow takes wing to the dark woods. The good things of the day begin to droop and feel drowsy while the night’s black agents prepare to hunt their prey. You marvel at my words! But there’s more: Things with a bad beginning only get stronger with more of the same. So please, go with me.”