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n the grounds of his castle Lord Lennox was talking to an acquaintance.

“What I’ve said before echoes your own thinking, so come to your own conclusion. But I will say this: things have happened strangely. The gracious Duncan was pitied by Macbeth. Then he was dead. And the valiant Banquo took a late walk one night, too late as it turned out. You can say Fleance killed him since Fleance fled. Men must not walk too late at night! Who hasn’t said how awful it was for Malcolm and Donalbain to kill their gracious father? A grisly deed! How it grieved Macbeth. Didn’t he, in a pious rage, immediately punish the two delinquents who were still in an alcoholic stupor? Wasn’t that nobly done? Yes, and wisely too. It would have angered us all to hear the men deny it. I say his behaviour was justified. If he had Duncan’s sons under his lock and key – God willing, he never will- they would soon find out what it meant to kill a father. The same goes for Fleance. But enough of that! Because he speaks his mind and failed to show his face at the tyrant’s feast I hear Macduff is in disgrace. Sir, do you know where he has gone?”

Lennox’s friend said: “Duncan’s son, having seen his birthright snatched by the tyrant, lives at the English court. Their holy monarch, Edward the Confessor, receives him with such grace that the malevolent turn his fortunes have taken in no way diminishes his rank. It is Macduff’s intention to beg the Edward’s assistance in coaxing Siward and his warrior forces in Northumberland to rally against Macbeth. With their help – and God to ratify their hopes- we may again have feasts and peaceful nights, banish bloody knives from our meetings, pay loyal homage and receive honours free of strings. Everything we pine for now! Stories about this have so exasperated Macbeth that he is preparing for an invasion.”

“Did Macbeth send for Macduff?”

“He did. And the reply he received was short: Sir, not I. The messenger went pale, turned his back, as if to say, You’ll rue the day you gave me with that answer.”

“That ought to warn him to watch his step! May some holy angel fly to the court of England and tell them he is coming for their help. That might speed our country’s liberation from the reign of such an accursed hand.”

“I’ll send my prayers with him.”

They were wary of the times, they kept the conversation short and said their goodbyes. The countryside was full of spies. Many were now betraying friends and family simply to stay on good terms with Macbeth.