In the battle Macbeth knew everything was lost.
“They’ve tied me to a stake. I cannot escape. Like a bear I must fight the course. Who is he who wasn’t born of woman? Such a man I am to fear – if he exists.”
A soldier approached Macbeth, A young man from the camp of the enemy. It was young Siward.
“What is your name?” asked Siward.
“You’ll be afraid to hear it.”
“No, not even if the name you call yourself is more hellish than any in hell.”
“My name is Macbeth.”
“The devil himself could not pronounce a name more hateful to my ear.”
“No, nor more terrifying!”
“You lie, you despised tyrant. With my sword I’ll prove you are a liar.”
Macbeth leapt at the youngster. Siward’s battle skills were far short of his enthusiasm and quickly Macbeth had defeated the inexperienced soldier.
“You were born of woman!” Macbeth said to the corpse. “Swords I smile at, and weapons I laugh at when they are brandished by a man born of a woman.”
Nearby in the field, Macduff heard the gloating and ranting of Macbeth.
“The noise was from over there!” Macduff told himself. “Tyrant, show your face. If you are slain and the stroke didn’t come from me, the ghosts of my wife and children will haunt me forever. I don’t want to fight wretched mercenaries, who only bear arms if the price is right.
Either it’s you Macbeth, or my sword returns to its sheath unused. Let me find him! Fortune, I ask nothing else!”
Malcolm and the elder Siward were at another part of the battle swapping information on how things were going.
“This way, my lord” said Siward to Malcolm, “the castle has surrendered with barely a struggle. The tyrant’s people fight on both sides. Your noble thanes fight bravely. The day is almost yours. There is little left to do.”
“Yes, we have encountered many who have switched sides,” Malcom said.
“Enter the castle, sir,” Siward said.
As Malcolm and Siward entered Dunsinane, Macduff still roamed the battlefield looking for Macbeth. In the confusion neither of them realised how close to each other they were.
“Why should I play the Roman fool and fall on my own sword? I see living men who suit my sword strikes better!” Macbeth asked himself aloud. But it was too loud. Macduff was barely a yard away.
“Turn, hellhound, turn!” Macduff yelled.
“Of all men, I’ve avoided you! Get back, there’s enough of your blood staining my soul.”
“I have no words! My voice is my sword. You’re a bloodier villain than words can say.”
Their swords clashed. They paced around each other knowing it would be a fight to the death.
“Your cause is lost! It would be easy to draw blood from the air than to make me bleed. Let your blade fall on vulnerable heads. I bear a charmed life, which will not yield to one born of a woman.”
“Forget your charm! Let your devil leader tell you this: Macduff had to be taken from his mother’s womb just as her time on this earth was up!”
“Curses to the tongue that tells me this. It has cowed the better part of my spirit! Those devils who juggle words! Layer them with multiple meanings! Liars! They whispered promises in my ear and withdrew them when I wanted them. I will not fight you.”
“Then surrender to me, coward! And live to be exhibited and gazed at, as rare monsters are. Here you can see the tyrant!”
“I won’t surrender, to kiss the ground beneath young Malcolm’s feet and to be subjected to the jeering rabble. Even if Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane and you, my opponent, were not literally born of woman, I will fight to the last. I throw my warlike shield before my body. Fight on, Macduff. Damned be the first who cries, Hold it, enough.”
As Macbeth and Macduff were fighting to the death, Malcolm, Ross and the elder Siward had gathered the thanes and soldiers at the castle. They collated lists of causalities.
“I hope those who are still missing get here safely”, said Malcolm.
“Some must die”, said Siward, “but from this I see a great day comes cheap.”
“Macduff is missing, as is and your noble son,” Malcolm said.
Lord Ross sighed. “Your son, my lord, has died like a soldier. He only lived to reach manhood. He had no sooner proved his prowess in battle than he died in a manly way.”
“Then he is dead?” asked the numbed elder Siward.
“Yes, and brought off the field. Your sorrow must not be measured by his worth, for then it would have no end.”
“Were the wounds in his stomach?” Siward asked Ross.
“Yes, in front.”
“Well, then, let him be God’s soldier. Had I as many sons as I have hairs I wouldn’t wish him a fairer death. His bell has tolled.”
“He’s worth more sorrow. I’ll grieve for him!” Malcolm said.
“He’s worth no more than any other. They say he died well and paid his score. And so God be with him.”
From the corner of his eye Siward then saw Macduff approaching them: “Here comes newer comfort!”
The party turned to see Macduff bearing the head of Macbeth impaled on his sword. Macduff stopped in front of Malcolm.
“Hail, King! For so you are. Behold the usurper’s cursed head! The country has been freed! I see you surrounded by the noblest men in your kingdom. In their heads they speak my salutation, which I ask them to join me in crying aloud: Hail, King of Scotland!”
“Hail! King of Scotland!” the thanes said together.
“We shall not waste time before we express our gratitude to you all. My thanes and kinsmen, henceforth you shall be earls, the first in Scotland ever to have such an honour. There is so much to do now in these new times. We must call home our exiled friends who fled the tyranny. We must dispense justice to the ministers of the dead butcher and his fiendish wife, who it is thought took her own life. This and any other measure needed will be taken at the rightful time and place. So thanks to you all, and to each of you I invite you to see me crowned at Scone.”