ACT 4, SCENE 2: Fife. Macduff's castle.

Enter LADY MACDUFF, her Son, and ROSS.

LADY MACDUFF: What had he done, to make him fly the land?

ROSS: You must have patience, madam.

LADY MACDUFF:                           He had none:
His flight was madness: when our actions do not,
Our fears do make us traitors.

ROSS:                           You know not
Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.                                                [5]

LADY MACDUFF: Wisdom! to leave his wife, to leave his babes,
His mansion and his titles in a place
From whence himself does fly? He loves us not;
He wants the natural touch: for the poor wren,
The most diminutive of birds, will fight,                                             [10]
Her young ones in her nest, against the owl.
All is the fear and nothing is the love;
As little is the wisdom, where the flight
So runs against all reason.

ROSS:                           My dearest coz,
I pray you, school yourself: but for your husband,                            [15]
He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
The fits o' the season. I dare not speak much further;
But cruel are the times, when we are traitors
And do not know ourselves, when we hold rumour
From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,                                 [20]
But float upon a wild and violent sea
Each way and move. I take my leave of you:
Shall not be long but I'll be here again:
Things at the worst will cease, or else climb upward
To what they were before. My pretty cousin,                                      [25]
Blessing upon you!

LADY MACDUFF: Father'd he is, and yet he's fatherless.

ROSS: I am so much a fool, should I stay longer,
It would be my disgrace and your discomfort:
I take my leave at once.                                                                             [30]

LADY MACDUFF:              Sirrah, your father's dead:
And what will you do now? How will you live?

Son: As birds do, mother.

LADY MACDUFF:                           What, with worms and flies?

Son: With what I get, I mean; and so do they.

LADY MACDUFF: Poor bird! thou'ldst never fear the net nor lime,
The pitfall nor the gin.                                                                              [35]

Son: Why should I, mother? Poor birds they are not set for.
My father is not dead, for all your saying.

LADY MACDUFF: Yes, he is dead; how wilt thou do for a father?

Son: Nay, how will you do for a husband?

LADY MACDUFF: Why, I can buy me twenty at any                                    [40]

Son: Then you'll buy 'em to sell again.

LADY MACDUFF: Thou speak'st with all thy wit; and yet, i' faith,
With wit enough for thee.

Son: Was my father a traitor, mother?                                                             [45]

LADY MACDUFF: Ay, that he was.

Son: What is a traitor?

LADY MACDUFF: Why, one that swears and lies.

Son: And be all traitors that do so?

LADY MACDUFF: Every one that does so is a traitor,                                  [50]
and must be hanged.

Son: And must they all be hanged that swear and lie?

LADY MACDUFF: Every one.

Son: Who must hang them?

LADY MACDUFF: Why, the honest men.                                                       [55]

Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools, for there
are liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men
and hang up them.

LADY MACDUFF: Now, God help thee, poor monkey!
But how wilt thou do for a father?                                                        [60]

Son: If he were dead, you'ld weep for him: if you
would not, it were a good sign that I should quickly
have a new father.

LADY MACDUFF: Poor prattler, how thou talk'st!

Enter a Messenger.

Messenger: Bless you, fair dame! I am not to you known,                          [65]
Though in your state of honour I am perfect.
I doubt some danger does approach you nearly:
If you will take a homely man's advice,
Be not found here; hence, with your little ones.
To fright you thus, methinks, I am too savage;                                  [70]
To do worse to you were fell cruelty,
Which is too nigh your person. Heaven preserve you!
I dare abide no longer.

LADY MACDUFF:              Whither should I fly?
I have done no harm. But I remember now
I am in this earthly world; where to do harm                                     [75]
Is often laudable, to do good sometime
Accounted dangerous folly: why then, alas,
Do I put up that womanly defence,
To say I have done no harm?
Enter Murderers.
                           What are these faces?

First Murderer: Where is your husband?                                                         [80]

LADY MACDUFF: I hope, in no place so unsanctified
Where such as thou mayst find him.

First Murderer:                           He's a traitor.

Son: Thou liest, thou shag-hair'd villain!

First Murderer:                           What, you egg!
[Stabbing him.]
Young fry of treachery!

Son:                           He has kill'd me, mother:
Run away, I pray you!                                                                               [85]

[Exit LADY MACDUFF, crying 'Murder!' Exeunt Murderers, following her.]

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