‘How far is it to Forres?’ said Banquo. He stopped short as three human shapes rose in front of them. ‘What are these?’ he said. ‘So withered and strangely dressed that they don’t look like anything that lives on the earth.’ He shut his eyes tight then opened them again. ‘But they are definitely here.’ He took a step towards them. ‘Are you real? Or should we be afraid of you?’
The three women cackled hysterically then hopped about saying ‘shhh’ and placing their bony fingers on their skinny lips.
‘You seem to be women but you’ve got beards! exclaimed Banquo.
‘Speak if you can,’ said Macbeth. ‘What are you?’
‘All hail, Macbeth!’ cawed the first witch. ‘Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!’
Macbeth and Banquo glanced uneasily at each other.
‘All hail, Macbeth,’ screamed the second witch. ‘Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!’
Macbeth laughed nervously. Banquo stared at the women.
‘All hail Macbeth!’ cooed the third witch. ‘That shalt be king hereafter!’
‘Good Sir,’ said Banquo as Macbeth recoiled. ‘Why do you start and seem to be afraid of things that sound so favorable?’ He turned back to the three creatures ‘Are you real or what? Who are you? You greet my partner showing that you know who he is and promise him great things, including the royal crown – which makes him speechless. You don’t say anything to me. If you can look into the future and tell who will do well and who won’t, speak to me then.’
They looked up slowly, their eyes boring into him.
‘Hail,’ said the first, somberly.
‘Hail,’ said the second.
‘Hail,’ said the third.
There was a pause. When the first witch spoke again her voice was like iced water.
‘Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.’
The second witch shook her head slowly. Her voice was low and snake-like.
‘Not so happy, yet much happier.’
The third witch pointed at him. ‘Thou shalt get kings, though thou be none. So, all hail, Macbeth and Banquo.’
‘Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!’ said the first witch. They glided backwards and began merging with the gloom.
‘Stop!’ said Macbeth. ‘Is that all? Tell me more. I know I’m Thane of Glamis as a result of my father, Sinel’s death. But Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor is alive and well. And as for being king! It’s unbelievable. Tell me where you get this strange information. Or why you stop us on this blasted heath to tell us. Speak up, I command you!’
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