The news of Duncan’s death came to Ross at the castle of a friend. He immediately mounted his horse and rode hard until he came within sight of Inverness, which was almost completely hidden by the black fog. His horse was tired so he dismounted and led it up the hill towards the castle gates.
An old man was labouring uphill, puffing and gasping, and Ross drew alongside of him.
‘Hello, Father,’ he said. ‘What news?’
The old man shook his head. ‘Never seen the likes of it,’ he said. ‘I’ve seen some strange things in my time but this dreadful night made them seem like child’s play.’
‘Well,’ said Ross, ‘You see, the heavens, troubled by the acts of humans, threaten the scene of their violence: that’s what’s happening. It’s daytime, according to the clock, but darkness strangles the sun. It’s hard to tell whether it’s night or day, the way darkness entombs the face of day.’
‘It’s unnatural,’ said the old man. ‘Just like the business up there.’ He lifted his stick and pointed. ‘Last Tuesday a falcon, surveying its prey, was hunted by a mousing hawk and killed.’
‘And I hear Duncan’s horses, the most perfect examples of their type, went wild, broke out of their stalls and refused to be controlled,’ said Ross. ‘As though declaring war on mankind.’
The old man beckoned to Ross who inclined towards him. ‘They say they ate each other!’ he said.
Someone was galloping towards them. He stopped when he recognized the Thane of Ross. It was Macduff and they greeted each other.
‘How are things?’ said Ross.
‘How do you think?’ said Macduff. He looked up at the sky. ‘Can’t you see?’
‘Do they know who did it?’
‘The ones Macbeth killed. Duncan’s grooms.’
‘No! What for?’
‘They were bribed. Malcolm and Donalbain have stolen away and fled. Which places suspicion on them.’
‘Even worse,’ said Ross. ‘What ambition, to kill one’s own parent. So I suppose Macbeth will be elected.’
‘It’s already been done and he’s gone to Scone to be crowned.’
‘Where’s Duncan’s body?’
‘Carried to Colme-kiln, the sacred resting place of kings.
‘Are you going to Scone?’ said Ross.
‘No, Cousin,’ I’m going home to Fife.’
‘Well I think I’ll go.’
‘Well I hope it will satisfy you,’ said Macduff. ‘Goodbye. I don’t think our new clothes will fit better than our old.’
Macduff rode off and Ross mounted his horse too. ‘Farewell, Father,’ he said.
‘God’s blessing be with you,’ the old man said. ‘And with those who work to right wrongs and turn enemies into friends.’