‘I wish we hadn’t lost so many of our friends,’ said Malcolm.
‘Some men have to die in battle,’ said Siward. ‘For such a famous victory I think we’ve been let off lightly.’
‘Macduff’s missing, and your noble son.’
‘Your son’s been killed my Lord,’ said Ross. ‘He was scarcely a man but he died like a man.’
‘Dead?’ said Siward.
‘Yes, and carried off the field,’ said Ross. ‘Your sorrow musn’t be measured by his worth because if it is it will have no end.’
‘Were his wounds on the front of his body?’
‘Yes, on the front.’
‘Well then, he’s God’s soldier. And so that’s the end of it.’
‘He’s worth more grief,’ said Malcolm. ‘And I’ll give him that.’
‘He’s not,’ said the young man’s father. ‘They say he died bravely and did his duty. And so, God be with him! Look here comes good news!’
It was Macduff. And something hung from his hand. As he came closer, followed by soldiers of both sides, all cat calling and laughing, they saw that it was a human head.
‘Hail, King,’ said Macduff. ‘Because that’s what you are. Look at the usurper’s head. We’re free!’ He took a spear from a sentry, pierced the head and raised it up above the battlements. ‘I see you’re surrounded by the kingdom’s finest, all thinking the words with which I greet you now: Hail, King of Scotland!’
They all knelt in a ring around Malcolm.
‘Hail, King of Scotland!’
‘We won’t waste much time in rewarding each and every one of you,’ said the King. My thanes and cousins, you are now earls – the first earldoms Scotland has ever awarded. I’m also going to call our exiled friends home and flush out the cruel agents of this dead butcher and his fiend-like queen who, we believe, killed herself. These things, and whatever else God calls on us to do we’ll perform in due course. So thanks to all and we invite you all to see us crowned at Scone.’