• 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
    5Whether it was his wisdom or his fear.

    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,
    10The most diminutive of birds, will fight,
    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,
    15I pray you school yourself. But for your husband,
    He is noble, wise, judicious, and best knows
    The fits o' th' season. I dare not speak much further;
    But cruel are the times when we are traitors
    And do not know ourselves; when we hold rumor
    20From what we fear, yet know not what we fear,
    But float upon a wild and violent sea
    Each way and none. 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
    25To what they were before.—My pretty cousin,
    Blessing upon you.
  • LADY MACDUFF, her SON, and ROSS enter.

    LADY MACDUFF

    What did he do that made him flee this land?

    ROSS

    You have to be patient, madam.

    LADY MACDUFF

    He had no patience. He was crazy to run away. Even if you’re not a traitor, you’re going to look like one if you run away.

    ROSS

    You don’t know whether it was wisdom or fear that made him flee.

    LADY MACDUFF

    How could it be wisdom! To leave his wife, his children, his house, and his titles in a place so unsafe that he himself flees it! He doesn’t love us. He lacks the natural instinct to protect his family. Even the fragile wren, the smallest of birds, will fight against the owl when it threatens her young ones in the nest. His running away has everything to do with fear and nothing to do with love. And since it’s so unreasonable for him to run away, it has nothing to do with wisdom either.

    ROSS

    My dearest relative, I’m begging you, pull yourself together. As for your husband, he is noble, wise, and judicious, and he understands what the times require. It’s not safe for me to say much more than this, but times are bad when people get denounced as traitors and don’t even know why. In times like these, we believe frightening rumors but we don’t even know what we’re afraid of. It’s like being tossed around on the ocean in every direction, and finally getting nowhere. I’ll say good-bye now. It won’t be long before I’m back. When things are at their worst they have to stop, or else improve to the way things were before. My young cousin, I put my blessing upon you.