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Then the messengers explained to the mystified Macbeth that the thane of Cawdor had been proved a traitor in the recent contest, and that the title was in very truth now to be given to Macbeth. Now, indeed, Macbeth stands rapt. Losing all sense of those about him, he stood gazing into the distance, muttering to himself :

" This supernatural soliciting
Cannot be ill; cannot be good :-if ill,
Why hath it given me earnest of success,
Commencing in a truth? I am thane of Cawdor;
If good, why do I yield to that suggestion
Whose horrid image doth unfix my

hair
And make my seated heart knock at my ribs
Against the use of nature ? Present fears
Are less than horrible imaginings;
My thought, whose murther yet is but fantastical
Shakes so my single state of man, that function
Is smothered in surmise : and nothing is
But what is not.
If chance will have me king, why, chance may crown

me,
Without my stir,

Come what may
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.”

*

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" See,” said Banquo, " the good Macbeth is so rapt in thought he has forgotton us all."

Forgive me, friends,” answered Macbeth, aroused from his dream. "Kind gentlemen, I thank you. Now let us hasten to the king.”

As Macbeth went on towards the palace of the king, he sent by private messenger a letter to his wife telling her of the wonderful prophecy of the witches.

Over and over again, Lady Macbeth read the letter :

66 They met me in the day of success; and I have learned by the perfectest report they have more in them than mortal knowledge. When I burned in desire to question them further, they made themselves air, into which they vanished. Whiles I stood rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the king, who all-hailed me, Thane of Cawdor ; by which itle, before, these weird sisters saluted me, and referred me to the coming on of time, with, Hail, king that shalt be! This have I thought good to deliver thee, my dearest partner of greatness, that thou mightest not lose the dues of rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promised thee. Lay it to thy heart, and farewell.

The wicked, cruel ambition of Lady Macbeth is aroused. She crushes the letter in her hand and paces up and down the chamber. Her heart beats; her breath comes quick and fast.

66 Glamis thou art, and Cawdor : and shalt be

What thou art promised :— yet do I fear thy nature,
It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great ;
Art not without ambition ; but without
The illness should attend it: what thou would’st highly
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,

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And yet wouldst wrongly win; thou’dst have, great

Glamis,
That which cries, Thus thou must do if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do,
Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear;
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round,
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem

To have thee crown'd withal. Just here a messenger arrives. "Well, what tidings?” asked Lady Macbeth.

"The king comes here to-night."

* The king ! Very well, let every preparation be made for his reception,” answered she, quietly. Then no sooner is the messenger gone when in rush the evil thoughts, the cruel, murderous plans. "Duncan to come here to-night ! Under our very roof! O. come then, evil spirits, fill me from the crown to the toe full of direst cruelty ! Make thick my blood ! Stop up the passage of remorse! Let no thought of tenderness come in to shake my fell purpose. Duncan, the king, must die !"

Then came Macbeth, full of success, proud in his new honors, and all too ready to hear from his bold, wicked wife her wicked plan for murder.

"My dear,” said he, "Duncan comes here to-night.”

" And when goes hence?” said Lady Macbeth, in an insinuating tone.

as

as

e To-morrow

he purposes,"

answered Macbeth, his face paling as he understood his wife's meaning

Then Lady Macbeth drew near, and drawing Mao beth's head down, she hoarsely whispered :

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66 0, never shall sun that morrow see!

Your face, my thané, is as a book where men
May read strange matters : to beguile the time,
Look like the time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue; look like the innocent flower,
But be the serpent under it. He that's coming
Must be provided for; and you shall put
This nights's great business into my dispatch;

Which shall to all our nights and days to come

Give solely sovereign sway and masterdom.” Now, the castle of Macbeth was beautifully situated ; the air was fresh and sweet, and among the friezes and buttresses the martlets and the swallows had built their nests. Duncan was pleased with the beautiful place; and good-hearted king that he was, as Lady Macbeth advanced to meet him, said, "I am afraid, dear honored hostess, the very love and gratitude which brings me to your pleasant home makes trouble for you."

But Lady Macbeth's cruel purpose was not to be shaken by the king's kind words. Neither was she for one second to lose her self-possession. With smiling face and ready tongue she bowed low before him, saying, " All our service in every point twice done, and that done double, would be but poor return for all the honors deep and broad wherewith your Majesty now loads our house.”

Poor Duncan ! he little thought the over-abundance of Lady Macbeth's words were but the measure of her hypocrisy and wickedness. His gentle heart believed her as true and honest as himself.

The old king was weary with his long journey, and so, at an early hour, all the castle was quiet a nd dark and its inmates wrapt in honest sleep; all except Macbeth and his wicked wife.

"My good wife,” said Macbeth, whose courage

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