Forres. The palace.
Flourish. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, and Attendants
Is execution done on Cawdor? Are not
Those in commission yet return'd?
My liege,
They are not yet come back. But I have spoke
With one that saw him die: who did report
That very frankly he confess'd his treasons,
Implored your highness' pardon and set forth
A deep repentance: nothing in his life
Became him like the leaving it; he died
As one that had been studied in his death
To throw away the dearest thing he owed,
As 'twere a careless trifle.
There's no art
To find the mind's construction in the face:
He was a gentleman on whom I built
An absolute trust.
O worthiest cousin!
The sin of my ingratitude even now
Was heavy on me: thou art so far before
That swiftest wing of recompense is slow
To overtake thee. Would thou hadst less deserved,
That the proportion both of thanks and payment
Might have been mine! only I have left to say,
More is thy due than more than all can pay.
The service and the loyalty I owe,
In doing it, pays itself. Your highness' part
Is to receive our duties; and our duties
Are to your throne and state children and servants,
Which do but what they should, by doing every thing
Safe toward your love and honour.
Welcome hither:
I have begun to plant thee, and will labour
To make thee full of growing. Noble Banquo,
That hast no less deserved, nor must be known
No less to have done so, let me enfold thee
And hold thee to my heart.
There if I grow,
The harvest is your own.
My plenteous joys,
Wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves
In drops of sorrow. Sons, kinsmen, thanes,
And you whose places are the nearest, know
We will establish our estate upon
Our eldest, Malcolm, whom we name hereafter
The Prince of Cumberland; which honour must
Not unaccompanied invest him only,
But signs of nobleness, like stars, shall shine
On all deservers. From hence to Inverness,
And bind us further to you.
The rest is labour, which is not used for you:
I'll be myself the harbinger and make joyful
The hearing of my wife with your approach;
So humbly take my leave.
My worthy Cawdor!
[Aside] The Prince of Cumberland! that is a step
On which I must fall down, or else o'erleap,
For in my way it lies. Stars, hide your fires;
Let not light see my black and deep desires:
The eye wink at the hand; yet let that be,
Which the eye fears, when it is done, to see.
True, worthy Banquo; he is full so valiant,
And in his commendations I am fed;
It is a banquet to me. Let's after him,
Whose care is gone before to bid us welcome:
It is a peerless kinsman.
Flourish. Exeunt

At Forres Palace the Scottish court enjoyed the euphoria of victory, but King Duncan was ensuring justice was to be done.

“Has Cawdor been executed?” King Duncan asked, agitated. “Have the officers in commission returned?”

“Your Majesty,” said his son Malcolm, “we still await their return. But I've spoken to someone who saw Cawdor die. He confessed his treasons very frankly, implored Your Majesty's pardon and repented deeply as he faced the sword. He died as though this was the moment he had long for, to throw away his life as though it were worthless.”

“There is no understanding from a man's face what is going on in his mind. I trusted him completely,” King Duncan said.

The King paused in a melancholy manner, still stung by the betrayal but he was soon cheered by the arrival of Macbeth with the Lords Banquo, Ross and Angus.

“Oh, worthiest cousin! The sin of ingratitude still weighs upon me. Macbeth, you have achieved so much that my rewards can't keep up with you! Had you deserved less, then my thanks and payment may already have been ample. I can only say that more is your due than I can ever hope to pay.”

“Your Majesty, the privilege of serving you is the only reward I need. Your Majesty's duty is to receive our service to your throne and state, your children and servants. We do only what we are bound to do by protecting your love and honour.”

“You are welcome here. I will cultivate your position, Macbeth. I will ensure you prosper! Banquo, you are no less worthy and your worth will be recognised. Come, let me hold you to my heart.”

“If I thrive there, Your Majesty, the harvest will be yours alone ,” said Banquo.

“This has been a day of many joys. Soon there will be tears! Sons, kinsmen, thanes and members of the court hear that I have decreed that Malcolm, my eldest son, will be my successor. From now on he will be the Prince of Cumberland. He will not be the only one I will invest with titles. Signs of nobleness shall shine like stars on the deserving. Now on this great day let us leave for Macbeth's castle at Inverness to bind our bonds still further.”

“A privilege, You Majesty! But you must leave the labours of preparation to me. I'll ride on ahead and give my wife the good news of your impending arrival. Humbly, I take my leave,” Macbeth said

“Go, my worthy Cawdor!” the King exclaimed.

As he rode to Inverness Macbeth repeatedly recalled the prophecies of the weird sisters. The excitement of hearing those promises exhilarated and tortured him simultaneously. The Prince of Cumberland, Macbeth said to himself, that's a step I must leap over or it will fell me, for it lies in my way. Stars, he said, as if calling out to the future, hide your fires. Let no light see my deep black desires. My eyes know what my hands will be doing, but let them blink and see nothing!

Meanwhile the King’s party prepared to leave Forres for Inverness.

“Well, worthy Banquo,” King Duncan said, “your friend Macbeth is so valiant. His merits are like a banquet for my mind. Let's follow him now to enjoy his hospitality. He is a peerless kinsman.”