In an anteroom on the ground floor of the castle Hamlet stood musing. “The body is safely stowed,” he told himself.
“What’s that noise?” he said aloud a few minutes later. “Who is calling my name? Oh, here they come!”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appeared, very flushed.
“My lord, what have you done with dead body?” asked Rosencrantz.
“Mixed it with the dust that is its kin.”
“Tell us where it is so we can retrieve it and take it to the chapel,” Rosencrantz insisted.
“Don’t believe it.”
“Believe what?” Rosencrantz asked while looking at Guildenstern.
“That I can follow your advice and keep my secrets. Besides, to be quizzed by a sponge! What response is suitable for the son of a king?”
“Do you take me for a sponge, my lord?” asked Rosencrantz.
“Indeed, soaking up the King’s favours, his rewards and his power. In the end such men do serve the King best. Like the habit of an ape he puts them in his mouth first, but keeps them in the corner of his jaw, to be swallowed last. When he wants to know what you have gleaned, sponge, he gives you a squeeze and, lo, you’re dry again.”
“I don’t understand you, my lord,” said Rosencrantz.
“As expected. Good advice will get lost in a fool’s ear.”
“My lord, you must tell us where you’ve hidden the body and then accompany us to the King,” said Rosencrantz.
“The body is with the King but the King is not with the body. The King is a thing-”
“-A thing, my lord?” Guildenstern asked, bewildered and affronted.
“Of no consequence. Take me to him. Hide fox, everything’s after you.”
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern took Hamlet to King Claudius.