Another room in the castle.
[Within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
What noise? who calls on Hamlet?
O, here they come.
Enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?
Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin.
Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence
And bear it to the chapel.
Do not believe it.
That I can keep your counsel and not mine own.
Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! what
replication should be made by the son of a king?
Take you me for a sponge, my lord?
Ay, sir, that soaks up the king's countenance, his
rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the
king best service in the end: he keeps them, like
an ape, in the corner of his jaw; first mouthed, to
be last swallowed: when he needs what you have
gleaned, it is but squeezing you, and, sponge, you
shall be dry again.
I understand you not, my lord.
I am glad of it: a knavish speech sleeps in a
My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and go
with us to the king.
The body is with the king, but the king is not with
the body. The king is a thing--
A thing, my lord!
Of nothing: bring me to him. Hide fox, and all after.
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.