Another room in the castle.
Enter KING CLAUDIUS, attended
I have sent to seek him, and to find the body.
How dangerous is it that this man goes loose!
Yet must not we put the strong law on him:
He's loved of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgment, but their eyes;
And where tis so, the offender's scourge is weigh'd,
But never the offence. To bear all smooth and even,
This sudden sending him away must seem
Deliberate pause: diseases desperate grown
By desperate appliance are relieved,
Or not at all.
How now! what hath befall'n?
Where the dead body is bestow'd, my lord,
We cannot get from him.
But where is he?
Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.
Bring him before us.
Ho, Guildenstern! bring in my lord.
Enter HAMLET and GUILDENSTERN
Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?
At supper! where?
Not where he eats, but where he is eaten: a certain
convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your
worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all
creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
that's the end.
A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a
king, and cat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.
What dost you mean by this?
Nothing but to show you how a king may go a
progress through the guts of a beggar.
Where is Polonius?
In heaven; send hither to see: if your messenger
find him not there, seek him i' the other place
yourself. But indeed, if you find him not within
this month, you shall nose him as you go up the
stairs into the lobby.
Go seek him there.
To some Attendants
He will stay till ye come.
Hamlet, this deed, for thine especial safety,--
Which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
For that which thou hast done,--must send thee hence
With fiery quickness: therefore prepare thyself;
The bark is ready, and the wind at help,
The associates tend, and every thing is bent
So is it, if thou knew'st our purposes.
I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for
England! Farewell, dear mother.
Thy loving father, Hamlet.
My mother: father and mother is man and wife; man
and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!
Follow him at foot; tempt him with speed aboard;
Delay it not; I'll have him hence to-night:
Away! for every thing is seal'd and done
That else leans on the affair: pray you, make haste.
Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
And, England, if my love thou hold'st at aught--
As my great power thereof may give thee sense,
Since yet thy cicatrice looks raw and red
After the Danish sword, and thy free awe
Pays homage to us--thou mayst not coldly set
Our sovereign process; which imports at full,
By letters congruing to that effect,
The present death of Hamlet. Do it, England;
For like the hectic in my blood he rages,
And thou must cure me: till I know 'tis done,
Howe'er my haps, my joys were ne'er begun.
King Claudius was in discussion with several lords, whose counsel he had sought after the death of Polonius.
"I have sent Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to seek both Hamlet and the body. How dangerous it is that a man like Hamlet is running loose! It would be risky to subject him to the weight of the law -the masses, judging as they do with their eyes rather than their minds, think the world of him. Inevitably they would devote more time to talking about his punishment than talking about his crime. To keep the peace this sudden departure must appear to have been on the cards. A desperate problem deserves a desperate solution."
The King was interrupted by the arrival of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
"Right, what's happened?" asked the King.
"We can't get him to tell us where he has put the body, my lord," said Rosencrantz.
"But where is Hamlet?"
"Outside, my lord, under guard," said Rosencrantz.
"Bring him to me."
"You there, bring in the lord!" Rosencrantz bellowed to the guards.
Hamlet, with a sulky expression, was brought in, heavily guarded.
"Now, Hamlet, where's Polonius?" the King asked.
"At supper? Where?"
"Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A banqueting party of shrewd worms are dining with him as we speak. The worm has a regal appetite. We fatten the animals to fatten ourselves and we fatten maggots. Your fat king and your skinny beggar seem like two very different dishes, but they end up on the same table. That's the end."
"Alas, alas," sighed the King.
"A man can fish with the worm that ate the king, and then eat the fish that ate the worm."
"Meaning?" the King said, crossly.
"Nothing, but it does show you how a king can go through the guts of a beggar."
"Where is Polonius?"
"In Heaven. Send for him. If your messenger can't find him there, seek him yourself in hell. If after a month you've haven't found him, then you shall catch a whiff of him as you go upstairs into the lobby."
"Go upstairs and see if his body is there," the King instructed his attendants.
"He's not going anywhere!"
"Hamlet, we are concerned about your safety as much as your actions, so we insist you leave Denmark immediately. Gather your belongings. The ship is ready to sail with the wind. My escorts are waiting to accompany you to England."
"So it is, if you knew my thoughts."
"My guardians know them. But, to England! Farewell, dear mother."
Hamlet sounded wistful as he said this, certainly more so than when he had confronted Gertrude.
"Your loving father, Hamlet?"
"My mother. Father and mother are husband and wife. Husband and wife are one. My mother. Come, to England!"
Hamlet left with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The King turned to the other attendants: "Follow them closely. Make sure he is on board as quickly as possible. Ensure he departs tonight. Go, the paperwork is almost complete. Quick."
The King was alone again, believing the final parts of his plan were falling into place. He composed the letter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern would take to England, the letter that would contain Hamlet's fate: "King of England, if you value my love and respect my power, which you should since you are still recovering from the injuries we administered, don't ignore my royal command. My letter details my request that you arrange the assassination of Hamlet forthwith. Do it, England. He is the fever in my blood that can be eradicated by you. Till I know it is done, no matter what my pleasures were, my joy has yet to begin."