Elsinore. Another room in Elsinore castle.
(Hamlet; Rosencrantz; Guildenstern)
Hamlet refuses to tell Guildenstern and Rosencrantz where the body is, calling them sponges who soak up the words and rewards of the King. They do not understand. He runs away from them, and they and others hunt after him. (18 lines)
Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!
But soft, 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 an apple, in the corner of his jaw, first mouth’d, to be last swallow’d. When he needs what you have glean’d, 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 foolish ear.
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.