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    Act 1. Scene I

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    Chapter 1
    SCENE I. Elsinore. A platform before the castle.

    FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO
    BERNARDO
    Who's there?

    FRANCISCO
    Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.

    BERNARDO
    Long live the king!

    FRANCISCO
    Bernardo?

    BERNARDO
    He.

    FRANCISCO
    You come most carefully upon your hour.

    BERNARDO
    'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.

    FRANCISCO
    For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart.

    BERNARDO
    Have you had quiet guard?

    FRANCISCO
    Not a mouse stirring.

    BERNARDO
    Well, good night.
    If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
    The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

    FRANCISCO
    I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who's there?

    Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS

    HORATIO
    Friends to this ground.

    MARCELLUS
    And liegemen to the Dane.

    FRANCISCO
    Give you good night.

    MARCELLUS
    O, farewell, honest soldier:
    Who hath relieved you?

    FRANCISCO
    Bernardo has my place.
    Give you good night.

    Exit

    MARCELLUS
    Holla! Bernardo!

    BERNARDO
    Say,
    What, is Horatio there?

    HORATIO
    A piece of him.

    BERNARDO
    Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus.

    MARCELLUS
    What, has this thing appear'd again to-night?

    BERNARDO
    I have seen nothing.

    MARCELLUS
    Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
    And will not let belief take hold of him
    Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:
    Therefore I have entreated him along
    With us to watch the minutes of this night;
    That if again this apparition come,
    He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

    HORATIO
    Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.

    BERNARDO
    Sit down awhile;
    And let us once again assail your ears,
    That are so fortified against our story
    What we have two nights seen.

    HORATIO
    Well, sit we down,
    And let us hear Bernardo speak of this.

    BERNARDO
    Last night of all,
    When yond same star that's westward from the pole
    Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
    Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
    The bell then beating one,--

    Enter Ghost

    MARCELLUS
    Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

    BERNARDO
    In the same figure, like the king that's dead.

    MARCELLUS
    Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.

    BERNARDO
    Looks it not like the king? mark it, Horatio.

    HORATIO
    Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder.

    BERNARDO
    It would be spoke to.

    MARCELLUS
    Question it, Horatio.

    HORATIO
    What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,
    Together with that fair and warlike form
    In which the majesty of buried Denmark
    Did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee, speak!

    MARCELLUS
    It is offended.

    BERNARDO
    See, it stalks away!

    HORATIO
    Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!

    Exit Ghost

    MARCELLUS
    'Tis gone, and will not answer.

    BERNARDO
    How now, Horatio! you tremble and look pale:
    Is not this something more than fantasy?
    What think you on't?

    HORATIO
    Before my God, I might not this believe
    Without the sensible and true avouch
    Of mine own eyes.

    MARCELLUS
    Is it not like the king?

    HORATIO
    As thou art to thyself:
    Such was the very armour he had on
    When he the ambitious Norway combated;
    So frown'd he once, when, in an angry parle,
    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
    'Tis strange.

    MARCELLUS
    Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
    With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

    HORATIO
    In what particular thought to work I know not;
    But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
    This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

    MARCELLUS
    Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
    Why this same strict and most observant watch
    So nightly toils the subject of the land,
    And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
    And foreign mart for implements of war;
    Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
    Does not divide the Sunday from the week;
    What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
    Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:
    Who is't that can inform me?

    HORATIO
    That can I;
    At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
    Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
    Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
    Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
    Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--
    For so this side of our known world esteem'd him--
    Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,
    Well ratified by law and heraldry,
    Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
    Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:
    Against the which, a moiety competent
    Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
    To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
    Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same covenant,
    And carriage of the article design'd,
    His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
    Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
    Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
    Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,
    For food and diet, to some enterprise
    That hath a stomach in't; which is no other--
    As it doth well appear unto our state--
    But to recover of us, by strong hand
    And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
    So by his father lost: and this, I take it,
    Is the main motive of our preparations,
    The source of this our watch and the chief head
    Of this post-haste and romage in the land.

    BERNARDO
    I think it be no other but e'en so:
    Well may it sort that this portentous figure
    Comes armed through our watch; so like the king
    That was and is the question of these wars.

    HORATIO
    A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
    In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
    A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
    The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
    Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets:
    As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
    Disasters in the sun; and the moist star
    Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse:
    And even the like precurse of fierce events,
    As harbingers preceding still the fates
    And prologue to the omen coming on,
    Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
    Unto our climatures and countrymen.--
    But soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!

    Re-enter Ghost

    I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
    If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
    Speak to me:
    If there be any good thing to be done,
    That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
    Speak to me:

    Cock crows

    If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
    Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid, O, speak!
    Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
    For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
    Speak of it: stay, and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.

    MARCELLUS
    Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

    HORATIO
    Do, if it will not stand.

    BERNARDO
    'Tis here!

    HORATIO
    'Tis here!

    MARCELLUS
    'Tis gone!

    Exit Ghost

    We do it wrong, being so majestical,
    To offer it the show of violence;
    For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
    And our vain blows malicious mockery.

    BERNARDO
    It was about to speak, when the cock crew.

    HORATIO
    And then it started like a guilty thing
    Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
    The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
    Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
    Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
    Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
    The extravagant and erring spirit hies
    To his confine: and of the truth herein
    This present object made probation.

    MARCELLUS
    It faded on the crowing of the cock.
    Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
    And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
    The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
    So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

    HORATIO
    So have I heard and do in part believe it.
    But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
    Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill:
    Break we our watch up; and by my advice,
    Let us impart what we have seen to-night
    Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
    This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
    Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
    As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

    MARCELLUS
    Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
    Where we shall find him most conveniently.

    Exeunt
    Next Chapter
    Chapter 1
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