by: William Shakespeare

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Modern Text

25And so have I a noble father lost,
A sister driven into desperate terms,
Whose worth, if praises may go back again,
Stood challenger on mount of all the age
For her perfections. But my revenge will come.
And so I’ve lost my noble father, had my sister driven insane—my sister who once was (if I can praise her for what she once was, not what she is now) the most perfect girl who ever lived. But I’ll get my revenge.
30Break not your sleeps for that. You must not think
That we are made of stuff so flat and dull
That we can let our beard be shook with danger
And think it pastime. You shortly shall hear more.
I loved your father, and we love ourself.
35And that, I hope, will teach you to imagine—
Don’t you worry about that. You must not think that I’m so lazy and dull that I can be severely threatened and think it’s just a game. You’ll hear more about my plans soon enough. I loved your father, and I love myself, which should be enough to—
A MESSENGER enters with letters.
How now, what news?
What is it? What’s the news?
  Letters, my lord, from Hamlet.
This to your majesty, this to the queen. (gives CLAUDIUS letters)
Letters, my lord, from Hamlet. This one’s for Your Highness, this one for the queen. (gives CLAUDIUS letters)
From Hamlet? Who brought them?
From Hamlet? Who delivered them?
Sailors, my lord, they say. I saw them not.
40They were given me by Claudio. He received them
Of him that brought them.
Sailors, my lord, or so they say. I didn’t see them. Claudio gave them to me, and he got them from the one who delivered them.
Laertes, you shall hear them.—Leave us.
Laertes, I want you to hear what they say. Leave us alone now.
The MESSENGER exits.
 “High and mighty,
 You shall know I am set naked on your kingdom. Tomorrow shall I beg leave to see your kingly eyes, when I shall, first asking your pardon thereunto, recount the occasion of my sudden and more strange return.
 “High and Mighty one,
 You know I’ve been set down naked, you might say, in your kingdom. Tomorrow I’ll beg permission to look into your kingly eyes, at which point I’ll tell you the story (after first apologizing) of how I came back to Denmark so strangely and suddenly.