“My lord, we were sent for.”

“My lord, we were sent for,” you say.

“I will tell you why,” says Hamlet. “So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory, this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me: no, nor woman neither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.”

“My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts,” you say hastily.

“Why did you laugh, then, when I said ‘man delights not me’?”

Your companion, all saints be praised, steps in to your rescue. “To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what Lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you …”

Hamlet listens with an absent look upon his face. When your companion has finished describing the players, their stage, the princeling in black and the boy-queen crowned with gold, he nods just once. “He that plays the king shall be welcome,” he says, and turns away.

As he goes, you realize that his doublet is the same cut and color as the player’s.

You know in your marrow that his story will end in grief.

You have been here before.