My mind goes off to distant parts. I walk the streets of Elsinore, I roam its squares, and I recall the most unhappy tale of the unlucky king whose nephew killed him on the basis of some fanciful suspicion. In all the houses of the poor they wept for him (in secret - from their fear of Fortinbras). He had been quiet and gentle, with a love of peace (his predecessor's wars had brought much suffering upon the land). He had been courteous to everyone, both high and low. He'd loathed high-handedness, and always sought advice upon affairs of state from serious and seasoned men. Precisely why his nephew killed him no-one ever said. He had suspected him of murder. The grounds for this suspicion were that one night, as the Prince walked round on one of the old battlements, he'd thought he'd seen a ghost, and had engaged this ghost in conversation. What he was supposed to have discovered from the ghost were certain accusations laid against the king. It must have been a fit of the imagination, certainly, an optical illusion. (The prince was highly-strung in the extreme. When studying at Wittenburg he'd been considered mad by many of his school-mates). A few days later, as he visited his mother to discuss some family affairs, he suddenly just blew his top, began to scream, to bellow that the ghost was there in front of him. His mother, though, saw nothing. And that same day he killed, with no good cause, an aged nobleman. Because the prince was leaving in a day or two to go to England, his departure was brought forward by the king in haste to save him. This appalling murder so enraged the people, though, that rebels rose in insurrection, tried to batter down the palace gates; among them was the dead man's son, the nobleman Laertes (a courageous youth - ambitious too; in the commotion one of his companions shouted "Long live King Laertes!"). Later, when the place was peaceful and the king lay in his tomb, killed by his nephew (for the prince had never gone to England; on the way he'd managed to jump ship), someone called Horatio appeared and tried to justify the prince by telling stories of his own. He said the trip to England had been all a subtle plot - that orders had been given for then prince's death there. (This, though, wasn't ever clearly proved.) He also spoke of poisoned wine, wine poisoned by the king. Laertes said this too, it's true - but couldn't he have lied, or been deceived? And when was it he said it? Wounded, dying, and with wandering mind, he seemed to rave. As for the poisoned weapons, it was later shown the king had not applied the poison, but Laertes. But Horatio, whenever it was needed, brought the ghost in as a witness. The ghost said this, said that! The ghost did this and that! So although they heard him out the greater part of them felt pity in their hearts for that good king, who'd been with phantoms and with fairytales unjustly killed. But Fortinbras, who'd profited and gained power easily, attached great weight to what Horatio said, and paid it much attention.
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