Dreaming Hamlet

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

Young William Shakespeare, on tour with a company of fellow actors in 1587, listens well to a ghost story involving Danish royalty. Image of Sanders Portrait of Shakespeare via Wikimedia.

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Near the tavern’s glowing hearth, a handful of Queen Elizabeth’s Men, a troupe of players on tour in the godforsaken North, sat nursing cups of mulled wine in gathering shadows. John Laneham, meanwhile, held them rapt with a ghost story: “…thus, ever after, the old king’s shade was wont to walk the battlements of Elsinore Castle ere cockcrow.” Fists pounded rough boards in appreciation. “Bestir yourself, Master Shakespeare!” cried John. “The latest of our Queen’s Men looks plague-stricken.” “Frightened witless,” said Shakespeare, laughing, clapping. “Well told, John.” “Your turn, Will.” “Me? I’d hear more of Denmark’s ill-fated son.”

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