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The Winter's Tale

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Act III, Scene 3

Bohemia. A desert country near the sea.


[Enter ANTIGONUS with a Child, and a Mariner]

  • Antigonus. Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch'd upon
    The deserts of Bohemia?
  • Mariner. Ay, my lord: and fear
    We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly 1490
    And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
    The heavens with that we have in hand are angry
    And frown upon 's.
  • Antigonus. Their sacred wills be done! Go, get aboard;
    Look to thy bark: I'll not be long before 1495
    I call upon thee.
  • Mariner. Make your best haste, and go not
    Too far i' the land: 'tis like to be loud weather;
    Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
    Of prey that keep upon't. 1500
  • Antigonus. Go thou away:
    I'll follow instantly.
  • Mariner. I am glad at heart
    To be so rid o' the business.


  • Antigonus. Come, poor babe:
    I have heard, but not believed,
    the spirits o' the dead
    May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother
    Appear'd to me last night, for ne'er was dream 1510
    So like a waking. To me comes a creature,
    Sometimes her head on one side, some another;
    I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
    So fill'd and so becoming: in pure white robes,
    Like very sanctity, she did approach 1515
    My cabin where I lay; thrice bow'd before me,
    And gasping to begin some speech, her eyes
    Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon
    Did this break-from her: 'Good Antigonus,
    Since fate, against thy better disposition, 1520
    Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
    Of my poor babe, according to thine oath,
    Places remote enough are in Bohemia,
    There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe
    Is counted lost for ever, Perdita, 1525
    I prithee, call't. For this ungentle business
    Put on thee by my lord, thou ne'er shalt see
    Thy wife Paulina more.' And so, with shrieks
    She melted into air. Affrighted much,
    I did in time collect myself and thought 1530
    This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys:
    Yet for this once, yea, superstitiously,
    I will be squared by this. I do believe
    Hermione hath suffer'd death, and that
    Apollo would, this being indeed the issue 1535
    Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
    Either for life or death, upon the earth
    Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!
    There lie, and there thy character: there these;
    Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty, 1540
    And still rest thine. The storm begins; poor wretch,
    That for thy mother's fault art thus exposed
    To loss and what may follow! Weep I cannot,
    But my heart bleeds; and most accursed am I
    To be by oath enjoin'd to this. Farewell! 1545
    The day frowns more and more: thou'rt like to have
    A lullaby too rough: I never saw
    The heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour!
    Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:
    I am gone for ever. 1550

[Exit, pursued by a bear]

[Enter a Shepherd]

  • Old Shepherd. I would there were no age between sixteen and
    three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the
    rest; for there is nothing in the between but 1555
    getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry,
    stealing, fighting—Hark you now! Would any but
    these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty
    hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my
    best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find 1560
    than the master: if any where I have them, 'tis by
    the seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an't be thy
    will what have we here! Mercy on 's, a barne a very
    pretty barne! A boy or a child, I wonder? A
    pretty one; a very pretty one: sure, some 'scape: 1565
    though I am not bookish, yet I can read
    waiting-gentlewoman in the 'scape. This has been
    some stair-work, some trunk-work, some
    behind-door-work: they were warmer that got this
    than the poor thing is here. I'll take it up for 1570
    pity: yet I'll tarry till my son come; he hallooed
    but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!

[Enter Clown]

  • Old Shepherd. What, art so near? If thou'lt see a thing to talk 1575
    on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither. What
    ailest thou, man?
  • Clown. I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!
    but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the
    sky: betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrust 1580
    a bodkin's point.
  • Clown. I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages,
    how it takes up the shore! but that's not the
    point. O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls! 1585
    sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em; now the
    ship boring the moon with her main-mast, and anon
    swallowed with yest and froth, as you'ld thrust a
    cork into a hogshead. And then for the
    land-service, to see how the bear tore out his 1590
    shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help and said
    his name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an
    end of the ship, to see how the sea flap-dragoned
    it: but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the
    sea mocked them; and how the poor gentleman roared 1595
    and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than
    the sea or weather.
  • Clown. Now, now: I have not winked since I saw these
    sights: the men are not yet cold under water, nor 1600
    the bear half dined on the gentleman: he's at it
  • Old Shepherd. Would I had been by, to have helped the old man!
  • Clown. I would you had been by the ship side, to have
    helped her: there your charity would have lacked footing. 1605
  • Old Shepherd. Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here,
    boy. Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things
    dying, I with things newborn. Here's a sight for
    thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squire's
    child! look thee here; take up, take up, boy; 1610
    open't. So, let's see: it was told me I should be
    rich by the fairies. This is some changeling:
    open't. What's within, boy?
  • Clown. You're a made old man: if the sins of your youth
    are forgiven you, you're well to live. Gold! all gold! 1615
  • Old Shepherd. This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so: up
    with't, keep it close: home, home, the next way.
    We are lucky, boy; and to be so still requires
    nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go: come, good
    boy, the next way home. 1620
  • Clown. Go you the next way with your findings. I'll go see
    if the bear be gone from the gentleman and how much
    he hath eaten: they are never curst but when they
    are hungry: if there be any of him left, I'll bury
    it. 1625
  • Old Shepherd. That's a good deed. If thou mayest discern by that
    which is left of him what he is, fetch me to the
    sight of him.
  • Clown. Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i' the ground.
  • Old Shepherd. 'Tis a lucky day, boy, and we'll do good deeds on't. 1630