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Leon.

Your actions are my dreams;

You had a bastard by Polixenes,
And I but dreamed it.

As you were past all shame,

(Those of your fact are so,) so past all truth;
Which to deny, concerns more than avails; for as
Thy brat hath been cast out, like to itself,
No father owning it, (which is, indeed,
More criminal in thee, than it,) so thou

Shalt feel our justice; in whose easiest passage,
Look for no less than death.

Her.
Sir, spare your threats;
The bug, which you would fright me with, I seek.
To me can life be no commodity.

The crown and comfort of my life, your favor,
I do give lost; for I do feel it gone,

But know not how it went. My second joy,
And first-fruits of my body, from his presence
I am barred, like one infectious. My third comfort,
Starred most unluckily, is from my breast,
The innocent milk in its most innocent mouth,
Haled out to murder; myself on every post
Proclaimed a strumpet; with immodest hatred,
The child-bed privilege denied, which 'longs
To women of all fashion.- Lastly, hurried
Here to this place, i' the open air, before
I have got strength of limit. Now, my liege,
Tell me what blessings I have here alive,
That I should fear to die? Therefore, proceed.
But yet hear this; mistake me not.No! life,
I prize it not a straw;-but for mine honor,
(Which I would free,) if I shall be condemned
Upon surmises; all proofs sleeping else,
But what your jealousies awake; I tell you,
'Tis rigor, and not law. Your honors all,
I do refer me to the oracle;

Apollo be my judge.

1 Lord.

This your request, Is altogether just: therefore, bring forth, And in Apollo's name, his oracle.

[Exeunt certain Officers.

Her. The emperor of Russia was my father.
O that he were alive, and here, beholding
His daughter's trial! that he did but see
The flatness of my misery; yet with eyes
Of pity, not revenge!

Re-enter Officers, with CLEOMENES and DION.

Offi. You here shall swear upon this sword of justice, That you, Cleomenes and Dion, have

Been both at Delphos; and from thence have brought
This sealed-up oracle, by the hand delivered
Of great Apollo's priest; and that, since then,
You have not dared to break the holy seal,
Nor read the secrets in't.

Cleo. Dion.

All this we swear.

Leon. Break up the seals, and read.

Offi. [Reads.] Hermione is chaste, Polixenes blameless, Camillo a true subject, Leontes a jealous tyrant, his innocent babe truly begotten; and the king shall live without an heir, if that, which is lost, be not found.

Lords. Now blessed be the great Apollo!
Her.

Leon. Hast thou read truth?

Offi.

As it is here set down.

Praised!

Ay, my lord; even so

Leon. There is no truth at all i' the oracle.

The sessions shall proceed; this is mere falsehood.

Enter a Servant, hastily.

Serv. My lord the king, the king!

What is the business?

Leon.
Serv. O, sir, I shall be hated to report it;
The prince your son, with mere conceit and fear

Of the queen's speed, is gone.

Leon.

Serv.

Leon. Apollo's angry; and the Heavens themselves

Do strike at my injustice.

How! gone?

Is dead.

[HERMIONE faints.

How now there?

Take her hence;

Paul. This news is mortal to the queen.-Look down, And see what death is doing.

Leon.
Her heart is but o'ercharged; she will recover.-
I have too much believed mine own suspicion.-
'Beseech you, tenderly apply to her

Some remedies for life.-Apollo, pardon

[Exeunt PAULINA and Ladies, with HERM. My great profaneness 'gainst thine oracle!I'll reconcile me to Polixenes;

New woo my queen; recall the good Camillo;
Whom I proclaim a man of truth, of mercy;

For, being transported by my jealousies
To bloody thoughts and to revenge, I chose
Camillo for the minister, to poison

My friend Polixenes; which had been done,
But that the good mind of Camillo tardied.

My swift command, though I with death, and with
Reward, did threaten and encourage him,

Not doing it, and being done: he, most humane,
And filled with honor, to my kingly guest
Unclasped my practice; quit his fortunes here,
Which you knew great; and to the certain hazard
Of all incertainties himself commended,

No richer than his honor.- How he glisters
Thorough my rust! and how his piety
Does my deeds make the blacker!

Paul.

Re-enter PAULINA.

Woe the while!

O cut my lace; lest my heart, cracking it,
Break too!

1 Lord. What fit is this, good lady?

Paul. What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me? What wheels? racks? fires? What flaying? boiling

In leads or oils? What old, or newer torture
Must I receive; whose every word deserves
To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny
Together working with thy jealousies,—
Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle,
For girls of nine! O, think what they have done,
And then run mad, indeed; stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray'dst Polixenes, 'twas nothing;
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant,
And damnable ungrateful: nor was't much,
Thou wouldst have poisoned good Camillo's honor,
To have him kill a king; poor trespasses,
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby daughter,
To be or none, or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire, ere done't:
Nor is't directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince; whose honorable thoughts
(Thoughts high for one so tender) cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemished his gracious dam; this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer. But the last, O lords,

When I have said, cry, woe!-The queen, the queen, The sweetest, dearest creature's dead; and vengeance for't Not dropped down yet.

1 Lord.

The higher powers forbid! Paul. I say, she's dead; I'll swear't. If word nor oath Prevail not, go and see; if you can bring Tincture, or lustre, in her lip, her eye, Heat outwardly, or breath within, I'll serve you As I would do the gods.-But, O thou tyrant! Do not repent these things; for they are heavier Than all thy woes can stir; therefore betake thee To nothing but despair. A thousand knees Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting, Upon a barren mountain, and still winter In storm perpetual, could not move the gods To look that way thou wert.

Leon.

Go on, go on.

Thou canst not speak too much; I have deserved
All tongues to talk their bitterest.

1 Lord.
Say no more;
Howe'er the business goes, you have made fault
I'the boldness of your speech.

Paul.
I am sorry for't;
All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent. Alas, I have showed too much

The rashness of a woman: he is touched

To the noble heart.-What's gone and what's past help, Should be past grief. Do not receive affliction

At my petition, I beseech you; rather

Let me be punished, that have minded you

Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege,

Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman.

The love I bore your queen,-lo, fool again!-
I'll speak of her no more, nor of your children;
I'll not remember you of my own lord,

Who is lost too. Take your patience to you,
And I'll say nothing.

Leon.
Thou didst speak but well,
When most the truth; which I receive much better
Than to be pitied of thee. Pr'ythee, bring me
To the dead bodies of my queen and son;

One grave shall be for both; upon them shall
The causes of their death appear, unto
Our shame perpetual. Once a day I'll visit
The chapel where they lie; and tears, shed there,
Shall be my recreation. So long as

Nature will bear up with this exercise,

So long I daily vow to use it. Come,
And lead me to these sorrows.

[Exeunt.

SCENE III. Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.

Enter ANTIGONUS, with the Child; and a Mariner. Ant. Thou art perfect, then, our ship hath touched upon The deserts of Bohemia?

Mar.
Ay, my lord; and fear
We have landed in ill time; the skies look grimly,
And threaten present blusters. In my conscience,
The Heavens with that we have in hand are angry,
And frown upon us.

Ant. Their sacred wills be done!-Go, get aboard; Look to thy bark; I'll not be long, before

I call upon thee.

Mar. 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.

Ant.

I'll follow instantly.

Mar.

Go thou away.

I am glad at heart

Come, poor babe.

To be so rid o'the business.

Ant.

[Exit.

I have heard (but not believed) the spirits of the dead
May walk again. If such thing be, thy mother
Appeared to me last night; for ne'er was dream
So like to waking. To me comes a creature,
Sometimes her head on one side, some another;
I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,

So filled, and so becoming; in pure white robes,
Like very sanctity, she did approach

My cabin where I lay; thrice bowed 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,
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 forever, Perdita,

I pr'ythee call't; for this ungentle business,

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