The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act II: Scene 1

ACT II. SCENE 1. Sicilia. A Room in the Palace.

[Enter HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, and Ladies.]

HERMIONE.
Take the boy to you: he so troubles me,
'Tis past enduring.

FIRST LADY.
Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?

MAMILLIUS.
No, I'll none of you.

FIRST LADY.
Why, my sweet lord?

MAMILLIUS.
You'll kiss me hard, and speak to me as if
I were a baby still. — [To Second Lady.] I love you better.

SECOND LADY.
And why so, my lord?

MAMILLIUS.
Not for because
Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say,
Become some women best; so that there be not
Too much hair there, but in a semicircle
Or a half-moon made with a pen.

SECOND LADY.
Who taught you this?

MAMILLIUS.
I learn'd it out of women's faces. — Pray now,
What colour are your eyebrows?

FIRST LADY.
Blue, my lord.

MAMILLIUS.
Nay, that's a mock: I have seen a lady's nose
That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.

FIRST LADY.
Hark ye:
The queen your mother rounds apace. We shall
Present our services to a fine new prince
One of these days; and then you'd wanton with us,
If we would have you.

SECOND LADY.
She is spread of late
Into a goodly bulk: good time encounter her!

HERMIONE.
What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now
I am for you again: pray you sit by us,
And tell 's a tale.

MAMILLIUS.
Merry or sad shall't be?

HERMIONE.
As merry as you will.

MAMILLIUS.
A sad tale's best for winter. I have one
Of sprites and goblins.

HERMIONE.
Let's have that, good sir.
Come on, sit down; — come on, and do your best
To fright me with your sprites: you're powerful at it.

MAMILLIUS.
There was a man, —

HERMIONE.
Nay, come, sit down: then on.

MAMILLIUS.
Dwelt by a churchyard: — I will tell it softly;
Yond crickets shall not hear it.

HERMIONE.
Come on then,
And give't me in mine ear.

[Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Guards.]

LEONTES.
Was he met there? his train? Camillo with him?

FIRST LORD.
Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never
Saw I men scour so on their way: I ey'd them
Even to their ships.

LEONTES.
How bles'd am I
In my just censure, in my true opinion! —
Alack, for lesser knowledge! — How accurs'd
In being so blest! — There may be in the cup
A spider steep'd, and one may drink, depart,
And yet partake no venom; for his knowledge
Is not infected; but if one present
The abhorr'd ingredient to his eye, make known
How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
With violent hefts; — I have drunk, and seen the spider.
Camillo was his help in this, his pander: —
There is a plot against my life, my crown;
All's true that is mistrusted: — that false villain
Whom I employ'd, was pre-employ'd by him:
He has discover'd my design, and I
Remain a pinch'd thing; yea, a very trick
For them to play at will. — How came the posterns
So easily open?

FIRST LORD.
By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevail'd than so,
On your command.

LEONTES.
I know't too well. —
Give me the boy: — I am glad you did not nurse him:
Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you
Have too much blood in him.

HERMIONE.
What is this? sport?

LEONTES.
Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her;
Away with him! — and let her sport herself
With that she's big with; — for 'tis Polixenes
Has made thee swell thus.

[Exit MAMILLIUS, with some of the Guards.]

HERMIONE.
But I'd say he had not,
And I'll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe'er you learn the nayward.

LEONTES.
You, my lords,
Look on her, mark her well; be but about
To say, 'she is a goodly lady' and
The justice of your hearts will thereto add,
''Tis pity she's not honest, honourable':
Praise her but for this her without-door form, —
Which, on my faith, deserves high speech, — and straight
The shrug, the hum or ha, — these petty brands
That calumny doth use: — O, I am out,
That mercy does; for calumny will sear
Virtue itself: — these shrugs, these hum's, and ha's,
When you have said 'she's goodly,' come between,
Ere you can say 'she's honest': but be it known,
From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
She's an adultress!

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