The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act III: Scene 3

ACT III. SCENE 3. Bohemia. A desert Country near the Sea.

[Enter ANTIGONUS with the 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,
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
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.

ANTIGONUS.
Go thou away:
I'll follow instantly.

MARINER.
I am glad at heart
To be so rid o' th' business.

[Exit.]

ANTIGONUS.
Come, poor babe: —
I have heard (but not believ'd) the spirits of the dead
May walk again: if such thing be, thy mother
Appear'd to me last night; for ne'er was dream
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
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,
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
I pr'ythee call't. For this ungentle business,
Put on thee by my lord, thou ne'er shalt see
Thy wife Paulina more': so, with shrieks,
She melted into air. Affrighted much,
I did in time collect myself; and thought
This was so, and no slumber. Dreams are toys;
Yet, for this once, yea, superstitiously,
I will be squar'd by this. I do believe
Hermione hath suffer'd death, and that
Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
Either for life or death, upon the earth
Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!

[Laying down the child.]

There lie; and there thy character: there these;

[Laying down a bundle.]

Which may if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty,
And still rest thine. — The storm begins: — poor wretch,
That for thy mother's fault art thus expos'd
To loss and what may follow! — Weep I cannot,
But my heart bleeds: and most accurs'd am I
To be by oath enjoin'd to this. — Farewell!
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.

[Exit, pursued by a bear.]

[Enter an old SHEPHERD.]

SHEPHERD.
I would there were no age between ten and three-and-twenty, or
that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the
between but 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 than the master: if anywhere I have them, 'tis by
the sea-side, browsing of ivy. — Good luck, an't be thy will! what
have we here?

[Taking up the child.]

Mercy on's, a bairn: A very pretty bairn! A boy or a child, I
wonder? A pretty one; a very pretty one: sure, some scape: 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 pity: yet I'll tarry till my
son comes; he hallaed but even now. — Whoa, ho hoa!

CLOWN.
[Within.] Hilloa, loa!

SHEPHERD.
What, art so near? If thou'lt see a thing to talk on when thou
art dead and rotten, come hither.

[Enter CLOWN.]

What ail'st 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 a bodkin's point.

SHEPHERD.
Why, boy, how is it?

CLOWN.
I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it
takes up the shore! But that's not to the point. O, the most
piteous cry of the poor souls! sometimes to see 'em, and not to
see 'em; now the ship boring the moon with her mainmast, and anon
swallowed with yest and froth, as you'd thrust a cork into a
hogshead. And then for the land service, — to see how the bear
tore out his 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-dragon'd it: — but first, how the
poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them; — and how the poor
gentleman roared, and the bear mocked him, — both roaring louder
than the sea or weather.

SHEPHERD.
Name of mercy! when was this, boy?

CLOWN.
Now, now; I have not winked since I saw these sights: the men
are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the
gentleman; he's at it now.

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.

SHEPHERD.
[Aside.] Heavy matters, heavy matters! But look thee here, boy.
Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things dying, I with things
new-born. Here's a sight for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for
a squire's child! look thee here; take up, take up, boy; 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!

SHEPHERD.
This is fairy-gold, boy, and 'twill prove so: up with it, 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.

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.

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.

SHEPHERD.
'Tis a lucky day, boy; and we'll do good deeds on't.

[Exeunt.]

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