The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act IV: Scene 2

ACT IV. SCENE 2. Bohemia. A Room in the palace of POLIXENES.


I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate: 'tis
a sickness denying thee anything; a death to grant this.

It is fifteen years since I saw my country; though I have
for the most part been aired abroad, I desire to lay my bones
there. Besides, the penitent king, my master, hath sent for me;
to whose feeling sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween
to think so, — which is another spur to my departure.

As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of thy
services by leaving me now: the need I have of thee, thine own
goodness hath made; better not to have had thee than thus to want
thee; thou, having made me businesses which none without thee can
sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute them thyself, or
take away with thee the very services thou hast done; which if I
have not enough considered, — as too much I cannot, — to be more
thankful to thee shall be my study; and my profit therein the
heaping friendships. Of that fatal country Sicilia, pr'ythee,
speak no more; whose very naming punishes me with the remembrance
of that penitent, as thou call'st him, and reconciled king, my
brother; whose loss of his most precious queen and children are
even now to be afresh lamented. Say to me, when sawest thou the
Prince Florizel, my son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue
not being gracious, than they are in losing them when they have
approved their virtues.

Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What his happier
affairs may be, are to me unknown; but I have missingly noted
he is of late much retired from court, and is less frequent to
his princely exercises than formerly he hath appeared.

I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some care; so
far that I have eyes under my service which look upon his
removedness; from whom I have this intelligence, — that he is
seldom from the house of a most homely shepherd, — a man, they
say, that from very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his
neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.

I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a daughter of most
rare note: the report of her is extended more than can be
thought to begin from such a cottage.

That's likewise part of my intelligence: but, I fear, the
angle that plucks our son thither. Thou shalt accompany us
to the place; where we will, not appearing what we are, have
some question with the shepherd; from whose simplicity I think
it not uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort thither.
Pr'ythee, be my present partner in this business, and lay
aside the thoughts of Sicilia.

I willingly obey your command.

My best Camillo! — We must disguise ourselves.


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After Camillo reveals Leontes' plan to kill Polixenes, Camillo is sentenced to die for treason.