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

ACT IV. SCENE 3. The same. A Road near the Shepherd's cottage.

[Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing.]

When daffodils begin to peer, —
With, hey! the doxy over the dale, —
Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year:
For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale.

The white sheet bleaching on the hedge, —
With, hey! the sweet birds, O, how they sing! —
Doth set my pugging tooth on edge;
For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

The lark, that tirra-lirra chants, —
With, hey! with, hey! the thrush and the jay, —
Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
While we lie tumbling in the hay.

I have serv'd Prince Florizel, and in my time wore three-pile;
but now I am out of service:

But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
The pale moon shines by night:
And when I wander here and there,
I then do most go right.

If tinkers may have leave to live,
And bear the sow-skin budget,
Then my account I well may give
And in the stocks avouch it.

My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to lesser linen.
My father named me Autolycus; who being, I as am, littered under
Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With
die and drab I purchased this caparison; and my revenue is the
silly-cheat: gallows and knock are too powerful on the highway;
beating and hanging are terrors to me; for the life to come, I
sleep out the thought of it. — A prize! a prize!

[Enter CLOWN.]

Let me see: — every 'leven wether tods; every tod yields pound
and odd shilling; fifteen hundred shorn, what comes the wool to?

[Aside.] If the springe hold, the cock's mine.

I cannot do't without counters. — Let me see; what am I to
buy for our sheep-shearing feast? 'Three pound of sugar; five
pound of currants; rice' — what will this sister of mine do with
rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she
lays it on. She hath made me four and twenty nosegays for the
shearers, — three-man song-men all, and very good ones; but they
are most of them means and bases; but one puritan amongst them,
and he sings psalms to hornpipes. I must have saffron to colour
the warden pies; 'mace — dates', — none, that's out of my note;
'nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger', — but that I may beg;
'four pound of prunes, and as many of raisins o' the sun.'

[Grovelling on the ground.] O that ever I was born!

I' the name of me, —

O, help me, help me! Pluck but off these rags; and then, death,

Alack, poor soul! thou hast need of more rags to lay on thee,
rather than have these off.

O sir, the loathsomeness of them offend me more than the stripes
I have received, which are mighty ones and millions.

Alas, poor man! a million of beating may come to a great matter.

I am robb'd, sir, and beaten; my money and apparel ta'en from me,
and these detestable things put upon me.

What, by a horseman or a footman?

A footman, sweet sir, a footman.

Indeed, he should be a footman, by the garments he has left
with thee: if this be a horseman's coat, it hath seen very hot
service. Lend me thy hand, I'll help thee: come, lend me thy

[Helping him up.]

O, good sir, tenderly, O!

Alas, poor soul!

O, good sir, softly, good sir: I fear, sir, my shoulder blade
is out.

How now! canst stand?

Softly, dear sir! [Picks his pocket.] good sir, softly; you ha'
done me a charitable office.

Dost lack any money? I have a little money for thee.

No, good sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir: I have a kinsman not
past three quarters of a mile hence, unto whom I was going; I
shall there have money or anything I want: offer me no money, I
pray you; that kills my heart.

What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?

A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about with troll-my-dames;
I knew him once a servant of the prince; I cannot tell, good sir,
for which of his virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out
of the court.

His vices, you would say; there's no virtue whipped out of the
court: they cherish it, to make it stay there; and yet it will no
more but abide.

Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man well: he hath been
since an ape-bearer; then a process-server, a bailiff; then he
compassed a motion of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker's
wife within a mile where my land and living lies; and, having
flown over many knavish professions, he settled only in rogue:
some call him Autolycus.

Out upon him! prig, for my life, prig: he haunts wakes, fairs,
and bear-baitings.

Very true, sir; he, sir, he; that's the rogue that put me into
this apparel.

Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia; if you had but looked
big and spit at him, he'd have run.

I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I am false of heart
that way; and that he knew, I warrant him.

How do you now?

Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand and walk: I will
even take my leave of you and pace softly towards my kinsman's.

Shall I bring thee on the way?

No, good-faced sir; no, sweet sir.

Then fare thee well: I must go buy spices for our sheep-shearing.

Prosper you, sweet sir!

[Exit CLOWN.]

Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice. I'll be with
you at your sheep-shearing too. If I make not this cheat bring
out another, and the shearers prove sheep, let me be unrolled,
and my name put in the book of virtue!


Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
And merrily hent the stile-a:
A merry heart goes all the day,
Your sad tires in a mile-a.


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