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1 Lady.

She is spread of late Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!

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

Mam. . Merry, or sad, shall't be ?
Her. As merry as you will.
Mam.

A sad tale's best for winter.
I have one of sprites and goblins.
Her.

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 Mam. There was a man,Her. Nay, come, sit down; then on.

Mam. Dwelt by a churchyard ;-I will tell it softly; Yon crickets shall not hear it. Her.

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

Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and others.
Leon. Was he met there ? his train ? Camillo with him?

1 Lord. Behind the tuft of pines I met them; never
Saw I men scour so on their way. I eyed them
Even to their ships.
Leon.

How blessed am I
In my just censure! in my true opinion!
Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accursed,
In being so blest !— There may be in the cup
A spider steeped, and one may drink ; depart,
And yet partake no venom; for his knowledge
Is not infected: but if one present
The abhorred 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 employed, was pre-employed by him :
He has discovered my design, and I
Remain a pinched thing; yea, a very trick
For them to play at will. — How came the posterns
So easily open?

1 Lord. By his great authority;
Which often hath no less prevailed them so,
On your command.
Leon.

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.
Her.

What is this? sport?
Leon. 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.
Her.

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

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, honorable. ,
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; — 0, I am out;
That mercy does; for calumny will sear
Virtue itself;— these shrugs, these hums, 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 adult’ress.
Her.

Should a villain say so,
The most replenish villain in the world,
He were as much more villain. You, my lord,
Do but mistake.
Leon.

You have mistook, my lady,
Polixenes for Leontes. O thou thing,
Which I'll not call a creature of thy place,
Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,
Should a like language use to all degrees,
And mannerly distinguishment leave out
Betwixt the prince and beggar!- I have said,
She's an adult'ress; I have said with whom;
More, she's a traitor! and Camillo is
A federary with her; and one that knows
What she should shame to know herself,
But with her most vile principal, that she's
A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
That vulgars give bold'st titles; ay, and privy
To this their late escape.
Her.

No, by my life,

Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,
When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that
You thus have published me? Gentle my lord,
You scarce can right me throughly, then, to say
You did mistake.
Leon.

No, no: if I mistake
In those foundations which I build upon,
The centre is not big enough to bear
A school-boy's top. Away with her to prison.
He who shall speak for her, is afar off guilty,
But that he speaks.

Her. ' There's some ill planet reigns.
I must be patient till the heavens look
With an aspect more favorable.—Good my lords,
I am not prone to weeping, as our sex
Commonly are; the want of which vain dew,
Perchance, shall dry your pities : but I have
That honorable grief lodged here, which burns
Worse than tears drown. 'Beseech you all, my lords,
With thought so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me;- and so
The king's will be performed !
Leon.

Shall I be heard ?

[To the Guards. Her. Who is't that goes with me? — 'Beseech your

highness, My women may be with me; for, you see, . My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools ; There is no cause; when you shall know your mistress Has deserved prison, then abound in tears, As I come out. This action, I now go on, Is for my better grace.-Adieu, my lord; I never wished to see you sorry; now, I trust, I shall. My women, come; you have leave. Leon. Go, do our bidding; hence.

[Exeunt Queen and Ladies. 1 Lord. 'Beseech your highness, call the queen again.

Ant. Be certain what you do, sir ; lest, your justice
Prove violence; in the which three great ones suffer,
Yourself, your queen, your son.
1 Lord.

For her, my lord, -
I dare my life lay down, and will do't, sir,
Please you to accept it, that the queen is spotless
I’the eyes of Heaven, and to you: I mean,
In this which you accuse her.
Ant.

If it prove

She's otherwise, I'll keep my stables where ..
I lodge my wife; I'll go in couples with her;
Than when I feel, and see her, no further trust her;
For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman's flesh, is false,
If she be.

Leon. Hold your peaces.
1 Lord.

Good my lord, -
Ant. It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.
You are abused, and by some putter-on,
That will be damned for't; 'would I knew the villain,
I would land-damn him. Be she honor-flawed, i
I have three daughters; the eldest is eleven;
The second, and the third, nine, and some five; .
If this prove true, they'll pay for’t; by mine honor,
I'll geld them all: fourteen they shall not see,
To bring false generations; they are coheirs ;
And I had rather glib myself, than they
Should not produce fair issue.
Leon.

Cease; no more.
You smell this business with a sense as cold
As is a dead man's nose; but I do see't and feel't
As you feel doing thus; and see withal
The instruments that feel.
Ant.

If it be so,
We need no grave to bury honesty;
There's not a grain of it, the face to sweeten
Of the whole dungy earth.
Leon.

What, lack I credit ? 1 Lord. I had rather you did lack, than I, my lord, upon this ground: and more it would content me To have her honor true, than your suspicion ; Be blamed for't how you might. Leon.

Why, what need we
Commune with you of this ? but rather follow
Our forceful instigation ? Our prerogative
Calls not your counsels; but our natural goodness
Imparts this; which,— if you (or stupefied,
Or seeming so in skill) cannot, or will not,
Relish as truth, like us; inform yourselves.
We need no more of your advice: the matter,
The loss, the gain, the ordering on't, is all
Properly ours.

Ant. And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.

Leon.

How could that be?
Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo's flight,
Added to their familiarity,
(Which was as gross as ever touched conjecture,
That lacked sight only, nought for approbation,
But only seeing, all other circumstances
Made up to the deed,) doth push on this proceeding.
Yet, for a greater confirmation,
(For, in an act of this importance, 'twere
Most piteous to be wild,) I have despatched in post,
To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,
Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know
Of stuffed sufficiency. Now from the oracle
They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel, had,
Shall stop, or spur me. Have I done well?

1 Lord. Well done, my lord.

Leon. Though I am satisfied, and need no more Than what I know, yet shall the oracle Give rest to the minds of others; such as he, Whose ignorant credulity will not Come up to the truth. So have we thought it good, From our free person she should be confined ; Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence, Be left her to perform. Come, follow us ; We are to speak in public; for this business Will raise us all.

Ant. [Aside.] To laughter, as I take it, If the good truth were known.

[Exeunt.

SCENE II. The same. The outer Room of a Prison.

Enter Paulina and Attendants.
Paul. The keeper of the prison, — call to him ;

[Exit an Attendant.
Let him have knowledge who I am. — Good lady!
No court in Europe is too good for thee;
What dost thou then in prison ?- Now, good sir,

Re-enter Attendant, with the Keeper.
You know me, do you not?
Keeper.

For a worthy lady,
And one whom I much honor.
Paul.

Pray you, then,
Conduct me to the queen.

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