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SCENE III

A room in LEONTES' palace.
Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, Lords, and Servants.

Leon.
Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness

To bear the matter thus; mere weakness. If

The cause were not in being,--part o' the cause,

She the adulteress; for the harlot king

Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank

And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she

I can hook to me; say that she were gone,

Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest

Might come to me again. Who's there?

First Serv.
My lord?

Leon.
How does the boy? (10)

First Serv.
He took good rest to-night;

'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.

Leon.
To see his nobleness!

Conceiving the dishonor of his mother,

He straight declined, droop'd, took it deeply.

Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself,

Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,

And downright languish'd. Leave me solely: go,

See how he fares. [Exit Serv.
Fie, fie! no thought of him:

The very thought of my revenges that way (20)

Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,

And in his parties, his alliance; let him be

Until a time may serve: for present vengeance,

Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes

Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow:

They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor

Shall she within my power. Enter PAULINA, with a child.


First Lord.
You must not enter.

Paul.
Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:

Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,

Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,

More free than he is jealous. (30)

Ant.
That's enough.

Sec. Serv.
Madam, he hath not slept tonight; commanded

None should come at him.

Paul.
Not so hot, good sir:

I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,

That creep like shadows by him and do sigh

At each his needless heavings, such as you

Nourish the cause of his awaking: I

Do come with words as medicinal as true,

Honest as either, to purge him of that humor

That presses him from sleep.

Leon.
What noise there, ho? (40)

Paul.
No noise, my lord; but needful conference

About some gossips for your highness.

Leon.
How!

Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,

I charged thee that she should not come about me:

I knew she would.

Ant.
I told her so, my lord,

On your displeasure's peril and on mine,

She should not visit you.

Leon.
What, canst not rule her?

Paul.
From all dishonesty he can: in this,

Unless he take the course that you have done,

Commit me for committing honor, trust it,

He shall not rule me. (50)

Ant.
La you now, you hear:

When she will take the rein I let her run;

But she'll not stumble.

Paul.
Good my liege, I come;

And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess

Myself your loyal servant, your physician,

Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dare

Less appear so in comforting your evils,

Than such as most seem yours: I say, I come

From your good queen.

Leon.
Good queen!

Paul.
Good queen, my lord,

Good queen; I say good queen;

And would by combat make her good, so were I

A man, the worst about you. (61)

Leon.
Force her hence.

Paul.
Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes

First hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;

But first I'll do my errand. The good queen,

For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;

Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing. [Laying down the child.


Leon.
Out!

A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:

A most intelligencing bawd!

Paul.
Not so:

I am as ignorant in that as you (70)

In so entitling me, and no less honest

Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,

As this world goes, to pass for honest.

Leon.
Traitors!

Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.

Thou dotard! thou art woman-tired, unroosted

By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;

Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.

Paul.
For ever

Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou

Takest up the princess by that forced baseness

Which he has put upon't!

Leon.
He dreads his wife. (80)

Paul.
So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt

You'ld call your children yours.

Leon.
A nest of traitors!

Ant.
I am none, by this good light.

Paul.
Nor I, nor any

But one that's here, and that's himself, for he

The sacred honor of himself, his queen's,

His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,

Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not--

For, as the case now stands, it is a curse

He cannot be compell'd to't--once remove

The root of his opinion, which is rotten

As ever oak or stone was sound. (90)

Leon.
A callet

Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband

And now baits me! This brat is none of mine;

It is the issue of Polixenes:

Hence with it, and together with the dam

Commit them to the fire!

Paul.
It is yours;

And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge,

So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords,

Although the print be little, the whole matter

And copy of the father, eye, nose, lip, (100)

The trick of's frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,

The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek,
His smiles,

The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger:

And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it

So like to him that got it, if thou hast

The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colors

No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does.

Her children not her husband's!

Leon.
A gross hag!

And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hang'd,

That wilt not stay her tongue. (110)

Ant.
Hang all the husbands

That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself

Hardly one subject.

Leon.
Once more, take her hence.

Paul.
A most unworthy and unnatural lord

Can do no more.

Leon.
I'll ha' thee burnt.

Paul.
I care not:

It is an heretic that makes the fire,

Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant;

But this most cruel usage of your queen,

Not able to produce more accusation

Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savors (120)

Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,

Yea, scandalous to the world.

Leon.
On your allegiance.

Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,

Where were her life? she durst not call me so,

If she did know me one. Away with her!

Paul.
I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone.

Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours: Jove send her

A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands?

You, that are thus so tender o'er his follies,

Will never do him good, not one of you. (130)

So, so: farewell; we are gone. [Exit.


Leon.
Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.

My child? away with't! Even thou, that hast

A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence

And see it instantly consumed with fire;

Even thou and none but thou. Take it up straight;

Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,

And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life,

With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse

And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so;

The bastard brains with these my proper hands (140)

Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire;

For thou set'st on thy wife.

Ant.
I did not, sir;

These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,

Can clear me in't.

Lords.
We can: my royal liege,

He is not guilty of her coming hither.

Leon.
You're liars all.

First Lord.
Beseech your highness, give us better credit:

We have always truly served you, and beseech you

So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg, (150)

As recompense of our dear services

Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,

Which being so horrible, so bloody, must

Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.

Leon.
I am a feather for each wind that blows:

Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel

And call me father? better burn it now

Than curse it then. But be it; let it live.

It shall not neither. You, sir, come you hither;

You that have been so tenderly officious (160)

With Lady Margery, your midwife there,

To save this bastard's life,--for 'tis a bastard,

So sure as this beard's grey,--what will you adventure

To save this brat's life?

Ant.
Any thing, my lord,

That my ability may undergo

And nobleness impose: at least thus much:

I'll pawn the little blood which I have left

To save the innocent: any thing possible.

Leon.
It shall be possible. Swear by this sword

Thou wilt perform my bidding.

Ant.
I will, my lord. (170)

Leon.
Mark and perform it, see'st thou? for the fail

Of any point in't shall not only be

Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife,

Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,

As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry

This female bastard hence and that thou bear it

To some remote and desert place quite out

Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it,

Without more mercy, to its own protection

And favor of the climate. As by strange fortune (180)

It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,

On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,

That thou commend it strangely to some place

Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

Ant.
I swear to do this, though a present death

Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe:

Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens

To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,

Casting their savageness aside have done

Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous (190)

In more than this deed does require! And blessing

Against this cruelty fight on thy side,

Poor thing, condemn'd to loss! [Exit with the child.


Leon.
No, I'll not rear

Another's issue. Enter a Servant.


Serv.
Please your highness, posts

From those you sent to the oracle are come

An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,

Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,

Hasting to the court.

First Lord.
So please you, sir, their speed

Hath been beyond account.

Leon.
Twenty three days

They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells (200)

The great Apollo suddenly will have

The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords;

Summon a session, that we may arraign

Our most disloyal lady, for, as she hath

Been publicly accused, so shall she have

A just and open trial. While she lives

My heart will be a burthen to me. Leave me,

And think upon my bidding. [Exeunt.

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