The Winter's Tale eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 81 pages of information about The Winter's Tale.

Camillo.  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.

Polixenes.  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.

Camillo.  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.

Polixenes.  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.

Camillo
I willingly obey your command.

Polixenes
My best Camillo!—­We must disguise ourselves.

[Exeunt.]

Scene III.  The same.  A Road near the Shepherd’s cottage.

[Enter autolycus, singing.]

Autolycus
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!

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Project Gutenberg
The Winter's Tale from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.