[Enter Leontes, Hermione, Mamillius, Polixenes, Camillo,
Nine changes of the wat’ry star hath been
The shepherd’s note since we have left our throne
Without a burden. Time as long again
Would be filled up, my brother, with our thanks,
 And yet we should for perpetuity
Go hence in debt. And therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one “We thank you” many thousands more
That go before it.
 LEONTES Stay your thanks awhile,
And pay them when you part.
POLIXENES Sir, that’s tomorrow.
I am questioned by my fears of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence, that may blow
 No sneaping winds at home to make us say
“This is put forth too truly.” Besides, I have stayed
To tire your Royalty.
LEONTES We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to ’t.
POLIXENES No longer stay.
One sev’nnight longer.
POLIXENES Very sooth, tomorrow.
We’ll part the time between ’s, then, and in that
I’ll no gainsaying.
POLIXENES Press me not, beseech you, so.
There is no tongue that moves, none, none i’ th’
So soon as yours could win me. So it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
 ’Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward, which to hinder
Were in your love a whip to me, my stay
To you a charge and trouble. To save both,
Farewell, our brother.
LEONTES Tongue-tied, our queen?
I had thought, sir, to have held my peace until
You had drawn oaths from him not to stay. You, sir,
Charge him too coldly. Tell him you are sure
 All in Bohemia’s well. This satisfaction
The bygone day proclaimed. Say this to him,
He’s beat from his best ward.
LEONTES Well said, Hermione.
To tell he longs to see his son were strong.
 But let him say so then, and let him go.
But let him swear so and he shall not stay;
We’ll thwack him hence with distaffs.
[To Polixenes.]Yet of your royal presence I’ll
 The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I’ll give him my commission
To let him there a month behind the gest
Prefixed for ’s parting.—Yet, good deed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar o’ th’ clock behind
 What lady she her lord.—You’ll stay?
POLIXENES No, madam.
Nay, but you will?
POLIXENES I may not, verily.
 You put me off with limber vows. But I,
Though you would seek t’ unsphere the stars with
Should yet say “Sir, no going.” Verily,
You shall not go. A lady’s “verily” is
 As potent as a lord’s. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest, so you shall pay your fees
When you depart and save your thanks. How say you?
My prisoner or my guest? By your dread “verily,”
 One of them you shall be.
POLIXENES Your guest, then, madam.
To be your prisoner should import offending,
Which is for me less easy to commit
Than you to punish.
HERMIONE Not your jailer, then,
But your kind hostess. Come, I’ll question you
Of my lord’s tricks and yours when you were boys.
You were pretty lordings then?
POLIXENES We were, fair queen,
 Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day tomorrow as today,
And to be boy eternal.
HERMIONE Was not my lord
The verier wag o’ th’ two?
 We were as twinned lambs that did frisk i’ th’ sun
And bleat the one at th’ other. What we changed
Was innocence for innocence. We knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dreamed
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
 And our weak spirits ne’er been higher reared
With stronger blood, we should have answered
Boldly “Not guilty,” the imposition cleared
HERMIONE By this we gather
You have tripped since.
POLIXENES O my most sacred lady,
Temptations have since then been born to ’s, for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
 Your precious self had then not crossed the eyes
Of my young playfellow.
HERMIONE Grace to boot!
Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
Your queen and I are devils. Yet go on.
 Th’ offenses we have made you do we’ll answer,
If you first sinned with us, and that with us
You did continue fault, and that you slipped not
With any but with us.
LEONTES Is he won yet?
He’ll stay, my lord.
LEONTES At my request he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spok’st
To better purpose.
LEONTES Never but once.
What, have I twice said well? When was ’t before?
I prithee tell me. Cram ’s with praise, and make ’s
As fat as tame things. One good deed dying
 Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages. You may ride ’s
With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
With spur we heat an acre. But to th’ goal:
My last good deed was to entreat his stay.
 What was my first? It has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you. O, would her name were Grace!
But once before I spoke to th’ purpose? When?
Nay, let me have ’t; I long.
LEONTES Why, that was when
 Three crabbèd months had soured themselves to
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand
And clap thyself my love; then didst thou utter
“I am yours forever.”
HERMIONE ’Tis grace indeed.
Why, lo you now, I have spoke to th’ purpose twice.
The one forever earned a royal husband,
Th’ other for some while a friend.
[She gives Polixenes her hand.]
LEONTES , [aside] Too hot, too hot!
 To mingle friendship far is mingling bloods.
I have tremor cordis on me. My heart dances,
But not for joy, not joy. This entertainment
May a free face put on, derive a liberty
From heartiness, from bounty, fertile bosom,
 And well become the agent. ’T may, I grant.
But to be paddling palms and pinching fingers,
As now they are, and making practiced smiles
As in a looking glass, and then to sigh, as ’twere
The mort o’ th’ deer—O, that is entertainment
 My bosom likes not, nor my brows.—Mamillius,
Art thou my boy?
MAMILLIUS Ay, my good lord.
LEONTES I’ fecks!
Why, that’s my bawcock. What, hast smutched thy
They say it is a copy out of mine. Come, captain,
We must be neat—not neat, but cleanly, captain.
And yet the steer, the heifer, and the calf
Are all called neat.—Still virginalling
 Upon his palm?—How now, you wanton calf?
Art thou my calf?
MAMILLIUS Yes, if you will, my lord.
Thou want’st a rough pash and the shoots that I
 To be full like me; yet they say we are
Almost as like as eggs. Women say so,
That will say anything. But were they false
As o’erdyed blacks, as wind, as waters, false
As dice are to be wished by one that fixes
 No bourn ’twixt his and mine, yet were it true
To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin eye. Sweet villain,
Most dear’st, my collop! Can thy dam?—may ’t
 Affection, thy intention stabs the center.
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicat’st with dreams—how can this be?
With what’s unreal thou coactive art,
And fellow’st nothing. Then ’tis very credent
 Thou may’st co-join with something; and thou dost,
And that beyond commission, and I find it,
And that to the infection of my brains
And hard’ning of my brows.
POLIXENES What means Sicilia?
He something seems unsettled.
POLIXENES How, my lord?
What cheer? How is ’t with you, best brother?
HERMIONE You look
As if you held a brow of much distraction.
 Are you moved, my lord?
LEONTES No, in good earnest.
How sometimes nature will betray its folly,
Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime
To harder bosoms! Looking on the lines
 Of my boy’s face, methoughts I did recoil
Twenty-three years, and saw myself unbreeched,
In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled
Lest it should bite its master and so prove,
As ornaments oft do, too dangerous.
 How like, methought, I then was to this kernel,
This squash, this gentleman.—Mine honest friend,
Will you take eggs for money?
MAMILLIUS No, my lord, I’ll fight.
You will? Why, happy man be ’s dole!—My brother,
 Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?
POLIXENES If at home, sir,
He’s all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy,
 My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all.
He makes a July’s day short as December,
And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.
LEONTES So stands this
Officed with me. We two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps.—Hermione,
How thou lov’st us show in our brother’s welcome.
Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap.
 Next to thyself and my young rover, he’s
Apparent to my heart.