[Enter Hermione, Mamillius, and Ladies.]
Take the boy to you. He so troubles me
’Tis past enduring.
FIRST LADY Come, my gracious lord,
Shall I be your playfellow?
No, I’ll none of you.
FIRST LADY Why, my sweet lord?
You’ll kiss me hard and speak to me as if
I were a baby still.—I love you better.
And why so, my lord?
MAMILLIUS Not for because
Your brows are blacker—yet black brows, they say,
Become some women best, so that there be not
Too much hair there, but in a semicircle,
Or a half-moon made with a pen.
SECOND LADY Who taught this?
I learned it out of women’s faces.—Pray now,
What color are your eyebrows?
FIRST LADY Blue, my lord.
Nay, that’s a mock. I have seen a lady’s nose
 That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.
FIRST LADY Hark ye,
The Queen your mother rounds apace. We shall
Present our services to a fine new prince
One of these days, and then you’d wanton with us
 If we would have you.
SECOND LADY She is spread of late
Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!
What wisdom stirs amongst you?—Come, sir, now
I am for you again. Pray you sit by us,
 And tell ’s a tale.
MAMILLIUS Merry or sad shall ’t be?
HERMIONE As merry as you will.
A sad tale’s best for winter. I have one
Of sprites and goblins.
HERMIONE 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.
There was a man—
HERMIONE Nay, come sit down, then on.
Dwelt by a churchyard. I will tell it softly,
Yond crickets shall not hear it.
Come on then, and give ’t me in mine ear.
[They talk privately.]
[Enter Leontes, Antigonus, and Lords.]
Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?
Behind the tuft of pines I met them. Never
 Saw I men scour so on their way. I eyed them
Even to their ships.
LEONTES How blest 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
Th’ 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?
LORD By his great authority,
Which often hath no less prevailed than so
On your command.
LEONTES I know ’t too well.
[To Hermione.] 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.
HERMIONE What is this? Sport?
LEONTES , [to the Ladies]
Bear the boy hence. He shall not come about her.
 Away with him, and let her sport herself
With that she’s big with, ( [to Hermione]) for ’tis
Has made thee swell thus.
[A Lady exits with Mamillius.]
HERMIONE But I’d say he had not,
 And I’ll be sworn you would believe my saying,
Howe’er you lean to th’ nayward.
LEONTES 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
 The shrug, the “hum,” or “ha,” these petty brands
That calumny doth use—O, I am out,
That mercy does, for calumny will sear
Virtue itself—these shrugs, these “hum”s and “ha”s,
When you have said she’s goodly, come between
 Ere you can say she’s honest. But be ’t known,
From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,
She’s an adult’ress.
HERMIONE Should a villain say so,
The most replenished villain in the world,
 He were as much more villain. You, my lord,
Do but mistake.
LEONTES 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.
HERMIONE 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.
LEONTES No. If I mistake
In those foundations which I build upon,
 The center is not big enough to bear
A schoolboy’s top.—Away with her to prison.
He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
But that he speaks.
HERMIONE 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 thoughts so qualified as your charities
Shall best instruct you, measure me; and so
The King’s will be performed.
LEONTES Shall I be heard?
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
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.
LEONTES Go, do our bidding. Hence!
[Hermione exits, under guard, with her Ladies.]
Beseech your Highness, call the Queen again.
Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice
Prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer:
 Yourself, your queen, your son.
LORD For her, my lord,
I dare my life lay down—and will do ’t, sir,
Please you t’ accept it—that the Queen is spotless
I’ th’ eyes of heaven, and to you—I mean
 In this which you accuse her.
ANTIGONUS 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 farther trust her.
 For every inch of woman in the world,
Ay, every dram of woman’s flesh, is false,
If she be.
LEONTES Hold your peaces.
LORD Good my lord—
 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
I would land-damn him. Be she honor-flawed,
 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 ’em all; fourteen they shall not see
To bring false generations. They are co-heirs,
 And I had rather glib myself than they
Should not produce fair issue.
LEONTES 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.
ANTIGONUS 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.
LEONTES What? Lack I credit?
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.
LEONTES 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 a truth like us, inform yourselves
We need no more of your advice. The matter,
The loss, the gain, the ord’ring on ’t is all
 Properly ours.
ANTIGONUS And I wish, my liege,
You had only in your silent judgment tried it,
Without more overture.
LEONTES How could that be?
 Either thou art most ignorant by age,
Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo’s flight,
Added to their familiarity—