Antigonus had left Sicily on his chore to abandon the infant before Cleomenes and Dion had returned from the oracle so he was ignorant of the events that had unfolded in Sicily. He was far away. The ship taking him to Bohemian territories encountered a ferocious storm in the upper Adriatic, the most desolate and rugged parts of the Bohemian territories.
"You are certain then that we have reached the Bohemian coast?" Antigonus asked the captain.
"Yes, my lord, and I fear we reached our destination at an unfortunate time. The skies look grim and threaten gales. In my conscience I think the heavens know what we are up to and are angry at us."
Due to the rockiness of the jagged coastline Antigonus used a small rowing boat from the ship to abandon the baby on the shore
"Their sacred wills be done!" Antigonus said. "You stay aboard and look after the ship. It won't be long before I'm back."
"Be as quick as you can and don't venture too far inland, it’s certain to be stormy and this place is notorious for wild animals."
"Stay with the ship I’ll be back quickly."
"I'm so glad this will soon be over," the captain sighed.
As Antigonus held the baby in his rams he spoke to it softly: "Come, poor babe. I have heard, but not believed that the spirits of the dead may walk again. If such things are true, your mother appeared to me last night for never was a dream so real. She came to me forlorn, sometimes her head on one side, sometimes on another. I never saw so much sorrow in a person, yet it was strangely becoming. In a pure white robe she looked like the epitome of saintliness. She approached my bunk and bowed before me three times. She attempted to speak to me but couldn't contain her terrible tears. Finally she spoke to me. Good Antigonus, fate, despite your protestations, has made you the person who will discard my poor babe. Fulfilling an oath you will abandon my poor child in a remote Bohemian forest, left to cry and wail. This babe, lost for ever, I call Perdita- meaning 'lost one'. For carrying out this cruel act, put on you by my husband, you will never see your wife Paulina again. With a few wails Hermione melted into the air. Terrified, I collected myself and thought of what was real and what was sleep. Dreams are just illusions but this time I think there was something in it and I will be guided. I believe Hermione has died since we left Sicily, suffering under Apollo's judgement, and you babe are indeed a child of King Polixenes. And so it is right that you should be left here on the land of your father. Well, little bud, let's hope you survive."
Antigonus placed the child on the ground with a box containing some valuables and the story of the reason behind the abandonment, noting that she should be called Perdita.
"Lie here with this document telling who you are and there’s some trinkets which may, if fate is kind, pay for your upbringing and leave something for a dowry. The storm is breaking! Poor wretch, exposed to all kinds of ill because of your mother's conduct. Weep I cannot, but my heart bleeds and most accursed am I to be bound by oath to fulfill this horror. Farewell, poor babe, the storm gets worse! A tragic lullaby. I never saw a day so dark! What's that noise? I must flee or I too am a goner- something's coming this way."
It was a hungry and angry bear. It chased Antigonus and within seconds it was on top of him.
Fate did watch over Perdita, for minutes after she had been abandoned by Antigonus, an Old Shepherd was in the vicinity, idly chatting to himself.
"Personally I wish there was no age between ten and twenty-three,” the Old Shepherd said, “or that the young would sleep through the other years. For after that there is nothing in between but unwanted children, upsetting the elderly, stealing and fighting. Mind you, would anybody but these nineteen and twenty-two year olds hunt in this weather? They have scared away two of my best sheep, which I fear the wolf will find sooner than me. If I find them anywhere it will be by the seaside, grazing on ivy. God's luck be with me!"
What the Old Shepherd then found was Perdita and the box.
"What have we here? Mercy on us! A baby, a very pretty baby! A boy or a girl, I wonder? A pretty one, a very pretty one. Surely, some result of mischief. Though I am not bookish, I can see gentlefolk in this- some jiggery-pokery! Those who begot this poor child are certainly in better circumstances than the infant. I'll take pity on the wee thing. I'll wait till my son comes. He is looking here, too. He called out just a minute ago. Whoa, ho, hoa!" the Old Shepherd called for his son.
The Old Shepherd's son was a pleasant and decent young man, but a bit simple. For that reason nobody ever referred to him by an actual name, but just Clown. Even his father had long since used that term. The Old Shepherd only had to wait a few minutes before Clown appeared.
"Hilloa, loa!" Clown said.
"So near? You are about to see something that will be talked about long after you've gone. Come and look. What's up with you, man?"
"I've just seen two horrendous things, one at sea and one on land. But I can't say it's the sea since it rose up to the sky so close a needle wouldn't fit between the sea and the sky."
"Why, boy, what was it?"
"I would take you down to the shore for you to see for yourself how the waves rage, pounding on the shore, but that's not the point. Oh, the screams of the poor souls! I saw them then I didn't see them! Then the ship was tossed skyward and then swallowed. And then for what happened on dry land! A bear ate a man, feasted on his shoulder bone as he called to me for help, told me his name was Antigonus, from Sicily. The people on the ship screamed and the sea ignored them. The poor old gentleman screamed and the bear simply mocked him."
"In the name of mercy, when was this, boy?"
"Now! I have barely winked since I saw these things. The sailors are not yet cold under the water, and the bear has only half-finished the gentleman."
"Had I been there, I would have helped the old man!"
"You should have been by the ship, to have helped her, although your charity would have been useless no matter how hard you tried."
"Heavy matters! Heavy matters! But look here, boy. Now bless yourself. You've just come across things dying and I stumble upon the new-born. Here's a sight for sore eyes! Look here, a christening blanket for an aristocrat. Look, look at this box. Pick it up, boy, pick it up! Open it. Let’s see what's inside. It was told to me I would become rich through the fairies. This is some piece of fairy business. Open it. What's in it, boy?"
"You're made, old man. If the sins of your youth are forgiven, you'll live well until the end of your days. Gold! All gold!"
"This is fairy gold, boy, so we better be quiet about it or we will bring bad luck on ourselves if we talk about it. Home, home, the quickest way. We are lucky, boy, and to remain so requires nothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go! Come, good boy, straight home."
"You go home with your discoveries," Clown said. "I'll go see if the bear has finished with the gentleman and how much he has eaten. They are never fierce except when they are hungry. If there's anything left of him, I'll bury it."
"That's a good deed. If you can discern who he is or what title he held by what's left of him, let me have a look first."
"By the Virgin, I will, and you can help me bury him"
"It’s a lucky day, boy, and we'll do good deeds."