Since he fled Sicily Camillo had been an indispensable and faithful aide to King Polixenes, but as the years passed he grew increasingly homesick and fretful. He decided to ask Polixenes to grant him a favour.

"Please, good Camillo," King Polixenes said, "don't be so demanding. It would make me ill to deny you anything but it would kill me to grant you this."

"It is sixteen years since I saw my country. Though I have spent most of my time travelling, I wish to be buried in Sicily. Anyway, the penitent Leontes has sent for me. It's possible I could allay his sorrow- maybe I’m foolish to think so but it's another reason to return home."

"If you love me, Camillo, don't belittle that love by leaving me now. The need I have of you is something that comes from your own goodness. It would have been better never to have had your loyalty than yearn for it now. You have begun things with me that I can't entrust to others, you must stay to complete our projects or take away the benefits you have brought to Bohemia. If I have not been sufficiently grateful to you I will try again to be so, enriching our friendship in the process. Of that fatal country, Sicily, please speak no more. The very name punishes me with memories of that penitent, as you call him. Even after all this time I still wish to mourn anew the death of his wife and children. Let's change the subject... Tell me, when did you last see Prince Florizel? Kings are no less unhappy when their heirs are misbehaving than they are when they have proved their suitability for their birthright."

"Sir, it is three days since I saw the Prince. What he is up to, I do not know. I have noticed that lately he doesn't spend much time at the palace and he is less judicious about his princely duties."

"I'll say! I have thought about this with some care, Camillo. I have a few people keeping tabs on his movements and seeing what he has been getting up to. And they tell me he is often at the house of a shepherd.  A man, they say, who has expanded without visible resources from a farm to a large estate, mystifying his neighbours."

"I have heard of such a man, sir, he has a daughter of rare beauty. From what I gather she is not from a peasant background."

"That is likewise part of my information. I'm wary of the bait that reels my son in! You shall accompany me to this estate. We will go disguised and talk with the shepherd. I suspect the fellow will be simple enough to spill the beans on why Florizel goes there. Please assist me in this and abandon your notions of returning to Sicily."

"I willingly obey your command."

"My ever-reliable Camillo! We must disguise ourselves."