Before LEONTES' palace.

Enter AUTOLYCUS and a Gentleman

AUTOLYCUS

Beseech you, sir, were you present at this relation?

First Gentleman

I was by at the opening of the fardel, heard the old
shepherd deliver the manner how he found it:
whereupon, after a little amazedness, we were all
commanded out of the chamber; only this methought I
heard the shepherd say, he found the child.

AUTOLYCUS

I would most gladly know the issue of it.

First Gentleman

I make a broken delivery of the business; but the
changes I perceived in the king and Camillo were
very notes of admiration: they seemed almost, with
staring on one another, to tear the cases of their
eyes; there was speech in their dumbness, language
in their very gesture; they looked as they had heard
of a world ransomed, or one destroyed: a notable
passion of wonder appeared in them; but the wisest
beholder, that knew no more but seeing, could not
say if the importance were joy or sorrow; but in the
extremity of the one, it must needs be.

Enter another Gentleman

Here comes a gentleman that haply knows more.
The news, Rogero?

Second Gentleman

Nothing but bonfires: the oracle is fulfilled; the
king's daughter is found: such a deal of wonder is
broken out within this hour that ballad-makers
cannot be able to express it.

Enter a third Gentleman

Here comes the Lady Paulina's steward: he can
deliver you more. How goes it now, sir? this news
which is called true is so like an old tale, that
the verity of it is in strong suspicion: has the king
found his heir?

Third Gentleman

Most true, if ever truth were pregnant by
circumstance: that which you hear you'll swear you
see, there is such unity in the proofs. The mantle
of Queen Hermione's, her jewel about the neck of it,
the letters of Antigonus found with it which they
know to be his character, the majesty of the
creature in resemblance of the mother, the affection
of nobleness which nature shows above her breeding,
and many other evidences proclaim her with all
certainty to be the king's daughter. Did you see
the meeting of the two kings?

Second Gentleman

No.

Third Gentleman

Then have you lost a sight, which was to be seen,
cannot be spoken of. There might you have beheld one
joy crown another, so and in such manner that it
seemed sorrow wept to take leave of them, for their
joy waded in tears. There was casting up of eyes,
holding up of hands, with countenances of such
distraction that they were to be known by garment,
not by favour. Our king, being ready to leap out of
himself for joy of his found daughter, as if that
joy were now become a loss, cries 'O, thy mother,
thy mother!' then asks Bohemia forgiveness; then
embraces his son-in-law; then again worries he his
daughter with clipping her; now he thanks the old
shepherd, which stands by like a weather-bitten
conduit of many kings' reigns. I never heard of such
another encounter, which lames report to follow it
and undoes description to do it.

Second Gentleman

What, pray you, became of Antigonus, that carried
hence the child?

Third Gentleman

Like an old tale still, which will have matter to
rehearse, though credit be asleep and not an ear
open. He was torn to pieces with a bear: this
avouches the shepherd's son; who has not only his
innocence, which seems much, to justify him, but a
handkerchief and rings of his that Paulina knows.

First Gentleman

What became of his bark and his followers?

Third Gentleman

Wrecked the same instant of their master's death and
in the view of the shepherd: so that all the
instruments which aided to expose the child were
even then lost when it was found. But O, the noble
combat that 'twixt joy and sorrow was fought in
Paulina! She had one eye declined for the loss of
her husband, another elevated that the oracle was
fulfilled: she lifted the princess from the earth,
and so locks her in embracing, as if she would pin
her to her heart that she might no more be in danger
of losing.

First Gentleman

The dignity of this act was worth the audience of
kings and princes; for by such was it acted.

Third Gentleman

One of the prettiest touches of all and that which
angled for mine eyes, caught the water though not
the fish, was when, at the relation of the queen's
death, with the manner how she came to't bravely
confessed and lamented by the king, how
attentiveness wounded his daughter; till, from one
sign of dolour to another, she did, with an 'Alas,'
I would fain say, bleed tears, for I am sure my
heart wept blood. Who was most marble there changed
colour; some swooned, all sorrowed: if all the world
could have seen 't, the woe had been universal.

First Gentleman

Are they returned to the court?

Third Gentleman

No: the princess hearing of her mother's statue,
which is in the keeping of Paulina,--a piece many
years in doing and now newly performed by that rare
Italian master, Julio Romano, who, had he himself
eternity and could put breath into his work, would
beguile Nature of her custom, so perfectly he is her
ape: he so near to Hermione hath done Hermione that
they say one would speak to her and stand in hope of
answer: thither with all greediness of affection
are they gone, and there they intend to sup.

Second Gentleman

I thought she had some great matter there in hand;
for she hath privately twice or thrice a day, ever
since the death of Hermione, visited that removed
house. Shall we thither and with our company piece
the rejoicing?

First Gentleman

Who would be thence that has the benefit of access?
every wink of an eye some new grace will be born:
our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge.
Let's along.

Exeunt Gentlemen

AUTOLYCUS

Now, had I not the dash of my former life in me,
would preferment drop on my head. I brought the old
man and his son aboard the prince: told him I heard
them talk of a fardel and I know not what: but he
at that time, overfond of the shepherd's daughter,
so he then took her to be, who began to be much
sea-sick, and himself little better, extremity of
weather continuing, this mystery remained
undiscovered. But 'tis all one to me; for had I
been the finder out of this secret, it would not
have relished among my other discredits.

Enter Shepherd and Clown

Here come those I have done good to against my will,
and already appearing in the blossoms of their fortune.

SHEPHERD

Come, boy; I am past moe children, but thy sons and
daughters will be all gentlemen born.

CLOWN

You are well met, sir. You denied to fight with me
this other day, because I was no gentleman born.
See you these clothes? say you see them not and
think me still no gentleman born: you were best say
these robes are not gentlemen born: give me the
lie, do, and try whether I am not now a gentleman born.

AUTOLYCUS

I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born.

CLOWN

Ay, and have been so any time these four hours.

SHEPHERD

And so have I, boy.

CLOWN

So you have: but I was a gentleman born before my
father; for the king's son took me by the hand, and
called me brother; and then the two kings called my
father brother; and then the prince my brother and
the princess my sister called my father father; and
so we wept, and there was the first gentleman-like
tears that ever we shed.

SHEPHERD

We may live, son, to shed many more.

CLOWN

Ay; or else 'twere hard luck, being in so
preposterous estate as we are.

AUTOLYCUS

I humbly beseech you, sir, to pardon me all the
faults I have committed to your worship and to give
me your good report to the prince my master.

SHEPHERD

Prithee, son, do; for we must be gentle, now we are
gentlemen.

CLOWN

Thou wilt amend thy life?

AUTOLYCUS

Ay, an it like your good worship.

CLOWN

Give me thy hand: I will swear to the prince thou
art as honest a true fellow as any is in Bohemia.

SHEPHERD

You may say it, but not swear it.

CLOWN

Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let boors and
franklins say it, I'll swear it.

SHEPHERD

How if it be false, son?

CLOWN

If it be ne'er so false, a true gentleman may swear
it in the behalf of his friend: and I'll swear to
the prince thou art a tall fellow of thy hands and
that thou wilt not be drunk; but I know thou art no
tall fellow of thy hands and that thou wilt be
drunk: but I'll swear it, and I would thou wouldst
be a tall fellow of thy hands.

AUTOLYCUS

I will prove so, sir, to my power.

CLOWN

Ay, by any means prove a tall fellow: if I do not
wonder how thou darest venture to be drunk, not
being a tall fellow, trust me not. Hark! the kings
and the princes, our kindred, are going to see the
queen's picture. Come, follow us: we'll be thy
good masters.

Exeunt

 

 

Soon gossip and rumour were rampant across Sicily. Autolycus heard some gentlemen in tavern talking about at certain vital events they had witnessed.
"Tell me, sir, were you present at this revelation?" Autolycus asked.
"I was," said the gentleman, "I was at the opening of the casket. And I heard the Old Shepherd tell how he found it. After the amazement we were ordered out of the chamber. Only I also thought I heard the shepherd say he found not only the casket but the child too."
"I would dearly love to know the identity of its parents," Autolycus said.
"My account of this is hesitant. But I perceived in King Leontes and Camillo something more than just excitement. They seemed almost ready to sob, looking at each other in dismay. Their silence spoke volumes. Every gesture told a story. But even the wisest observer couldn't be sure if this was joy or sorrow, but it certainty provoked extreme reactions. Here comes a gentleman who should know more. Any news, Rogero?"
"Celebrations everywhere!" Rogero said. "The oracle is fulfilled- the King's daughter has been found. It's so amazing troubadours and jesters can't even sing about it! Oh, here comes Lady Paulina's steward. He can tell us more. How goes it now, sir? This news which is called true is so like a fairy story, that the truth of it is suspect. Has the King found his heir?"
"Yes," Paulina's steward said. "True, if ever truths were made true by evidence. What you will hear about will convince you. The evidence found with the child is overwhelming. The scarf of Queen Hermione, her jewel about the infant's neck, the letters written by Antigonus found with the child, and known to be in his hand. And of course the resemblance in the girl to her mother. The obvious quality of nobleness which stems from her breeding, and a host of minor things all proclaim her with certainty to be the King Leontes' daughter. Did you see the reconciliation of Leontes and Polixenes?"
"No," Rogero said anxious to hear an account of it.
"Then you missed something that had to be seen. There you would have seen one joy crown another. Sorrow was delighted to leave them! The tears of joy! the King, being ready to leap out of himself for joy at finding his daughter, sobbed for her mother and asked Polixenes for his forgiveness, and then embraced his son-in-law, then again worrying he still has his daughter hugs her even closer to him. He also thanked the Old Shepherd, who stood stunned like a sculpture from another age. I have never heard of any event that so defied and exceeded description."
"Do you know," asked Rogero, "what became of Antigonus, who took the child to Bohemia?"
"Still like a fairy story which continues even when the listeners are sleeping, he was torn to pieces by a bear. The shepherd’s son told us this and although he seems a bit simple he does have Antigonus’ ring and handkerchief. And poor Paulina has identified them."
"What became of the boat and the sailors?" the first gentleman asked.
"Wrecked the same instant Antigonus was devoured by the bear, the Old Shepherd's son saw the ship go down. All those involved in taking the child to Bohemia were lost when she was found. Oh, the turmoil of conflicting emotions that gripped Paulina! She had one eye drooped in loss and the other rejoicing that the oracle was fulfilled. She hugged the Princess close, as if to shield her from any future danger."
"The dignity of this act," said the first man, "was worth the audience of kings and princes, for such were those who saw it."
"One of the prettiest touches of all," Paulina's steward added, "and that which brought me to tears was the account of Hermione's death, and the brave manner in which she accepted her fate was recollected by the King. His daughter listened with attention until her tears, which could have been of blood, flowed. Even the most cold hearted person would have sobbed. If all the world had seen it the world would have shared the woe."
"Have they returned to the palace?" the first man asked.
"No, the princess hearing of a life-size statue of her mother in the keeping of Paulina- a piece many years in the making by Julio Romano- asked to be taken to see it. So perfect is this rendition of Hermione that the sculptor could do Nature's job. The apparent resemblance to Hermione is so amazing that anyone who knew Hermione would speak to it and expect an answer. With her cherished memory they have gone to see the statue."
"I guessed Paulina had something important afoot," Rogero said, "for she has privately visited that studio two or three times a day since the death of Hermione. Shall we complete the celebration by joining them?"
"Who would forego the chance of seeing this?" the first man said. "With every wink of the eye some new miracle unfolds. Our absence makes us lacking in knowledge. Let's go."
The gentlemen left to go the palace and already Autolycus' mind was plotting.
"Now, had I not a bit of my former life in me, would opportunity drop on my head? I brought the old man and his son to the Prince's ship. I told Florizel I had heard them talk of a casket and I know not what, since Florizel was rather attached to the Old Shepherd's daughter, as he took her to be. Oh, but as she was very seasick, and he was going that way too due to the fierce conditions, the mystery remained undiscovered. But 'tis all the same to me, for had I revealed this secret the good of it would have outshone my other discredits, and I have a reputation to keep! Look, here come those I have inadvertently rewarded. And already they are blossoming in their fortune."
"Come, boy," said the Old Shepherd, "I am past fatherhood, but your sons and daughters will all be born aristocrats."
"You are well met, sir," Clown said on seeing Autolycus. "You declined to fight with me the other day because I was not a gentleman born. Look at these clothes! Tell me you still think I’m not a gentleman born. Tell me I’m lying and we’ll see what happens."
"I know you are now, sir, a gentleman born."
"Yes, and I have been for the past four hours."
"And so have I, boy," the Old Shepherd reminded his son.
"So you have, but I was a gentleman born before my father because the King's son took me by the hand, and called me brother, and then the two kings called my father brother; and then the Prince my brother and the Princess my sister called my father father. And so we wept, and they were the first gentleman-like tears ever we shed."
"May we live, son, to shed many more."
"Aye, or else it would be hard luck, being in so preposterous a state as we are now," Clown said , meaning prosperous.
"I humbly beg you," Autolycus said, "to pardon me all the faults I committed against Your Worship and to give a good report to the Prince, my master."
"Son, do, for we must be gentle, now we are gentlemen."
"You will amend your ways?"
"Yes, if it pleases Your Worship."
"Give me your hand. I will swear to the Prince you are as honest and true as any in Bohemia."
"You may say it, but don’t swear it," the Old Shepherd said
"Not swear it, now I am a gentleman? Let peasants and soldiers say going around swearing it."
"What if it isn’t true, son?"
"If it be never false, a true gentleman may swear it on behalf of his friend and I'll swear to the Prince you are brave fellow in a fight, that you don't drink and I know that you don't fight when you are drunk, but you would be a brave chap if you were drunk. That I’ll swear."
"I will prove so in all I can, sir."
"Yes, prove you are a brave fellow by any means. If I do not wonder how you behave when you are drunk, not being a fighter, trust me not.  Oh, I forgot, the kings and their heirs, our kin, are going to see the Queen's image. Come, follow us- we'll be your good masters.”
Autolycus followed them, barely able to hide a grimace.