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The Winter’s Tale
Act 4, scene 3

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Characters in the Play

Entire Play

The “tale” of The Winter’s Tale unfolds in scenes set sixteen years apart. In the first part of the play, Leontes, king…

Act 1, scene 1

Archidamus, a Bohemian courtier, exclaims about the magnificent hospitality he has found in Sicilia. Camillo explains about the long friendship…

Act 1, scene 2

Leontes suddenly grows insanely jealous of the friendship between his queen, Hermione, and his visiting friend Polixenes. Leontes forces Camillo…

Act 2, scene 1

Leontes learns of the departure of Polixenes and Camillo and has Hermione arrested for adultery and treason. He announces that…

Act 2, scene 2

Paulina attempts to visit Hermione in prison. Learning that the queen has given birth to a baby girl, Paulina decides…

Act 2, scene 3

Paulina brings the baby to the tormented Leontes, who first orders the baby burned, then orders Antigonus to take the…

Act 3, scene 1

The couriers, en route from Delphos with the oracle’s response, discuss the ceremony they observed and express their hopes for…

Act 3, scene 2

As Hermione tries to defend herself in open court, the oracle is read and she is declared chaste and Polixenes…

Act 3, scene 3

Antigonus leaves the baby in Bohemia, where Polixenes is king. In a sudden storm, the ship sinks and Antigonus is…

Act 4, scene 1

Father Time appears and bridges the sixteen-year gap following the abandonment of Perdita in Bohemia.

Act 4, scene 2

Camillo asks permission to return to Sicilia. Polixenes refuses his request and asks Camillo instead to go with him in…

Act 4, scene 3

Autolycus, a con man, steals the shepherd’s son’s money and decides to use the upcoming sheep-shearing feast as an occasion…

Act 4, scene 4

At the sheepshearing feast, Florizell and Perdita declare their love before the disguised Polixenes and Camillo. When Polixenes orders Florizell…

Act 5, scene 1

Paulina insists that Leontes must not remarry, despite the urgings of his courtiers. Florizell and Perdita arrive, and are greeted…

Act 5, scene 2

Autolycus learns from courtiers that Leontes’ lost daughter has been found; he then meets the newly elevated shepherd and shepherd’s…

Act 5, scene 3

Leontes, Polixenes, Perdita, Florizell, and Camillo go with Paulina to view the statue of Hermione. Leontes grieves over her death,…

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Scene 3
Enter Autolycus singing.

AUTOLYCUS 
 When daffodils begin to peer,
  With heigh, the doxy over the dale,
 Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year,
  For the red blood reigns in the winter’s pale.

5 The white sheet bleaching on the hedge,
  With heigh, the sweet birds, O how they sing!
 Doth set my pugging tooth an edge,
  For a quart of ale is a dish for a king.

 The lark, that tirralirra chants,
10  With heigh, with heigh, the thrush and the jay,
 Are summer songs for me and my aunts,
  While we lie tumbling in the hay.


 I have served Prince Florizell and in my time wore
 three-pile, but now I am out of service.

15 But shall I go mourn for that, my dear?
  The pale moon shines by night,
 And when I wander here and there,
  I then do most go right.

 If tinkers may have leave to live,
20  And bear the sow-skin budget,
 Then my account I well may give,
  And in the stocks avouch it.


127
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 3

 My traffic is sheets. When the kite builds, look to
 lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus, who,
25 being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise
 a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and
 drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is
 the silly cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful
 on the highway. Beating and hanging are terrors to
30 me. For the life to come, I sleep out the thought of
 it. A prize, a prize!

Enter Shepherd’s Son.

SHEPHERD’S SON Let me see, every ’leven wether tods,
 every tod yields pound and odd shilling; fifteen
 hundred shorn, what comes the wool to?
AUTOLYCUS, aside 35If the springe hold, the cock’s
 mine.He lies down.
SHEPHERD’S SON I cannot do ’t without counters. Let
 me see, what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing
 feast? (He reads a paper.) Three pound of sugar,
40 five pound of currants, rice—what will this sister of
 mine do with rice? But my father hath made her
 mistress of the feast, and she lays it on. She hath
 made me four-and-twenty nosegays for the shearers,
 three-man song men all, and very good ones;
45 but they are most of them means and basses, but
 one Puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to
 hornpipes. I must have saffron to color the warden
 pies; mace; dates, none, that’s out of my note;
 nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger, but that I
50 may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of
 raisins o’ th’ sun.
AUTOLYCUS, writhing as if in pain O, that ever I was
 born!
SHEPHERD’S SON I’ th’ name of me!

129
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 3

AUTOLYCUS 55O, help me, help me! Pluck but off these
 rags, and then death, death.
SHEPHERD’S SON Alack, poor soul, thou hast need of
 more rags to lay on thee rather than have these off.
AUTOLYCUS O sir, the loathsomeness of them offends
60 me more than the stripes I have received, which are
 mighty ones and millions.
SHEPHERD’S SON Alas, poor man, a million of beating
 may come to a great matter.
AUTOLYCUS I am robbed, sir, and beaten, my money
65 and apparel ta’en from me, and these detestable
 things put upon me.
SHEPHERD’S SON What, by a horseman, or a footman?
AUTOLYCUS A footman, sweet sir, a footman.
SHEPHERD’S SON Indeed, he should be a footman by
70 the garments he has left with thee. If this be a
 horseman’s coat, it hath seen very hot service. Lend
 me thy hand; I’ll help thee. Come, lend me thy
 hand.
AUTOLYCUS O, good sir, tenderly, O!
SHEPHERD’S SON 75Alas, poor soul.
AUTOLYCUS O, good sir, softly, good sir. I fear, sir, my
 shoulder blade is out.
SHEPHERD’S SON How now? Canst stand?
AUTOLYCUS, stealing the Shepherd’s Son’s purse Softly,
80 dear sir, good sir, softly. You ha’ done me a charitable
 office.
SHEPHERD’S SON Dost lack any money? I have a little
 money for thee.
AUTOLYCUS No, good sweet sir, no, I beseech you, sir. I
85 have a kinsman not past three-quarters of a mile
 hence, unto whom I was going. I shall there have
 money or anything I want. Offer me no money, I
 pray you; that kills my heart.
SHEPHERD’S SON What manner of fellow was he that
90 robbed you?

131
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 3

AUTOLYCUS A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about
 with troll-my-dames. I knew him once a servant of
 the Prince. I cannot tell, good sir, for which of his
 virtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of
95 the court.
SHEPHERD’S SON His vices, you would say. There’s no
 virtue whipped out of the court. They cherish it to
 make it stay there, and yet it will no more but abide.
AUTOLYCUS Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man
100 well. He hath been since an ape-bearer, then a
 process-server, a bailiff. Then he compassed a motion
 of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker’s wife
 within a mile where my land and living lies, and,
 having flown over many knavish professions, he
105 settled only in rogue. Some call him Autolycus.
SHEPHERD’S SON Out upon him! Prig, for my life, prig!
 He haunts wakes, fairs, and bearbaitings.
AUTOLYCUS Very true, sir: he, sir, he. That’s the rogue
 that put me into this apparel.
SHEPHERD’S SON 110Not a more cowardly rogue in all
 Bohemia. If you had but looked big and spit at him,
 he’d have run.
AUTOLYCUS I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter. I
 am false of heart that way, and that he knew, I
115 warrant him.
SHEPHERD’S SON How do you now?
AUTOLYCUS Sweet sir, much better than I was. I can
 stand and walk. I will even take my leave of you and
 pace softly towards my kinsman’s.
SHEPHERD’S SON 120Shall I bring thee on the way?
AUTOLYCUS No, good-faced sir, no, sweet sir.
SHEPHERD’S SON Then fare thee well. I must go buy
 spices for our sheep-shearing.
AUTOLYCUS Prosper you, sweet sir.
Shepherd’s Son exits.
125 Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your

133
The Winter’s Tale
ACT 4. SC. 4

 spice. I’ll be with you at your sheep-shearing too. If
 I make not this cheat bring out another, and the
 shearers prove sheep, let me be unrolled and my
 name put in the book of virtue.
Sings.130 Jog on, jog on, the footpath way,
  And merrily hent the stile-a.
 A merry heart goes all the day,
  Your sad tires in a mile-a.

He exits.