Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Hardin Aasand
Not Peer Reviewed

The Winter's Tale (Modern)

820Enter Paulina, a Gentleman [and attendants]
The keeper of the prison, call to him.
Let him have knowledge who I am.
[Exit Gentleman]
Good lady,
No court in Europe is too good for thee.
What dost thou then in prison?
[Enter Jailer and Gentleman]
Now, good sir,
825You know me, do you not?
For a worthy lady,
And one who much I honor.
Pray you then,
Conduct me to the queen.
I may not, madam.
To the contrary I have express commandment.
Here's ado, to lock up honesty and honor from
Th' access of gentle visitors. Is't lawful pray you
To see her women? Any of them? Emilia?
So please you, madam,
To put apart these your attendants, I
Shall bring Emilia forth.
I pray now call her;
Withdraw yourselves.
[Exeunt Gentleman and attendants]
And, madam,
I must be present at your conference.
Well, be't so, prithee.
[Exit Jailer]
Here's such ado to make no stain a stain
As passes coloring.
[Enter Jailer and Emilia.]
Dear gentlewoman,
845How fares our gracious lady?
As well as one so great and so forlorn
May hold together; on her frights and griefs,
Which never tender lady hath borne greater,
She is something before her time delivered.
A boy?
A daughter, and a goodly babe,
Lusty and like to live; the Queen receives
Much comfort in't, says, "my poor prisoner,
I am innocent as you."
I dare be sworn,
These dangerous, unsafe lunes i'th' King, beshrew them!
He must be told on't, and he shall. The office
Becomes a woman best. I'll take't upon me.
If I prove honey-mouthed, let my tongue blister
860And never to my red-looked anger be
The trumpet any more. Pray you, Emilia,
Commend my best obedience to the Queen;
If she dares trust me with her little babe,
I'll show't the King and undertake to be
865Her advocate to th' loudest. We do not know
How he may soften at the sight o'th'child.
The silence often of pure innocence
Persuades when speaking fails.
Most worthy madam,
870Your honor and your goodness is so evident
That your free undertaking cannot miss
A thriving issue; there is no lady living
So meet for this great errand. Please your Ladyship
To visit the next room, I'll presently
875Acquaint the Queen of your most noble offer,
Who but today hammered of this design,
But durst not tempt a minister of honor
Lest she should be denied.
Tell her, Emilia,
880I'll use that tongue I have; if wit flow from't
As boldness from my bosom, le't not be doubted
I shall do good.
Now be you blest for it!
I'll to the Queen. Please you come something nearer.
[To Paulina] Madam, if't please the Queen to send the babe,
I know not what I shall incur to pass it,
Having no warrant.
You need not fear it, sir,
This child was prisoner to the womb and is
890By law and process of great nature thence
Freed and enfranchised, not a party to
The anger of the King, nor guilty of,
If any be, the trespass of the Queen.
I do believe it.
Do not you fear! Upon mine honor, I
Will stand betwixt you and danger.