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The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 5

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LEONTES

Is he won yet?

LEONTES

Is he won over yet?

HERMIONE

He’ll stay my lord.

HERMIONE

He’ll stay, my lord.

LEONTES

At my request he would not.
Hermione, my dearest, thou never spokest
110To better purpose.

LEONTES

When I requested it he would not. Hermione, my dearest, you’ve never spoken so well.

HERMIONE

Never?

HERMIONE

Never?

LEONTES

Never, but once.

LEONTES

Only once before.

HERMIONE

What! have I twice said well? when was’t before?
I prithee tell me; cram’s with praise, and make’s
115As fat as tame things: one good deed dying tongueless
Slaughters a thousand waiting upon that.
Our praises are our wages: you may ride’s
With one soft kiss a thousand furlongs ere
With spur we beat an acre. But to the goal:
120My last good deed was to entreat his stay:
What was my first? it has an elder sister,
Or I mistake you: O, would her name were Grace!
But once before I spoke to the purpose: when?
Nay, let me have’t; I long.

HERMIONE

What! I’ve only spoken well twice? When was the last time? Please, tell me. Fill me up with praise and make me as fat as a pet. If one good deed goes unrecognized, the thousand more that might have been inspired by it will never occur. Praise is our motivation and reward. One soft kiss will take you two hundred yards; a sharp kick only gets you an acre. But back to the point: my last good deed was to plead for Polixenes to stay. What was my first good deed? Unless I’m misunderstanding what you said, there was an earlier one. Oh, if only my name were Grace! So once before I’ve spoken well. When? Tell me, please, I long to know.

LEONTES

125Why, that was when
Three crabbed months had sour’d themselves to death,
Ere I could make thee open thy white hand
And clap thyself my love: then didst thou utter
‘I am yours for ever.’

LEONTES

Why, it was when three bitter months had passed before I could get you to pledge your love to me with your white hands. And then you said, “I am yours forever.”