The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 4

page Act 4 Scene 4 Page 35

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CLOWN

He seems to be the more noble in being fantastical:
845a great man, I’ll warrant; I know by the picking
on’s teeth.

YOKEL

His oddness makes him seem even more noble. I’ll bet that he’s a great man. I know by the

toothpicks he uses

Ornate toothpicks were fashionable at the time.

toothpicks he uses
.

AUTOLYCUS

The fardel there? what’s i’ the fardel?
Wherefore that box?

AUTOLYCUS

What about that bundle there? What is in the bundle? And in the box?

SHEPHERD

Sir, there lies such secrets in this fardel and box,
850which none must know but the king; and which he
shall know within this hour, if I may come to the
speech of him.

SHEPHERD

Sir, the bundle and the box hold secrets that only the king may know, and which he’ll know within the hour if I can speak to him.

AUTOLYCUS

Age, thou hast lost thy labour.

AUTOLYCUS

Old man, you have wasted your work.

SHEPHERD

Why, sir?

SHEPHERD

Why, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

855The king is not at the palace; he is gone aboard a
new ship to purge melancholy and air himself: for,
if thou beest capable of things serious, thou must
know the king is full of grief.

AUTOLYCUS

The king isn’t at the palace. He’s gone on a new ship to ease his sadness and to refresh himself. If you are able to grasp such serious things, you know that the king is full of grief.

SHEPHERD

So ’tis said, sir; about his son, that should have
860married a shepherd’s daughter.

SHEPHERD

So it is said, sir, because his son meant to marry a shepherd’s daughter.

AUTOLYCUS

If that shepherd be not in hand-fast, let him fly:
the curses he shall have, the tortures he shall
feel, will break the back of man, the heart of monster.

AUTOLYCUS

If the shepherd hasn’t been arrested already, he should flee. He’ll suffer curses so fierce and tortures so terrible that it would break the back of a man and the heart of even a monster.

CLOWN

Think you so, sir?

YOKEL

Do you think so, sir?

AUTOLYCUS

865Not he alone shall suffer what wit can make heavy
and vengeance bitter; but those that are germane to
him, though removed fifty times, shall all come
under the hangman: which though it be great pity,
yet it is necessary. An old sheep-whistling rogue a
870ram-tender, to offer to have his daughter come into
grace! Some say he shall be stoned; but that death
is too soft for him, say I draw our throne into a
sheep-cote! all deaths are too few, the sharpest too easy.

AUTOLYCUS

He won’t suffer these harsh and bitter punishments alone, either. All those who are related to him, even if they are very distant relatives, will hang, too. It’s a great pity, but it’s necessary. That an old shepherd and rogue would act as a broker and offer to have his daughter marry into the royal family! Some say he’ll be stoned, but that manner of death is too soft for someone who tried to drag the throne into a sheep’s pen! He can’t die too many times, or in too painful a way.