The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 1

Original Text

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A room of state in the same.
A formal receiving room in Leontes’s palace.
Enter LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and Attendants
LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and several attendants enter.

POLIXENES

Nine changes of the watery star hath been
The shepherd’s note since we have left our throne
Without a burthen: time as long again
Would be filled up, my brother, with our thanks;
5And yet we should, for perpetuity,
Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one ‘We thank you’ many thousands more
That go before it.

POLIXENES

It has been nine months since I left my throne. I could happily spend another nine months away, but I must leave now, forever in your debt. So, like a zero, which means “nothing” but

adds value when placed beside a number

For instance, placing a zero next to 1 makes it 10.

adds value when placed beside a number
, my one “thank you” will multiply the thousand more I’ve already said.

LEONTES

10Stay your thanks a while;
And pay them when you part.

LEONTES

Don’t thank me yet. Wait until you leave.

POLIXENES

Sir, that’s to-morrow.
I am question’d by my fears, of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
15No sneaping winds at home, to make us say
‘This is put forth too truly:’ besides, I have stay’d
To tire your royalty.

POLIXENES

Sir, I leave tomorrow. I’m fearful of what might happen by chance, or what plot may develop, because of my absence, and I worry my fears will be confirmed. Besides, I’ve worn you out with my company.

LEONTES

We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to’t.

LEONTES

You couldn’t wear me out if you tried.

POLIXENES

20No longer stay.

POLIXENES

I can’t stay any longer.

LEONTES

One seven-night longer.

LEONTES

Just one more week.