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The Winter's Tale: Act 2 Scene 2
Scene II A prison.
- [Enter 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?
- [Re-enter Gentleman, with the Gaoler]
- Now, good sir,
- You know me, do you not?
- For a worthy lady
- And one whom much I honour.
- 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 honour from
- The 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 Gaoler]
- Here's such ado to make no stain a stain
- As passes colouring.
- [Re-enter Gaoler, with EMILIA]
- Dear gentlewoman,
- How 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 born greater,
- She is something before her time deliver'd.
- 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' the 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-mouth'd let my tongue blister
- And never to my red-look'd 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
- Her advocate to the loud'st. We do not know
- How he may soften at the sight o' the child:
- The silence often of pure innocence
- Persuades when speaking fails.
- Most worthy madam,
- Your honour 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
- Acquaint the queen of your most noble offer;
- Who but to-day hammer'd of this design,
- But durst not tempt a minister of honour,
- Lest she should be denied.
- Tell her, Emilia.
- I'll use that tongue I have: if wit flow from't
- As boldness from my bosom, let 't not be doubted
- I shall do good.
- Now be you blest for it!
- I'll to the queen: please you,
- come something nearer.
- 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
- By 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 honour,
- I will stand betwixt you and danger.