• A room of state in the same.
    Enter LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and Attendants

    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.

    LEONTES

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

    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.

    LEONTES

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

    POLIXENES

    20No longer stay.

    LEONTES

    One seven-night longer.
  • A formal receiving room in Leontes’s palace.
    LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS, POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and several attendants enter.

    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, my one “thank you” will multiply the thousand more I’ve already said.

    adds value when placed beside a number

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

    LEONTES

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

    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

    You couldn’t wear me out if you tried.

    POLIXENES

    I can’t stay any longer.

    LEONTES

    Just one more week.