He wishes to take pity on the child, but is chased away in one of Shakespeare's most famous stage directions: "Exit, pursued by a bear." (It is not known whether Shakespeare used a real bear from the London bear-pits, or an actor in bear costume.) Fortunately, Perdita is rescued by a shepherd and his son, also known as "Clown." "Time" enters and announces the passage of sixteen years.
Camillo, now in the service of Polixenes, begs the Bohemian king to allow him to return to Sicilia.
Hermione agrees and with three short speeches is successful.
Leontes is puzzled as to how Hermione convinced Polixenes so easily, and Leontes suddenly goes insane and suspects that his pregnant wife has been having an affair with Polixenes and that the child is Polixene's.
Leontes orders Camillo, a Sicilian Lord, to poison Polixenes.
Camillo instead warns Polixenes and they both flee to Bohemia.
Then, tearing off the disguise, Polixenes angrily intervenes, threatening the Old Shepherd and Perdita with torture and death and ordering his son never to see the shepherd's daughter again.
With the aid of Camillo, however, who longs to see his native land again, Florizel and Perdita take ship for Sicilia, using the clothes of Autolycus as a disguise.
Hermione, meanwhile, falls in a swoon, and is carried away by Paulina, who subsequently reports the queen's death to her heartbroken and repentant husband.Meanwhile, the queen gives birth to a girl, and her loyal friend Paulina takes the baby to the king, in the hopes that the sight of the child will soften his heart.He grows angrier, however, and orders Paulina's husband, Lord Antigonus, to take the child and abandon it in a desolate place.Leontes desperately attempts to get Polixenes to stay longer, but is unsuccessful.Leontes then decides to send his wife, Queen Hermione, to try to convince Polixenes.