Polixenes, the King of Bohemia, had an only son, whose name was Forizel. When this young Prince was out one day for sport near the house of the sheep-keeper, he saw his daughter and he was so pleased with the beautiful, quiet, and queen-like behaviour of Perdita that he became in love with her straight away. From this time forward, under the name of Doricles, and dressed in the clothing of a private person, he came very frequently to the old man's house.
Polixenes was troubled by the fact that Florizel was frequently away and ordered some men to keep watch on his son, he made the discovery of his love for the sheep-keeper's beautiful daughter.
Polixenes then sent for Camillo -- the good Camillo who had kept him from the death designed for him by Leontes -- and made him a request to go with him to the house of the old man, the father, as it seemed to him, of Perdita.
Polixenes and Camillo, dressed like private persons, got to the old man's house while they were having the great meal of the wool-cutting time and though no one had seen them before, at the wool-cutting every man who comes is given a place, so they were requested to come in, and take part in the general amusement.
All was pleasure and amusement. Tables were covered and they were making ready for the great meal. Some young men and girls were dancing on the grass before the house, while others of the young men were getting silk bands, gloves, and such things from a trader who came round to the door.
While all this was going on, Florizel and Perdita were seated quietly by themselves, and seemed more pleased with one another's talk than with the idea of taking part in the sports and foolish amusements of those round them.
The King had made himself so different that it was not possible for his son to see who he was so he went near for the purpose of overhearing their talk. Polixenes was much surprised by the simple and quiet way in which Perdita was talking with his son. He said to Camillo, "This is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen in such a place as this ; everything she does or says seems like something greater than herself, quite out of place here."
Camillo made answer, "Truly she is the very Queen of country girls."
"Please, my good friend," said the King to the old sheep-keeper, "who is that good-looking young man talking with your daughter?" "He is named Doricles," said the sheep-keeper. "He says he is in love with my daughter and truly I am unable to say which of the is most in love. If young Doricles is able to get her, she will give him what he has little idea of," having in mind the rest of Perdita's jewels which, after he had got sheep in exchange for some of them, he had kept with care to give her when she got married.
Polixenes then said to his son, "Young man ! Your heart seems full of something which takes your mind off the general amusement. When I was young, I made my sweetheart offerings but you have let the trader go, and have got nothing for your girl."
The young Prince, who had no idea that he was talking to the King his father, made answer, "Old sir, she is not interested in such playthings the offerings which are valued by Perdita are locked up in my heart." Then turning to Perdita, he said to her, "Oh, Perdita, let me give my undertakings before this old man, who, it seems, was at one time a lover let him give ear to our agreement." Florizel then made the old man a request to take note of the undertaking he now made to get married to Perdita, saying to Polixenes, "Please give ear to our agreement."
"I will give ear to this, that your agreement is broken, young sir," said the King, now making clear who he was. Polixenes then got angry with his son for giving his word to get married to this poor man's daughter, talking of Perdita as "sheep-keeper's baby, sheep-hook," and using other bad names. He said angrily that if ever she let his son see her again, he would put her, and the old sheep-keeper, her father, to a cruel death.
The King then went from them angrily, ordering Camillo to come after him with Price Florizel.
When the King was gone, Perdita, whose qualities of birth were touched by Polixenes' angry words, said, "Though it is the end for all of us, I had not much fear and I almost said to him that the same sun which gives light over his great house, does not keep his face from our poor one, but is equally bright in the two places." Then sadly she said, "But now that I am awake, I will take the part of a Queen no more. Go from me, sir I will go to my milking and my crying."
The kind Camillo was moved by Perdita's good and sweet hehaviour and seeing that the young Prince was so deep in love that he was unable to give up his sweetheart at the order of his father, he got an idea of a way to give help to the lovers, and at the same time to give effect to a design he had for a long time had in mind.