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The Oracle states categorically that Hermione and Polixenes are innocent, Camillo an honest man, and that Leontes will have no heir until his lost daughter is found.
However, after nine months, Polixenes yearns to return to his own kingdom to tend to affairs and see his son.Polixenes refuses and reports to Camillo that his son, Prince Florizel, has fallen in love with a lowly shepherd girl: Perdita.He suggests to Camillo that, to take his mind off thoughts of home, they disguise themselves and attend the sheep-shearing feast where Florizel and Perdita will be betrothed.At the feast, hosted by the Old Shepherd who has prospered thanks to the gold in the fardel, the pedlar Autolycus picks the pocket of the Young Shepherd and, in various guises, entertains the guests with bawdy songs and the trinkets he sells.
Disguised, Polixenes and Camillo watch as Florizel (under the guise of a shepherd named Doricles) and Perdita are betrothed.
They are joined in their voyage by the Old Shepherd and his son who are directed there by Autolycus. Cleomenes and Dion plead with him to end his time of repentance because the kingdom needs an heir.