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At his house in Verona, Antonio (Proteus's dad) learns that his brother has been talking smack about him for not sending Proteus to travel abroad like all the other noblemen's kids. (By "kids," we mean "sons," because noblemen didn't let their daughters go globetrotting.)
Antonio thinks that his brother is right – if Proteus doesn't explore the world now while he's young, he'll regret it when he's an old man. Plus, a young man's education isn't complete without a little travel.
After some deliberation, Antonio and Panthino decide Proteus should be sent to the Emperor's court, where he'll get to hang out at jousts and learn how to schmooze with all the other noblemen's kids.
(OK. We're just going to say this now to avoid any confusion about the plot later on. Even though Antonio says he's going to send Proteus to the Emperor's court, Proteus ends up at the Duke's court. Again, we forgive Big Willy for the minor inconsistency.)
It just so happens that a group of friends are travelling to the "Emperor's" court tomorrow so Proteus can tag along.
Then Proteus enters the room but he doesn't see his dad and Panthino. Proteus whips out a love letter from Julia and proceeds to say things like "Sweet love, sweet lines, sweet life!"
Antonio interrupts Proteus slobbering all over the note and says, "Whatcha reading?"
Proteus lies and says it's a letter from Valentine. "Oh goodie," says his dad, "let me read it then."
Antonio announces that he's got great news for his son – Proteus is going to the "Emperor's" court, where he'll get to hang out with his BFF, Antonio!
Proteus tries to find an excuse to stay in Verona but his dad insists that he leave tomorrow.
Proteus is left alone on stage to complain – he says he wishes he had just told his father the truth about the love letter from Julia.