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At the prince's bachelor pad in London, Hal and his buddy, Ned Poins, chill out and shoot the breeze.
Prince Hal complains that he's exhausted and Poins teases that he thought guys with royal blood didn't get tired.
Hal says that, embarrassingly, he gets tired a lot. Then he asks Poins if he thinks he, Hal, is a chump for craving the taste of "small beer."
FYI: "Small beer" (cheap, light beer) is the kind of thing that commoners, not royalty, usually drink. In other words, Hal has developed a taste for his Eastcheap lifestyle and he's worried that he's becoming too much like the commoners.
In fact, says Hal, he shouldn't even be hanging out with Poins because he, Hal, is a prince, whereas Poins is a guy who has spent all his cash in the brothels and has fathered a bunch of illegitimate children.
Poins plays along and points out that it's most unbecoming for a Prince to even talk of such things, especially when his father, the king, is so sick right now.
Hal confesses that he can't reveal to anyone just how sad he is that his father is ill. He would look like a hypocrite if he wept because he's spent so much of his youth rebelling against his dad and thumbing his nose at authority. Still, his "heart bleeds inwardly" for his father.
Bardolph and Falstaff's Page enter and the guys immediately fall into a familiar routine of horsing around and volleying insults at each other.
Poins, for example, bags on Bardolph's notoriously red face and then accuses him of blushing like a girl. According to Poins, what Bardolph should be doing (instead of blushing) is chugging beer and sleeping with virgins. (Don't get mad at us. This is how they really talk.)
The Page joins in on the fun and cracks a joke about Bardolph's red face and Prince Hal notes that Falstaff has definitely rubbed off on the kid because the Page is quite a smart aleck.
Hal gives the Page some money as a reward for being so clever with his insults.
Poins gives the Page some money too and jokes that he hopes the extra cash will help prevent the young Page from being corrupted (i.e., by Falstaff's company, venereal disease, etc.). It won't, of course.
Bardolph gives Prince Hal a letter.
The letter's from Falstaff and it's obnoxious so, the guys take turns passing it around and reading it aloud so they can mock the contents of the letter.
Poins bags on the pretentious Falstaff for always referring to himself as a knight and then Hal reads a part of the letter that warns the prince not to hang out with Poins because Poins has been telling everyone that Hal is going to marry his sister.
Poins is ticked off – he threatens to dip the letter in wine and then shove it down Falstaff's throat. He never said the prince would marry his sister.
Hal says this is all a big waste of time and asks where Falstaff is hanging out that night.
When he learns that Falstaff's having dinner at the Boar's Head tavern, with Mistress Quickly and Doll Tearsheet, he decides that he and Poins should pay a surprise visit to Falstaff.
Hal gives the Page and Bardolph some money so they'll keep their mouths shut about Hal visiting the tavern – that way, he can spy on Falstaff.
Then Hal and Poins crack jokes about Doll Tearsheet, who Hal says, must be "some road." Translation: Doll Tearsheet must be a prostitute.
Poins chimes in that Doll Tearsheet is a well-travelled "road" at that.
Poins and Hal decide to go to the Boar's Head Tavern and dress up like waiters so they can spy on Falstaff. It'll be tons of fun to see how the old man acts when he doesn't know they're there.
Prince Hal says that when he dresses up like a lowly waiter, it will be like Jove transforming himself into a bull. (Hmm. Jove's the guy who turned himself into a bull right before he raped Europa.)