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At a seedy tavern in Eastcheap (a London slum), two commoners named Bardolph and Nim talk about the impending war with France.
(We know what you're thinking, Shmoopsters. Why does Shakespeare direct us to this tavern in Eastcheap right after the Chorus has just told us about a plot against the King's life? Why not open this scene by dropping in on the traitors? Well, we're not exactly sure, but we're guessing that Shakespeare wants us to make some kind of connection between the traitors and the rowdy Eastcheap characters.)
Mistress Quickly and Pistol (who have recently tied the knot) enter and talk about their family business. Their conversation sounds a lot like this: "Dang. We're so tired of everyone accusing us of running a 'bawdy house' (brothel) when all we're trying to do is run an honest business."
Nim gets all bent out of shape and we find out why. Apparently, he was engaged to Mistress Quickly before she ran off and married Pistol.
Nim threatens to slit Pistol's throat and the two men draw their swords (several times) before Bardolph manages to break up the argument.
A Boy runs in and declares that Sir John Falstaff is deathly ill. (Remember, Falstaff is Henry's old pal from Henry IV Part 1 and Part 2. When he became King of England, Henry banished Falstaff.)
Mistress Quickly, Nim, and Pistol agree that Falstaff is dying of a broken heart because King Henry unfriended him.