Lorenzo, Graziano, Solanio and Salerio all meet at a street in Venice to discuss a plot they've concocted that is not quite ready to be carried out.
Lorenzo suggests that they slip away during dinnertime and disguise themselves, but Salerio points out that they don't have torchbearers (guys to carry their lights), and Solanio thinks the whole thing is a waste of time unless it's really carefully organized.
Just then, Lancelot (young Gobbo) enters with Jessica's letter, which Lorenzo is excited to receive.
Hearing that Lancelot is planning to invite Shylock to dine with Bassanio, Lorenzo tells Lancelot to secretly deliver a letter to Jessica. After Lancelot is gone, Lorenzo cryptically announces that he's found a torchbearer after all. (Don't worry. This little secret will be revealed.)
So Lorenzo instructs everyone to meet up at Graziano's house later that evening. He is then left alone with Graziano to unfold the secret contents of Jessica's letter, which says (essentially) the following: "Dear Sweetie, Please steal me away from my father's house, sooner rather than later. Oh, and I've got some gold and manservants packed and ready to go."
Lorenzo declares that any harm the girl comes to will be because she is the child of a "faithless Jew" and for no other reason, especially not her being a thief.
Lorenzo hands the letter to Graziano to read and announces that Jessica will be his torchbearer.