William Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth, Part II in the complete original text.
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The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth

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Act II. Scene II.

Scene II.—The Same. Another Street,

Enter the PRINCE and POINS.

Prince. Before God, I am exceeding weary.
Poins. Is it come to that? I had thought
weariness durst not have attached one of so high
Prince. Faith, it does me, though it dis-
colours the complexion of my greatness to ac-
knowledge it. Doth it not show vilely in me to
desire small beer?
Poins. Why, a prince should not be so loosely
studied as to remember so weak a composition.
Prince. Belike then my appetite was not
princely got; for, by my troth, I do now re-
member the poor creature, small beer. But,
indeed, these humble considerations make me
out of love with my greatness. What a disgrace
is it to me to remember thy name, or to know
thy face to-morrow! or to take note how many
pair of silk stockings thou hast; viz. these, and
those that were thy peach-colour'd ones! or to
bear the inventory of thy shirts; as, one for
superfluity, and one other for use! But that the
tennis-court-keeper knows better than I, for it
is a low ebb of linen with thee when thou keepest
not racket there; as thou hast not done a great
while, because the rest of thy low-countries have
made a shift to eat up thy holland: and God
knows whether those that bawl out the ruins
of thy linen shall inherit his kingdom; but the
midwives say the children are not in the fault;
whereupon the world increases, and kindreds are
mightily strengthened.
Poins. How ill it follows, after you have
laboured so hard, you should talk so idly! Tell
me, how many good young princes would do
so, their fathers being so sick as yours at this
time is?
Prince. Shall I tell thee one thing, Poins?
Poins. Yes, faith, and let it be an excellent
good thing.
Prince. It shall serve among wits of no higher
breeding than thine.
Poins. Go to; I stand the push of your one
thing that you will tell.
Prince. Marry, I tell thee, it is not meet that
I should be sad, now my father is sick: albeit I
could tell to thee,—as to one it pleases me, for
fault of a better, to call my friend,—I could be
sad, and sad indeed too.
Poins. Very hardly upon such a subject.
Prince. By this hand, thou thinkest me as
far in the devil's book as thou and Falstaff for
obduracy and persistency: let the end try the
man. But I tell thee my heart bleeds inwardly
that my father is so sick; and keeping such vile
company as thou art hath in reason taken from
me all ostentation of sorrow.
Poins. The reason?
Prince. What wouldst thou think of me if I
should weep?
Poins. I would think thee a most princely
Prince. It would be every man's thought;
and thou art a blessed fellow to think as every
man thinks: never a man's thought in the world
keeps the road-way better than thine: every man
would think me a hypocrite indeed. And what
accites your most worshipful thought to think so?
Poins. Why, because you have been so lewd
and so much engrafted to Falstaff.
Prince. And to thee.
Poins. By this light, I am well spoke on; I
can hear it with mine own ears: the worst that
they can say of me is that I am a second brother
and that I am a proper fellow of my hands; and
these two things I confess I cannot help. By
the mass, here comes Bardolph.

Enter BARDOLPH and Page.
Prince. And the boy that I gave Falstaff: a'
had him from me Christian; and look, if the fat
villain have not transformed him ape.
Bard. God save your Grace!
Prince. And yours, most noble Bardolph.
Bard. [To the Page.] Come, you virtuous ass,
you bashful fool, must you be blushing? where-
fore blush you now? What a maidenly man-at-
arms are you become! Is it such a matter to
get a pottle-pot's maidenhead?
Page. A' calls me even now, my lord, through
a red lattice, and I could discern no part of his
face from the window: at last, I spied his eyes,
and methought he had made two holes in the
ale-wife's new petticoat, and peeped through.
Prince. Hath not the boy profited?
Bard. Away, you whoreson upright rabbit,
Page. Away, you rascally Althea's dream,
Prince. Instruct us, boy; what dream, boy?
Page. Marry, my lord, Althea dreamed she
was delivered of a firebrand; and therefore I call
him her dream.
Prince. A crown's worth of good interpreta-
tion. There it is, boy. [Gives him money.
Poins. O! that this good blossom could be
kept from cankers. Well, there is sixpence to
preserve thee.
Bard. An you do not make him be hanged
among you, the gallows shall have wrong.
Prince. And how doth thy master, Bardolph?
Bard. Well, my lord. He heard of your
Grace's coming to town: there's a letter for you.
Poins. Delivered with good respect. And
how doth the martlemas, your master?
Bard. In bodily health, sir.
Poins. Marry, the immortal part needs a
physician; but that moves not him: though that
be sick, it dies not.
Prince. I do allow this wen to be as familiar
with me as my dog; and he holds his place, for
look you how he writes.
Poins. 'John Falstaff, knights—every man
must know that, as oft as he has occasion to
name himself: even like those that are akin to
the king, for they never prick their finger but
they say, 'There is some of the king's blood spilt.'
'How comes that?' says he that takes upon him
not to conceive. The answer is as ready as a
borrower's cap, 'I am the king's poor cousin,
Prince. Nay, they will be kin to us, or they
will fetch, it from Japhet. But to the letter:
Poins. Sir John Falstaff, knight, to the son
of the king nearest his father, Harry Prince
of Wales, greeting. Why, this is a certificate.
Prince. Peace!
Poins. I will imitate the honourable Romans
in brevity: sure he means brevity in breath,
short-winded.—I commend me to thee, I com-
mend thee, and I leave thee. Be not too familiar
with Poins; for he. misuses thy favour so much
that he swears thou art to marry his sister Nell.
Repent at idle times as thou wayest, and so
Thine, by yea and no,—which is as
much as to say, as thou usest him,
JACK FALSTAFF, with my familiars;
JOHN, with my brothers and sisters,
and SIR JOHN with all Europe.
My lord, I'll steep this letter in sack and make
him eat it.
Prince. That's to make him eat twenty of
his words. But do you use me thus, Ned? must
I marry your sister?
Poins. God send the wench no worse fortune!
but I never said so.
Prince. Well, thus we play the fools with the
time, and the spirits of the wise sit in the clouds
and mock us. Is your master here in London?
Bard. Yes, my lord.
Prince. Where sups he? doth the old boar
feed in the old frank?
Bard. At the old place, my lord, in East-
Prince. What company?
Page. Ephesians, my lord, of the old church.
Prince. Sup any women with him?
Page. None, my lord, but old Mistress Quickly
and Mistress Doll Tearsheet.
Prince. What pagan may that be?
Page. A proper gentlewoman, sir, and a kins-
woman of my master's.
Prince. Even such kin as the parish heifers
are to the town bull. Shall we steal upon them,
Ned, at supper?
Poins. I am your shadow, my lord; I'll follow
Prince. Sirrah, you boy, and Bardolph; no
word to your master that I am yet come to
town: there's for your silence. [Gives money.
Bard. I have no tongue, sir.
Page. And for mine, sir, I will govern it.
Prince. Fare ye well; go. [Exeunt BARDOLPH
and Page.] This Doll Tearsheet should be some
Poins. I warrant you, as common as the way
between Saint Alban's and London.
Prince. How might we see Falstaff bestow
himself to-night in his true colours, and not our-
selves be seen?
Poins. Put on two leathern jerkins and
aprons, and wait upon him at his table as
Prince. From a god to a bull! a heavy
descension! it was Jove's case. From a prince
to a prentice! a low transformation! that shall
be mine; for in every thing the purpose must
weigh with the folly. Follow me, Ned. [Exeunt.
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