The battle was at its height, with noise and dust and fighting men. The ground was covered with the newly dead and dying. In accordance with common practice several of the most formidable warriors were disguised as the King, a tactic that was very useful in distracting and confusing the enemy. Sir Walter Blunt was among them and it was in his role as King that he encountered Douglas. Douglas came towards him, brandishing his sword.

‘What is your name?’ said Blunt. ‘You, who are crossing me in battle like this? What honour do you think you’ll get by killing me?

‘You should be made aware then, that my name is Douglas, and I’m haunting you in this battle because some regard you as a king.’

‘They’re right,’ Blunt said, raising his sword.’

‘Today Lord Stafford paid dearly for resembling you so effectively, for instead of you, King Harry, my sword killed him. Now it will kill you too, unless you surrender yourself as my prisoner.’

‘I wasn’t born to surrender, you arrogant Scot,’ said Blunt. ‘You’ve found a king who is going to avenge Lord Stafford’s death.’

It was a fierce and furious fight. Blunt’s experience was enough to give Douglas some awkward moments but the younger man’s superior strength and stamina prevailed and eventually the King’s old friend lay lifeless on the ground. At that moment, Hotspur who had seen the end of the fight as he came towards them, arrived. He saluted his friend.

‘Oh, Douglas!’ he said. ‘If you’d fought like this at Holmedon, I would never have been able to beat the Scots.’

‘It’s finished, we’ve won: here’s the King, dead.’ Douglas knelt down and raised his adversary’s visor.

‘Where?’

Douglas was puzzled by such a strange comment. He pointed. ‘Here!’

‘This, Douglas? No. I know this his face very well: he was a brave knight: his name was Blunt, disguised as the King.’

Douglas stared sadly down at Blunt’s corpse.’The name of fool will go with your soul, wherever it goes. You paid too dearly for that borrowed title. Why did you tell me you were a king?’

‘The King has many men on the battlefield disguised in his clothes,’ Hotspur told him.

‘Now, I swear on my sword,’ Douglas said,’ I’ll kill all his clothes! I’ll murder his whole wardrobe, one item at a time, until I find the King
himself.’

‘Get going!’ said Hotspur. ‘Our soldiers’ prospects look good today.’

A few minutes after they had left Falstaff, stumbling fearfully along, stopped at the place where they had been. Although he could always escape being shot in London he was scared of getting shot out here. Here, you took it on the head. Wait a minute – who was this? Sir Walter Blunt! That was honour for you, but no vanity! Falstaff trembled: he was as hot as molten lead, and as heavy, too; so God keep the lead out of him!. He didn’t need any lead bullets in his belly – his own guts were heavy enough. His army of ragamuffins had been massacred. Not even three of his hundred and fifty troops were still alive, and the ones who were had run away to the towns to beg in the streets. Who was that coming?

It was the Prince of Wales. ‘Why are you standing idly here?’ he said. ‘Give me your sword. Many good men are lying cold and dead on the ground, with the enemy’s horses galloping over them, their deaths unrevenged. Come on, give me your sword.’

‘Oh, Hal, I beg of you, give me a moment to catch my breath. Even Gregory the Turk never fought as heroically as I have today. I’ve killed Percy, I’ve made him safe.’

‘You’re right; he’s safe, and now he’s coming to kill you. Now please, give me your sword.’

‘No, Hal, I swear to God! If Percy’s alive, you’re not taking my sword. But you can have my pistol, if you like.’

‘Give it to me then.’

Falstaff fumbled about in his clothes and produced a holster.

‘What? Is it still in its holster?’ The Prince took it from him.

‘Yes, Hal, it’s hot, it’s hot. It could sack a city.’

The Prince opened the holster and drew out a bottle of wine.

‘Is this the right time to joke and fool around?’ said Hal. He threw the bottle at Falstaff, turned on his heel and marched away.

Falstaff looked around fearfully. If Percy was alive the young rebel would stab him. If he were suddenly to appear, that would be one thing; if he didn’t but Falstaff were to bump into him, Percy would slice him like a joint of meat. He could do without the kind of honour Sir Walter had gained. He preferred life and if he could save his own, good, but if he couldn’t he’d have honour that he never sought and that would be that.

He shambled on.

 

Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 1, Scene 1
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 1, Scene 2
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 1, Scene 3
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 2, Scene 1
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 2, Scene 2
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 2, Scene 3
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 2, Scene 4
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 3, Scene 1
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 3, Scene 2
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 3, Scene 3
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 4, Scene 1
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 4, Scene 2
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 4, Scene 3
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 4, Scene 4
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 1
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 2
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 3
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 4
Modern Henry IV Part 1, Act 5, Scene 5