Don Quixote has a joyous heart as he sets out at dawn. He is finally knighted. However, following the innkeeper’s advice, he plans to return home to acquire the things he needs—money, shirts, medicine, and a squire. He knows a poor man that would fulfill the position of squire nicely.
Rocinante trots briskly, looking forward to returning to his own stable.
Don Quixote hears someone crying, and he sees his first opportunity to come to someone’s aide. He comes across a youth being flogged by his master. Don Quixote admonishes the master and asks him to take up his lance. The man, Don Haldudo, explains that his servant Andrew is his sheepherder, but he is very careless and loses a sheep everyday. The master says the servant accuses him of withholding his pay, but he lies.
Don Quixote doesn’t believe Don Haldudo. He orders him to untie the boy and pay him, or he will kill him. He then asks Andrew how much is owed to him. Don Haldudo says the boy owes him for shoes and doctor visits. Don Quixote, though, tells him that even with these deductions, he owes the same amount for the times he has beaten the boy unjustly.
Don Haldudo says he doesn’t have the money on him, and the servant will have to return to his house in order to get paid. The boy refuses, saying that the master will beat him. Don Quixote tells the boy he will not dare beat him after swearing an oath to the knighthood. Andrew points out his master is not a knight and will not honor the oath. Don Quixote dismisses this concern—saying even if the man is not a knight, there must be knights in his region, and he will respect the oath. Don Haldudo promises to pay Andrew. Don Quixote tells him that if he finds out that Don Haldudo did dishonor his oath, he will hunt him down no matter where he hides and kill him.
As soon as Quixote leaves, the master vows to “pay” the servant now. Andrew tells his master that the knight will find out and avenge him. The master ties his servant up and beats him senseless. When he releases Andrew, Don Haldudo laughs and asks where his courageous knight is to avenge him. Andrew vows to find Don Quixote and tell him of this incident.
Don Quixote, believing he rescued the boy, is telling Dulcinea how fortunate she is that she has a valiant knight like him to love her. He was only knighted yesterday, and already he has righted an injustice.
A bunch of traders come towards him. He stands in the middle of the road and shouts that they must acknowledge that the Empress Dulcinea is the most beautiful woman in the world. The traders realize he is a madman. However, one answers that they do not know the lady—but if Quixote can produce her, and his claims are justified, they will gladly acknowledge her as so.
Quixote indignantly tells them that there is no merit if they don’t acknowledge it without requiring proof. They can agree with his statement, or they can fight him. The trader tells Quixote that he can’t force them to swear to something that they have no knowledge of, for it may not be fair or true. They demand proof.
Quixote goes to attack the man. He would have killed him, but Rocinante trips over his lance. Quixote falls off his horse. One of the muleteers with the group breaks Quixote’s lance and beats him. The group finally leaves him.
Don Quixote is unable to rise. He is battered, and his armor weighs him down. He blames Rocinante for tripping.