When they continue their journey, they see a bunch of people chained together and guarded by two men on horseback. Sancho identifies them as galley slaves. Don Quixote decides to put a stop to it. Sancho points out that the slaves’ sentences were ordered by the king—and that most likely the slaves are criminals.
Don Quixote goes up to the guards and asks why the people are treated this way. The guard says they are galley slaves. Quixote demands to hear each person’s crimes to see if the punishment is justified. The guard says there is no time to read them, but Quixote can ask the prisoners if he wants to.
Don Quixote goes to each prisoner and asks his crime. One tried to steal some fine linen. Another confessed under torture—which causes him to be despised by the other prisoners. The next man stoled some money, the next is a pimp.
One man is more fettered than the others, being more of a career criminal and considered more dangerous. The convict complains that they call him by the wrong name. He is writing a book about his life. He has been sent to the galleys before, but he doesn’t mind because it gives him the opportunity to finish his book. His name is Ginés de Pasamonte.
Don Quixote feels sorry for them, believing they have been forced into crime by oppression that he became a knight to fight against. He asks the guard to let them go, and asks them to leave in peace If they do not, he will kill them.
The guards tell Quixote that he has no authority to release the prisoners and neither do they. These people were condemned by the authority of the king, and they recommend Don Quixote move along.
Don Quixote attacks the guard, knocking him to the ground. The other guards go to attack him, but the slaves uprise against them. Quixote asks all the freed slaves to visit Dulcinea to tell her of his great deeds. The prisoners retort they will not be traveling together, as they have a better chance of escaping the Holy Brotherhood if they separate. They offer to say prayers on Dulcinea’s behalf.
This enrages Quixote. The prisoners, under Ginés’ leadership, pelts Quixote with stones. They knock him to the ground. Ginés conks him on the head several times with the basin. They steal Quixote’s and Sancho’s clothes. They divide the spoils and run away.