Don Quixote asks the man to tell his story, offering to help him. The man agrees if Quixote will give him some food. Sancho gives him some, which he devours. He then tells them that he’ll stop talking if they interrupt him while he is telling his story.
He tells them that his name is Cardenio. He is a nobleman, but his wealth could not protect him from misfortune. He loved a noblewoman named Luscinda, who returned his love. He asked her father for her hand. He told Cardenio that his father should make the request on his behalf. At the same time, Duke Ricardo wrote and asked Cardenio to be a companion to his son. His father ordered him to take the offer.
Cardenio spoke to Luscinda’s father, begging him not to marry Luscinda off until he found out the Duke’s plans for him. The father agreed. He was welcomed into the Duke’s home. He became a very good friend with the second son Fernando.
Fernando told Cardenio that he was in love with a farmer’s daughter. He planned to promise marriage to her so he could have his way with her. Cardenio tried to talk him out of it, and then he planned to talk to the Duke. Fernando suspected this and said he would leave home for a few months so he could forget her beauty. He suggested that they visit Cardenio’s family.
Cardenio aggreed so he could see Lucsinda again. He learned later that Fernando had already enjoyed the farmer’s daughter, and he was leaving to avoid fulfilling his promise.
When Fernando saw Luscinda and read her letters to Cardenio, he fell in love with her. When Quixote learns that Luscinda liked reading books about chivalry, he interrupts to state she must have been an accomplished lady.
Cardenio cannot believe one of the stories about a princess who bestows her favor on an arrogant bone-setter. Quixote comes to her defense, saying it is a lie. Both men become angry with each other. Cardenio believes the story, and Quixote does not.
Cardenio throws a stone at Quixote and knocks him down. Sancho tries to defend his master, but Cardenio overpowers him. The goatherd tries to interfere but also gets vanquished.
Sancho accuses the goatherd of withholding the fact that the man was a madman. The goatherd said he did tell them. They get into a fight. Don Quixote comes between them and stops it. He then asks where they can find Cardenio, for he wants to hear the end of this story. The goatherd gives him the general area where Cardenio can be found.