Cardenio introduces himself. He sees there is still hope for him and Luscinda. He vows to restore Fernando to Dorothea. The curate suggest they both come to the village, where counsel can be taken against their troubles.
Sancho shouts to them that he has found Quixote, who is half-naked and half-dead. Theough he told Quixote Dulcinea wishes to see him, his master refuses to come until he has done deeds worthy of her favor.
The curate tells Cardenio and Dorothea about their troubles with Quixote and how they plan to lure him back. Dorothea offers to act the part of the distressed damsel. She has read books on chivalry and knows how to act the part.
Sancho admires Dorothea’s great beauty. The curate tells him she is Princess Micomicona. She is here to beg Quixote’s help in redressing a wrong done to her. Sancho asks if they’ll arrange Quixote’s marriage to her, and the curate says he’ll do his best.
Dorothea, the barber in disguise, and Sancho go to find Quixote. Dorothea throws herself upon the ground and begs for his help. Quixote vows to do whatever she asks as long as it does not betray the king, country, or Dulcinea. Dorothea asks him to return and avenge her of the traitor who took over her kingdom. He agrees.
Sancho regrets that Don Quixote, after marrying the princess, will make Sancho a ruler of a kingdom full of blacks. He decides he’ll sell them to Spain.
The curate has shaved Cardenio and dressed him in different clothes. He greets Don Quixote, who recognizes him. He offers the curate to ride Rocinante, but the curate refuses to dismount a knight who has performed the greatest deeds this age has seen. Quixote says the curate should ride Princess Micomicona’s squire’s mule, so the barber gives it up. However, the mule throws the barber off and his fake beard comes off. He covers his face and complains that his teeth are caved in.
The curate “fixes” the beard by muttering some words in Latin to restore it. Don Quixote is amazed and asks the curate to teach him that charm. They proceed to the inn, taking turns riding.
Don Quixote, Dorothea, and the curate are riding. Cardenio, Sancho, and the barber are on foot. Don Quixote asks where they are going. The curate ascertains from the princess if they are heading towards her kingdom. She says yes. The curate says they will then be taking a road that passes through his village.
Quixote asks the curate why he has come to these parts, particularly without servants and so lightly equipped. The curate replies that he and the barber were traveling to Seville to collect money a relative of the curate’s had left him. They encountered four highwaymen who robbed them. The robbers had been galley slaves liberated by a valiant man. The curate denounces this man as either insane or a knave—for who else would release a bunch of villains to plague the innocent. This man has betrayed justice, the king, and has risked damnation. The curate says all this knowing full well from Sancho that Quixote was the one who had freed the slaves. He wants to see what his reaction will be. Quixote looks flustered.