The innkeeper sees some fine guests approaching. The woman who is with this party looks faint. The curate tries to learn about the people from one of the footmen that is escorting them. The footman says they were hired to accompany the couple to Andalusia. Everyone obeys the man in charge of the group as if his word was law. The lady has been distressed, but the footman has never seen her face. She doesn’t want to go wherever she is going.
Dorothea tries to comfort the woman, who makes no reply. The man the footman says everyone obeys without question tells Dorothea not to concern herself with the ungrateful woman--for even if she did speak, she would tell lies. The woman says she never speaks falsehoods. Cardenio recognizes her voice and comes out. Both the woman and the man had been wearing masks, but they fall off when they are startled by Cardenio’s appearance. Dorothea recognizes the man as Don Fernando. The barber catches her as she faints. The curate removes the veil that has concealed Dorothea’s features, and Don Fernando is stunned to see that it is her.
Luscinda is trying to free herself from Fernando’s grasp so she can go to Cardenio. Luscinda begs Fernando to release her, for this strange meeting proves that Heaven recognizes Cardenio as her true husband.
Dorothea has recovered and tells Fernando that she submitted to him because he promised to marry her. He cannot belong to Luscinda, for he promised himself to her. Luscinda cannot belong to him because she is Cardenio’s. He knew how innocent Dorothea was and knew how to manipulate her, so he can’t say he was deceived. If she cannot be his wife, let her be his slave. She begs him not to bring shame to her or give grief to her parents, who have been loyal vassals. She shows proof that she is his wife--then says that if he refuses to acknowledge her, it will only lead to a life of trouble and regret.
Don Fernando lets Luscinda go and embraces Dorothea, saying she has conquered him with the truth. Cardenio embraces Luscinda. Fernando looks like he is about to attack when Dorothea grabs his knees and begs him to let the couple go in peace. Let the world see that he is ruled by reason and not passion. The others surround Fernando and encourage him to listen to Dorothea, for it was Heaven’s will that this happened. If he revenges himself on the couple, they would consider it a happy death. He should turn his attentions to Dorothea, who has the greatest claim upon him as well as who loves him. Don Fernando agrees. He tells Dorthea he hopes to learn her value after seeing her love for him remain constant.
Sancho realizes Dorothea is not a princess and weeps because she can’t grant the favors she has promised. Don Fernando tells about how he had found Luscinda after she had fled to a convent. He had kidnapped her, and they eventually wound up here at the inn.
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