Don Quixote alters his plans for Barcelona to prove the author of the second book that slanders him a liar. For a week he travels with no adventure. He finds himself in a wood.
Sancho falls asleep. Don Quixote reflects upon Dulcinea and becomes angry that Sancho has not made much progress in his penance to disenchant her. He resolves to beat Sancho himself. He grabs Rocinantes rein to use as a whip and starts to undo Sancho's pants.
Sancho wakes up and demands what he is doing. Don Quixote tells him he plans to give him two thousand lashes for Dulcinea's sake. Sancho reminds Quixote that he is to flog himself, but Don Quixote doesn't believe he will ever do it.
Sancho attacks and pins down Quixote, who calls him a traitor. He tells Quixote he can either give up this idea of whipping him, or he can die. Don Quixote agrees to abandon the idea of whipping him.
Sancho goes to rest under a tree but encounters a body dangling from it. Don Quixote explains that the authorities are in the habit of doing mass hangings, and that these men are probably bandits. When dawn comes, they find themselves surrounded not only by the dead but the living. The robbers take everything on Dapple. They are about to search Sancho, and probably find the gold crowns, when their leader stops them.
The leader identifies himself as Roque Guinart, and not to be so melancholy--for he is known for his mercy. Don Quixote, though, is upset that he failed to be alert as a knight-errant is supposed to be. Roque realizes that Quixote is a madman but humors him.
Claudia Jeronima, daughter of Roque's friend Simon Forte, comes to him for help. She fell in love with the son of Roque's enemy. He promised to marry her. She learned he intended to marry another, so she shot him dead. She asks for safe passage into France and for Roque to protect her father from the vengeance of this enemy.
Roque admires her. He tells her they need to find out if the boy is dead to see how grave he situation is. Don Quixote volunteers his services. Sancho vouches that Quixote is very good in forcing marriages. Roque is not really paying attention and orders his men to return everything they took to Quixote's squire.
Roque and Claudia find Don Vicente, the boy she shot, being carried by his servants. She tells him if he had honored his pact, this never would have happened. He tells her that her punishment is unjust. He never intended to marry the other girl, and now she has murdered him. He dies, and Claudia laments her jealousy.
Roque orders the servants to carry the boy's boy back to his father. Claudia decides to enter a convent, which Roque approves of.
Roque returns to the woods. There is a dispute between his men and Quixote. The men returned everything but three handkerchiefs. Roque points out they aren't very valuable, but Quixote says they have sentimental value. Everything is gone over again and resolved. Some of his men come up and tell him some people they are after are approaching on the road. Roque orders that they be brought before him.
Roque comments to Quixote he entered this strange life out of vengeance, but then he found himself becoming a bad person. He hopes to one day make his way back into God's light. Don Quixote offers to train him as a knight, and he can use his skills to serve God.
Roque's men bring back a group of people traveling on the road. He ask each who they are, where they are going, and how much money they are carrying. Roque only takes a portion of each person's money and allows them to continue their journey unharmed. Because of this, his victims are grateful. One of Roque's men, though, is not pleased--commenting that Roque should sacrifice his portion and not theirs. Roque beheads him. This discourages any more complaints.
Roque writes to his friend in Barcelona and mentions Don Quixote. In four days, he is to receive them as guests.