Three days later, the remaining characters sit eating anxiously. Swiss Cheese worries that his sergeant is wondering about the cash box, and the Chaplain complains of having no one to preach to. Mother Courage has sworn herself a Catholic to keep the canteen safe. The Chaplain asks Swiss Cheese what he plans to do with the cash box. Spies are everywhere, the Chaplain even found a one-eyed fellow sniffing his excrement. Courage also commands her son to leave the cash box where it is. She leaves with the Chaplain, and Kattrin clears the dishes.
Swiss Cheese resolves to return the cash box, daydreaming about his sergeant's reaction. Two men-an enemy Sergeant and the Man with the Bandage over his eye—confront Kattrin. They ask if she has seen a man from the Second Protestant Regiment and she flees in terror. The men withdraw after seeing Swiss Cheese. Oblivious to the imminent danger, Swiss Cheese prepares to leave. Kattrin does all she can to warn him but to no avail.
When Courage and the Chaplain return, Kattrin desperately tells her mother what has happened. Suddenly the two men bring in a struggling Swiss Cheese. Mother and son pretend to not know each other. Nevertheless, Courage strongly suggests that Swiss Cheese give up the cash box. The men take him away, and Courage follows.
That evening, Kattrin and the Chaplain appear rinsing glasses and polishing knives. The Chaplain sings "The Song of the Hours," a song that recounts the passion of Christ. An excited Courage enters, declaring that they must buy Swiss Cheese's freedom. Yvette has picked up a hoary old Colonel who might buy the canteen from her. Courage plans to pawn the wagon and reclaim it after two weeks with the money from the cash box. Yvette seduces the Colonel into the purchase. He exits. Stopping her as she counts the merchandise, Courage sends Yvette to bribe One Eye with the 200 guilders. She thanks God men are corruptible, as corruption is their only hope.
Yvette returns and reports that One Eye has agreed. She also relates that Swiss Cheese confessed under thumbscrews that he threw the cash box into the river when he was near capture. Courage hesitates and decides that she will not be able to reclaim the wagon. She asks Yvette to return with a new offer of 120 guilders.
Courage sits to help polish the knives. She muses that they will get Swiss Cheese back, that the war will never end, and that she was once offered 500 guilders for her wagon. Kattrin flees, sobbing behind the wagon. Yvette returns, One Eye rejected her offer, and Swiss Cheese's execution is imminent. Desperately, Courage orders Yvette to tell him that she will pay 200. "I believe—that I've haggled to long" she murmurs.