Dr. Urbino's first meeting with Fermina to his rescue of Fermina and Hildebranda

Dr. Urbino grows obsessed with cholera. After the death of his father, he helps prevent an outbreak, and finally convinces city officials to take precautions against another epidemic. Urbino falls in love with Fermina Daza when he is called to h er house to examine her for symptoms of cholera. She strips from the waist up, and after a careful examination, Urbino concludes that she has only a mild infection. Lorenzo Daza, dazzled by Urbino's social esteem and economic status, overpays the Do ctor in hopes that he may arrange a romance between him and Fermina.

Dr. Urbino returns on the following Tuesday to see Fermina again. Through an open window, he calls to her, checks her pulse, and concludes that she is like a "new-sprung rose." In reply, she slams the window shut. Bewildered, the Doctor is beckoned by Lorenzo, who demands that his daughter apologize, which she does melodramatically. Lorenzo invites Urbino in for coffee and a glass of anisette, and though he does not drink either coffee or alcohol, he accepts. When Urbino leaves, mildly drunk, he call s out to Fermina, who does not hear him over her tears of rage, furious at Urbino and her father for humiliating her. Urbino persists, but Lorenzo warns him of his daughter's temper. As Urbino leaves, the crows shriek, and thinking of Fermina, he warns Lorenzo that the birds will peck out one's eyes. Dr. Urbino is too ill from drinking to continue his work for the day, and hears funeral bells tolling as he rides home in his carriage. When he returns home, exuding the "whorish perfume" of the crows, hi s mother informs him that, because of his neglect, a man had died of a cerebral hemorrhage. In reaction, Urbino vomits.

Later, Urbino serenades Fermina with a piano concerto; in a mule-drawn wagon he brings a pianist and a piano to her home. Fermina knows who the suitor is without looking, and wishes herself brazen enough to dump the contents of her chamber pot onto his h ead. Her father, however, is overjoyed, and invites Urbino and the pianist inside for brandy. Lorenzo gives Urbino his first chess lesson, the catalyst for his long-time addiction to the game.

Shortly after the serenade, Lorenzo finds an unopened letter addressed to his daughter, from Urbino, in the doorway of the house. Lorenzo slips the letter under Fermina's door, though it is days before she finally opens it, after having dreamt about Urbi no the previous night. The letter simply requests that she give her consent to allow Florentino to ask her father's permission to visit her. Impressed, her initial rage disappears. She first places Urbino's letter in the same trunk in which she had kep t Florentino's letters, but thinks it wrong and feels somehow shamed. "Poor man," she sighs, thinking of Florentino. Fermina receives a few more letters from Urbino, though she does not think to answer them. She receives another letter, not from Urbino but from an anonymous author who threatens her with public disgrace if she is to reject the Doctor. She receives two more such letters, each in different penmanship. Fermina is furious with the Doctor, for she imagines that the letters are a result of his gossip.

Urbino seeks help in his romantic pursuit from the Mother Superior at the Academy Fermina had been expelled from. The nun, who Fermina despises, tries to convince her that Urbino is a worthy man, and gives her a gold rosary. When Fermina refuses to comp romise, the nun threatens to call on the Archbishop. Fermina dares her to let him come, though he never does.