Don Quixote and Sancho leave for Montesinos’s Cave with Basilio’s cousin, an author who writes parodies of great classical works, as a guide. When the three arrive at Montesinos’s Cave, Sancho and the guide lower Don Quixote into the cave by a rope. They wait for a half hour and then pull him up, only to find him asleep.
Don Quixote tells Sancho and Basilio’s cousin that when he went into the cave he found a small nook and fell asleep there. When he woke up he was in a beautiful field. An old man approached him, saying that he was Montesinos under a terrible enchantment. Montesinos confirmed that he cut out the heart of Durandarte, his cousin, when Durandarte died. He took the heart to Belerma, Durandarte’s wife, at Durandarte’s request. But, he says, Merlin has now put all of them under a spell so that they cannot leave the cave. Durandarte lies on the ground but occasionally sighs and speaks as if he were alive. According to Montesinos, Merlin prophesied Don Quixote’s coming and foresaw that Don Quixote would lift their enchantments.
Don Quixote says he was in the cave for three days and three nights and saw Dulcinea in her enchanted form there. Sancho, who knows the truth about Dulcinea’s enchantment, thinks Don Quixote is crazy. Don Quixote says he understands that Sancho only speaks out against him because he loves him. Don Quixote says that Sancho will soon realize that the story is true though it may appear fantastical to him now.
Cervantes says that the translator found a note from Cide Hamete Benengeli in the margin of the manuscript, warning that he believed that Don Quixote’s story was not true and that, in fact, Don Quixote himself renounced it as false on his deathbed.
Basilio’s cousin is thrilled by all the adventures in the cave and promises to use them in his books. Back on the road he, Don Quixote, and Sancho meet a man with a load of weapons who promises to tell them his story if they meet him at the inn where he is staying. They then meet a youth on his way to war, and Don Quixote commends the boy’s bravery.
At the inn, Don Quixote meets the man with the weapons. The man tells him a story of two magistrates who lost a donkey on a mountain near his village. To recover the ass, the magistrates went around the mountain braying like asses themselves, and though they did not catch the donkey, they were very impressed with their own ability to imitate asses. Neighboring villages heard about their frivolous antics, and now each time a member of the man’s village passes a member of another village, the other villager brays at him. As a result, the two villages are going to war.