The Duke and Duchess, pleased with Don Quixote’s and Sancho’s reaction to the encounter with the Countess Trifaldi, send Sancho to his governorship right away. Sancho says he would rather have a piece of the sky than an isle, but the Duke says he can provide him only with an isle. The Duke and Duchess dress Sancho up and pack him off to a town, which he believes is an isle. Don Quixote gives Sancho advice on how to rule and reminds him never to be ashamed of his humble background. He also tells Sancho never to worry about injuring himself when confronting an enemy, to marry only a woman who will not take bribes, and to have pity and leniency on criminals.
Don Quixote warns Sancho to refrain from eating garlic and onions, since only peasants eat such things; to walk slowly and speak deliberately; to eat little; not to drink too much; not to belch; and not to use so many proverbs. Don Quixote laments Sancho’s illiteracy, but Sancho says he will prevent anyone from discovering this deficiency by pretending that his writing hand has been paralyzed. Sancho asks if Don Quixote thinks he will make a good governor, since he would rather just be Sancho than imperil his soul as a bad governor. Don Quixote assures him that he will be an excellent governor precisely because of this attitude.
Cervantes interjects that “the real original history” claims that Cide Hamete Benengeli wrote this chapter in the form of a complaint addressed to himself for having written such a dry story and for not including as many digressions as he did in the First Part.
As he leaves for his governorship, Sancho mentions to Don Quixote that one of the stewards accompanying him looks and sounds exactly like the Countess Trifaldi, but Don Quixote dismisses Sancho’s implication. After a sorrowful good-bye, Sancho sets out. Seeing that Don Quixote misses Sancho, the Duchess remarks that she has many maids who would gladly help cure Don Quixote’s melancholy. Don Quixote refuses her offer and goes straight to bed after dinner, insisting on being alone to keep himself from temptation. Don Quixote hears two women under his window arguing about whether one of them, named Altisidora, should sing a ballad to the man she loves. Altisidora does sing the ballad, and Don Quixote concludes that she loves him. He laments his fate that no woman can see him and not fall in love. Meanwhile, Cervantes tells us that Sancho wishes to begin governing and awaits us.
The townspeople receive Sancho and set him up on the governor’s chair, where they have written a proclamation that Don Sancho Panza took governorship on a certain date. Sancho has the proclamation read to him and then requests that no one call him “Don,” since he is not a Don. He judges a series of cases, each involving some form of trickery, that the townspeople bring before him. Sancho resolves each case with wit and wisdom, impressing the town with his governing abilities.
In the morning, Don Quixote passes Altisidora, who pretends to faint. He asks a servant to put a lute in his room that night so that he may disclose, in ballad form, his love for Dulcinea. Eager to play a trick on Don Quixote, Altisidora tells the Duke and Duchess about Don Quixote’s plan. They all listen to his ballad to Dulcinea that night. As Don Quixote sings, one of the servants lowers a rope with bells on it and a bag of cats with bells on their tails onto the balcony above Don Quixote’s window. The bells and the cats make a terrible noise, frightening Don Qui-xote and all those in the house. In the commotion, a couple of cats get into Don Quixote’s room, and one of them jumps onto his face, bites his nose, and claws him. The Duke, who has rushed up to the room to see what is the matter, removes the cat. Altisidora tries to woo Don Quixote as she bandages his face.