Rather than admit that Don Quixote received a vicious thrashing from a gang of Yanguesans, Sancho tells the innkeeper that his master fell and injured himself. The innkeeper’s wife and beautiful daughter tend to Don Quixote’s wounds. Don Quixote begins to believe that the daughter has fallen in love with him and that she has promised to lie with him that night. In actuality, Maritornes, the daughter’s hunchbacked servant, creeps in that night to sleep with a carrier who is sharing a room with Don Quixote and Sancho. As an aside, Cervantes then tells us that Cide Hamete Benengeli specially mentions the carrier because Benengeli is related to him.
Nearly blind, Maritornes accidentally goes to Don Quixote’s bed instead of the carrier’s. Don Quixote mistakes her for the beautiful daughter and tries to woo her, and the carrier attacks him. Maritornes jumps into Sancho’s bed to hide. Awakened by the commotion, the innkeeper goes to the bedroom and he, the carrier, and Sancho have a terrific brawl. An officer staying at the inn hears the fighting and goes upstairs to break it up. The officer sees Don Quixote passed out on the bed and believes he is dead. He leaves to get a light to investigate the scene.
Don Quixote tells Sancho that the inn is enchanted and recounts his version of the evening’s events. He says a princess came in to woo him and a giant beat him up. Just then, the officer returns, and Don Quixote insults him, provoking him to beat Don Quixote. Sancho, angry about his own injuries, rails against Don Quixote’s story, but Don Quixote promises to make the balsam to cure Sancho. He tells Sancho not to get angry over enchantments, since they cannot be stopped.
Don Quixote mixes ingredients and drinks the potion. He vomits immediately and passes out. Upon waking, he feels much better and believes he has successfully concocted the mythical balsam. Sancho also takes the potion, and although it makes him tremendously ill, he does not vomit. Don Quixote explains that the balsam does not work on Sancho because he is a squire and not a knight.
As Don Quixote leaves the inn, the innkeeper demands that he pay for his stay. Surprised that he has stayed in an inn and not a castle, Don Quixote refuses to pay on the grounds that knights-errant never pay for lodging. He rides off, slinging insults at the innkeeper. Several rogues at the inn capture Sancho, who also refuses to pay, and toss him in a blanket. Don Quixote, too bruised to dismount from Rocinante, believes that the enchantment prevents him from helping Sancho. Sancho finally gets away and feels proud for not having paid. But it turns out that the innkeeper has stolen Sancho’s saddlebags.
As they ride away from the inn, Sancho complains bitterly to Don Quixote about the injuries their misadventures cause him. Suddenly Don Quixote sees clouds of dust coming along the road and mistakes them for two great armies on the brink of battle. Sancho warns his master that the two clouds actually come from two herds of sheep. Unconvinced, Don Quixote describes in great detail the knights he thinks he sees in the dust. Cervantes eventually cuts off the account, remarking that Don Quixote is merely reeling off ideas he has encountered in his “lying books” about chivalry.