For not all those poets who praise ladies under names which they choose so freely, really have such mistresses.

See Important Quotations Explained

Chapter XXI

Don Quixote and Sancho see a man on a mule with something glittering on his head. The man is a barber wearing a basin on his head to protect him from the rain. But Don Quixote mistakes the man for a great knight wearing the mythic Mambrino’s helmet and vows to win the helmet from him. When the barber sees Don Quixote charging at him, the barber runs away, leaving behind his mule and basin. Sancho laughs at Don Quixote and tells him that the “helmet” is just a basin.

Don Quixote explains that the enchanted helmet must have fallen into the hands of someone who did not know its value and then melted it down, making it into a basin. He resolves to wear it in the meantime and have it made back into a helmet at the next village. When Sancho again begins to complain about the treatment he received at the inn while Don Quixote stood by idly, Don Quixote explains that Sancho’s treatment was just a joke. He adds that had it been serious, he would have returned to avenge it. Don Quixote then explains how he will win the affections of a princess by fighting for her father, the king. He says he will then marry her and make Sancho rich.

Chapter XXII

The manuscript continues, Cervantes says, with the account of Don Quixote and Sancho’s encounter with a chain gang of galley slaves. The prisoners are guarded by two armed men on foot and two armed horsemen. Sancho warns Don Quixote not to interfere with the chain gang, but Don Quixote approaches the group anyway and asks each prisoner to tell his story. Each slave makes up a story in which his criminal actions appear to be justified or even necessary. Upon seeing the men detained against their will, Don Quixote charges the officers. Anxious to be free, the prisoners join the charge. After the men gain freedom, Don Quixote commands them to present themselves to Dulcinea, which they refuse to do out of fear for their safety. Don Quixote insults them, and they attack him, running away with his and Sancho’s possessions. Freeing the galley slaves distresses Sancho, who is concerned that the Holy Brotherhood, or police, will come after them. Sancho urges Don Quixote to flee into the mountains.

Chapter XXIII

Don Quixote and Sancho ride into the woods of the Sierra Morena. Unfortunately for them, one of the galley slaves, Gines de Pasamonte, is also hiding in these woods. Gines steals Sancho’s donkey, whose name we now learn is Dapple. On the road through the mountains, Don Quixote and Sancho find a saddle and a bag containing a notebook, shirts, and money. Don Quixote gives Sancho the money, and Sancho decides that this payment makes up for all his previous troubles.

In the notebook, Don Quixote finds a poem and a love letter, which indicate that their author was spurned by his lover and driven to madness by her infidelity. Don Quixote then sees a nearly naked man hopping through the wilderness and resolves to follow him and learn his tale. Sancho opposes the idea because he wants to protect the money they have found and fears that the man might claim the money if they catch up with him. Don Quixote explains to Sancho, however, that they have no choice but to look for the naked man once they consider that the money might belong to him.

While searching for the man, Don Quixote and Sancho encounter an old goatherd who tells them the story of the naked man. A polite, rich gentleman, he appeared one day to ask the goatherds to help him locate the wildest part of the Sierra Morena. The goatherds pointed the man in a direction and he ran off. Later, he returned and assaulted one of the goatherds on the road, stealing his food. They pursued him and several days later found him in a ragged state, so they offered him food and care. The man treated them courteously at some times but rudely at others. Just as the old goatherd concludes the story, the man, whom Cervantes now calls the Ragged Knight of the Sorry Countenance, appears. Don Quixote gives him a long hug.