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THE STORY - SUMMARY AND NOTES
Clara hears the singing and bursts into tears. She tells Dorothea that the mule driver is really Don Luis, her sixteen-year-old neighbor. Don Luis and Clara are in love, but since there seems to be no hope that his wealthy father will ever let him court her, he has run away from home. He has been following Clara and her father throughout their journey.
In the meantime, Maritornes and the innkeeper's daughter have decided to play a trick on Don Quixote. The daughter calls the knight to her window. The Don has already convinced himself that the daughter is in love with him. However, he protests that he must keep himself chaste for his true love, Dulcinea. Maritornes convinces the Don to put his hand through the window to comfort the disappointed girl. As soon as the Don does this, Maritornes slips a knotted thong over his wrist. The other end of the strap has already been tied to the bedroom door.
The Don is caught. He has been standing on the back of Rozinante to reach
the window. Now he has to remain still all night for fear that his horse
will bolt and leave him hanging by one arm. He stays this way until dawn
when four men on horseback ride into the courtyard. Their arrival distracts
Rozinante, and the Don slips from his perch.
You may have noticed that this silly trick parodies the romantic tale of the young captive and his Moorish lady, Zoraida. Why has the author placed this episode here? To make fun of the captive's story? To ridicule Don Quixote or Maritornes? Or for some other reason?
The four horsemen announce that they have been sent by Don Luis' father to bring the boy home. This is the first time that the judge, Clara's father, has heard that the mule driver is really his neighbor's son. He is more sympathetic than Clara expected him to be. Eventually the judge convinces Don Ferdinand to help him work things out with Don Luis' father. Don Ferdinand, now reformed, has sympathy for the young man in love with a girl poorer than he. Since he is even more important and influential than Don Luis' father, we assume Don Ferdinand's advice will be listened to.
By now your head may be spinning. Ever since the Don met Cardenio in the Sierra Morena you have met a series of minor characters whose lives are connected in a web of thwarted love and coincidences. Now, suddenly, all their problems are resolved. More surprising still, Don Ferdinand, the cause of much of the trouble in the first place, seems to be completely reformed. It is important to remember that Cervantes did not expect his readers to take these twists of plot very seriously. No doubt he is parodying the improbable but lovely "goings on" which delighted readers such as Maritornes who were addicted to chivalric romances. Do you think that the public has grown more sophisticated in its expectations over the last four centuries?
Now one final traveler arrives at the inn-the wandering barber whose basin Don Quixote stole in Chapter 21. The barber wants his basin back, along with the ass' pack saddle that Sancho is now using on Dapple. Quixote's friend Nicholas the barber thinks it is very funny that the Don has mistaken a brass basin for "Mambrino's Helmet." He goes along with the joke, swearing to the other barber that the basin is really a helmet and the pack saddle the fine trappings of a horse. The wandering barber thinks the whole world has gone crazy.
Soon the argument begins to get out of hand. Four troopers of the Holy Brotherhood arrive and take the wandering barber's side in the quarrel. Then Don Quixote appears and attacks the barber. The troopers attack Don Quixote. In the course of the fracas you learn that the troopers are carrying a warrant for the arrest of the man who helped Gines de Pasamonte and the other galley slaves escape.