The story is almost over when Sancho runs in yelling that Don Quixote has been battling a heavily bleeding giant in his room; the innkeeper angrily deduces that Quixote has been slashing at wineskins in his sleep. The half-dressed knight doesn’t wake up from his sleepwalk battle until the innkeeper pours ice water on his head. Sancho admits with confusion that the inn really must be enchanted, since he saw Quixote cutting off the giant’s head.
This time, Quixote doesn’t simply see a giant that is not there, as in the adventure of the windmills. He is seeing though the distorted looking-glass of sleep. His separation from reality is not quite as stark anymore. But just as Quixote begins to depart from the purest form of his madness, Sancho begins to approach it: he takes the episode as proof of enchantment.
Once everyone calms down, the priest finishes reading the tale. Lotario, Camila, and Anselmo live happily and deceitfully for a few months, and Leonela also pursues her affair with impunity. One night, Anselmo catches a man jumping out of Leonela’s window. She tells Anselmo that he is her husband. Anselmo doesn’t believe her and threatens to kill her out of rage, but she holds him back by promising to tell him an important secret the following day. Anselmo calms down a little and tells his wife everything that’s happened.
The vision of love and marriage in this tale is very far from Quixote’s idealistic conception of love. For Quixote, love is an intellectual, spiritual event, far above the worldly fray. In this story, love is uncontrolled and erotic – based not on stable admiration but on shifting desires.
Camila panics, assuming Leonela’s secret has to do with her affair. She sneaks out of the house, and runs to Lotario, begging him to find her a place to hide. Lotario takes her to a convent the following day. When Anselmo goes to look for Leonela in the morning, he finds that she has escaped. He soon finds out that both Camila and Lotario have gone missing as well. In despair, he goes to visit a friend in a nearby village. On the way, a stranger tells him some interesting gossip: a servant girl named Leonela has told everyone that Lotario has run away with his best friend Anselmo’s wife, Camila. The despairing Anselmo comes to his friend’s house, records the entire course of events, and dies of grief. Some time afterward Lotario dies in battle and Camila dies quietly in the convent.
Scholars have written that, in the classical tradition, stories describing the events leading up to a marriage are usually comedies with happy endings, and stories describing the aftermath of a marriage are tragedies with unhappy endings. This certainly holds true, in this case. What is the moral of this tale? It is not simply to avoid curiosity. Perhaps the moral is this: the farther one looks inside a person, the more complicated and many-layered that person becomes – the farther the typical happy ending recedes.