The guest tells them that he comes from a family in a village of León. His father was somewhat wealthy but wasteful with money, so when his three sons were of age he gathered them together for an important announcement. He told them that he intended to divide his property into four parts, keeping one and distributing the three others, and that the three sons must each become one of three things: a man of letters, a merchant, and a soldier. The guest, who was the oldest son, chose to become a soldier; the middle son, a merchant; and the youngest a man of letters.
This novel follows Quixote for a while, but now its attention seems scattered – it proceeds apparently randomly from one story to the next. But the stories are connected by small details, like a chain of associations. This story, for example, links to Quixote’s speech about arms and letters because the three sons choose between arms, letters, and business.
Soon afterwards (twenty-two years before the present moment) the guest left home and joined the Spanish army, which was waging war against the Ottoman empire. He was captured by the king of Algiers and spent several years travelling with him at sea as a captive. He mentions a fellow-captive named Don Pedro de Aguilar, who, it turns out, is Don Fernando’s brother.
The stories are connected not only through ideas but through their cast of characters – in this story, the link is Don Fernando. Like all the disparate perspectives in the novel, the stories do in the end refer to the same world.