The voice sings a sad love song addressed to Clara, the judge’s daughter. Dorotea wakes her up to listen, but as soon as Clara makes out the words she begins to shake and cry, and covers her ears. After the song ends, she tells Dorotea her story. The boy singing is her neighbor, the son of a wealthy gentleman. They fell in love, though he could only ever communicate with her through her window, and decided to get married. But soon afterwards Clara and her father set out for their journey to America. Two days after they departed, Clara realized that the boy was following them in a footman disguise. Now, she is worried that her father will recognize him and punish them for their love. She doesn’t think that they will be permitted to marry because the boy’s family is nobler and wealthier than hers.
Like the other subplots, this is a romance shot through with economic and class considerations. The love itself is simple and fairy tale-like, but the evil giant standing in its way is mild social inequality. The poetic and the prosaic walk arm in arm, like the different casts of characters at the inn, and, to some extent, like Quixote and Sancho themselves. Cervantes doesn’t just lump these two categories together, but rather shows the way they intertwine – most clearly, in Sancho and Quixote’s dialogues.
Meanwhile, the innkeeper’s daughter and the servant girl Maritornes decide to have some fun at Don Quixote’s expense. They watch him sighing for Dulcinea through a hole in the hayloft, which opens from the inside of the inn onto the courtyard. The innkeeper’s daughter interrupts his lovesick monologue to beckon him over to the hayloft window, and he imagines that the beautiful princess of the castle is trying to make love to him. Don Quixote rides up to the hole in the hayloft and explains to the two girls that he cannot respond to their advances because of his love for Dulcinea. Maritornes asks him at least to give the innkeeper’s daughter his hand. When Don Quixote politely extends his hand through the window, Maritornes ties his hand to the hayloft door and the two girls run away.
Quixote is a frequent target of jokes in this book. It’s possible that Maritornes also wants to take revenge for Quixote’s earlier bizarre advances, when he imagined her as a princess. Either way, this scene once again shows Quixote punished for his idealism and high-mindedness. The scene is also a strange inverse of the captor’s story, when Zoraida lowers money into a courtyard from a concealed window.
Don Quixote sits very still, because if Rocinante moves out from under him he’ll be left hanging painfully by one hand. He decides that the enchanters have played yet another trick on him. He is still trapped in the same place the following dawn, when four new guests arrive at the inn. When Rocinante moves away to flirt with one of the strangers’ horses, Don Quixote is left hanging painfully by one arm from the window, yelling with all his might.
Don Quixote is too good-hearted, and has too much faith in ordinary people, to think that someone at the inn is responsible for his embarrassing predicament. The ‘enchanters’ are a cipher for the gap between people as they are and people as he imagines them: it is the material he uses to fill the gap and cover it up.