The innkeeper hears Quixote’s noise and runs outside. Maritornes hears it as well, so she runs to the loft and quickly unties him. Don Quixote gets back onto Rocinante and alludes angrily to his enchantment. The new guests tell the innkeeper that they’re looking for a boy dressed as a footman; one of them notices the judge’s coach next to the inn and explains that the boy must be around here somewhere, because he’s following the coach. They split up to look for the boy, and one finds him sleeping outside.
Here is another instance of cross-dressing at the inn. In this case, the costume disguises not gender but social position: a boy of noble birth is dressed as a servant. Just as Quixote’s knight costume is both pretense and reality, some of the disguises at the magical inn are half-real, too. Clara and Luis are separated by Luis’s high status, so through his disguise he is shedding his status and rejecting its significance.
Don Luis, which is the boy’s name, recognizes the man as one of his father’s servants. The servant tells the boy that they’re there to take him home, but he replies that he won’t come home until he has settled his affairs. Nearly all the guests at the inn come out to listen to the argument. The judge recognizes the boy as his neighbor’s son and takes him aside to speak to him in private.
The inn has served as a castle and a church (remember Quixote’s baptismal knighting ceremony), and now, with the judge’s arrival, it has become a court of law. It is a place where people debate right and wrong, where people’s fates are decided.
Meanwhile, two guests that tried to leave without paying are giving the innkeeper a heavy beating, and the innkeeper’s daughter runs over to Don Quixote to beg him for help. He runs over, but not before receiving Dorotea’s permission to undertake another quest; but when he sees the squabble he stops in his tracks, explaining that he can only fight knights, not low-born people like these guests. The innkeeper’s family is furious at Quixote’s apparent cowardice. Soon enough, though, Quixote persuades the guests to stop beating the innkeeper and pay what they owe.
In certain situations, Quixote has hesitated to jump into battle. It is hard to say whether his forbearance is cowardice or respect for knightly rules. Either way, in this case his restraint is for the best. He helps the innkeeper not through violence but through reason – we could say, not arms but letters.
Meanwhile, the judge asks Don Luis to explain his strange outfit and behavior. Don Luis tells the judge that he loves his daughter Clara and wants to marry her, and begs for the judge’s permission. The judge tells him he must think it over. Just then, another guest arrives at the inn – barber # 2, from whom Quixote stole Mambrino’s helmet and Sancho stole a pack-saddle. Barber 2 recognizes Sancho and cries thief, but Sancho explains that the pack-saddle and the barber’s basin were spoils of war, not thefts. Quixote interferes to say that they took Mambrino’s helmet and a horse’s fine caparisons, not a basin and saddle, and if they’ve been transformed it must be the work of the enchanters always plaguing knights errant.
Once again, Quixote must face the consequences of his good intentions. Quixote believed that he was acting in accordance with the knightly code when he seized the helmet from the stranger on the road. In reality, he was just acting like a criminal – a small-time highway robber. The chivalry code and the legal system are often at odds. As we’ve seen, Quixote doesn’t think that he’s subject to ordinary rules like paying for one’s food and shelter. He lives by his own moral code, not his country’s.