In the morning, Quixote joins the Duke and Duchess at breakfast. When he passes Altisidora on the way, she pretends to faint into her friend’s arms. Quixote hints that he knows the cause of her frailty and asks her friend to place a lute in his room. The girls tell the Duchess that Quixote plans to sing later that night and she thinks of another prank. She also sends a messenger to Teresa Panza carrying Sancho’s letter and riding costume.
Quixote has developed the self-consciousness to doubt the Duke and Duchess, but not a young, innocent, pretty girl – chivalry’s sacred object. She is the last person he would suspect of maliciousness or dishonesty. He trusts her with a naiveté that has become almost unusual for him.
Later that night, Quixote finds a guitar in his room and performs a ballad hinting at Altisidora’s impetuous flirtation and describing his loyalty to Dulcinea. Suddenly, a rope with a hundred goat bells and a sack of cats are dumped onto his balcony and make terrible noise. A few of the cats run into the room, somehow extinguish all the lights, and one of them tears up Quixote’s face. Quixote assumes the cats are evil enchanters. Altisidora tends to his wounds and reproaches him for his hard-heartedness.
Quixote also believes Altisidora because her advances correspond to his former expectations (as in the adventure with the “princess” at the inn). And then, as usual, he is hurt and humiliated. His physical injuries have become symbolic of the harm done to his imagination.