Don Quixote compares and contrasts the lives of the scholar and the knight. For starters, both are poor (yeah, students didn't have a lot of money back then, either).
But when it comes down to it, Don Quixote reaffirms that he's in favor of doing things more than thinking things. Which explains why he got fed up with reading books about knights his whole life and decided to go out and become one.
Unfortunately, Quixote says, he chose a really bad time to go out and become a knight. For in the modern age, guns make it too easy for people to kill one another. The skill of killing is all gone, and Don Quixote waxes nostalgic about the days when warfare was a gentleman's pursuit.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 12
At this point, Don Quixote has rambled on for long enough. It's time for us to hear the story of the dude in the African clothing. So he begins…
When the dude in African clothing was young, his father told him and his two brothers that each of them should take up a job in religion, business, and war. This dude was the brother who chose war, and he paid the price for it. He had some early success and got promoted but then was captured in a battle against the Turks.
This guy was enslaved for the next long while.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 13
During the guy's enslavement, he sees a person from a nearby house lowering a cane into his prison yard. Other people try to grab it, but it keeps jolting out of reach. It's only when this guy approaches it that it lets him take it. The thing has a bundle tied to it with money in it.
To return their thanks, the guys all bow to the window. They begin to speculate that some Christian woman is living in the house and needs their help. But in reality, it seems like she's helping them more than the other way around.
Later on, they learn that the house belongs to one of the chief Moors of the area, who has a daughter (named Zoraida) whose beauty is legend around the town.
The next day, the cane lowers even more money with a slip of paper. The men learn that the girl giving them the money is trying to slowly give them enough to buy back their freedom and escape from the area.
When they read the note, the main guy realizes that the girl has fallen in love with him and plans to give him his freedom if he will take her away from this land and marry her in Spain. She has fallen in love with the Christian religion, and more specifically, with the dude telling this story.
The main guy decides to dictate a letter that they want to return to the young woman. In the letter, he says he likes her plan a whole lot and that he's in.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 14
The main guy and the young woman make sure to collect enough money until they can buy freedom for one of their friends. This guy then goes out and buys a boat big enough to take the whole crew of prisoners (and the Moorish woman) back to Spain.
Meanwhile, the main guy goes to the woman's summerhouse, where she has told him she'll be staying for a while.
On the night that he's supposed to take her away, though, the girl's father wakes up and tries to stop them. The rest of the prisoners want to kill the dude so that he won't send the authorities after them. But the girl pleads for his life and they take him with them. They also rob him of a lot of expensive jewels to help them with their journey.
Once they're on their boat, the dad realizes that his daughter has forsaken her family and her religion for the sake of marrying this Spanish guy. He can't handle the shame, so he jumps overboard and tries to kill himself. He's saved, though, and dropped on a shore, where he tears his hair out with shame and grief. His daughter feels bad about the whole thing.
Meanwhile, the crew keeps making their way back to Spain. Unfortunately, they totally get stopped by pirates and robbed. All of the wealth that they'd taken from the Moorish girl's house gets stolen, leaving them penniless.
When the crew finally reaches the shores of Spain, the people who see them run from terror, thinking that they're Moorish pirates who've come to terrorize the coast. They keep walking inland until they meet with some Spanish soldiers and say who they are.
The problem is, now the two of them are totally poor, and they're just travelling around not knowing what they're going to do next.
And that brings us back to the inn…
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 15
Don Fernando compliments the stranger for telling such a great story and for entertaining everyone so much. Fernando even offers to help the stranger and Zoraida out with the money sitch.
But before this can go any further, another coach draws up to the inn. This time, a smartly dressed man who appears to be a court judge walks in. He escorts a sixteen-year-old girl who appears to be his daughter. And yes, this girl is the most beautiful person anyone has ever seen… again.
The captain instantly recognizes the judge and thinks that he might be one of his two long-lost brothers. He inquires with one of the judge's servants who the man is, and the servant confirms his suspicions. He still doesn't want to reveal his identity to his brother, though, since he's scared that the guy will reject him for being poor.
So the curate decides to do the work for the captain, and asks the judge if he might be related to someone he knows. He then goes on to describe the captain's entire backstory, right down to the part about his dad telling his kids to take up three different jobs. The judge hears this story and nearly cries because he hasn't seen his brother in so long.
At this, the captain feels confident enough to reveal himself, and there's a wonderful reunion between the two brothers.
After this, everyone finally agrees that it's time for bed. Don Quixote thinks it's best if he guards the castle while they all sleep. Just before they go, though, they hear a beautiful male voice singing songs outside.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 16
The ladies of the group listen to the sweet voice of the young donkey-driver who's singing outside their bedroom window. His song (like all songs in this book) is about not being able to be with the person he loves.
The women also wake up the 16-year-old girl who has arrived with her father, the judge. Her name is Clara, and she suddenly starts sighing when she hears the boy's song. Because guess what? She just so happens to have a romantic bond with this guy. But she feels like they can never be together because she's from a lower class than he is.
It turns out that the guy outside is just disguised as a donkey driver. He's actually the son of a rich lord who is her father's neighbor. The boy tends to look at her through the window of his house, and it's quite clear he's in love with her. She knows, though, that his father will prevent them from ever being together.
Dorotea tells Clara to rest easy until morning, because she's sure that they'll be able to think of some plan to get Clara together with the young man.
Meanwhile, Maritornes (who works at the inn) and the innkeeper's daughter decide that they want to play a practical joke on Don Quixote. They lure him over to a small window at the inn and ask him to reach up to take their hands, pretending to be damsels in distress. The only way for Don Quixote to reach them is to stand up on Rocinante's back. But when he reaches up, the ladies slip a noose around his wrist and tie it to the wall. Don Quixote can't undo the knot, and the only thing to keep him from hanging totally by his arm is to stand precariously on Rocinante's back.
Don Quixote has to stay that way all night.
When morning finally comes, some horsemen approach the inn with guns in their saddles. They knock to be let in, but Don Quixote still acts all brave and tells them to leave the people inside the "castle" alone.
They then argue about whether or not the building is just a castle or an inn.
One of the four horsemen's horses comes over to smell Rocinante, who walks out from under Don Quixote, leaving him to hang by the arm. For a dude in his fifties, you can imagine how painful it probably is.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 17
Eventually, Don Quixote's miserable cries get the attention of the people in the inn. Maritornes, fearing that she'll be found out, runs upstairs and releases Don Quixote's hand, letting him fall to the ground before the people reach him outside. When he's lying on the ground, Don Quixote swears that he's been enchanted by magic.
When people gather around him, though, Don Quixote jumps off the ground and rides around on Rocinante, saying that he's ready to kill whoever says he was enchanted for good reason. He's obviously very defensive and his ego has taken a good bruising.
The recently arrived horsemen then ask the innkeeper if a young donkey driver has arrived at the inn. The innkeeper says it's tough to keep track of all the crazy people showing up these days.
Soon, the horsemen see the judge's carriage and realize that the young man they're looking for must be somewhere at the inn, since they know that he has left his home to pursue Clara.
Eventually, they catch the young man (whose name is Don Luis) and they start pulling him toward their horses. He doesn't want to go with them, though, and struggles.
The judge recognizes Don Luis and asks him why he has dressed up as a lowly donkey driver and followed him and his daughter all this way. Don Luis tells him about his love for Clara.
While this is all happening, who should show up at the inn but the barber whose helmet Don Quixote stole way back toward the start of this book. The dude accuses Don Quixote of theft and demands to have his basin back. Don Quixote, though, argues that the basin is actually a helmet that he won in fair combat.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 18
This whole chapter is basically just the argument between the barber and Don Quixote about whether the barber's basin is actually a basin or a helmet. The curate and the rest of the folks staying at the inn, of course, know about the Don's condition and don't want to upset his mind. So they take his side and say it's a helmet.
The barber and the four horsemen, though, can't believe that a group of people would be so insane.
Next, the barber decides that he just wants his saddle back (because Sancho took that, too). But Sancho won't part with it for the world.
Eventually, the barber gives up and walks away.
But the conflict isn't over just yet. At this point, one of the horsemen recognizes Don Quixote from a police warrant and realizes that he's the same dude who's wanted for setting free a bunch of prisoners (remember that?). He says it's his duty to arrest Don Quixote.
All of the Don's friends, though, come to his aid. The curate tells the officer that there's no way a guy in Don Quixote's mental condition would ever stand trial for what he's done.
The officer, though, doesn't relent so easily.
Don Quixote, in the meantime, sits on his horse and dares these cops to come get him. He's definitely not making things any easier.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 19
Once everything with the cops is cleared up, Don Quixote resolves to continue on in his journey to help the princess of Micomicon (Dorotea). Sancho continues to argue that she's not really a princess and that she's actually in a relationship with Don Fernando.
Don Quixote simply argues that some sort of enchanter has clearly taken possession of Sancho's eyes and confused him.
At this point, the curate and the barber come back with a wooden cage and put Don Quixote in it. They say that they are spirits who are taking Don Quixote in a magic vehicle that will transport him to a wedding with his Dulcinea del Toboso.
Don Quixote is more than happy to hear this. So he just sits tight in the cage and lets the folks transport him, thinking that they're spirits.
Part 1, Book 4, Chapter 20
While he's being carried along in the wooden cage (on an oxcart), Don Quixote can't help but reflect on how he has never read about anything like this in all of his books on knighthood.
While Sancho walks alongside the vehicle, he tries to tell Don Quixote that he's being tricked. But Cardenio and Don Fernando keep saying otherwise.
The ladies of the inn all come out and pretend to cry for Don Quixote's unfortunate imprisonment. He tells them not to cry, because the wooden cage is taking him to the woman he loves.
The curate, the barber, Sancho, and Don Quixote start heading back to Don Quixote's village. The curate promises Don Fernando to keep him updated on how the whole thing plays out.
As they leave, the innkeeper also gives the curate the manuscript for "The Curious Impertinent" and some other stories as a gift.
While they travel, another religious guy rides up alongside the group and has a conversation with the curate about the merits and downfalls of books about knight-errantry.