While he was thus away from his master, a wagon, on top of which fluttered little yellow and red flags, came along the road towards them. Don Quixote at once imagined this to be some new adventure, and he called to Sancho for his helmet. At the moment, Sancho was bargaining with the shepherds for some curds. Hearing his master call, he had not time to wait till the shepherds could give him a bowl in which to carry them, and not wishing to lose his bargain (for he had paid the shepherds), he poured the curds into the Knight’s helmet, and galloped off to see what his master wanted.
“Give me my helmet,” said Don Quixote, “for if I know anything of my business, here is an adventure for which I must be ready.”
The gentleman in green, hearing what Don Quixote said, looked everywhere, but he could see nothing except the wagon coming towards them, and as that had on it the King of Spain’s colors, he thought that no doubt it was one of his Majesty’s treasure-vans. He said as much to Don Quixote, but the Knight answered: “Sir, I cannot tell when, or where, or in what shape, my enemies will attack me. It is always wise to be ready. Fore-warned is fore-armed. Give me my helmet, Sancho!”
Snatching it out of Sancho’s unwilling hands, he clapped it on his head without looking into it.
“What is this, Sancho?” he cried, as the whey ran down his face. “What is the matter with me? Is my brain melting, or am I breaking out in a cold sweat? If I am, it is not from fear. This must be a dreadful adventure that is coming. Quick. Sancho! give me something to wipe away the torrent of sweat, for I am almost blinded.”
Without a word, Sancho handed to his master a cloth. Don Quixote dried himself, and then took off his helmet to see what it was that felt so cold on his head.
“What is this white stuff?” said he, putting some of the curds to his nose. “Sancho, you vile traitor, you have been putting curds in my helmet!”
“Curds!—I?” cried Sancho. “Nay, the devil must have put them there. Would I dare to make such a mess in your helmet, sir? It must have been one of those vile enchanters. Where could I get curds? I would sooner put them in my stomach than in your helmet.”
“Well, that’s true, I dare say,” said Don Quixote. “There’s something in that.”
Then again he put on the helmet, and made ready for the adventure.
“Now come what may, I dare meet it,” he cried.
The wagon had now come near to them. On top was seated a man, and the driver rode one of the mules that drew it. Don Quixote rode up.
“Whither go ye, my friends?” said he. “What wagon is this, and what have you in it? What is the meaning of the flags?”
“The wagon is mine,” said the driver, “and I have in it a lion that is being sent to the King, and the flags are flying to let the people know that it is the King’s property.”
“A lion!” cried Don Quixote, “Is it a large one?”