When Don Quixote and Sancho Panza entered the castle, all cried out: "Welcome to the hero of heroes, the most famous of knights errant!" Six noble pages threw a large scarlet mantle around his shoulders; then the master of ceremonies led the noble Spaniard and his squire to the table. After the exchanging of a thousand courtesies, the princely banquet began. Sancho Panza was not a little surprised at the honour done to his master, and he himself contributed much to the merriment of the company with his droll and clownish remarks. Don Quixote sat there in great dignity, accepting the tributes paid to him as his due. During the meal, in the midst of all sorts of delightful conversations, the shrill, piercing sound of a whistle could be heard coming from the courtyard accompanied by the dull rattling of a creaking old drum. The knight and Sancho Panza were somewhat taken aback by this discordant music. The duke explained, turning to Don Quixote: "My noble knight! It is Trifaldin, the equerry, who has come to announce to you in this way the misfortune of his mistress, Countess Duenna Dolorida. The lady once renowned for her beauty has been transformed by the shameful poisoner and sorcerer Malambruno into a hideous, bearded and bristly creature. The equerry has heard of you, the famous valiant Knight de la Mancha, has heard that you are my guest in the castle and is confident that you will give your protection and support to his mistress, and perhaps even deliver her from her affliction." Don Quixote had gone over to the high window of the hall and saw a man with a long white beard in the courtyard attired in dark mourning clothes. Behind this strange figure four savages draped with ivy were carrying a huge wooden horse. "That is Wooden Peg the Swift," the duke explained to the astonished knight. "It is a magic horse created by the great magician Merlin. It is able to fly through the air and only he who dares to mount him will have the chance to find and destroy the sorcerer Malambruno. Only then will the noble Countess Duenna Dolorida be liberated and restored to the beauty of her slender white limbs." - "Move down, Sancho Panza, and mount the horse!" Don Quixote roared with a voice like thunder, and he drew his squire down the stairs into the courtyard. "One moment, noble Don Quixote! Merlin demands that the liberator be blindfolded!" the duke called out, following them down. The two heroes allowed that to be done and were soon sitting on the back of the wooden horse. Don Quixote felt for the peg with which the magic animal could be guided, and then they took off with a jerk into the sky. "I am not sitting comfortably!" grumbled Sancho Panza, "I prefer my old donkey!" - "Hold your tongue, fat paunch; there is a noble princess to be freed!" Don Quixote waved his sword as though fighting an invisible enemy. A servant carried out the duke's orders and set fire to the tail of Wooden Peg the Swift, which of course had not risen even once inch from the courtyard cobblestones. A whole pile of fireworks went off inside the hollow stomach of the horse. The magic horse exploded with a frightful racket amid shouts of joy from the all the courtiers. Don Quixote and Sancho Panza were catapulted through the air; they were black as two chimney sweeps due to the powder smoke and soot.