As Hank and Sandy ride through the countryside, Hank reflects on its charm and beauty. But the romance soon wears off. The woods are shady and cool, but the exposed stretches of road are hot with glaring sunshine. The hot, heavy armor makes Hank sweaty, but he can’t reach the handkerchief stashed in his helmet to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. Flies buzz mercilessly around his face, but his stiff, heavy coat prevents him from swatting them away.
The book criticizes an overly romantic view of the past and the Old World, which it sees as victims of monarchal and theological manipulation. Hank’s uncomfortable experience in his hot armor plays contributes to this criticism. It suggests that readers should take what they encounter in books with caution, since victors often leave out the uncomfortable and unflattering parts of the story.
Finally, Hank and Sandy stop by a stream. Sandy removes Hank’s helmet, brings him a drink, and douses him with cool water. But now they’re stuck until someone else comes along, because Hank can’t get back on the horse without the help of someone stronger than Sandy. And while they wait, he must listen to Sandy’s ceaseless, silly chatter.
Although the suit of armor should protect Hank from danger, it instead makes him increasingly vulnerable and dependent on Sandy and random strangers for help. This episode helps to explain why Hank wants to create a 19th-century society: rather than conforming to the world he’s in, he would prefer to remake it according to his preferences.