A little after dark, four men carrying a wooden horse run into the garden. The brave knight and squire are told that they must ride blindfolded to avoid dizziness, since the horse will fly high above the ground. At first Sancho is unwilling to risk his life to help duennas, but once again the Duke makes the present of the island contingent on Sancho’s participation in this adventure. Just before mounting the horse, Quixote says to Sancho that even if the adventure is a trick, it is still glorious to embark on it.
Quixote is experiencing a sort of double consciousness. Part of him believes in this adventure, because it corresponds perfectly to his earlier understanding of the world. But his understanding is transforming, and there is another part of him that knows it is a trick – the part of him that has assimilated new knowledge about the world.
The two friends are blindfolded and mount the wooden horse. As soon as Quixote turns the peg, he hears everyone shouting goodbyes and exclaiming how high and how quickly they are flying – just like Icarus! Sancho says that he can feel the cool wind whistling, since people in the garden are pumping air at his back. Quixote explains that they are in the second region of the air, where there is hail and snow; the third is the region of thunder and lightning; and the fourth is the region of fire. They feel their faces warmed by a strategically placed fire, so they assume they have entered the fourth region.
The Duke and Duchess forge a correspondence between expectation and observation: they create the illusion of flight by supplying scraps of the experience of flying. In this way, the Duke and Duchess betray their poor understanding of Quixote’s imagination and of the nature of his idealism. In the first part of the history, Quixote kept the faith even when his observations did not conform with his expectations. One can’t force belief.
To imitate landing, servants set fire to the horse’s tail and explode all the firecrackers in its wooden belly: the horse flies into the air and thumps down onto the ground. By now, the duennas have disappeared and everyone else lies in a pretend faint on the ground. The adventurers take off their blindfolds and see a white parchment: it states that Malambruno is satisfied, and that the duennas and the newlyweds will be restored to their original states. Quixote wakes up the Duke and Duchess and tells them the good news. Sancho tells the Duchess that he sneaked a look under his blindfold and saw the earth look as tiny as a mustard seed, and people as tiny as hazelnuts, and the sky, all sorts of other things, though the queen points out that his proportions are off. Quixote cautiously admits that he felt wind and fire, but goes no further. He tells Sancho that just as he wants everyone to believe his descriptions of the sky, Quixote wants him to believe his description of the Cave of Montesinos.
It is not entirely clear whether Sancho really believes in his story or whether he just wants praise and attention from the Duke and Duchess. Since Sancho doesn’t often lie just for fun, it is probably something in between: the sensations of flying and the desire to please caused him to imagine the earth from above. It seems that Sancho has become more quick to believe in magic than Quixote. As we’ve said, Quixote has become more realistic and Sancho more idealistic: they’ve learned well from one another. Quixote’s comment to Sancho shows that he no longer thinks that everything vividly imagined is true. Truth is something apart from imagination.