The clown stared at Don Quixote with more disbelief than he normally mustered. “Seriously, old man? Seriously?”
“Good fellow, my sincerity is not in question.” Quixote ran a gloved hand along his mount’s shell. “I assure you, it is quite gentle.”
“They’re snails.” The clown recoiled from the creature’’s curious eyestalk. “Ugh.”
“Now, now, my friend, there is no need to be nervous!” Don Quixote’s smile could not be dampened. “I have it on good authority that Haplotrema concavum is carnivorous only in its juvenile form.” He scratched the snail behind the eyestalk. “I shall call it Bartholomew.”
“I think I’ll call it No Thank You and walk.” The clown turned to leave; he paused when his patchwork hat flew off and landed with an uncharacteristic thud on the road. A foot-long slimy barbed thing was the culprit. “What—”
“Oh, splendid! Bartholomew likes you!”
The clown blinked once before turning and continuing on his way.
Quixote nodded sadly. “No fear, Barty. He’ll come around eventually.”