"‘Still,’ he said, ‘Ariel could put a girdle round the earth in forty minutes.’"
A 1639 depiction of the traditional Puck
Public DomainA 1639 depiction of the traditional Puck - Credit: wikimedia commons

Ariel is a spirit from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, who is bound to serve the magician Prospero.

However, it is actually Puck, the mischievous elf from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, who makes this particular boast: I’ll put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes (Act II, Scene 1).