How Britomart Set Forth on her Quest
Britomart and her old nurse Glaucé now took counsel together as to the best means of finding Sir Artegall. They thought of one plan after another, and at last the nurse hit upon a bold device. She suggested to Britomart that, as the whole country was now disturbed by war, they should disguise themselves in armour and go in search of the Knight. It would be easy for Britomart to do this, for she was tall and strong, and needed nothing but a little practice to render her skilful in the use of spear and sword.
"Truly," said Glaucé, "it ought to fire your courage to hear the poets sing of all the brave women who have come from the royal house to which you belong."
She went on to name a long list of noble Princesses who had fought gallantly against their country's enemies, and bade Britomart follow their example and be equally courageous.
Her stirring words sank deep into the heart of the maiden, and immediately filled her with courage, and made her long to do brave deeds. She resolved to go forth as an adventurous knight and bade Glaucé put all things at once in readiness.
It happened fortunately for them that only a few days before, a band of Britons riding on a foray had taken some rich spoil from the enemy. Amongst this was a splendid suit of armour which had belonged to the Saxon Queen, Angela. It was all fretted with gold and very beautiful. This, with the other ornaments, King Ryence had caused to be hung in his chief church, as a lasting memorial of his victory. Glaucé, remembering this, led Britomart there late one evening and, taking down the armour, dressed her in it. Beside the arms stood a mighty spear, which had been made by magic; no living person could sit so fast in the saddle but it could hurl him to the ground. Britomart took this spear, and also a shield which hung near.
When Glaucé had dressed the maiden, she took another suit of armour and put it on herself so that she could go forth with her young mistress and attend her carefully as her squire. Then they lightly mounted their horses, which were ready for them, and rode away in the darkness of night so that none should see them.
They never rested till they reached the land of the Faerie Queene, as Merlin had directed them. There they met with the Knight from Queen Gloriana's court, as we have already seen, with whom they had much pleasant conversation, but especially about the gallant Sir Artegall. When they came at last to the place where they had to part, the Knight and Britomart, who greatly liked each other, promised always to remain true friends, and Britomart then rode on alone with Glaucé in search of Sir Artegall.
What her companion had told her about Artegall made her long all the more to see him, and she fashioned in her mind a thousand thoughts as to what he would be like, picturing him in her fancy everything that was noble and lovable — "wise, warlike, handsome, courteous, and kind." But these thoughts, instead of soothing her sorrow, only made it worse, till it seemed that nothing but death could drive away the pain. So she rode forth, restless and unrefreshed, searching all lands, and every remotest part, with nothing but her love to guide her.