How Britomart Ended her Quest
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When Britomart, with keen, observant eye, beheld the beautiful face of Artegall, tempered with sternness, strength, and majesty, her mind at once recalled it as the same which in her father's palace she had seen long since in that enchanted mirror. Then her wrathful courage began to falter, and her haughty spirit to grow tame, so that she softly withdrew her uplifted hand.
Yet she tried again to raise it, as if feigning the anger which was now cold, but always when she saw his face, her hand fell down and would no longer hold the weapon against him. Then having tried in vain to fight, she armed her tongue and thought to scold him. Nevertheless, her tongue would not obey her will but, when she would have spoken against him, brought forth mild speeches instead.
Sir Scudamour, glad at heart because he had found all his jealous fears false, now exclaimed jestingly, "Truly, Sir Artegall, I rejoice to see you bow so low, and that you have lived to become a lady's thrall, who formerly were wont to despise them!"
When Britomart heard the name of Artegall, her heart leaped and trembled with sudden joy and secret fear. She flushed deeply and thought to hide her agitation by again feigning her former angry mood.
Then Glaucé began wisely to put all matters right. First, she told both the knights not to marvel any more at the strange part Fate had made Britomart play; then she bade Sir Artegall not to lament because he had been conquered by a woman, for love was the crown of Knighthood; and, lastly, she entreated Britomart to relent the severity of her anger and, wiping out the remembrance of all ill, to grant pardon to Artegall, if he would fulfil the penance she would impose on him. "For lovers' happiness is reached by the path of sorrow," she added.
At this, Britomart blushed, but Sir Artegall smiled to himself and rejoiced in his heart, yet he dared not speak too suddenly of the love he bore her, for her grave and modest face and royal bearing still kept him in awe.
But Scudamour, whose heart hung all this while in suspense between hope and fear, longing to hear some glad and certain news of his Lady Amoret, now addressed Britomart. "Sir, may I ask of you tidings of my love, my Amoret, since you freed her from her long and woeful captivity? Tell me where you left her so that I may seek her, as is fitting."
"Indeed, Sir Knight, what has become of her, or if she has been stolen away, I cannot rightly tell you," replied Britomart. "From the time I freed her from the Enchanter's captivity, I have preserved her from peril and fear, and always kept her from harm, nor was there ever any one whom I loved more dearly, but one day, as we travelled through a desert wild, both being weary, we alighted and sat down in the shadow, where I fearlessly lay down to sleep. When I awoke, I did not find Amoret where I had left her, but thought she had wandered away or got lost. I called her loudly, I sought her near and far, but nowhere could find her, nor hear any tidings of her."
When Scudamour heard this bad news his heart was thrilled with fear, and he stood dazed and silent. Glaucé tried to comfort him, bidding him not give way to needless dread until he was certain what had happened, "for she may yet be safe, though she has wandered away," she said. "It is best to hope the best, though afraid of the worst!"
But he took no heed of her cheerful words, till Britomart said, "You have, indeed, great cause of sorrow, sir, but take comfort, for by the light of heaven I swear not to leave you, dead or living, till I find your Lady, and be avenged on him who stole her!"
With that he was contented.
So, peace being established amongst them all, they took their horses and rode forward to some resting-place, guided by Sir Artegall. Here a hearty welcome greeted them, with daily feasting, both in bower and hall, until their wounds were well healed, and their weary limbs recovered after their late rough usage.
And all the time Sir Artegall and Britomart grew more and more in love with each other, though Britomart did all she could to hide her feeling. But so winningly did Sir Artegall woo her that at last she was obliged to listen to him and to relent. She consented to be his wife, and the marriage took place.
But their happiness was not yet complete. Sir Artegall was all this while bound upon a hard adventure, which had still to be fulfilled, and when a fitting time came, he had to depart on his quest. Poor Britomart would scarcely let him go, though he faithfully promised to return directly he had achieved his task, which would probably take him not longer than three months. With that she had to be appeased for the present, however unhappy she really felt, and early the next morning Sir Artegall started. Britomart went with him for a while on his journey. She could not bear to part from him, but all the way kept trying to find excuses for delay. Many a time she took leave and then again invented something to say, so unwilling was she to lose his company. But at last she could find no further excuse, so, with a sad heart, she left him and returned to Scudamour, whom she had promised to aid in his search for Amoret.
Sir Scudamour and Britomart went back to the desert forest, where the latter had lately lost Amoret. They sought her there and inquired everywhere for tidings, yet found none.
But by what hapless fate or terrible misfortune the Lady Amoret had been conveyed away is too long to tell here. In another story may be read the adventures that befell her after she parted from Britomart.