Previous First Next
"Love hath Eustatio chosen, Fortune thee,
In thy conceit which is the best election?"
"Nay, then, these shifts are vain," replied he,
"These titles false serve thee for no protection,
Thou canst not here for this admitted be
Our fellow-servant, in this sweet subjection."
"And who," quoth Eustace, angry, "dares deny
My fellowship?" Rambaldo answered, "I."
And with that word his cutting sword he drew,
That glittered bright, and sparkled flaming fire;
Upon his foe the other champion flew,
With equal courage, and with equal ire.
The gentle princess, who the danger knew,
Between them stepped, and prayed them both retire.
"Rambald," quoth she, "why should you grudge or plain,
If I a champion, you an helper gain?
"If me you love, why wish you me deprived
In so great need of such a puissant knight?
But welcome Eustace, in good time arrived,
Defender of my state, my life, my right.
I wish my hapless self no longer lived,
When I esteem such good assistance light."
Thus talked they on, and travelled on their way
Their fellowship increasing every day.
From every side they come, yet wist there none
Of others coming or of others' mind,
She welcomes all, and telleth every one,
What joy her thoughts in his arrival find.
But when Duke Godfrey wist his knights were gone,
Within his breast his wiser soul divined
Some hard mishap upon his friends should light,
For which he sighed all day, and wept all night.
A messenger, while thus he mused, drew near,
All soiled with dust and sweat, quite out of breath,
It seemed the man did heavy tidings bear,
Upon his looks sate news of loss and death:
"My lord," quoth he, "so many ships appear
At sea, that Neptune bears the load uneath,
From Egypt come they all, this lets thee weet
William Lord Admiral of the Genoa fleet,
"Besides a convoy coming from the shore
With victual for this noble camp of thine
Surprised was, and lost is all that store,
Mules, horses, camels laden, corn and wine;
Thy servants fought till they could fight no more,
For all were slain or captives made in fine:
The Arabian outlaws them assailed by night,
When least they feared, and least they looked for fight.
"Their frantic boldness doth presume so far,
That many Christians have they falsely slain,
And like a raging flood they spared are,
And overflow each country, field and plain;
Send therefore some strong troops of men of war,
To force them hence, and drive them home again,
And keep the ways between these tents of thine
And those broad seas, the seas of Palestine."
From mouth to mouth the heavy rumor spread
Of these misfortunes, which dispersed wide
Among the soldiers, great amazement bred;
Famine they doubt, and new come foes beside:
The duke, that saw their wonted courage fled,
And in the place thereof weak fear espied,
With merry looks these cheerful words he spake,
To make them heart again and courage take.
"You champions bold, with me that 'scaped have
So many dangers, and such hard assays,
Whom still your God did keep, defend and save
Previous First Next
* * *