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Though not your champion, yet a private knight,
I will some Christian prove in single fight."
The king replied, "Though thy force and might
Should be reserved to better time and use;
Yet that thou challenge some renowned knight,
Among the Christians bold I not refuse."
The warrior breathing out desire of fight,
An herald called, and said, "Go tell those news
To Godfrey's self, and to the western lords,
And in their hearings boldly say these words:
"Say that a knight, who holds in great disdain
To be thus closed up in secret new,
Will with his sword in open field maintain,
If any dare deny his words for true,
That no devotion, as they falsely feign,
Hath moved the French these countries to subdue;
But vile ambition, and pride's hateful vice,
Desire of rule, and spoil, and covetice.
"And that to fight I am not only prest
With one or two that dare defend the cause,
But come the fourth or fifth, come all the rest,
Come all that will, and all that weapon draws,
Let him that yields obey the victor's hest,
As wills the lore of mighty Mars his laws:"
This was the challenge that fierce Pagan sent,
The herald donned his coat-of-arms, and went.
And when the man before the presence came
Of princely Godfrey, and his captains bold:
"My Lord," quoth he, "may I withouten blame
Before your Grace, my message brave unfold?"
"Thou mayest," he answered, "we approve the same;
Withouten fear, be thine ambassage told."
"Then," quoth the herald, "shall your highness see,
If this ambassage sharp or pleasing be."
The challenge gan he then at large expose,
With mighty threats, high terms and glorious words;
On every side an angry murmur rose,
To wrath so moved were the knights and lords.
Then Godfrey spake, and said, "The man hath chose
An hard exploit, but when he feels our swords,
I tt we shall so far entreat the knight,
As to excuse the fourth or fifth of fight.
"But let him come and prove, the field I grant,
Nor wrong nor treason let him doubt or fear,
Some here shall pay him for his glorious vaunt,
Without or guile, or vantage, that I swear.
The herald turned when he had ended scant,
And hasted back the way he came whileare,
Nor stayed he aught, nor once forslowed his pace,
Till he bespake Argantes face to face.
"Arm you, my lord," he said, "your bold defies
By your brave foes accepted boldly been,
This combat neither high nor low denies,
Ten thousand wish to meet you on the green;
A thousand frowned with angry flaming eyes,
And shaked for rage their swords and weapons keen;
The field is safely granted by their guide,"
This said, the champion for his armor cried.
While he was armed, his heart for ire nigh brake,
So yearned his courage hot his foes to find:
The King to fair Clorinda present spake;
"If he go forth, remain not you behind,
But of our soldiers best a thousand take,
To guard his person and your own assigned;
Yet let him meet alone the Christian knight,
And stand yourself aloof, while they two fight."
Thus spake the King, and soon without abode
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