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"Too late these 'scuses vain," the knight replied,
"You bring; my will is firm, my mind is set,
! follow you whereso you list me guide,
Or go before if you my purpose let."
This said, they hasted to the palace wide
About their prince where all his lords were met,
Clorinda spoke for both, and said, "Sir king,
Attend my words, hear, and allow the thing:
"Argantes here, this bold and hardy knight,
Will undertake to burn the wondrous tower,
And I with him, only we stay till night
Bury in sleep our foes at deadest hour."
The king with that cast up his hands on height,
The tears for joy upon his cheeks down pour.
"Praised," quoth he, "be Macon whom we serve,
This land I see he keeps and will preserve:
"Nor shall so soon this shaken kingdom fall,
While such unconquered hearts my state defend:
But for this act what praise or guerdon shall
I give your virtues, which so far extend?
Let fame your praises sound through nations all,
And fill the world therewith to either end,
Take half my wealth and kingdom for your meed?
You are rewarded half even with the deed."
Thus spake the prince, and gently 'gan distrain,
Now him, now her, between his friendly arms:
The Soldan by, no longer could refrain
That noble envy which his bosom warms,
"Nor I," quoth he, "bear this broad sword in vain,
Nor yet am unexpert in night alarms,
Take me with you: ah." Quoth Clorinda, "no!
Whom leave we here of prowess if you go?"
This spoken, ready with a proud refuse
Argantes was his proffered aid to scorn,
Whom Aladine prevents, and with excuse
To Solyman thus gan his speeches torn:
"Right noble prince, as aye hath been your use
Your self so still you bear and long have borne,
Bold in all acts, no danger can affright
Your heart, nor tired is your strength with fight.
"If you went forth great things perform you would,
In my conceit yet far unfit it seems
That you, who most excel in courage bold,
At once should leave this town in these extremes,
Nor would I that these twain should leave this hold,
My heart their noble lives far worthier deems,
If this attempt of less importance were,
Or weaker posts so great a weight could bear.
"But for well-guarded is the mighty tower
With hardy troops and squadrons round about,
And cannot harmed be with little power,
Nor fit the time to send whole armies out,
This pair who passed have many a dreadful stowre,
And proffer now to prove this venture stout,
Alone to this attempt let them go forth,
Alone than thousands of more price and worth.
"Thou, as it best beseems a mighty king,
With ready bands besides the gate attend,
That when this couple have performed the thing,
And shall again their footsteps homeward bend,
From their strong foes upon them following
Thou may'st them keep, preserve, save and defend:"
Thus said the king, "The Soldan must consent,"
Silent remained the Turk, and disFirst.
Then Ismen said, "You twain that undertake
This hard attempt, awhile I pray you stay,
Till I a wildfire of fine temper make,
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