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Their virtue great, which by itself did fly,
Two balls he gave them made of hollow brass,
Wherein enclosed fire, pitch, and brimstone was.
And forth they went, and over dale and hill
They hasted forward with a speedy pace,
Unseen, unmarked, undescried, until
Beside the engine close themselves they place,
New courage there their swelling hearts did fill,
Rage in their breasts, fury shown in their face,
They yearned to blow the fire, and draw the sword.
The watch descried them both, and gave the word.
Silent they passed on, the watch begun
To rear a huge alarm with hideous cries,
Therewith the hardy couple forward run
To execute their valiant enterprise:
So from a cannon or a roaring gun
At once the noise, the flame, and bullet flies,
They run, they give the charge, begin the fray,
And all at once their foes break, spoil and slay.
They passed first through thousand thousand blows,
And then performed their designment bold,
A fiery ball each on the engine throws,
The stuff was dry, the fire took quickly hold,
Furious upon the timber-work it grows,
How it increased cannot well be told,
How it crept up the piece, and how to skies
The burning sparks and towering smoke upflies.
A mass of solid fire burning bright
Rolled up in smouldering fumes, there bursteth out,
And there the blustering winds add strength and might
And gather close the sparsed flames about:
The Frenchmen trembled at the dreadful light,
To arms in haste and fear ran all the rout,
Down fell the piece dreaded so much in war,
Thus what long days do make one hour doth mar.
Two Christian bands this while came to the place
With speedy haste, where they beheld the fire,
Argantes to them cried with scornful grace,
"Your blood shall quench these flames, and quench mine ire:"
This said, the maid and he with sober pace
Drew back, and to the banks themselves retire,
Faster than brooks which falling showers increase
Their foes augment, and faster on them press.
The gilden port was opened, and forth stepped
With all his soldiers bold, the Turkish king,
Ready to aid the two his force he kept,
When fortune should them home with conquest bring,
Over the bars the hardy couple leapt
And after them a band of Christians fling,
Whom Solyman drove back with courage stout,
And shut the gate, but shut Clorinda out.
Alone was she shut forth, for in that hour
Wherein they closed the port, the virgin went,
And full of heat and wrath, her strength and power
Gainst Arimon, that struck her erst, she bent,
She slew the knight, nor Argant in that stowre
Wist of her parting, or her fierce intent,
The fight, the press, the night, and darksome skies
Care from his heart had ta'en, sight from his eyes.
But when appeased was her angry mood,
Her fury calmed, and settled was her head,
She saw the gates were shut, and how she stood
Amid her foes, she held herself for dead;
While none her marked at last she thought it good,
To save her life, some other path to tread,
She feigned her one of them, and close her drew
Amid the press that none her saw or knew:
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