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"For thee, my country, and my faith to fight,
A dame, a virgin, but a royal maid;
And worthy seems this war a princess hight,
For by the sword the sceptre is upstayed,
This hand can use them both with skill and might,
This hand of mine can strike, and at each blow
Thy foes and ours kill, wound, and overthrow.
"Nor yet suppose this is the foremost day
Wherein to war I bent my noble thought,
But for the surety of thy realms, and stay
Of our religion true, ere this I wrought:
Yourself best know if this be true I say,
Or if my former deeds rejoiced you aught,
When Godfrey's hardy knights and princes strong
I captive took, and held in bondage long.
"I took them, bound them, and so sent them bound
To thee, a noble gift, with whom they had
Condemned low in dungeon under ground
Forever dwelt, in woe and torment sad:
So might thine host an easy way have found
To end this doubtful war, with conquest glad,
Had not Rinaldo fierce my knights all slain,
And set those lords, his friends, at large again.
"Rinaldo is well known," and there a long
And true rehearsal made she of his deeds,
"This is the knight that since hath done me wrong,
Wrong yet untold, that sharp revengement needs:
Displeasure therefore, mixed with reason strong,
This thirst of war in me, this courage breeds;
Nor how he injured me time serves to tell,
Let this suffice, I seek revengement fell,
"And will procure it, for all shafts that fly
Light not in vain; some work the shooter's will,
And Jove's right hand with thunders cast from sky
Takes open vengeance oft for secret ill:
But if some champion dare this knight defy
To mortal battle, and by fight him kill,
And with his hateful head will me present,
That gift my soul shall please, my heart First:
"So please, that for reward enjoy he shall,
The greatest gift I can or may afford,
Myself, my beauty, wealth, and kingdoms all,
To marry him, and take him for my lord,
This promise will I keep whate'er befall,
And thereto bind myself by oath and word:
Now he that deems this purchase worth his pain,
Let him step forth and speak, I none disdain."
While thus the princess said, his hungry eyne
Adrastus fed on her sweet beauty's light,
"The gods forbid," quoth he, "one shaft of thine
Should be discharged gainst that discourteous knight,
His heart unworthy is, shootress divine,
Of thine artillery to feel the might;
To wreak thine ire behold me prest and fit,
I will his head cut off, and bring thee it.
"I will his heart with this sharp sword divide,
And to the vultures cast his carcass out."
Thus threatened he, but Tisapherne envied
To hear his glorious vaunt and boasting stout,
And said, "But who art thou, that so great pride
Thou showest before the king, me, and this rout?
Pardie here are some such, whose worth exceeds
Thy vaunting much yet boast not of their deeds."
The Indian fierce replied, "I am the man
Whose acts his words and boasts have aye surpassed;
But if elsewhere the words thou now began
Had uttered been, that speech had been thy last."
Thus quarrelled they; the monarch stayed them than,
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