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They praised the workmen and their skill unknown,
And on that day two towers they builded more,
Like that which sweet Clorinda burned before.
Yet wholly were not from the Saracines
Their works concealed and their labors hid,
Upon that wall which next the camp confines
They placed spies, who marked all they did:
They saw the ashes wild and squared pines,
How to the tents, trailed from the grove, they slid:
And engines huge they saw, yet could not tell
How they were built, their forms they saw not well.
Their engines eke they reared, and with great art
Repaired each bulwark, turret, port and tower,
And fortified the plain and easy part,
To bide the storm of every warlike stoure,
Till as they thought no sleight or force of Mart
To undermine or scale the same had power;
And false Ismeno gan new balls prepare
Of wicked fire, wild, wondrous, strange and rare.
He mingled brimstone with bitumen fell
Fetched from that lake where Sodom erst did sink,
And from that flood which nine times compassed hell
Some of the liquor hot he brought, I think,
Wherewith the quenchless fire he tempered well,
To make it smoke and flame and deadly stink:
And for his wood cut down, the aged sire
Would thus revengement take with flame and fire.
While thus the camp, and thus the town were bent,
These to assault, these to defend the wall,
A speedy dove through the clear welkin went,
Straight o'er the tents, seen by the soldiers all;
With nimble fans the yielding air she rent,
Nor seemed it that she would alight or fall,
Till she arrived near that besieged town,
Then from the clouds at last she stooped down:
But lo, from whence I nolt, a falcon came,
Armed with crooked bill and talons long,
And twixt the camp and city crossed her game,
That durst nor bide her foe's encounter strong;
But right upon the royal tent down came,
And there, the lords and princes great among,
When the sharp hawk nigh touched her tender head
In Godfrey's lap she fell, with fear half dead:
The duke received her, saved her, and spied,
As he beheld the bird, a wondrous thing,
About her neck a letter close was tied,
By a small thread, and tht under her wing,
He loosed forth the writ and spread it wide,
And read the intent thereof, "To Judah's king,"
Thus said the schedule, "honors high increase,
The Egyptian chieftain wisheth health and peace:
"Fear not, renowned prince, resist, endure
Till the third day, or till the fourth at most,
I come, and your deliverance will procure,
And kill your coward foes and all their host."
This secret in that brief was closed up sure,
Writ in strange language, to the winged post
Given to transport; for in their warlike need
The east such message used, oft with good speed.
The duke let go the captive dove at large,
And she that had his counsel close betrayed,
Traitress to her great Lord, touched not the marge
Of Salem's town, but fled far thence afraid.
The duke before all those which had or charge
Or office high, the letter read, and said:
"See how the goodness of the Lord foreshows
The secret purpose of our crafty foes.
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