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"No longer then let us protract the time,
But scale the bulwark of this fortress high,
Through sweat and labor gainst those rocks sublime
Let us ascend, which to the southward lie;
Hard will it be that way in arms to climb,
But yet the place and passage both know I,
And that high wall by site strong on that part,
Is least defenced by arms, by work and art.
"Thou, Raymond, on this side with all thy might
Assault the wall, and by those crags ascend,
My squadrons with mine engines huge shall fight
And gainst the northern gate my puissance bend,
That so our foes, beguiled with the sight,
Our greatest force and power shall there attend,
While my great tower from thence shall nimbly slide,
And batter down some worse defended side;
"Camillo, thou not far from me shalt rear
Another tower, close to the walls ybrought."
This spoken, Raymond old, that sate him near,
And while he talked great things tossed in his thought,
Said, "To Godfredo's counsel, given us here,
Naught can be added, from it taken naught:
Yet this I further wish, that some were sent
To spy their camp, their secret and intent,
"That may their number and their squadrons brave
Describe, and through their tents disguised mask."
Quoth Tancred, "Lo, a subtle squire I have,
A person fit to undertake this task,
A man quick, ready, bold, sly to deceive,
To answer, wise, and well advised to ask;
Well languaged, and that with time and place,
Can change his look, his voice, his gait, his grace."
Sent for, he came, and when his lord him told
What Godfrey's pleasure was and what his own,
He smiled and said forthwith he gladly would.
"I go," quoth he, "careless what chance be thrown,
And where encamped be these Pagans bold,
Will walk in every tent a spy unknown,
Their camp even at noon-day I enter shall,
And number all their horse and footmen all;
"How great, how strong, how armed this army is,
And what their guide intends, I will declare,
To me the secrets of that heart of his
And hidden thoughts shall open lie and bare."
Thus Vafrine spoke, nor longer stayed on this,
But for a mantle changed the coat he ware,
Naked was his neck, and bout his forehead bold,
Of linen white full twenty yards he rolled.
His weapons were a Syrian bow and quiver,
His gestures barbarous, like the Turkish train,
Wondered all they that heard his tongue deliver
Of every land the language true and plain:
In Tyre a born Phoenician, by the river
Of Nile a knight bred in the Egyptian main,
Both people would have thought him; forth he rides
On a swift steed, o'er hills and dales that glides.
But ere the third day came the French forth sent
Their pioneers to even the rougher ways,
And ready made each warlike instrument,
Nor aught their labor interrupts or stays;
The nights in busy toll they likewise spent
And with long evenings lengthened forth short days,
Till naught was left the hosts that hinder might
To use their utmost power and strength in fight.
That day, which of the assault the day forerun,
The godly duke in prayer spent well-nigh,
And all the rest, because they had misdone,
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