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But when they went to combat hand for hand,
He bade them stay behind, and they obeyed,
But came to seek him now, so long he stayed.
Besides them, many followed that enquest,
But these alone found out the rightest way,
Upon their friendly arms the men addressed
A seat whereon he sat, he leaned, he lay:
Quoth Tancred, "Shall the strong Circassian rest
In this broad field, for wolves and crows a prey?
Ah no, defraud not you that champion brave
Of his just praise, of his due tomb and grave:
"With his dead bones no longer war have I,
Boldly he died and nobly was he slain,
Then let us not that honor him deny
Which after death alonely doth remain:"
The Pagan dead they lifted up on high,
And after Tancred bore him through the plain.
Close by the virgin chaste did Vafrine ride,
As he that was her squire, her guard, her guide.
"Not home," quoth Tancred, "to my wonted tent,
But bear me to this royal town, I pray,
That if cut short by human accident
I die, there I may see my latest day,
The place where Christ upon his cross was rent
To heaven perchance may easier make the way,
And ere I yield to Death's and Fortune's rage,
Performed shall be my vow and pilgrimage."
Thus to the city was Tancredi borne,
And fell on sleep, laid on a bed of down.
Vafrino where the damsel might sojourn
A chamber got, close, secret, near his own;
That done he came the mighty duke beforn,
And entrance found, for till his news were known,
Naught was concluded mongst those knights and lords,
Their counsel hung on his report and words.
Where weak and weary wounded Raymond laid,
Godfrey was set upon his couch's side,
And round about the man a ring was made
Of lords and knights that filled the chamber wide;
There while the squire his late discovery said,
To break his talk, none answered, none replied,
"My lord," he said, "at your command I went
And viewed their camp, each cabin, booth and tent;
"But of that mighty host the number true
Expect not that I can or should descry,
All covered with their armies might you view
The fields, the plains, the dales and mountains high,
I saw what way soe'er they went and drew,
They spoiled the land, drunk floods and fountains dry,
For not whole Jordan could have given them drink,
Nor all the grain in Syria, bread, I think.
"But yet amongst them many bands are found
Both horse and foot, of little force and might,
That keep no order, know no trumpet's sound,
That draw no sword, but far off shoot and fight,
But yet the Persian army doth abound
With many a footman strong and hardy knight,
So doth the King's own troop which all is framed
Of soldiers old, the Immortal Squadron named.
"Immortal called is that band of right,
For of that number never wanteth one,
But in his empty place some other knight
Steps in, when any man is dead or gone:
This army's leader Emireno hight,
Like whom in wit and strength are few or none,
Who hath in charge in plain and pitched field,
To fight with you, to make you fly or yield.
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