Gernando scorns Rinaldo should aspire
To rule that charge for which he seeks and strives,
And slanders him so far, that in his ire
The wronged knight his foe of life deprives:
Far from the camp the slayer doth retire,
Nor lets himself be bound in chains or gyves:
Armide departs content, and from the seas
Godfrey hears news which him and his displease.
While thus Armida false the knights misled
In wandering errors of deceitful love,
And thought, besides the champions promised,
The other lordlings in her aid to move,
In Godfrey's thought a strong contention bred
Who fittest were this hazard great to prove;
For all the worthies of the adventures' band
Were like in birth, in power, in strength of hand.
But first the prince, by grave advice, decreed
They should some knight choose at their own election,
That in his charge Lord Dudon might succeed,
And of that glorious troop should take protection;
So none should grieve, displeased with the deed,
Nor blame the causer of their new subjection:
Besides, Godfredo showed by this device,
How much he held that regiment in price.
He called the worthies then, and spake them so:
"Lordlings, you know I yielded to your will,
And gave you license with this dame to go,
To win her kingdom and that tyrant kill:
But now again I let you further know,
In following her it may betide yon ill;
Refrain therefore, and change this forward thought
For death unsent for, danger comes unsought.
"But if to shun these perils, sought so far,
May seem disgraceful to the place yon hold;
If grave advice and prudent counsel are
Esteemed detractors from your courage bold;
Then know, I none against his will debar,
Nor what I granted erst I now withhold;
But he mine empire, as it ought of right,
Sweet, easy, pleasant, gentle, meek and light.
"Go then or tarry, each as likes him best,
Free power I grant you on this enterprise;
But first in Dudon's place, now laid in chest,
Choose you some other captain stout and wise;
Then ten appoint among the worthiest,
But let no more attempt this hard emprise,
In this my will content you that I have,
For power constrained is but a glorious slave."
Thus Godfrey said, and thus his brother spake,
And answered for himself and all his peers:
"My lord, as well it fitteth thee to make
These wise delays and cast these doubts and fears,
So 'tis our part at first to undertake;
Courage and haste beseems our might and years;
And this proceeding with so grave advice,
Wisdom, in you, in us were cowardice.
"Since then the feat is easy, danger none,
All set in battle and in hardy fight,
Do thou permit the chosen ten to gone
And aid the damsel:" thus devised the knight,
To make men think the sun of honor shone
There where the lamp of Cupid gave the light:
The rest perceive his guile, and it approve,
And call that knighthood which was childish love.
But loving Eustace, that with jealous eye
Beheld the worth of Sophia's noble child,
And his fair shape did secretly envy,
Besides the virtues in his breast compiled,
And, for in love he would no company,
He stored his mouth with speeches smoothly filed,
Drawing his rival to attend his word;
Thus with fair sleight he laid the knight abord:
"Of great Bertoldo thou far greater heir,
Thou star of knighthood, flower of chivalry,
Tell me, who now shall lead this squadron fair,
Since our late guide in marble cold doth lie?
I, that with famous Dudon might compare
In all, but years, hoar locks, and gravity,
To whom should I, Duke Godfrey's brother, yield,
Unless to thee, the Christian army's shield?
"Thee whom high birth makes equal with the best
Thine acts prefer both me and all beforn;
Nor that in fight thou both surpass the rest,
And Godfrey's worthy self, I hold in scorn;
Thee to obey then am I only pressed;
Before these worthies be thine eagle borne;
This honor haply thou esteemest light,
Whose day of glory never yet found night.
"Yet mayest thou further by this means display
The spreading wings of thy immortal fame;
I will procure it, if thou sayest not nay,
And all their wills to thine election frame:
But for I scantly am resolved which way
To bend my force, or where employ the same,
Leave me, I pray, at my discretion free
To help Armida, or serve here with thee."
This last request, for love is evil to hide,
Empurpled both his cheeks with scarlet red;
Rinaldo soon his passions had descried,
And gently smiling turned aside his head,
And, for weak Cupid was too feeble eyed
To strike him sure, the fire in him was dead;
So that of rivals was he naught afraid,
Nor cared he for the journey or the maid.
But in his noble thought revolved he oft
Dudon's high prowess, death and burial,
And how Argantes bore his plumes aloft,
Praising his fortunes for that worthy's fall;
Besides, the knight's sweet words and praises soft
To his due honor did him fitly call,
And made his heart rejoice, for well he knew,
Though much he praised him, all his words were true.
"Degrees," quoth he, "of honors high to hold,
I would them first deserve, and the desire;
And were my valor such as you have told,
Would I for that to higher place aspire:
But if to honors due raise me you would,
I will not of my works refuse the hire;
And much it glads me, that my power and might
Ypraised is by such a valiant knight.
"I neither seek it nor refuse the place,
Which if I get, the praise and thanks be thine."
Eustace, this spoken, hied thence apace
To know which way his fellows' hearts incline:
But Prince Gernando coveted the place,
Whom though Armida sought to undermine,
Gainst him yet vain did all her engines prove,
His pride was such, there was no place for love.
Gernando was the King of Norway's son,
That many a realm and region had to guide,
And for his elders lands and crowns had won.
His heart was puffed up with endless pride:
The other boasts more what himself had done
Than all his ancestors' great acts beside;
Yet his forefathers old before him were
Famous in war and peace five hundred years.
This barbarous prince, who only vainly thought
That bliss in wealth and kingly power doth lie,
And in respect esteemed all virtue naught
Unless it were adorned with titles high,
Could not endure, that to the place he sought
A simple knight should dare to press so nigh;
And in his breast so boiled fell despite,
That ire and wrath exiled reason quite.
The hidden devil, that lies in close await
To win the fort of unbelieving man,
Found entry there, where ire undid the gate,
And in his bosom unperceived ran;
It filled his heart with malice, strife and hate,
It made him rage, blaspheme, swear, curse and ban,
Invisible it still attends him near,
And thus each minute whispereth in his ear.
What, shall Rinaldo match thee? dares he tell
Those idle names of his vain pedigree?
Then let him say, if thee he would excel,
What lands, what realms his tributaries be:
If his forefathers in the graves that dwell,
Were honored like thine that live, let see:
Oh how dares one so mean aspire so high,
Born in that servile country Italy?
Now, if he win, or if he lose the day,
Yet is his praise and glory hence derived,
For that the world will, to his credit, say,
Lo, this is he that with Gernando strived.
The charge some deal thee haply honor may,
That noble Dudon had while here he lived;
But laid on him he would the office shame,
Let it suffice, he durst desire the same.
If when this breath from man's frail body flies
The soul take keep, or know the things done here,
Oh, how looks Dudon from the glorious skies?
What wrath, what anger in his face appear,
On this proud youngling while he bends his eyes,
Marking how high he doth his feathers rear?
Seeing his rash attempt, how soon he dare,
Though but a boy, with his great worth compare.
He dares not only, but he strives and proves,
Where chastisement were fit there wins he praise:
One counsels him, his speech him forward moves;
Another fool approveth all he says:
If Godfrey favor him more than behoves,
Why then he wrongeth thee an hundred ways;
Nor let thy state so far disgraced be,
Now what thou art and canst, let Godfrey see.
With such false words the kindled fire began
To every vein his poisoned heart to reach,
It swelled his scornful heart, and forth it ran
At his proud looks, and too audacious speech;
All that he thought blameworthy in the man,
To his disgrace that would be each where preach;
He termed him proud and vain, his worth in fight
He called fool-hardise, rashness, madness right.
All that in him was rare or excellent,
All that was good, all that was princely found,
With such sharp words as malice could invent,
He blamed, such power has wicked tongue to wound.
The youth, for everywhere those rumors went,
Of these reproaches heard sometimes the sound;
Nor did for that his tongue the fault amend,
Until it brought him to his woful end.
The cursed fiend that set his tongue at large,
Still bred more fancies in his idle brain,
His heart with slanders new did overcharge,
And soothed him still in his angry vein;
Amid the camp a place was broad and large,
Where one fair regiment might easily train;
And there in tilt and harmless tournament
Their days of rest the youths and gallants spent.
There, as his fortune would it should betide,
Amid the press Gernando gan retire,
To vomit out his venom unespied,
Wherewith foul envy did his heart inspire.
Rinaldo heard him as he stood beside,
And as he could not bridle wrath and ire,
"Thou liest," cried he loud, and with that word
About his head he tossed his flaming sword.
Thunder his voice, and lightning seemed his brand,
So fell his look, and furious was his cheer,
Gernando trembled, for he saw at hand
Pale death, and neither help nor comfort near,
Yet for the soldiers all to witness stand
He made proud sign, as though he naught did fear,
But bravely drew his little-helping blade,
And valiant show of strong resistance made.
With that a thousand blades of burnished steel
Glistered on heaps like flames of fire in sight,
Hundreds, that knew not yet the quarrel weel,
Ran thither, some to gaze and some to fight:
The empty air a sound confused did feel
Of murmurs low, and outcries loud on height,
Like rolling waves and Boreas' angry blasts
When roaring seas against the rocks he casts.
But not for this the wronged warrior stayed
His just displeasure and incensed ire,
He cared not what the vulgar did or said,
To vengeance did his courage fierce aspire:
Among the thickest weapons way he made,
His thundering sword made all on heaps retire,
So that of near a thousand stayed not one,
But Prince Gernando bore the brunt alone.
His hand, too quick to execute his wrath,
Performed all, as pleased his eye and heart,
At head and breast oft times he strucken hath,
Now at the right, now at the other part:
On every side thus did he harm and scath,
And oft beguile his sight with nimble art,
That no defence the prince of wounds acquits,
Where least he thinks, or fears, there most he hits.
Nor ceased be, till in Gernando's breast
He sheathed once or twice his furious blade;
Down fell the hapless prince with death oppressed,
A double way to his weak soul was made;
His bloody sword the victor wiped and dressed,
Nor longer by the slaughtered body stayed,
But sped him thence, and soon appeased hath
His hate, his ire, his rancor and his wrath.
Called by the tumult, Godfrey drew him near,
And there beheld a sad and rueful sight,
The signs of death upon his face appear,
With dust and blood his locks were loathly dight,
Sighs and complaints on each side might he hear,
Made for the sudden death of that great knight:
Amazed, he asked who durst and did so much;
For yet he knew not whom the fault would touch.
Arnoldo, minion of the Prince thus slain,
Augments the fault in telling it, and saith,
This Prince murdered, for a quarrel vain,
By young Rinaldo in his desperate wrath,
And with that sword that should Christ's law maintain,
One of Christ's champions bold he killed hath,
And this he did in such a place and hour,
As if he scorned your rule, despised your power.
And further adds, that he deserved death
By law, and law should inviolate,
That none offence could greater be uneath,
And yet the place the fault did aggravate:
If he escapes, that mischief would take breath,
And flourish bold in spite of rule and state;
And that Gernando's friends would venge the wrong,
Although to justice that did first belong,
And by that means, should discord, hate and strife
Raise mutinies, and what therefore ensueth:
Lastly he praised the dead, and still had rife
All words he thought could vengeance move or rut
Against him Tancred argued for life,
With honest reasons to excuse the youth:
The Duke heard all, but with such sober cheer,
As banished hope, and still increased fear.
"Great Prince," quoth Tancred; "set before thine eyes
Rinaldo's worth and courage what it is,
How much our hope of conquest in him lies;
Regard that princely house and race of his;
He that correcteth every fault he spies,
And judgeth all alike, doth all amiss;
For faults, you know, are greater thought or less,
As is the person's self that doth transgress."
Godfredo answered him; "If high and low
Of sovereign power alike should feel the stroke,
Then, Tancred, ill you counsel us, I trow;
If lords should know no law, as erst you spoke,
How vile and base our empire were you know,
If none but slaves and peasants bear the yoke;
Weak is the sceptre and the power is small
That such provisos bring annexed withal.
"But mine was freely given ere 'twas sought,
Nor that it lessened be I now consent;
Right well know I both when and where I ought
To give condign reward and punishment,
Since you are all in like subjection brought,
Both high and low obey, and be content."
This heard, Tancredi wisely stayed his words,
Such weight the sayings have of kings and lords.
Old Raymond praised his speech, for old men think
They ever wisest seem when most severe,
" 'Tis best," quoth he, "to make these great ones shrink,
The people love him whom the nobles fear:
There must the rule to all disorders sink,
Where pardons more than punishments appear;
For feeble is each kingdom, frail and weak,
Unless his basis be this fear I speak."
These words Tancredi heard and pondered well,
And by them wist how Godfrey's thoughts were bent,
Nor list he longer with these old men dwell,
But turned his horse and to Rinaldo went,
Who, when his noble foe death-wounded fell,
Withdrew him softly to his gorgeous tent;
There Tancred found him, and at large declared
The words and speeches sharp which late you heard.
And said, "Although I wot the outward show
Is not true witness of the secret thought,
For that some men so subtle are, I trow,
That what they purpose most appeareth naught;
Yet dare I say Godfredo means, I know,
Such knowledge hath his looks and speeches wrought,
You shall first prisoner be, and then be tried
As he shall deem it good and law provide."
With that a bitter smile well might you see
Rinaldo cast, with scorn and high disdain,
"Let them in fetters plead their cause," quoth he,
"That are base peasants, born of servile stain,
I was free born, I live and will die free
Before these feet be fettered in a chain:
These hands were made to shake sharp spears and swords,
Not to be tied in gyves and twisted cords.
"If my good service reap this recompense,
To be clapt up in close and secret mew,
And as a thief be after dragged from thence,
To suffer punishment as law finds due;
Let Godfrey come or send, I will not hence
Until we know who shall this bargain rue,
That of our tragedy the late done fact
May be the first, and this the second, act.
"Give me mine arms," he cried; his squire them brings,
And clad his head, and dressed in iron strong,
About his neck his silver shield he flings,
Down by his side a cutting sword there hung;
Among this earth's brave lords and mighty kings,
Was none so stout, so fierce, so fair, so young,
God Mars he seemed descending from his sphere,
Or one whose looks could make great Mars to fear.
Tancredi labored with some pleasing speech
His spirits fierce and courage to appease;
"Young Prince, thy valor," thus he gan to preach,
"Can chastise all that do thee wrong, at ease,
I know your virtue can your enemies teach,
That you can venge you when and where you please:
But God forbid this day you lift your arm
To do this camp and us your friends such harm.
"Tell me what will you do? why would you stain
Your noble hands in our unguilty blood?
By wounding Christians, will you again
Pierce Christ, whose parts they are and members good?
Will you destroy us for your glory vain,
Unstayed as rolling waves in ocean flood?
Far be it from you so to prove your strength,
And let your zeal appease your rage at length.
"For God's love stay your heat, and just displeasure,
Appease your wrath, your courage fierce assuage,
Patience, a praise; forbearance, is a treasure;
Suffrance, an angel's is; a monster, rage;
At least you actions by example measure,
And think how I in mine unbridled age
Was wronged, yet I would not revengement take
On all this camp, for one offender's sake.
"Cilicia conquered I, as all men wot,
And there the glorious cross on high I reared,
But Baldwin came, and what I nobly got
Bereft me falsely when I least him feared;
He seemed my friend, and I discovered not
His secret covetise which since appeared;
Yet strive I not to get mine own by fight,
Or civil war, although perchance I might.
"If then you scorn to be in prison pent,
If bonds, as high disgrace, your hands refuse;
Or if your thoughts still to maintain are bent
Your liberty, as men of honor use:
To Antioch what if forthwith you went?
And leave me here your absence to excuse,
There with Prince Boemond live in ease and peace,
Until this storm of Godfrey's anger cease.
"For soon, if forces come from Egypt land,
Or other nations that us here confine,
Godfrey will beaten be with his own wand,
And feel he wants that valor great of thine,
Our camp may seem an arm without a hand,
Amid our troops unless thy eagle shine:"
With that came Guelpho and those words approved,
And prayed him go, if him he feared or loved.
Their speeches soften much the warrior's heart,
And make his wilful thoughts at last relent,
So that he yields, and saith he will depart,
And leave the Christian camp incontinent.
His friends, whose love did never shrink or start,
Preferred their aid, what way soe'er he went:
He thanked them all, but left them all, besides
Two bold and trusty squires, and so he rides.
He rides, revolving in his noble spright
Such haughty thoughts as fill the glorious mind;
On hard adventures was his whole delight,
And now to wondrous acts his will inclined;
Alone against the Pagans would he fight,
And kill their kings from Egypt unto Inde,
From Cynthia's hills and Nilus' unknown spring
He would fetch praise and glorious conquest bring.
But Guelpho, when the prince his leave had take
And now had spurred his courser on his way,
No longer tarriance with the rest would make,
But tastes to find Godfredo, if he may:
Who seeing him approaching, forthwith spake,
"Guelpho," quoth he, "for thee I only stay,
For thee I sent my heralds all about,
In every tent to seek and find thee out."
This said, he softly drew the knight aside
Where none might hear, and then bespake him thus:
"How chanceth it thy nephew's rage and pride,
Makes him so far forget himself and us?
Hardly could I believe what is betide,
A murder done for cause so frivolous,
How I have loved him, thou and all can tell;
But Godfrey loved him but whilst he did well.
"I must provide that every one have right,
That all be heard, each cause be well discussed,
As far from partial love as free from spite,
I hear complaints, yet naught but proves I trust:
Now if Rinaldo weigh our rule too light,
And have the sacred lore of war so brust,
Take you the charge that he before us come
To clear himself and hear our upright dome.
"But let him come withouten bond or chain,
For still my thoughts to do him grace are framed;
But if our power he haply shall disdain,
As well I know his courage yet untamed,
To bring him by persuasion take some pain:
Else, if I prove severe, both you be blamed,
That forced my gentle nature gainst my thought
To rigor, lest our laws return to naught."
Lord Guelpho answered thus: "What heart can bear
Such slanders false, devised by hate and spite?
Or with stayed patience, reproaches hear,
And not revenge by battle or by fight?
The Norway Prince hath bought his folly dear,
But who with words could stay the angry knight?
A fool is he that comes to preach or prate
When men with swords their right and wrong debate.
"And where you wish he should himself submit
To hear the censure of your upright laws;
Alas, that cannot be, for he is flit
Out if this camp, withouten stay or pause,
There take my gage, behold I offer it
To him that first accused him in this cause,
Or any else that dare, and will maintain
That for his pride the prince was justly slain.
"I say with reason Lord Gernando's pride
He hath abated, if he have offended
Gainst your commands, who are his lord and guide,
Oh pardon him, that fault shall be amended."
"If he be gone," quoth Godfrey, "let him ride
And brawl elsewhere, here let all strife be ended:
And you, Lord Guelpho, for your nephew's sake,
Breed us no new, nor quarrels old awake."
This while, the fair and false Armida strived
To get her promised aid in sure possession,
The day to end, with endless plaint she derived;
Wit, beauty, craft for her made intercession:
But when the earth was once of light deprived,
And western seas felt Titan's hot impression,
'Twixt two old knights, and matrons twain she went,
Where pitched was her fair and curious tent.
But this false queen of craft and sly invention, --
Whose looks, love's arrows were; whose eyes his quivers;
Whose beauty matchless, free from reprehension,
A wonder left by Heaven to after-livers, --
Among the Christian lord had bred contention
Who first should quench his flames in Cupid's rivers,
While all her weapons and her darts rehearsed,
Had not Godfredo's constant bosom pierced.
To change his modest thought the dame procureth,
And proffereth heaps of love's enticing treasure:
But as the falcon newly gorged endureth
Her keeper lure her oft, but comes at leisure;
So he, whom fulness of delight assureth
What long repentance comes of love's short pleasure,
Her crafts, her arts, herself and all despiseth,
So base affections fall, when virtue riseth.
And not one foot his steadfast foot was moved
Out of that heavenly path, wherein he paced,
Yet thousand wiles and thousand ways she proved,
To have that castle fair of goodness raised:
She used those looks and smiles that most behoved
To melt the frost which his hard heart embraced,
And gainst his breast a thousand shot she ventured,
Yet was the fort so strong it was not entered.
The dame who thought that one blink of her eye
Could make the chastest heart feel love's sweet pain,
Oh, how her pride abated was hereby!
When all her sleights were void, her crafts were vain,
Some other where she would her forces try,
Where at more ease she might more vantage gain,
As tired soldiers whom some fort keeps out,
Thence raise their siege, and spoil the towns about.
But yet all ways the wily witch could find
Could not Tancredi's heart to loveward move,
His sails were filled with another wind,
He list no blast of new affection prove;
For, as one poison doth exclude by kind
Another's force, so love excludeth love:
These two alone nor more nor less the dame
Could win, the rest all burnt in her sweet flame.
The princess, though her purpose would not frame,
As late she hoped, and as still she would,
Yet, for the lords and knights of greatest name
Became her prey, as erst you heard it told,
She thought, ere truth-revealing time or frame
Bewrayed her act, to lead them to some hold,
Where chains and band she meant to make them prove,
Composed by Vulcan not by gentle love.
The time prefixed at length was come and past,
Which Godfrey had set down to lend her aid,
When at his feet herself to earth she cast,
"The hour is come, my Lord," she humbly said,
"And if the tyrant haply hear at last,
His banished niece hath your assistance prayed,
He will in arms to save his kingdom rise,
So shall we harder make this enterprise.
"Before report can bring the tyrant news,
Or his espials certify their king,
Oh let thy goodness these few champions choose,
That to her kingdom should thy handmaid bring;
Who, except Heaven to aid the right refuse,
Recover shall her crown, from whence shall spring
Thy profit; for betide thee peace or war,
Thine all her cities, all her subjects are."
The captain sage the damsel fair assured,
His word was passed and should not be recanted,
And she with sweet and humble grace endured
To let him point those ten, which late he granted:
But to be one, each one fought and procured,
No suit, no entreaty, intercession wanted;
There envy each at others' love exceeded,
And all importunate made, more than needed.
She that well saw the secret of their hearts,
And knew how best to warm them in their blood,
Against them threw the cursed poisoned darts
Of jealousy, and grief at others' good,
For love she wist was weak without those arts,
And slow; for jealousy is Cupid's food;
For the swift steed runs not so fast alone,
As when some strain, some strive him to outgone.
Her words in such alluring sort she framed,
Her looks enticing, and her wooing smiles,
That every one his fellows' favors blamed,
That of their mistress he received erewhiles:
This foolish crew of lovers unashamed,
Mad with the poison of her secret wiles,
Ran forward still, in this disordered sort,
Nor could Godfredo's bridle rein them short.
He that would satisfy each good desire,
Withouten partial love, of every knight,
Although he swelled with shame, with grief and ire
To see these fellows and these fashions light;
Yet since by no advice they would retire,
Another way he sought to set them right:
"Write all your names," quoth he, "and see whom chance
Of lot, to this exploit will first advance."
Their names were writ, and in an helmet shaken,
While each did fortune's grace and aid implore;
At last they drew them, and the foremost taken
The Earl of Pembroke was, Artemidore,
Doubtless the county thought his bread well baken;
Next Gerrard followed, then with tresses hoar
Old Wenceslaus, that felt Cupid's rage
Now in his doating and his dying age.
Oh how contentment in their foreheads shined!
Their looks with joy; thoughts swelled with secret pleasure,
These three it seemed good success designed
To make the lords of love and beauty's treasure:
Their doubtful fellows at their hap repined,
And with small patience wait Fortune's leisure,
Upon his lips that read the scrolls attending,
As if their lives were on his words depending.
Guasco the fourth, Ridolpho him succeeds,
Then Ulderick whom love list so advance,
Lord William of Ronciglion next he reads,
Then Eberard, and Henry born in France,
Rambaldo last, whom wicked lust so leads
That he forsook his Saviour with mischance;
This wretch the tenth was who was thus deluded,
The rest to their huge grief were all excluded.
O'ercome with envy, wrath and jealousy,
The rest blind Fortune curse, and all her laws,
And mad with love, yet out on love they cry,
That in his kingdom let her judge their cause:
And for man's mind is such, that oft we try
Things most forbidden, without stay or pause,
In spite of fortune purposed many a knight
To follow fair Armida when 'twas night.
To follow her, by night or else by day,
And in her quarrel venture life and limb.
With sighs and tears she gan them softly pray
To keep that promise, when the skies were dim,
To this and that knight did she plain and say,
What grief she felt to part withouten him:
Meanwhile the ten had donned their armor best,
And taken leave of Godfrey and the rest.
The duke advised them every one apart,
How light, how trustless was the Pagan's faith,
And told what policy, what wit, what art,
Avoids deceit, which heedless men betray'th;
His speeches pierce their ear, but not their heart,
Love calls it folly, whatso wisdom saith:
Thus warned he leaves them to their wanton guide,
Who parts that night; such haste had she to ride.
The conqueress departs, and with her led
These prisoners, whom love would captive keep,
The hearts of those she left behind her bled,
With point of sorrow's arrow pierced deep.
But when the night her drowsy mantle spread,
And filled the earth with silence, shade and sleep,
In secret sort then each forsook his tent,
And as blind Cupid led them blind they went.
Eustatio first, who scantly could forbear,
Till friendly night might hide his haste and shame,
He rode in post, and let his breast him bear
As his blind fancy would his journey frame,
All night he wandered and he wist not where;
But with the morning he espied the dame,
That with her guard up from a village rode
Where she and they that night had made abode.
Thither he galloped fast, and drawing near
Rambaldo knew the knight, and loudly cried,
"Whence comes young Eustace, and what seeks he here?"
"I come," quoth he, "to serve the Queen Armide,
If she accept me, would we all were there
Where my good-will and faith might best be tried."
"Who," quoth the other, "choseth thee to prove
This high exploit of hers?" He answered, "Love."
"Love hath Eustatio chosen, Fortune thee,
In thy conceit which is the best election?"
"Nay, then, these shifts are vain," replied he,
"These titles false serve thee for no protection,
Thou canst not here for this admitted be
Our fellow-servant, in this sweet subjection."
"And who," quoth Eustace, angry, "dares deny
My fellowship?" Rambaldo answered, "I."
And with that word his cutting sword he drew,
That glittered bright, and sparkled flaming fire;
Upon his foe the other champion flew,
With equal courage, and with equal ire.
The gentle princess, who the danger knew,
Between them stepped, and prayed them both retire.
"Rambald," quoth she, "why should you grudge or plain,
If I a champion, you an helper gain?
"If me you love, why wish you me deprived
In so great need of such a puissant knight?
But welcome Eustace, in good time arrived,
Defender of my state, my life, my right.
I wish my hapless self no longer lived,
When I esteem such good assistance light."
Thus talked they on, and travelled on their way
Their fellowship increasing every day.
From every side they come, yet wist there none
Of others coming or of others' mind,
She welcomes all, and telleth every one,
What joy her thoughts in his arrival find.
But when Duke Godfrey wist his knights were gone,
Within his breast his wiser soul divined
Some hard mishap upon his friends should light,
For which he sighed all day, and wept all night.
A messenger, while thus he mused, drew near,
All soiled with dust and sweat, quite out of breath,
It seemed the man did heavy tidings bear,
Upon his looks sate news of loss and death:
"My lord," quoth he, "so many ships appear
At sea, that Neptune bears the load uneath,
From Egypt come they all, this lets thee weet
William Lord Admiral of the Genoa fleet,
"Besides a convoy coming from the shore
With victual for this noble camp of thine
Surprised was, and lost is all that store,
Mules, horses, camels laden, corn and wine;
Thy servants fought till they could fight no more,
For all were slain or captives made in fine:
The Arabian outlaws them assailed by night,
When least they feared, and least they looked for fight.
"Their frantic boldness doth presume so far,
That many Christians have they falsely slain,
And like a raging flood they spared are,
And overflow each country, field and plain;
Send therefore some strong troops of men of war,
To force them hence, and drive them home again,
And keep the ways between these tents of thine
And those broad seas, the seas of Palestine."
From mouth to mouth the heavy rumor spread
Of these misfortunes, which dispersed wide
Among the soldiers, great amazement bred;
Famine they doubt, and new come foes beside:
The duke, that saw their wonted courage fled,
And in the place thereof weak fear espied,
With merry looks these cheerful words he spake,
To make them heart again and courage take.
"You champions bold, with me that 'scaped have
So many dangers, and such hard assays,
Whom still your God did keep, defend and save
In all your battles, combats, fights and frays,
You that subdued the Turks and Persians brave,
That thirst and hunger held in scorn always,
And vanquished hills, and seas, with heat and cold,
Shall vain reports appal your courage bold?
"That Lord who helped you out at every need,
When aught befell this glorious camp amiss,
Shall fortune all your actions well to speed,
On whom his mercy large extended is;
Tofore his tomb, when conquering hands you spreed,
With what delight will you remember this?
Be strong therefore, and keep your valors high
To honor, conquest, fame and victory."
Their hopes half dead and courage well-nigh lost,
Revived with these brave speeches of their guide;
But in his breast a thousand cares he tost,
Although his sorrows he could wisely hide;
He studied how to feed that mighty host,
In so great scarceness, and what force provide
He should against the Egyptian warriors sly,
And how subdue those thieves of Araby.