“I. A four of Lysippus the Corinthian- two greys, a bay, and a black; entered at Alexandria last year, and again at Corinth, where they were winners. Lysippus, driver. Colour, yellow.

“II. A four of Messala of Rome- two white, two black; victors of the Circensian as exhibited in the Circus Maximus last year. Messala, driver. Colours, scarlet and gold.

“III. A four of Cleanthes the Athenian- three grey, one bay; winners at the Isthmian last year. Cleanthes, driver. Colour, green.

“IV. A four of Dicaeus the Byzantine- two black, one grey, one bay; winners this year at Byzantium. Dicaeus, driver. Colour, black.

“V. A four of Admetus the Sidonian- all greys. Thrice entered at Caesarea, and thrice victors. Admetus, driver. Colour, blue.

“VI. A four of Ilderim, sheik of the Desert. All bays; first race. Ben-Hur, a Jew, driver. Colour, white.

Ben-Hur, a Jew, driver! Why that name instead of Arrius? Ben-Hur raised his eyes to Ilderim. He had found the cause of the Arab’s outcry. Both rushed to the same conclusion.

The hand was the hand of Messala!


CHAPTER XI.

MAKING THE WAGERS.

EVENING was hardly come upon Antioch, when the Omphalus, nearly in the centre of the city, became a troubled fountain from which in every direction, but chiefly down to the Nymphaeum and east and west along the Colonnade of Herod, flowed currents of people, for the time given up to Bacchus and Apollo.

For such indulgence anything more fitting cannot be imagined than the great roofed streets, which were literally miles on miles of porticos wrought of marble, polished to the last degree of finish, and all gifts to the voluptuous city by princes careless of expenditure where, as in this instance, they thought they were eternising themselves. Darkness was not permitted anywhere; and the singing, the laughter, the shouting, were incessant, and in compound like the roar of waters dashing through hollow grots, confused by a multitude of echoes.

The many nationalities represented, though they might have amazed a stranger, were not peculiar to Antioch. Of the various missions of the great empire, one seems to have been the fusion of men and the introduction of strangers to each other; accordingly, whole peoples rose up and went at pleasure, taking with them their costumes, customs, speech, and gods; and where they chose, they stopped, engaged in business, built houses, erected altars, and were what they had been at home.

There was a peculiarity, however, which could not have failed the notice of a looker-on this night in Antioch. Nearly everybody wore the colours of one or other of the charioteers announced for the morrow’s race. Sometimes it was in form of a scarf, sometimes a badge; often a ribbon or a feather. Whatever the form, it signified merely the wearer’s partiality; thus, green published a friend of Cleanthes the Athenian, and black an adherent of the Byzantine. This was according to a custom, old probably as the day of the race of Orestes- a custom, by-the-way, worthy of study as a marvel of history, illustrative of the absurd yet appalling extremities to which men frequently suffer their follies to drag them.