Ben-Hur turned to Thord.
“Ha! What! By the beard of Irmin!” the latter cried, in astonishment, rising to a sitting posture. Then he laughed.
“Ha, ha, ha! I could not have done it better myself.”
He viewed Ben-Hur coolly from head to foot, and, rising, faced him with undisguised admiration.
“It was my trick- the trick I have practised for ten years in the schools of Rome. You are not a Jew. Who are you?”
“You knew Arrius the duumvir.”
“Quintus Arrius? Yes, he was my patron.”
“He had a son.”
“Yes,” said Thord, his battered features lighting dully, “I knew the boy; he would have made a king gladiator. Caesar offered him his patronage. I taught him the very trick you played on this one here- a trick impossible except to a hand and arm like mine. It has won me many a crown.”
“I am that son of Arrius.”
Thord drew nearer, and viewed him carefully; then his eyes brightened with genuine pleasure, and, laughing, he held out his hand.
“Ha, ha, ha! He told me I would find a Jew here- a Jew- a dog of a Jew- killing whom was serving the gods.”
“Who told you so?” asked Ben-Hur, taking the hand.
“He- Messala- ha, ha, ha!”
“I thought he was hurt.”
“He will never walk again. On his bed he told me between groans.”
A very vivid portrayal of hate in a few words; and Ben-Hur saw that the Roman, if he lived, would still be capable and dangerous, and follow him unrelentingly. Revenge remained to sweeten the ruined life; therefore the clinging to fortune lost in the wager with Sanballat. Ben-Hur ran the ground over, with a distinct foresight of the many ways in which it would be possible for his enemy to interfere with him in the work he had undertaken for the King who was coming. Why not he resort to the Roman’s methods? The man hired to kill him could be hired to strike back. It was in his power to offer higher wages. The temptation was strong; and, half yielding, he chanced to look down at his late antagonist lying still, with white upturned face, so like himself. A light came to him, and he asked, “Thord, what was Messala to give you for killing me?”
“A thousand sestertii.”
“You shall have them yet; and so you do now what I tell you, I will add three thousand more to the sum.”
The giant reflected aloud- “I won five thousand yesterday; from the Roman one- six. Give me four, good Arrius- four more- and I will stand firm for you, though old Thor, my namesake, strike me with his hammer. Make it four, and I will kill the lying patrician, if you say so. I have only to cover his mouth with my hand- thus.”