And still Ben-Hur’s eyes climbed on and up- up over the roof of the Temple, to the hill of Zion, consecrated to sacred memories, inseparable from the anointed kings. He knew the Cheesemonger’s Valley dipped deep down between Moriah and Zion; that it was spanned by the Xystus; that there were gardens and palaces in its depths; but over them all his thoughts soared with his vision to the great grouping on the royal hill- the house of Caiaphas, the Central Synagogue, the Roman Praetorium, Hippicus the eternal, and the sad but mighty cenotaphs Phasaelus and Mariamne- all relieved against Gareb, purpling, in the distance. And when midst them he singled out the palace of Herod, what could he but think of the King Who Was Coming, to whom he was himself devoted, whose path he had undertaken to smooth, whose empty hands he dreamed of filling? And forward ran his fancy to the day the new King should come to claim his own and take possession of it- of Moriah and its Temple; of Zion and its towers and palaces; of Antonia, frowning darkly there just to the right of the Temple; of the new unwalled city of Bezetha; of the millions of Israel to assemble with palm-branches and banners, to sing rejoicing because the Lord had conquered and given them the world.
Men speak of dreaming as if it were a phenomenon of night and sleep. They should know better. All results achieved by us are self-promised, and all self-promises are made in dreams awake. Dreaming is the relief of labour, the wine that sustains us in act. We learn to love labour, not for itself, but for the opportunity it furnishes for dreaming, which is the great under-monotone of real life, unheard, unnoticed, because of its constancy’ Living is dreaming. Only in the grave are there no dreams. Let no one smile at Ben-Hur for doing that which he himself would have done at that time and place under the same circumstances.
The sun stooped low in its course. Awhile the flaring disc seemed to perch itself on the far summit of the mountains in the west, brazening all the sky above the city, and rimming the walls and towers with the brightness of gold. Then it disappeared as with a plunge. The quiet turned Ben-Hur’s thought homeward. There was a point in the sky a little north of the peerless front of the Holy of Holies upon which he fixed his gaze: under it, straight as a lead-line would have dropped, lay his father’s house, if yet the house endured.
The mellowing influences of the evening mellowed his feelings, and, putting his ambitions aside, he thought of the duty that was bringing him to Jerusalem.
Out in the desert while with Ilderim, looking for strong places and acquainting himself with it generally, as a soldier studies a country in which he has projected a campaign, a messenger came one evening with the news that Gratus was removed, and Pontius Pilate sent to take his place.