“It is he, it is he!” Balthasar cried, with upraised tearful eyes. Next moment he sank down insensible.
In this time it should be remembered, Ben-Hur was studying the face of the stranger, though with an interest entirely different. He was not insensible to its purity of feature, and its thoughtfulness, tenderness, humility, and holiness; but just then there was room in his mind for but one thought- Who is this man? And what? Messiah or king? Never was apparition more unroyal. Nay, looking at that calm, benignant countenance, the very idea of war and conquest, and lust of dominion, smote him like a profanation. He said, as if speaking to his own heart, Balthasar must be right and Simonides wrong. This man has not come to rebuild the throne of Solomon; he has neither the nature nor the genius of Herod; king he may be, but not of another and greater than Rome.
It should be understood now that this was not a conclusion with Ben-Hur, but an impression merely; and while it was forming, while yet he gazed at the wonderful countenance, his memory began to throe and struggle. “Surely,” he said to himself, “I have seen the man; but where and when?” That the look, so calm, so pitiful, so loving, had somewhere in a past time beamed upon him as that moment it was beaming upon Balthasar became an assurance. Faintly at first, at last a clear light, a burst of sunshine, the scene by the well at Nazareth that time the Roman guard was dragging him to the galleys returned, and all his being thrilled. Those hands had helped him when he was perishing. The face was one of the pictures he had carried in mind ever since. In the effusion of feeling excited, the explanation of the preacher was lost by him, all but the last words- words so marvellous that the world yet rings with them- ” -this is the SON OF GOD!”
Ben-Hur leaped from his horse to render homage to his benefactor; but Iras cried to him, “Help, son of Hur, help, or my father will die!”
He stopped, looked back, then hurried to her assistance. She gave him a cup; and leaving the slave to bring the camel to its knees, he ran to the river for water. The stranger was gone when he came back.
At last Balthasar was restored to consciousness. Stretching forth his hands, he asked, feebly, “Where is he?”
“Who?” asked Iras.
An intense instant interest shone upon the good man’s face, as if a last wish had been gratified, and he answered- “He- the Redeemer- the Son of God, whom I have seen again.”
“Believest thou so?” Iras asked, in a low voice, of Ben-Hur.
“The time is full of wonders; let us wait,” was all he said.
And next day, while the three were listening to him, the Nazarite broke off in mid-speech, saying reverently, “Behold the Lamb of God!”