To this transformation- for such it may be called quite as properly as a cure- there was a witness other than Amrah. The reader will remember the constancy with which Ben-Hur had followed the Nazarene throughout his wanderings; and now, recalling the conversation of the night before, there will be little surprise at learning that the young Jew was present when the leprous woman appeared in the path of the pilgrims. He heard her prayer, and saw her disfigured face; he heard the answer also, and was not so accustomed to incidents of the kind, frequent as they had been, as to have lost interest in them. Had such thing been possible with him, still the bitter disputation always excited by the simplest display of the Master’s curative gift would have sufficed to keep his curiosity alive. Besides that, if not above it as an incentive, his hope to satisfy himself upon the vexed question of the mission of the mysterious man was still upon him strong as in the beginning; we might indeed say even stronger, because of a belief that now quickly, before the sun went down, the man himself would make all known by public proclamation. At the close of the scene, consequently, Ben-Hur had withdrawn from the procession, and seated himself upon a stone to wait its passage.
From his place he nodded recognition to many of the people- Galileans in his league, carrying short swords under their long abbas. After a little a swarthy Arab came up leading two horses; at a sign from Ben-Hur he also drew out.
“Stay here,” the young master said, when all were gone by, even the laggards. “I wish to be at the city early, and Aldebaran must do me service.”
He stroked the broad forehead of the horse, now in his prime of strength and beauty, then crossed the road towards the two women.
They were to him, it should be borne in mind, strangers in whom he felt interest only as they were subjects of a superhuman experiment, the result of which might possibly help him to solution of the mystery that had so long engaged him. As he proceeded, he glanced casually at the figure of the little woman over by the white rock, standing there, her face hidden in her hands.
“As the Lord liveth, it is Amrah!” he said to himself.
He hurried on, and passing by the mother and daughter, still without recognizing them, he stopped before the servant.
“Amrah,” he said to her, “Amrah, what do you here?”
She rushed forward, and fell upon her knees before him, blinded by her tears, nigh speechless with contending joy and fear.
“O master, master! Thy God and mine, how good he is!”
The knowledge we gain from much sympathy with others passing through trials is but vaguely understood; strangely enough, it enables us, among other things, to merge our identity into theirs often so completely that their sorrows and their delights become our own. So poor Amrah, aloof and hiding her face, knew the transformation the lepers were undergoing without a word spoken to her- knew it, and shared all their feeling to the full. Her countenance, her words, her whole manner, betrayed her condition; and with swift presentiment he connected it with the women he had just passed: he felt her presence there at that time was in some way associated with them, and turned hastily as they arose to their feet. His heart stood still; he became rooted in his tracks- dumb past outcry- awe-struck.