The woman he had seen before the Nazarene was standing with her hands clasped and eyes streaming, looking towards heaven. The mere transformation would have been a sufficient surprise; but it was the least of the causes of his emotion. Could he be mistaken? Never was there in life a stranger so like his mother; and like her as she was the day the Roman snatched her from him. There was but one difference to mar the identity- the hair of this person was a little streaked with grey; yet that was not impossible of reconcilement, since the intelligence which had directed the miracle might have taken into consideration the natural effects of the passage of years. And who was it by her side, if not Tirzah?- fair, beautiful, perfect, more mature, but in all other respects exactly the same in appearance as when she looked with him over the parapet the morning of the accident to Gratus. He had given them over as dead, and time had accustomed him to the bereavement; he had not ceased mourning for them, yet, as something distinguishable, they had simply dropped out of his plans and dreams. Scarcely believing his senses, he laid his hand upon the servant’s head, and asked, tremulously- “Amrah, Amrah- my mother! Tirzah! tell me if I see aright.”
“Speak to them, O master, speak to them!” she said.
He waited no longer, but ran, with outstretched arms, crying, “Mother! mother! Tirzah! Here I am!”
They heard his call, and with a cry as loving started to meet him. Suddenly the mother stopped, drew back, and uttered the old alarm- “Stay, Judah, my son; come not nearer. Unclean, unclean!”
The utterance was not from habit, grown since the dread disease struck her, as much as fear; and the fear was but another form of the ever-thoughtful maternal love. Though they were healed in person, the taint of the scourge might be in their garments ready for communication. He had no such thought. They were before him; he had called them, they had answered. Who or what should keep them from him now? Next moment the three, so long separated, were mingling their tears in each other’s arms.
The first ecstasy over, the mother said, “In this happiness, O my children, let us not be ungrateful. Let us begin life anew by acknowledgment of him to whom we are all so indebted.”
They fell upon their knees, Amrah with the rest; and the prayer of the elder outspoken was as a psalm.
Tirzah repeated it word for word; so did Ben-Hur, but not with the same clear mind and questionless faith; for when they were risen, he asked- “In Nazareth, where the man was born, mother, they call him the son of a carpenter. What is he?”
Her eyes rested upon him with all their old tenderness, and she answered as she had answered the Nazarene himself- “He is the Messiah.”