Balthasar rubbed his hands tremulously together, and asked, “Where shall I go to see him?”
“The pressure of the crowd will be very great. Better, I think, that you all go upon the roof above the cloisters- say upon the Porch of Solomon.”
“Can you be with us?”
“No,” said Ben-Hur, “my friends will require me, perhaps, in the procession.”
“Procession!” exclaimed Simonides. “Does he travel in state?”
Ben-Hur saw the argument in mind.
“He brings twelve men with him, fishermen, tillers of the soil, one a publican, all of the humbler class; and he and they make their journeys on foot, careless of wind, cold, rain, or sun. Seeing them stop by the wayside at nightfall to break bread or lie down to sleep, I have been reminded of a party of shepherds going back to their flocks from market, not of nobles and kings. Only when he lifts the corners of his handkerchief to look at some’ one or shake the dust from his head, I am made known he is their teacher as well as their companion- their superior not less than their friend.
“You are shrewd men,” Ben-Hur resumed, after a pause. “You know what creatures of certain master motives we are, and that it has become little less than a law of our nature to spend life in eager pursuit of certain objects; now appealing to that law as something by which we may know ourselves, what would you say of a man who could be rich by making gold of the stones under his feet, yet is poor of choice?”
“The Greeks would call him a philosopher,” said Iras.
“Nay, daughter,” said Balthasar, “the philosophers had never the power to do such thing.”
“How know you this man has?”
Ben-Hur answered quickly, “I saw him turn water into wine.”
“Very strange, very strange,” said Simonides; “but it is not so strange to me as that he should prefer to live poor when he could be so rich. Is he poor?” “He owns nothing, and envies nobody his owning. He pities the rich. But passing that, what would you say to see a man multiply seven loaves and two fishes, all his store, into enough to feed five thousand people, and have full baskets over? That I saw the Nazarene do.”
“You saw it?” exclaimed Simonides.
“Ay, and ate of the bread and fish.”
“More marvellous still,” Ben-Hur continued, “what would you say of a man in whom there is such healing virtue that the sick have but to touch the hem of his garment to be cured, or cry to him afar? That, too, I witnessed, not once, but many times. As we came out of Jericho two blind men by the wayside called to the Nazarene, and he touched their eyes, and they saw. So they brought a palsied man to him, and he said merely, ‘Go unto thy house,’ and the man went away well. What say you to these things?”