The merchant had no answer.
“Think you now, as I have heard others argue, that what I have told you are tricks of jugglery? Let me answer by recalling greater things which I have seen him do. Look first to that curse of God- comfortless, as you all know, except by death- leprosy.”
At these words Amrah dropped her hands to the floor, and in her eagerness to hear him half arose.
“What would you say,” said Ben-Hur, with increased earnestness- “what would you say to have seen that I now tell you? A leper came to the Nazarene while I was with him down in Galilee, and said, ‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.’ He heard the cry, and touched the outcast with his hand, saying, ‘Be thou clean;’ and forthwith the man was himself again, healthful as any of us who beheld the cure, and we were a multitude.”
Here Amrah arose, and with her gaunt fingers held the wiry locks from her eyes. The brain of the poor creature had long since gone to heart, and she was troubled to follow the speech.
“Then, again,” said Ben-Hur, without stop, “ten lepers came to him one day in a body, and falling at his feet, called out- I saw and heard it all- called out, ‘Master, Master, have mercy upon us!’ He told them, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priest, as the law requires; and before you are come there ye shall be healed.'”
“And were they?”
“Yes. On the road going their infirmity left them, so that there was nothing to remind us of it except their polluted clothes.”
“Such thing was never heard before- never in all Israel!” said Simonides, in undertone.
And then, while he was speaking, Amrah turned away, and walked noiselessly to the door, and went out; and none of the company saw her go.
“The thoughts stirred by such things done under my eyes I leave you to imagine,” said Ben-Hur, continuing; “but my doubts, my misgivings, my amazement, were not yet at the full. The people of Galilee are, as you know, impetuous and rash; after years of waiting their swords burned their hands; nothing would do them but action. ‘He is slow to declare himself; let us force him,’ they cried to me. And I too became impatient. If he is to be king, why not now? The legions are ready. So as he was once teaching by the seaside we would have crowned him whether or not; but he disappeared, and was next seen on a ship departing from the shore. Good Simonides, the desires that make other men mad- riches, power, even kingships offered out of great love by a great people- move this one not at all. What say you?”
The merchant’s chin was low upon his breast; raising his head, he replied, resolutely, “The Lord liveth, and so do the words of the prophets. Time is in the green yet; let to-morrow answer.”