"Yes," said the sheik, fingering his beard nervously. "You told me you were sent to me by a Spirit--I remember it."
"I have no special knowledge," Balthasar continued, observing the dejection which had fallen upon Ben-Hur; "but, my son, I have given the matter much thought--thought continuing through years, inspired by faith, which, I assure you, calling God for witness, is as strong in me now as in the hour I heard the voice of the Spirit calling me by the shore of the lake. If you will listen, I will tell you why I believe the Child is living."
Both Ilderim and Ben-Hur looked assent, and appeared to summon their faculties that they might understand as well as hear. The interest reached the servants, who drew near to the divan, and stood listening. Throughout the tent there was the profoundest silence.
Balthasar bowed his head as he spoke.
"And he is the Truth," he resumed. "His word is God. The hills may turn to dust, and the seas be drunk dry by south winds; but his word shall stand, because it is the Truth."
The utterance was in a manner inexpressibly solemn.
"The voice, which was his, speaking to me by the lake, said, 'Blessed art thou, O son of Mizraim! The Redemption cometh. With two others from the remotenesses of the earth, thou shalt see the Savior.' I have seen the Savior--blessed be his name!--but the Redemption, which was the second part of the promise, is yet to come. Seest thou now? If the Child be dead, there is no agent to bring the Redemption about, and the word is naught, and God--nay, I dare not say it!"
He threw up both hands in horror.