"That was a hymn of the Nile," she answered, "a lament which I sing when I would fancy I smell the breath of the desert, and hear the surge of the dear old river; let me rather give you a piece of the Indian mind. When we get to Alexandria, I will take you to the corner of the street where you can hear it from the daughter of the Ganga, who taught it to me. Kapila, you should know, was one of the most revered of the Hindoo sages."
Then, as if it were a natural mode of expression, she began the song.
"Kapila, Kapila, so young and true, I yearn for a glory like thine, And hail thee from battle to ask anew, Can ever thy Valor be mine?
"Kapila sat on his charger dun, A hero never so grave: 'Who loveth all things hath fear of none, 'Tis love that maketh me brave. A woman gave me her soul one day, The soul of my soul to be alway; Thence came my Valor to me, Go try it--try it--and see.'
"Kapila, Kapila, so old and gray, The queen is calling for me; But ere I go hence, I wish thou wouldst say, How Wisdom first came to thee.
"Kapila stood in his temple door, A priest in eremite guise: 'It did not come as men get their lore, 'Tis faith that maketh me wise. A woman gave me her heart one day, The heart of my heart to be alway; Thence came my Wisdom to me, Go try it--try it--and see.'"
Ben-Hur had not time to express his thanks for the song before the keel of the boat grated upon the underlying sand, and, next moment, the bow ran upon the shore.
"A quick voyage, O Egypt!" he cried.