"To-day, O most generous sheik, my life was in peril, and would have been lost had not a youth, the counterpart of this one--if, indeed, he be not the very same--intervened when all others fled, and saved me." Then he addressed Ben-Hur directly, "Art thou not he?"
"I cannot answer so far," Ben-Hur replied, with modest deference. "I am he who stopped the horses of the insolent Roman when they were rushing upon thy camel at the Fountain of Castalia. Thy daughter left a cup with me."
From the bosom of his tunic he produced the cup, and gave it to Balthasar.
A glow lighted the faded countenance of the Egyptian.
"The Lord sent thee to me at the Fountain to-day," he said, in a tremulous voice, stretching his hand towards Ben-Hur; "and he sends thee to me now. I give him thanks; and praise him thou, for of his favor I have wherewith to give thee great reward, and I will. The cup is thine; keep it."
Ben-Hur took back the gift, and Balthasar, seeing the inquiry upon Ilderim's face, related the occurrence at the Fountain.
"What!" said the sheik to Ben-Hur. "Thou saidst nothing of this to me, when better recommendation thou couldst not have brought. Am I not an Arab, and sheik of my tribe of tens of thousands? And is not he my guest? And is it not in my guest-bond that the good or evil thou dost him is good or evil done to me? Whither shouldst thou go for reward but here? And whose the hand to give it but mine?"
His voice at the end of the speech rose to cutting shrillness.