"Esther," he said, quietly, "the night is going fast; and, lest we become too weary for that which is before us, let the refreshments be brought."
She rang a bell. A servant answered with wine and bread, which she bore round.
"The understanding, good my master," continued Simonides, when all were served, "is not perfect in my sight. Henceforth our lives will run on together like rivers which have met and joined their waters. I think their flowing will be better if every cloud is blown from the sky above them. You left my door the other day with what seemed a denial of the claims which I have just allowed in the broadest terms; but it was not so, indeed it was not. Esther is witness that I recognized you; and that I did not abandon you, let Malluch say."
"One bound to a chair, like me, must have many hands far-reaching, if he would move the world from which he is so cruelly barred. I have many such, and Malluch is one of the best of them. And, sometimes"-- he cast a grateful glance at the sheik--"sometimes I borrow from others good of heart, like Ilderim the Generous--good and brave. Let him say if I either denied or forgot you."
"This is he, good Ilderim, this is he who told you of me?"
Ilderim's eyes twinkled as he nodded his answer.
"How, O my master," said Simonides, "may we without trial tell what a man is? I knew you; I saw your father in you; but the kind of man you were I did not know. There are people to whom fortune is a curse in disguise. Were you of them? I sent Malluch to find out for me, and in the service he was my eyes and ears. Do not blame him. He brought me report of you which was all good."
"I do not," said Ben-Hur, heartily. "There was wisdom in your goodness."