"Count thyself steward now; or wilt thou have it in writing?"
"Thy word simply is enough; it was so with the father, and I will not more from the son. And now, if the understanding be perfect"--Simonides paused.
"And thou, daughter of Rachel, speak!" said Simonides, lifting her arm from his shoulder.
Esther, left thus alone, stood a moment abashed, her color coming and going; then she went to Ben-Hur, and said, with a womanliness singularly sweet, "I am not better than my mother was; and, as she is gone, I pray you, O my master, let me care for my father."
Ben-Hur took her hand, and led her back to the chair, saying, "Thou art a good child. Have thy will."
Simonides replaced her arm upon his neck, and there was silence for a time in the room.
Simonides looked up, none the less a master.
"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."