"I am thy most willing servant!"
Ben-Hur turned about to do the favor, and was face to face with Messala. Their glances met; the Jew's defiant; the Roman's sparkling with humor.
"O stranger, beautiful as cruel!" Messala said, waving his hand to her. "If Apollo get thee not, thou shalt see me again. Not knowing thy country, I cannot name a god to commend thee to; so, by all the gods, I will commend thee to--myself!"
Seeing that Myrtilus had the four composed and ready, he returned to the chariot. The woman looked after him as he moved away, and whatever else there was in her look, there was no displeasure. Presently she received the water; her father drank; then she raised the cup to her lips, and, leaning down, gave it to Ben-Hur; never action more graceful and gracious.
"Keep it, we pray of thee! It is full of blessings--all thine!"
Immediately the camel was aroused, and on his feet, and about to go, when the old man called,
Ben-Hur went to him respectfully.
"Thou hast served the stranger well to-day. There is but one God. In his holy name I thank thee. I am Balthasar, the Egyptian. In the Great Orchard of Palms, beyond the village of Daphne, in the shade of the palms, Sheik Ilderim the Generous abideth in his tents, and we are his guests. Seek us there. Thou shalt have welcome sweet with the savor of the grateful."