Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/121

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115
BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST.

the Temple, an apparition of gold in the blue of the sky. These, however, were familiar objects, and they received but a glance; upon the edge of the divan, close by him, a girl scarcely fifteen sat singing to the accompaniment of a nebel, which she rested upon her knee, and touched gracefully. To her he turned listening; and this was what she sang:

THE SONG.

"Wake not, but hear me, love!
Adrift, adrift on slumber’s sea,
Thy spirit call to list to me.
Wake not, but hear me, love!
A gift from Sleep, the restful king,
All happy, happy dreams I bring.

"Wake not, but hear me, love!
Of all the world of dreams 'tis thine
This once to choose the most divine.
So choose, and sleep, my love!
But ne’er again in choice be free,
Unless, unless—thou dream'st of me."

She put the instrument down, and, resting her hands in her lap, waited for him to speak. And as it has become necessary to tell somewhat of her, we will avail ourselves of the chance, and add such particulars of the family into whose privacy we are brought as the reader may wish to know.

The favors of Herod had left surviving him many persons of vast estate. Where this fortune was joined to undoubted lineal descent from some famous son of one of the tribes, especially Judah, the happy individual was accounted a Prince of Jerusalem—a distinction which sufficed to bring him the homage of his less favored countrymen, and the respect, if nothing more, of the Gentiles with whom business and social circumstance brought him into dealing. Of this class none had won in private or public life a higher regard than the father of the lad whom we have been following. With a remembrance of his nationality which never failed him, he had yet been true to the king, and served him faithfully at home and abroad. Some offices had taken him to Rome, where his conduct attracted the notice of Augustus, who strove without reserve to engage his friendship. In his