Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/26

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BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST.

" Hear me, brethren," said the Greek, calming himself with an effort. " The door of my hermitage looks over an arm of the sea, over the Thermaic Gulf. One day I saw a man flung overboard from a ship sailing by. He swam ashore. I received and took care of him. He was a Jew, learned in the history and laws of his people; and from him I came to know that the God of my prayers did indeed exist, and had been for ages their lawmaker, ruler, and king. What was that but the Revelation I dreamed of? My faith had not been fruitless; God answered me!"

" As he does all who cry to him with such faith," said the Hindoo.

" But, alas!" the Egyptian added, " how few are there wise enough to know when he answers them !"

" That was not all," the Greek continued. " The man so sent to me told me more. He said the prophets who, in the ages which followed the first revelation, walked and talked with God, declared he would come again. He gave me the names of the prophets, and from the sacred books quoted their very language. He told me, further, that the second coming was at hand was looked for momentarily in Jerusalem."

The Greek paused, and the brightness of his countenance faded.

" It is true," he said, after a little " it is true the man told me that as God and the revelation of which he spoke had been for the Jews alone, so it would be again. He that was to come should be King of the Jews. Had he nothing for the rest of the world? I asked. No, was the answer, given in a proud voice No, we are his chosen people. The answer did not crush my hope. Why should such a God limit his love and benefaction to one land, and, as it were, to one family? I set my heart upon knowing. At last I broke through the man's pride, and found that his fathers had been merely chosen servants to keep the Truth alive, that the world might at last know it and be saved. When the Jew was gone, and I was alone again, I chastened my soul with a new prayer—that I might be permitted to see the King when he was come, and worship him. One night I sat by the door of my cave trying to