Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/44

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BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST.


Turning from this scene in the lane and court, this glance at the sellers and their commodities, the reader has need to give attention, in the next place, to visitors and buyers, for which the best studies will be found outside the gates, where the spectacle is quite as varied and animated; in deed, it may be more so, for there are superadded the effects of tent, booth, and sook, greater space, larger crowd, more unqualified freedom, and the glory of the Eastern sunshine.


CHAPTER VII.

Let us take our stand by the gate, just out of the edge of the currents—one flowing in, the other out—and use our eyes and ears awhile.

In good time! Here come two men of a most note worthy class.

" Gods! How cold it is !" says one of them, a powerful qgure in armor; on his head a brazen helmet, on his body shining breastplate and skirts of mail. " How cold it is! Dost thou remember, my Caius, that vault in the Comitium at home which the flamens say is the entrance to the low r er world? By Pluto! I could stand there this morning, long enough at least to get warm again !"

The party addressed drops the hood of his military cloak, leaving bare his head and face, and replies, with an ironic smile, " The helmets of the legions which conquered Mark Antony were full of Gallic snow; but thou—ah, my poor friend!—thou hast just come from Egypt, bringing its summer in thy blood."

And with the last word they disappear through the entrance. Though they had been silent, the armor and the sturdy step would have published them Roman soldiers.

From the throng a Jew comes next, meagre of frame, round-shouldered, and wearing a coarse brown robe; over his eyes and face, and down his back, hangs a mat of long, uncombed hair. He is alone. Those who meet him laugh, if they do not worse; for he is a Nazarite, one of a despised