Page:Ben-Hur a tale of the Christ.djvu/74

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Thereupon he made way for the strangers, and they passed the gate. But, before entering the narrow street, Balthasar lingered to say to his friends, u We are sufficiently proclaimed. By midnight the whole city will have heard of us and of our mission. Let us to the khan now."


That evening, before sunset, some women were washing clothes on the upper step of the flight that led down into the basin of the Pool of Siloam. They knelt each before a broad bowl of earthenware. A girl at the foot of the steps kept them supplied with water, and sang while she filled the jar. The song was cheerful, and no doubt lightened their labor. Occasionally they would sit upon their heels, and look up the slope of Ophel, and round to the summit of what is now the Mount of Offence, then faintly glorified by the dying sun.

While they plied their hands, rubbing and wringing the clothes in the bowls, two other women came to them, each with an empty jar upon her shoulder.

" Peace to you," one of the new-comers said.

The laborers paused, sat up, wrung the water from their hands, and returned the salutation.

It is nearly night time to quit."

There is no end to work," was the reply.

But there is a time to rest, and "

To hear what may be passing," interposed another.

What news have you ?"

Then you have not heard 3"

< No."

They say the Christ is born," said the newsmonger, plunging into her story.

It was curious to see the faces of the laborers brighten with interest ; on the other side down came the jars, which, in a moment, were turned into seats for their owners.

" The Christ !" the listeners cried.

" So they say."