"The Messala will drive," he said, directly. "He is committed to the race in many ways--by publication in the streets, and in the baths and theaters, the palace and barracks; and, to fix him past retreat, his name is on the tablets of every young spendthrift in Antioch."
"Yes, in wager; and every day he comes ostentatiously to practise, as you saw him."
"Ah! and that is the chariot, and those the horses, with which he will make the race? Thank you, thank you, Malluch! You have served me well already. I am satisfied. Now be my guide to the Orchard of Palms, and give me introduction to Sheik Ilderim the Generous."
"To-day. His horses may be engaged to-morrow."
Ben-Hur answered with animation,
"I saw them from the stand an instant only, for Messala then drove up, and I might not look at anything else; yet I recognized them as of the blood which is the wonder as well as the glory of the deserts. I never saw the kind before, except in the stables of Caesar; but once seen, they are always to be known. To-morrow, upon meeting, I will know you, Malluch, though you do not so much as salute me; I will know you by your face, by your form, by your manner; and by the same signs I will know them, and with the same certainty. If all that is said of them be true, and I can bring their spirit under control of mine, I can--"
"Win the sestertii!" said Malluch, laughing.
"No," answered Ben-Hur, as quickly. "I will do what better becomes a man born to the heritage of Jacob--I will humble mine enemy in a most public place. But," he added, impatiently, "we are losing time. How can we most quickly reach the tents of the sheik?"