Malluch nodded his head slowly, much as to admit the argument; then he asked anew, "Did he not recognize you?"
"He could not. I was sent to death in life, and have been long since accounted of the dead."
"I wonder you did not strike him," said Malluch, yielding to a touch of passion.
"That would have been to put him past serving me forever. I would have had to kill him, and Death, you know, keeps secrets better even than a guilty Roman."
The man who, with so much to avenge, could so calmly put such an opportunity aside must be confident of his future or have ready some better design, and Malluch's interest changed with the thought; it ceased to be that of an emissary in duty bound to another. Ben-Hur was actually asserting a claim upon him for his own sake. In other words, Malluch was preparing to serve him with good heart and from downright admiration.
After brief pause, Ben-Hur resumed speaking.
"I would not take his life, good Malluch; against that extreme the possession of the secret is for the present, at least, his safeguard; yet I may punish him, and so you give me help, I will try."
"He is a Roman," said Malluch, without hesitation; "and I am of the tribe of Judah. I will help you. If you choose, put me under oath--under the most solemn oath."