BE WINS WHO WAITS 291
needed a man to help him. The widow's son begged that he would take him as a servant, and to this the merchant assented, giving him his whole year's salary beforehand. The young man returned home with the news, and next day bade farewell to his mother and his wife, who were very sad at parting from him.
' Do not forget me while you are absent,' whispered the princess as she flung her arms round his neck ; ' and as you pass by the well which lies near the city gate, stop and greet the old man you will find sitting there. Kiss his hand, and then ask him what counsel he can give you for your journey.'
Then the youth set out, and when he reached the well where the old man was sitting he asked the questions as his wife had bidden him.
' My son,' replied the old man, ' you have done well to come to me, and in return remember three things: u She whom the heart loves, is ever the most beautiful." " Patience is the first step on the road to happiness." "He wins who waits." '
The young man thanked him and went on his way. Next morning early the caravan set out, and before sunset it had arrived at the first halting place, round some wells, where another company of merchants had already encamped. But no rain had fallen for a long while in that rocky country, and both men and beasts wrere parched with thirst. To be sure, there was another well, about half a mile away, where there was always water; but to get it you had to be lowered deep down, and, besides, no one who had ever descended that well had been known to come back.
However, till they could store some water in their bags of goat-skin, the caravans dared not go further into the desert, and on the night of the arrival of the widow's son and his master, the merchants had decided to offer a large reward to anyone who was brave enough to go down into the enchanted well and bring some up.