HE WINS WHO WAITS 299
By-and-by a lady came out, and began to gather some of the roses and jessamine that hung about the porch. The twenty years that had passed since he had last beheld her vanished in an instant, and he knew her to be his own wife, looking almost as young and beautiful as on the day of their parting. He was about to jump down from the tree and hasten to her side, when she was joined by a young man who placed his arm affectionately round her neck. At this sight the angry husband drew his bow, but before he could let fly the arrow, the counsel of the wise man came back to him : ' Patience is the first step on the road to happiness.' And he laid it down again.
At this moment the princess turned, and drawing her companion's head down to hers, kissed him on each cheek. A second time blind rage filled the heart of the watcher, and he snatched up his bow from the branch where it hung, when words, heard long since, seemed to sound in his ears :
' He wins who waits.' And the bow dropped to his side. Then, through the silent air came the sound of the youth's voice:
' Mother, can you tell me nothing about my father ? Does he still live, and will he never return to us ?'
' Alas ! my son, how can I answer you ? ' replied the lady. ' Twenty years have passed since he left us to make his fortune, and, in that time, only once have I heard aught of him. But what has brought him to your mind just now ? '
'Because last night I dreamed that he was here,' said the youth, ' and then I remembered what I have so long forgotten, that I had a father, though even his very history was strange to me. And now, tell me, I pray you, all you can concerning him.'
And standing under the jessamine, the son learnt his father's history, and the man in the tree listened also.
' Oh,' exclaimed the youth, when it was ended, while