“I fear you have made a mistake,” said the wife of the good man when the shadows of evening came and they were alone. “I see the boy can never appreciate the toil of our years. He must return and climb the mount for himself. He has no appreciation of all this accumulation which we have been years in gaining, nor can he have. It is not in the order of life: each must climb the summit himself. A mistake lies in our taking any one in our arms and raising him to the mount.”
“I see it now,” said her husband, who had, like many people, been more kind than wise, and like many foolish parents who injure their offspring by giving them the result of their years of toil.
On the morrow, the youth was sent back. A few years after, the aged man saw him toiling up a steep hill, seeking to make a home of his own. It was a beautiful eminence, and overlooked the fields and woods for miles around.
“He will know the worth and comfort of it,” said the old man to his companion.
“Toil and sacrifice will make it a sweet spot,” she answered; “and after the morning of labor will come the evening of rest.”
They grew side by side. The most casual observer would have said that one was far more beautiful than the other. Its height was not only greater, but its foliage was brighter.
“I should think,” remarked the vine of superior external appearance to the other, “that, for the gardener’s sake, you would try and make a better appearance. I heard him remark this morning that he almost despaired of your ever bearing fruit, or looking even presentable. I am sure we each have the same soil to draw our nourishment from, and one hand to prune away our deformities.”
“I think I can defend myself to the satisfaction of both yourself and the gardener; and if you will listen to me this evening, as I cannot spare any of the moments of the day, I will tell you what labor occupies so much of my time.”
“Both myself and the gardener would be delighted to have an explanation; for it has been a wonder to us both what you can be doing. You certainly have not attained any height, nor put forth foliage of any account for the past year.”
The full-leaved vine spent the day fluttering her leaves in the wind and listening to the praise of passers-by.
“What a difference in these vines!” exclaimed two gentlemen as they walked past the garden.
“Just what every one remarks,” said the good-looking vine to herself; and, raising her head very high in the air, she put forth another shoot. Yet, with all her fullness of conceit and vainglory, she grew very impatient for the hour to arrive when her sister would be at leisure to talk with her.
At sunset, after the gardener had laid his tools away and closed the garden gates for the evening, her sister announced to her that she was ready to explain her strange life for the past year.