The ex-con was finally heading home. He ignored the noisy college kids on the bus and stared out the window until, after a rest stop, a young woman sat down next to him and struck up a conversation. He told her that he’d been in prison for four years and that his wife hadn’t written in three and a half. When he learned that he was being paroled, he wrote again and said he still loved her. He would understand, however, if she never wanted to see him again. To make it easier on both of them, he suggested that his wife use a yellow handkerchief to communicate her feelings. If she wanted him back, she would tie the handkerchief on the old oak tree near their home. If there was no handkerchief, he would stay on the bus and keep going.
Word of the arrangement spread through the bus. As it came into town, the college kids flocked to the windows. When they saw the tree, feverish cheering broke out.