One day, an old man living on the frontier lost one of his mares. All his neighbors felt sorry for him and came to console him, but the old man was not in the least disheartened. “Well,” he said, “I don’t care much about it. Who can say that it is not for good also?”
A few days later the mare returned, accompanied by a fine wild horse. The neighbors were surprised and came to congratulate him full of praise of the horse. The old man showed no sign of happiness. “Joy often begets sorrow,” he said, “so who cannot tell if this won’t turn out to be a bad thing?”
The old man’s teenage son was very fond of riding, and the wild horse was a great temptation to him. Every day he took particular interest in trying to break the wild horse. He was eventually thrown off the horse and broke one of his legs. The neighbors came to lament the young man’s misfortunes, but the old man shook his head and said philosophically “Well, don’t mind it too much. We know good and bad fortune often lurk within each other. So can you determine if it isn’t a blessing in disguise?”
Not long afterwards, invaders attacked the country. All the young people on the frontier were summoned to join the army. The fight was very fierce and most of the young men laid down their lives on the battlefields. However, because of his broken leg, the old man’s son was allowed to stay at home.