There once was a poor old man who owned a beautiful white horse.
Whenever noblemen passed through the village, they always noticed the horse and offered handsome sums of money for
the stallion. But the old man always declined their offers, saying, "This horse is my friend. How can I sell my friend?"
One morning the old man awoke to find the horse was gone. The village people gathered and said, "Old man you were
a fool not to sell the horse. You could have been wealthy! Now it has been stolen, and you have nothing. It is a great misfortune!"
But the old man replied, "Don't go so far as to say that. Whether the horse was stolen or not, or whether it is a misfortune
or a blessing, is unknown. All we know is that the horse is not in the stable."
Some days later the horse returned, bringing with it several beautiful wild mares. Again the village people gathered,
and they said, "Old man you were right! The horse was not stolen, and it was not a misfortune. It was a blessing, and now
you have many fine horses!" But the old man replied, "Again you go too far. Don't say it's a good thing, don't say it's a
bad thing. Just say the horse is back. Whether it is a blessing or a misfortune is unknown."
Some days later the old man's only son began to train the wild mares, but he was thrown and trampled, and one of
his legs was badly broken. Again the village people gathered. "Oh old man, you were right! It was not a blessing but a great
misfortune, and now your only son is lame! With a sigh the old man replied, "Don't say it's a good thing, don't say it's a
bad thing, just say my son has broken his leg. Whether it is a blessing or a misfortune is unknown."
It happened that a few weeks later the country went to war, and all the able bodied young men were forcibly taken
for the military. Only the old man's son was passed over, because he was crippled. The whole village was crying and weeping,
for they believed their sons would probably be killed and never come home to them. In their grief they came to the old man
and said, "You were right old man, your son's injury has proven to be a blessing. Your son may be crippled, but he is with
you, while our sons are gone forever! The old man simply shook his head and said, "Will you never learn? Only say that your
sons have been forced into the military and my son has not. More than that is not known."
to Catherine Marie Heath