There was once an old farmer
who had a mare. One day the mare broke through the fence and ran away. Now you have no horse to pull your plough at planting time, the neighbour said. What bad luck this is.
Good luck, bad luck, replied
the farmer, who knows.
The next week the mare returned
bringing with her two wild stallions.
With three horses you are now
a rich man. The neighbour said, What good fortune this is.
Good fortune, Bad fortune, the
farmer said, who knows?
That afternoon the farmers only
son tried to tame one of the stallions, but he was thrown and broke a leg. Now
you have no one to help the planting, the neighbour said, What bad luck this is.
Good luck, bad luck, the farmer
said, who knows.
The next day the emperors soldiers
rode into town and conscripted the eldest son in every family, but the farmers son was left behind because of his broken leg.
Yours is the only eldest son
in the province who has not been taken from his family, the neighbour said. What
good fortune this is . . . .