Once upon a time in far off China, there lived a farmer who had only one son — one precious heir to whom he would leave his small property. The farmer also had one horse. One day this horse managed to get out of his corral and ran off.
“Such bad luck!” the neighbors said to the man.
“Don’t speak too soon,” said the farmer. “How can you know if this is really bad luck?”
The neighbors were really surprised the next evening when the horse showed up with a dozen other wild horses following him. He led them into the corral and the farmer’s son quickly ran and shut the gate.
When they saw that he now had thirteen horses the neighbors congratulated the farmer. “This is such good luck for you!”
“Don’t speak too soon,” said the wise farmer. “How do you know this is going to be a good thing for us?”
Some days later the son attempted to ride one of the new horses, but the wild stallion would have none of it. He bucked frantically and the young man fell off, breaking his leg.
Neighbors shook their heads when they saw the injured son. “You were right, old man. This has been very bad luck.”
“Don’t speak too soon,” the old man calmly repeated. “How can you be sure of that?”
A few days later a local warlord came through the village and ordered all the able-bodied young men to come with him to help fight in his war. But when he saw the farmer’s son hobbling along, he shook his head. “This boys is of no use to me.”
So the farmer’s son was left behind because of his broken leg. The other young men who were forced to accompany the warlord in his conflict were never seen again. The farmer and his son rejoiced over the “bad luck” that turned out to be their biggest blessing.