An old Chinese farmer had lost his mare, his only horse, having escaped through a broken fence. His neighbor, seeing this, shook his head and said what bad fortune this was. The old farmer only replied, “Could be. Could be.”
The horse returned and brought with her a stallion. His neighbor, seeing the fine horse, remarked what good fortune he had. The farmer replied. “Could be. Could be.”
His son tried to tame the horse, to ride him, but the horse threw him off. His son broke his leg. He would be of no help on the farm. The neighbor said how sorry he was for the old man, that things were bad for him. What bad fortune. “Could be. Could be,” he said.
The general came through the province, looking for men to fight the barbarians to the west, promising the soldiers would return with the spoils of war. But he did not take the old man’s son, as he now walked with a limp. Such terrible fortune, his neighbor said. “Could be. Could be.”
The army was routed, and most of the soldiers killed. The neighbor heard, and, upon seeing the old man said, “What good fortune!” “Could be. Could be,” was all he said.
~Adam Byrn Tritt