Like his father and grandfather before him, the old farmer had worked the crops and livestock since he was a boy. Though he had never travelled, he had learned much from the land and animals, growing accustomed to both the solitude and companionship they had afforded him over the years.
Amongst the town folk, he was known as a kind soul who listened well. As the years passed, and the lines deepened in his face, his words became less. When he spoke, those present were inclined to listen.
One day, late into the season, a prized horse of his ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit.
“Such bad luck,” they said, sympathetically.
“Maybe,” was all he had to say, continuing about his work.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three others, wild as the fields they ran in on.
Seeing this, the neighbours rushed over, ecstatic and joyous, congratulating him. “How wonderful!” they exclaimed.
“Maybe,” was all the old man had to say.
A few days passed, with business about the farm as usual.
One day his son decided he wanted to ride one of the wild horses, setting out without the proper precautions. He was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy at the old farmer’s misfortune.
“Maybe,” came the stoic reply.
The day after, military officials arrived in the village looking to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son of the old farmer’s leg was broken, they passed him by. After they had left, the neighbours congratulated the farmer once again on how well things had turned out.
His only reply, of course, was ‘maybe’.