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The Old Man Who Lost His Horse

Percy Wakefield was born in 1891. In 1910 he moved to Derby and got a job working with horse at the midland Railway depot.

At the out break of the First World War, he volunteered to enlist but was rejected by the Army, again, as unfit. He was reported to have a 'weak heart'. Frustrated at being rejected again, he volunteered to become a railway ambulance man. His duties included unloading the wounded off the specially-built ambulance trains that arrived at Derby station. These trains arrived at night so as not to draw attention to the dreadful carnage they contained. He transported these poor souls to hospitals and nursing homes around the county. He was very moved by the suffering he saw and became grateful to the medical board that had declared him 'unfit'.

Percy retired from the railway in 1963 and had an active retirement enjoying his garden and reading just about anything he could get his hands on. He lived in the same house and remained fit and strong until his death at age of 95 in 1986 - he just wore out - so much for his weak heart!

This story reminds me of a Chinese story, "the old man who lost his horse":

There was once an old man who lived with his only son at the border of the state. They were fond of horses and often let them graze freely in the meadow.

One time a servant reported to the old man, "A horse is missing! It must have gone into the neighbouring state."

His friends felt sorry for him, but the old man was not bothered at all by the loss. As a matter of fact, he said, "Who knows! The loss may bring us good fortune!" a few months later, a strange thing happened. Not only did the missing horse return home safely, it also brought back with it a fine horse from the neighbouring state.

When his friends heard the new, they congratulated the old man on his good luck. But the old man said, "Who knows! This may bring us ill fortune!" One day, when the old man's son was riding the fine horse, he accidentally fell off the horse, broke his leg, and was crippled.

Many friends came to comfort the old man, but the old man was not the least disturbed by the accident. "Who knows! This may bring us good fortune after all!" he said.

A year later, when the neighbouring state sent troops across the border, all the young and strong men were drafted to fight the invaders, and most of them got killed. The old man's son was not drafted because he was crippled and so his life was spared.

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