“Is it going to be all right?” asked the king.
“Good? Bad? Who knows?” replied the doctor, and they carried on hunting.
By the time they had returned to the palace, the wound had become infected, and so the king summoned his doctor again. The doctor cleaned the wound, carefully applied some ointment, and then bandaged it.
“Are you sure it’s going to be okay?” asked the king, becoming concerned.
“Good? Bad? Who knows?” replied the doctor again. The king became worried.
The king’s worry was confirmed when, in a few days, the finger was so badly infected that the doctor had to amputate it! The king was so furious with his incompetent doctor that he personally escorted him to the dungeon and threw him in a cell.
“Well, Doctor, how do you like it, being in jail?”
“Being in prison, Sire.. Good? Bad? Who knows?” replied the doctor with a shrug of his shoulders.
“You are insane as well as incompetent!” declared the king and departed.
A few weeks later, when the wound had healed, the king was out hunting again. Chasing an animal, he became separated from the others and ended up lost in the forest. Wandering in the woods, he was captured by the indigenous forest people. It was their holy day, and they had found a sacrifice for their jungle god! They tied the king to a large tree, and their priest began chanting and dancing as the forest people sharpened the sacrificial knife. The priest took the blade and was about to cut the king’s throat when he shouted, “Stop! This man has only nine fingers. He is not perfect enough to sacrifice to our god. Set him free.”
In a few days, the king found his way back to his palace and went straight to the dungeon to say thank you to the wise doctor.
“I thought you were stupid saying all this ‘Good? Bad? Who knows?’ nonsense. Now I know you were right. Losing my finger was good. It saved my life. But it was bad of me to lock you in jail. I’m sorry.”
“What do you mean, Sire? Had you not put me in jail, I would have been there with you on the hunt, and I would have been captured too. And I have all my ten fingers!”
-- Ajahn Brahm