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The Fox and the Stork

The Fox, though in general more inclined to roguery than wit, had once a strong inclination to play a joke on his neighbor the Stork. He accordingly invited her to dinner in great form. When dinner appeared, the meal consisted entirely of different soups that were served up in broad shallow dishes. Because of her long bill, the Stork could only dip the tip inside the shallow bowls and could not possibly eat enough to satisfy her hunger.

While the Fox lapped up the soups, he asked his guest how she enjoyed her meal. “I hope that everything is seasoned to your liking,” said he. “I am sorry to see you eat so sparingly.”

The Stork, perceiving she was the victim of a joke, pretended to like every dish extremely. At parting, she pressed the Fox so earnestly to return her visit, that he could not in civility refuse.

The day arrived, and Fox repaired to his appointment. To his great mortification, when dinner appeared, he found it composed of minced meat served up in long narrow-necked glasses. The glasses were too slim for his muzzle to fit inside; so that the Fox was only tantalized with the sight of what it was impossible for him to taste.

The Stork thrust in her long bill into the narrow glasses and helped herself very plentifully. Then, turning to Fox, who was licking the outside of a jar where some sauce had been spilled, she said: “I am very glad that you have so good an appetite. I hope you will make as hearty a dinner at my table as I did the other day at yours.”

Fox hung down his head and looked very much displeased.

“No, no,” said the Stork, “don’t pretend to be out of humor about the matter. If you cannot take a jest, you should never make one.”

Moral: Do not play a joke on others unless you are ready to have a joke played on yourself.

Citation: Bewick, Thomas, ed. Bewick’s Select Fables. London: Bickers and Son, 1871. Edited by S.E. Schlosser. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work.