The Fox, though in general more inclined to roguery than wit, had once a strong inclination to play the wag with his neighbour the Stork. He accordingly invited her to dinner in great form; but when it came upon the table the Stork found it consisted entirely of different soups, served up in broad shallow dishes, so that she could only dip in the end of her bill, but could not possibly satisfy her hunger.
The Fox lapped it up very readily, and every now and then, addressing himself to his guest, desired to know how she liked her entertainment; hoped that everything was seasoned to her mind, and protested he was very sorry to see her eat so sparingly. The Stork, perceiving she was played upon, took no notice of it, but pretended to like every dish extremely; and at parting pressed the Fox so earnestly to return her visit, that he could not in civility refuse.
The day arrived, and he repaired to his appointment; but to his great mortification, when dinner appeared, he found it composed of minced meat, served up in long narrow-necked glasses; so that he was only tantalized with the sight of what it was impossible for him to taste.
The Stork thrust in her long bill, and helped herself very plentifully; then turning to Reynard, who was eagerly licking the outside of a jar where some sauce had been spilled.
“I am very glad,” said she, smiling, “that you seem to 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.”
Reynard hung down his head, and looked very much displeased.
“Nay, nay,” said the Stork, “don’t pretend to be out of humour about the matter; they that cannot take a jest should never make one.”
MORAL: We should always reflect, before we rally another, whether we can bear to have the jest retorted.
Fable citation: Bewick, Thomas. Bewick’s Select Fables of Aesop and Others. London: Bickers & Son, 1776. This story is in the public domain and is part of the cited work