The Fox and the Stork

In ancient Greece, as fables tell,
A Stork and Fox did neighbors dwell.
They were good friends, as friendship goes;
Although upon each other's toes
They often trod, yet I must say,
'Twas always in a friendly way,
One day, the Fox in language fine,
Invited Mistress Stork to dine.
Upon the grass, beneath the shade,
An overhanging ilex made;
In delicate, and rich array,
The dinner hot, and smoking lay.
Then Master Fox, the cunning elf,
Bade Mistress Stork, "to help herself."
The Fox was hungry, and the Stork,
Could play a lively knife and fork;
But now, to her intense dismay,
Could not exactly see the way;
For soup in shallow dishes there,
Composed alone the bill of fare!
And Mistress Stork with slender bill,
Had much ado, her beak to fill;
Could hardly get a single drop,
To ease her hungry, empty crop; -
While Master Fox, snuffed up the breeze,
And lapped the toothsome soup with ease.
Then with a sigh of deep content,
A look on Mistress Stork he bent;
Lay back upon the grass beneath,
And sweetly smiling, picked his teeth.
Now Mistress Stork was cunning too:
And did not make a great to-do,
But smiling at the Fox's prank,
Arose, the wicked rogue to thank.
She said with look and voice serene,
And all the grandeur of a Queen;
"Dear Master Fox, politeness true,
I'm sure, is only found in you;
Thanks for your courtesy so rare,
And for your rich, and dainty fare.
To-morrow, will my birthday be,
And you must come, and dine with me.
To me, indeed, you're like a brother,
And one good turn deserves another."
Then pluming with a stately grace,
Her snowy feathers, - left the place.
The morrow came, a lovely day;
And Master Fox, in grand array;
Attired in many a gorgeous hue,
With jacket red, and trousers blue;
And dainty tread, and full of talk,
Arrived to dine, with Mistress Stork.
She led him to a sculptured stone,
Part of a temple overthrown;
The fragment of an ancient shrine,
Where Gods of old, were wont to dine.
And soon, a modest Rabbit maid,
Upon the stone, the dinner laid.
But what has come to Reynard now,
And why that cloud upon his brow?
With haggard eyes - upon the stone,
He sees - all lovely - but alone!
With slender neck of wondrous grace,
A noble, pure Etruscan vase!
Then bending low her graceful head,
Sweet Mistress Stork to Reynard said:
"Dear friend, sit by, and eat I pray.
Your appetite seems poor to-day.
I'm sure that what you eat with me
With you can never disagree.
I know, 'tis modesty alone,
That makes you gnaw that nasty bone;"
(A bone, the wretched Fox had found,
Picked clean, and bare, upon the ground.)
"Come now, be sociable and gay,
And eat as you did yesterday."
This said - she dipped her slender bill,
Deep in the vase, and ate her fill;
One eye on Master Fox the while,
Who watched her with a hungry smile;
And licked the crumbs of meat that fell,
Where Mistress Stork had dined so well.
And now the Fox, with smile and bow,
And stomach void, and humble brow;
Got up to take his leave at last,
And go where he could break his fast.
"Dear friend," said he, "I own with shame,
That I have sadly been to blame;
The silly joke, I thought to play,
You have repaid me well to-day.
All empty home, I justly go,
And how it feels, you've made me know.
When next, you dine with me, you'll find,
The dinner strictly to your mind.
For every one, is like to mend,
Who gets as good, as he does send;
And jokers, cannot well complain,
If jokes are played on them again."
So saying - Reynard, faint and pale,
Went sadly off with drooping tail;
And never more, whate'er his talk,
Attempted tricks, with Mistress Stork!
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