The Fox and The Stork

A fox and stork trade suppers in dishes the other has a hard time using.

One bad turn deserves another.

Aesop For ChildrenAesop For Children

Fox and Stork

Milo Winter (1919)

The Fox one day thought of a plan to amuse himself at the expense of the Stork, at whose odd appearance he was always laughing.

“You must come and dine with me today,” he said to the Stork, smiling to himself at the trick he was going to play. The Stork gladly accepted the invitation and arrived in good time and with a very good appetite.

Fox and Stork

Milo Winter (1919)

For dinner the Fox served soup. But it was set out in a very shallow dish, and all the Stork could do was to wet the very tip of his bill. Not a drop of soup could he get. But the Fox lapped it up easily, and, to increase the disappointment of the Stork, made a great show of enjoyment.

The hungry Stork was much displeased at the trick, but he was a calm, even-tempered fellow and saw no good in flying into a rage. Instead, not long afterward, he invited the Fox to dine with him in turn. The Fox arrived promptly at the time that had been set, and the Stork served a fish dinner that had a very appetizing smell. But it was served in a tall jar with a very narrow neck. The Stork could easily get at the food with his long bill, but all the Fox could do was to lick the outside of the jar, and sniff at the delicious odor. And when the Fox lost his temper, the Stork said calmly:


Do not play tricks on your neighbors unless you can stand the same treatment yourself.

Samuel CroxallSamuel Croxall

Croxall - Fox and the StorkTHE Fox invited the Stork to dinner; and, being disposed to divert himself at the expence of his guest, provided nothing for the entertainment, but a soup, in a wide shallow dish. This himself could lap up with a great deal of ease, but the Stork, who could but just dip in the point of his bill, was not a bit the better all the while: however, in a few days after, he returned the compliment, and invited the Fox; but suffered nothing to be brought to table but some minced meat in a glass jar; the neck of which was so deep and so narrow, that though the Stork with his long bill made a shift to fill his belly, all that the Fox, who was very hungry, could do, was to lick the brims, as the Stork slabbered them with his eating. Reynard was heartily vexed at first: but when he came to take his leave, owned ingenuously, that he had been used as he deserved; and that he had no reason to take any treatment ill, of which himself had set the example.


Whittingham - Fox and Stork

C. Whittingham (1814)

It is mighty imprudent, as well as inhuman and uncivil, to affront any body; and whoever takes the liberty to exercise his witty talents that way, must not think much of it, if he meets with reprisals. Indeed, if all those who are thus paid in their own coin, would take it with the same frankness the Fox did, the matter would not be much; but, we are too apt, when the jest comes to be turned home upon ourselves, to think that insufferable in another, which we looked upon as pretty and facetious, when the humour was our own. The rule of doing as we would be done by, so proper to be our model in every transaction of life, may more particularly be of use in this respect: because people seldom or never receive any advantage by these little ludicrous impositions, and yet, if they were to ask themselves the question, would find, that another’s using them in the same manner would be very displeasing.


Eliot-JacobsEliot/Jacobs Version

At one time the Fox and the Stork were on visiting terms and seemed very good friends. So the Fox invited the Stork to dinner, and for a joke put nothing before her but some soup in a very shallow dish. This the Fox could easily lap up, but the Stork could only wet the end of her long bill in it, and left the meal as hungry as when she began. “I am sorry,” said the Fox, “the soup is not to your liking.”

“Pray do not apologise,” said the Stork. “I hope you will return this visit, and come and dine with me soon.”

So a day was appointed when the Fox should visit the Stork; but when they were seated at table all that was for their dinner was contained in a very long-necked jar with a narrow mouth, in which the Fox could not insert his snout, so all he could manage to do was to lick the outside of the jar.

“I will not apologise for the dinner,” said the Stork: “One bad turn deserves another.”

Taylor RhymesJefferys Taylor (The Fox and The Crane)

Taylor - Fox and Crane 0071“I CERTAINLY think,” said a fox to a crane,
“That face, ma’am, of yours is remarkably plain;
That beak that you wear is so frightful a feature,
It makes you appear a most singular creature.”

The crane, much offended at what she had heard,
March’d off at full speed, without saying a word;
“Oh dear!” said the fox, “Mrs. Crane, I protest
You misunderstood me—’twas only in jest.

“Come, don’t be affronted—stay with me and dine;
You know very well ’tis this temper of mine
To say such odd things to my intimate friends;
But you know that poor Reynard no mischief intends.”

So the crane thought it best not to break with him quite,
But to view his remarks in a good-natured light.
So she put on as pleasant a face as she could
When he ask’d her to dine, and replied that she would.

But alas! she perceived that his jokes were not over,
When Reynard removed from the victuals its cover;
‘Twas neither game, butcher’s meat, chicken, nor fish;
But plain gravy soup, in a broad shallow dish.

Now this the fox lapp’d with his tongue very quick,
While the crane could scarce dip in the point of her beak;
“You make a poor dinner,” said, he, to his guest;
“O dear! by no means,” said the bird, “I protest.”

But the crane ask’d the fox on a subsequent day,
When nothing, it seems, for their dinner had they
But some minced meat served up in a narrow-neck’d jar;
Too long, and too narrow, for Reynard by far.

“You make a poor dinner, I fear,” said the bird;
“Why, I think,” said the fox, “‘twould be very absurd
To deny what you say, yet I cannot complain,
But confess, though a fox, that Pm matched by a crane.”

Cunning folks who play tricks which good manners condemn,
Often find their own tricks play’d upon them again.


Fox Stork C1

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

Fox Stork C2

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

The Fox poured out some rich soup upon a flat dish, tantalising the Stork, and making him look ridiculous, for the soup, being a liquid, foiled all the efforts of his slender beak. In return for this, when the Stork invited the Fox, he brought the dinner on the table in a jug with a long narrow neck, so that while he himself easily inserted his beak and took his fill, the Fox was unable to do the same, and so was properly paid off.

Fox Stork C3

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

Fox Stork C4

Design: Randolph Caldecott, Engraving: J.D. Cooper, 1883

JBR CollectionJBR Collection

Fox and Stork

Ernest Griset (1874)

A Fox one day invited a Stork to dine with him, and, wishing to be amused at his expense, put the soup which he had for dinner in a large flat dish, so that, while he himself could lap it up quite well, the Stork could only dip in the tips of his long bill. Some time after, the Stork, bearing his treatment in mind, invited the Fox to take dinner with him. He, in his turn, put some minced meat in a long and narrow-necked vessel, into which he could easily put his bill , while Master Fox was forced to be content with licking what ran down the sides of the vessel. The Fox then remembered his old trick, and could not but admit that the Stork had well paid him out.

Townsend VersionTownsend version

A fox invited a Crane to supper and provided nothing for his entertainment but some soup made of pulse, which was poured out into a broad flat stone dish. The soup fell out of the long bill of the Crane at every mouthful, and his vexation at not being able to eat afforded the Fox much amusement. The Crane, in his turn, asked the Fox to sup with him, and set before her a flagon with a long narrow mouth, so that he could easily insert his neck and enjoy its contents at his leisure. The Fox, unable even to taste it, met with a fitting requital, after the fashion of her own hospitality.

L'Estrange VersionL’Estrange version

There was a great friendship once betwixt a fox and a stork, and the former would needs invite the other to a treat. They had several soups serv’d up in broad dishes and plates, and so the fox fell to lapping, himself, and bad his guest heartily welcom to what was before him. The stork found he was put upon, but set so good a face however upon his entertainment; that his friend by all means must take a supper with him that night in revenge. The fox made several excuses upon the matter of trouble and expence, but the stork, in fine, would not be said nay; so that at last, he promised him to come. The collation was serv’d up in glasses, with long narrow necks, and the best of every thing that was to be had. Come (says the stork to his friend) pray be as free as if you were at home, and so fell to’t very savourly himself. The fox quickly found this to be a trick, though he could not but allow of the contrivance as well as the justice of the revenge. For such a glass of sweet-meats to the one, was just as much to the purpose, as a plate of porridge to the other.


‘Tis allowable in all the liberties of conversation to give a man a Rowland for his Oliver, and to pay him in his own coin, as we say; provided always that we keep within the compass of honour, and good manners.

Crane Poetry VisualCrane Poetry Visual


Fox and Crane

You have heard how Sir Fox treated Crane:
With soup in a plate. When again
They dined, a long bottle
Just suited Crane’s throttle;
And Sir Fox licked the outside in vain.

There are games that two can play at.

1001Ciconia et Vulpecula

Vulpecula ad cenam invitavit ciconiam, obsoniumque in mensam effundit et, cum liquidum esset, lingua lingebat, quod ciconia frustra rostro tentavit. Abit elusa avis; pudet pigetque iniuriae. Paucis diebus praeterlapsis, invitat ad cenam vulpeculam. Vitreum vas situm erat, obsonii plenum. Quod cum esset arcti gutturis, vulpeculae licuit obsonium videre, gustare non licuit; ciconia enim rostro facile exhausit.


Fraudem fraude refellere licet, risus enim risum, iocus iocum, dolus meretur dolum.

Perry #426