The Crane & The Fox, a Fable by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.
In long gone years a fox and crane Were bound in friendship's golden chain; Whene'er they met, the fox would bow And madame Crane would curtsie low- -My lovely Crane how do you do? -I'm very well - pray how are you? Thus time passed on, both very civil Till Reynard in an hour evil Projected what he thought a stroke The world would call a pretty joke - A billet wrote on gilded paper And sealed it with a perfumed wafer Announced the day, if she saw fit To take a tete-a-tetetit-bit; The day arriv'd -she preen'd each feather And summon'd ev'ry grace together; At breakfast scarce a morsel eat Intent to riot at the treat -
She came - wide stood the unfolded door And roses deck'd the sanded floor - - There hyacinths in festoons hung - Here lillies their rich fragrance flung -
The table drawn - the damask laid And soup prepared of bullock's marrow Pour'd in each plate profuse - but shallow; The fox began to lap in haste And made a plentiful repast, Pressed his fair friend to do the same And to encourage, lap'd again -
The Crane be sure with her long beak Could not a single morsel pick; She felt the bite--but little said And very soon her exit made, Just beg'd the fox would come next day And sup with her in her plain way; Reynard declared she did him honor -He certainly would wait upon her.
Her domicile was well prepar'd No cost or labor had been spared; Roses and tulips on the floor And daffodils the ceiling bore; Nor was a band of music wanting For whippoorwills and frogs were chanting. The sun had set and given way To sober evening's mantle gray; The fox arriv'd with stomach keen -Hoped he saw in health his Queen And added in his courtliest air She ne'er before had look'd so fair.
The Crane replied in mildest mood That all he said was very good, She meekly meant to do her duty And ne'er dream'd of praise or beauty. -She spoke - The table soon was spread And ev'rything in order paid; Two narrow jars now graced the board With nicely minced ven'son stored; - Now let's fall to, sir, if you will-- And in she pok'd her slender bill And gulp'd of viands at her leisure - To see you eat would give me pleasure She cried - eat, neighbor, eat I fear you do not like my treat; It suits my palate to a hair Pray, Chummy, eat and do not spare. - The fox looked on with rueful phys Feeling in all its force the quiz.
The Crane enjoy'd his discontent And thus address'd him as he went, The truest adage ever spoke Was "He that Gives must Take a joke."