Story Dynamics – Stories » Story Archive » The Fox and the Crane

The Fox and the Crane

This 1895 version is by James Baldwin, an educator and author from Indiana, USA. I include it to illustrate what I call the “Shallow Bowl Syndrome,” in which we teachers and communicators provide others with the kind of bowls we ourselves like to drink out of. (I mention this in my description of the Beginning Storytelling Toolkit)

“Come and dine with me to-day,” said the Fox to the Crane.

“Thank you,” said the Crane; “I will do so with pleasure.”

But after the dinner she was as hungry as before. All that the Fox had offered her was some thin soup in a shallow plate. With her long, sharp bill it was as much as she could do to get a taste, while the Fox with his broad tongue quickly lapped it all up.

“Come and dine with me to-morrow,” said the Crane.

“Thank you,” said the Fox; “I will do so with pleasure.”

He went in great glee, but he came home sad. The Crane had offered him plenty of good food, but had served it in tall, narrow-necked bottles. With his broad tongue he could not get so much as a taste, while the Crane with her long, sharp bill easily reached and ate up the whole of it.

Below is Joseph Jacobs’ translation from Aesop (1894)

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.”

Jacobs tells this as about “tit-for-tat,” but I think of it as an example of a universal problem: we assume unconsciously that others learn and understand the same way we do.

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