The court jester's most painful joke

There was once a king who was extremely fond and proud of his court jester. Each time the court jester said something witty, the king burst into roaring laughter. The king used to give this court jester special rewards whenever he surpassed himself in saying something that was extremely funny and at the same time deeply meaningful.

One day the king decided that on the following day he would not laugh, no matter what the court jester said. He took an oath that he would remain very serious, even to the point of sadness, throughout the entire day. He would not allow even a smile to escape from his lips.

When the next day dawned, the king summoned his ministers and went out early in the morning for a ride on his horse. The king and his entourage were aimlessly riding through the king’s estates when, all of a sudden, they saw the court jester on his horse. He was not coming in their direction; it appeared that he was going somewhere else.

The king wanted to catch the court jester’s attention, and so he called out, “Hey! Hey!” The court jester brought his horse to a halt and walked towards the king. The king said to him, “You are so short, you are so thin, you are so slight — you do not seem to be strong at all. But your horse is so strong, so stout, so beautiful and powerful. How do you keep him so beautiful, powerful, strong and stout? What is the secret to his excellent condition?”

The court jester said to the king, “I feed my horse, your Highness, but you feed me. This is the difference between my appearance and that of my horse.”

The king could not laugh; he could not even smile. Indeed, he fulfilled his oath, because he felt absolutely sad and miserable for the rest of the day. Then, on the following day, he increased the salary of his court jester.