Annie and her husband George ran a small lodge in a town. Annie was fat and short and she was known for her sharp tongue. The people of the town were afraid to cross her path for fear of being scalded by her tongue. Even the travellers, who came to their lodge, were not spared. She would bully them whenever possible. She was a terror and no one dared answer her back!
One day a traveler came to the lodge. He was queer to look at. His body was bent and twisted like the trunk of an old tree. When he sat down at the restaurant and ordered his dinner, he stretched out his legs in front of him. Now, though his right foot went under the table, the left stretched out right in the way of the waiters.
The restaurant was crowded and the waiters had a tough time avoiding his leg as they juggled the trays of food to the various tables. But how could they ask a customer to move his leg out of their way? So they muttered and stuttered and went about their work rather grumpily.
Annie looked at him and was irritated. How inconvenient to have to carefully go around that foot! She looked at the foot. He had removed his shoe. His foot was terrible to look at. His ankle was twisted awkwardly and every one of his toes pointed in a different direction. She had not seen a more odd-looking foot.
It gave her an idea. She could say something nasty to embarrass him. Maybe he would then pull in his foot. She cleared her throat and moved up to the table where he sat. “I haven’t seen such an ugly looking foot in my life!” she commented loudly.
Everyone turned around to see whom she was talking about. They peered closely at the traveller’s ugly foot. For a moment he was taken aback.
But alas for Annie! Our traveler was a cool man. “Ah! But there is an uglier foot than this one right here! And I can see it!” he retorted. Everyone began searching for the uglier foot.
Now it was Annie’s turn to go red. Did he mean her foot? Her foot was blistered and cracked and full of sores. She found walking painful and so had got into the habit of walking around her lodge barefoot. Had the traveller noticed her ugly feet? She heard a few muffled giggles. She could feel everyone’s eyes on her.
“If you can guess which is that ugliest foot I’m talking of, I’ll pay for your dinner tonight!” challenged the man. Annie gaped silently. What could she say?
“Well,” she said. “I don’t know what you mean.”
The man laughed. “I’ll tell you!” he said. “This one!” With that he drew the other leg up to join the one Annie had commented about. “Now tell me: isn’t that one uglier than this one?” Everyone burst into laughter.
Annie sighed in relief. He had not made fun of her. She went back to her seat silently. For the first time in her life, she had regretted making a rash remark!