Abstemius's Fables (Sir Roger L'Estrange)
275. (Abstemius 22) A Covetous Ambassador.
A Certain Ambassador that was still pester'd with Drums and Trumpets every where upon the Way of his Embassy, was willing to save his Money, and so had them put off still with This Answer: That his Excellency was in deep Mourning for his Mother, and in no Humour for Musick. The Drums and Trumpets were at least as much troubled at the Tidings, as the Ambassador Himself. This News came to the Ear of a Person of Honour, who presently made him a condoling Visit. Pray, my Lord (says the Nobleman) how long may your Mother have been death? Why, says the Ambassador, 'tis now a Matter of Forty Years; which expounded the Riddle, and put an End to that Controversy.
There is a Certain Agreeable Way of Fooling betwixt Jest and Earnest that carries both Pleasure and Profit along with it; for it saves a Man's Money One way, and his Credit another.
Fables of Aesop and Other Eminent Mythologists: Abstemius's Fables by Sir Roger L'Estrange. Available online at Google Books.