The tortoise and the hare

There was once a hare that met a tortoise; and as is the manner of hares, hopped rings around the tortoise until the tortoise stood up and challenged the hare to a running match.

At this, the hare fell to the ground laughing; but the tortoise persisted in its challenge, and eventually the hare agreed: the next day at noon they would run.

Now, the hare was not stupid or overconfident.

He knew the tortoise was ancient and wise, as all tortoises are.

Thus the hare spent the day, and the night, and the morning too thinking what tricks the tortoise had in store for him: for clearly the tortoise had a cunning plan, for why else would it challenge the fleet hare to a contest of speed?

But the hare could not come up with anything: shadows, yes, and suspicions, but no stratagem that would give the tortoise victory. The hare abstained from food and drink, fearing laxatives and poisons; holed up in its hole, fearing “accidental” sprains and sharp acorns to step on; and then the moment of midday was there, and the hare slunk to the starting line, full of nervous concern.

“Shall we run?” the tortoise said, smiling.

“We shall!” the hare said, croaking like a frog, paw shaking.

There was a bang, and they were off. The hare leapt! ran! dashed! went ahead leaving the tortoise in its dust! racing without regard to reserves or pacing — and past the second bend fell to the ground in a dead faint, downed by exhaustion, thirst and nervous strain.

The tortoise trudged to the first bend, then to the second; then past many other bends, and then to the goal.

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