Oban's Myths & Legends
The Hare and the Tortoise
Aesop fable retold by Oban
One morning, Hare hopped down to the lake, to rest in the warm sunshine. Other animals were already there. Fox was lying on the rocks, cleaning her soft sandy coat, and Tortoise was munching the sweet grass near the water’s edge. Hare stopped and watched them for a while.
Soon Fox yawned and drifted off to sleep, but Tortoise carried on waddling around slowly, her little pink tongue pulling in each mouthful of grass. Hare flicked his long ears and hopped over to her. Tortoise stopped chewing, and stared up at him.
“You look funny when you eat,” laughed Hare. “Your feet are short and stumpy, and you move so slowly. No wonder you spend so much time eating – it takes you forever to get enough grass.”
Tortoise just stared at him, and then started chewing again. Hare was annoyed. He wanted everyone to talk to him. He drummed one of his big feet on the ground.
“I’m the fastest animal,” he shouted. “When I run at full speed, no-one can beat me.” He looked across at Fox, who was awake again and watching carefully. “I challenge anyone to a race,” said Hare, flicking his ears proudly.
No one answered. Then Tortoise swallowed her mouthful of grass. “I accept,” she said. “Even if you are as fast as the wind, I can still beat you in a race.”
Hare laughed loudly. “I accept the challenge,” he said. Tortoise suggested that Fox should choose when they would race, where they would start and the finish point. Fox thought it was all very amusing, and suggested the day after tomorrow as race day.
When the time came, the Hare and the Tortoise lined up at the flat rock, which was Fox’s designated starting point. He told them they should go round the edge of the lake and the first one past the old fallen tree would be declared the winner. The race began.
Hare bounded off at top speed and soon rounded a bend and was out of sight. Tortoise moved at a slow, steady pace – never stopping to rest or eat. Running by the side of the lake, Hare felt the warm sun on his back and slowed a little. Then he stopped. “Umm,” he said, stretching. “It’ll take Tortoise forever to catch up. I’ve got time for a nap.” And he burrowed into the grass and dozed off.