Many people are aware of a story about a race between a tortoise and a hare. A long standing feud between these two animals was decided by a race. The winner of the race, would claim the title of the swiftest animal in the forest.
On a specially dedicated day, the tortoise and a hare raced.
Some say the race track was five hundred yards and the hare had lost because he took a nap after three hundred yards. He thought he was assured of victory because the tortoise was nowhere in sight. The tortoise, of course, passed the sleeping hare and won the race.
Others say that the race was a long one, of many miles. The hare, overconfident of his abilities, raced at full speed to the finish. Having exhausted all his strength, the hare collapsed a meter away from the finish line and lay unconscious for days after. The tortoise, of course, passed the unconscious hare and won the race.
Still a few more say that the race was not of speed, but of wit. There were two paths to the finish. One lay through a deep, dark forest where dangerous, hungry creatures lived. The other path was around that forest. It was a longer path, filled with scenic views and friendly animals. The hare, thinking that speed is everything, decided to run directly through the forest. As he was jumping along, a big, bad wolf grabbed the hare and ate it. The tortoise, of course, passed the big, bad wolf in the forest and won the race.
Regardless of how the hare lost that race, or how the tortoise won it, the animal judges gave the title of
the swiftest animal in the forest to the tortoise. This fame made tortoise more confident and wise. She invented all sorts of useful things and lived happily forever after.
Few people, however, know the true story of what happened or how it ended. You see, most animals that witnessed the race perished in a great forest fire thereafter. They were in the forest going about their business. The tortoise was on a hill, not too far away, lecturing to a small audience about the benefits of being a tortoise. Someone noticed a fire starting in the far corner of the forest. The group conferred for a few minutes and decided to send the
swiftest animal in the forest to warn the other animals about the fire.
They sent the tortoise.
-- Inspired by Lord Dunsany's version.