The beloved tale of The Tortoise and The Hare has been warming the hearts of kids who are rubbish at athletics for years.
In case you missed it, the classic Aesop’s fable goes a little something like this: A hare bullies a tortoise for his slow ways and the tortoise, sick of the continual bullying, challenges the hare to a race.
After much peacocking, the hare accepts and speeds off over the starting line. Feeling confident, the hare takes a little nap mid-race, leaving the slow and steady tortoise to overtake and win the race.
…Or so you thought. This little known ending to The Tortoise and The Hare will have you re-evaluating everything pure and good in your childhood.
Lord Dunsany‘s The True History of the Tortoise and the Hare (1915) the hare realises the stupidity of the challenge and refuses to proceed any further, while the plucky little tortoise proceeds to the finishing line to be proclaimed victorious.
But, the Anglo-Irish author, known for his fantasies, continues:
The reason that this version of the race is not widely known is that very few of those that witnessed it survived the great forest-fire that happened shortly after. It came up over the weald by night with a great wind. The Hare and the Tortoise and a very few of the beasts saw it far off from a high bare hill that was at the edge of the trees, and they hurriedly called a meeting to decide what messenger they should send to warn the beasts in the forest. They sent the Tortoise.
Turns out slow and steady does win the race, kids, but it’ll get you killed in a forest fire too.
How’s that for a moralising tale of competitiveness and death?