The hare, having lost the most famous race in history, eventually gathered up his dignity and asked for a rematch. “This time I’ll be careful” he told himself. “I wont be overconfident, I wont get distracted, I wont let my urges and instincts get in the way of success. I will redeem myself and the reputation of all hares, not to mention rodents and mammals in general” As we can see, the hare had not completely shed his feelings of self importance. But he trained hard, not so much for speed and stamina, because he was smart enough to understand that these were not his problems, but for concentration, will power and discipline.
On the day of the race he showed up at the starting line a half hour early, to find the tortoise taking a nap in the shade. A number of animals serving as judges, as well as a large quantity of reporters, and the generally curious were on hand for what had been dubbed as REALLY the most important race ever. The hare was well aware that a number of friends and relatives, including some rabbits, mice and a couple of nasty looking rats were glaring at him with ill disguised skepticism. One of the rats even spoke everyone’s thoughts out loud. “Don’t screw up again this time, pal” he said.
The tortoise was awoken and joined the hare at the starting line. A chubby badger called out “ready, set, go” and they were off. The hare took off in a streak of speed, and within a few seconds was out of sight of the tortoise. He ran along the well marked race path (a deer trail in the woods) and began to pace himself a bit. He saw lots of tempting vegetables along the way, but he set his jaw (figuratively speaking) and without even thinking about stopping, he ran on.
Almost before he knew it he could see the finish line before him. A much larger crowd had assembled there, and they were cheering as he came into sight. He had a sudden temptation to stop and play some jokes just in front of the finish line, but all his training in discipline paid off and he resisted the urge. In a final show of glorious speed he crossed the finish line and ran into the waiting arms of three or four haresses who along with all the other assembled four legged animals acclaimed him as the one true champion. He was overjoyed and also greatly relieved. “I won” he said over and over to himself and everyone else, it felt great.
Meanwhile the tortoise was ambling along the path, steady as she goes as usual. He also didn’t think about stopping, but walked slowly and steadily on. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the air was cool and fragrant with the smells of Spring. Off to the side of the path, the tortoise could see the early flowers blooming, and as he passed he noticed the same trees he had seen before, but he could see that some of them had changed slightly since the last time he had been this way. One lovely maple for example had lost some branches, probably in a wind or thunder storm.
He spoke now and then with some of the birds who flew by and a few deer who stopped grazing to watch his slow progress with curiosity and interest. Everyone he met greeted him courteously, and none made reference to the fact that he was far, far behind in the race. The tortoise was truly enjoying himself and feeling quite relaxed. At one point he had a wonderful idea, something that he was certain had never occurred to him before, and probably, he thought, had never occurred to any other tortoise, or possibly not even any other animal before. He grabbed this idea quite strongly so as not to lose it, and the more he thought about it the better it seemed. “How nice” he thought “to have such a shiny new idea on such a lovely day while walking through these beautiful woods.”
Quite some time later the tortoise saw in front of him a white line marked on the ground. As he walked over it, he saw two beavers and a muskrat, who had stayed behind to wait for his arrival, and he heard the muskrat say “Sorry old man, I’m afraid you lost this time. The hare came by hours ago. The race is over.” The tortoise answered “Race? what race?”