Folktales > The Tortoise and the Hare

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The Tortoise and the Hare show notes

Narrator: Long long ago there was a Hare.

Hare: That's me. Whaddaya want?

Narrator: And this hare was… how shall we put it?

Hare: Hey, if you're going to tell my story, I should be paid royalties.

Narrator: This hare was rather –

Hare: And I want Tom Cruise to play the part.

Narrator: This hare was what you might call –

Hare: Rude?

Narrator: That's a good word for it, I suppose. In fact, he was something of a bully. He especially liked to pick on tortoises.

Hare: Or turtles. Or terrapins. I don't discriminate. They're all too slow to catch me.

Narrator: He would steal their eggs and then throw their eggs at them. He would write graffiti on their shells when they were asleep. He would kick sand in their faces at the beach. And when they would complain to him.

Tortoise: Now look here, Mr. Hare. Why don't you try growing some manners? You might be surprised by how much happier you'd be if you just tried being nice to people.

Hare: That sounds like way too much trouble. But I tell you what… I'll go away from here and never ever bother you again.

Tortoise: You will?

Hare: Sure. Just as soon as one of you beats me in a foot race. (Laughs) Ah, I am so clever.

Narrator: Well this went on for some time until finally one of the tortoises had had enough, and he decided it was time to stick his neck out. So he went to the Hare and said…

Tortoise: Excuse me Mr. Hare, but I've decided to accept your challenge.

Hare: Oh? What challenge is that?

Tortoise: I will race you if you will agree to go away and leave us alone afterward.

Hare: Really? You want to make a fool of yourself that bad, huh? Well, I guess I should let you do it.

Tortoise: So you'll give me your word that you'll live up to your side of the bargain?

Hare: Huh? Oh sure, why not.

Tortoise: Good. Then we have ourselves a contest.

Hare: As you wish. Wait a minute. What's in it for me? What do I get after I win the race, ears down?

Tortoise: Well… let's see… if you win, then I'll… give you my shell.

Hare: Why would I want your shell? It doesn't make you any prettier. (Laughs)

Tortoise: You could use it as a yacht. Or maybe a summer cabin.

Hare: Okay, I guess so. I don't know any other hare who has such a harebrained thing. It's a deal.

Tortoise: And you promise to keep your promise?

Hare: Yes, yes, all right all right I promise, affirmative absolutely, you got it. Sheesh.

Narrator: And so a date was set for the big event. It was a few weeks away, because the tortoises were eager to watch it, and it took them a long time to assemble at the racing site. Finally, the runners – or the runner and the creeper—were in position.

Hare: Get ready to eat my dust, slowpoke.

Narrator: And they're off! There's the Hare taking the early lead. He's running through the briars and running through the brambles, over hill and over dale, and into the woods. Meanwhile, the Tortoise is trying to close the gap. He's now lifted his left front foot completely off the ground. This is really going to be a quiet race – I mean, quite a race, folks.

Hare: Boy, what a cinch. Like candy from a baby. Like fish in a barrel. Like falling off a log. Like talking in clichés. I have so much time, I think I'll stop in at the Hare-Krishna diner and have some alfalfa sprouts and carrot juice with my buddies. Hey guys, how's it going?

Hare 2: Harry! I heard a rumor that you were running some kind of marathon today. Against a tort vendor or something.

Hare: A tortoise. Obviously, it's a real challenge that takes all of my time and energy. (Laughs.)

Hare 2: Yes, it sounds exciting, but I think I'd rather stay here and watch nails rust. (They both laugh.) Hey, I heard a rumor that you were once captured by Brer Fox and you escaped.

Hare: That's right. He had me, but I tricked him into releasing me into the briarpatch. It's a funny story, let me tell you all about it…

Narrator: And so, he stayed and chatted and had a good time for quite a while. Finally, he decided he'd better get back to the race. By that time, the Tortoise had pulled ahead a little, and he was huffing and puffing away. But there was still a long way to go, and the Hare sprinted past him again very easily.

Hare: Yoo hoo, better slow down – the snails might think you're speeding! (Laughs.)

Narrator: So he ran a few yards farther, but he soon became bored again, so he decided to drop in on some more of his friends who were playing a game of croquet.

Hare: Hey guys, that looks like fun. Mind if I join you for a round?

Hare 3: Aren't you supposed to be running a race against a porpoise or something?

Hare: Something like that. But I have all the time in the world. Let's play a game. Or two. Or three. And I'll tell you all about the time I was attacked by a tar baby.

Narrator: And so he played a few games of croquet. And in the meantime, the Tortoise again had inched his way past. But the Hare wasn't worried. As soon as he was finished playing, he caught up with the Tortoise again, and again passed him very easily.

Hare: Hey, better watch out! I think Christmas is sneaking up behind you. (Laughs)

Narrator: So he pulled ahead a little farther, and soon he decided to stop and take a rest.

Hare: Boy, it can really wear you out to have so much fun, and laugh so much, and be as clever as I am. And there's no way that crawling mobile home will ever beat me. I think I'll just lie down and take a nap in this field of poppies.

Narrator: So he slept, and he slept, much longer than he'd expected to. And finally, when he woke up.

Hare: Huh? Oh no, the sun is going down. It'll be bed time soon, so I have to wake up long enough to finish the race.

Narrator: So he made a dash toward the finish line, pushing aside anyone who got in his way.

Girl: Excuse me, but have you seen a Cheshire cat around here?

Hare: Out of my way! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late for a very important date.

Girl: My, but animals are awfully odd in this place.

Narrator: And onward the Hare raced until—

Hare: Ah, there's the finish line ahead. And – oh no, the Tortoise is only a few inches away. He'll cross the line any minute now. I really have to hurry for once.

Narrator: He rushed as rushy as he could, getting closer and closer to the finish line. But just before he could reach it, he stumbled and fell against the tortoise, sending him tumbling over the line first, just a hare's breadth ahead.

Hare: Who put the banana peel there?

Narrator: The crowd of tortoises cheered their champion.

Crowd: Tor-toise! Tor-toise! Tor-toise!

Tortoise: I'd like to thank my mom who hatched me, as I accept this honor. And you, Mr. Hare – remember our deal.

Hare: I don't suppose you'd be interested in a rematch? Double or something?

Tortoise: Maybe in 20 years or so.

Hare: Twenty years? But I'll be a white-haired hare by then.

Tortoise: Yes, and I will have picked up a little speed on you.

Hare: I don't suppose… you'd consider giving me your shell anyway?

Tortoise: Sorry, I'm really too much into it to to shell it out. Now remember your promise.

Hare: Right. Well, it’s been fun. I know you hate to see me leave, but I gotta gallop along.

Narrator: So the Hare got lost, as he'd promised. Mostly because he was too embarrassed to be seen in public after losing a race to the Tortoise. As for the Tortoise, he learned that when you run a race…

Tortoise: It's not a good idea to stop for carrot juice, croquet or a nap.

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About this Story

"The Tortoise and the Hare", popularized by the Greek slave Aesop, who told a great many fabulous fables. In later centuries, many similar stories sprang up in many cultures around the world.

@ Your Library

For more great American Folk Tales and legendary heroes go to your local library. You will find Folk Tales in the 398 section (Dewey Decimal System)

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  • Aesop Fables

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