Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE LION AND THE HARE
IN the neighborhood of Bagdad there was a beautiful meadow,
which was the home of many wild animals. They would have
lived very happily there had it not been for one
mischief-loving Lion. Every day this Lion wandered about,
killing many helpless creatures for the mere sport of the
slaying. To put an end to this, the animals gathered in a
body, and going to the Lion, spoke to him in this wise:—
"King Lion, we are proud to have such a brave and valiant
beast to rule over us. But we do not think that it is fitting
for one of your rank to hunt for his own food. We therefore
wait upon you with this request: Henceforth do you remain
quietly at home, and we your subjects will bring to your
lair such food as it is fitting that a king should eat."
The Lion, who was greatly flattered, immediately accepted
their offer. Thus every day the animals drew lots to decide
who among their number should offer himself for the Lion's
daily portion. In due time it came about that the lot fell
upon the Hare. Now the Hare, when he learned that it was
his turn to die, complained bitterly.
"Do you not see that we are still tormented by that Lion?"
he asked the other animals. "Only leave it to me, and I will
release you for all time from his tyranny. "
The other animals were only too glad at these words, and
told the Hare to go his way. The Hare hid for some time in
the bushes, and then hurried to the Lion's lair. By this
time the Lion was as angry as he was hungry. He was snarling,
and lashing his yellow tail on the ground. When he saw the
Hare, he called out loudly,—
"Who are you, and what are my subjects doing? I have had no
morsel of food to-day!"
The Hare besought him to calm his anger and listen to him.
"The lot fell to-day," he began, "on another hare and myself.
In good season we were on our way here to offer ourselves for
your dinner, when a lion sprang out of the bushes and seized
my companion. In vain I cried to him that we were destined
for the King's table, and, moreover, that no one was permitted
to hunt in these royal woods except your Majesty. He paid no
heed to my words save to retort,'You do not know what
you are saying. I am the only king here. That other Lion,
to whom you all bow down, is a usurper.' Dumb with fright,
I jumped into the nearest bush."
The Lion grew more and more indignant as he listened to the
"If I could once find that lion," he roared, "I would soon
teach him who is king of these woods."
"If your Majesty will trust me," answered the Hare, humbly,
"I can take you to his hiding-place."
So the Hare and the Lion went out together. They crossed
the woods and the meadow, and came to an ancient well,
which was full of clear, deep water.
"Yonder is the home of your enemy," whispered the Hare,
pointing to the well. "If you go near enough, you can see
him. But," he added, "perhaps you had better wait until he
comes out before you attack him."
These words only made the Lion more indignant. "He shall not
live a moment after I have laid eyes upon him," he growled.
So the Hare and the Lion approached stealthily to the well.
As they bent over the edge and looked down into the clear
water, they saw themselves reflected there. The Lion,
thinking that it was the other lion with the other hare,
leaped into the well, never to come out again.