Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Rabbit and the Tortoise. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Rabbit. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Rabbit. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So today we have another Aesop’s Fable. This story will be the last Aesop’s Fable for now. I have really enjoyed making these stories. Obviously, most people know Aesop’s Fables. They’re very famous stories, but I really enjoyed taking them and adding my own details.
I’ve made my own little world inside of the fables. I call this world “The Great Forest”. The Great Forest first appeared in The Lion and the Mouse, and don’t worry, there will be much more in future with all of these characters. So soon you’ll be seeing Gentle the mouse and Crush the lion and all the others.
The original title of this story is “The Tortoise and the Hare”. A hare is a very similar animal to a rabbit, but hares are more rare. Rabbits are much more common than hares. The main difference is, hares are much bigger than rabbits. They have much longer ears. But in a lot of countries, in a lot of languages, they are called the same thing. For example, in Japanese the word for rabbits and hares is “usagi”. So I decided to change the animal in this story to a rabbit, because I thought, “More people will recognise the word ‘rabbit’ in the title. If I put the word ‘hare’ in the title, a lot of people probably won’t know what that is.”
As for “tortoise”, I always confuse tortoises with turtles. They are both creatures who look like old men. They have very old faces. And they have a hard shell on their back, which they can hide inside of. However, tortoises live on land whereas turtles live in the sea. I actually wrote this story with a turtle originally, and then I googled it and realised that turtles live in the water! So I had to change it.
I don’t think I’m the only one who makes this mistake. Or at least, I hope I’m not the only one who makes this mistake! Anyway, my point is, I’m not an expert in animals or biology. I am not a zoologist, I am not an animal scientist. So these stories may not be zoologically accurate. The animals may be eating food that they don’t actually eat in real life, for example.
But hopefully you’ll forgive me. I always believe that story comes before factual correctness. Maybe you agree, maybe you disagree. Why don’t you go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Rabbit and let me know? You can write a comment saying whether you think it’s more important to be creative in a story, or more important to be realistic and scientific.
OK, let me explain some words from the story.
“Steady” is an adjective. “Steady” means you move slowly, you move carefully. You always move at the same speed. It can be used to describe people. If a person is steady it means they stay the same and they are someone you can rely on. So, if your parents are steady people, it’s a good thing. It means when you have a problem, you can always go to them. And usually if they have steady personalities, they probably have a steady marriage, as well.
A “race” is when you say to your friends, ‘OK. Both of us are going to run to that tree over there. And whoever runs to it quickest wins.’ OK? So that’s a race. It doesn’t always have to be running. I mean, you can have a race into space. You can race with cars. But the most common type, at least among children, is running. Most of us will probably never race cars but pretty much everyone has done a running race once in their life.
When you do an official race, where there are people watching and there are prizes, the final part of the race that you have to run over is called the finish line. So you are running towards this line on the ground called the “finish line”. Whoever passes over the finish line quickest wins the race.
Finally, I want to tell you a little phrase. The phrase is “slow and steady wins the race”. So you can probably guess what this means. If you are steady, if you move at the same pace, you are probably going to do better than if you run really, really quickly and then run out of energy. And if you recognise this story, then you will understand where this phrase comes from. It’s actually quite a common phrase in English. At least, when you’re a child, you get told it a lot.
So remember, you can find the transcript for this episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Rabbit.
So, listen and enjoy!
The Rabbit and the Tortoise
In the Great Forest, everyone knew a rabbit called Speedy.
Speedy was very fast. He ran every day. He could run from one side of the forest to the other in less than an hour. None of the other animals could run faster than him. So Crush the lion could never catch him, although he tried to.
Because Speedy was the fastest in the forest, he thought he was better than everyone else. He thought that everybody loved him, because they always said how fast he was.
Actually, the other animals didn’t like Speedy very much. The mice didn’t like him, because they thought he was stupid. The foxes didn’t like him, because he didn’t listen to their jokes. The birds didn’t like him, because he was quicker than them. Crush the lion didn’t like him, because Speedy teased him. Speedy ran away from him, shouting, ‘Haha! You can’t catch me!’
There was a tortoise who lived near Speedy. She was called Steady. Steady could only walk very slowly. She did not go from one part of the forest to the other, like Speedy did. Instead, she walked the same way every day. She visited all the other animals, and talked to them. The other animals all loved Steady. She was very kind, and smart as well. All the other animals in the Great Forest learned from her.
Except Speedy. Speedy the rabbit could never stay still long enough to listen to Steady. When Steady started talking to him, Speedy got bored, and ran away.
One day, Steady was talking to Crush the lion and Gentle the mouse. The lion and the mouse were great friends now.
‘We must do something about Speedy,’ said Gentle. ‘He thinks he is the best in all the forest. He is unkind to you, and all the other animals.’
‘Yes,’ said Crush. ‘He always calls me slow and stupid!’
Steady thought for a while, and then spoke. ‘I have an idea. I will challenge Speedy to a race.’
Gentle and Crush didn’t understand. Speedy would definitely win against Steady in a race. But Steady smiled, and said, ‘You must trust me.’
As I said before, Speedy never listened to what Steady said. So Gentle the mouse went and spoke to Speedy for her. It was difficult, because Speedy was always running around. But when Gentle said the word “race”, Speedy started listening.
‘Steady wants to race me? That will be so funny! Yeah, let’s do it.’ Then he ran off.
So the next day, all the animals in the forest came together. They had all heard about the race. They all knew that Speedy would win. But really, they wanted Steady to win, so that Speedy would stop saying how great he was.
‘We don’t have to do this, you know,’ said Speedy to Steady. ‘It’s clear that I will win.’
Steady just smiled. ‘We will see.’
Crush called out the start of the race: ‘Ready, set, go!’
Speedy started running. He quickly moved far ahead of Steady. Steady walked behind him. She walked slow and steady, but not very fast.
‘Come on, Steady!’ called Speedy. ‘Are you even trying?’
She would never win walking so slow and steady. But the other animals were shouting, ‘Come on, Steady! You can do it!’ This made Speedy angry. Steady was going to lose. It was obvious!
So Speedy kept on running. He ran past all the other animals. The race was very long. It went across the whole forest and then back again. So after running for a long time, Speedy was alone. It was very quiet in the forest. He reached the end of the forest, and then turned around.
‘It is such a nice day,’ Speedy said. ‘I have plenty of time. Steady will take hours to get here. Why don’t I have a rest?’
So Speedy lay down on the path and fell asleep.
A few hours later, Speedy woke up. He heard something from the other side of the forest. It was the other animals shouting, ‘Come on, Steady!’
‘That’s strange,’ said Speedy.
So he quickly ran back along the path, as fast as he could. At the other side of the forest, Steady was near the finish line. She was about to win the race!
‘No!’ shouted Speedy. ‘How did you get in front of me?’
He ran after Steady, but Steady crossed the finish line before him. All the other animals shouted, ‘Hooray! Hooray! Steady wins! Speedy loses!’
‘I don’t understand!’ cried Speedy. ‘How did I lose?’
Everyone else was talking about Steady, and saying how great she was. Speedy felt awful.
Gentle came up to Speedy and said, ‘Do you see now? Slow and steady wins the race. And Steady won the race.’
Speedy didn’t want to believe it. But it was true.
Steady came up to Speedy and smiled. ‘Don’t worry, Speedy. I can teach you how to be slow and steady.’
‘Please!’ said Speedy. ‘I want to be the slowest and the steadiest in all the forest!’
I hope you enjoyed the story. You can support the podcast by leaving a review on iTunes. Search for Easy Stories in English, give us a star rating, and say what you like about the show. It would really help us grow. Thank you for listening, and until next week.