One bright summer morning a little hedgehog was sitting at the door of his home. He was a merry little fellow who wished everybody to be happy.
"I think I'll just run over to the field and take a look at the turnips," he said to his wife.
"I hope you won't meet any of those rude hares," said Mrs. Hedgehog. "Yesterday two of them came to the cabbage patch when our little ones and I were there. They laughed aloud at our short legs, and said that it must be terrible to be so slow."
"Don't think about them," said her husband. "A hedgehog is as good as a hare any day. I'll be back soon."
Just as Mr. Hedgehog reached the turnip field, he met a big hare on his way to the cabbage patch. This hare was proud, and thought himself a very fine fellow indeed because he could run like the wind.
When the little hedgehog saw the hare, he said in his best manner, "Good morning, Mr. Hare."
The hare didn't answer this polite greeting, but said in a rude voice, "Why are you out so early this morning?"
"I am just taking a nice short walk in the fresh air," answered the hedgehog.
"How can you enjoy a nice walk with such short legs?" said the hare. "By the way I saw your wife and little ones yesterday. They were trying to run races, but not one of them could run faster than a tor toise. I nearly died laughing at them."
Of course the hedgehog became very angry. "You think that your long legs are better than my short ones, do you?" he said. "If you are not afraid, I'll run a race with you. I'll show you that I am much faster than you."
"You? Faster than me?" said the hare with a laugh. "Let us race down the furrows between these fine turnips. You run in one furrow and I'll run in another. We shall soon see who will reach the other end first."
"I can't race with you just now," said the hedgehog. "I'm very hungry and must go home for breakfast. I'll be back again in half an hour."
The hare agreed, and the hedgehog went off home. "That rude hare is too proud of himself," said the little hedgehog to himself. "I'll teach him not to boast."
When he reached home, he asked his wife to help him play a joke on the hare. "Here is my plan," he said. "You and I look so much alike that the hare cannot tell me from you. You must hide at the far end of a furrow in the turnip field. Just before the hare reaches you, pop up your head in front of him and say, "I knew I could beat you quite easily."
Soon they reached the field, and the little hedgehog, placed his wife at the far end of the furrow. Then he went to the other end, where he found the hare in the next furrow.
"Let us start at once," said the proud hare.
"I am now quite ready," said the little hedgehog, as he took his place in his furrow.
The hare also took his place. Then he called, "Ready, steady, go!" and off he ran like the wind.
The little hedgehog ran only a few steps and then lay quite still among the turnip leaves. Just before the hare reached the far end of the furrow, the hedgehog's wife popped up her head and said, "I knew I could beat you quite easly."
The hare stood still in wonder.
:Let that be a lesson to you," said the hedgehog's wife.
"I'll race you back," said the hare. "You can't beat me again."
"Of course I can," answered Mrs. Hedgehog.
The hare turned quickly and ran back through his furrow even faster than before.
Just before he reached the other end, Mr. Hedgehog popped up his head and shouted, "Ha! Ha! I have beaten you again, Mr. Hare."
"I can't understand this at all," said the hare in surprise. "Let us try another race."
"Very well," replied Mr. Hedgehog.
This time the hare counted, "One, two, three!" and was off like the wind. When he reached the other end, Mrs. Hedgehog jumped up in front of him and said, "Well, Mr. Hare, I am first again."
"Race with me for the last time," asked the hare.
"All right," replied Mrs. Hedgehog.
Off the hare went down the furrow again. Mr. Hedgehog met him and said, "It's no use. I can beat you every time."
The hare was now too tired to run any more, and so he hopped slowly and sadly away.
The little hedgehog laughed and laughed when they heard the story. "Brains are far better than legs," said Mr. Hedgehog to his happy little wife. "Mr. Hare will not be so proud next time we meet him."
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