Prose Anthology

The Tortoise and the Hare

The Hare was once boasting of his speed before the other animals. “I have never yet been beaten,” said he, “when I put forth my full speed. I challenge any one here to race with me.”

The Tortoise said quietly, “I accept your challenge.”

“That’s a good joke,” said the Hare; “I could dance round you all the way.”

“Save your boasting till you’ve won,” answered the Tortoise. “Shall we race?”

So they set their course and began their race. The Hare darted almost out of sight at once, but soon stopped and, to show his contempt for the Tortoise, lay down to have a nap.

The Tortoise plodded on and plodded on, and when the Hare awoke from his nap, he saw the Tortoise just near the finish line and could not run up in time to win the race.

Then said the Tortoise: “Slow and steady wins the race.”

The Appointment in Samarra

There was once a merchant in Bagdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions. In a little while the servant returned, white and trembling, and said, “Master, just now when I was in the marketplace someone jostled me in the crowd, and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. Death looked upon me with a threatening glare. I pray you, lend me your horse, and I will ride far away from this city and so avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra, and there Death will not find me.”

The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and fled as fast as the horse could gallop.

Then the merchant went down to the marketplace, and he saw Death standing in the crowd. He came to Death and said, “Why did you give my servant such a threatening look when you saw him this morning?”

“That was not a threatening look,” Death said, “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Bagdad, for I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

Prose Fiction

Page Last Updated: 24 October 2012