The Tug of War
Elephant was feeding in the planes. He was quietly moving along, picking at the most delicious trees and grasses when Hare came hop hop hopping right into his path. The audacious Hare began to feed right there, in the way.
“Out of my way, Hare,” bellowed Elephant, “Off with you.”
“Don’t talk to me like that,” replied Hare. “I’m much stronger than you are. You should have some respect.”
“Oh indeed?!” laughed Elephant.
“Yes,” said Hare full of bravado. “If you like I can prove it. We could have a competition. A tug of war perhaps?”
“Go on, then. Bring a rope and we’ll settle this, you cheeky little devil,” growled Elephant.
Hare pulled from the bushes a rope which he had hidden there earlier, handing one end of it to Elephant.
“Now, don’t pull until I give a little tug,” Hare called over his shoulder as he dashed away over a hill and toward the river, the rope trailing behind him.
As Hare reached the river he spotted Hippo basking on the river bank, his long curly tail swishing back and forth.
“Look at fat, lazy Hippo,” Hare goaded. “I wager that even I’m stronger than him!”
“Excuse me?!” growled Hippo. “What did you say?”
“You heard me well enough, lazy Hippo,” said Hare. “I challenge you to a tug of war to see who is the stronger of us.”
“Give me the rope,” growled Hippo. He was not at all pleased that this little beast would dare assume to be stronger than he.
Hare passed Hippo the end of the rope and shot off up to the crest of the hill.
“Don’t pull until I gave a little tug,” he once again shouted over his shoulder as he dashed away.
Once at the crest of the hill, Hare looked down either side to see Elephant and Hippo each holding an end of the rope and laughed and laughed to himself as he gave the rope a good hard tug.
Elephant and Hippo set to work, each thinking they were tugging against Hare, and each putting in only a little effort, for Hare couldn’t possibly compete against their strength. But when they felt the weight at the other end of the rope both were surprised by Hares apparent strength. They tugged harder. The tugged harder still. They buried their feet in the ground and tugged with all the strength they could muster until Elephant, tired of this game, gave one last almighty tug, pulling Hippo off his feet and over the hill.
“What?!” cried Elephant “What’s this now? Are you playing games with me?”
“I thought I was tugging against Hare,” stammered Hippo as he climbed to his feet.
“Lies! You and that trickster Hare thought this up just to make fun of me!” bellowed Elephant,
And with that he dashed at Hippo, biting his tail short.
“Let that be a lesson to you,” warned Elephant as he stormed away.
Poor Hippo. He had been so proud of his long curly tail and as he returned to the river and saw the other hippos enjoying the sun, their long curly tails flicking about, he was engulfed in a mad jealousy. He dashed at his brothers and sisters, biting at their tails until they were just as short as his. And to this day hippos still have very little tail to speak of.