Illustration of two horses carrying furs to the market.

The Two Horses (Leo Tolstoy Fable)

The Two Horses is a dark fable written by Leo Tolstoy in 1880. Tolstoy is famous for writing War & Peace and Anna Karenina, two of the most common methods of torture inflicted upon high school students, but he also wrote a book of fables to scare younger children. This is a retelling in my own words.

Slashes made by an enraged barbarian fabulist.

A long time ago, in a small village, there lived two packhorses named Lightning and Thunder. They both belonged to a diligent herder who relied on them to carry his furs to the market.

Lightning, the front horse, was quiet and hardworking. He constantly put forth his best effort, pulling his own weight and more. Thunder, the hind horse, was loud but lazy. He did as little work as he could get away with, and he often lagged behind. Observing this, the herder transferred the load from Thunder to Lightning so that they might move more quickly.

Thunder, relieved of his burden, trotted along leisurely. He laughed at Lightning, saying, “Work hard and sweat, Lightning! The more you strive, the more they’ll make you work.”

After a tiring day, they arrived at the tavern. The herder, noticing the disparity in effort between his two horses, contemplated, “Why should I feed two horses when only one does the work? It would be more sensible to feed Lightning well and do away with Thunder.”

And so it came to pass that Thunder found himself made into a fine fur cloak.

Moral: Those who make themselves redundant are no longer needed. Or, in different circumstances, they become free.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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