Mr. Ostrich was a sober-minded,
serious husband, who was always willing to assist his wife in her family
duties. "My dear," he said to her one evening, when their large
clutch of eggs seemed almost ready to hatch, "my black feathers cannot
be seen in the darkness, so I will guard our eggs by night and at the
same time keep them warm for you. That will leave you free to relax and
enjoy yourself until daybreak each morning."
He settled down clumsily to his unaccustomed task, while
his flighty wife was more than thankful to be relived of her duty which
she always found trial. She fluffed up her feathers and, to show how pleased
she was, set off in a joyful high-step dance among the low termite mounds
that surrounded their nest.
The big birds had chosen their home with care, for they
knew that if they were sitting down their home from a distance, would
look like a grey mound of earth. They had decided to rear their young
on the short grassed plains because they could see all around them, for
in those ostrich had a short neck like a guinea fowl and partridge. They
had all learned the hard lesson, that long grass their enemies could attack
them before they realised their danger.
To keep their precious eggs safe, the two birds had carefully
scratched away a broad band of dusty earth around the slight hollow that
was their nest. on the whole they were a happy couple - althrough from
time to time the husband had disapproved of his wife´s high-spirited
It was full moon. The silvery light shed strange
shadows and threw ghostly figures among the surrounding mounds
of earth. The husband´s head was beginning to nod when
suddenly he heard his wife´s hissing laugh. He was now
wide awake. Straining his short neck to its utmost limit, he
saw her dodging in and out between the termite mounds in a wild
game of hide-and-seek with a handsome young ostrich in hot pursuit.
He half rose frome the nest - but sank down with a sigh.
He dare not leave the ptecious eggs, whatever the reason. What if they
were to grow cold while he went to tell his flirting wife what he thought
of her disgraceful behaviour.
He settled down again with a feeling of annoyance, but strained
his neck further and further, to try and catch sight of her. From time
to time he did catch a glimpse of her and heard her foolish giggles -
and each time he stretched his neck to try and see further.
Later, when his wife returned to resume her duties, Mr.
Ostrich rose stiffly, preparing to punish his wife for her undignified
behaviour, but as her did so, he felt a strangeness in the muscles in
his neck. He looked down at his feet and was alarmed to discover how far
away from his neck they were. He realised that as a result of all the
straining that he had done during the night, his neck had streched and
streched. No matter what he did, it just stayed the same, streched beyond
return. That is why the ostrich has a long neck - a lasting memory of
a flighty wife.