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How the Ostrich got his long neck

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 ways.

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.