Tuesday 9 January 2007
THE OSTRICH WHO KEPT HIS HEAD DOWN
There was an Ostrich who was the most nervous creature of its kind. At the least provocation, the merest hint of alarm and the flimsiest cause for concern, he would thrust his head into the sand and stay there until he was sure, beyond any doubt, that the coast was clear and the danger past.
He could often be seen - his neck, body and legs very much in evidence, but his head well and truly out of sight - long after the wildebeest stampede had galloped away in a cloud of dust or the big game hunters’ jeep had rattled off into the distance.
“Why do you wait so long before showing your face?” asked one of the other ostriches.
“Well,” said the Ostrich who kept his head down, “one really cannot be too careful…”
“But---” began the other ostrich and then stopped short on hearing a low snarly-roar that suggested that a large predator was lurking nearby.
Instantly, the other ostrich made a dash for safety, knowing that, with a head start, he could out-run anything on four paws.
The Ostrich who kept his head down, on the other hand, poked his head in the sand and pretended that, since he could see nothing, he could not be seen.
The Jaguar, for that is who was doing the stalking, sat for some time washing his paws and looking at the exposed haunches of the Ostrich. Eventually, however, he decided that without the chase the kill would be boring, so he wandered off to look for an antelope or two.
The Ostrich who kept his head down, kept his head down for several hours, congratulating himself on having eluded certain death.
As a result, he failed to notice great banks of black storm clouds rolling in across the veldt or hear the rumble of approaching thunder. In fact, he knew nothing about anything until - with a single, dazzlingly searing flash - he was struck by lightning and fried to a crisp.
© Brian Sibley 2006
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