Eelsa lived in the warm and sunny land of Australia. Her family were runner birds and they never flew through the air, or settled in a high tree to sing on a lovely day.
“We have no need to fly from danger” her mother said, and she showed Elsa how to hide among the grass tussocks.
“See they are almost the same colours as yourself. If a clever little emu bird keeps very still she won’t be spotted,” her big sister smiled. But Elsa didn’t think it was much fun playing hide and seek on the ground when all the other birds could play hide and seek in the trees.

When she was just little, the Kookaburra made the woodlands ring with the sound of his laughter, as Elsa dashed about the ground with her long legs and funny little wings. He was always telling her how he flew to the gardens of the houses beyond the forest and how the people all liked to spot him there. The lyre bird was often heard singing the loveliest songs of the summer.

But Elsa never went far from the woodland. ‘A bird dashing about near the houses would look an odd sight,’ she sighed. Instead she practiced her running till she got faster and faster. So swiftly covering the ground that she wasn’t afraid to go down to the river bank were the other birds gathered. To rest from their flight and keep an eye out for a hungery crocodile pretending to be a harmless log. They knew that they could rise into the air and fly to the tree tops where no crocodile could follow.

However, Esla had grown tall, she was almost five feet and she could give a powerful kick with her strong legs. But, best of all, they could carry her away from danger, far quicker than a lumbering wicked crocodile with a hungery gleam in his eye. She often went to enjoy the cool of the river, now she had learned to overcome the nuisance of not having wings like all the other birds. She had learned to use her feet to run.

Then one very hot summer, when the sun was baking hot, Elsa set off to find the other birds by the river and, as she went through the forest, she smelt smoke. For the first time in her life she ran towards the houses and into one of the gardens, flapping her tiny wings and dancing up and down on her long legs.
“Look an Emu bird!”
A man resting in his garden jumped up and called his family from the house.

They all came running out to see Elsa and it was then that Elsa turned and ran. She ran faster than she had ever done before and people from all the houses rushed out and followed her. Elsa led the people to the Forest. She had brought them in time to fight the fierce blaze and when the fire was under control the people went back to their homes. Elsa had slipped away to hide among the tussocks of grass. She kept very quiet and was not to be seen again.

But the people didn’t forget the Emu bird and when they built a fine new park they put a bird at the entrance. It wasn’t the Kookaburra or the Lyre or a beautiful creature in flight.

It was Elsa, the running bird.

The End.

Copyright January 2001 Freda Grieve. e-mail