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It So Happened
How the Camel got his Hump.
IN the beginning, when the world was new and the Animals were just
beginning to work for Man, there was a Camel, and he lived in the
middle of a Howling Desert because he did not want to work. He ate
sticks and thorns and prickles, and when anybody spoke to him he
said “Humph!” Just “Humph!” and no more.
Presently the Horse came to
him on Monday morning, with a
saddle on his back and said,
“Camel, O Camel, come out and
trot like the rest of us.”
“Humph!” said the Camel, and
the Horse went away and told the
Presently the Dog came to him,
with a stick in his mouth, and said,
“Camel, O Camel, come and fetch and carry like the rest of us.”
“Humph!” said the Camel, and the Dog went away and told
Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on his neck, and
said, “Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest of us.”
“Humph!” said the Camel, and the Ox went away and told
At the end of the day the Man called the Horse and the Dog and
the Ox together, and said, “Three, O Three, I’m very sorry for you;
but that Humph-thing in the Desert can’t work, or he would have
been here by now, so I am going to leave him alone, and you must
work double-time to make up for it.”
That made the Three very angry, and they held a panchayat on
the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing cud and laughed
at them. Then he said “Humph!” and went away again.
Presently there came along the Djinn who was in charge of All
Deserts, rolling in a cloud of dust.
“Djinn of All Deserts,” said the Horse, “is it right for anyone
to be idle?”
“Certainly not,” said the Djinn.
“Well,” said the Horse, “there’s a thing in the middle of your
Desert with a long neck and long legs, and he hasn’t done a stroke
of work since Monday morning. He won’t trot.”
“Whew!” said the Djinn whistling, “that’s my Camel. What does
he say about it?”
“He says ‘Humph!’, and he won’t plough,” said the Ox.
“Very good,” said the Djinn. “I’ll humph him if you will kindly
wait a minute.”
The Djinn rolled himself up in his dust-cloak, and took a walk
across the Desert, and found the Camel looking at his own reflection
in a pool of water.
“My friend,” said the Djinn, “what’s this I hear of your doing
The Djinn sat down, with his chin in his hand, while the Camel
looked at his own reflection in the pool of water.
“You’ve given the Three extra work ever since Monday morning,
all on account of your idleness,” said the Djinn. And he went on
thinking with his chin in his hand.
“Humph!” said the Camel.
“I shouldn’t say that again if I were you,” said the Djinn; “you
might say it once too often. I want you to work.”
And the Camel said “Humph!” again; but no sooner had he said
it than he saw his back, that he was so proud of, puffing up and
puffing up into a great big hump.
“Do you see that?” said the Djinn. ‘‘That’s your very own humph
that you’ve brought upon your very own self by not working. Today
is Thursday, and you’ve done no work since Monday, when the
work began. Now you are going to work.”
“How can I,” said the Camel, “with this humph on my back?”
"That has a purpose," said the Djinn, “all because you missed
those three days. You will be able to work now for three days without
eating, because you can live on your humph; and don’t you ever
say I never did anything for you. Come out of the Desert and go to
the Three, and behave.”
And the Camel went away to join the Three. And from that day
to this the Camel always wears a humph (we call it ‘hump’ now, not
to hurt his feelings); but he has never yet caught up with the three
days that he missed at the beginning of the world, and he has
never yet learned how to behave.
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