beginning of years, when the world was so new and all, 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; and besides, he was a Howler himself. So he ate
sticks and thorns and tamarisks and milkweed and prickles, most
'scruciating idle; 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 a bit in his mouth, and
said, 'Camel, O Camel, come out and trot like the rest of
'Humph!' said the Camel; and the Horse went
away and told the Man.
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 the Man.
Presently the Ox came to him, with the yoke on
his neck and said, 'Camel, O Camel, come and plough like the rest
'Humph!' said the Camel; and the Ox went away
and told the Man.
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 (with the world
so new-and-all); 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
That made the
Three very angry (with the world so new-and-all), and they held a
palaver, and an indaba, and a punchayet, and a
pow-wow on the edge of the Desert; and the Camel came chewing on
milkweed most 'scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then
he said 'Humph!' and went away again.
there came along the Djinn in charge of All Deserts, rolling in a
cloud of dust (Djinns always travel that way because it is
Magic), and he stopped to palaver and pow-pow with the
'Djinn of All
Deserts,' said the Horse, 'is it right for any one to be idle,
with the world so new-and-all?'
not,' said the Djinn.
the Horse, 'there's a thing in the middle of your Howling Desert
(and he's a Howler himself) with a long neck and long legs, and
he hasn't done a stroke of work since Monday morning. He won't
the Djinn, whistling, 'that's my Camel, for all the gold in
Arabia! What does he say about it?'
"Humph!"' said the Dog; 'and he won't fetch and
'Does he say
"Humph!"; and he won't plough,' said the Ox.
said the Djinn. 'I'll humph him if you will kindly wait a
The Djinn rolled himself up
in his dust-cloak, and took a bearing across the desert, and
found the Camel most 'scruciatingly idle, looking at his own
reflection in a pool of water.
'My long and
bubbling friend,' said the Djinn, 'what's this I hear of your
doing no work, with the world so new-and-all?'
The Djinn sat
down, with his chin in his hand, and began to think a Great
Magic, while the Camel looked at his own reflection in the pool
the Three extra work ever since Monday morning, all on account of
your 'scruciating idleness,' said the Djinn; and he went on
thinking Magics, with his chin in his hand.
say that again if I were you,' said the Djinn; you might say it
once too often. Bubbles, 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 lolloping humph.
'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. To-day 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?'
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. Humph yourself!'
And the Camel
humphed himself, humph and all, and 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.