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The Haughty Camel



Join up and see the world, they said. Sign on and travel to far away and exotic places. Be the envy of your friends and family. Well, they were right about travelling long distances. But I’m not sure anybody is going to be jealous of a trip to a fly-ridden, overcrowded, hillside – town is too big a word, place will have to do. Especially when they see the accommodation. Not big enough to swing a….well, to swing anything really. And as if it’s not cramped enough already, it turns out we’ve got to share it with humans. I ask you! And not even decent ones – this lot are young, and definitely not of the top drawer variety, and there’s even a – a baby! Well, it’s just not right, is it, a baby in a stable. It’s not that I’m prejudiced, you know. But some people should keep to their proper place. And babies, well, babies – we all know what babies do. They make a noise, and a smell – and – other things. And I’m expected to share a stall with it – him, whatever.


Well, I suppose it’s all part of life’s rich tapestry, but it’s definitely not what I expected when I took the contract, and I will be making that quite clear when I get home, I can tell you.


Now the other night, that was quite different. Not perfect, but definitely better. Well, you can’t expect perfect this far from home, but we did have stalls, and water, and proper company; people who knew how to treat us. It’s not for myself that I am bothered you understand. But my rider – he’s an important man, top of his profession, and very well respected by his peers. And I don’t like to see him behaving like he has here. It all seems a bit – well, a bit demeaning, really. We set out with such high hopes you see. There’s a group of us. Apparently they’ve all been working together on studying the stars. I did tell you they were high-powered, didn’t I? Anyway, what they had learnt was that there was to be a new king. So, they wanted to go and pay homage – well, you would, wouldn’t you. So they got together proper gifts, and then looked for appropriate transport. That’s where I come in. Quite the best I am, though I shouldn’t say so myself. But why deny the truth. I can travel for miles on a single fill-up, I know how to behave in the best company, and I am well aware of the dignity of my rider, and well able to enforce respect for myself – I mean him!


So we set off. It was a long journey, but there was this start…it kept going ahead of us. It was quite impressive really. I don’t suppose you will have had much chance to see such a thing. It is only people who have studied at the best universities who know how to interpret such signs, and I don’t suppose….no, I thought not. Anyway, stop me if you don’t understand, but there was this star, and it seemed to keep moving, and we followed it. Very technical stuff, as I’m sure you can see, but fortunately I have enough experience and expertise to know how to cope with such things. In due course, as was to be expected, it stopped over a palace. Admittedly, it was a palace in Jerusalem, which I must confess was not the place I had expected to come. I mean, it’s not exactly the centre of the world, is it – not one of the big powers. But, that was where we arrived, and as I say, at least they knew how to treat us there. Nice stall, good food, and the company was alright, given the restrictions of a provincial region.


But did we stay there – no! Couple of days later, and we’re off again. Heading down some dusty track, to some fly-blown place that nobody’s ever heard of. Well, I guess that’s not strictly true, because there was some word of a prophecy, but not one I’d ever heard of. Anyway, that’s how we came here – Bethlehem I think it’s called. And not content with coming to this godforsaken place, we end up in an outhouse of a cheap inn, and it’s full of people! And animals! It can‘t get much worse. At least, I thought it couldn’t. But once we got here, the whole pack of them; these eminent men, who should have some regard for my dignity if not their own, down they get, and off with the packs an out come the treasures, and they’re on their knees and offering them to this slip of a girl and her shiftless looking husband – if they’re married, and I wouldn’t be too sure of that – for this baby, which they say is a king.


Can’t see it myself, I must say. Doesn’t make sense, if you know what I mean. But then, who’s going to ask me. I’m just a camel.

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