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How the Camel Got His Hump: a retold story to share with friends and grandchildren
1/13/2020 10:00:00 PM by: Becky Cerling Powers

Rudyard Kipling made up a story to explain “How the Camel Got His Hump.”

It seems that the Camel was a lazy beast who hid out in the desert one day to avoid the Man, who might give him some work to do. When anybody spoke to him, he wouldn’t answer. He just said, “Humph!”

What the Lazy Camel said

The first day the Horse saw him. The Horse was saddled and bridled. “Camel, come and trot with us,” he said. “Humph!” said the Camel.

Next day the Dog saw him. “Camel, come help us fetch and carry,” he said. “Humph!” said the Camel.

The third day, the Ox saw him. “Camel, come and plow with us,” he said. “Humph!” said the Camel.

What the Man thought

Now the Man thought that the Camel couldn’t work because all he ever said was, “Humph!”

So he gave the Camel’s work to the dog, the horse, and the ox. Were they ever mad!

So they found the Djinn of the Desert and complained, “We have to do all the Camel’s work. It isn’t fair. When we ask him to help, all he says is ‘Humph!’”

What the Djinn did

So the Djinn hunted up the idle Camel and asked, “Why won’t you work?” “Humph!” said the Camel.

“Watch out! You might say that once too often!” said the Djinn. “Humph!” said the Camel. And as soon as he said it, a great round Humph appeared on his back.

“There!” said the Djinn. “There’s your Humph! You have missed three days of work, so now you will have to live on your Humph for three days without eating.” And ever since then, the Camel has had a Humph – only nowadays we call it a Hump.

Kipling’s poem about the camel’s hump

Kipling wrote a poem to go with his story, and in my family growing up, we used to quote bits of it whenever somebody started getting irritable from too much book reading, TV watching or just sitting around.

           

The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump

       Which well you may see at the Zoo;

But uglier yet is the hump we get

        From having too little to do.

 

Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,

If we haven’t enough to do-oo-oo,

            We get the hump –

            Cameelious hump –

The hump that is black and blue!

 

We climb out of bed with a frouzly head

            And a snarly-yarly voice.

We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl

            At our bath and our boots and our toys;

 

And there ought to be a corner for me

(And I know there is one for you)

            When we get the hump –

            Cameelious hump –

The hump that is black and blue!

 

The cure for this ill is not to sit still,

            Or frowst with a book by the fire;

But to take a large hoe and a shovel also,

            And dig till you gently perspire;

 

And then you find that the sun and the wind

And the Djinn of the Garden too,

            Have lifted the hump –

            The horrible hump –

The hump that is black and blue!

 

I get it as well as you-oo-oo –

If I haven’t enough to do-oo-oo –

            We all get hump –

            Cameelious hump –

Kiddies and grown-ups too!

What the Bible says

Three thousand years ago, wise King Solomon wrote: “He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys.” (Proverbs 18:9)

Today’s prayer

Lord, help me to find satisfaction in doing my work today. Amen.


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