PRETTY STORIES ABOUT THE CAMEL.
THE native home of the Camel is in the deserts of Asia and Africa.
It is a domesticated animal, reared chiefly among the Arabs, and is one
of the many useful creatures God has created for the service of man. It
is formed by nature to inhabit those hot and barren regions, wfiere other
animals cannot exist for want of pasture; and it is the only beast of
' burden capable of carrying merchandise across the vast sandy plains that
lie between the principal cities of Arabia and Egypt.
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The strength of the Camel is far greater than that of the horse, and
it can perform a long journey, heavily laden, without requiring much food
or water, -a peculiar faculty that renders it of great value in countries
where the traveller must pursue his weary way, sometimes for hundreds
of miles, without meeting with a well, an herb, or a single blade of grass.
The Camel has several cavities in its stomach, which it can fill with
food and water, sufficient for several days; and, besides this, its hump is
a substance which supplies its body with nourishment, when it cannot
obtain food. Its mouth is so constructed that it can eat and enjoy the
hard, prickly shrubs found in the deserts, which no other animal could
feed upon; and its feet are formed to tread upon a hot, sanddy soil, without
being shod, as those of a horse must be. In short, the Camel is made for
the countries in which it is placed; and in its singular formation we find
a striking evidence of the wisdom ,and goodness of God, who has thus
given to man the means of crossing the wide deserts, which, without the
aid of this useful creature, would be impassable. The Camel may there-
fore,- with great truth, be called the ship of the desert."
There are two species of this animal, one known as the Arabian, the
other as the Bactrian, Caimel. The latter is distinguished by having two
humps, and is found only in Central Asia; while the former, with one
hump, is the common Camel of Arabia, Syria, and Egypt.
IN the deserts of Egypt and Arabia, there are numerous tribes of
people called Bedouins, or Wandering Arabs. They have no settled
place of abode, but live in tents, which they set up wherever they please,
as the Gipsies do in some European countries.
They always make their encampment on a spot where there is a well,
and some pasturage for their flocks and herds, which consist of sheep,
goats, horses and camels; and when the green herbage is all eaten, they
again set off in search of more. The camels are then laden with the
women, children, tents, and cooking utensils; while some of the men ride
on the horses, and others drive the flocks.
The Camel is the most valued of all the possessions of the wandering
Arabs, as it is not only of great assistance in the journeys, but they drink
its milk, which is their chief beverage, and weave its hair, which it sheds
yearly, into a useful kind of stuff, of which they make garments.
The Dromedary is a particular kind of Arabian Camel, remarkable for
its swiftness, and t..-. :-7.. only used for riding. The Dromedary will
perform a long journey, with a single rider, in a much shorter space of
time than a horse, because it requires less rest, and can travel more than
a hundred miles in a single day, without being over-fatigued.
A CARAVAN CROSSING THE DESERTS.
THE merchants of the East travel in large companies, called Caravans,
which are often joined by other travellers, who would not be able to make
their way, alone, across the great Deserts.
The Caravans consist of horsemen, and long lines of Camels laden
with merchandise of various kinds, provisions, and water, which is carried
in skins. And this mode of travelling, toilsome and perilous as it some-
times proves, is thre only means by which the merchants of Syria and
Arabia can traverse those :yast sandy Deserts which lie between their own
countries and Egypt, (the great mart of trade for the productions of the
Eastern parts of the world.)*
The picture represents a merchant Caravan on its route from Aleppo
to Bassora, through a desert nearly eight hundred miles in extent, a jour-
ney of about forty days.
The Caravans are often attacked by the Bedouins; but the greatest
misfortune that can happen to them is a failure of water, which often
evaporates quickly, from the excessive heat. When this happens, the
sufferings of the men and horses are very great, and the latter sometimes
drop, from fatigue and thirst, while the patient Camels continue on their
way, without seeming to feel much inconvenience.
HALT OF THE CARAVAN AT NIGHT.
WHEN a caravan halts for the night, or arrives at its destination, the
Camels kneel down, to be relieved from their burdens. Kneeling is their
natural posture of repose, and they have hard projections on the knees
and breast, which enable them easily to rest in that position.
During the journey they are placed, every night, in a circle beyond the
baggage, which is piled up in the midst; and at day-break they again
patiently receive their loads, and resume their order of march. They
make no noise with their feet, but each Camel has, usually, a small bell
fastened to its saddle, the sounds of which it delights to hear.
When the caravan arrives at the city to which it is bound, the Camels
are led to the place where they are to be unladen, which is, generally, the
yard of some great warehouse; and here they quietly stand in a row,
each kneeling down, when his turn comes, to have the load taken off his
It is thus that commerce is carried on between cities and countries,
that, were it not for the assistance rendered by this useful animal, would
probably be shut out from all communication with each other, by the
immense deserts of pathless sands by which they are separated.
THE PILGRIMAGE TO MECCA.
MOST of the eastern nations are worshippers of Mahomet, and one of
the chief duties of their religion is to make pilgrimages to Mecca, a city
of Arabia, called by Mahometans the Holy City, because it was the birth-
place of Mahomet, the man whom they worship as their prophet.
The Pilgrim caravans are the largest that traverse the sandy plains.
They set out regularly once a year, from different places, with great
multitudes of persons of all classes and occupations. The principal one
is that which goes from Cairo. Its departure is a very grand sight, and
on this occasion the long trains of Camels that carry all things needful
for the journey are gaily adorned with a variety of ornaments, some of
them having silken or velvet trappings, with ostrich feathers on their
heads, and strings of beads hanging about their necks.
But the great object of attraction in the cavalcade is the sacred Camel,
which is selected for its size and beauty, to be the bearer of the Koran,
or sacred book of the Mahometans. This favored animal is decked with
cloth of gold, and its bridle is studded with jewels. It is escorted by two
great priests, and on its back is a box, in the form of an ark, similar to
that described in the Bible as borne by the Jewish priests, covered with
silk, and containing the book of their religion, called the Koran.
The Camel is generally one of the most gentle creatures in the world,
and so kind to the smaller animals that it will allow the goats of the
villagers to take a part of its meals, and on all occasions shows the
utmost docility and good nature. Yet, with all their mildness of temper,
they are sometimes seen to quarrel and fight among themselves, and will
then bite each other in the most furious manner; nor can the drivers
separate them without great difficulty. The above engraving exhibits
one of these encounters, and shows that the endeavors of the driver to
separate the excited animals are not unaccompanied with risk.
Camel fighting is one of the popular amusements of the natives of Asia
Minor, who enclose a place for the purpose, and muzzle the combatants,
to prevent them from doing each other any serious injury.
Their mode of fighting is to knock their heads together, and attempt
to throw one another down with their fore legs. But it is a barbarous
sport; and those who enjoy it must be sadly wanting in good feeling.
Besides which, it seems to be exceedingly ungenerous in those who avail
themselves of the useful powers of the Camel, to repay their valuable
services by urging the animals to acts of hostility with each other.
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CAMEL AS FORMERLY EXHIBITED ABOUT LONDON.
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Some years ago, one of the exhibitions common in the streets of Lon-
don was a Camel, with a monkey on its back; and one of these was a
fine Bactrian Camel, with two humps, which had been purchased by its
owner in Italy, and was led about the streets with a boy sitting between
the humps, and a monkey on the neck. Its color was dark brown, and
the hair on its throat was long and shaggy.
Since the opening of the Zoological Gardens, however, camels and
bears, with monkeys on their backs, have not been led about the streets,
as they used to be; so, those who wish to see a Camel must pay a visit
to one of these interesting menageries.