How The Camel Got His Hump

: Just So Stories

NOW this is the next tale, and it tells how the Camel got his big hump.

In the 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

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 us.'

'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 of us.'

'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 it.'

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 milkweed most

'scruciating idle, and laughed at them. Then he said 'Humph!' and went

away again.

Presently 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 Three.

'Djinn of All Deserts,' said the Horse, 'is it right for any one to be

idle, with the world so new-and-all?'

'Certainly not,' said the Djinn.

'Well,' said 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 trot.'

'Whew!' said the Djinn, whistling, 'that's my Camel, for all the gold in

Arabia! What does he say about it?'

'He says "Humph!"' said the Dog; 'and he won't fetch and carry.'

'Does he say anything else?'

of the Magic that brought the Humph to the Camel. First he drew a line

in the air with his finger, and it became solid; and then he made a

cloud, and then he made an egg--you can see them both at the bottom of

the picture--and then there was a magic pumpkin that turned into a big

white flame. Then the Djinn took his magic fan and fanned that flame

till the flame turned into a magic by itself. It was a good Magic and a

very kind Magic really, though it had to give the Camel a Humph because

the Camel was lazy. The Djinn in charge of All Deserts was one of the

nicest of the Djinns, so he would never do anything really unkind.]

'Only "Humph!"; and he won't plough,' said the Ox.

'Very good,' 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?'

'Humph!' said the Camel.

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 of


'You've given 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.

'Humph!' said the Camel.

'I shouldn't say that again if I were you,' said the Djinn; 'you might

say it once too often. Bubbles, I want you to work.'

guiding the Magic with his magic fan. The camel is eating a twig of

acacia, and he has just finished saying "humph" once too often (the

Djinn told him he would), and so the Humph is coming. The long

towelly-thing growing out of the thing like an onion is the Magic, and

you can see the Humph on its shoulder. The Humph fits on the flat part

of the Camel's back. The Camel is too busy looking at his own beautiful

self in the pool of water to know what is going to happen to him.

Underneath the truly picture is a picture of the World-so-new-and-all.

There are two smoky volcanoes in it, some other mountains and some

stones and a lake and a black island and a twisty river and a lot of

other things, as well as a Noah's Ark. I couldn't draw all the deserts

that the Djinn was in charge of, so I only drew one, but it is a most

deserty desert.]

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?'

'That's made 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.

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 will 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!