By Margo Wayman
The man bent over and picked up the heavy bags filled with precious spices, like cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla and cocoa, and loaded them on the back of the camel. He then brought smaller bags filled with frankincense, gold, precious stones, pearls, myrrh, tea, grains and the finest cloths made of silk. He even tossed a heavy carpet made of goat hair onto the camel's back. There were over a hundred camels in the caravan and each was carrying many of the same things, ready to travel the long hot drive across the desert's sandy dunes. The camels began their trek, loaded with goods. Their masters, who were called grooms, led the camels as they began their adventure. Only the first camel in the seemingly-never-ending line carried a groom. The other grooms walked and the other camels were loaded too heavy to carry a person. The camel at the very end of the train wore a bell. It wasn't around his neck, but was rather large and hung on a stick that lay across his saddle. The bell would always clang when the camels walked, so that the grooms would know the entire train was together and none wandered off.
Farah, the camel, was feeling tired. It wouldn't be long before her baby would be born. It might even be while they were walking the trade route paths. She plodded on with the others for several days and nights. They always traveled at night and slept during the day, when it was too hot to travel. Camels don't like the hot weather. Neither did the grooms.
The sun was just rising above the horizon. The camel train stopped to rest in the shade of the trees at a small oasis. The goods were taken off their humps. Farah lay down to rest. She was very tired.
When the groom went by a few hours later to feed them, much to his surprise, next to Farah lay a baby camel. The groom smiled, stroked the little camel and urged him to get up and walk. He'd have to follow his mother or he would die in the heat of the desert. Faisal got up and wabbled around, his legs rubbery and weak. The groom kept him walking and after just a couple of hours, he was able to run around.
When the sun went down behind the horizon, the camels were roused, loaded again and off they went, Little Faisal followed behind. He walked and walked and walked. His mother kept looking back at him to make sure he followed. She fed him whenever they stopped to rest. Faisal had a hard time. His new and not-so-strong little legs were tired. His mother was worried about him, but he stayed behind her and walked the whole night.
That morning, as the sun rose again, the camel train stopped at their destination. The grooms unloaded all the precious goods off the camel's backs and took them to the markets to sell. Farah walked over to the shade of a date palm and lay down. Faisal lay down next to her. She was so proud of him. He moved over and lay his head on her tummy and fell asleep. She was so proud of her baby camel. Tomorrow they would be loaded up again and begin their trek to some new and distant land. Perhaps the groom would let Faisal carry something on his back. Farah smiled as she looked at the sun shining high in the desert sky. It was the beginning of a new day, and a new life in the camel train for Faisal.
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