On a cold winter’s night in the desert, a camel driver had made camp and was getting ready for the night. Inside, a small fire of hot coals was keeping his tent warm.
“It sure is a cold night,” said the camel driver. “I’m glad I’m in my warm tent. Before I go to bed, I’ll stir up the coals in my fire, to make sure it stays warm all night long.”
Meanwhile, outdoors one of the camels started to complain. “My goodness,” said the camel. “It sure is cold out here.”
“Feel my nose. It’s freezing! And our master is inside his tent, just as warm as can be! If I could only get the tip of my nose into his tent … it would feel so good.
“I know! I will use my teeth to rip a small hole right here, so I can warm my nose.”
“What’s that?” asked the camel driver. “That sounds like something has ripped my tent!
“Oh, no! There’s a camel’s nose sticking through the side of my tent!”
The camel driver jumped up and grabbed his pillow. “Out!” yelled the camel driver, while hitting the camel with his pillow. “Out! You naughty animal!”
“Oh, please, please, dear master!” cried the camel. “Boo hoo hoo! Don’t hit me. Please don’t hit me! It’s cold out here, and my nose is freezing! Just let me warm my nose now that it’s in your tent. One little nose shouldn’t bother you. Please?”
Although the camel driver was understandably angry, he lowered his pillow. “Look what you’ve done,” he angrily said to his camel. “You’ve ripped a hole in my tent! It will take me a lot of work to fix it.
“However, I guess it is quite cold outside. …”
The camel driver paused, giving the situation some thought. “Oh, all right. You can warm your nose, but just your nose!”
With that settled, the man returned to bed.
But the willful camel was not yet through. How nice. My nose is warmer already. But my ears are cold. I had better warm my head too.
The camel driver sprang to his feet, pillow in hand. “Oh no, I can’t believe it! The camel’s whole head is in the tent!”
“Out, you animal! Out! Out! Out!” shouted the driver, as he hit the camel with his pillow.
But the camel did not leave. “No, no, dear master! Please don’t hit me! Don’t ask me to leave,” the camel pleaded. “You don’t know how cold it is outside. I couldn’t even begin to tell you of the awful feeling of ice creeping across my body, and my ears were so cold! Just let me warm my head, just my head. Is it too much to ask on such a cold night?”
The master looked at his camel, and relented. “Just your head then, and be quiet so I can sleep!”
With that, the camel driver returned to his bed.
RIP! RIP! RIP!
“That does it!” shouted the camel driver as he again jumped out of bed. “This time that camel will be kicked out! He is really asking for it!”
“Oh, no!” the driver cried, as he observed what the camel had now done to his tent. “The hole is huge! And the camel is halfway into my tent! Out! Out!”
Whap! Whap! Whap!
“Oh, dear master!” said the camel as he continued to plead. “You are a kind and generous man. Your gracious hospitality has been too wonderful to describe. It is so terribly cold outside, and your tent is so warm. Please permit me to warm this half of my body. I only need to warm up a little and then I’ll go out and leave you in peace.”
Oh dear, what am I going to do with such an animal? thought the camel driver. Well, the damage is done, so I guess I can let him stay for a little while to warm up. He promised he would soon leave. He’s nearly all the way into the tent anyway, and he can’t rip it much more. “You may stay until you are warm. But then you must leave!” With that, the camel driver returned to his bed once more.
That camel has kept me up most of the night! thought the camel driver. I’d better get a good sleep now.
“Hooo hummm,” yawned the camel driver as he pulled up his blankets.
But the camel continued to complain to himself. Oh, my poor freezing bottom!
RIP! RIP! RIP!! RIP!!
As the camel ripped the hole in the tent from top to bottom, the entire tent shook and nearly collapsed.
“What?! What?! What’s happening?” roared the camel driver jumping out from his bed once more. “Oh, no! The whole camel is in my tent!”
Suddenly, through the rip stomped the rest of the camel herd!
“Hey, look at this big hole that opens right into our master’s nice warm tent!” exclaimed one of the other camels.
“Wow!” another camel exclaimed. “It’s really warm in here.”
“Hey, quit pushing!”
“Me first! Not everybody at once!”
“Oh dear!” shouted the camel driver. “Help! Stop! Stop! Get out! Get out!
“Oh, no, I’ve got to get out or all these camels will trample me!” And with that, the poor camel driver barely managed to escape into the cold night in his pajamas before his whole tent was filled with camels.
“Oh, it is freezing cold out here!” exclaimed the camel driver as he stood outside. “If only I had stopped that camel while he only had his nose in my tent, I would still be in my nice warm tent.”
The camel entering his master’s tent can be likened to the beginnings of a bad habit or compromise with bad behavior. Do you have a “camel” that you should stop from entering the “tent” of your life?
Look here for a fun animated version of this story.
Author unknown, retold by Paul Williams. Illustrations by Zeb.
Copyright © 2011 by The Family International