Naomi S. McCabe

Camey was a camel.

All day long he trudged over the hot desert sands. Sometimes he carried silks and rugs and linens in the pack on his back. Sometimes he carried dishes, bright pottery, water jugs and baskets on his hump.

"Yah-hoo-ay, yah-hoo!" shouted the master. "Me must get to the city today, move on, move on!"

But Camey did not move on. He stopped to look up at the silver-winged cargo planes zooping over the sand dunes.

"If only I could fly," he thought, "I would not have to trudge over hot sands carrying a pack. I would zoom up to the clouds. Then I would zip down to the green oasis."

Nothing pleased him anymore. He didn't like the sweet hay his good master fed him. He forgot that he must eat hay in order for his hump to be full of fat.

He didn't like water. He forgot that in order to cross the desert the three paunches in his stomach must be filled. He forgot all these things as he watched the planes zooping across the desert sand.

He swished his tail round and round like a propeller. He gave a great leap into the air. For a moment he thought has was going to fly. But he didn't.

First he landed on the pads of his knees. Then he slid in a heap and spilled his pack in the sand.

"Yak-yak-yak!" called his master, running to help Camey to his feet, "whatever is the matter with you?"

Slowly Camey got to his feet and moved toward the city with the rest of the caravan.

His heart bounded with excitement as his master led the way toward the busy airport and the big cargo ramp. Never had he seen so many sparkling planes in one spot.

When all the packs of the caravan had been loaded, the master called, "Yah-hoo-yah-hoo, move on!"

But Camey would not move on. The camel boys pushed him. The master pulled him. They brought him fresh hay and cool water. But Camey would neither eat nor drink nor move away from the plane. And because he was the leader of the caravan, the other camels would not move till he did.

"Your camels are tired," said the manager of the airport. "You are welcome to make camp here till tomorrow."

So the camel boys spread their blankets on the ground nearby. Then they all went to sleep. The master went to sleep. But not Camey. He thought, "Tomorrow I must trudge over the sands again. If only I could fly, I could zoop over the desert to the next city, and be back before the other camels even get started."

Softly he padded toward the huge plane. The door was still open. He walked up the ramp and into the big freight compartment.

He knelt on the silks and linens and rugs. Soon he fell asleep.

Then a roaring noise awakened him. He was frightened. He had never heard an airplane motor warming up. It was dark inside the plane.

Camey was tossed around the freight compartment like a rubber ball. The plane was trying to break through a desert storm, but Camey did not know this.

The plane zooped and zoomed and dropped and climbed until poor Camey lay upside down. Silks and rugs and linens were wound around his neck and his hump and his ears.

Then he remembered his kind master. He remembered his pleasant life, trudging peacefully along desert sands and he longed for a, bucket of cool water.

"If I ever get back on the ground again," he thought, "I will be the finest pack camel in all Asia."

Then suddenly the plane gave a great bounce and stopped. Everything was still.

The huge freight door opened. Camey stumbled to his feet. He wobbled down the ramp, dragging linens and silk after him.

There he saw his kind master waiting for him. The plane had returned to the desert. It had not been able to get through the storm.

Camey licked his master's face.

"Yah-hoo-yah-hoo," called the master patting Camey fondly, "now we must move on to the big city.

Camey moved on. He led the caravan away from the airport and over the open fields. Through the city gates he hurried until he reached the market place.

He stood very still while the camel boys packed dishes and pottery and baskets on his back. He drank buckets of fresh water, and ate sweet hay.

He followed his master out of the city and onto the desert sands. Not once did he stop to gaze up at the zoopy planes as they winged their way across the desert sky.

He was too happy being a pack camel.

Child Life, March, 1952