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  The Camel, the Deer and the Horse
(Mongolian folktale © Retold and translated by Dulce Rodrigues. All rights reserved)

Long, long ago, when animals could talk, the camel had beautiful and magnificent antlers and a long, thick, beautiful tail. One day, the camel went to drink at the lake, and when he saw his reflection in the water he thought to himself how wonderful and beautiful he was.

At this moment, a deer came out of the woods, bowed to the camel, and said rather sadly: "I was invited to the assembly of all the animals tonight, but how can I go there with such a bare forehead? Even if it is just for an hour, I wish to go with such beautiful horns as yours. Camel, please lend me your horns for tonight. I'll return them tomorrow, when you come to drink.“

The camel, though very proud of himself was not a bad fellow and had pity on the poor deer’s bald head. So he took his antlers off and gave them to the deer, saying: "Well, tomorrow when I come to drink you must return them to me."

The deer quickly took the horns, and disappeared into the woods. On his way, he met a horse and told him how he had got his antlers.

The horse thought he too would like to find a nice body decoration, so he went to the camel and asked him to give him his tail. The kind-hearted camel trusted the horse and gave him his tail.

Since then, many days and years have passed, but the poor camel has not got back either his horns or his tail. Whenever the camel comes across the deer and the horse, who are in debt to him, he asks them to give him back his horns and tail. But they laugh at him, and the deer even dares saying, "I'll give back your beautiful horns when the goat's horns have grown to heaven, and the foolish camel's tail has grown to the earth.“

This is maybe the reason why the camel shakes sadly his head when he comes to drink because he then sees his bare and ugly forehead. Sometimes he also stretches his neck and gazes long and hard wondering if the deer and the horse will ever bring back his antlers and tail.

As to the deer, he has to change his antlers every year because the luck of having antlers did not belong to him but to the camel, and he only got them by betraying the camel.

Your four-legged friend.

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    All Texts and Illustrations © Dulce Rodrigues, 2009. All rights reserved