by Margo Fallis
The Camel Twins
Jawf and Nawf were camels that
looked exactly the same. They were twins. They snorted the same snorts,
kicked the same kicks, and even spit the same way. Their humps were the
same size, as were their tails. They both had long, thick eyelashes and a
coat of wiry, light brown fur.
The two camels were part of a large
camel train that walked along the Incense Trail – a path that ran across
the Arabian Peninsula to Egypt, Turkey, the Holy Land, and other
countries. The camels worked hard, walking for many miles each day, but
always seemed to be cheerful about it. Sometimes they would go for days
without a drink of water from a refreshing oasis. Camels can do that.
There were so many camels in the
camel caravan that even though they were tied together, the line was
nearly a mile long. Jawf and Nawf didn’t mind. They were happy that way.
They were together and that is how they liked it.
Jawf wore a red blanket and carried
bags of frankincense, which had been harvested from scraggly trees found
only on the eastern side of the great desert of Arabia. It was rare and
expensive, and sought after by the kings of far off lands. It was burned
as incense, used for healing purposes, and desired as a fragrance.
Nawf wore a green blanket. He
carried something just as rare and precious in the bags thrown across his
back. They were filled with ‘Diamonds of the Sultans’, or ‘Desert
Diamonds’. Tribesmen spent many hours each day sifting through the
scorching sand for them. They weren’t true diamonds, but looked similar
and lasted as long. The pharaohs and their wives wore them as jewels
around their necks, ankles and wrists.
Jawf and Nawf had been in the camel
caravan for many years. They knew the route well. Usually, if it was
summer, they traveled at night, when it was much cooler. Jawf and Nawf
enjoyed traveling after sunset. They could see all the stars sparkling and
twinkling in the midnight sky, and could see where they were stepping by
the light of the shimmering moon.
One morning, as the sun rose above
the horizon, the caravan stopped at an oasis. The men who looked after the
camels during the journey were called brides. When they un-roped all the
camels, Jawf and Nawf wandered over to the springs that bubbled up from
the sand. A sheik lived nearby, in a large black tent. It was made of
goatskin. As the twins walked past, they saw that the tent was filled with
cushions and pillows. Some were large, some were small, but they were all
bright colors and had beautiful designs embroidered on them. The sheik was
resting on one of the larger pillows. He was wearing a lot of gold jewelry
around his neck, wrists, and on his fingers. Goats and sheep ran in and
out of the tent.
Nawf and Jawf drank and then found a
shady acacia tree to rest under. Nawf fell asleep. As Jawf sat there,
several scarab beetles crawled past him. He wanted to eat one of the
metallic green bugs, but when one of the brides walked by with a large
wooden bowl full of dates, Jawf decided they looked tastier. He stood up
and wandered off to look for a date palm.
While he was gone, Nawf woke up. He
yawned and looked over to where Jawf was supposed to be. He wasn’t there.
Nawf stood up and looked about. Where was Jawf? He walked around the
oasis. He went down to the springs to see if Jawf had gone for another
drink, but he wasn’t there either. He went past the sheik’s tent and
peeked inside, but there was no sign of Jawf, only the sheik and a few
goats. He searched and searched, but couldn’t find his twin.
Nawf had an idea. He let out a loud
screeching sound, calling to Jawf. He heard nothing back, so he did it
again, only louder. This time he heard Jawf answering him. He kept calling
to his brother and followed his noisy answer. Soon he found Jawf standing
under a date palm. He was kicking it with his powerful hooves, trying to
knock dates down. Nawf, relieved to find Jawf, started kicking the tree
too. Suddenly dozens of ripe dates fell to the sand. The camels picked
them up with their teeth and chewed them up.
They went to get another drink from
the oasis and as they were standing, lapping up water, the bride came
along and tied a rope around their necks. It was time to leave the oasis
and continue their journey. The sun was setting and it was finally cool
enough to leave. Their backs were loaded high with frankincense, myrrh,
and desert diamonds. Off they went, headed toward Egypt and the next
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