Derik the camel had the smallest
hump of all the dromedaries that lived in the desert, and he didn't like
that at all. Once there was a sandstorm that lasted for two days. When it
finished, his master, Ahmed, was able to find his other camels because
their humps stuck out of the sand; not Deriks. It took Ahmed four days to
find him because he was buried so deep, and he did have a very small hump.
All the other camels made fun of him. They laughed, "Derik, Derik, has no
hump. Derik, Derik, what a chump!"
Derik wanted a big hump so badly that he was always trying to trick the
others. One time when he was getting a drink from the only river that
flowed through the desert, his feet got covered with mud. He looked down
at them and got the idea that he could put mud all over and around his
little hump to make it look bigger. He spent an hour carefully shaping the
mud on his back. He even added some little twigs to make it look like fur.
But the other camels knew right away that it was just another one of
Ali, the biggest of all the dromedaries, got all the others to join in
teasing Derik. "Derik, Derik, has no hump. Derik, Derik, what a chump!"
Derik felt so sad. He went over to a giant pyramid and scraped the mud off
of his back by rubbing his hump against the rough bricks.
Another time, the master, Ahmed, was going to take the camels to an oasis
far away to deliver supplies. Derik took ten blankets that he had found in
a tent and put them under his riding blanket. The other camels had known
it was yet another trick, but Ahmed had been fooled. He climbed onto
Derik's back and told everyone how his hump was the most comfortable hump
he had ever ridden on. Derik felt so proud, until the master turned
sharply, and all the blankets fell off. Ahmed landed with a THUD! in the
sand. He yelled at Derik in front of all the other camels and was sent
Ali and the others had called out, "Derik, Derik, has no hump. Derik,
Derik, what a chump!"
He had gone right over to the date palm and pulled the biggest dates off,
munching on them for hours. He tried to think of a way to get his hump to
grow bigger. "Some ship of the desert you are," he pouted out loud to
himself. "The others are like Cleopatra's barge, and I am only a canoe."
Derik felt so sad.
About a week after the master had returned from the oasis with the other
camels, Derik overheard them talking about the camel races that were
coming up. Ali said that he thought he would win since he was the biggest
of all the camels. Omar said that he would win because he was the oldest.
Caliph said that he would definitely win because he was the only white
camel in Ahmed's herd, and everyone knew that white camels were better
than all the other camels. But more than any of them, Derik wanted to win.
He had been practicing a lot while the others had been gone.
Ahmed came around to check the camels the very next day. He felt their
necks, legs, and humps. Ali hated to have his legs touched, so when Ahmed
came near him, he kicked him. Omar didn't like having his neck touched, so
he spit at Ahmed when he came by. Caliph, more than anything, didn't like
anyone rubbing his white fur, so he bit Ahmed's hand.
Ahmed was very angry, and he called them all stupid camels. The last to be
checked was Derik. As Ahmed cautiously neared him, he slowly raised his
hand to feel Derik's neck. Derik didn't do anything. He didn't kick, he
didn't bite, and he didn't spit at his master. He stood quietly. Ahmed was
very pleased. He told Derik that he wanted him to be in the camel race,
even though his hump was not big.
For the next few days Derik practiced galloping while the others lazed
about, eating dates and scratching themselves. The day of the big race
came. The master put all the camels in a line, then he walked far away to
the finish line and sat in a tent to wait. The desert sand was very hot
that day. "Derik, Derik, with no hump. Derik, Derik, you chump! What makes
you think you can win against us?" Omar rudely asked. "We are bigger,
older, and much nicer looking than you are, and you have no hump!" Ali and
Caliph laughed at Derik too, but he stood calmly waiting for the race to
Someone shouted, "Ready, get set, go!" and the camels galloped away.
Omar soon began to tire and slowed down to a trot. He was getting too old
for camel races. As Derik passed him up he said, "Omar, just because I
don't have a big hump, it doesn't mean I am not as good as you."
Ali, the biggest, was the next to tire. He was too big for long distance
camel races. He slowed down to a trot and Derik passed him saying, "Now
who is the chump, Ali?"
There was only Derik and Caliph left now. The hot desert sun beat down on
Derik's dark brown fur, but he still ran as fast as he could. He could see
the master's tent now and ran as hard as he could. He finally passed
Caliph, and as he did he asked, "Too many dates, Caliph?" Derik galloped,
and galloped, and reached the finish line first.
The master came out of the tent, smiled at Derik, then put a big leafy
wreath around his neck. Then he presented him with a new riding blanket.
It was the most beautiful one Derik had ever seen. It had gold threads and
red tassels. It fit perfectly on his back. Derik was glad he didn't have a
big hump now.
Ali, Omar, and Caliph came up to Derik later on that day. "We are sorry
for teasing you about your hump. You are a better camel than all three of
us. Can you forgive us?" Ali asked, speaking for the others.
Derik thought about it for a minute. He was so happy. Nobody would ever
tease him again about his hump, and he would be wearing the master's
prized blanket proudly upon his back. "Come, my friends. I forgive you.
Let us go and have some dates."
Each of the four camels learned something that day. They walked off
together, friends forever.