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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The Elephant, the Camel, the Goat and the Peacock

The hot summer sun beat down on the village. Crowds of people jammed into the market place, adding to the misery and heat. Four animals were tied with ropes to small wooden sticks that had been pounded into the sand. A large sign, reading ĎAnimals For Saleí was nailed to one of the sticks.

"Iíll be the first one to go," the elephant said. "Iím strong. I can carry things. I can give rides and I can do tricks."

"Youíre wrong. Iíll be the first one bought. I can sing. I am beautiful. Look at my colored feathers! They are a prized possession, wanted by many for decorations," the peacock boasted.

"You are both wrong. It shall be I who goes first. I can give milk for cheese. My hair, though rough, can be used for making Bedouin tents," the goat chimed in. He turned and looked at the camel. "Nobody will buy you," he scoffed. "You are ugly. You bite, spit and kick. You have a big hump and smell. You will still be tied to the stick, sweltering in the hot sun long after the three of us have been sold."

The camel didnít say a word. He stood munching on some hay.

As the hours passed, more and more people came to the marketplace. The sun seemed to get hotter and hotter as it made its way higher into the sky. "I could use a drink of cool, refreshing water," the elephant complained. He was sweating and feeling very thirsty.

"I need a drink of water also," the peacock added. Its feathers were beginning to sag from the heat.

"If it gets much hotter, Iíll die of thirst," the goat said. He was covered with so much hair that he felt more miserable than the other three animals.

The camel didnít say a word. He stood munching on some hay.

A group of men walked up to the animals. They were wearing bright-colored robes that hung to the ground. Each wore a scarf that was tied around their heads. "I think I shall buy this elephant. It can carry a heavy load," Ahmed said. The elephant beamed with pride and smiled at the peacock, goat and camel. Ahmed petted the elephantís strong legs and trunk.

"The elephant is a strong animal, but it will not do well crossing the hot, desert sands," Rashid replied.

Ahmed rubbed his chin in thought. "You are right, Rashid," Ahmed said and walked over to the well to get a drink of water.

"I think I shall buy the peacock. It can sing me to sleep at night while we are traveling by caravan across Arabia," Ali said. He knelt down and looked at the peacockís beautiful feathers.

The peacock smiled at the elephant, goat and camel. "The peacock does sing and it is a beautiful bird, but it could never endure the desert heat," Rashid said.

Ali rubbed his chin in thought. "You are right, Rashid," Ali said and walked into the marketplace to buy some pistachios.

"I think I will buy this goat. It can give milk for cheese and I can use its coarse hair for my tent," Khalil said. The goat smiled at the elephant, peacock and camel.

"The goat does give milk. You could make wonderful cheeses and butter. You can use its coarse hair for your tent, but it canít walk fast enough or long enough to be in a caravan," Rashid pointed out.

Khalil rubbed his chin in thought. "You are right, Rashid," Khalil said. He walked away and bought some fine silks instead.

"I am going to buy this camel," Rashid said. He petted the camelís neck. "You also give milk. Your hair can be used to make a tent; you can carry heavy loads, such as spices, frankincense, and precious silks. You can go for days without drinking and can walk for a week without getting tired. You arenít huge like the elephant, nor are you as beautiful as the peacock. You canít sing at all, but you are the best animal of the four. I will buy you," Rashid said. He paid the man and walked away with his purchase.

The camel turned and smiled at the elephant, peacock and goat, who stood sweltering in the hot summer sun.

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