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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Hassan, The Thirsty Camel

As the sun rose behind the great mosque that stood in the middle of the white-stoned city, Demir was tossing the last of the woven goat hair bags across the camelís hump. The sky was ablaze with reds, pinks, purples, and oranges. Hassan turned his head to look. He noticed that it was a beautiful morning and watched as the bags were loaded on his hump. Each bag was filled with scented spices, oils, and precious stones, to be taken to a village far away, across the desert.

At last Hassanís master came along and tied his leather water bag to the top of the saddle and climbed on. He dug his heels into Hassanís side and trotted off towards the coral pink sand dunes, leaving the palm tree filled oasis behind. Hassan wished that he had gotten a drink before heíd left. He was feeling rather thirsty.

The hot summer sun was beating down on them both. Several times Demir reached for the leather bag and guzzled down a sip of refreshing water.

Camels arenít supposed to get thirsty very often, but Hassan was not a normal camel. He was always thirsty. Each time Demir drank the water, Hassan wished that he could have some too. The sun felt hot on his short bristly hide. He was waiting for an opportunity when Demir wasnít looking so he could sneak a sip of water from the leather bag.

After theyíd walked for several hours, Hassan was so thirsty he could hardly stand it. He wanted a drink. Because he was wondering how to get a sip without Demir seeing, he didnít see the big rock jutting out of the sand and tripped over it. He fell to his knees and Demir went flying over his back, landing in the sand with a thud. Demir lay still, his face buried in the sand. Hassan reached around, grabbed the leather bag and guzzled down some of the water. It felt so good running down his parched throat. He put the cork back in the top and put it back on the saddle just in time. Demir stood up, brushed the sand out of his nose, ears, and hair, and walked over to Hassan. He looked down at the rock, shook his head and climbed back up onto the camelís hump.

Hassan smiled a big camel grin and moved along in the sand towards the village. The sun was high in the sky; itís hot penetrating rays heating the desert sands to an almost unbearable temperature. Demir used his fan to move the hot air back and forth in front of his face, but poor Hassan just kept getting hotter, and thirstier. He watched, drooling, as Demir took a sip from the water bag. He closed his eyes as he plodded along, trying to imagine himself at a cool watering hole, sipping all the water he wanted. When he opened his eyes and looked down at the sand in front of him, he let out a loud screeching sound, stopped suddenly, and watched once more as Demir flew over his head into the burning sand in front of him. Hassan backed up. There was a viper slithering across the sand. Hassan hated snakes.

Seeing Demir buried in the sand again and noticing the snake slinking away, Hassan quickly grabbed the water bag and guzzled down two big sips. He replaced the cork and stuck the bag back on his saddle just as Demir stood up. This time Demir was angry. He looked around to see if there was another rock, but there was none. He gazed around and noticed the viper off in the distance. Brushing the sand off his head and out of his nose and ears again, he climbed back on Hassanís hump and off they went.

Hours passed. The sun was unmercifully hot. Up ahead, Hassan could see the village. He started getting excited. Water, water, water; that was all he could think about. He started dreaming of how refreshing it would feel to splash about in it, to guzzle down gallons, and didnít see the palm tree until he walked right in to. He got a big bump on his head and once again, Demir, his master, went flying over his head and landed with a thud in the sand.

Hassan took one last sip from the water bag, leaving it completely empty. He corked it and put it back over the saddle right as Demir stood up. Demir was very angry this time. He stood in front of Hassan, looked at him suspiciously and then at the palm tree. He shook his head, climbed up onto Hassanís hump and sat there. He took the leather water bag and pulled the cork out. He lifted it up to take a drink and found there was no water left in it. He put his eye to the hole and peeked inside. He tipped it upside down and not a drop fell out. Hassan turned his head and looked around at his master, who was staring at him, wondering what was going on. Hassan smiled a camel grin, and coyishly turned back around and walked towards the village ahead.

At last they arrived. The small oasis was covered with date palms, bougainvillea bushes, jacaranda trees, and fragrant roses. Hassan saw a pond in the middle of the village. He felt very, very thirsty. Demir unloaded the scented spices, fragrant oils and precious stones from Hassanís hump and walked off towards the market place.

Hassan clomped over to the pond. He walked into it and lapped at the water. At last he was happy. At last he wasnít Hassan, the thirsty camel any longer. At last he was cool, refreshed and clean. Then a thought came to him; he had to go back to the city, across the burning desert sands. So he drank, and he drank, and he drank, and he drank, until there wasnít room for one more drop of water inside of him.

Demir came looking for him, pulled the rope tied around his jaw, and off they went, back through the desert, back across the sandsÖbut Hassan wasnít a thirsty camel anymore.

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