The camel, the deer and the horse
(Mongolian folktale retold by Dulce Rodrigues © All rights reserved)
Long, long ago, when animals could talk, the camel had antlers and a long,thick, beautiful tail. So the camel was very proud of himself, and he always showed off his beautiful and magnificent antlers to the others.
One day, the camel went to drink at the nearby river. A deer came then out of the woods, bowed to him, and said rather sadly: “I was invited to a party tonight, but how can I go there with such a bare forehead? Even if it is just for one hour, I wish to go with such beautiful antlers as yours. Dear friend, couldn’t you lend me your antlers for tonight? I’ll return them tomorrow, when you come here to drink.”
The camel, though he was a little vain, had a good heart and took 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 antlers and disappeared into the woods. On his way, he met a horse and told him how he had got his antlers.
The horse, who had also been invited to the party, thought he would like to find a nice body decoration, too. He then went to the camel and asked him to give him his tail. The kind-hearted camel trusted the horse and gave him his tail.
The next day, the camel went to the meeting point as agreed. While waiting, he was drinking water and stretching his neck to see if the deer and the horse would come. But none of them showed up. Many days and years have passed since then, and the poor camel has still not got back his antlers nor his tail.
Because he drank too much water while awaiting the deer and the horse, the camel has got a hump full of water; and because he stretched his neck gazing long and hard for the deer and the horse, his neck has grown long.
The horse kept his tail but, whenever he sees the camel in the distance, he runs away.
As to the deer, he also kept his antlers, but he has to change them 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.