The Horse and the Camel


Once upon a time, Horse and Camel lived for many years as friends. If one did not eat the other did not drink, or if one was pretty, the other was happy. But actually their inner and outer decorations were unequal, and so whenever they went to a festival or party, the guests that were there praised and complimented Camel a lot, saying “Has Elder Brother Camel arrived,” or “We hope you didn’t have any problems getting here” or “You’re such a beautiful Camel . . .” There was no one who said anything about Horse by his side, and so Horse was inexpressibly miserable.

One day when Camel was playing by the river bank, Horse came running over and said, “Elder brother Camel, my childhood friend has invited me to his engagement party and I think I’ll go, but it’s not all right to leave you alone. Since your face is prettier than mine, it’s ok if you go.” Honest-natured Camel said, “How could that be ok? You’re the one who was invited, so it’s all right for you to go.” Horse thought, “Now I have to think of a way to get his beautiful tail,” and he said, “Elder brother, lend me your tail today. Early tomorrow I’ll certainly give it back to you at this river bank.” Saying this over and over, he stayed at Camel’s side, pretending to be miserable. At that time Camel thought, “Even though he’s been invited to the party, if I consider the way he said I should go, my friend’s mind is pure and it’ll be ok to lend him my beautiful tail for a day.” He said, “If you return it tomorrow, I’ll can lend it to you for a day.” Horse swore that he would return it the next day, they exchanged tails and went their separate ways.

The next day Camel went to the river bank early, but he did not see even Horse’s shadow. He stayed until noon, but never even heard the sound of Horse’s hooves. From that time on, Horse and Camel did not meet for a long time. So this is the origin of Horse’s long, beautiful tail, and Camel’s short, rough one. Therefore, this is also why whenever Camel gets to a riverbank it looks all around before it drinks water.

—Lha lung Rdo rje, Qinghai Folk Literature 2, 1996