This is one of the stories I remember Bill Nicolaisen (1927-2016) telling us one evening. It must be some 15 years ago or so , and I have to improvise the gaps in my memory while writing the story down now. It is kind of a children’s story and the hard part for the narrator is pronouncing the names right without hesitation. According to Wikipedia the story is an example of ‘Literairy Nonsence‘, it probably goes back to the Victorian Age, and it is known to – at least – have been told since the 1920’s. By lack of recordings from oral tradition the exact plot of the story isn’t certain. Clive Dale used the folktale for his children’s book Clive the Magic Camel at the Zoo.
Once upon a time there was a camel.
He wasn’t a very happy camel because he thought he looked dull and stupid with this ugly lump on his back.
The camel wished he would look more like the other animals.
One day he walked through the woods and encountered a big grey animal.
“What are you called?” the camel asked.
“I’m an elephant,” he replied and casually picked a peanut from the floor with his trunk.
“I wished I could do that”, the camel said in admiration.
And all of a sudden the camel got a grey trunk too.
As he walked on, he encountered an antelope making giant leaps.
The antelope stopped because he had never seen such an animal before.
“What kind of animal are you?” he asked.
“I’m a camelephant. I wish I could make such high jumps as you can. What are you called?”
”I’m an antelope.”
And all of a sudden the camelephant got the skinny legs of the antelope as well.
He started jumping around and near the lake he met a pelican.
“What strange creature are you?” the pelican asked.
“I am a camelephantelope.”
“Never heard of”, said the pelican: “At least everybody knows I am a pelican.“
And the pelican put a few fish in her throat pouch to bring home to her children lateron.
“I wish I could do that,” the camelephantelope said.
And all of a sudden he got a pouch just like the pelican.
On he walked again, and after a while he heard the most beautiful singing voice.
He looked up and in a tree there sat the tiniest yellow bird singing wonderful songs.
The bird saw him too and stopped.
“What kind of animal are you?” the bird asked.
“I’m a camelephantelopepelican.”
“No kidding,” the bird said.
“What are you, my wonderful singer?”
“People call me a canary.”
“Oh, I wish I could sing like you…”
And the next time he opened his mouth, he could.
Proud as a peacock the camel walked through the woods, and everyone looked at him in utter amazement.
“What on earth are you?” the snake finally asked.
“I’m a camelephantelopepelicanary,” he replied in pride.
Then everybody started laughing so hard they could not stop.
The camelephantelopepelicanary looked at himself in the water of the lake an realised he looked kind of silly.
“Oh, I wish I was an ordinary camel again,” he sighed.
And he turned into a camel again.
The animals in the woods started cheering.
“That’s right,” the snake said: “nothing wrong with being a good old camel.”
The camel looked into the water once more and said: “You know what? He is right! There’s nothing wrong with being a camel.”