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Edge 415

camel, camels, goats, hakims, water and desert

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EDGE 415. Moving and camping.—Hakim is an Arab boy. The day he was ten years old he was riding a camel with his mother, Suleima, and his sister, Suleika. The camel carried many bundles, too, for it is a great burden-bearer. Hakim's family was moving, there on the edge of the Sahara Desert in Africa, in a country called Algeria. Enough rain may fall at some seasons in the edge of the desert to make some grass grow; but for many miles, there may be no spring or stream. In such places it is often much trouble to find water to drink.

Hakim's family was not the only one that was moving. There were four other camels besides the one belonging to Hakim's family, and they were all heavily loaded. Two small donkeys followed behind, with loads that seemed big enough to break their backs. But the donkey is a very strong little beast, well able to carry heavy loads. Everything these people had, except their animals, was fastened on these camels and donkeys. Half a mile behind the donkeys came Hakim's father, Abdal lah, driving a big flock of sheep and goats.

Toward evening the party stopped. The , grown-ups unloaded the bundles, and commenced putting up tents. Hakim and Suleika and their little friend, Yussuf, started out toward some bushes they saw in the distance, hoping to find enough sticks for a little fire.

416. Desert an hour the tents were up and the tasty smell of broiling goat meat filled the air. By the time supper was ready, Hakim's father, Abdal lah, had come up with the sheep and goats. Then Suleima took an earthenware bowl and milked four goats. For supper they had milk anemeat, and also some barley bread, heavy, and nearly as hard as bones. The only water they had was in a goat skin water bottle, which they had filled that morning at a pool beside the way.

417. Building a next morn ing, everybody got up early and went to work, for the camp was not yet finished. First of all it was necessary to make fences around the tents, to keep out the camels and goats. The Arabs have a saying that

if a camel gets his head into a tent, he goes all the way in. It is true; and a camel fills a tent very full, too. Besides, he may eat up all the flour or meal, and some of the clothes as well. Since the goats are glad to help him eat up things, the first thing the people did was to cut thorn bushes, of which there were many, and pile them around the tents so that the goats and camels could not enter.

418. The Arab were five tents in the group, four close together, and one about thirty yards away by itself. That was the tent of Ismail, the head man or chief. He was called a "Prince of the Desert." If the people had any difficulties, they came to him to ask what to do. He had his tent by itself so that people could not overhear the business done there.

419. The day's work. — The Arabs camped here for ten days. There were five men, one of whom always stayed around the camp. Each morning one of them went off a rew miles with a camel and brought back earthen water jars and goat-skins full of water. Another man went out with the flock of sheep, and another with the flock of goats. The fifth man took the camels and donkeys out to graze. All of these animals hunted their living in the scanty grass and coarse bushes.

420. The boys' and Yussuf went with the men to •learn how to take care of the animals. That was the boys' only schooling. While the camels grazed, the men taught the boys how to track camels, so that each boy could pick out the tracks of his father's camel from among many camel tracks. The boys had to run races to make them fleet and long winded, so that they might be able to follow .run-away camels. It is a terrible thing to lose your camel in the desert.

Hakim's father taught him to say over some chapters of the Koran, the Arab Bible. Abdallah could not read, but he knew many chapters of this book by heart, and also knew many stories, of the kind that we read in a book called "Arabian Nights".

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