The camel is called “the ship of the desert”; for, as the only way by which men can cross the sea is by sailing in ships, so the only way they can cross hot and sandy deserts is by riding on camels. Camels can travel a very long way and very fast without getting tired, and they can go for a long time with very little food or drink. The reason for this is that they carry great stores of water in the cells of their stomach, and a great amount of fat in their “humps”. A fasting camel is really feeding on its hump. The camel is also very strong and can go on day after day without tiring.
The camel is common in Arabia, Egypt, Persia, Turkestan, Palestine, and Asia Minor; in North Africa, and in Spain and Italy. There are two kinds; the Arabian camel, which has one hump, and the Bactrian, which has two. The Arabian camel is swifter, but the Bactrian, which is not so tall and has a thick coat, is more useful in cold mountainous countries, like Afghanistan.
It is a grand sight to see a caravan of camels laden with Persian and Bokhara carpets coming down the Khyber Pass in a long, single line. They hold their heads up proudly, with a scornful look on their faces, as they tread steadily in dignified silence.
The camel is a bad-tempered animal, and very revengeful. When its master makes it kneel down to be loaded, it groans and snarls as if it is very cross; and it protests angrily when it is made to rise. Bad-tempered camels can give a very dangerous bite with their strong teeth, and they do not forget an injury. A story is told of a camel that was severely beaten by a boy. It waited its chance for weeks, and one day caught the boy off his guard and at one bite took the top of his head clean off.