Hear this tale read by Kira Van Deusen, accompanied by Kaigal-ool Khovalyg, Kongar-ool Ondar, and Anatolii Kuular.
Streaming audio using RealAudio
This and other Tuvan stories are available in Shyaan am! Tuvan Folk Tales by Kira Van Deusen (used here with her kind permission). Also, selected tales are available on audio cassette and CD. This, and many other great Tuva-related items are available from the Tuva Trader.
Believe it or not, the camel was once the most magnificent of all the animals! It's true! He had beautiful big horns with golden tips, and a long, thick, bushy tail.
Day after day the camel used to stand beside the river, admiring his reflection in the water.
One day while he was standing there, down from the hills came the Siberian stag.
"Ekii, Teve!" said the stag. This is the way to say, "Hi, camel!" in Tuvan. "My brother," he went on, "you have the most magnificent horns I have ever seen. Won't you loan them to me? I'm going to a party and I'd like to get dressed up."
"My horns?" said the camel. "I'd hate to give away my horns."
"Don't worry," said the stag, "I'll bring them right back tomorrow."
"Tomorrow? All right," said the camel, "But make sure that you do."
And so Teve the camel took off his magnificent horns and loaned them to the stag. The stag ran off into the mountains.
Teve stood beside the river, admiring what was left of his reflection.
Pretty soon along came the horse.
"Ekii, Teve!" said the horse. "My brother, you have the most beautiful tail I have ever seen. Won't you loan it to me? I'm on my way to a horse-race, and I'm sure I'd win if I had your tail."
"Chok!" said the camel. That is the Tuvan way to say, "No!" "I already loaned out my horns and I just can't loan my tail too."
"Don't worry, brother. I will bring it right back after the race is over."
"You're sure?" said Teve. "All right, but make sure you bring it right back,"
He took off his long, thick, bushy tail and gave it to the horse. The horse galloped away across the steppe.
The camel stood there beside the river, peering off into the distance, looking for his friends.
He waited all day. He waited the next day, and the day after that.
Neither the stag nor the horse ever came back. The stag stayed far away in the mountains and forests. As for the horse, whenever he meets a camel, he shies away.
And from that day to this, the camel has remained the angriest of all the animals!