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The Camel

THE CAMEL.

There are two or three varieties of the camel, but they do not differ
from each other much more than our horses, some of which, the stout and
strong, we use to draw heavy loads; others, more slender and graceful,
we use for riding. The swift camel is called a Dromedary; it will carry
its rider a hundred miles a day. Dromedaries are mentioned in the book
of Esther, where messages were to be sent in haste to all parts of a
vast kingdom; the messengers rode "on mules, and camels, and young
dromedaries."

This is a very large animal and is mentioned a great many times in the
Bible. I think you will like to find all these places, and see what is
said about the camel. It seems as though God made it to live in just
such countries as it does, for it can go a great many days without
drinking any water; and if it were not for this, it would die of thirst,
because the wells and springs are so far apart. If the people of those
countries had not the camel they could not travel; so you see how kind
God is to them.

The foot of the camel is curious. It is very broad, having two
divisions with a horny tip at the end of each; and underneath is a sort
of elastic cushion, like a sponge, on which the animal treads. It is
very strange to see a dozen or twenty large and heavy camels pass along
almost without any noise; so still that you would hardly know they were
coming if you did not look up.

There is a very beautiful story in the twenty-fourth chapter of Genesis,
in which there is something about camels. I will tell you part of it.
In the country where it happened a man does not generally choose a wife
for himself, but his father or some other friend chooses for him. You
have heard about Abraham, and know that he was a good man and a friend
of God. When his son Isaac was forty years old, Abraham wished to find
a wife for him, but he was not willing to take one from among the people
where he lived, because they were very wicked. So he called a good old
servant that he had-a gray-headed man-and told him that he wished him to
go to a distant country and bring a wife for Isaac from there. Then
Eliezer, the servant, took several other servants, and ten of his
master's camels, and many presents, and started on his journey. After
they had travelled a great many days, they came near to the city where
Abraham had told them to go. It was just before night, and that was the
time when the young women used to go out of the city to draw water. I
have told you that there are not many wells in that country, so that a
great many persons draw water at one place. It is the custom for
females to go for it, and they usually carry it in pitchers on their
heads.

Eliezer made his camels lie down by this well, because they had come to
the end of their journey and were very tired. But how was he to know
who would be a good wife for Isaac, among all the women of this large
city? He did not know; but he was a good man, and he prayed to God to
choose one for him, and let him know which she was. And he asked God to
let him know in this way which I will tell you. When the young women
came out to the well, he was going to ask them for some water, and he
prayed that the one who answered him kindly, and gave him drink, might
be the right one for Isaac's wife. Pretty soon he saw a young woman
coming with her pitcher on her head, and she was very fair and handsome;
but this alone did not satisfy Eliezer. He waited till she had drawn
some water and placed it upon her head. Then he said to her, "I pray
thee let me drink a little water from they pitcher;"-and she took it
down and resting it on her hand, answered very pleasantly and kindly,
"Drink, my lord." While he was drinking, she saw that he looked like a
stranger, and that his camels seemed tired with the journey, and she was
sorry from them. So she said, "I will draw water for the camels too;"-
and she did draw enough for all the ten camels, though she must have
been pretty tired when it was done, for these animals drink a great
deal. From all these circumstances Eliezer felt sure that God had heard
his prayer; and it gave him pleasure to think that if this young woman
was willing to take so much trouble for a traveller whom she did not
know, she would be a very kind and good wife.

I cannot tell you all; but Eliezer found that the young woman, whose
name was Rebekah, was willing to go with him to be Isaac's wife. When
all was ready for the journey she was seated upon one of the ten camels,
and her nurse upon another, and some of her female servants upon others.
After they had been riding some days, they came, just at evening, near
the place where Isaac lived, and saw him walking in the field. He came
to meet Rebekah, and was very glad to see her, and when she became his
wife he loved her very much.