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Camel Vengeance

By Garnett Radcliffe

There was something almost disconcerting
in the camel's indifference to our laughter
 

THIS thing happened in Aden. Aden is an interrogation mark at the foot of the Red Sea, a burning query to which an Arab would tell you that only a camel knows the answer.

Certainly only a camel could give the true explanation of this story. It concerns what happened to Rosemary Anderson, daughter of Tom Anderson of the Protectorate Police, when she visited the Barren Rocks.

We were prepared to welcome her. Tom, who would have made a good publicity agent, had led us to believe that his daughter was a sort of second Ruth Draper, an impersonator and comedienne, and in Aden laughter is as hard to come by as cold beer. I wasn't at the party Tom gave in honor of his daughter at the Union Club, but I got a report from young Howlette of the Sappers who was.

"Topping girl," he told me. "Not exactly what you'd call a beauty, but a good type. Dashed clever too. She did a sketch of an old Lancashire woman buying eggs that made me roar."

Against which I got another report from Bob Faulkner, a sailor who had had the bad luck to get himself spiked on our duncolored peninsula.

"I can't stand that Anderson girl," he said. "Big hands and feet and laughs too much. Some people think she's funny, but I'm hanged if I do."

Remembering the Latin proverb "quot homines tot sententiae" I decided to reserve judgment until I had a chance of seeing the newcomer for myself.

The chance came at a hospital dance at Crater. Rosemary was a big bouncing girl with honey-colored hair and prominent teeth and an assured manner. "Jolly" is the word that describes her best. When I saw her she was being the life and soul of a crowd of lobster-faced subalterns in bush tunics.

"Camels?" I heard her cry, with a not very good imitation of the way people talk in Lancashire. "Nay, luv, ah don' like camels. They look like hearth-rugs or summat stuck on a couple o' clothes props. An', oh my, don' they smell fierce!"

The subalterns laughed, especially young Howlett. I took a gin and tonic to a man who might give me a tip for the next Khormaksar races. And the sudden laughter, loud and prolonged, drew my attention again to Miss Anderson, and after a moment I began to laugh myself.

Something had inspired her to start imitating a camel. As a rule imitations of the sort made me yawn, but she was being really funny.

Evidently she possessed a keener observation and a greater power of mimicry than I'd have given her credit for. And she had been assisted ...

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