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Cosmic Camel

Ulan Nuur began to plod relentlessly up a slope. Rivulets of sand trickled from
every footprint.
“You won’t find water up a hill!” protested Donal. The camel ignored him and
kept going.
Reluctantly, Donal tried to follow, only to slide down in an avalanche of sand and
be dumped at the dune’s foot. Two more attempts to climb it had the same result. At
last, summoning his remaining strength, he made a huge effort and charged at the
This time he managed to catch up with the camel at the top. He found himself
looking down over the rim of a deep, smoking crater.
“That’s not smoke – it’s steam!” gasped Donal. “That means water!”
Steam curled from the bottom of the crater, where a small yellow lake lay, its
surface broken by occasional bubbles. Yellow-white crystals encrusted its edges like
clumps of dirty salt.
Donal and Ulan Nuur slithered down together to the water’s brink. Ulan Nuur
stooped, sucked up a noisy mouthful, and immediately spat it all out again, mostly
over Donal.
“Yuck,” said Donal, wrinkling his nose. “It smells like a stink-bomb.” He dipped
a finger in the water, tasted it cautiously, and pulled a face. “We can’t drink that!”
“Yuck,” echoed the lemming.
“I am not thirsty in any case,” said the camel dismissively.
“But I am,” wailed Brola, sliding off his back in a heap. “I’ve got to be watered!
I’m wilting. The Greengrass has to drink, or it’ll die!” Her fur looked parched and
withered. “I’ve got to have water – now!”
“All right! Hang on.” Hurriedly Donal scooped up a double handful of foul-
smelling water, and poured it over her.
To his horror, the Greengrass began to shrivel and curl up wherever the water
touched it. Brola squealed like a whistle.
“I’m dying! I’m dying! Get it off me!” she shrieked.