When Noah had gathered the animals before the ark, he said:
“All these beasts will surely quarrel and bite their ears. We would therefore be prudent to remove their ears before they entered the ark. We will give them back at their exit.”
He installed a cloakroom and gave orders to his son to store the ears, as the beasts arise.
The first was the camel; then came the horse and the cow and the dog, sheep, pig, cat, elephant, rabbit, and finally the donkey. And all, like Noah commanded, took off their ears, and all received in exchange a cloakroom number, attached to a cord that went around their necks.
With these precautions, peace reigned in the ark during the forty days that lasted the flood.
The forty-first day Noah said to animals:
“That’s the good weather returned. I’ll give your ears back, and you can go home.”
Then, one after another, all the animals went to the cloakroom, and they received their ears in exchange for the number.
The camel came the penultimate. There were only two pairs of ears: his, very large, and that of the ass, small.
“Mr. Noah! Mr. Noah! Give me my ears. It is this great pair there. I’m in a hurry!”
Father Noah was so tired, he paid no attention to the wrong number that gave him the sneaky ass.
“You’re breaking my head! Look, here’s your good ear, decamp! “
Noah gave the proud ears of the camel to the ass who fled with backfiring joy.
When the camel finally opened his lips to claim his due, there was in the dressing room only the ears of the donkey, which he had to be content.
And that is why the camel, which is a large beast has such short ears, while the donkey, which is much smaller, has them so long.
(Translated and adapted from ABC – Petits Contes, by Jules Lemaître)