This is a book of pictures and stories for big children and small grown-up folks; for all who love Sinbad the sailor and his strange country. It is a topsy-turvy book; there is no order about the chapters; and you can begin to read it anywhere. It is intended to give a bird's-eye view to those who cannot take birds' wings. The stories are not as good as those of the Arabian Nights but the morals are better--and so are the pictures. Moreover the stories are true. You must not skip any of the chapters or the pictures but you may the preface, if you like.
You will not grow weary by the way, we hope. If the desert tracks are long and tiresome through the following chapters, just refresh yourself in the oasis of a picture.
THE SQUARE-HOUSE WITH THE BLACK OVERCOAT
You think I am making fun but it is really true that in western Arabia there is a house that always wears an overcoat. This is a large, square stone house without windows and with only one door to let in the light and the air; it is empty inside, although crowds gather around it as you see in the picture. Yet this house always has on an overcoat of black silk, very heavy and richly embroidered. Every year the old coat is taken off and a new one put on. A few days ago a Moslem pilgrim showed me a piece of the cloth of last year's overcoat and he was very proud of it. It was indeed a fine piece of heavy silk and the names of God and Mohammed were prettily woven into the cloth. This man had just come from visiting the square-house and I will tell you what he saw.