But how did the tobacco get into our picture? You can hunt up the story for yourselves in your school histories. Had not Sir Walter Raleigh in 1586 introduced the weed to the court of Queen Elizabeth from Virginia, our picture and social life in Arabia would be very different. The custom of puffing tobacco has spread like a prairie fire and it is now so common in the East that very few realise it was not always found there. There they are all together, an Indian pipe, Arabian coffee and American tobacco! How much faster and further tobacco has travelled than the Bible; how many people had begun to drink Mocha before Arabia had a missionary!
But, of course, nothing can travel for nothing; and somebody must pay the travelling expenses. America pays many millions more for tobacco in a year than it pays for missionaries. It is not surprising, therefore, that all Arabians smoke and only a very few have ever heard of the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. As Jesus Himself said, “the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light.” When people learn to love missions as much and as often as they do a good cigar and a cup of coffee there will be no need of mite boxes. God hasten the day.
AT THE CORNER GROCERY
It is not a very long distance from the Arab coffee-shop where we left our friend smoking, to the grocer. The streets are very narrow and unless we are very careful that camel will crowd us to the wall or those water-skins on the white donkey wet our clothes—see how they drip! Well, one turn more and here we are. The grocer in the picture on the next page is leaning on his elbow waiting for a customer. And if he keeps his groceries as free from flies and ants as he does his spotless white turban we will buy our day’s supplies here. The shops in Arabia are not very large and they have no place for customers except outside. Sometimes there is a sort of raised seat or bench on which the purchaser sits when he bargains for something; but generally you have to stand up outside while the crowds push and the traffic goes on. One curious custom is that all the shops of one kind cluster close together