There are many other sewing machines in Bahrein now, but Mohammed’s was the first, and he introduced the others. Do you not think that he should be called the Christopher Columbus of Bahrein tailors?
THE CHILDREN OF THE DESERT
About one-third of Topsy-turvy Land is desert and is the home of those Arabs that wander about from place to place and are called nomads or Bedouin. The word Bedouin means a desert-dweller. But you must not think that a desert is a flat country covered with a deep layer of sand without trees or shrubs. Oh no! There are such deserts in Arabia too, but the greater part of what is called desert is much more attractive and is only desert because it has no settled population and no villages. The soil is often very good and in springtime after the rains the whole of northern Arabia (where most of the nomads pitch their tents) is one vast prairie of wild flowers and green grass. The Arabs of the North are rich in flocks and herds. I am sure you can still find some who, like Job, have seven thousand sheep and three thousand camels and a very great household. They all live in tents and the tents of Arabia are not white and round like circus tents but jet black and square or oblong. You remember the Bible always speaks of the black tents of Kedar. They are black because they are woven from goat’s hair which is used also for their garments and is almost as good a waterproof covering as india rubber. But when you have to spend a long hot day under such a roof as I have done you feel sorry for the Arabs that they have no better protection against the blazing sun. Everything is home-made and clumsy, but shall I tell you what I have found? There is no warmer hospitality in all the wide world than in these tents of Kedar. A few weeks ago I spent a Sabbath day resting by the way in one of these tents. The women brought water to cool my head; a great bowl of camel’s milk was our drink even before they asked our errand; and at night they killed a fat kid and made a guest meal fit for an epicure.
The Arabs of the desert are more ignorant than those of the towns, but they are much kinder to strangers and treat their wives and children better. Their life is rather monotonous, but they enjoy it. Like the American Indians they prefer a tent to a house, and would rather change their home every day than settle down as farmers. When pasture fails for their flocks of sheep the chief gives notice and on the morrow the whole camp has moved away. Some tribes move every month and go for a long distance to find fresh pastures.
[Illustration: ARAB RIDERS WITH LANCES.]