THE people of the far-off East, and especially those living in Palestine, spend much of their time in the open air, and during a good share of the year they even sleep whole nights with the starry sky for their only roof. But now, children, don't picture in your minds a nice wooden cottage with a green yard around it, and the folks sleeping out under the trees, where everybody going by on the street can see them and wake them up with their noisy travel, for they do nothing of the kind. Although they live out of doors so much, yet they are just as safe and quiet and as much alone as they would be in the house. 

In fact, they are in the house even while they are in the open air, for you see the people of those countries build their houses around the outside of their yards and have to go through their houses to get to their "courts" as they call the ground on the inside. 

Their houses, too, are almost always built of stone, and generally one story high. They often make a covered walk all around the edge of the court, and when the house is two stories high, the roof of this covered walk is made the floor of a second walk above, which is also covered. In this way they have their piazzas and verandas also on the inside of the house. On seeing a house from the outside, one might think from its blank, dismal walls that it must be a very dreary place to live in; but if the people of the house would let him in through the porch, and out into the court, he might change his mind when he saw what a charming little world they had there all to themselves. 

The picture above shows one of these courts. It has a fountain and a palm tree in it. How pleasant it would be on a warm day to sit under the shade of the palm tree, and hear the water falling in thousands of tiny drops in the basin below, and to feel the soft, cooling spray on our faces! And then at night to be lulled to sleep by the same musical sounds! The natives generally sleep on the roofs where they can catch the cooling breezes that are wafted in from the Mediterranean Sea. 

This is a very easy matter, for they always make their roofs flat, and have stairs leading up to them from the court. 

Many of the courts are much more beautiful than the one seen in the picture, and very rich families have several courts in their houses. In them they have beautiful gardens laid out, and these with the fountains, and trees often growing far above the house, make a park on a small scale, which is enjoyed only by the family and those whom they may invite to see them. 

So now when you read about anything in the Bible where a house is mentioned, you can form a right picture of it in your mind, and, perhaps, understand better what was done in it. 

C. H. G