10 IDEAL HOME LIFE
tower of our fort, and behold! the East began to sparkle and beckon. Domes called for minarets, and chessmen on pillars supplied the need. One thing led to another, and before the day was over the Indian horsemen were in full charge across a sanded plain where palm-trees grew—a sanded plain bounded only by the edges of the table, along three sides of which were buildings that seemed quite suitable piles to reflect their fair proportions in the Ganges or the Sutlej, especially when viewed by eyes which had not had the privilege of gazing on those fair and distant streams.
I learned a great deal in that my first day of what I may term romantic building, but what I learned was the merest shadow-sketch of the possibilities of my discovery. My little son, for his part, learned that a bowl one way up is a bowl, a thing for a little boy to eat bread and milk out of; the other way up it is a dome for a king's palace. That books are not only things to read, but that they will make marble slabs for the building of temples. That chessmen are not only useful for playing that difficult and tedious game on which grown-ups are so slowly and silently intent, or even for playing all those other games, of soldiers, which will naturally occur to anyone with command of the pleasant turned pieces. Chessmen, he learned, had other and less simple uses. As minarets of delicate carved work they lightened the mass of buildings and conferred elegance and distinction, converting what had been a block of bricks into a pavilion for a sultan or a tomb for a sultan's bride.
There was a little guard-room, I remember, at the corner of our first city, and there has been a little guard-room at the corner of every city we have built since. In simple beauty, that little guard-room seemed to us then to touch perfection. And really, you know, I have not yet been able to improve on it. The material was simplicity itself: six books, five chessmen, and a basin.