A preparatory couple of words about Arabs, Antelopes, and Aphrodisiacs -- The oryx, a large antelope with two imposing horns is among the rarest of the world's animals. For the Arab, the oryx is a virility symbol; having shot one, he believes he can go home and be good with his woman...W.H. Canaway's central character, an English teacher named John Parsons stationed in Arabia, develops a ""thing"" about the oryx. He sees one from his land Rover and feels in someway compelled to save them from impending extinction; he is ""in some manner called to dedicate himself"" to the white beast. Parsons is invited to go with Sheikh Khalid on an expedition into the desert. When Khalid finds out that Parsons has no intention to shoot the oryx -- and is, on the contrary, a kind of missionary in their behalf -- he leaves Parsons in the desert to die. Parsons is rescued by his slave, a present from the Sheikh, and in turn saves the slave from death. Interwoven in the swashbuckling turn of events, is the ubiquitous white oryx. Is it a virility symbol to the English teacher of English who writes home with too much frequency to Mommy? Unfortunately, the whole oryx problem, the person of John Parsons, the merciless Sheikh, etc. never become real so that his story must be primarily read for its elements of adventure.