It was a dream he had had many times before. He was home, with a woman, his wife, and a child, his also. The child lay in her cradle, asleep with the rocking motion imparted by his wife's foot, as she sits on a low stool outside the door of the hovel in which they live, knitting. He walks toward them and reaches a hand down toward the baby, but the hand is suddenly a fist covered in mail, an armoured gauntlet, and as he reaches down, the cradle and child retreat from his grasp further and further and the light grows around him and everything fades away until there is nothing but the light and the heat and the sand and the growing sound of battle and he looks up to see a sword descending upon him and he wakes with a start.
He lay upon the pallet, in his tent, and knew the meaning of the dream. A warning. This life, this path, would see him dead. Give up the armor or give up any chance at home and family. A plain message and simple. He laid awake until the morning came.
He stepped out of the felt tent into the cool of the early morning. The squire had a simple breakfast of local fruits and some sliced lamb ready for him to eat.
"Where is the kahve, Squire?"
"It will be ready in a moment, M'Lord, but one has to wonder what you see in that stuff. It is black and bitter and hot enough, when you drink it, M'Lord, to boil one's tongue."
"It is the nectar of the Gods, Squire. The Arabs have been drinking that stuff for at least two hundred years and in that time, the technique of preparation has been highly refined - the beans, roasted, the water, heated and passed through the ground up beans, filtered by the finest cotton gauze. I have been drinking kahve since living in my father's house; the beans came to us from the men of Mecca and the techniques of preparation were taught to me by the Turks."
"Well, it is not to my liking, M'Lord."
"No, Good Squire, I imagine it is not. It has been my experience that kahve is an acquired taste. But it is more than the taste, Squire, that draws one in. Kahve fires the mind and stimulates the body. The mind becomes clear, the pulse races and the body feels stronger and faster than ever before. It is but a temporary experience, but while one experiences it, it is amazing."
Squire approached with the curious double pot that his master, the Knight, had taught him how to use.
"Here is your kahve, M'Lord. Excuse me, please, M'Lord, while I prepare your arms for the morning exercises."
"No, Squire, I think not today shall I exercise. Perhaps not any day, again."
"What say you, M'Lord? No exercises? What are you playing at?"
"There is no play in what has been spoken here, Squire. Methinks, perhaps, it is time that I put away the sword, and take up the plow; give up the armor and adopt the mantle of husband and father."
The squire could only sputter at what he'd just heard.
"Squire! For the first time ever I do believe you to be speechless. Hah!" He paused. "What is it, Squire? Come. Spit it out!"
"Why, M'Lord? Why give up the armor and sword? This is all we've ever done! What will we do? Where will we go?"
"Those are all good questions, Squire. And each shall be answered in the fullness of time. Suffice it to say, for now, that I have lain awake most all the night, pondering a dream which came to me, and not for the first time have I dreamed that dream. It was a dream in which I had a wife and a child one moment, and found myself facing my death the next. It is time to stop, Squire. I can no longer ignore my doom."
"But what will happen to me, M'Lord? I have come to an age where I can no longer find a young Knight whom I can serve. I have served you well, I think, and together we have gone to many places and seen many things. I am loathe to give that up, and yet, I would not see you harmed. I am confused, M'Lord. I know not my true mind."
"My Good Squire. My one and true friend. Don't worry. The purse is full enough that we both shall live well to the end of our days. I have bought land in the Midlands and we shall retire there to live the life of gentlemen farmers, for there is freehold there for you, Squire, that you may live as well as I."
"You are most generous, M'Lord."
"No, I am not. It is YOU who are generous, Squire; you who has served, and dedicated your life to my service. We will go home, Squire. We will leave this awful place and head home to England. Pray you, then, we get there alive."
"Pray? Pray? Perhaps, M'Lord, you should do those exercises, after all."
"Perhaps, Good Squire, you are right."