"Come down from there, boy."
His son had been playing on the roof. Not so much playing, actually, as hand fighting with a trader from the East, as he often did. Wushu, he called it. An ancient form of Chinese fighting, both armed and unarmed. It was the unarmed aspects of this ancient art that fascinated the boy most, though. He was a little puzzled by that. Most boys his age were interested in swordplay and hacking each other to little pieces .. well, pretend, anyway ... but his son would rather deliver a well placed blow with a clenched fist or elbow or knee than handle a two handed broadsword. Strange, that.
"What is it father?"
"Be seated, my son, and listen. I have been hearing rumor for some time that troubles me. And, for some time, I have been making preparations, on account of those rumors."
His son, big for a boy of thirteen, sat on a low stool next to him as he sorted through bolts of silk recently brought to him by the trader who had been exercising with his son, on the roof.
"Rumors, Father? Preparations? What are .."
"Tut!! Listen, boy, and you shall know all. Talk and you shall hear nothing but the sound of your own voice. As I was saying ... rumors have been coming to my ear for some time that lead me to believe there is trouble coming. A leader has arisen among the Mohammedans that would seem to be poised to attack the Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem. This man, this Saladin, has taken important cities in Syria and I fear he will turn on Jerusalem now. If that happens, I am sure there will be a call for another Crusade. It could be ten years from now, but the danger here grows ever stronger and I fear it will no longer be safe for us, for you, here in Constantinople. I have been making preparations for us to return to Wales."
"But what of our shop, Father? What of our business? How will we live? What will we do? When will we leave?"
"Hold!! I can answer but one question at a time, boy. Your mind is too quick, as is your tongue. Ask one thing at a time, and be so kind as to wait for an answer."
"There is no need to apologize, boy. Ask your questions."
"What will happen to our shop, Sir?"
"I have been talking to Suliman, the Tea Merchant. He has expressed an interest in purchasing our shop and business and has offered a fair price. I have not accepted his offer yet, but the price is fair and I have not chosen to be too public about my intentions so the likelihood of other offers is slight, at best."
"How will we live, Father? What will we do?"
"Two questions? You are a lucky scamp, you are, for one answer will suffice for both. We have been very fortunate here, in this place, my son. We are men of wealth now, and when we return to Wales, we will return to our ancestral home with all we need for a long time. We have land there and we will do as our ancestors have done - we will herd sheep and farm - or more likely, hire others to do those things for us."
"How will we get there, Father?"
"There is a large group of Pilgrims returning to England and France. We will travel with them."
"But what of thieves and villains, Father? What of them?"
"The pilgrims travel under the protection of the Templars. I have arranged to purchase a letter of credit from the Templars which I will redeem in France. I will hire men, when in France, to accompany us to Wales. These arrangements have all been made, Gwalchmei. I have thought this through very carefully."
His son sat there for a moment, deep in thought. He watched his son, surprised at the aplomb with which his son had greeted all of this.
"Father, how soon are we to leave?"
"The pilgrims will not leave for a month, yet. So, a month. Why do you ask?"
"Sala al-Tikriti is due here in a week, from Mecca. Perhaps, if he were made to see an opportunity to deal directly with the traders from the East, instead of through a middleman, he might see enough profit in it to offer you a better price than that of Suliman the Tea Merchant.
"Perhaps you are right, my son. I think such a thing might be possible. I will talk to Sala when he arrives."
And once again he marveled at the quick mind of his son, who had become so expert at dealing with the men of Mecca.
"Oh, and one other thing Father, if I may. When we get home to Wales, I would train as a Knight. I believe that is what God wants me to do. At least, I know it's what I want to do. And God and I have almost always seen eye to eye."
And he thought to himself, "And a fine Knight you will be, my son. A fine Knight, indeed."
"Of course, my son. We will speak of this when we have got home. Now, go back to the roof and your exercises. And make sure you hurt no one - or that no one hurts you. And please? No more do I want to see anyone thrown from the roof. My heart grows weak from the worry."
"Aye, Father, and your beard grayer."
With that he was up the ladder and onto the roof.