"Gwalchmei, have you spoken to anyone of our plans?"
"No, Father, I have not. But ..."
"But?? Whom have you told?"
"I have not spoken of our plans, Father, but that I said to Na'ima that the prospect of our marriage has come to doubt."
"Marriage? You speak of MARRIAGE? You are soon to be a man, yes, but you are not yet grown to the point where you think of marriage, surely?"
"Not me, Father. Na'ima. She has planned our lives years in advance. Until now it has been a charming diversion, but I felt I had to tell her it cannot be."
"Did you say more than that?"
"No, Father. I did not. Why do you ask?"
"I have been receiving unsolicited bids on the business and inquiries as to the terms of sale since first light. I fear Na'ima may have spoken of our intention to sell to her father, or one of her many uncles. In any case, it seems the whole of Constantinople wants to buy our business."
"Is that not good, Father? Does that not raise the price?"
"I wanted to depart Constantinople discreetly, Gwalchmei. We will be traveling through strange lands, in the company of strange people, and guarded by strangers, during a time of brewing trouble. Our passage from this place would be safer done with little notice."
"But surely, Father, the Templars will safeguard us, and those with whom we will travel will be but simple pilgrims. We will not be in any great danger."
"You are still a boy and your experience with the world at large is so very limited. You know the traders from Mecca, and from the East, but they are honest men and true. You know nothing of the liars and the deceivers we are going to meet. And meet them we will, my son. Some who will travel with us would steal the breath from your mouth. They could be pilgrims. They could be Templars."
"TEMPLARS???? Surely not, Father. They are monks!"
"They are MEN, Gwalchmei, and subject to the same failings as all other men. Yes, they are monks. Yes, they are consecrated to their purpose. But in any group there will be those who fail their purpose - there will be liars and cheaters and thieves. Even among the Templars."
"So what then, shall we do, Father, to protect ourselves?"
"Trust no one, Gwalchmei. From the time the door to this shop shuts behind us, until we are within our own walls in Wales, trust no one."
Gwalchmei stood and looked his father square in the eye.
"No one, Father?"
His father reached out and placed his hand on his tall son's shoulder.
"You can trust me, Gwalchmei. But no other. No other at all."