Chapter 3 - Part 2
From last time ...
They turned and rode away from the quay, toward the house of Mohammed al-Azziri, cousin of Habeeb, and spy of Saladin's.
And now ...
Habeeb led them through the warren of alleys and narrow byways that made up this part of the ancient town, all the while bringing them closer to the high wall they could see over the low buildings. Gwalchmei followed behind, and Alfred behind him, for there was no room to ride abreast. Dressed as they were, like traders, a large contingent of children dogged their every move, hoping to have some coin or trinket tossed to them by these obviously wealthy traders. After all, they rode such fine horses.
Gwalchmei reached into his tunic and pulled out a small handful of coins and tossed them to the ground. The children scrambled to pick them up, pushing and shoving, each trying to get as much as he could for himself. Gwalchmei saw that one, the smallest of the lot, had been pushed aside and was unable to get to the coins. As the rest of the boys ran away with their booty, the little urchin stood there with tears in his eyes, distraught because he had not got a single coin.
Gwalchmei leaned over in his saddle and held out his hand to the little boy. Hesitantly, the child reached out his hand, unsure of just what to make of this gesture by this stranger. Gwalchmei grabbed his hand and with one smooth motion picked up the child and sat him across the front of his saddle.
Habeeb began, again, to lead them toward the city wall, although this time at a slower pace.
"What is your name, boy?"
"Shabaz. Where are you taking me?"
"Nowhere. Are you afraid? Do you want to get down?"
"I want to get you away from the rest of those boys, so that when I give you a few coins, they won't take them away from you."
"Give me the coins."
Gwalchmei was taken aback by the impertinence. He looked at him long and hard, ready, for a moment, to put him down on the street and ride on. Something in his eyes, though, made him stop. He reached into his tunic and took out a few coins.
"Here. Take them."
With that, the youngster slid down off the saddle and landed on his feet in the street. He turned and looked up at Gwalchmei, a big grin on his face.
"There are men, ahead, waiting for you. They have bows. And swords. Be careful."
With that, the youngster disappeared down an alleyway.