Grace would have dismissed Maud as a dream, but she realized she still wore the cloak that the woman had given her. She got up from her bedroll, gathered her mess kit and went to get breakfast with her puppy, Lady, following.
She met Wolf in the line for sausage and eggs and went with him to pick up their milk. "I met a strange woman last night. I haven't seen her at school before. She gave me this cloak."
Wolf gaped at her. Grace had a cloak similar to Red's cloak. They sat down to eat. Wolf asked the question already knowing the answer. "Who was she?"
"She called herself Maud."
Wolf still wasn't prepared, "What?"
Grace shrugged her shoulders, "She said her name was Maud."
"What, what did she tell you?"
"She said you were a good boy."
Wolf was taken aback, "Is that all?"
Grace scrunched her forehead, "No. She told me to eat my vegetables."
Wolf looked at her a minute, "That's Maud for sure."
"How did she know my name?"
Wolf flapped his arms, "How does she know anything? She lives alone in these mountains. She's crazy. She sees things. She told me Shadow would be my friend. What else did she tell you?"
"It was a long night; I don't remember."
Wolf stared at Grace for a long time. Finally Grace became uncomfortable, "What?"
"Your face, it's changed."
Grace blushed, "How?"
"Are you wearing makeup?"
Grace blinked, "No. Not since leaving school. Why? What's wrong?"
"Your scars, they're gone."
Grace carefully felt her face and shuddered. "It's not possible. She couldn't have."
"It can't be real. I don't believe it either. We've got to show somebody."
Grace and Wolf quickly finished their breakfasts and cleaned up, and then they went to see Lady Jane, and showed the woman that her scars had disappeared, and then told her how it had happened.
Lady Jane didn't seem surprised and accepted her story. "I think Maud has done more for you than any doctor could ever do. I don't know how she did it; she has done weird things before. You are truly blessed."
"But, who is she?" asked Grace."
"I would say she is just a mountain woman, a hermit, but everybody she touches is somehow changed."
"She didn't change me," Wolf said.
"I don't mean physically, I mean here," she tapped her heart, "and here," she tapped the side of her head.
"I don't feel different," Wolf said.
"When did you stop thinking about running away?"
Wolf thought a moment and finally said, "Oh."
"When you stopped thinking of running away you started to feel better about yourself."
"How did you know that?"
"We talk amongst ourselves, the knights and teachers. We need to know the students. The Raven is very observant."
When the pages left Lady Jane, they each had something to think about.
Life in camp started to remind Wolf of the previous summer and after two full days Red and the Raven rode into camp. By that time Wolf had managed, with Wart's help, to setup the Raven's tent as well as their own. The Raven immediately had a conference with Wolf and Red. He told them what his plans for the summer were and invited them to assist in the teaching. Wolf wanted to know why he was being asked; he thought it was just his duty as a page to help.
"Your responsibility will be greater than last summer. You don't have all the makeup work to do and this responsibility has to be freely taken. It would be my pleasure to have you as a teaching assistant. Will you do it?"
Wolf didn't have to be asked twice, "Yes, Sir."
"Good. So what have you been doing with your free time?"
Wolf snorted, "What free time? All I've done is work on setting up camp."
"True, but you've also been spending a lot of time with Grace. It's good that you're helping her. She needs it. If she weren't under Lady Jane's care I would take her on as a page."
"She's been visited by Maud, two nights ago."
The Raven and Red exchanged glances. "We saw Maud yesterday morning at her cabin," Red said.
"That isn't possible," Wolf responded.
"Well actually it is possible, if she had a horse," the Raven said.
"Did Maud tell Grace anything?" Red asked.
"She told her to eat her vegetables," answered Wolf.
"Is that all?"
"I don't know. Grace didn't say." Wolf gave a dark look, "She made Grace's scars disappear."
The knight looked hard at Wolf, then he sighed, "I always suspected Maud could do something like that. She told me something once. She said I would become a knight, but it would cost me most dearly."
The two youths looked at him for a few seconds then Red asked, "How old were you?"
"Eighteen. She is very old if that is what you're asking."
"Who is she?" Wolf asked.
"She is one of the mysteries I haven't been able to solve. She supports herself by writing stories and other things, but I don't think she needs anybody's help. I think she is older than these mountains. Maybe she is a dream. She appears only to those whom she wants to. I just don't know who she is."
The Raven changed the conversation to his lesson plans for the summer. It turned out Wolf would have a big role supporting Red. There were a lot more squires and pages this summer than the previous summer, a lot of students who had not been exposed to the Raven's nature and survival courses.
Red took some break time to have a talk with Grace. She found the girl down near the swimming pond sitting on a rock outcropping staring at the still water with Lady asleep in her lap.
"Hello, Grace. Can we talk?"
Grace's head jerked around and she stared at Red with a look of fright. In that moment Red realized that Grace was old, if not in years, then in experience. "I'm sorry I didn't hear you coming. I've been meditating. It's so easy to do here." Grace set Lady down and stood up.
"I just wanted to talk. I can come back later."
"Let's talk now. I know you've wanted to for a while."
"How is that?"
"I could read it in your face. I've learned to read people. It's saved me a couple of times. You learn when to run. This is about Wolf isn't it?"
Grace paused then looked Red square in the eyes, "I'm not in love with him if that is what you're worried about. He's the only friend I've ever had."
"He's my brother. I won't let him get hurt."
"I know that. I see it in your eyes when Wolf and I are together."
Red pondered that a moment, "It's that obvious?"
"Oh yes." Grace answered. "He's too good. I wouldn't hurt him even if it meant being cut up again. He's honest; too honest for his own good. I wouldn't spoil a good friendship with him or you for that matter."
"Shake on it," Red demanded.
They both spit on their palms and shook hands. That was when Red noticed the scars across Grace's wrists.
Grace, seeing the surprise in Red's face, looked her directly in the eyes and slightly shook her head, a silent pleading for Red not to ask. Red didn't.
"You'll have to teach me how you read people."
"I think I can do that," Grace said. "It is pretty easy if you know what to look for."
"Are you up for a game of poker with the squires?" Red asked.
That night Grace had another dream; one she'd been having more often. A young page stood in front of her and a man standing behind the page, his arm tightly wrapped around the boy's neck. The man wore gang colors. She realized the man pointed a gun at her. He told her with a sneer, "Do it."
Grace looked at her hands, she held a dagger. She heard the man again demand, "I told you, do it, waste the boy." Grace held up the knife and pointed it at the boy. The boy looked at her; it was Wolf. She turned the knife towards the man. He responded by slowly squeezing the trigger on his gun. She quickly slit her wrist. Grace awoke, sweating and shaking.
Grace had the dream several nights in a row. She became more withdrawn every day and avoided Wolf and his buddies.
The Secret Brotherhood of the Wolf spent a lot of their free time planning pranks to play on squires. One of the most innovative pranks involved putting itching powder in their trousers; powder that Wolf had learned to extract from the dried seedpods of a weed bush he had located in a nearby glen. A few squires had an uncomfortable day in the saddle. Wolf carefully made the powder weak so the squires would just be uncomfortable and not outright miserable. The plan had been not to invite retaliation.
The squires however were a clever bunch. They used some distractions to lure the Brotherhood of the Wolf away from their tent so they could powder the bed rolls. The pages ended up having to wash their rolls so they spent the night freezing. The stakes escalated until the knights had to warn them that their antics were getting out of hand. The pages knew that the squires had not ratted on them, so how did the knights know? Wart finally figured it out. The knights had once been squires and pages; of course they knew what was going on, they used to pull pranks themselves. When the pages finally ended up on the losing end the Raven chuckled and just said, "Tsk, tsk."
Wolf approached Grace about helping with a prank, but she refused. "I can't do it. I can't get in trouble."
Wolf tried to make his case, "This won't get you in trouble. Nobody will rat on you. Besides it'll be fun."
Grace got agitated, "You don't understand. I can't risk being kicked out, and I can't stay. I'm in enough trouble as it is. Please don't ask me."
Wolf looked at her seriously for a moment, "What's the matter, what trouble? Are you alright?"
"Yeah, it's just that I don't feel right. It's like I'm being watched."
Wolf sure about himself said, "Nobody here would threaten you. Squire Wayne is the worst, but he can't mess with you."
Grace seemed exasperated, "It isn't anybody here."
"Have you told anyone?"
Grace snapped at him, "No... And don't you dare say anything."
Wolf's eyes went wide open, "You're really spooked. What is it?"
Grace looked down, "I keep having a dream... I'm going to die."
"No way. It isn't going to happen. You're safe here."
"They're going to find me."
"The gang that did this to me." Grace pointed to her face where the scars had been. "They won't stop hunting me. I've got to run."
"No! You're safe here. The knights will protect you."
Grace became desperate, "They can't. You don't know this gang. You just can't leave them. Nobody can help me. The school will kick me out if they find out about me. If the gang finds me they will hurt me or someone else."
Grace screamed, "Because I killed him! I'm a murderer!"
Wolf's jaw dropped, he felt faint and his knees buckled.
Grace realized in horror what she had just said and whispered, "Please, please, don't tell anybody."
Wolf, still shaking, quietly replied, "I won't."
They didn't talk for the rest of the day. Wolf certainly had a lot to think about. He had promised not to tell anyone and the Wolverine had told him not to betray her trust. But, if what she said was true, she would be the target of revenge. She definitely needed help and he had to figure out how to get it for her.
That night Grace quietly left her tent with her bedroll. She went to the stables and saddled Nellie. She pinned a note to the wall asking Wolf to take care of Lady. She held the horse's reins and quietly walked it out of camp.
Shadow awoke Wolf by pulling on the sleeve of his night shirt. Wolf sat up with a start and looked at the animal. Shadow growled at him and walked to the entrance of the tent. Wolf pulled on his trousers and shirt and followed Shadow to the stables. There he found Nellie missing and discovered the note Grace had left him.
He quickly ran back to his tent and quietly put on his boots and tunic. Wart, who slept lightly, awoke and asked Wolf what was happening. Wolf quickly handed him the note and mentioned the missing horse. He told Wart he had to find Grace and bring her back. Wart said he would help, but Wolf told him to tell the Raven what was going on. He grabbed his knife and bow, and headed back to the stables where he quickly saddled Pinto Bean. Shadow led the way and they followed the trail of the Scarecrow.
Wart ran to the Raven's tent and awoke him. Soon a hunting party had been formed with the Raven, Lady Jane, the Wolverine and the squires Red, Bob and Bill. Once the Raven determined the direction the pages had traveled, they rode out in pursuit.