In the novices sleeping quarters, Grace was still awake, sitting at the little writing desk in the corner. The other novices had come back from their exhausting day attending to the children and fallen right to sleep but Grace had some things to write down. Careful not to aggravate the cut on her finger, she sharpened a quill and dipped the tip of the nib into a small pot of ink the Reverend Mother had given her. Though they had not spoken since Grace had arrived at the convent, the two of them had an understanding and the Reverend Mother mostly allowed Grace to do what she pleased. There were some special reasons for Grace's long period of silence that not even the Reverend Mother knew about. Within in her first week at the convent, the Reverend Mother had given her a small leather-bound book, a small pot of ink, three quills, and the tools to maintain them. Due to the usual three-month period of silence, Grace didn't begin using these gifts until after that point. The small book became her journal, as well as her way of communicating with the Reverend Mother, but no one else. It was not until Shea arrived earlier that day that she had shown anyone what was written there. True, she did have certain pages designated with prewritten answers, but she had never shown them to anyone besides the Reverend Mother. Just shaking and nodding her head had worked with all the other convent occupants. Grace stopped her writing for a moment to think. She did not know of his sullen arrival, only of his manners at supper and those few things about his family. There was that strange things about those herbs. Grace had barely glanced at them before she cut herself, but they were not like anything she had ever seen before. The herbs had been the same color as any other; a slightly darker green perhaps, but something about the shape of the leaves was different. Grace thought hard for a moment, trying to visualize the herbs as they had been on the table. Yes, something about the leaves was odd, but she couldn't pinpoint what. Shaking her head, she returned to writing her thoughts of the day's proceedings:
Shea will be one to look out for: we can't let him leave the convent. The weather will progressively get worse, and he is too young to be traveling alone for such a great distance. There are many dangers in the forests during the cold winter months. I am curious about his father's insistence that the herbs remain with him at all times. What is their significance? Perhaps something related to his deceased mother. Perhaps they were the last herbs she grew before her death. Whatever the case may be, Shea's father placed some strong emphasis in keeping those herbs in his possession. I will be sure to look for them in the morning, though I am afraid Shea may try to find out what was thrown over the garden wall. The best idea would be for me to check early tomorrow morning.
With that, Grace closed her journal and retired for the night.
The next morning, just before the sun was set to appear over the horizon, Grace was awoken by a low howl. Always an early riser anyway, she was not distressed by waking before the sun was up, but it was the noise that surprised her. Again, she heard that low howl, but followed by a growl. Getting out of her bed and crossing silently to the window, Grace looked out across the foggy garden. Nothing was there. But she could still here something growling, just beyond the garden wall. Shortly after the growl, there was something that resembled a cry of anguish, though it did not sound human. Then there was silence. She waited at the window for a few more moments but heard nothing. Though the sun was just appearing over the horizon, its rays had yet to come over the treetops of the dense forest beyond the convent walls. The sky was progressively getting lighter as Grace set about to starting her day. First was the dressing in the dark green colors of a novice, then wrapping her long brown hair into a small bun at the nape of her neck. The novice's small cap was then pinned over the bun. She put on her thick wool stockings, the same dark green as her dress, then her shoes. Some of the other novices were just beginning to wake up as she left to begin her morning devotions.
The chapel was a silent place this early in the morning. Only one or two of the sisters ever got up this early for devotions. Grace sat in one of the pews towards the front for a while before approaching the altar and kneeling on a soft embroidered cushion. She allowed her thoughts to quiet themselves as she devoted her attention to her prayer. Grace always started her prayer the same way: thanking God for allowing her to live one more day on His glorious world. She thanked Him for the sisters and her fellow novices. And now she thanked Him for the children under their care as well. She prayed for the safe journeys of the children's families. And then she prayed for Shea. She prayed for his safety, his family's travels, the soul of his mother, and the healing of all his pain. After nearly an hour of her intentions for other people, Grace turned to the intentions for herself. Everyday, she asked the Lord for healing. He knew all that had transpired in her past life, and she had truly repented those transgressions. She always asked the Lord to quiet her anxieties from barely communicating with anyone in the convent. True, she kept to herself most of the time, but it was because her affliction made her feel like an outcast. She had already lived through the shame in her village before she had arrived at the convent. Grace realized that her thoughts were straying from their original purpose and refocused on her prayer. High above her, the old bell tolled a calling to morning worship for the sisters. With the children staying in the convent, novices were generally excused from the morning worship, but did attend one in the afternoon while the children were napping or working on small crafts. Grace finished her silent prayer and left the chapel; the other novices would need help dressing the children before breakfast.