“The wolf eventually left,” Alden said. “After that he locked up his sheep and came to the tavern to calm his nerves. He was really shaken up about it. My father told him he should have shot it, but the man said he was afraid he would have missed. Angering an animal that size it would have charged, tearing him to pieces. Then another man said he had seen an animal like that a few days ago, but he could not get a clear view because it quickly left. Others have said the same thing but Mr. Sullivan the butcher said it was their imagination running away with them. Your Uncle said they had enough to drink and should stop talking nonsense before they scared each other to death.”
Walter wanted to tell Alden that he believes he came face to face with the wolf animal, but he didn’t. He was starting to wonder how vicious the animal really was. Jacobi said it could tear any man to pieces. Then why was it not attacking anyone? That was unusual. An animal that big was instead running away. How strange, thought Walter.
“Do you see anything?” Alden said, searching the ground.
Walter had forgotten to look for the compass. “Not yet,” he said refocusing his attention back to the ground when something else caught the corner of his eye. There was smoke coming from somewhere in the far distance of the Black Forest. Was something burning? But the smoke seemed to swirl in one place as if it came from a camp fire or chimney. Could it be possible that someone started the fire? Walter was not sure but found it curious. “Does anybody live in the Black Forest?”
“Live in the Black Forest!” Alden was surprised to hear that. “Nobody lives in the Black Forest. No one with common sense that is. But I heard rumors of a witch living there. She is mad.”
“Why is she mad?” Walter wondered if Alden could see the smoke. If not, was this the third eye that Jacobi told him about, being able to see things others could not?
“To live there anybody has to be mad. I think we better get going,” Alden sighed in dismayed.
Walter agreed. They both scrambled back down and headed back to the village. They took the familiar road, passed by the same shops and buildings until they came to the fork where Alden went left and Walter took right. Alden did not want to go. He hampered from saying goodbye and then they went their separate ways. Walter knew why and felt bad for Alden. Walter did not like going home also. After school he was supposed to go directly home where he was not to leave until his older sister came for him. Together they walked to the Swan Inn to have supper. His sister then returned to work and he stayed until his mother finished work at the Inn. Then they went home and off to bed he was sent. He looked forward to any break to the routine, but Walter did not like to disobey his mother and mostly did what she told him to. Alden had other reasons he did not want to go home. Walter knew every night, like clockwork he had to fetch his father from the tavern.