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It was early evening and Maria didn’t seem to be getting any closer to the end of the pass. She was warm enough as it was summer and quite mild in the mountain air. Maria felt it was wisest to get off the main path and find a sheltered spot for the night. She sat in the fading light and ate some of the food Milyaket had given her. Suddenly, an uneasy stillness fell all around. The trees, the small animals, the wind, and even the plants all held their breath as if waiting to see what would be the outcome of an impending event. Maria looked around her nervously and then gasped. A pack of about thirty wolves was circling her with eyes glued not to her meagre bits of food but to her. I am the food, thought Maria. Running would have been ridiculous. This pack was made of healthy, strong, and vibrant creatures; masters of their terrain.

Still terrified, an idea entered the tiny bit of still mind that was left in Maria from her journey. I love dogs. They are my friends. Wolves are ancient dogs. There is nothing to fear. The largest wolf approached Maria and, to her surprise, she could understand him.

“You are Maria? My name is Galahad. This is my pack. We guard the borders of Garourinn. We will keep you safe for the rest of your journey. We are travelling further north to the far border of Garourinn. Night is soon upon us. Come with us.”

Not waiting for an answer, Galahad had spoken and nodded for his pack to fall into line. The injured and elderly went first. This seemed mean to Maria as they would be the ones most vulnerable to attack. She was later to find out that it was they who set the pace for the pack. Some of the stronger males followed close behind them. Many of the females and young took their place in the centre, followed by the remaining male wolves. Some distance behind walked Galahad on his own.

One of the bitches approached Maria, “My name is Sage. I am Galahad’s mate. Walk with me.”

As it was almost dark, they stopped at a cave for the night. A few of the hunters went out looking for nocturnal creatures. They soon came back with meat. Since her accident, Maria had been vegetarian. She couldn’t even eat cooked meat, let alone raw meat. The wolves respected the life of their prey and seemed to count it as being as worthy as their own. They would accept their own death as they did the death of their food. They did not give more importance to one life than another. Further, there was a sense that the Great Order of life was to be trusted and that nothing could ever be taken from anyone that was rightfully theirs. Maria ate the last of the food she had.

The next day Sage and the other bitches showed her where to find berries and other fruits. It looked like she was going to be with them some days. Each night the pack stayed close, both for warmth and affection. Maria was happily included in the pack like she belonged there. The invisible threads of togetherness were ever present amongst the wolves. They were not possessive, controlling or needy. There was a simple order which everyone accepted for the good of the pack. They found their happiness and stability in the well-being of all. Unlike humans that have a choice, the wolves were instinctively oriented in one direction only; to whatever made a harmonious and well-functioning community. Perhaps, they are like the angels, Maria thought. Angels also don’t have a choice. They are divine because that’s the only thing they can be.

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