Chapter 21: Orphanage
Translator: WQL Editor: Geoffrey
Teresa’s Orphanage was located in the civilian settlement close to the west city wall of Blackhot City. Standing outside the gate of the orphanage, Zhang Tie noticed the 30m odd city wall and the military buildings within it. The city wall made the people in Blackhot City feel confident and safe. Although people also felt depressed in front of the high city walls, none of them would complain that it was too high. As the city wall could bring enough sense of safety to the people, the prices of all the houses within the walls were soaring.
“I wonder if elder brother is standing on the city wall?” staring at the city wall, Zhang Tie thought to himself. As soldiers of the City Guard Army of Blackhot City, they had to defend the city walls. Since Zhang Tie didn’t know the daily arrangements and shifts of the City Guard Army, he naturally had no idea where his elder brother was and what he was doing at the moment. Zhang Tie also didn’t feel like asking for that information. Strictly speaking, all information on the fortifications of the City Guard Army and military actions were classified. When people casually talked, they would always expose something; however, if someone was excessively curious, they might bring numerous troubles and disasters upon themselves, and perhaps even to their family. As a commoner, Zhang Tie was always cautious and was not overtlythat curious. Nevertheless, considering the news of the Red-scarf Burglars, Zhang Tie paid special attention to the top of the city wall. No matter what, he felt that there were more soldiers patrolling on the city wall than usual and the atmosphere was more serious than before.
When he recovered his composure, he found Grandma Teresa standing outside the gate of the orphanage. As usual, she would wait here at this moment every week for the arrival of Zhang Tie.
As a pious disciple of the Grepis School, Grandma Teresa always wore a green nun’s robe that had some white decorative patterns of olive twigs on it, which symbolized the spirit of the Grepis School. The slightly pudgy grandma in green robes looked very kind, like a neighborhood grandma.
Green and white were the favorite colors of Grepis disciples, which also symbolized their religious doctrine. The combination of colors was always kind and delightful.
Seeing Zhang Tie riding over, Grandma Teresa smiled and raised her voice, “Children, your favorite food is coming…”
When Zhang Tie arrived at the gate of the orphanage, he stopped his tricycle. Five or six nine-year-old children had already run out from the orphanage. In pairs, they started to help Zhang Tie unload the food from the vehicle before Zhang Tie had even asked them for help.
“Ho… ho… be careful. If you can’t do it, I’ll help you!” saying this, Zhang Tie helped them remove the big clay pots from the vehicle. The children hurriedly brought the clay pots into the orphanage happily. Cheers reverberated from the orphanage as more children ran out. The children with a little bit of strength had already rushed out to help them, while the younger ones stood on the roadside. With eyes widely opened and dripping saliva, they heavily sniffed and gazed at the clay pots that contained rice soup inside. For the children growing up in the orphanage, the rice soup that was as white as snow was already exquisite.
At this moment, Grandma Teresa would always look at those orphans with a kind smile.
Every week, Zhang Tie’s family would always have a lot of rice soup left over when boiling rice to make rice brew. This rice soup was extremely precious; it was something which Zhang Tie and his elder brother couldn’t grow up without. Their neighbors always fetched some rice soup to feed their babies when the mothers had no milk to feed them, or if they couldn’t afford milk.
Rice soup tasted good and was highly nutritious. It was the essence of rice. However, it could not be preserved over long periods of time. Basically, it would spoil in two days. His mom said it was a sin to waste food; therefore, she always kept two days of rice soup for their family and gave the rest to others. Some may look down on the bit of rice soup; however, these half-starved orphans might feel like this was the best food they have ever had. The Zhang family delivered the rice soup to the orphanage every week, which could feed the children for two days. As Grandma Teresa always said, this was the best gift from God.
At first, it was Zhang Tie’s dad who delivered the rice soup. Later on, it was Zhang Tie’s older brother, Zhang Yang. And now, it was Zhang Tie’s turn. The Zhang family’s business has been based on rice brew for many years. They brought the rice soup here every year, and this had become the tradition of the Zhang Family.
Guiding the children to bring in the clay pots containing the rice soup into the orphanage, Grandma Teresa walked towards Zhang Tie and slightly embraced him. She then gave Zhang Tie a slight kiss on his forehead as a blessing,
“Child, God will protect every kind-hearted man. People who give kindness to others will definitely be blessed by God, and they will witness miracles in their lives…”
Grandma Teresa had said this line many times before, but it sounded different this time. Zhang Tie was slightly moved.
“Thank you, Grandma. I also trust that God will bless kind-hearted men!”
Zhang Tie’s face slightly blushed. Grandma Teresa’s body was plump and soft. He felt nothing when being embraced by her before; however, as he had grown up and had known that men and women should not be that intimate, he felt somewhat uneasy. Although he was not that obscene, he felt somewhat embarrassed.
After carrying the six clay pots inside, the children took them out after a short while. Each clay pot held more than 10 kg of rice soup. In total, they could hold 60 or 70kg of rice soup. This little bit of rice soup was already considered a “generous” gift to the orphanage that was short on food.
“Oh, I forgot. Grandma Teresa, when I went to the rice store, I found that the prices of many grains have risen!”
When the children loaded the clean, empty clay pots onto the tricycle, Zhang Tie mentioned that the prices of many grains had already risen. This was not good news for the orphanage.
After asking about the details, Grandma Teresa looked somewhat depressed. Looking into the distance, she stayed silent and heaved a deep sigh.
Seeing her dejected air and the smiles on the children’s faces, Zhang Tie was moved. He stretched his hand into the trouser pocket and pulled out 10 copper coins — the 10 copper coins he received from his mom. He placed them into Grandma’s Teresa’s hand as he said, “Grandma, here’s all the money I have. I’ll donate it all to the children. I hope it can help them!”
It was the first time for Zhang Tie to donate to the orphanage. In the past, he was penniless, but now he had some spare money from his mom and felt it was much easier now, as he owned the Castle of Black Iron these days. However, the moment the grandma received the money, Zhang Tie was slightly regretful. He felt that 5 copper coins would have been enough. And now, he was poor again. Nevertheless, he found it too shameful to regret, thus he pretended to be a good boy and grinned bashfully.
Being gifted with 10 copper coins, Grandma Teresa blanked out. She then took a deep look at Zhang Tie and touched his head, “Good child, your kindness will be rewarded!”
Hearing about being “rewarded”, Zhang Tie suddenly thought of something. He told Grandma Teresa bashfully, “Grandma, I heard you have many plant seeds. Could you give me some? A classmate of mine moved his home to a new place, which includes a huge courtyard. I’d like to give him some seeds as a present!”
“God, forgive me. I have told a lie to your disciple.” Zhang Tie felt a little bit shameful and blushed. When Grandma Teresa mentioned “reward”, Zhang Tie suddenly thought that he might “need” something. However, she saw Zhang Tie’s uneasy air as the innocence of a “kid”.
The Grepis School was also called the School of the Guardian God. The doctrine of which was symbolized by the two colors on their clothes. They used green to safeguard the land and used white to eliminate evil. This school didn’t worship any idol or god. Instead, it worshiped the land that everyone stepped on. The land was called Gaia, the Mother of the Land, by the disciples of the Grepis School. The school believed that all living beings on the land were the descendants of Gaia, the Mother of the Land, and all green things on the land were the gifts and guardians given by Gaia to all living beings.
Zhang Tie didn’t know whether the Grepis School was accepted in other places, but he knew that the School of the Guardian God was not well accepted in Blackhot City and the Andaman City-States Alliance, which was full of the commercial atmosphere and worshiped gold coins as God. This could be seen from the way the orphanage and Grandma Teresa were treated. In Blackhot City, religions, even with little power, would own magnificent churches or temples, while the School of the Guardian God didn’t have a room for praying besides this orphanage. In the eyes of many people in Blackhot City, this school seemed to be nothing special aside from advocating for people to plant trees each year and adopt orphans. On the second Sunday of each March, the “Blessed Day” of Gaia, the Mother of the Land, the school would always present free plant seeds to the citizens in Blackhot City and collect donations for the school. As a bit of time has passed since the “Blessed Day” this year, Grandma Teresa should have some seeds left over. Thinking of the spacious land and the poor aura value in the Castle of Black Iron that only had several potatoes and some niblets sewn, Zhang Tie felt that he might be able to ask for some seeds from her. Whatever they were, if only they could sprout, they would be able to provide sufficient aura value.
Hearing that Zhang Tie wanted some seeds, the grandma showed a big smile. She looked happier than Zhang Tie. “Wait a moment, ” she said to Zhang Tie. Several minutes later, Grandma Teresa gave a 0.5 kg cloth big that was filled with seeds to him. Zhang Tie didn’t open it. After thanking her, Zhang Tie rode his tricycle and rushed home with rising excitement.