Roger, who was silently standing behind me, lifted the crying girl. Then he gave her a piggyback.
Not only Rachel was taken aback. The girl also opened her mouth, her face dazed. But she stopped crying and looked happy this time. "Thank you, brother! It's high!"
"Who did you come with?"
"Um, big sisters and big brothers."
"Where did they go?"
"I saw the sweets in front of the candy stall!"
"Hm? Oh, did you see the sweets?"
"No, with everyone. Then I ran to see a big fish."
"Did you go from the candy stall to the fish stall?"
"Yeah. Then I became alone. I was sad."
The girl lowered her eyebrows, feeling down.
In other words, she went to the candy stall with her big sisters and big brothers, but she got lost.
Rachel was surprised that Roger was good at interacting with such a young child.
"We will help you look for them, no need to worry! You can see them well if I piggyback you like this, right?"
Her anxiousness for being alone gradually started to melt as they chatted with her. She began to talk more and more.
Then, when they found the candy stall, she told Roger to put her down, saying, "Oh! Over there! Brother, put me down!" Right after that, she tried to run in a hurry.
Rachel held the girl's hand in a hurry and said, "Let's walk together." That made the girl smile in joy. "Yeah!"
From a distance, they could see a young man and a few children desperately yelling something. When Rachel squinted her eyes to see what happened, the girl next to her pointed to them and exclaimed, "It's the priest!"
"Do you know him?"
"Yeah, the priest!"
The priest. That means the man was a member of the Holy Church.
As Rachel wondered what kind of relationship this girl had with that man, the priest and the kids noticed them and approached them, shouting, "Mina!"
The girl released Rachel's hand and ran, "Heeey!" Then she hugged the priest.
The priest noticed them. "Are you the ones who have saved Mina?"
"So this girl is called Mina. It looks like she got lost."
"That's right. Thank you very much."
The priest had dark blonde hair and slightly slanting purple eyes that made him look gentle. He was from the church located right next to this square.
"Can you return first?" The priest told the oldest child, who was around twelve years old. Following his words, that boy returned to the church with some of the children. Before that, Mina turned to Rachel and Roger and waved her hands with a smile. "Thank you!"
"Um. Those children are…"
"Yes. They are the children of the orphanage attached to the church."
"Then, Mina is also…"
"It's just as you think. That child is an orphan."
Rachel didn't expect that. No wonder she cried so much before. That's because Rachel thoughtlessly asked about her mother. "...I probably have hurt that child. I asked her where her mother was."
The priest looked a little lonely. "Mina is starting to realize that they are different from the common family. If she comes to this kind of place, she will meet a child of the same age who is accompanied by their parents."
"Is that so…"
"But they have to overcome it as well."
"Overcome… Even if they're still young?"
"Because that's the reality. That's why I'm trying to fill them with affection, teach them wisdom, and empower them to make sure they can also stand up alone."
The priest's words touched Rachel. Sure, it was easy to mourn and sympathize with their situation. But that wasn't what they wanted.
When Rachel looked at those children's bright smiles and healthy bodies, she could see that the priests were raising them with great affection.
"Um. May I visit the church next time?"
The priest gently squinted his eyes and nodded to Rachel. "Yes, of course. Mina and the other children will surely be happy." He then politely bowed. "I have to return soon. Thank you very much for today."
As they looked at the back of the leaving priest, Rachel said to Roger, "He looks very kind." Roger nodded quietly to her.
"By the way, Sir Roger, you're really good at taking care of children! She's completely attached to you."
"Yes, I also grew as an orphan in the church. It's the job of the older ones to take care of the little kids," he said indifferently like it was nothing important. "But I was raised by gentle priests and nuns like that priest. That's why I don't care about my background. Some people despise me for being a knight of this country since I was an orphan, but I'll prove them wrong with this sword."
Rachel was even more surprised by Roger's words. She didn't expect that the knight also grew up in the church.
"I see. Roger, thank you for telling me that."
"It's nothing much."
The Holy Church looked after the churches that took orphans in, but their financial resources were from the state and nobles' donations.
The orphanages located in the territory of the nobles, who was enthusiastic about donations and consolation to the church, had more than enough food, clothing, and shelter for the orphans. If they worked hard for it, going to school wasn't impossible as well.
However, not every noble was that generous. The stingy ones would leave everything to the church. No one could say that it was a suitable environment for the orphans.
Rachel wanted to go to the church soon. However, her current position involved the country and the church. That made her wonder if she could be actively engaged in something.
That's why today's encounter was very meaningful for her. It's like she had taken a step forward.
"Now then, let's go to find Lord Theodore and Samuel."
Rachel completely forgot about Samuel's condition. When she returned to the previous store, Theodore was waiting for them alone.
"My? Where's Samuel?"
"He's worshiping beans like they're some kind of heavenly beings, so I asked the stall owner to bring all the remaining beans to the mansion. After that, he told me he had to prepare and ran home."
"... I'm tired. Let's go home now."
"Yes. Thank you for your hard work."
Apparently, this was also a significant encounter for Samuel.
Just like this, Rachel's daily life and eating habits changed again little by little.
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