LIFE'S LESSONS: ILLNESS
by Tracy

Yorkshire,
November 22, 1779

The Kennedys had left Kennedy Cottage the moment Richard and the searchers returned with little Archie. They traveled as far as they could before stopping at the Mighty Oak Inn for the night.

The next morning, then went to the dining area for breaksfast.

Little Archie took a bite of his eggs, then made a face and whimpered as he swallowed.

"Archie," Elizabeth asked, "what is wrong?"

"My neck huwt, Mama." Archie rubbed his throat.

"Your neck hurts?" Elizabeth leaned down to look at the toddler's face, "Did you hurt it when you were lost?"

"No, Mama." Archie whispered, "It huwt inside my neck."

"Your throat hurts." Richard reached over and put his hand on Archie's little forehead, "He has a fever."

"I not feel good, Papa." Archie said softly, slowly shaking his head.

"Oh, no." Elizabeth stood and picked her little son up.

"Take him to our room," Richard said, "and I will have a doctor sent for. Dorothy, make certain the children eat."

"Yes, sir." Dorothy gave a nod.

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When Elizabeth changed her the toddler back into his night shirt, Archie looked up at his mother, "Why 'ou changin' me 'gain?"

"You need to get back in bed." Elizabeth pulled the blankets back and lay Archie down. Then tucked the blankets in around him.

Archie frowned, "Why I haf a go a bed, Mama? It day."

"Because you are ill." She told him as she sat down on the bed.

"What dat mean?" Archie frowned, becoming frightened.

"It means that the cold air and the rain made you ill." Elizabeth said, "Made you feel very bad."

"Oh." Archie appeared to think for a few moments, then cocked his little head, "Will I feel bettew 'gain?"

"Of course, my angel." She kissed his little forehead, "You will."

"I don' wan' a feel bad, Mama." Archie said, his expression breaking his mother's heart.

"I know you do not, honey." Elizabeth stroked Archie's hair.

"I wan' a go home, Mama." Archie whined.

"We will have to stay here until you are better, Archie."

"I wan' my bed." Archie sobbed.

A knock came to the door. Elizabeth got up and walked to the door.

Opening it, she found a man standing there. He cleared his throat, "Ma'am, I saw your son rubbing his throat and his father feeling his forehead, and thought he may be ill. Perhaps, I can help. I am doctor."

"Oh." Elizabeth looked at Archie, then back at he man.

"Would you like my help, ma'am?" He asked.

"Yes." She stepped out of the doorway to let him in.

As he walked over to the bed, Richard came in the room, "Who is this man?"

"I am Dr. Eric Morris, sir. I was offering your wife my assistance."

"Our son is ill, doctor." Richard said.

"I thought so, sir." Morris said, "I was having breakfast in the dining room. Would you like me to tend to him, sir?"

"That would be very kind, sir." Richard bowed his head to the man.

Morris sat down on the edge of the bed and felt little Archie's forehead, "Where do you hurt, lad?"

"My neck huwt."

"Inside?" The doctor raised his brow.

Archie nodded and said very softly, "My belly huwt. An' I can' bweav."

"All right." Morris smiled at him, "Let me help you then." He felt Archie's throat, "How old are you?"

"I two 'eaws old."

"Two?" Morris raised his brow as if surprised, "Well, you are big boy!" He took Archie's little wrist in his hand, "I have a son that is three years old."

" 'ou do?" Archie asked, " 'ou take cawe a him?"

"Yes, I do." Morris reached down into his bag.

Archie frowned as he pulled out a funny looking little horn, "What dat?"

"This," Morris said, "is so I can listen to your heart and lungs."

"What dey?" Frowning more, Archie cocked his little head.

Morris smiled, "Your heart...." Morris made a fist and held it up, "is as big as your fist."

Archie made a fist, then frowned at it, "Mine too 'ittle."

"My heart is little compared to me." Morris said, "The heart is a very small organ. But it is the most important organ in your body. Without the heart, you would not be alive."

Archie listened, wide eyed.

Morris took Archie's little fist in his hand, "This little heart is what keeps you alive. Small things are very important."

"I 'mall." Archie said.

Morris smiled broadly at that, "Yes, you are. And just like the heart, you are very important, too."

Archie smiled.

"Now lay still so I can check your heart and lungs." Morris listened to Archie's heart and lungs, "He's congested." He stood and looked at the Kennedys, "M'lord, M'lady, I fear your son has influenza. I can give him something to ease some of his symtoms, but the illness will just have to run it's course. I wish I could do more."

Dr. Morris gave Archie some medicine to drink, then lay him back on the bed, "Try to sleep, little one."

"I can' s'eep." Archie sobbed, "I huwt! Papa, 'ou wock me?"

"I do not have a rocking chair, son." Richard's heart starting aching as his toddler began to cry.

"But I huwt, Papa!" Archie looked at his father with tears in his eyes, wanting his father to make him feel better.

Richard moved the blanket.

"What are you doing, M'lord?" Morris raised his brow.

"I am going to hold my son," Richard lay down and pulled the child into his arms.

"M'lord," Morris said quickly, "influenza is contagious."

"I do not care," Richard said, "just as long as I make my little laddie feel better."

Little Archie snuggled against his father, "I lobe 'ou, Papa."

"I love you, son." Richard kissed Archie's forehead, alarmed at how hot it was, "Close your eyes and go to sleep, now. I will hold you while you sleep."

"Since you are with him," Elizabeth said, "I will go be with the children."

"You should send the children home." Richard told her, "I am certain mother does not want to stay here."

"I am not sending the children with your mother." Elizabeth put her hands on her hips, "The last time I intrusted Archie to your mother, you spanked him."

"I am sorry about that." Richard kissed Archie's forehead, "My brother and Dorothy will look after the children. Not mother."

"Very well." Elizabeth agreed, "Should I tell her, or will you?"

"You are my wife." Richard told her, "You may tell her. I will take care of our babe." Richard smiled at his wife, who gave a nod and left the room.

Archie closed his eyes, "Hol' me tight, Papa."

Richard held the child as tightly as he could.

Little Archie put his head against his father's chest, listening to the strong heartbeat, and knowing that his was safe and loved. Closing his eyes, Archie let himself fall asleep.

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"Catherine," Elizabeth said, "James, Archie is very ill. We are going to have to stay here until he is well."

"I am not staying here for God knows how long." Catherine stated firmly.

"No, you are not." Elizabeth's voice was just as firm, "James, will you and Dorothy take the children home? There is no point in them having to stay here."

James smiled and put his arm around Stephen, "O' course, Elizabeth. I'll look after my neices an' nephews. It'll give me the chance t' spend some time with them."

"Thank you." Elizabeth smiled, "Dorothy knows their daily routine. Children, you are to obay Dorothy as if your father and I are there. Dorothy, I want you to keep a journal of everything they do throughout the day."

"I will, M'lady." Dorothy assured her.

"I am not going back to London with the children." Catherine informed her daughter-in-law.

Elizabeth took a deep breath and tried to keep her tone civil, "You have only two choices, Catherine; either you stay here until Archie is ready, or you return to London with you son, James."

Catherine stood, "Where is Richard?"

"Richard is not to be disturbed." Elizabeth said.

"I will speak with...."

Elizabeth cut Catherine off, "I am Richard's wife."

"And Lady Kennedy." James added, frowning at his mother's glare at him.

"You will not disturb my husband." Elizabeth said firmly, "He is caring for our babe, and Archie does not need you in there disturbing him while he is trying to sleep."

"Richard is my son." Catherine was becoming angry.

"And Archie is his." Elizabeth said, "I think the needs of Richard's ill babe are much more important then the his mother's whims."

Catherine huffed and started out of the dining room.

James hurried to catch her, "Mother, don't ye dare go up there an' bother that babe. Now, come home with me."

"Go home, Catherine." Elizabeth walked over to her children, kissing and emrbacing each one. "We will be home as soon as we can."

"Will you kiss Archie for me, mother?" Constance asked, "Tell him, I pray for a speedy recovery."

"For me, as well, mother? Maria looked up at her.

"I will, my loves." Elizabeth assured them, "Be good for Dorothy."

"Yes, mother." The girls answered, almost in unison.

"Henry, Stephen," Elizabeth caught the boys attention, "I want you on your best behavior."

"Mother," Henry said softly, "I'm sorry I did not take better care of Archie. I did not mean to lose him. And his being ill now is all my fault."

Elizabeth kissed her eldest son's forehead, "It was not your fault, my dear. I do not want you to fret about it anymore. Archie will be all right, I assure you. I love you, Henry."

"I love you, Mother." Henry embraced his mother, then went with Dorothy to pack and leave.

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Hours later, Elizabeth quietly came into the room, smiling at the sight.

Archie was buried against his father, and Richard was on his side with his left arm and shoulder covering his son, as if he was protecting his son from the rain.

Walking over to the bed, Elizabeth reached down and felt her toddler's forehead. She frowned at how warm he was.

Richard opened his eyes, "He is very warm."

"I know." Elizabeth sat down on the bed.

"I cannot lose my little laddie." Richard whispered, "I love him so."

Tears came to Elizabeth's eyes, and she tried to sob quietly.

"He is going to be all right, dear." Richard's voice was hushed, but firm, "God will not take this little one from us. Not after allowing us two years to love him."

"I would like to have a priest come and bless him, Richard." Elizabeth said.

"Please, my love." Richard said, "I will not give him up."

Elizabeth stood and left the room.

"My precious little laddie." Richard kissed Archie's soft cherub cheek, which felt like fire, and the child stired.

"Papa?"

"I have you, my boy." Richard assured him.

"I not feel good." Archie's voice was hoarse and very weak.

"I know, son." Richard's heart was breaking for his little son, "You are ill."

"When I feel bettew?" Archie opened his eyes and looked at his father.

"It will take a few days, lad." Richard forced himself to believe that, "But you will be fine."

Archie tried to put his little arm around his father, "I lobe 'ou."

"I love you, my little laddie." Richard kissed the child's warm forehead.

"I huwt, Papa." Archie whined.

"Oh, my little laddie." Richard held him close and kissed him, "I know you do. Try not to think about the hurt. Try thinking of something good."

" 'bout outin's?" Archie asked.

"Yes, son." Richard said, "We can think of the enjooyable outings we have been on."

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Elizabeth met the priest in dining room, "Thank you for coming, Father."

"I understand your concern for your son, M'lady." The priest said, "But children become ill. There is no reason to worry."

"Father," Elizebth looked into his eyes, "my son is two years old. He was born before in the eighth month. The doctor said he could become sickly, and we could lose him. I do not want to lose my babe, Father. I had to bury my last child after only a week. I cannot bury another."

"I see." The priest said, "Take me to the child."

"He is with his father." Elizabeth took him up the stairs, to their room. Opening the door, she smiled at the sight of her son snuggled closed to his father.

The priest walked over to the bed and took out the holy water. As he blessed the little boy's forehead, the water woke the toddler.

When Archie jerked awake, Richard immediately pulled his son closely and opened his eyes.

"It's all right, Archie." Elizabeth said.

Archie looked at the priest, "Why he make me wet, Mama?"

Elizabeth tried not to laugh and said, "He is blessing you with holy water so you will get well, precious."

The little face frowned in confusion.

"Holy water is blessed, son." The priest explained, "And when I put it on you, it blesses you."

The cherub face became more puzzled.

"God makes the water holy," The priest said, wondering how to explain the meaning of holy to a child as small as this one.

"What dat mean?" Archie raised a little brow.

"Holy means it has a special power from God." Elizabeth said, "And that power protects you and makes you better when you are blessed with it. To bless someone means you bring that power to the person that is blessed."

"Dat gon' a make me bettew?" Archie cocked his head.

"Yes, it will, my love." She leaned down and kissed his soft cheek, "Mama loves you, precious."

"I lobe 'ou, Mama." Archie said, then looked at the priest, "T'ank 'ou fow b'essing me."

"You are very welcome, little one." The priest made the sign of the cross on Archie's forehead with holy oil, "Now, you sleep and let God, and your Mama and Papa, take care of you. Humm?"

Archie nodded, "I a good boy."

"I've no doubt you are, son." The priest smiled, "You are one of God's precious little ones. Always remember that God loves you very much."

"I lobe God." The child was so serious, the priest could not help being moved. He knew God must have smiled.

"Go to sleep, lad." The priest told him, "Farewell."

"I have to walk the preist down stairs, Archie." Elizabeth said, "I will bring you something to eat when I came back up."

"No, Mama." Archie grabbed his throat, "It huwt to eat."

"I will bring you something that will slid down your throat, precious." Elizabeth kissed his forehead, and left the room.

"I not want a eat, Papa." Archie pleaded, "It huwt."

"I know, my boy." Richard held his son lovingly, and kissed his forehead, "But if you do not eat, you will not get better."

"God make me bettew." Archie said, "I not need a eat."

Richard sighed, "Archie....." Then a thought came to him, "God wants you to eat, so you will not die."

"I not wan' a die." Archie shook his head, his little eyes wide.

"Then you must eat." Richard told him.

Archie looked sad and frightened, but nodded and said, " 'es, Papa."

"That is a good lad." Richard kissed the boy's forehead once more.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Elizabeth came into the room with the bowl, Richard closed his eyes, knowing that this was going to hurt his little son.

Sitting down on the bed, Elizabeth shook her son to wake him so he could eat.

Archie did not stir.

"Richard." Elizabeth looked at him, frightened.

"Archie." Richard shook his little son, then said louder, "Archie!"

The child did not move.

"Oh, Dear God!" Elizabeth sat the bowl aside, "I will get the doctor!"

She ran out the door as Richard picked Archie up to cradled the child in his arms. Archie's head fell back and he was so limp. "Oh, my little lad!" Richard sobbed softly, putting his hand on the back of Archie's head and pulling the boy close, "My precious little laddie! Two and half years was not enough time with you." Richard turned his eyes upward and held little Archie tightly against his chest, "Dear God, please do not take my babe boy away from me!"

Little Archie jerked with a shuddering gasp and opened his eyes.

"Archie." Richard moved his son down to cradle him and into the unfocused blue eyes, "Lad?"

"Papa?" A little brow raised slightly and the eyelids fluttered.

"Archie, my boy." Richard stroked the blond hair, "How do you feel?"

"My fwoat huwt, Papa." Archie whispered, "An' my head huwt."

"Mama has gone to fetch the doctor, son." Richard told him, "Just relax."

" 'ou hol' me, Papa?" Archie asked.

"Of course I will, lad." Richard said softly, "Go to sleep. I will take care of you."

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When the doctor came in, Archie squeezed against his father.

"Please, lay the boy down, M'lord." Dr. Phillips said.

"No!" Archie shook his head, trying to hold onto his father, "Papa, hol' me! "P'ease?"

"Could you examine the boy, while I hold him?" Richard asked.

"I could try, M'lord." The doctor reached over to feel Archie's forehead, moved at the little boy's love and trust in his father. Then he felt the little throat, "His glands are swollen, M'lord, and he has a serious fever. You should take him home."

"He is not too ill to be moved?" Elizabeth asked.

"May I speak to you alone, M'lord?" Phillips asked.

Richard looked down at his son, "I have to go speak with the doctor, son." When Archie began to protest, Richard said firmly, "I will be at the door, Archie. Now be a brave boy for me."

Tears in his eyes, little Archie's bottom lip quivered, but he whispered in a termbling sob, " 'es, Papa."

Richard lay his toddler down and pulled the blanket up over his son, then walked over to the door, "What is wrong, doctor?"

"Your son needs to be in his own bed, M'lord." Phillips told him, "He will get well much sooner if he is in a familiar place. He does not like it here, so he doesn't feel safe. That's why he wants to stay in your arms, M'lord. He knows he is safe while you're holding him. He needs to go home. The sooner, then better. I will give him something, then you need to get that babe home, M'lord."

Elizabeth hurried to pack their belongings while the doctor began to mix his medication. Richard walked over to the bed and pick his son up, "After the doctor gives you some medicine, we are going to go home, son."

"We awe, Papa?" Archie looked up at his father, the tears still in his eyes and his face wet.

Richard wiped the toddler's face, "We are going to take you home, Archie."

" 'ou wock me when we home?" Archie asked.

"Yes, my lad." Richard lifted Archie up to kiss his forehead, "I will rock you. And I will stay with you until you are well."

"T'ank 'ou, Papa." Archie reached up to put his little arms around his father neck, "I lobe 'ou."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The medicine made little Archie fall asleep before they were ready to leave. Elizabeth paid the innkeeper and the doctor, then had a boy help her pack the coach.

The boy held the door open for Lord Kennedy to carry the sleeping toddler into the coach, followed by his wife.

Elizabeth gave the boy a generous sum. The boy looked at it, then smiled at her and gave a nod to the coach driver, and the coach pulled away.

Elizabeth sat next to her husband, and looked down at her baby, bundled in a blanket that was doubled to give him more warmth.

"He will be all right, Elizabeth." Richard told her, "God is not going to take our precious babe from us."

"I know." Elizabeth looked up at her husband, who leaned down and kissed her lips.

"I love you, Elizabeth." Richard said softly.

"I love you." Elizabeth lay her head on Richard's shoulder and closed her eyes.

"We will be home soon." Richard assured her, "And Archie will get well."

 

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