LIFE'S LESSONS: CONVALESCING
by Tracy

 

London,
November 27, 1779

Lord Richard Kennedy came down with influenza the day after they arrived home at Kennedy manor. It had actually been a blessing. Richard spent the next few days in bed with his little toddler, which kept Archie in the bed.

Archie snuggled against his father, who had his arms around his little son, "Papa, when I get bettew, we go see da big boats? Da ones wif cuwtains."

"Curtains?" Richard frowned, absently. Then smiled as he realized, "Ships! You want to see ships?"

" 'es, Papa." Archie raised his little brow, "P'ease?"

"Of course, son." Richard smiled, "I will take you to see the ships. But those are not curtains, Archie, they are called sails. Do you know that some of those ships are taller then houses?"

"D'ey awe?" Little Archie's eyes widened, "Why d'ey so big?"

"They are tall so the sails can catch the wind. It is the wind that makes them move."

"It does?" Archie licked his little lips and looked in his father's eyes, "We go on a big bout, Papa?"

"Yes, son." Richard smiled, "I will take you on one of those ships."

" 'ou tell me 'bout da big boats, Papa?"

"Of course, son." Richard kissed the toddler's forehead, then began telling his son all about ships, "There are ships that carry people from one country to another."

"What a coun'wy?" Archie asked.

"A country is a piece land." Richard thought for a moment, "England is ruled by the king. France is a country of it's own that is ruled by their king."

Archie frowned in thought a moment, then realization come to the little cherub face, " 'ike da kings in Nuwse Dowfy's 'towies!"

"Yes, lad." Richard nodded, "Just like that."

" 'ou tell me more?" Archie looked at his father.

Richard smiled and embraced his little son, "They have ships that bring all kind of goods from other countries. And ships that take explorers to other countries."

"What d'ey, Papa?" Archie frowned.

"Explorers," Richard explained, "are men who go to other countries to see what that country is like and tell us about it. They also find things that we do not have in England."

Archie sat up quickly, excited by the thought, "I wan' a do d'at, Papa! I wan' a see coun'wies and find t'ings!"

"You would be a good explorer, son." Richard smiled, "You have the curiosity needed for it."

Archie smiled proudly, sitting up straight, "I be a good e'p'owew. I bwing good t'ings home t' Eng'and."

"I do not doubt that, son." Richard grinned.

" 'ou tell me more, Papa?" Archie cocked his little head.

"There are fishing ships," Richard told him, "that catch fish."

"But d'ey huwt da fis'." Archie's face fell and he shook his head, "I not wan' a huwt fis'."

"You are such a sweet lad." Richard smiled. Then took a deep breath, "There are Navy ships."

Archie frowned, "What d'ey do?"

"Navy ships keep the armies of other countries from coming to England and trying to make England part of their country."

"Can d'ey do d'at, Papa?" Archie asked, "Can d'ey come hewe an' make Eng'an' d'eiw's?

"If we did not have a Navy protecting us," Richard said, "other countries could."

"How d'ey pwotec' us?" Archie was trying hard to understand.

"The Navy ships have guns...."

" 'ike da guns 'ou haf'?" Archie interrupted.

"No, son." Richard said, "Some of these guns are almost as long as this bed."

Archie eyes grew wider, "How d'ey cawy d'em?"

"They do not carry them, Archie." Richard said, "They put them on wheels...."

" 'ike a coats?"

"Not quite like a coach." Richard told him, "When we go aboard one of the ships, I will have one of the officers explain it to you."

"But, Papa," Archie frowned, confused, "da guns 'ou haf' awe 'oud. Guns dat awe biggew a be 'oudew."

"Yes, they would." Richard told him, "But I do not believe they will fire the guns whilst we are aboard."

"Dat good." Archie nodded, satisfied, "D'ey be too 'oud."

Richard smiled.

"Hello, gentlemen!" Elizabeth smiled cheerfully as she walked into the room.

Archie frowned, "I not a man."

"You are a little man." Elizabeth smiled at him, sitting down on the edge of the bed next to him.

Archie sat up and cocked his head, "I get up now, Mama?"

"You need to recover from your illness first."

"I not feel bad." Archie shook his little head.

"I know, angel." Elizabeth leaned down and kissed his forehead, "But you must stay in bed until you are completely well."

"But I bettew." Little Archie insisted.

"Your body has not gain all of it's strength back yet." Elizabeth explained to him, "So you have to stay in bed and let your body regain it's strength."

" 'es, Mama." Archie said softly, disappointed, and lay back down.

"There, there, my precious." Elizabeth leaned down to stroke the soft cherub cheek, "It will not be much longer. You are being very good, Archie. I am proud of you."

Archie's little face scrunched up, " 'ou pwoud a me 'cause I ill?"

Richard could not stifle his laugh.

Archie glanced at him and frowned. He turned back at his mother, who was smiling, "I am not proud of you because you are ill, my angel. I am proud of you because you are being good. I know you do not want to be in bed. But you are staying in bed and that is why I am proud of you."

" 'cause I a good boy?" Archie raised a small brow.

Elizabeth's smiled grew into a radiant grin, "Yes, you are, my precious. Now," She stood, "I am going to see to your dinner. I will be back." She walked out of the room.

Archie was hurt that his Papa had laughed at him and turned away, with his back to Richard.

"Archie?" Richard rolled over and put his arm around his son, "Did I hurt your feelings?"

Archie nodded.

"I am sorry, son." Richard leaned over him to kiss his cheek, "I was not laughing at you. I was laughing because you are the sweetest little boy I have ever known. You are so precious, Archie, that I sometimes laugh at the joy I get from listening to you."

" 'ou not laup at me 'cause I not know what Mama mean?" Archie asked.

"I would never laugh at you for not understanding, Archie." Richard said softly, "I am sorry I hurt you. I did not mean to. Will you forgive me, son?"

Archie nodded and rolled onto his back, "I lobe 'ou, Papa."

"I love you, my little laddie." Richard kissed Archie's forehead, then pulled the boy onto his chest.

Archie lay on his father, his head resting on Richard's chest, and then started giggling.

Richard raised his brow, "What are you laughing at, Archie?"

"I heaw 'ou heawt beat, Papa." Archie told him.

"What does it sound like?" Richard asked.

"Boomp, boomp." Archie said slowly, "Boomp, boomp. Boomp, boomp."

Richard tried hard not to laugh at how serious his little toddler was.

"My heawt beat 'ike d'at, Papa?" Archie asked.

"Yes, it does." Richard told him, then pressed his lips together to keep from laughing as Archie sat upright and tried to bend his head down to hear his own heart.

Elizabeth walked into the room and frowned in puzzlement, "What are you trying to do, Archie?"

"I wan' a heaw my heawt." Archie looked up at her, "I heaw Papa's heawt."

"Oh, angel," Elizabeth sat down on the edge of the bed, "you can not hear your own heart. I can not hear my own heart. But you can feel it."

"I can?" Archie blinked.

"Here." She took his little hand and placed it on his throat.

Little Archie gasped at what he felt.

"You are feeling your heart beat." Elizabeth told him.

Archie frowned, "In my fwoat?"

"Your heart beats through the veins in your body." Elizabeth told him, "You can feel it in your throat, and in your wrists."

"Dat my heawt?" Archie felt it again. Then smiled, "It 'ike Papa's!"

Richard turned his face away, trying not to laugh at how adorable his son's curiosity was.

" 'ere is yer dinner, M'lord." Molly announced.

"Thank you." Richard sat up.

Elizabeth helped little Archie eat his dinner.

 

When they were finished, Elizabeth had her toddler lay back and tucked him in.

" 'ou not wock me a s'eep?" Archie asked.

"Oh." Elizabeth smiled lovingly at her son, then picked him up. "Of course, I will rock you to sleep." She had the servants bring the rocking chair in their bedroom, then rocked her little son to sleep.

Once Archie was asleep, she carried him over to their bed and put him down next to his father.

"Have you ever known a more adorable child?" Richard asked.

"Would you be saying that if he were not your son?" Elizabeth cocked her head.

"He is an adorable child." Richard told her, "Even if he were the child of someone else."

"He is adorable." Elizabeth smiled, "We have been blessed."

Richard pulled his son into his arms, "Yes. Archie is a true blessing."

 

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