LIFE'S LESSONS: A NEW BABY
by Tracy

 

Little Archie was on his parents' bed, playing with his father, who was
blowing on the child's belly and making him laugh. Archie loved his Papa so much.
Papa would Archie whenever he was frightened or ill, and sometimes when he
just wanted to be held.

Finally, they stopped playing and just lay on the bed, Richard holding his
little son in his arms.

"Papa?" Archie looked at him, "What a debil?"

"A devil?" Richard raised his brow, "It is a very cruel, evil creature that
lives in Hell."

Blue eyes widening in horror, Archie gasped and sat up. Tears threatened and
he began to pout.

Sitting up, Richard pulled his son onto his lap, "What is wrong, son?"

"I ebil?" Archie asked, starting to cry.

"No, Archie." Richard embraced his little son, "You are not evil."

"Gwanmuder say I a debil." Archie wiped at his eyes, "I twy a be good,
Papa!"

Richard closed his eyes, wishing his mother had not said that to Archie. He
kissed his son's cheek, "You are a very good little boy, Archie. Your
grandmother should not have called you that."

"I not a debil?" Archie moved to look into his father's eyes, "I not wan' a
be ebil."

"You are not evil, son." Richard kissed the boy's head again, "And you are
not a devil. You are a little angel."

The cherub face broke into a beautiful smile despite the tears, "Dat what
Mama call me."

"That is because you are." Richard kissed his son again and embraced him
once more.

Archie wrapped his arms around his father's neck, "I lobe 'ou, Papa."

"I love you, son." Richard lay his son back down on the bed and pulled his
night shirt up to blow on his belly again. Archie giggled.

"The coach is coming, Father!" Maria shouted excitedly.

"Ah!" Richard put Archie's night shirt down, "They are here."

"Who hewe, Papa?" Archie frowned.

"Your Mama's sister." Richard picked his son up and carried him down the
stairs.

Elizabeth was opening the door as Richard came down the stairs, "Eleanor!"
She embraced her sister, careful of the baby in her arms.

"Papa!" Archie exclaimed, wide eyed, "Hew 'ook 'ike Mama!"

"She is your mother's twin sister." Richard told him. When Archie frowned
in confusion, his father said, "That means she looks just like your mother."

"Oh." Archie looked back at her and his mama.

Elizabeth released her sister to look down at the child, "Oh, he looks just
like Archie!"

"I told you he did." Eleanor smiled and handed the baby to her.

"Oh, he's so precious!" Elizabeth's eyes held a depth of love as she looked
at her nephew.

Richard put Archie down to welcome his sister-in-law, "Eleanor, I hope you
enjoy your stay."

Henry, Constance, Stephen, and Maria gathered around their aunt to welcome
her as well.

Archie watched his family and his Mama holding something. He tugged on his
mother's skirt, "Mama! Pick me up!"

"I cannot pick you up at the moment, Archie," She told him, "I'm holding
the babe."

Archie frowned, "I da babe."

"You are my babe, Archie." She said, "But this babe is too small to put
down."

Archie's frown turned into a pout. And when his family gathered around his
mother to look at the baby, he felt hurt. He tugged on Elizabeth skirt again,
"Mama! Mama!" But the other children were making such a fuss that Elizabeth
could not hear him.

His lip quivering, Archie tried to squeeze between all the legs surrounding
his father, but couldn't get through. "Papa!" Archie called, "Mama! I wan'
a see da babe!"

He could not understand why his Mama and Papa would not answer him. He tried
to call them several more times, then began to cry. He moved away from them,
wiping at his eyes, but was unable to stop weeping.

 

 

His Mama and Papa did not love him anymore. Archie was so busy crying, that
he was not even aware that he was still walking.

Suddenly, someone picked him up. "Here now, laddie, where do you think you
are going?" Asked James, Richard's brother.

Archie sniffed, "Mama an' Papa not lobe me now."

"Ow, laddie!" James frowned, "Your Mama and Papa love you very much."

"No!" Archie shook his head, "D'ey lobe dat babe! D'ey not heaw me." He
started crying again, "D'ey not lobe me no mowe!"

James hugged the little boy, then frowned as he realized that Archie had
wandered away from his parents, and neither of them had come looking for him. <
Perhaps, they need to be taught a little lesson.> "Come with me, laddie."
James told him, "I'll get you something to eat."

 

 

He took Archie to the kitchen, where the cook was preparing the noon day
meal, "Mrs. Lawrence, do ye have something sweet for this little one?"

Mrs. Lawrence smiled at the toddler, "I 'ave som'in right 'ere." She walked
over to another table, then returned with a pie, "Would ye like a piece,
Master Archie?"

Archie nodded.

Mrs. Lawrence cut a small piece and put it on a plate. James sat down with
Archie on his lap, and let the child eat.

 

 

"Here, Richard." Elizabeth handed the baby to her husband.

"He does look like Archie." Richard said as he took the infant.

"Archie, would you like to see the babe?" Elizabeth looked around and
frowned, "Archie? Archie!" She turned back to Richard, "Honey, where is Archie?"

Richard's eyes widened, "He was right beside me."

"Children, start looking for your brother." Elizabeth said.

Richard handed the baby back to Eleanor.

"I hope he did not feel left out." Eleanor commented.

"Left out?" Richard frowned.

"Everyone was making such a fuss over Duncan," Eleanor told them, "and no
one was paying attention to him. He is still a babe himself."

Richard let his breath out in a huff and started down one of the halls,
"Archie!"

Elizabeth followed suit, calling for him as well.

 

 

Hearing his name, Archie raised his head, "Papa." He looked apprehensive.

James picked the toddler up, "I'll talk to him, laddie." He hurried out of
the kitchen with the child and called, "I have him!"

Relieved, Richard Hastened to meet his brother with Elizabeth and Dorothy
hard on his heels.

"Archie Kennedy," Richard snapped, "you know you are not to wander off
alone!"

Archie's lips quivered and his lowered his head, "I sowwy, Papa!"

"Richard," James said softly, "could I speak with ye."

He passed Archie over to Elizabeth, who took her son ins her arms and gave
him a reassuring squeeze.

Richard took James by the arm and moved him away from the ladies, and Archie.

He turned to Lord Kennedy, "Archie did not mean to wander away. He was
weeping not aware of where he was going. He thought ye didn't love anymore
because ye did not answer him. I took him to the kitchen and got him something eat.
And......to teach ye a lesson."

"You decided to teach me a lesson?" Richard narrowed his eyes.

 

 

"The lad wandered off," James swallowed, "and no one noticed. He could
have been hurt."

"But you should not...."

Elizabeth, who had moved without earshot, put her hand on her husband's arm,
stopping him in mid-sentence, "Richard, perhaps we need to speak."

"I am not finished with you." Richard told her brother.

"Dorothy," Elizabeth gave Archie to the nurse, and she quickly left them.

He allowed Elizabeth to take him by the arm, and lead him down the hall.

"How dare he teach me a lesson." Richard grumbled.

"Richard!" Elizabeth turned to him, "This is our fault, it is not James',
and certainly not Archie's. We let Archie wander away and we did not even
notice!"

"He shou...."

"He is just a babe." Elizabeth said firmly, "And he thought we did not care
for him anymore."

Richard closed his eyes. He had to admit that their babe's feeling had been
hurt.

 

 

Archie lay on the sofa in his bed chambers, crying. Dorothy was trying to
console him, telling him that his parents still loved him, but he did not
believe it. Richard and Elizabeth walked into the room. At Richard's nod, Dorothy
got up and left. They walked over to the sofa, and Richard put his hand on
Archie's little back, "Son..."

"Leabe me a'one!" Archie moved away from him.

"Archie." Richard frowned.

"I not lobe 'ou an'mowe!" Archie sobbed.

Elizabeth knelt down and now leaned forward on the sofa, looking sad.

Archie blinked up at his father, "Why Mama sad?"

"I think you might have hurt her." Richard said.

"I not mean a huwt Mama." Archie crawled over to her and stroked her hair,
"I sowwy, Mama. I not mean a make 'ou sad."

Elizabeth raised her head. "I love you very much, Archie dear. And it hurt
me that you do not love us anymore."

"I not mean a huwt 'ou ." Archie began to pout.

"We did not mean to hurt you, son." Richard told him.

Archie lowered his head. He had started crying again.

Richard picked him up, "Archie, we love you more then anything. And I would
not want to live without you in my life."

Archie took a sharp breath and shook his head, "I not wan' 'ou a die!"

"We love you, Archie." Richard said softly, "No one can ever take your
place."

"Angel," Elizabeth took the chubby little face in her hands, "you are my
babe. The last babe I will ever have. I can never love anyone the way I love
you."

Someone knocked on the door, "May I come in?"

Archie and his parents turned to see Eleanor in the doorway with Duncan in
her arms. "Archie," Eleanor cocked her head, "you did not meet your little
cousin yet." She stepped forward and moved the blanket away from the infant's
face. "This is Duncan."

Archie looked down at the tiny face.

"Would you like to hold him?" Eleanor asked.

Archie shook his head, "I too 'it'le."

"Nonsense." Eleanor smiled, "Sit on your Papa's lap and you can hold him."

"Hold out your arms." Eleanor instructed, then gently put the baby in her
nephew's arms, keeping her hands under her son.

Archie looked down at the infant. Then the babe stirred and Archie's eyes
widened, "It mobe!"

"Of course, honey." Eleanor smiled, "He is alive."

The baby's eyes fluttered open and he looked at Archie. The toddler cocked
his head, "He 'ook at me." The infant cooed and smiled up at him.

"Oh, Archie." Elizabeth's smile broadened, "He's smiling at you."

"He loves you, Archie." Eleanor told him.

"He lobes me?" Archie glanced up at her.

"Of course, he loves you." Eleanor explained, "You are his cousin. And you
and he will play with each other when he gets a little older."

"He pa'y wif me?" Archie's little face lit up.

"When he is old enough." Eleanor said, "But now, Duncan needs to eat."

"I see da babe 'ater?" Archie asked.

"Yes, my dear." She leaned down and kissed Archie's forehead, "Do you want
to give him a kiss?"

Archie nodded.

"Kiss his cheek." Eleanor told him.

Archie leaned down and kissed the baby's cheek. He quickly sat up, looking
up at her, "He sopt."

Eleanor quietly giggled, "Yes, he is soft."

"I kiss da babe 'gain?" Archie asked.

"One more kiss," Eleanor told him, "and then I have to feed him."

Archie gave his cousin another kiss and Eleanor took the baby from him. She
leaned down and kissed Archie's cheek, "You are a very special boy." Then
she left the room.

"Mama," Archie looked up at her, "da babe is sopt."

"I know, precious." She smiled down at the toddler, who raised his arms for
her to pick him up.

"I will have the other children brought to the drawing room." Richard told
her and left.

Elizabeth carried Archie down the grand staircase and into their private
drawing room. She sat down in her chair with Archie on her lap, and he settled
against her.

As he nested in close he pushed on her bosom and asked, "Mama, what dis?"

Blushing, Elizabeth grinned, "It is called a breast."

"Why dat biggew den Papa's?"

"Because, I am a woman." Elizabeth told him, "And women have to feed their
babes."

Archie looked horrified, "Da babes eat 'ou?!"

Elizabeth could not stop her laugh, "No, honey. The babes do not eat us.
Breasts make milk for the them."

"Oh." Archie blinked. Then his face lit with excitement, and he slid off
her lap, and grabbed his mother's wrist with both hands, " 'et's go see da babe
eat!"

"No, Archie. We cannot watch Eleanor nurse her babe. That would not be
proper."

Archie pulled on her arm, "But Mama, I wan' a see da babe eat."

"Archie Kennedy."

At the use of his full name, Archie stopped.

"It is not proper to watch a mother nurse her babe." She told him. When
Archie's face fell, Elizabeth picked him up and sat him on her lap, "When a
mother nurses her babe, it is a very special time for both of them. That is when
they come especially close to one another." Elizabeth watched her toddler's
face, while he tried to understand what she had said.

Finally, Archie looked up at her, " 'ou nuwse me?"

"Yes, I did." She smiled gently, "And it was a very special and wonderful
time in my life, to spend time alone with my each of my babes." Elizabeth
wrapped her arms around her son.

Archie settled against his mother once more, enjoying the comfort of her arms
around him brought, and stayed there until his father and siblings came into
the room. He then slipped off his mother's lap while his sisters were talking
to her, and went to the window where he gazed, enchanted at the falling snow.

Richard watched his little son, while Henry and Stephen told him all about
their day. He could not help but feel a small ache in his heart at Archie's
earlier words. Even though he knew Archie was hurt when he said that he did not
love them anymore, the thought that Archie might one day reject him pained.
He was not sure he could survive that from his favorite child.

Richard became aware that he was not even listening to Stephen. However, he
did not miss much. Stephen was the only child he had who could talk forever
about absolutely nothing. When Stephen was finished, Richard glanced back at
his toddler.

Archie was sitting on the floor with his elbows resting on his leg, and his
head resting on his hands.

Richard smiled at that. "Archie." He called, and watched his son's head
come up, with a look of hope on his face. "Come here, my boy, and tell me of
your day."

The toddler jumped to his feet and scampered to his father.

"Archie's a babe!" Stephen said, "He doesn't do anything interesting."

Henry looked at his brother as if he could not believe he said that. "You
just spent the last twenty minutes telling father of a game of cricket!"

"But it was important!" Stephen said defensively.

"It is only important to you." Henry told him.

"Henry, Stephen," Richard looked at the boys, "go and write your letters."

Stephen let his breath out in a huff, "Why do I have to write letters to
grandmother, grandfather, and all my aunts and uncles? I have not even met some
of them."

Richard tried not to laugh, "You are writing them, so they will come to know
you. Now go, lads."

"Yes, father." Henry said properly, echoed by an annoyed Stephen.

Richard turned his attention to Archie, who was standing at his father's arm,
waiting to be acknowledged. Richard smiled, "Climb up here, and tell me
what you have learned today."

Archie climbed onto his father's lap and sat down, "Papa, 'ou know mama's
nuwse babes?"

"Yes, son." Richard said, "I did know that."

"Mama nuwse me." Archie told him seriously.

"I know." Richard smiled.

"Hew say it a 'pesial time fow mamas and dew babes."

"It is." Richard told him.

Archie climbed up, to lay on his father's shoulder and Richard gently rubbed
his son's back. They remained like that together, relaxed and content, until
it was time to go in to dinner.

 

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