LIFE'S LESSONS: CONVALESCING
by Tracy

 

Yorkshire,
November 22, 1779

The family 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, they went to down to the dining area for breakfast.
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’s voice sounded hoarse, "It huwt inside my neck."

"Your throat hurts." Richard stated as reached over and put his hand on the
toddler’s forehead, "He has a fever."

"I not fee’ goo‘, Papa." Archie said softly, slowly shaking his head.

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

"Take him to our room," Richard said, "and I will have a doctor sent for.”

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

Elizabeth changed her the toddler back into his night shirt and Archie
frowned up at his mother, "Why 'ou chan’in' 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.

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

"Because you are ill." She told him as she sat down on the bed. Realizing
that he did not understand, Elizabeth explained, "It means that the cold air
and the rain made you unwell. Made you feel very bad."

Archie appeared to think for a moment, then blinked up at her, "Will I feel
bettew 'gain?"

"Of course you will, my angel." She kissed his forehead, “Now lie down.”

"I not wan' a feel bad, Mama." Archie said, his expression breaking his
mother's heart.

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

"I wan' a go home." 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 might be ill. Perhaps, I could 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. John 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, siw."

“Inside.” Richard added.

"Inside." The doctor smiled.

Archie nodded and said very softly, "My behy huwt, siw. 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., siw"

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

" 'ou do?" Archie asked, " 'ou ta’e 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."

"My what?" 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’s eyes widened.

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. When he finished, he stood and looked at Richard and
Elizabeth, "He's congested. My lord, my lady, I fear this may turn into
influenza. I can give him something to ease some of his symptoms, 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 felt a pain in his chest 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 removed his jacket and shoes, and moved the blanket.

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

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

"My lord," Morris said quickly, "influenza is contagious."

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

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

"I love you, son." Richard kissed Archie's forehead, alarmed at how warm 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 should check on the children."

"You should send the children home." Richard told her, "And 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 entrusted Archie to your mother, you spanked
him."

"I am sorry about that." Richard kissed Archie's forehead once more, "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.

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

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

“That could take a long time. Catherine stated firmly, "I am not staying
here."

"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, I'll look after
them, Elizabeth. 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 obey 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...."

"You will not disturb my husband." Elizabeth cut Catherine off, "I am
Richard's wife."

"And Lady Kennedy." James added, then frowned as his mother's glared at him.

"He is caring for our babe," Elizabeth said firmly, "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' 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
embracing each one in turn. "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." 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, this is my fault." Henry said softly, "I'm sorry I did not take
better care of Archie. I did not mean to lose him. Had I not lost him, he would
not be ill now."

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

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

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

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. It was hot.

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 stirred.

"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 enjoyable outings we have
been on."

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

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," Elizabeth 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 once more 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." 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."

"God blesses you, 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 goo’ boy."

"I've no doubt you are, son." The priest smiled, "You are one of God's
precious 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 priest 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 cheek 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 temple, "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."

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

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

"Please, lay the boy down, my 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, my 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, my 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, my 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 trembling 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, my 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, my 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, and some medicine to take with you,
then you need to take that babe home, my 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 hopefully, 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 the top of his head, "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."