LIFE'S LESSONS: CHANGES
by Tracy

Edinburgh,
April 11, 1780

 

CHANGES

Edinburgh
May 12, 1780

 

"He is my babe." Elizabeth almost sobbed the words.

"He is going to be just in the next room, dear." Richard Kennedy sighed, "And it is time he has his own bed chambers."

Suddenly, they heard crying and little Archie ran into their chambers. He buried his face in his mother's skirt and sobbing.

"Precious?" Elizabeth knelt down to comfort her little son, "Why are you crying?"

Archie looked up at his mother, his big blue eyes filled with tears, and sobbed, " 'teben tol' me....'ou...make me leabe....'cause 'ou....do not lobe me."

Richard clenched his teeth, then shouted, "Stephen!!"

Their second son walked into their bedroom with the most innocent expression he could manage, "Is something wrong, father?"

"You know very well what is wrong." Richard accused, "Why did you tell him that?"

"Tell him what, sir?" Stephen asked.

"That they were making Archie move to his own room, because they do not love him anymore." Maria said from the doorway.

Stephen gave his sister an angry glare.

"Do not be angry with your sister because she told the truth." Richard said.

"It was only a jest, father." Stephen said.

"Archie is only two years old, Stephen." Richard told his son, sternly, "He is too young to understand that it was only in jest. Now you tell your little brother the truth."

"Yes, sir." Stephen sighed. He took a deep breath and looked down at his baby brother, "Archie...."

Pouting, the little toddler looked up at his brother, tears still in his sad blue eyes.

"I lied." Stephen said, "They are not moving you to your own room because they do not love you. They are moving you because..........they are tired of you!"

"Stephen!" Richard snapped as his youngest son burst into tears again. "Go to your room, Stephen! I will deal with you later!"

Elizabeth sat down on the bed and pulled the toddler onto her lap, "There, there, my little angel. Your brother was just being cruel. Your father and I love you very much."

"Den why 'ou make me leabe?" Sobbing, Archie cocked his head, not understanding.

"Son," Richard reached down and took his little boy into his arms. He walked through the new door that had been cut in the wall of his parents bed chambers to Archie's new chambers, "This is going to be your bed chambers now. You are not a babe anymore, Archie, and all little boys need to have their own bed chambers."

"But," Archie sobbed, "I not wan' a be 'lone."

"You will not alone." Richard told him, "Your nurse is going to be here with you."

"Nuwse not 'ike me!" Archie pouted.

"Nurse Harriet is going to watch over you." Richard embraced him, "And your mother and I are going to be right here." Richard showed him how close they would be, "Your mother and I are going to rock you to sleep every night, just as we always have."

" 'ou will?" Little Archie looked up at his father.

"Every night, my little laddie." Richard told him.

"An 'ou lobe me?" Archie asked, the tears still in his blue eyes.

"I will always love you, Archie." Richard embraced him again, then kissed his little son's forehead, then kissed both cheeks, the little nose, and Archie's chin, then tickled under Archie's chin.

Archie giggled and wrapped his little arms around his father's neck.

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

After punishing Stephen for his cruel behavior, Richard went to tend to his usual evening ritual.

Every evening, Elizabeth would bathe Archie, and Richard would dry him and dress him for bed. Then the two of them would take turns rocking the toddler to sleep.

When Elizabeth finished washing Archie, she wrapped him in a towel, "He is all yours, dear."

"Yes, he is!" Richard smiled as he took his son and started for their bed chamber, "He is my little laddie!" He knew, as a father, he should not have a favorite child. But it was so hard not to! Little Archie was just too angelic and adorable! And he was almost always smiling!

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

"I love you, my little laddie." Richard dried Archie off and dressed him for bed. Then carried his son to the rocking chair and sat down. As always, little Archie snuggled against his father, listening to his heartbeat, and put his thumb in his mouth.

Richard hummed as he rocked his son to sleep, then put the toddler in his crib. He was going to miss having little Archie in their room. He would get up at night just to watch his little son sleeping. And the little one always had that smile on his face. Now he was going to have to go to the next room to watch Archie sleep. He kissed little Archie's soft cherub cheek, then quietly left the room.

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

May 13, 1780

Archie was laying in the nursery, while his things were being moved into his new bed chambers. Archie didn't play with his brothers - they were always mean to him. But Archie knew his sisters loved him. Instead of playing with their dolls, they would wrap Archie in a blanket and pretend that he was their baby. Little Archie liked that. He liked being carried around and fussed over.

Becoming bored with his toys, he decided to see what his sisters were doing. Constance, as usual, was drawing. She had starting taking painting lessons and was very good at it. Archie walked over to her, "Will 'ou dwaw me a pi'ter?"

Constance smiled at her baby brother, "What would you like?"

"A howsey." Little Archie told her, "Wif a knigh'."

"A knight on horse." Constance smiled, "Do you want him to be jousting?"

"Be what?" Archie frowned, blinking in confusion.

"Jousting." Constance took her little brother over to the toys and found two jousting toy knights and explained as she demonstrated with the toys, "This is how knights joust. They would start at opposite ends of a field, and ride towards each other and, if one of the knights was very lucky, he would knock the other knight off his horse."

" 'et me do it, Con'tant!" Archie begged, " 'et me do it!"

"Here," She handed the toys to her baby brother, "you play with them and I will draw you a picture."

Archie giggled as he took the toys and began to play.

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

After a while, little Archie became bored with the toy knights and noticed the door to the nursery was opened. He wondered out of the nursery and down the hall to the stairs.

He looked down the long staircase. He curiosity finally got the best of him. It took him a while, but he slowly made his way down the stairs. Then he began to wonder through halls until he found the parlor and spied the harpsichord. Archie's little face lit up and he ran to it. He climbed onto the bench and began hitting the keys.

 

 

"Archie Kennedy!" Richard's shout frightened little Archie and he began to cry. With a sigh, Richard walked over to the harpsichord and picked up his sobbing little son.

Archie knew he was in trouble and sobbed heavily, "I sowwy, Papa! I sowwy!"

"Hush, my laddie." Richard kissed his son's forehead, then carried him up to the nursery and demanded, "Where is Mrs. Wayne?"

"I do not know, father." Constance shrugged, then frowned, "What are you doing with, Archie?"

"He wondered down stairs alone." Richard told her, "If Mrs. Wayne was not watching Archie, who was supposed to be watching him?"

"I did not know that she was not here, father." Constance said, "And I thought Archie was playing with the toy knights."

"You are supposed to keep on eye on your brother when Mrs. Wayne is not here!" Richard told them, "He could have fallen down the stairs and been hurt!"

"Yes, father." Constance said, echoed by Maria, "Yes, sir."

"But we did not know Mrs. Wayne had left the room, father." Henry protested, "She never told us she was leaving."

Mrs. Wayne walked into the nursery.

"Where have you been?" Richard demanded.

"I had something to tend to, sir." She answered.

"So you left without telling Henry or Constance that you were leaving?" Richard asked, "Who was supposed to be watching Archie?"

"He was playing, sir," Mrs. Wayne said, "and the door was shut, nothing could happen in the short time I was gone."

"Nothing?!" Richard was becoming angry and raised his voice, "I found this babe in the parlor at the harpsichord!"

Frightened by his father's anger, little Archie, who had almost stopped crying, began to cry harder.

Mrs. Wayne shook her head, frowning, "How did he...?"

"He is two years old, Mrs. Wayne!" Richard told her, "two year olds lose interest in things very quickly, and are curious! You cannot leave them alone! And you had to have been away for more then a short time, for him to have made his way down this long hall, down all those steps, and all the way to the parlor! I am giving you one warning; you are never to leave this child alone! If this ever happens again, you may consider yourself dismissed! Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir." Wayne answered bitterly.

"Good." Richard turned his attention to the weeping toddler. He kissed his little son and wiped away his tears. "There, there, laddie. I'm sorry I frightened you."

"Archie," Constance said, "I finished your picture."

Little Archie wiped his tears and cocked his head, " 'et me see it." Constance gave him the picture and Archie's face lit up, "Papa! 'ook at my pi'ter!"

Richard looked at the picture, "Constance, this is lovely!"

"She dwaw it fer me!" Archie smiled, proudly.

Funny how something so utterly simple could make a small child so happy. Richard kissed his son's forehead, "That was very kind of your sister. You need to thank her."

"T'ank 'ou Con'tant." Archie hugged the picture, "It lobe'y!"

"It is very lovely, Constance." Richard leaned down and kissed her forehead, "You draw very well."

"Thank you, Father." Constance smiled, "You are very welcome, Archie."

"Will 'ou p'ay wif me, Con'tant?" Archie asked his sister.

"I would love to." She put her arms out to take him.

Archie went to her with the biggest smile and kissed her cheek, "I lobe 'ou, Con'tant."

"I love you too, Archie." She kissed his cheek in return and put him down on the floor. Then, taking his hand, she led him to the toys to play.

Smiling, Richard watched them a moment, then left the nursery.

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

That night, Archie did not enjoy his bath. He did not want to sleep in his new room without Mama and Papa. He pouted, while his Papa dried him and dressed him for bed. Papa tried to tell him it was going to be all right, but little Archie knew better. He was going to be alone and he didn't want to be.

When Elizabeth carried him into his new room and sat down in the rocking chair, Archie began to cry.

"Oh, my sweet angel, do not cry." She hugged him.

"I not wan' a be 'lone." Little Archie sobbed.

"You are not going to be alone." Elizabeth stood and walked over to a doorway that had a curtain instead of a door. She pulled the curtain open and Archie saw his nurse sitting in a chair, reading, "See? Mrs. Wayne is right hear, and she will hear you if you need her. And Mama and Papa will be right through that door." She pointed to the doorway to their chambers. Elizabeth walked back to the rocking chair, sat down again, and began to rock him, "There are always going to be changes in your life, angel. But you should not be frightened by them. You learn from changes and learning helps you grow."

"An' be a big boy, 'ike Papa?" Archie asked sleepily.

"Yes, my precious." Smiling, Elizabeth embraced her baby, then began to sing softly as she rocked him. Archie rested his little head on her chest and yawned. He put his thumb in his mouth, closed his eyes and relaxed as her voice and heart beat lulled him to sleep.

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

That night, Archie had a very bad dream and woke up crying. When his nurse did not come, the frightened little toddler cried, "Mama! Papa!"

 

"Archie?" Richard sat, rubbing his eyes, and heard Archie crying. Then he remembered the toddler was in his new room. He and Elizabeth quickly got up and, as they hurried to Archie's room, Richard growled, "If that woman left him alone again....!"

When they opened the door, they found Mrs. Wayne with little Archie over her knee, spanking his bare little bottom.

"What are you doing?!" Elizabeth rushed over and snatched her sobbing baby from the nurse.

"WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU, WOMAN?!" Richard demanded, furious.

"Sir," Mrs. Wayne stood, "he is never going to grow up if he can run to you everytime he is frightened."

"He is just a babe!" Elizabeth said, "You do not spank a two year old for wanting his parents when he is frightened!"

"Ma'am...."

Elizabeth cut her off, "Children need their parents!"

"But they need to learn not to, ma'am." Mrs. Wayne put her hands on her hips.

"Mrs. Wayne," Richard ordered, "you are dismissed! Pack your things and get out! NOW!"

Elizabeth took Archie to their room and put him in their bed, "You're going to sleep with us tonight."

Looking up at his mother with tear filled eyes and his little lip trembling, Archie sobbed, "What I do w'ong, Mama?"

Elizabeth pulled her son into her arms, holding him tightly and kissing him, "Oh, my precious, you did not do anything wrong. She was just very cruel and she is never going to hurt you again."

Richard came into their bed chambers and got in bed.

" 'ou said I won' be 'lone!" Archie sobbed with tears sliding down his cheeks, "But she not come when I cwied."

"I'm sorry, son." Richard took his little boy in his arms and kissed him, "You were not supposed to be alone. She was supposed to take care of you when you are frightened." Richard laid down with the sobbing little Archie in his arms, "I love you, my sweet little laddie."

Elizabeth put the candles out and moved next to her husband, with their toddler between them, and kissed the little one, "I love you, my precious."

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

May 28, 1780

Two weeks after dismissing Mrs. Wayne, Elizabeth walked into the nursery and announced, "Children, you have a new nurse."

"No!" Archie ran to his mother, "I not wan' a nuwse. D'ey mean!"

"Oh, precious!" Elizabeth told him softly, "Not all nurses are cruel."

"I not wan' a nuwse!" Archie insisted, starting to cry.

Kneeling down, Elizabeth took the cute little cherub face in her hands and looked into the lovely, but frightened blue eyes, "My angel, remember what I told you about changes? The new nurse is a change. But you do not have to be frightened, because we are never going to let any nurse hurt you again."

As Richard brought the new nurse into the nursery, Elizabeth stood and little Archie hid in her skirt, holding it tightly.

"Children, this is your new nurse, Miss McCarter." Richard announced, then turned to her, "This is my wife, Elizabeth. And our children." Stepping by hind each, Richard introduced them, "This is Henry and he is twelve. Constance is eleven. Stephen here, is nine. Maria is eight. And the little one hiding in his mother's skirt, is Archie. And he is two."

"Well, he's a big boy!" The nurse's soft voice held a slight Scottish accent. She knelt down in front of him, "Are ye shy, laddie?"

Archie didn't want to look at her, but she talked like his Papa's gilly, Arthur, so he just had to take one little peak. When he did, she smiled at him. She was not like Mrs. Wayne. She was young, with brown hair and blue/green eyes. And she was smiling! Even though he didn't turn his face away from her, little Archie still hid in his mother's skirt.

"What lovely a little laddie ye are!" She smiled. Then frowned and said softly, sounding concerned, "Ye're trembling', lad. Are ye cold?"

"The children's previous nurse was cruel to him." Elizabeth explained.

"Oh!" She cocked her head, sounding hurt, "Why would anyone be cruel t' such a sweet little laddie as this?" She reached out and gently touched his cheek, "Ye're a precious little lamb! No one should e'er treat ye cruelly."

Her touch was soft and she seemed very kind. Archie looked at her eyes and cocked his head.

She winked and gave him a very gentle smile. "I have somethin' for ye." She reached into a box she had put on the floor when she knelt down and pulled out something. She handed a little round ball to Archie, "Taste it."

Archie looked at the little ball for a moment, then cautiously reached out and took it. He bit into it and smiled. It was sweet!

"Do ye like it, lamb?" She asked.

Archie nodded.

"Well, that's good." She stood and held the box out to the other children, "Ha'e a piece."

Each of the children took a piece and thanked her as they did so. Then she offered their parents a piece.

"This is good!" Richard said, "What are they?"

"They don't ha'e a name, sir." She shrugged, "I was just bored last evening, so I took the dough and rolled small pieces through a mixture of cinnamon and sugar until they turned into balls, then baked 'em. I guess ye can call them cinnamon and sugar balls."

"Well, they are very good!" Elizabeth said, "But I think the children should only have one piece."

"Of course, ma'am." The nurse bowed her head and put the box back into a large bag.

"This is the nursery." Richard said, "And if you will follow me, I will show you to your chambers."

The nurse picked up her bags and followed Richard as did Elizabeth, and little Archie hurried after his mother.

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

When they came into Archie's chambers, Archie hid in his mother's skirt once more, while Richard explained, "This is Archie's bed chamber, and yours," Richard pulled the curtain open, "is in here. Your main duty is to...."

With a smile, the nurse finished before Richard could, "Is t' take care o' this little lamb!" She knelt down in front of Archie and whispered, "Would ye like to see a dragon?"

Archie's eyes grew wide.

She smiled, "My brother made me a dragon t' use t' keep the wind from blowin' my door shut. Would ye like t' see it, lamb?"

Archie nodded and the nurse reached out for him. Archie suddenly looked very frightened and shrank away.

The nurse cocked her head, frowning, "I'll not hurt ye, lamb." She smiled warmly at him and her voice was soft, "I will ne'er let anyone be cruel t' ye." She slowly put her hands on his sides beneath his arms. Little Archie looked down at her hands, then up at her as she gently picked him up. He was trembling and it broke her heart that anyone would cause a child this small to be so terrified. Gently holding him in her arms, she stood up, and said softly, "My name is Dorothy. May I call ye Archie?"

Archie nodded and Dorothy took him over to her belongings. She knelt down and stood Archie on the floor, then pulled out a statue of a dragon that stood about two feet tall.

Archie's eyes widened and he whispered, "A dwagon!"

"Aye." Dorothy smiled, "Would ye like t' hear a story 'bout a dragon?"

Little Archie's eyes grew even larger, " 'ou know a 'tory?"

"Oh, I know lots o' stories, laddie!" Dorothy smiled brightly as she stood and walked over to the rocking chair. She sat down and patted her lap, "Climb up here an' let me tell ye 'bout a very shy dragon."

Archie hurried over and climbed onto his new nurse's lap. Smiling, she lovingly wrapped her arms around the toddler and began the story. Elizabeth and Richard quietly left the room.

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

That night, little Archie had a bad dream and began crying. But before he could open his eyes, he was carefully lifted out of his crib, and arms gently wrapped around him. Then he was held close to a warm body and someone kissed his cheek, and whispered with a soft Scottish accent, "There, there, my lamb. Ye're all right. Nurse Dorothy is here. An' she'll not let anythin' happen t' ye."

Richard and Elizabeth had let the door to Archie's room open so they could hear him, and had got up when they heard him start crying. They quietly watched the new nurse with little Archie.

Dorothy carried him over to the rocking chair and sat down. She began to rock him, singing very softly, and tenderly caressing the toddler's soft cheek.

The nurse was doing the same thing his Mama and Papa always did to put him to sleep. Nurse Dorothy is just like Mama and Papa! Archie realized. His Mama was right; this change was not as bad as he thought it would be. This nurse was kind and gentle. Putting his thumb in his mouth, Archie snuggled against his new nurse, listening to her heart beating, and feeling the gentle vibration her soft singing made. Little Archie felt as safe with her as he did with his Mama and Papa.

Richard and Elizabeth watched Dorothy McCarter with their baby, and knew they had picked the right woman this time.

 

******************************************************************************************************