LIFE'S LESSONS: EXPLORING
by Tracy

Edinburgh
June 16, 1780

Archie played all through his bath and didn't want to settle down when his father dressed him for bed.

"Son," Richard said gently, but firmly, as he rocked the boy, "if you do not go to sleep, we are not going to go on our outing tomorrow."

"What a ou'ing, Papa?" Archie looked up at his father.

"A outing," Richard explained, "is when we take our dinner out to a place in the country and enjoy the lovely day and country side. And you can run and play, and we are going to go out on the lach in a boat!"

Frowning, little Archie cocked his head, "What a boat, Papa?"

"A boat floats on the water," Richard made his voice as soft as he could and kept rocking the little one, "you sit in it, and you can go anywhere you want to go on the water."

"I go in a boat, Papa?" Archie asked, hopefully.

"Of course you will, my little laddie." Richard kissed his son's soft cheek, "But only if you go to sleep right now."

"I go a s'eep, Papa!" Archie kissed his father's cheek and, closing his eyes, he put his thumb in his mouth, and snuggled against his father's neck. Richard hummed softly as he rocked his toddler to sleep.

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June 17, 1780

Little Archie had a hard time standing still while nurse Dorothy dressed him for Church. He was too excited to go to Church and, once there, Archie could barely sit still during the Mass. He wanted to go on the outing now. Archie always loved the music in Church, even he didn't understand it, but today he was far too excited to care about it.

Finally, it was over and they were walking to the coach. Archie kept trying to run, but nurse Dorothy would not let go of his hand.

After a very long ride, they arrived at a beautiful place! It had big trees, lots of flowers and lots of water next to it. As the servents put blankets down on the ground, the other children ran off to play.

When Archie started to go with them, his father caught him, "Not yet, Archie. You have to wait for Nurse Dorothy." Richard placed him down on one of the blankets and turned his attention to other matters.

Archie watched his brothers and sisters, and they sounded so happy. Why can they go play and he could not? Completely out of patience, little Archie began to cry.

"Now, now, little lamb." Nurse Dorothy reached down and stood the toddler on his feet, then took his little hand and led him toward the open field, "We're going t' play."

"I pick f'owers fow Mama." Archie ran to get them and Dorothy followed him. He started picking flowers, holding them in his left hand while he picked them with the other, smiling and giggling for several minutes.

Suddenly, little Archie screamed and threw the flowers down, crying.

"What is it, laddie?!" Dorothy quickly dropped to her knees beside him.

"Som'pin huwt me!" Archie cried.

"Let me see." She took his hand and looked at it. He had been stung on the back of the hand by a bee. Dorothy scooped him up and hurried back to his parents, "Mr. Kennedy, Archie was stung by a bee!"

"Oh, no!" Elizabeth took the sobbing toddler in her arms and cradled him, kissing him, "Shhh, Archie. Hush, my little angel."

"Stay with the children." Richard told his wife as he took their little son, "I'll take him to Dr. McBride." He climbed into the coach with the little boy and went to their physcian's home.

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Richard sat with the sill sobbing Archie on his lap as Dr. McBride tended his hand.

Then the doctor mixed something and brought it over to the little boy, "Master Archie, you need to drink this."

With his father's help, Archie drank the nasty tasting drink, making a face and moaning afterwards.

"That should ease his pain, sir." The doctor told Richard as he put his hand on the toddler's blond hair and gently stroked it, "Bring him back in two days for me to check him, unless he gets worse."

"Thank you, Dr. McBride." Richard said.

Little Archie fell asleep during the coach ride back to the outing site, and then slept through the outing.

Much to Elizabeth and Richard's relief, Archie's sting went away without any problems.

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June 24, 1780

The following Sunday, the Kennedy family went on another outing. But as the children ran off to play, little Archie refused to leave his mother's side.

"Do you not want to go play, Archie?" Elizabeth asked.

Archie shook his head and said sadly, "I not wan' a be huwt."

"Oh, precious!" She embraced the little toddler, realizing that he was frightened because of what happened at their last outing, "You do not have to stop playing because of that one little bee."

"It huwt me, Mama." Archie looked up at her with those big blue eyes so sad and frightened and it just about broke her heart.

"No son of mine is going to fear playing!" Richard said.

"Sir," Dorothy said quietly, "allow me."

"I do not want him to fear a bee!" Richard told her.

"He won't, sir." Dorothy assured him, before kneeling down next to the toddler, "Archie, I'll not let the bees hurt ye again."

" 'ou won't?" Archie looked up at her, so frightened.

"I will kill any bee that tries t' hurt my little lamb." She said, "Now, come. Let's go pick some pretty flowers for yer mother."

"No!" Archie shook his head and squeezed against his mother.

Dorothy looked into the frighten blue eyes, "I promise ye, lamb, I will not let the bee hurt ye again." Then she looked sadly at him, "Don't ye trust me, Archie?

" 'es." Archie got up and put his little arms around Dorothy's neck, "I lobe 'ou, Nuwse Dowfy."

"Then, let's go pick some pretty flowers!" Dorothy smiled.

Archie hesitated, " 'ou won't 'et a bee huwt me 'gain?"

"I won't let anythin' hurt, my sweet little lamb!" She said firmly, stood, and reached out for his hand.

Archie put his little hand in his nurse's and let her lead him to the flowers.

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Dorothy helped Archie pick the flowers and after thirty minutes, Archie relaxed enough to began picking the flowers without being afraid. But just when he reached for a beautiful flower, a bug landed on it and Archie screamed. As he turned to run, Dorothy caught him around the waist, "It's all right, laddie! It won't hurt ye!"

"No!" Archie tried to get out of his nurse's grip, "It a bite me!"

"No, it won't, lad." Dorothy told him, "It's a butterfly. They can't bite."

"Buddewfwy?" Archie cocked his head.

"Yes, lamb!" Dorothy put her hand out and let the butterfly walk onto it.

Archie took in a sharp breath, his eyes widening, and tried to pull away, but Dorothy did let him. She slowly brought her hand with the butterfly closer to him, so he could see it.

Breathing heavily, Archie looked, wide eyed, at the butterfly. The bug did not seem to be hurting his nurse. It had beauitful colors all over it! Archie had never seen a beautiful bug before and looked up at Dorothy, "It not huwt 'ou?"

"It can't, lamb." She smiled at him, "Butterflies don't have teeth or stingers."

"D'ey don't?" Archie cocked his little head.

After several long moments of watching the butterfly opening and closing it's wings, Archie reached out to touch the butterfly, but Dorothy slowly moved her hand away. When Archie looked up at her, hurt, she said, "Never touch the butterfly's wings, laddie. Ye'll hurt him."

"He lobe'y." Archie said.

"Very lovely." She smiled.

Suddenly, the butterfly flew away.

"See, Archie?" Dorothy told him, "Not all bugs will hurt ye."

"I 'ike da buddewfwy."

"Would ye like t' find some o' the bugs that can't hurt ye?" Dorothy smiled.

Archie nodded.

Smiling at him, she took his little hand and said excitedly, "Then let's go exploring!"

"What dat mean?" Archie frowned.

"Exploring?" When Archie nodded, Dorothy explained, "It means to go and find new things."

"Oh." Archie blinked, then smiled and pulled on Dorothy's hand, " 'et's go!"

Dorothy smiled, trying not to laugh, and the two began to explore.

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"It's a cricket." Dorothy picked it up.

"Cwicket?" Archie looked at the bug apprehensively.

"Yes, my lamb." Dorothy opened her hand and let the bug crawl all over it, "Crickets don't bite. All they do is sing at night."

Archie did not believe that. Bugs can't sing! He stepped a bit closer to look at it, "He not bite?"

"I'd never let ye hold a bug that bites, laddie!" Dorothy took Archie's little hand and put the cricket into it.

Archie started giggling, "He tickle me!"

"See, my sweet?" Dorothy explained, "Ye don' ha'e t' fear bugs."

After a few minutes, Dorothy said, "Ye should let the cricket go now, and we'll find another bug."

"He hafa go home t' his Mama an' Papa?" Archie asked.

Trying not to laugh, Dorothy smiled, "Aye, lad, he should go home t' his family."

"Aw wight." Archie put the cricket down in the grass and waved as it crawled away, "Bye bye, cwicket."

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"This one is called a lady bug." Dorothy took the little bug off the flower.

" 'ady?" Archie cocked his head, " 'ike Mama?"

"No, lamb." Dorothy laughed, "They're not ladies like yer Mama. They are called lady bugs, but some o' them are boys."

" 'ike me?" Archie asked.

"Some bugs are boys," She smiled, "and some are girls. Do ye want t' hold it?"

Archie nodded eagerly and put his little hand out. This one tickled his hand too, making Archie giggle.

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"What dat?!" Archie's gorgous blue eyes were wide and curious.

"That is an inche worm." Dorothy said, "He's called an inche because o' the way he walks. See?"

Archie giggled, "He walk funny!"

"Doesn't he?" Dorothy laughed, "Ye want t' see more?"

" 'es!" Archie took her hand, " 'et's go!"

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After an hour of exploring, the children were called to eat, but Archie did not touch his food until he told his Mama and Papa all about the bugs he had found, and that none of them hurt him.

Richard Kennedy glanced at Dorothy McCarter and mouth the words *thank you*. Dorothy smiled and gave him a wink.

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After dinner, they went out on the lach in the boat. As they were rowed, little Archie became very excited. This was fun! He looked into the water, "Nuwse Dowfy! What d'at!"

"They're fish, laddie." Dorothy smiled.

"D'ey bite?" Archie looked up at her.

"Only if you're a worm!" Dorothy giggled, and everyone laughed. When Archie frowned, Dorothy said, "Fish eat worms and bugs that fly near the water. They ne'er bite people."

"Mama," Archie looked back in the water, " 'ook at da fis'."

"I see them, precious." Elizabeth smiled, looking into the water with her little boy.

"I 'ike a boat, Papa!" Archie said excitedly.

"I thought you would." Richard could see the pure joy in the blue eyes, "Archie, would you like to be a fisherman?"

"What a fis'er man?" Archie frowned.

"Fishermen go out to sea on a boats," Richard explained, "and catch fish."

Archie appeared to be confused, "Go a see what, Papa?"

When his brothers and sisters started laughing, little Archie turned away from them, embarrassed.

"Stop laughing, children." Richard told them, "He does not understand. And laughing at someone who does not understand is very cruel. No one laughed at you when you did not understand."

Richard reached over and took his son from Elizabeth's lap, and held him closely, "Son, do not be embarrassed because you do not understand. The only way to learn, is by asking. And there is no shame in learning."

"Mama, say it help me gwow." Archie looked up at his father.

"It does." Richard told him, "And learning makes you smart. So always learn everything you can, lad."

"I leawn, Papa." Archie nodded.

"Now, let me explain the difference between seeing and the sea." Richard explained it to Archie, then asked, "Would you like to be a fisherman?"

"D'ey cats' fis'?" Archie asked.

"Yes, they do." Richard said.

"And d'ey keep d'em?" Archie asked.

"No, lad," Richard smiled, "they catch the fish so people can eat them."

Archie was horrified at that, "D'ey eat a fis'?"

"They slice the fish open with a kinfe." Stephen said evilly.

"No!" Little Archie sobbed and buried his face in his father's chest.

"There is going to come a day, Stephen Kennedy," Elizabeth told him sternly, "when you will regret being cruel to Archie."

"I doubt it." Stephen shrugged.

Richard stiffled his urge to slap the boy, but only because he did not want to tip the boat over, "Oh, you will regret being cruel to Archie as soon as we go home."

"Do you enjoy being punished, Stephen?" Constance asked, "Or are you just a fool?"

Henry and Maria laughed at that, and then Henry said, "He is just a fool."

Stephen stood up to hit his brother and the boat rocked.

"Stephen Kennedy, if we end up in the water, you will never sit down again!" Richard warned.

Stephen sat down and glared at Henry, who only laughed.

"Some day you will not have yer brother, Stephen." Dorothy said, "And the sad part is, he will not want t' be around ye."

"So." Stephen sat with his arms folded across his chest.

"So ye may need his help someday," Dorothy said, "and he'll not want t' help ye because o' how mean ye were t' him."

"Nurse Dorothy," Stephen glaraed at her, "I will never need Archie's help. Besides, he could not help even if he tried."

"He will not be a babe forever, Stephen." Richard told him, and Archie looked up at his father while he spoke, "And for all you know, I could be holding someone who will grow up to be one of England's greatest men."

"Archie?" Stephen frowned in disbelief.

"You have no idea what kind of man Archie will be when he grows up." Richard told him, "Only God knows what Archie is going to be."

"Nurse Dorothy," Constance said, "You are wrong. Archie would help Stephen," She gave her brother a glare, "even though Stephen does not deserve it. And I know what kind of man Archie will be when he grows up, Father. He will be kind, honest, and decent. The perfect gentleman. Which is something Stephen Kennedy will never be."

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That evening, Elizabeth bathed her little son and Richard dried him and dressed him for bed.

Then Elizabeth began to rock her son.

"Mama?" Archie looked up at his father, " 'ou t'ink I a be gweat man when I gwow up?"

"My dear little angel," Elizabeth looked into the beautiful blue eyes looking up at him, "I truly believe that you can be anything you want to be."

Smiling, Archie snuggled against his mother, wondering what he was going to be when he grew up. Closing his eyes, the little toddler put his thumb in his mouth and the vibration in his mother's chest from her humming, soothed Archie to sleep.

 

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