LIFE'S LESSONS: LOST
by Tracy

Northern England,
November 11, 1780

 

"Where we goin' Papa?" Little Archie asked, looking up as his father. Archie had climbed on his lap for the coach ride and was curious. Their usual rides in the coach did not last this long.

"We are going to Kennedy Cottage to visit your uncle James." Richard told the toddler.

"Where dat?"

"It is up north, laddie." Richard said.

Archie frowned in confusion, "What nowf?"

Richard smiled, then took a deep breath. This was going to take some time to explain. When he finished, Archie asked, "What we do dawe?"

"We are going to go for walks in the forest."

"What a fowest?" Archie asked.

"You certainly ask a lot of questions." Richard raised his brow.

"Mama say d'ey make me leawrn." Archie told his father.

"Yes, they do, my boy." Richard smiled down at his son, and explained all about the forest, and creeks and everything they were going to see.

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Near Edinburgh
November 19, 1780

 

The coach came to a stop and a few moments later, the driver opened the door. Richard handed Archie to his nurse and left the coach. Elizabeth climbed out next and the children followed her. Then Dorothy climbed out with little Archie in her arms.

"Richard!" James smiled and hurried out to greet them, "Elizabeth! How was your journey? Uneventful, I hope."

"Well," Richard said lightly, "it was filled with a lot of questions."

"Such as?" James was ready to answer any question anyone had.

Richard smiled, "Where are we going? What is north? What are going to do there? What is a forest?"

James laughed, "I hope they didn't ask them all at the same time."

"No." Richard mussed Archie's hair, "He asked them in succession."

Elizabeth smiled at her toddler.

Smiling, James took little Archie from his nurse, "You've gotten bigger since the last time I seen you! Do you remember me, Archie?"

Little Archie shook his head.

"He has not seen you since Christmas." Elizabeth said.

"I'm your uncle, James."

Archie cocked his head, " 'ou my what?"

"Uncle." At Archie's nod, James smiled and said, "I'm your Papa's brother."

" 'ou awe?" Archie's eyes widened, and he looked at his father, then at his brothers, " 'ike Henwy an' 'teben my bwodews?"

"Aye, laddie." James kissed the toddler's soft cheek, "You're my nephew."

"I am?" Archie frowned.

"Aye, lad."

Archie rubbed his eye, "Why 'ou talk 'bout eyes?" Then he became embarrassed and lowered his head when everyone snickered.

"I'm not saying eye as in this," James pointed to his own eye, "I'm sayin' aye which is Scottish and means yes. Don't let their laughing hurt you, lad. Only a fool thinks he knows everything. And you're not a fool, Archie. You are a smart little boy."

Archie smiled brightly, then hugged his uncle's neck.

James embraced him in return, then said, "Come, my lad. I have dinner ready."

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November 20, 1780

Kennedy cottage was small compared to Kennedy manor. It had four bedchambers, each with one large bed and one larger bedchamber on the first floor.

Constance and Maria were given the front room and had to share the large bed. Henry and Stephen got the room across the hall from the girls' room, and they too, had to share the bed. James gave Dorothy the room next to the boys' room and slept on the sofa. And Catherine, much to her disdain, was given the room next to the girls' room. Richard and Elizabeth got the bedchambers on the first floor, and Archie slept with them.

After breakfast, Elizabeth took the girls outside to do their embroidery, while Richard, James, and Richard's gilly, Arthur, took the boys up the mountain.

"What we do, Papa? Little Archie cocked his head and looked up at his father.

"We are going to go to the top of the mountain." Richard said.

"Why?" Archie frowned, puzzled.

"To see the view from the top of the mountain." Richard told him.

Archie appeared to be even more confused, and reached up for his father to pick him up.

Trying not to laugh, Richard picked his son up, "We came here to walk in the open country and enjoy the lovely land as we do when we go on outings. Only this time, we are going to go up the mountain. Perhaps, you can pick some flowers for your mother?"

"I pick f'owews fow Nuwse Dowfy," Archie looked at his father, "an' Con'tant, an' Mawia, too!"

"Well, you are a sweet little gentlemen to pick flowers for all the ladies." Richard smiled and kissed his son's temple.

"D'ey be happy." Archie smiled.

"Oh," James smiled at Archie, "any lass who receives flowers from a handsome lad like you, will be thrilled!"

Archie's smiled grew at that.

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Once they made it to the top of the mountain, Richard pointed toward Kennedy cottage, "There is our cottage, Archie."

"Mama!" Archie shouted, waving, "Con'tant! Mawia! I hewe!"

"They cannot hear you, laddie." Richard told him, "They are too far away."

"I pick f'owews now?" Archie cocked his head, looking at his father's face.

"Yes, you may." Richard put Archie down, "Henry, take Archie to pick flowers."

Rolling his eyes, Henry gave an exasperated sigh, "Yes, Father." He stepped forward to take his little brother's hand.

"Thank you, son." Richard smiled and watched the boys walk over to the large patch of wild flowers.

Archie let go of his brother's hand and began to pick flowers.

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Henry watched him for almost thirty minutes, then called, "Stephen!"

When his brother walked over to him, Henry said, "Watch Archie for a moment. I need to tell father something."

"No." Stephen started to turn away.

Henry grabbed his arm, "Stephen, this is important! I have to tell father something. Just watch him until I come back." Henry hurried off to his father.

Why do I have to watch Archie? Stephen thought, I am not his parent! Looking down, Stephen saw a frog, and started following it. "Archie!" Stephen called, "Come with me!"

Archie frowned, "I pickin' f'owews."

Stephen grabbed Archie's hand, making him drop his flowers, and dragged the toddler along with him.

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"Father!" Henry ran up to Richard, "Father, there are some hunters with guns!"

"Where?" Richard asked, then his eyes widened, "Did you leave Archie alone?"

"No, sir." Henry said, "I told Stephen to watch him so I could tell you about the hunters."

"We shall get your brothers and leave here before someone is hurt." Richard started toward where the boys were.

James, Henry, and Arthur followed Richard to the patch of wild flowers, but Archie and Stephen were not there. "Where are they?" Richard looked at Henry.

"I do not know, Father." Henry looked around, "I left them right here."

"We best look for them." James said.

The four started shouting for Stephen and Archie.

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Stephen had followed the frog to a stream, dragging poor Archie behind him.

Finally, Stephen stopped. He told Archie to wait for him while he chased the frog through the stream.

Archie sat down, waiting for Stephen to return.

After a few minutes, he became bored and starting looking around. His little face lit up when he saw a patch of flowers. He hurried to the flowers and began to pick them.

Seeing some more beautiful flowers further down the hillside. He decided to pick those instead, and made his way to them.

 

Finally catching the frog, Stephen walked back to where he had left Archie. He sighed heavily, and called, "Archie!" Receiving no answer, he started toward the flower patch they had been at. As he neared it, he heard everyone shouting for them, and called, "I am here, Father."

They made their way toward Stephen's voice, then Richard frowned, "Stephen, where is Archie?"

"I do not know." Stephen shrugged.

"I told you to watch him, Stephen!" Henry charged.

"Do not blame me!" Stephen shot back, "Father told you to watch him!"

"Can you not do one thing you are asked to, Stephen?!" Richard demanded.

"We can discuss that later." James said, "We need to find Archie before he gets lost."

"You better pray we find him!" Richard told Stephen.

"Archie!" Everyone began shouting.

 

 

Once his little hands were full of flowers, Archie called, " 'teben, 'ou hold some f'owews fow me?" When no one answered, Archie frowned and looked around, " 'teben? 'teben, whewe 'ou go?" He shouted, " 'teben!"

Archie suddenly became scared, " 'teben, I fwighten' !"

Archie started running to where he thought he had been with Henry, then stopped. He could not remember where that was. Sitting down, Archie began to cry.

Archie heard something growl and started running again, though he did not know where he was going.

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Stephen took his father to the stream he had been at, and they searched for hours, but could not find Archie.

"It will be gettin' dark soon, M'lord." Arthur said.

"I am not leaving here without my son!" Richard said firmly.

"We best take th' lads t' their mum, M'lord," Arthur suggested, "an' find some men t' help us search fer him before it gets too dark."

"I know how cold it becomes up here at night." Richard stared into his gilly's eyes, "Archie will not survive the night without a cloak or blanket."

Henry suddenly became frightened, "I am sorry, Father! I should never have believed Stephen would watch Archie! I should have brought him with me! This is all my fault! Please forgive me, Father!

"There, there, son." Richard pulled Henry into his arms, "This is not all your fault."

"Richard," James said gently, "you and Arthur take the boys down to the cottage, and find some men to help search for Archie."

"I am not leaving here without Archie!" Richard roared.

"Richard!" James said, "I'll find those hunters, and we will keep lookin' for Archie. Just bring more help. And hurry."

Richard grabbed his sons' hands and turned to his gilly, "Arthur, let us find some help."

Arthur gave a quick nod, and started off toward Kennedy cottage.

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By the time Richard and Arthur returned to the mountain, it was already getting dark and starting to rain.

"Oh, my poor little laddie!" Richard whispered, "He is frightened, hungry, and cold. We have to find him."

"We will." James said, rubbing his brother's back, "Archie is not going to die this way."

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As the darkness fell, Archie became more frightened, and finally squeezed himself into the hollow of a large tree to get out of the rain. He was so cold and hungry. And there were very frightening sounds all around him. Archie wrapped his arms around himself and began to cry. He wanted his Papa and Mama. He wanted to go home. He was never going to come up the mountain again! Never! He wished he had stayed with his Mama.

 

Dorothy tried to console Elizabeth, Constance, and Maria, even though she was wanting to cry as much as they were.

Henry did not eat supper. He went to the room he shared with Stephen, lay down on the bed, and had cried all evening. He had made a terrible mistake! And now Archie was going to die because of him. I should have known Stephen would not watch Archie. Henry thought, Stephen has been jealous of Archie since the day he was born. Archie was out in the cold, all alone, and could not defend himself against wild animals. Archie could be killed by a wolf, or freeze to death, and Stephen does not even care!

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Archie was crying so hard he never heard the big, frightening dog approaching until it howled. Archie looked up and gasped, his eyes widening in fear.

The big dog growled at him and slowly moved forward.

Trembling, Archie froze, terrified.

Suddenly, there was a loud noise and Archie screamed.

The dog fell to the ground bleeding. Someone walked around the tree and knelt next to the big dog. The man caught sight of Archie, "What are you doing up here alone, little one? Are you lost?"

" 'teben...lef' me." Archie was sobbing heavily.

The young man cocked his head and reached out to the toddler, "Come here, little one. You cannot stay here. It is too cold and raining, and this might not be the only wolf around here."

"Dat a wolf?" Archie sniffed, wide eyed.

"Yes." The young man said, "And you are shivering. I will not hurt, little one. What is your name?"

"Arshie."

"Archie." The young man smiled, "I am Raphael. Come with me. I will take you to my home, and make something for you to eat."

When Archie slipped out of the hollow, Raphael picked the toddler up in his arm, feeling the boy's violent shaking, and carried him to a little cabin.

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The men searched until it became too dark to see. Richard had made his gilly bring everything they would need to stay the night on the mountain. He simply could not leave without his little son.

While the men began eating, and Richard walked away from them and sat down. He had lost his babe boy. His precious little laddie. How could he have let the toddler in the care of his twelve year old son? Richard knelt down and began to pray, Dear Lord, please let us find Archie alive. I know I am asking for a miracle, but You granted us a miracle before. Please be with him and protect him until I can.

Burying his face in his hands, Richard began to cry heavily. He had lost children before. But this was different. This child he had held and loved, and could not bear to lose. Not my little laddie!

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"This is my home, little one." Raphael carried the boy into the cabin and took Archie's wet clothes off of him. He dried the child, then wrapped him in a warm blanket and sat him in a chair in front of the hearth. "Stay here and let the fire warm you."

Raphael took Archie's clothes and hung them over a rope he had strung up to hand wet clothes over.

Then he walked over to a small table next to the hearth and got two bowls. Returning to the hearth, he filled both bowels with the stew he had heating and put them on the table. Then he picked up the toddler and carried him over to the table and sat him down. He poured Archie a glass of water and gave him a spoon, then sat down across from him.

As Archie started to dig in, Raphael said, "Just a moment, little one. We need to thank God for our food." Raphael folded his hands, lowered his head, and began the blessing.

Archie folded his little hands and closed his eyes.

"Amen." Raphael finish with.

"Amen" Archie echoed very softly.

Raphael smiled at the toddler.

Archie cocked his head, "I eat now, siw?"

Raphael's smile broadened, "Yes, Archie. You may eat."

Raphael watched the child as Archie picked up his spoon and began to eat, then asked, "You staying at Kennedy cottage, are you not?"

" 'es, siw." Archie let go of his spoon and reached for his cup to take a drink of water.

"I will take you home in the morning." Raphael told him.

" 'ou not take me af'ew we eat?"

The boy looked so sad, it actually hurt Raphael. "Going down the mountain at night is too dangerous, little one. I will take you home tomorrow morning."

Archie began to pout.

"It will be all right, Archie." Raphael frowned.

"I want Mama an' Papa!" Archie began to cry, "I fwightened!"

Raphael quickly stood and walked around the table to scoop the toddler up in his arms, "Hush, little one. Hush." He walked over to a rocking chair in front of the hearth, and sat down, "I will take you home tomorrow morning, I promise."

Raphael began to rock Archie, singing softly until the toddler fell asleep. He stood and walked over to his bed. Then pulled the thick blankets down and gently lay the child down.

Going to his clothes, Raphael sorted through them until he found a shirt he had outgrown of some time ago. He walked back to the bed, and took the blanket off the toddler, putting the shirt on the child instead, and then pulled the blankets up over the toddler. Raphael returned to the table to finish eating.

After eating, Raphael washed his bowles and cups, then changed into his night shirt and went to bed.

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November 21, 1780

Richard, James, and the men began searching for Archie at dawn, shouting his name loudly and listening for a returned shout.

The more time that passed without a sign of Archie, the more Richard's heart sank. Everything that could happen to a small child lost up here had already came to his mind last night, causing him nightmares that made him whimper. He could not bear the thought of little Archie being torn apart by wolves. Richard stopped walking and closed his eyes, Please bring my babe boy back to me, Lord.

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Raphael woke up early the next morning and quickly dressed. Then he went out and saddled his horse. After he finished, he walked back inside and gently shook the child awake.

Archie blinked his eyes open and frowned at Raphael, "Who 'ou, siw?"

Raphael smiled, "My name is Raphael. Do you remember last evening?"

Archie nodded.

"Let us get you dressed." Raphael said, "And then I will take you home."

Archie jumped up, "I wan' a go home, siw!"

"I know you do, little one." Raphael took the large shirt off of Archie, "I have some bread you can eat on the way."

"T'ank 'ou, siw." The toddler's face was so serious, that it moved Raphael. He dressed the little blue eyed angel staring up at him, then gave him the bread. He wrapped a blanket around the child and carried him out to his horse. Putting him on it, Raphael mounted the horse and started off slowly so Archie could eat.

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As they slowly rode, Archie's head came up quickly, "Dat Papa! Dat my Papa!" Then shouted, "PAPA!"

Raphael turned his horse in the direction of the shouting.

"Archie!" Richard kept calling over and over, "Archie!"

"Papa!" Archie shouted, "Papa, I hewe!"

Richard turned to see a young man on a horse, then saw his son and could not stop his trembling whimper, "Archie!" He ran toward the horse.

Raphael brought the horse to a stop, waiting while Richard approached him.

"Papa!" Tears came to Archie's eyes and he reached out for his father.

Richard reached up for his son and Raphael smiled as the man pulled his son into a fierce embrace with tears sliding down his face. Richard kissed his son repeatedly, "Oh, my laddie! My precious little laddie!"

Little Archie was crying as well, "I wan' a go home, Papa! I hate da moun'ain!"

"This was not the mountain's fault, Archie." Richard told him, "It was my fault for leaving you with your brothers."

Richard held Archie tightly a moments more, then finally looked up at Raphael, "I cannot thank you enough for returning my son, sir!"

"You are welcome, M'lord." Raphael bowed his head.

"Papa!" Archie raised his head off of his father's shoulder, his eyes wide, "Da wo'f almo't eat me, an' he 'top it!"

"Thank God!" Richard embraced his son.

"I found the little one in the hollow of a tree." Raphael said, "I took him to my home and got him out of his wet clothes. I dried him and fed him, and rocked him to sleep. He did not eat much of supper, so I made him something to eat and was on my way to Kennedy cottage when we heard you."

"What is your name, sir?" Richard asked.

"Raphael Angelo, M'lord."

"Thank you, Mr. Angelo." Richard bowed his head, "Whatever you want as reward for saving my son's life, I am certain I can accommodate you."

"I need nothing, M'lord." Raphael reached down and tossed Archie's hair, "Farewell, little one."

"Fawewell, siw." Archie smiled up at him, "T'ank 'ou."

"My pleasure, Archie." Raphael bowed his heard to Richard, "M'lord." Before anyone else could say a word, he turned the horse and rode off in a fast gallop.

The men approached Richard, and one of the men said, "M'lord, we know e'eryone on these mount'ins. There's ne'er been a man named Raphael Angelo livin' 'round 'ere."

Richard and James exchanged startled expressions. Then James shrugged, "God does send angels when they are needed. Perhaps, he was sent to protect Archie and bring him back to us?"

Richard closed his eyes and stood in silence, embracing his son, Thank you for answering my prayer, Lord.

 

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