|Two weeks after her transfer to the new Sanatorium, Jem came to find her in her little shelter.|
“How would you like to spend tomorrow at home?”
“I’d love to.” Jo smiled happily at the prospect, before adding, “Where is home, though?”
“In Torteval. At least, that’s where we live.” Jem smiled at this point. He realised that, though it was Jo’s official home, she had never seen it, and would probably only be living there for a few months, at most, when she finally left the Sanatorium. “I’ll collect you after breakfast, so make sure you’re ready.” Jo nodded. She was intrigued to see where her sister lived and looked forward to seeing her nieces, nephews and Robin and Daisy. Apart from Robin, she hadn’t seen any of them since before her flight from Austria.
Jem came to collect her after breakfast, as promised. They walked out to his car and he quickly drove her across the island to his home in Torteval. When he pulled up, Jo slowly climbed out and looked at the house. It was a charming old farmhouse, with large gardens to the front and back. Jem came around the car and took her arm.
“Welcome home, Jo. This is your home as much as ours, even if you haven’t had a chance to see it, yet.” Jem smiled at her, but saw that she had tears in her eyes. He realised that she was going through a whole series of emotions as she tried to take it in. She hadn’t made it home, until now. She had fled from Austria and ended up in a Sanatorium in Guernsey. She had taken over a year to finally get here, even for a day, and it was something she was struggling to take in. He waited with her as she tried to re-order her thoughts, knowing he couldn’t push her. Eventually, she turned and looked at him, managing a faint smile. He led her up the path and in through the front door. Once her had taken her coat, he showed her to the lounge where her sister was waiting to greet her.
Madge drew her sister into a hug, realising that words would be inadequate. Jo had been through so much. Jo returned it, holding on for longer than normal. When she finally pulled back, Madge saw tears in her eyes. Sitting on the sofa, she gently pulled Jo down next to her.
“Don’t cry, Joey-baba. You’re home, now. We may be in a different house in a different country, but it’s your home, just as much as it’s mine.”
“I know. It just seems strange. Being here. I’ve been on Guernsey for over a year and, yet, I’ve not seen anything other than the hospital and the Sanatorium. I’ve not lived here before. I expect it’ll just take me a while to adjust.” Jo ran down at this point and looked anxiously at her sister, in case she had caused offence. Madge just smiled at her.
“I understand, Jo. It’s bound to take time.” Madge steered the conversation onto other things. She wanted her sister to enjoy her first taste of home in over a year.
Jo found the day passed quickly. She saw her nephews and nieces for a short time, and also Robin and Daisy. When Jem appeared with her coat, she felt ready to go. She had forgotten just how busy her sister’s house was, even when there were no visitors. When she reached her room that evening, she speedily undressed and dived under the covers, only waking when a nurse came in to remind her that it was nearly time for breakfast. She was sensible enough to decline sitting out in the garden the next day. When Jack came to seek her before he started work, he found her out on the balcony, fast asleep. He checked she was warm enough, throwing another blanket over her, to make sure, and then left her to sleep on.
Two weeks after her visit home, Jo was given another chest X-ray. Jem came to find her in the garden the next day.
“You are doing really well, now, Jo,” he told her as he sat down next to her. “So well, that I think you can go home.” Jo gaped at him. She hadn’t been expecting him to say that, at all.
“Home?” she finally managed to ask.
“Yes. I don’t see why not. You’re improving in leaps and bounds. I think it’s time for a new challenge.”
A week later saw Jo leaving the Sanatorium for good. She was still unsure about whether she was really going home. She had never lived at her sister’s house on Guernsey, and she probably wouldn’t be living there for long. Once he knew she was to go home, Jack was keen for them to start thinking about their marriage. They had been engaged for over a year, now, and he wanted the right to be able to look after her as her husband.
When she arrived at Bonne Maison, the Russell’s home, she was quickly drawn into the lounge by her sister. Madge explained that they didn’t have the space to offer her her own sitting room this time, but there was a chair in her bedroom for when she needed some solitude. Jo thanked her, and went to unpack the few possessions she had brought home with her.
Those first few days living at her sister’s house were strange to Jo. She couldn’t decide whether she was a guest, or if she truly lived there. As much as she loved her family, she realised that she needed to have some peace and quiet, something which was in short supply at Bonne Maison. Jack had been busy working, and had only managed to visit a couple of times. Her sister had discreetly left them alone on each occasion, but Jo knew it wasn’t an arrangement which could be kept up for much longer.
When Jack finally had a day off, he came to collect Jo and whisked her back to his own cottage for the day. Jack was insistent that they just spent the day relaxing. Jo acquiesced, relieved to be somewhere quiet. She was happy to curl up on the sofa with Jack’s arm around her and just enjoy the companionable silence between them. In fact, she fell asleep in his arms for a good hour. Jack just held her close. When she eventually woke, she stretched and looked up at Jack who smiled at her.
“I’m so sorry for falling asleep,” she apologised.
“There’s no need to apologise, Jo. If you want to sleep, I don’t mind.”
“It’s so much quieter here than at Bonne Maison. There are so many people, you can’t have any peace at all. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a smaller house, or I’m just not used to the noise, any more.” He looked at Jo, noting faint circles under her eyes, which bore out the truth of her statement.
“Maybe it’s a good time to think about organising our wedding. Then, you’ll have all the quiet you need, once you’re living here.” He smiled down at her, before adding, “I don’t think I make too much noise.” Jo smiled and slowly nodded. “Shall I talk to the priest then?” Jo agreed. They spent the rest of the morning discussing when it should be and who to invite. Jack made Jo rest after lunch. She slept on the sofa for a good two hours, only waking when Jack brought them both a drink in. Jo sat up and accepted hers, moving slightly so Jack could sit down next to her. They spent the next few hours talking and listening to the radio, until Jack finally stood up and collected their coats. He drove them back to Bonne Maison, where he was invited to stay for dinner. He accepted easily. Jo retired to bed immediately afterwards and he left for home.
Jack duly spoke to the priest and their wedding day was arranged for late August. Suddenly, there was a whirl of activity as everything had to be organised and made in a short space of time. Jo was a little overwhelmed by it all, but her sister told her not to worry and to allow her to deal with it.
A week before her wedding day, Jo was taken to the Sanatorium for X-rays and pneumothorax. She spent rest of the day in bed, as she recovered from the procedure. She didn’t manage to sleep well, though. She found Bonne Maison to be extraordinarily noisy that day. When Jem came to see how she was, he found her nearly in tears through tiredness and frustration.
“Is something wrong, Jo?”
“I can’t sleep. Every time I drop off, something wakes me back up. It’s so noisy, here, and someone keeps passing my door every two minutes.”
“I’ll have a word with everyone and make sure they don’t come near for the next few hours. You try and sleep again.” Jo obediently closed her eyes, and Jem stalked off downstairs to the lounge, where most of his family were currently congregated. He sent Robin to find the rest of them and, once she returned with them, proceeded to inform them all that they weren’t to go upstairs again until after tea and to keep the noise down.