A day later saw Jo being helped into Jem’s car and, along with Miss Wilson, he set off to drive to Howells village. It was a slow journey, which they broke halfway, staying overnight south of Bristol. They eventually reached their destination late the following afternoon. Jem drove straight to the Sanatorium, pulling up outside the main entrance.
“I’ll just go and have a walk to stretch my legs,” Miss Wilson said to him as soon as he put the handbrake on. Jem nodded, appreciating that she had no wish to be drawn into Jo’s re-admittance. She climbed out and disappeared across the grass. Jo had slept on the back seat nearly all the way, though she roused when he stopped the engine.
“Are we home?”
“Sort of.” Jo looked out of the window and saw the large building in front of them.
“No, Jem. I want to go to my own home.” Tears formed as she realised what was happening. Jem climbed out of the car. He came and opened her door and crouched down so he could see her properly.
“You’ve just gone through a very traumatic experience and have barely eaten for the past week.”
Jem sighed. He knew it would be a challenge to get Jo to accept going back into the Sanatorium, even if it was for a short time.
“Jo, I don’t think you should stay on your own and you know how noisy our house is. This is the best place for you to be able to rest quietly and recover from the journey. It’s not like last time. I need to make sure you’re all right and I’ll know you’re being looked after properly, if you’re here. I promise it’ll only be a short while. ”
Jo was silent. She could see Jem’s point, but she wasn’t ready to accept it, yet. She just wanted her own home, with her own things around her. She wanted to be there to welcome Jack when he next got leave. If she was here, she couldn’t do that. Jem watched her as she tried to sort her thoughts out. He tried the one argument that might sway her.
“I’m sure that Jack would rather you spent a short while here, than be at home alone, making yourself ill, again. If that happened, you wouldn’t be there to welcome him to your new home.”
Jo knew she had lost, and she slowly nodded. Jem smiled at her, but she didn’t return it. He gave her a hand to climb out and they went in through the entrance. Showing her to a small room, he left her alone, whilst he fetched her suitcase. Jo dropped into the chair. She felt as if her world was collapsing in around her, again. She had been doing so well, and now she was back in the Sanatorium. She wished she was back on Guernsey, with Jack at home with her. She thought about her promise to him to take care of herself. She couldn’t even manage to do that. She thought about how disappointed he would be when he found out. This proved too much for her and she burst into tears. When Jem returned a short while later, he found her sobbing into her hands. He quickly came across the room to sit with her.
“Here, Jo.” He passed her some tissues from the bedside cabinet. She took them, but continued to sob on. “This has to stop, now. You aren’t helping yourself by crying like this.” Jo made a valiant effort and managed to stem the worst of her tears. She blew her nose and finally looked at Jem. “Go and wash your face, Jo.” She went to the little bathroom and did as she was told, sitting back in the chair when she returned.
“I’m not going to put any restrictions on you, Jo. You had a high fever when I came to fetch you from Plymouth, so I just want you to try and rest over the next few days. You can go and eat in the dining room and sit out on the balcony, if you like. Do you have a book in your case?” Jo nodded. “Read if you want, but not for too long. I’ll get some writing paper for you as well.”
“What about visitors?”
“Your sister will come tomorrow. I don’t think there is anyone else, nearby, at the moment.”
“What about Robin and Daisy? Where will they go if I’m stuck in here?”
“They will stay with us until you go home. Now, how about you unpack while I go and see about something for you to eat?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“That’s why I brought you here, Jo. You have to eat, and your appetite is always the first thing to go. If I had taken you to your own home, you wouldn’t try to eat properly.” Jo said nothing. She knew he was right. “I won’t be long.” He departed and Jo stood up and opened her case. She found out her toiletries, a pair of pyjamas and her dressing gown, then closed her case again. She didn’t want to unpack since it meant that she would be staying in the Sanatorium. She still didn’t want to admit that to herself, yet. She went out onto the balcony and stood looking out at the gathering gloom, until Jem came back with a tray for her.
“Here you go. I need to get off now, but I want to hear that you’re eating everything you’re given when I’m next in.” He came over to her and gave her a hug, before leaving abruptly. Left to herself, Jo just looked at the tray and reluctantly started to eat. She managed half of what he had brought her, before changing into her pyjamas and climbing into the bed.
Jo woke in the early hours of the morning. She stared into the darkness, at first wondering where she was. Then it dawned on her that she was back in the Sanatorium again. She sighed and rolled over, but found it impossible to go back to sleep. She sat up in bed and turned the little light on above her. She saw a pile of writing paper had been left on the bedside cabinet. Deciding to write to Jack, she picked up the paper, and a pen which was lying beside it.
She paused, pen poised. How was she going to tell him? Normally, she found writing a release and filled pages in her letters to him. This time, she couldn’t think of anything to say, but she had to let him know she was safe.
I have arrived in England, safely. Nigel Willoughby brought Nell Wilson and I across in his yacht. We had a rather eventful journey over and were attacked by a U-boat. Luckily, he was able to escape and we reached Plymouth.
I’m afraid I’ve been a little ill from the journey. Jem came to fetch us from Plymouth and drove us back to Howells. At least, he drove Nell there. Oh, Jack, he’s re-admitted me. I tried not to be ill, I promise, but I couldn’t help it. I know I’ve let you down and I’m sorry.
I love you,
Jo put her pen down and folded the letter. She found an envelope and addressed it, before putting her letter inside. She then put everything back on the bedside cabinet and lay back down. She lay looking at the shadows cast from the light above her, wondering what Jack would say when he received her letter. She fell into an uneasy slumber, only to be woken by Jem.
“Jo? Jo?” She slowly opened her eyes to look at him. “You’ve been screaming. What on earth were you dreaming?” Jo just looked at him and slowly shook her head. She had no idea. The last thing she remembered was watching the shadows on the wall, having written her letter.
“I don’t know.”
“Never mind. You may as well get up, now. There’s only an hour until breakfast.” He glanced at the bedside cabinet and saw the envelope addressed to Jack. “Would you like me to post this for you?”
“I’ll make sure it goes this morning.”
“Thank you.” He smiled at her, then turned and left her alone.
Jem returned to his office, where he hastily wrote his own note to Jack, explaining what had happened in more detail. He copied the address out and placed both into the new envelope. He would post it on his way to fetch Madge later that morning.
Jo spent the morning sitting out on the balcony. She had her book with her, but didn’t feel inclined to read. She was brooding. Deep down, she knew Jem was only making her stay here whilst she recovered from another eventful journey, but she wasn’t yet ready to acknowledge this. She wanted to be at home, unpacking boxes and arranging the new house, ready for when Jack might next be home. She wanted the company of Robin and Daisy. None of this was possible in the Sanatorium. She had eaten little at breakfast, not caring that Jem would be forced to take action if she continued to eat poorly.