Jo spent the next week in a state of nervous anticipation. She wanted to hear from Jack, though she didn’t want to know how disappointed he was in her. Her appetite was not noticeably improving. Jem suspected it was, in part, to do with anticipating a letter from Jack. He hadn’t said anything to her, yet. He knew he would have to talk to her the next day, though, whether a letter came or not.
The following afternoon, Jo had just woken from her rest, when Jem suddenly appeared. He came to sit by her as she sat up in bed. She smiled at him, but he didn’t return it.
“What is it, Jem? Is everyone all right? Is Jack…?”
“Everyone is fine. It’s you that’s the problem.”
“Yes. You still aren’t eating properly, despite what I told you when you arrived here. It can’t go on, Jo. If you don’t start to eat more than a few mouthfuls at each meal, I’m going to have to put you back on bed rest, as a precaution. I don’t want to do that to you, but you aren’t giving me much choice.”
“No buts. That’s the situation you’re in. I know you’re waiting for a letter from Jack and that may be part of the problem, but I’ve left it as long as I can.”
“You promised me I would only be here a few weeks.” Jo’s eyes were misty behind a film of tears.
“I know I did. And it will only be a few weeks if you start eating properly and put the weight you’ve lost back on. You have a pneumothorax appointment in three days. I’ll give you until you’ve had that to start improving, but if you haven’t, then I’m afraid you’re back in bed.” He stood back up and left the room. Jo just stared at the wall, as the reality of her predicament sank in.
The day before her pneumothorax appointment, Jo was sitting out on the balcony, wrapped in a blanket when Jem came out to her.
“Are you warm enough, Jo? It’s bitter out here, today.” Jo nodded. “Let me feel your hands.” She took her hands out from underneath the blanket for him to feel. He went to fetch another blanket and threw it over her. “I don’t want you catching cold on top of everything else.”
“Did you want something, Jem?” He had left Jo severely alone since he had told her what would happen if she didn’t start to improve. She was suspicious of why he was talking to her again.
“This landed on our doormat this morning. I hope it’s what you’ve been so anxiously waiting for.” He pulled a letter out of his pocket and handed it to her. “Mind you come back inside if you feel cold.” He left her to her letter.
Jo looked at the letter. Recognising Jack’s writing, she turned it over and ripped it open. The letter fell out onto her lap and she picked it up with trembling hands. She was glad to finally hear from him, but she was nervous about the contents. She was desperate to read it, yet reluctant at the same time. She smoothed the sheets out and waited for the writing to settle down in front of her eyes.
My darling Jo,
I apologise for the delay in replying, but things have been a bit hectic. I was so glad to hear you had made it to England, safely. It’s sounds as if you have managed to find adventure, again, however unintentionally.
Don’t be so silly, Jo. You haven’t let me down, at all, nor is there any need to be sorry. Your encounter would have been a very stressful experience. I’m sure Jem has a very valid reason for re-admitting you and it’s only temporary. If you’ve been ill from the journey, he just wants to make sure that you’re fully recovered before letting you go home to fend for yourself. Just promise me that you’ll take care of yourself and do everything within your power to get well again. Try not to worry and I’m sure you’ll be back at home very soon.
All my love,
Jo read it through twice, tears dripping down her face. She was relieved to know Jack wasn’t disappointed in her, but she couldn’t help thinking of the conversation she had had with Jem two days ago. She knew Jem meant what he said, but she still hoped he wouldn’t carry out his threat. If he did, she knew she would be here for much longer than the few weeks she had been promised. She may even still be in the Sanatorium when Jack next got leave. This was something she couldn’t bear to think about. She shivered. Untangling herself from her blankets, she picked them up and went back inside the room. She placed the letter on the bedside cabinet and dumped the blankets on the bed, then went to the bathroom to wash. Her watch told her it was lunchtime, so she walked slowly to the dining room. She managed to eat a little more than she had been doing previously. She walked back to her room, determined that she was not going to be kept in any longer than she had been promised.