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It was the beginning of September and Jo Maynard was busy in the kitchen. It was her turn to cook and she was desperately trying to conjure a meal out of very few ingredients.

“How I wish that Jack was home so we could get the garden dug over and plant our own vegetables.”

“Why don’t you ask Madge if you could borrow Andreas for the day to do it?” Jo jumped and turned round to see Robin standing in the doorway.

“Robin! I didn’t hear you come in! When did you get home?” Jo came across the kitchen to hug her adopted sister and Robin returned it before answering.

“Just now. I came to see if you needed a hand with dinner.”

“You can put the kettle on, if you like. Otherwise, I’m managing all right. I’m just bemoaning the lack of fresh vegetables, that’s all. It’s a shame we didn’t get the garden dug over and some vegetables planted in it this summer.”

“When would we have had the time? You didn’t come home until June and there was more than enough for you to cope with in the house, never mind all that needs doing in the garden.”

“That’s a fair point. There was no way I could have dealt with the garden whilst I was on my own for those few weeks, either. I don’t have enough energy for much of the heavier work, even now.”

“Why don’t you speak to Madge and ask her if she knows someone who could do the gardening for you?”

“That’s a good idea. With all the contacts she has, she’s sure to be able to point me in the right direction at the very least. I’ll give her a ring later. There! That’s done, now. All that’s left is to actually cook it when we’re ready to eat.” Jo placed the pan on the stove. Robin poured them both a cup of tea and they settled down at the kitchen table to chat.

“Where’s Daisy?” Robin asked.

“She’s gone up to Plas Howell to see Gwensi. She should be back soon, though. Did you have a good day?”

“Yes, thank you. Hops picking is hard work, but worthwhile.”

“Well, if you’ve finished your tea, I suggest you go up and have a bath. I’m going to put dinner on once Daisy gets home.” Robin acquiesced and disappeared upstairs.

When she came back down, she found that Daisy had returned and was laying the table for dinner. Jo was putting the meal out and they were soon sitting down to a simple dinner. The chatter was about what everyone had done during the day. Jo had been busy writing all morning and had spent a lazy afternoon in the garden. She had continued the routine she had established just before Jack had gone back to his regiment, and Jem had kept a close eye on his sister-in-law. He had not been happy about her being left alone when Jack had left, but Jo had made sure that he had no cause to try and remove her back to the Sanatorium. Jem had seen her slowly regaining her strength and had finally admitted that she was right to have stayed where she was. Even an air raid one night had not overly taxed her. True, she had been badly frightened by it, but she had managed keep her head enough to make it down to the cellar and collapse onto the bunk. When Jem had gone to check on her the next morning, he had found her still down there, fast asleep. He had woken her and sent her back upstairs to her own bed, telling her to get some more sleep.

Robin and Daisy moved back in with her towards the end of July. Jo had been glad, as she was beginning to find her own company a little boring. They had spent a lovely summer together, visiting friends and family round about as well as just the three of them spending time at home. Now, September was upon them and they had to start thinking about school again.

Once dinner was eaten, Robin and Daisy washed up whilst Jo went to ring her sister. After a short conversation, she went to wait in the lounge for the girls to finish. Madge had passed on some news for them and Jo had decided to break it to them tonight so they could get used to the idea. Once they were settled in the lounge, Jo spoke.

“Madge has asked me to pass on some news.”

“News? What sort of news, Auntie Jo?” Daisy was agog with curiosity and promptly sat up on the hearth rug, her book forgotten on the floor next to her.

“It’s going to affect all of us, really. When school starts again, you’re both going to be weekly boarders.”

“Boarders? Why ever?”

“When the winter nights draw in, you can’t come cycling home in the blackout. It won’t be safe.”

“That’s true,” Robin replied. “But the nights won’t be drawing in for a while longer yet. Why do we have to be weekly boarders immediately?”

“I don’t want you to be, but Madge says they have to allocate you cubicles and it’s easier for the school if they are occupied from the start of the term.”

“That would make sense, I suppose. What will you do though, Jo, if we’re at school all week?”

“I’ll be fine, Robin. I tend to spend my mornings writing and go out for a walk in the afternoon, so it’s only the evenings I’ll have to fill. Though once the nights draw in and the weather turns worse, I may have to rethink walking.” Jo frowned. She didn’t want them to know that she was going to find it very lonely during the week. Another thought also occurred to her. What would happen when she had pneumothorax? She was never in any state to do anything afterwards when she had been for it. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind. She would worry about that when it happened.

“Will we be coming home every weekend, Auntie Jo?”

“Yes, Daisy. You’ll come immediately after lessons on Friday and go back Sunday afternoon.”

“Won’t we be going to the Round House on Saturdays then?”

“No. Not whilst you’re boarding. I won’t see you otherwise.” Jo glanced at the mantle clock and gasped. “Look at the time! It’s high time we were all thinking about sleeping.”

“I’ll go and make us a drink each to take up.” Robin stood up and headed towards the kitchen, whilst Daisy tidied the lounge and Jo checked the doors and windows.

“You go on up, Daisy-girl. You should be asleep by now. I’ll bring your drink up for you.” Daisy hugged her aunt and bounded up the stairs to use the bathroom before she quickly wriggled out of her clothes and jumped into bed. Jo soon appeared with the milky drink and tucked her in telling her to hurry up and get to sleep.

“I will. Good night Auntie Jo.”

“Good night, Daisy.” Jo shut the door and went into her own room, where she, too, was soon tucked up in bed and sleeping soundly.



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