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Author's Chapter Notes:

Thank you for the lovely reviews, Eleanore, Libby & Kathryn.


Christmas was quickly over. Jo and the girls had spent an enjoyable time at the Round House, though Jo was relieved to get home and collapse into bed. She had forgotten how much effort it took to try and keep up with all her nieces and nephews.

The next day was Boxing Day and when she woke, Jo still felt tired. Knowing how much energy she had used up the previous day, she resolved to spend the day at home resting. Robin could take Flora and Fiona back across to the Round House alone. She climbed out of bed and went slowly downstairs to the kitchen, where she collapsed into a chair at the table. Robin and the twins were eating breakfast, and Fiona promptly poured her a cup of tea.

“Thanks, Fiona.” Jo took a few sips before she continued, “I think I’m going to stay here today and let you three go to the Round House alone.”

“I don’t blame you. You look exhausted,” Robin said.

“I am. I’m going back up to bed when I’ve had this. Will you pass my apologies on to Madge?”

“Of course. I’m sure she’ll understand. Would you like me to come back and keep you company?”

“No, thank you. I’m intending to go back to sleep. I don’t want to spoil your Boxing Day.”

“It wouldn’t. I’m happy to stay with you.”

“No. You go and enjoy yourself.”

“What are you going to have for lunch? There’s hardly any food left in the house,” Flora asked.

“I’m sure I’ll find something, Flora. We have plenty of bread and there’s some tins in the cupboard.” Jo drained her cup and held it out for a refill. “I’m going to take this back up to bed. Have a good day and I’ll see you when you arrive back this evening.” She disappeared back through the door and they heard her make her slow way back upstairs.

Once they had washed up, the three of them got into coats and shoes and prepared to depart. Robin ran up to tell Jo they were off, but she was already sound asleep. They left quietly and soon arrived at the Round House. Madge and Jem greeted them at the door.

“Where’s Jo?” asked Madge.

“She sends her apologies, and has gone back to bed. She looked exhausted when she came down this morning,” Robin explained as she removed her coat and hat. The twins had already gone on into the drawing room to be greeted by shouts from the others.

“The best place for her in that case,” Jem replied. “I’ll go round at lunchtime and see how she is. It was a long day yesterday and she had to deal with a lot of people all at once. I’m not really surprised she’s cried off today.” They went into the drawing room to join the others.

Jo spent all morning sleeping. When Jem let himself in just after one o’clock, she was just beginning to rouse. He ran lightly upstairs and poked his head around the door. Jo smiled sleepily at him and he withdrew to go and put the kettle on.

When Jem returned, Jo was sitting reading a book. She closed it and accepted the plate he held out to her. Once she’d finished, she handed the plate back to him and picked her tea up from the bedside cabinet.

“How are you feeling, Jo?”

“Much better, thanks. I needed the sleep. Yesterday took more energy than I thought.”

“I must say you seem better for it. Robin said you looked exhausted this morning.”

“I was. That’s why I decided to stay here today. I knew there was no way I’d have coped with everyone again.”

“You were right. When I left, they were all indulging in a rather riotous game of Blind Man’s Bluff. I was glad to escape and your sister was trying desperately to think of an excuse to escape too.”

“I’m not surprised. I just hope she took the breakables with her, otherwise you’ll have none left.”

“Oh, they’re under strict instructions not to break anything, otherwise they’ll have to face Marie’s wrath as well as Madge’s.” Jo grinned.

“I should think they’ll be careful, in that case. I know what Marie can be like when she gets going.”

“Yes, I do believe you managed to rouse her on occasion.”

“There wasn’t much left of me either, once she’d finished.”

“What do you plan to do this afternoon?”

“I was just planning to read and maybe write a letter.”

“What about dinner? You don’t have much food in the house.”

“I know. I’m sure there’s a tin of soup I can warm up in the cupboard”

“I’ll ask Marie to make something up for you, and the girls can bring it back with them. They’ll be leaving straight after dinner, so it won’t be late.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll leave you in peace, then. I need to go over to the Sanatorium before I go back home. Are you planning to get up?”

“Yes.”

“I’ll build the fire up in the lounge for you.”

“Thanks, Jem. Thanks for coming over as well.” He smiled as he stood back up.

“My pleasure. Take care of yourself, Jo. I’ll see you in a few days.”

“Bye.” He disappeared through the door and Jo heard him going downstairs. She climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom to wash. As she crossed the landing back to her bedroom, she heard the front door closing and knew she was alone in the house once more.

Jo was sitting in the warmth of the lounge when she heard the front door bang, heralding the arrival of the others. Flora and Fiona came running into the room, and went to warm themselves at the fire. Robin went straight to the kitchen to put the plate she was carrying into the oven to heat through and turn the kettle on. Daisy was still over at the Round House and would be coming back the next day.

“Hello, twins. Did you have a good day?”

“Yes, thank you,” they answered in unison.

“We played lots of games and Fiona beat Rix at Monopoly,” Flora added triumphantly.

“Oh, well done, Fiona. Not many people manage to beat him.”

“No, he was very grudging in his congratulations,” laughed Robin, who had entered in time to hear this. “He was most put out that he’d been beaten by a girl.”

“He won the other game we played, though,” Fiona said.

“He also fell over the footstool when we were playing Blind Man’s Bluff and gave himself a black eye,” giggled Flora. “Wasn’t he mad?”

“I can imagine,” Jo replied. “He’s always been one to fall over anything if it so much as looks at him.”

“Are you hungry, Jo? Marie has sent you a plateful of food and it should be warm, now.” Robin asked.

“That sounds lovely, Robin.”

“I’ll bring it through for you. It’s too cold for you to eat it in the kitchen. Twins, will you come and fetch the teapot and the things for the table, please?” The three of them departed, returning a minute or so later. Jo sat down to a hot meal and the others joined her at the table with cups of tea. When she had finished, they gathered round the fire for a short while before going upstairs to bed.



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