|Jo rang Jem’s secretary at eight o’clock. She’d been up most of the night with Stephen who was extremely hot and upset and she was anxious about him. Anna was little better when she’d gone up to check on her at intervals. Jo had done her best to try and encourage both to drink and to sleep, but, she knew she needed someone to look at them both. |
The telephone was answered promptly and courteously.
“May I speak to Dr Russell, please? It’s Mrs Maynard.”
“I’ll just see if he’s available Mrs Maynard.” Jo waited in silence for her to return, hoping that she hadn’t missed him. Suddenly, the telephone was answered.
“Jo? I said I’d ring you later today. Is something wrong?”
“It’s Stephen. And Anna.” Jo was hard put to stay calm now she was speaking to Jem. “Please will you come round when you’ve finished?”
“Of course. I was just on my way out, so I’ll be about half an hour or so.”
“Thank you.” Jo replaced the receiver and went into the kitchen to make some tea. She sat down at the table and put her head in her hands as she tried to stop the tears. When the kettle began to whistle, she made a pot of tea and poured one for Anna, taking it upstairs for her. Just as she descended back into the hall, she heard Stephen beginning to whimper again. Quickly filling his cup with water, she unlocked the front door and went upstairs, hoping that Jem wouldn’t be too much longer.
Whilst Jo was dealing with Stephen, she heard a knock, followed by the sound of someone opening and closing the front door. Jem’s voice floated up the stairs as he called out. She rose and went to the top of the stairs where she looked down at him, Stephen in her arms.
Jem bounded up the stairs as he saw them appear. Taking his nephew from Jo, he took them back into Stephen’s bedroom and laid him on the bed to examine him. Jo leant against the doorframe as she watched. When he was satisfied, Jem looked up at his sister-in-law, noting her exhaustion.
“It looks like he’s caught Jack’s ‘flu. He’s running a temperature as well. Come and sit with him while I go and get something to bring his temperature down. Does Anna have similar symptoms?”
“Yes. Will he be all right?”
“He’ll be fine. He just seems worse because he’s not had anything like this before. His body needs to work out how to fight back against the infection.” Jem rose and Jo took his place on the bed. “I won’t be long; I just need to fetch something from the car.” He left and ran lightly downstairs to fetch a bottle from the boot of the car, returning to Jo a few moments later. Jem gave his nephew a spoonful of liquid and then placed him in his cot to sleep before drawing Jo out to the landing.
“Go down and make some tea, Jo. Stephen should sleep for a while, now. I’ll run upstairs and see Anna, then come down to talk to you properly.”
“I hope you can remember your German, then. She seems to have forgotten her English at the moment.”
“I’m sure I’ll manage, Jo. Go and put the kettle on, please.” He pushed her gently towards the stairs and Jo took the hint. Jem watched her set off, before running up to the attic room where Anna slept.
Once he’d finished with Anna, telling her to stay where she was while the influenza took its course, he went down to find Jo at the kitchen table, her head on her arms and her shoulders shaking with silent sobs. Jem quickly crossed the room and sat beside her, wrapping an arm around her. He knew that she needed the release, since she’d obviously been awake most of the night. When he thought she’d cried for long enough, he spoke.
“Jo, stop crying now.” Pouring a cupful of tea from the pot on the table, he placed it in front of her. “Drink this please.” Jo made a valiant effort to check her tears and picked the cup up in shaking hands. Jem steadied it for her and made her drink it all before he replaced the cup on the table.
“Look at me, Jo.” Jo obeyed, raising a tearstained face to him. “Stephen and Anna both have the ‘flu. I’ve told Anna to stay where she is while she rests and recovers. Stephen will need your attention more, but the best thing for him too, is sleep. Try to keep him cool, and hopefully, his temperature will go back down in a day or two. I’ll leave you this medicine for him. Give him one spoonful no more than three times a day.” Jo nodded.
“I can manage that. How is Jack?”
“He’s awake again, but feeling extremely weak and tired. I spoke to him just before I left this morning and he sends his love. He’s going to stay where he is for the next couple of days, until he feels well enough to drive home. Unfortunately, when he came down with the ‘flu, he also started with a migraine.”
“I thought he’d stopped having them?”
“He had. The only reason he started this time is because he’s not been able to have a proper break between shifts. He’s been constantly working for the past few weeks to make sure that all the patients were looked after properly. When he started feeling ill, a migraine was one of the side effects.” Jem paused. He needed to speak to Jo about taking care of herself, but knew he had to tread carefully. He could see she was already anxious about Jack, Stephen and Anna and he didn’t want to add to it by reminding her that she needed to take care of herself as well.
“Have you been feeling ill at all?”
“No. At least, I don’t think so. I’ve not had time to think about it. Why?” Jem poured Jo another cup of tea and also one for himself.
“I want you to do something for me, please, Jo.”
“What is it?”
“When Jack is back at home and Stephen and Anna are both up and about again, I want you to spend a few days just resting.”
“No, Jem. I can’t.” Seeing tears spring to her eyes, Jem hastened to reassure her.
“Hear me out first. Everyone in this house has come down with ‘flu, which means you’re looking after them. I can see that you didn’t have much sleep last night and you’ll probably have a few more broken nights with Stephen until he’s back on his feet again. Jack is still on the sick list as well.”
“I can’t just stop as soon as everyone is well again. Stephen needs looking after and I can’t expect Anna to take care of him when she’s just been ill, herself.”
“I know he does. When Jack comes back home, I’d like Stephen to come and stay with us for a few days. Rosa can look after him perfectly well and he’ll have Josette and Ailie to play with. I can see how tired you are already, Jo and, once everyone no longer needs your help you’re going to struggle to keep up with everything. I don’t want you to end up ill if we can prevent it. If you have a few days of complete bedrest, you’ll be able to continue again without that happening.”
“You aren’t re-admitting me.”
“I don’t intend to as long as you promise to rest once everyone is back up and about. You can stay here, since Jack and Anna will both be at home and you won’t have Stephen to worry about.”
“Okay.” Jo reluctantly gave her agreement.
“One more thing, Jo. I want you to promise you’ll ring me as soon as you feel even a little unwell. I don’t want you to come down with ‘flu if it’s at all possible.”
“I will. Thanks for coming this morning, Jem. I don’t think I could have managed much longer on my own.”
“I’m grateful you had the sense to ring me. I ought to get off now, though. It’s turned ten o’clock and I’ve been up all night. Look after yourself, Jo and remember what I said.” Jem rose and collected his things together while Jo placed the cups in the sink, before seeing him out. Once she’d waved him off, she turned back into the house and decided that some sleep wouldn’t go amiss. Before Jem reached home, Jo was slumbering, along with Stephen and Anna and peace reigned for a short while.
Author's Chapter Notes:
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