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Author's Chapter Notes:

Many thanks to you lovely reviewers.

Two days later, Jo was sitting up in bed, complaining that she wasn’t allowed up properly. The cough she had developed still remained, and Jem expected it to last another week. She was quite pale still, but she had had enough of being in bed and wanted to get back to normal.

“You can get up for a few hours after Frühstück tomorrow, Jo,” Jem said when she complained to him. “After that, we’ll see how you are, before I’ll agree to you staying up any longer.” Jo had to be satisfied with that. She knew Jem could quite easily change his mind if she wasn’t careful.

The next morning, Jo dressed and made her way down to the Salon. Jem smiled at her as she entered, and went to sit in her usual spot in the corner. The morning was cool and she didn’t have much energy to want to venture much further. She was soon engrossed in her book, not noticing Jem looking serious whenever she coughed.

She was obliged to retire back to bed after Mittagessen. She hadn’t realised how much energy she had used by just being up for those few hours. She was soon sleeping once more, never stirring when Madge looked in on her during the afternoon.

When Jo finally woke again, it was half past four. She gasped as she looked at the time and promptly began to cough. Once it was over, she lay back on her pillows and closed her eyes. She’d had coughs before, but this one just felt slightly different. However, Jem had assured her that it would probably disappear after a few days, so she didn’t think it worthwhile mentioning. She sat up in bed and wondered if she should go in search of food, when her bedroom door opened.

“You’re awake, then? I’ve brought you something to eat.” Madge came into the room and set the tray she was carrying across Jo’s lap, before proceeding to wrap a woolly around her shoulders. Jo looked at the bowl of soup and the bread and began to eat. Madge was rewarded by seeing the tray cleared. Jo had eaten little at Mittagessen and she had been worried by her sister’s lack of appetite. When Jo had finished, she passed the tray back to her sister and climbed out of bed.

“Where are you going, Jo?”

“I just want a wash, before I come back downstairs.”

“You’d be better off staying up here. You’re still not fully recovered, yet.”

“I feel much better now I’ve had a sleep, though. I hate staying in bed.”

“That’s as may be, Jo, but you aren’t coming back downstairs again, today.” Jem had appeared in the doorway as Jo was speaking. Jo swung round to face him.

“But, Jem…”

“No. I’m not having you tiring yourself out so soon after this last illness. You can sit up in the chair here if you wish, but make your mind up to the fact that you aren’t coming back downstairs tonight.” Try as she might to coax him, Jem was adamant that she would stay in her room and rest for the evening.

Once she had been left alone, Jo pulled a face at the door to relive herself of her frustration. Flopping into the comfortable chair by the window, she stared moodily outside at the setting sun. She coughed and then picked up her book. She stared blankly at the pages, not seeing the print on them, as she allowed her mind to wander. Deep down, she knew she was still tired and it had only been a few days since she had been ill. She didn’t want to admit that to herself, though. She wished she didn’t succumb to illness so easily and that she could just continue through life without having to think about the consequences of what might happen if she caught a chill. The book fell unheeded into her lap as she curled up in the chair and watched the gathering gloom. Her head fell to one side and she slept.

Jem came to check on her an hour later and found her sleeping soundly. He gently threw a blanket over her and turned the bedside lamp on, before withdrawing as quietly as he’d entered. He would return a little later to check on her again.

When Jo woke the next morning, she found herself in bed. As she lay there, she tried to remember how it had happened since she had no recollection of the fact. Now, as she lay there contemplating how it had happened, a tap came at her door, before Jem poked his head around it, smiling when he saw she was awake.

“Morning, Jo. You must have slept the clock round.”

“Have I? The last thing I remember was sitting in the chair by the window.” Jem came to sit on the bed.

“You were fast asleep there when I looked in on you, so between us, Madge and I got you into bed. You never stirred, either. This last cold seems to have been much worse than others you’ve had previously. It’s sapped your energy completely. I know you hate being stuck in bed, but you really do need to take it easy for the next few days and try not to over-exert yourself. You were only downstairs for a few hours yesterday and it drained what little energy you had completely.”

Jo sighed. She hated to be confined to quarters, even if it was for her health. She considered rebelling, but realised it would have no effect on her brother-in-law. Jem watched as the thoughts swirled around Jo’s mind. He knew she wanted to be up and about as she always was, but he was becoming concerned about her health and he knew she needed to rest properly. A bout of pleuro-pneumonia when she was fifteen had left her chest weak and he had hoped she would avoid any more illness for a few more years. It was not to be. He resolved to try and keep a close eye on her over the summer and see how she fared.

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