|The Sound of Words
Author: Aslan's Lamb PM
What did Brigitta think about the new governess? Why did she really start crying at the dinner table? Who else knew about Liesl's meeting with Rolf? This is the story of The Sound of Music told from Brigitta's POV.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Family - Chapters: 20 - Words: 29,406 - Reviews: 95 - Favs: 60 - Follows: 73 - Updated: 11-02-10 - Published: 11-18-08 - id: 4663153
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I am sitting by my window and reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It's a gift from uncle Max. Father disapproves of the book, I know, because it's a fairy tale. But it's the most exciting thing I've ever read. The wicked witch has just imprisoned Dorothy and her friends and I am tempted to peek at the next page to find out what will happen next. But I'm not a cheater, so I keep reading.
Oh, Dorothy, be careful and whatever you do, do not let the Witch get those slippers! (I hear father's whistle somewhere far off) Oh, no! The Witch has stolen Dorothy's slippers! (I still hear father's whistle) I keep reading. When Dorothy splashes the witch I gasp in admiration. Would I have been so brave? And then…then… the Witch melts! Dorothy is safe now.
Suddenly I am aware of total silence. I look up. I am standing in the central hall and father is glaring at me. My brothers and sisters are standing in line. I am not. Father extends his hand. I know what will happen next. I hand over the book and he lightly slaps my backside with it. My face is burning as I take my place in line, behind Kurt and in front of Marta. I know that father meant to shame me not hurt me. Still, I think I'd rather be hurt.
As Father gives us our signals and we step forward, I turn to look at the new governess. She looks very young, very poor and very frightened. She looks like those people who beg in the park in the evenings! Father offers her the whistle and I smile a little because I know she's going to forget our signals and become flustered. They always do.
"Oh, I won't need to whistle for them, Captain! I'll use their names. And such lovely names!" The new governess says, finally smiling. She may look like one of the poor people but she doesn't sound like them. She has a nice voice.
Father quickly puts her back in her place. "Fraulein, this is a large house and I will not have anyone shouting." I see the governess pull back a little and her eyebrows go up. "You will take this and learn to use it. The children will help you."
Louisa smiles at me as if to say, Oh, we'll help her all right.
"Now when I want you, this is what you will hear," Father says and begins his regular "governess" whistle but she cuts him off.
"Oh, no, sir! I'm sorry, sir! I could never answer to a whistle. Whistles are for dogs and cats but not for children and definitely not for me!"
I gasp before I can stop myself. How can she talk to father that way? I didn't know anyone could talk to father that way. I glance at Friedrich. His mouth is a perfect O. I glance at Liesl. Her mouth is closed but her eyes are wide and interested.
Father glares at the new governess. "Fraulein were you this much trouble at the abbey?" he asks, each word sharp as a slap.
"Oh, much more, sir!"
I bite my lip to keep from laughing. I can hear Kurt giggle. He's considered big now that he's eleven but he still sounds like a girl when he laughs.
Father seems to decide that the conversation is over. As he walks away, Fraulein Maria whistles. It's not a particular signal of any sort but it commands attention. Father stops and looks at her in puzzlement.
"Excuse me, sir, I don't know your signal," she says politely.
Something in father's eyes hardens. "You may call me 'Captain'," he says, before leaving the room. Fraulein Maria's smile turns victorious. She places the whistle in her pocket.
"Now will you please step forward again and tell me your names and how old you are," Fraulein Maria says.
Liesl steps forward. "My name is Liesl. I'm sixteen years old and I don't need a governess!" she says. Liesl greets every governess like this. People look at her brown curls and blue eyes and assume that she's sweet and gentle. She likes to prove them wrong.
Fraulein Maria looks taken aback. Will she tell Liesl not to be impudent? Will she laugh at her, which is ever worse? Instead she says, "Well, I'm glad you told me, we'll just be good friends." Liesl looks uncertain before this unexpected olive branch. (An olive branch is an offer of peace. I read about it yesterday.)
After Friedrich's introduction, Louisa steps forward. "I'm Brigitta," she says. This is a game we play each time we get a new governess. We constantly switch names, making it impossible for the governess to memorize who's who. We switch whistle signals too. I am prepared to admit that I am Louisa and to answer to her whistle. It can be great fun sometimes.
"You didn't tell me how old you were…Louisa," Fraulein Maria says. She doesn't hesitate. Has she remembered our names already? It takes governesses weeks to accomplish that.
Louisa smothers a gasp. She has never been caught lying before. Fraulein Maria fixes her gaze on Louisa and patiently waits for…what? An explanation? An apology? Louisa opens her mouth, then closes it, then looks at me with a silent appeal for help in her eyes. I have to say something. I step forward.
"I'm Brigitta, she's Louisa. She's thirteen years old, and you're smart," I say and then stop, surprised at myself. Of course, she's smart but why did I tell her so? I've stopped saying nice things to adults long ago because each time I would, they'd make me into a favorite and a pet and I hated that. Fraulein Maria is already giving me that what-an-adorable-child look. I'd better show her what I'm really like. "I'm ten and I think your dress is the ugliest one I ever saw," I add and the look slides right off her face. Good.
"Brigitta, you shouldn't say that!" says Kurt. I feel my face heat up. Why is he defending her?
"Why not? Don't you think it's ugly?" I ask.
"Of course, but Fraulein Hilda's was ugliest," Kurt says. He always mentions Fraulein Hilda whenever he wants to stress that things can always be worse. I think it's stupid. What's the point of saying that things can always be worse? If they're bad enough, the fact that they can be worse doesn't make you feel much better.
Fraulein Maria has just finished speaking to Marta and turns to Gretel."Yes, you're Gretel. And you're five years old? My, you're practically a lady," Fraulein Maria says and Gretel blushes in delight. The little girls love Fraulein Maria right away. On the other hand, I know Louisa doesn't like her. Louisa doesn't like anyone who makes her look silly. I'm undecided about her. I'm curious to see what she's going to do or say next.
Fraulein Maria takes a deep breath and moves back a step. "I've a confession to make. You see, I've never really been a governess before," she says. I see Louisa's face light up and I know, I just know, she has something planned.
"You mean you don't know anything about being a governess?" she asks.
Fraulein Maria shakes her head. Louisa and Liesl exchange quick looks.
"Well, you must start by telling father to mind his own business," Louisa says with a wicked smile.
"You must never come to dinner on time," Friedrich catches on.
"Never eat you soup quietly," says Kurt, taking a step forward.
Friedrich slurps loudly into Fraulein Maria's ear and she gasps and turns around. At this moment, Louisa backs up, nearly bumping into me. She opens up her hands which are neatly folded behind her back. In one hand is a frog. She points to the frog with the other hand. I know what she is trying to tell me. I must place the frog into Fraulein Maria's pocket.
Frogs are easy to slip into a pocket. Snakes are trickier but I can do those too if I am not in a hurry. I certainly can do it. But for some reason I don't feel as excited as usual. I've done it so many times, it has become boring. And Fraulein Maria isn't stuffy and horrible so it won't be as much fun playing a trick on her. Louisa's hand gestures become frantic. I pick up the frog and carefully edge closer to Fraulein Maria's side pocket.
The boys are still giving Fraulein Maria advice.
"Don't you listen to them, Fraulein Maria!" Gretel is saying, fiercely.
"Why not?" Fraulein Maria asks.
"Because I like you!"
Fraulein Maria smiles. She has a kind smile but I wish it was an angry scowl. It's somehow easier to play a trick on a person with an angry scowl. I drop the frog into her pocket. She doesn't notice.
"All right children, it's time to go outside for your walk!" Frau Shmidt's voice is sudden and I have to restrain myself from jumping. I turn around and walk to the door, keeping my eyes on Louisa's blond curls. Fraulein Maria picks up her bags and begins to walk up the stairs to her room. Her pocket starts rocking back and forth along with her gray dress and I just know the frog will jump out any moment.
"Poor little dears," Fraulein Maria mutters to Frau Shmidt.
She can't be talking about us. We're very rich, richer than she is. And we're certainly not "dears."
I see the frog wiggle right before Fraulein Maria yelps, then, yelps louder, drops her bags with a terrible crash and reaches into her pocket.
"Aaaaah!" She screams as the frog leaps from her hand to the floor.
The frog slowly makes its' way out the door that Friedrich just opened. Fraulein Maria breathes heavily as she stares at the frog.
"You're very lucky," Frau Shmidt says dryly. "With Fraulein Helga it was a snake."
Fraulein Maria gasps and her gaze travels up…to us. And she's looking straight at me.
She knows it was me. She knows that I put the frog in her pocket. I don't know how but she knows. She doesn't look angry exactly, but there is so much shock and hurt in her eyes. She looks like she's about to cry. And something twists inside my stomach. She hates me now.