The family continued to enjoy themselves that summer; they had made a list. Next on the agenda was a trip to Maria's mountain; it held wonderful memories for the children. It was the first place they had gone with their new governess.
They remembered how they laughed and hopped and skipped down the lane that day; making their way through the city to the locomotive station.
Today they didn't walk to the locomotive station. They drove there. The children were so excited they barely waited for their father to park the car before they were out the car's door.
The conductor recognized the family. "Going up the mountain today?"
He heard, "Yes sir," from Friedrich.
"Hop aboard. Old Mozart will have you up there in a jiffy."
"Are you teasing us sir? Is the train's name really Mozart?"
"Yes, young lady, sometimes it sounds like his music; besides Mozart belongs to Salzburg." Brigitta laughed; she thought it was an odd name for a locomotive.
"Come on Brigitta, get on board. We're in a hurry to get to the top."
"Okay Kurt, I'm coming."
With everyone safely on board the locomotive chugged up the steep incline. It stopped after making the loop to be in the directions to return. The conductor told them. "I have to make one more scheduled trip; I'll be back in an hour."
"That's fine we're having lunch."
The family took in the sights; the mountains around them with their waterfalls and glaciers. The sky was clear; not a cloud in sight. They wasted no time. They spread out the blanket and unpacked all the baskets. Katia had been extra generous with the food.
Maria gave the blessing. "Thank you God for all the beauty of this place; that we can come here and enjoy it. Now bless this food so it can nourish our bodies; so we can do good works. Amen."
They had their fill; Maria put the leftovers back in the baskets. Everyone still had their drinks and cookies. She and Georg had eaten enough. Georg got up.
"Maria walk with me darling."
They went to the edge of the mountain that looked towards Germany. "Do you see that big complex of buildings?"
"I do Georg."
"That's Hitler's retreat."
"Is it really?"
Yes Maria, he's there very often along with Herr Zeller. Soldiers have been known to drive over here. Austria doesn't stop them. They think if they let them Hitler will leave Austria alone.
"It's getting too dangerous for us to come up here again. Our picnics will have to be close by the villa. Hitler knows we are married."
"Our nuptials with your picture were published in the Berlin paper. I'm afraid everything is going to change very soon."
"Georg, I hear voices. Look there are men down there."
Maria heard them again; she froze and clutched Georg's hand.
"What wrong Maria?"
"I know that voice; it's one of the boys that taunted me."
Georg looked again; they were on the trail coming up the mountain.
"We need to get out of here."
Georg didn't want to scare the children; but he did need them to move quickly.
"Children put your things in the baskets; we need to leave. I'll tell you why later. Please hurry."
"Come on children, your father is right behind us."
Georg checked the area; he wanted to leave nothing behind; nothing that could connect to the family. He caught up to Maria; Gretl was having a hard time keeping up.
"Gretl, let me carry you." He held her securely and began to run. He saw the locomotive. Thank God it's here.
The conductor saw them running; he knew all about German soldiers climbing up the mountain. He also knew who the Captain was. They were no sooner on board then he released the brake and they took off down the mountain; much faster than normal.
The children sat in silence; terrified. They held on to their seats; they were going so fast they thought it might not stop. But it did.
"I know Captain. I see them all the time."
Georg thanked him for their quick descent. He assured him they were alright.
"Quickly children get in the car;" their Father drove away at normal speed. No one spoke; they were still terrified. They let out their breaths after they were home.
"Children, your mother's mountain is only a short distance from the German border; soldiers were coming up the path. We had to leave in a hurry. We can never go back there; it's too dangerous.
"Maria, go on in with the children. I'll be there in a few minutes."
He saw her worried look. "I need to talk with our protection."
Katia wasn't expecting them home so soon. She took one look at the children and she could tell something was terribly wrong. "Maria, why are you home so soon?"
"Georg will tell everybody when he comes in."
Georg knew they had been followed home. He saw his friend Josef come out of the grove of trees in the backyard.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, Maria and the children are stunned."
"James can't use his telephone anymore; his line is most likely tapped. We have a lot of volunteers to be messengers. You weren't seen; Herr Zeller doesn't know you were there. Nothing is imminent; try to be as normal as possible."
"Thanks Josef, that's reassuring."
Georg hurried inside. He didn't expect to find Katia in the kitchen; he thought she would be with Maria and the children. Everyone was in the living room except Stefan and Phillip; he would speak to them privately.
"I know we are home sooner than expected. Everyone knows the German border is less than five miles away from Salzburg. It's even closer to Maria's mountain.
"Austria is letting soldiers freely enter; hoping to keep the Germans happy. Maria and I saw we were about to have visitors." He didn't tell them who. "We had to leave in a hurry."
Isabel asked what the others were thinking. "What does this mean Georg?"
"That we need to be careful; but not hibernate in the villa. We can still take picnics in the park, bike around the lake; or go out on the lake in the rowboat; even the occasional trip into town."
"Father, is someone always watching us?"
"Yes, Brigitta; they have been. Herr James thought it was best; ever since your mother and I met Herr Zeller outside the dress shop."
Max had been sitting quietly; thinking. He thought of the times he and Georg disagreed about loyalty to Austria. He understood now; he knew he was no longer neutral. He considered himself a part of this family. He would talk to Georg later.
"Children, we need to expel all our fears. The best way I know is to sing."
"My Favorite Things Mother?"
"Yes; everyone sing with us. I'm sure you know the words; you've heard it enough." They did sing with the children; many songs.
"Max, some dance music please." Happy dances, polkas and waltzes; everyone danced with everyone. They stopped only because Katia called them to dinner.
Everyone felt better; all but Marta and Gretl realized that big changes were coming.
Fear can drain you; make you feel very tired. Maria saw her children yawn. "Go get ready for bed; but come back down. We need to have our devotional time together."
Maria didn't have time to find a story or even a proper verse from scripture; she relied on her memory. The children were in their bathrobes. They sat on the carpet around Maria's chair; all of them except Liesl who sat on the sofa between Katia and Isabel. Georg had moved the footstool and sat on it. Max was in a chair.
"First, we need to give thanks for all kinds of things. Tell me what are you thankful for?"
"No one was hurt."
"We have men looking out for us."
"We can sing and dance and have fun."
"We have each other."
"And we have a God who protects us. What did the angel say to Mary before it announced she would have his son?"
Several of the children answered together. "Don't be afraid Mary."
"And then what did the shepherds hear?"
Again all together, "don't be afraid. I bring you good news."
"We also read in the Old Testament, from Isaiah. God strengthens those who are weak and tired; if you trust in the Lord you will find yourself renewed. They will rise on wings like eagles; they will run and not get weary; they will walk and not grow weak."
"And in another verse, we read. Do not be afraid – I am with you! I am your God – let nothing terrify you. I will make you strong and help you; I will protect you and save you."
"We need to stay together as a family; our big family; all the people who live here."
"Uncle Karl too?" Maria was surprised.
"Yes, even Uncle Karl;" she gave the benediction. "And now may the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob keep our hearts and minds in the knowledge of God and help us to serve him wholeheartedly wherever He shall lead us. Amen. Now join me in praying the Lord's Prayer."
Maria began; "Our Father…Amen."
"I don't think Marta and Gretl should sleep alone."
Brigitta heard her. "I'll sleep in Gretl's bed; she can have mine."
"Is that okay with you girls?" She saw nods from both Marta and Gretl. In fact it would be like that from now on.
"Thank you Brigitta, that was very loving."
Maria and Georg went up with them for their final kisses and goodnights. The boys were being stoic. "Are you both alright?"
Friedrich told them. "We are Father; we understand."
Maria asked Liesl the same question; and heard a similar answer. "Goodnight Liesl."
"Goodnight Mother and Father; I feel so much better after listening to your devotional. I can believe God will give us strength to do anything."
"Yes He will Liesl." Maria told her as she closed her door.
"I'm going to take a warm bath; I won't be long."
"Max wanted to see me. I'll be up soon. I love you."
Maria always got goose bumps every time Georg said those words to her; tonight was no different.
Georg found Max waiting for him in his study. "Georg, I know I've told you before I don't take sides. I realize now the Germans can't be trusted. You've made me a part of your family; I want to keep it that way."
"You were like a lot of people; be nice and they'll be nice; it doesn't work with evil."
"Well said Georg."
"Thanks Max, see you in the morning."
Georg took the stairs two at a time; he knew Maria was waiting for him. "Is everything okay with Max?"
"He now understands that Germany is being led by an evil man. He told me he likes being part of our family and he wants to keep it that way. I think we need each other."
"So do I Georg. Louisa surprised me when she asked about Karl. We need to invite him to visit. Is it safe to call him? Or should I write him a letter?"
"Let me get a message to James. It was Josef who was outside; he told me James' telephone is probably tapped; the only way to contact him is via a messenger. Someone is always out back; we've developed a gibberish phrase. It sounds like I'm calling a dog. I'll find him tomorrow. Now it's our time; no more unhappy talk. I want to love you darling.
"And I want to be loved by you; it's the highlight of my day."
"Hold your head up so I can get the first button." Then it was the second and third and so on; their passion was engaged. They decided it was best if they started to get in the habit of sleeping in their nightclothes.
They slept well that night. Georg lay on his back as usual; Maria curled up beside him with one arm draped over him. Neither hardly moved all night; no child got frightened and ran to their room. Georg was up early; he wanted to see Stefan and Phillip before they started their chores.
They kept their word to the children; there were multiple bikes rides; many picnics in the park and two proper rowboat rides as Georg had called them. He continued to tease Maria and the children about their biggest mistake; standing up and waving their arms.
"Georg, didn't you realize how happy we were to see you?"
"Maybe so Maria, but you still fell out of the boat; not the decorum of a sailor's family."
"Well this isn't probably proper decorum either. Let's sing the sailor song children; you remember the tune, it's the same as a Hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall."
Maria started to sing: "There were a hundred sailors; aboard a sailing ship."
The children joined their mother.
"Along came a mighty pirate. And claimed it for his own.
One by one they were forced to walk the plank.
"A hundred sailors were on board; push one down the plank into the great blue sea. And now nine-nine sailors remain."
"I still can't believe you wrote those words, Maria."
Georg began to laugh; it was contagious. Soon everyone had fits of side-splitting laughter; the boat started to rock. Luckily that was all it did; they made it safely to the dock; having sang only to ninety-five sailors.
Everyone else was standing on the veranda watching and listening. "A very interesting song; I know the tune but not those words."
"Mother's words Uncle Max; she wrote them just for Father."
"Very appropriate Maria."
"I see you made it home and everyone is dry; nobody rocked the boat."
"Only a little Frau Schmidt; when we were laughing so hard."
"I'm glad to see everyone is so happy; I think Katia almost has dinner ready. Would you like to eat out here?"
A wonderful idea but I think everyone needs to make a trip inside first; I know I do."
"I'll tell her Maria."
The family enjoyed the perfect dinner for a fabulous summer evening. They stayed there until it was bedtime.
Georg had asked James about Maria sending Karl a letter. He saw no problem but suggested Georg mail it from the university; it was less likely to be noticed. Karl was no dummy; he saw the postal location stamped on the envelope; it read "University Station." He sent his return note to Georg there.
"Maria, I'm sure this is from Karl."
"Yes, that's his handwriting." She opened it quickly; he'll be here on the Sunday afternoon train from Vienna. He'll get off at the Aigen station and walk to the villa; no need to meet him."
On Sunday, Katia was on alert in the kitchen; she seemed to be as anxious to see Karl as the children. Katia was a young woman about the same age as Karl. She had grown up living in a villa where her mother was the cook. Her father had died in the Great War. Katia had learned to cook from her. The Baroness of the villa had heard that Georg was looking for a cook; she had recommended Katia.
The children were on the veranda. They heard the train's whistle. "There's Uncle Karl's train. Let's go wait near the kitchen door." The children followed Kurt.
"Karl's going to have a greeting party."
"A big one sweetheart; they really do consider him a part of our family."
"I know and I also know Karl loves it. He's just like me; he never really had a family either."
"Well he does now." Karl's exclamations traveled all the way to the veranda.
"Welcome home Karl."
"Thank you Katia for that lovely salutation. Where's the happy couple?"
"On the veranda Uncle Karl; follow me."
"Lead onward Kurt."
Kisses and hugs abounded. Again the veranda was the perfect place for dinner. Maria let the children stay up later than usual; they were genuinely glad to see Karl and vice-versa. Eventually bedtime did come; the children said goodnight. Only Maria went up to check on them
Georg and Karl talked about his work in planning the airport in Salzburg. "The city planners want to complete it even though the noisy Germans have them worried."
Maria came back and sat beside Georg. "Karl, I'm sure you know how close that is to the German border with Austria."
"Oh yes Georg, I was confronted by some bratty boys – members of Hitler's Youth Army. They were even carrying guns."
"You sound alarmed Maria."
"Georg, you tell him."
"We had a picnic on Maria's mountain; from there is a birds-eye view of Hitler's Retreat. Maria heard a familiar voice. It was one of the boys who had taunted her. There were at least six of them hiking up the mountain. We made a mad dash to the locomotive.
"It really scared the children. We talked to them about our family being safe – everyone who lived with us. Louisa asked about you."
"Did she really?"
"Yes Karl, Maria and I want you to be a part of what ever the future holds for all of us; think about it Karl."
"I will Maria, I promise."
"Look what time it is. I suppose we should get some sleep. The children have a busy day planned for you tomorrow."
"I guess I should turn in. See you in the morning. Goodnight."
"Goodnight Karl. We need to go also; come on Georg." Maria pulled him to his feet; they hurried to their room. They hardly ever missed a romantic opportunity.
Max found Karl out on the veranda before breakfast. "Did the children ask you to come with us today?"
"Maria mentioned they had planned a busy day. What are they doing?"
"The usual, bike rides around the lake and stopping at the park; Katia will have a lunch packed for us."
"Sounds like fun, Maria and Georg would probably enjoy some time alone."
They found everyone waiting for them in the dining room. "Did you ask him Uncle Max?"
"I did Louisa."
"What did he say?"
"He said yes," Karl told them. They all had big smiles; Gretl's was the largest.
"Why the big smile Gretl?"
"Did Uncle Max tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
"I can ride a big girl's bike. He bought it for me. He said I was too big for the seat on Mother's bike."
"So I don't have a passenger."
"That's right. Everyone has their own bicycle."
Katia did have a basket packed for them. "Thank you Katia."
"You're welcome Karl." She watched him walk away.
The newly married couple did take advantage of the extra private time. After they rested, they came downstairs looking for lunch. Katia had filled two plates and left them in the kitchen. They carried them out to the veranda.
It was a beautiful July day; not too hot; no rain in sight. There was a slight breeze; a breeze that could carry a bird-like signal.
Before he was seen, he heard. "What can I do for you Josef?"
Instead of addressing Georg, he spoke to Maria. "Maria, you're as beautiful as you were on your wedding day."
"Thank you Josef. Is this a friendly visit?"
"Both, is Karl around?"
"Not at the moment, he and Max are off with the children. They should be home soon. Why?"
"I think it's time to tell him he needs protection too. I heard he had an encounter with the youth army. It's only a matter of time before they realize he is your brother."
"Yes, he told us and that they had guns. I told him he's already considered part of our family."
"I think the time will come when he needs to move here and stay; not immediately but in the early part of next year. I need to go. It's best the children don't see me."
Josef disappeared into the grove of trees; not a moment too soon. The sounds of laughter began to fill the air; the sounds that told Georg and Maria the children had had a good time.
They rode around to the kitchen door. "Did you have fun Uncle Karl?"
"Most certainly Kurt; but you children know how to tire two uncles."
"Exactly Karl; let's turn them over to their parents and find a cool drink."
"Good idea Max."
"They're on the veranda gentlemen."
"Thank you Katia; by the way your lunch was fabulous."
"Oh Karl, it was nothing special."
"Maybe not but it's all gone; every last cookie." Karl and Katia exchanged smiles. Max found two cold beers in the refrigerator and followed everyone to the veranda. Katia followed with a pitcher full of cold lemonade.
"I see you needed a cool one after all your activity."
"Do you want one?"
"No I'll enjoy some of this pink lemonade Katia fixed for us."
"I thought everyone could use a cool drink."
"Thank you Katia; it's my favorite color – pink."
"You're welcome Marta." Katia heard thank yous from everyone.
The children weren't tired; they found games to play. The youngest girls played hop-scotch; Brigitta and Louisa found jump ropes. Liesl watched them. The boys were kicking the ball around on the open field.
The adults talked. "Did you and Georg enjoy your quiet?"
"Very much Karl; I hope the children didn't tire you too much."
"Not really, it has been a long time since I rode a bike. Your Louisa Georg is a little daredevil."
"Did she jump off her swing at the apex?" Karl only smiled. "I have to warn your sister not to be a copy cat."
"From what I learned from Mother Anika; she was a tomboy as a teenager."
"Georg knows I was a tomboy but the first time he saw me I was curtsying to a pretend dance partner. I have Sister Bertha to thank for helping me leave the tomboy behind. Louisa will leave it behind in a few years; I've already noticed changes in her."
"It didn't take Maria long to develop a mother's intuition; she notices things that us males don't see."
"It's wonderful to see the close relationship you have with them; I noticed the first day I met them. I've enjoyed my time with them; sadly tomorrow I must return to the real world. I'll be back to check on the airport project the first part of September."
"You'll stay with us Karl; no need for a hotel room."
"You know I will Maria."
The children were sad their Uncle had to leave but they held smiles when they learned he would return in September. Everyone walked with him to the train station. "I still can't believe how convenient this station is. Did you plan it Georg?"
"No, I didn't even know at first it was back here. We only heard the train's whistle occasionally. It's proven to be very useful."
Everyone waved as the train pulled away; Karl stood in the back until it was out of view.
August was a busy month for Max. He spent many hours at the Festival; he had several entrants. His most important role would be as master of ceremony for the final night
Something else occurred in August; it happened to Maria. It was one night at dinner. Maria was enjoying a piece of Katia's fabulous chocolate cake. It was her most favorite dessert that she always ate with a cup of Katia's excellent coffee. Tonight, she took a sip and put it down rather abruptly. She took another bite of cake and a sip of coffee and she felt the same thing.
The coffee seemed to make her stomach do summersaults. She pushed it aside and finished her cake with water. It happened every time she had coffee. She was perplexed. She decided to ask Katia. "Are you using a different kind of coffee?"
"No Maria, why do you ask?"
"It suddenly seems to not like my stomach. Hopefully it will pass."
A day or two later the girls asked her to teach them some more folk dances. Maria decided to put on her Laendler dress; it was very comfortable. But it wasn't today; it didn't fit right. The upper part of the bodice was tight.
Maria, what's wrong with you – first coffee turns my stomach and now this. She was really perplexed. She tried to ignore all of it; but she couldn't. Her bust line was becoming noticeable.
Became noticeable to her husband; a man with seven children who had seen those subtle signs before. He knew Maria had no idea. He was a husband who wouldn't have minded it she had asked any of her lady friends, the ones she called "her mothers," but she didn't.
That night Georg decided to help his wife. He wasn't sure how to begin. He started with the easy sign. "Maria, I couldn't help but notice you are not drinking coffee any more. Don't you like it now?"
"It's not that darling; it doesn't like me. I don't understand why. Do you know?"
"Maybe sweetheart, let me ask you another question."
"Go ahead, ask."
"Aren't you feeling fuller, up top?"
"You mean here?" She crossed her hands over her chest to hide its fullness.
"So you've noticed."
"Is something wrong with me Georg?" Georg had to keep from laughing.
"Nothing is wrong at all."
"Then what is the matter?"
"I think, no I'm almost positive. You're pregnant."
"Why so surprised? You knew it could happen sometime."
"I don't know. I'm thrilled; it's a blessing Georg. I'm going to have your child."
"Not mine alone; half belongs to you. It will be our child Maria a beautiful little girl."
"Girl, Georg? What makes you so sure?"
"My track record Maria; five to two."
"I suppose that's a good reason. Do you already have a name for this girl baby?
"Now what makes you think that?"
"I see a special twinkle in your eyes."
"I do Maria, Barbara, the patron Saint of the Navy; in fact Barbara Marie would be a beautiful name."
"Why is it that none of the girls were named Barbara?"
"I didn't make my wish firm enough; there was always someone's name we had to use or they might be offended."
"Don't worry darling, if it is a girl, I think Barbara is a beautiful name too. What about for a boy?"
"We can decide that name later, if I should be so lucky."
"When will this baby be born?"
"Do you remember your last cycle?"
"It just occurred to me that I missed last month."
"It seems that neither of us realized. I'm guessing you became pregnant six or seven weeks ago; she could be born in early spring, the end of March or beginning of April."
"Should I see a doctor?"
"Not right away, he's only going to tell you eat good foods; which you do already. In a few weeks all your lady friends will begin to look at you differently."
"I'm told they see a "glow." Not sure what that means exactly; but they are usually right."
"Can we still…"
"We can sweetheart, almost to the very end; come here. Let's not waste tonight."
"No, let's not."