Disclaimer: I do not own the Sound of Music; nor do I profit from this story. It is just for fun.
A/N: The idea for this story came to me many months ago. I decided to finish my other stories before I began to concentrate on this one. Any similarity to any all ready published stories is purely co-incidental.
The Very Beginning
The movie begins almost in silence; the clouds moving in the wind that is whistling over the mountain tops. The wind clears away the clouds allowing one to see a country side of spectacular and unearthly beauty. A thrill of a clarinet begins the music. Below us we see a lovely never-never land; the music intensifies as our eyes scale the mountain side to a pasture where people sometimes express their deepest emotions in song.
A small figure is spotted; as the figure gets closer we discover Maria; twirling around as her singing joins those who have sung there before her. The songs that made the hills come alive and filled lonely hearts. We see her dance across a brook; throwing stones into the water. And in a prayerful pose she prayed in song and her heart was filled with the sound of music.
A distant sound, the trolling of bells, caused Maria to pause and listen. "Oh no, those are the bells for noon prayers."
She began to run. When the wind ruffled through her hair she realized her postulant's veil was missing. She ran back to the spot where she had twirled in song to get it; then disappeared down the side of the hill; talking to God as she fled. "Help me get there beforeI'm missed. Maybe I can sneak in without being seen."
Noon prayers and even lunch was over; it was the sisters' hour to talk. The Reverend Mother was in the corridor when Sister Betty hurried across the courtyard to her. "I simply can not find her."
"Considering it's Maria, I suggest you look in some place unusual." The Reverend Mother contemplated. "What am I going to do with that young woman? She's a wonderful soul but I'm not sure the Abby is for her."
Sister Berthe is forthright, "I hope this new infraction ends whatever doubts you may still have about Maria's future here." To herself she added. "I know she's a lovely girl but she's so disruptive."
A wise Reverend Mother answered; "I always try to keep faith in my doubts, Sister Berthe."
Sister Margareta always came to Maria's defense. "The wool of a black sheep is just as warm." Everyone knew that Sister Berthe often referred to Maria as the black sheep of the Abby.
"We're not talking about sheep Sister Margareta, black or white."
"Children, children;" the Reverend Mother stopped them. She decided to ask the other sisters their opinion of Maria.
"Tell me Sister Catherine, what do you think of Maria?"
"She's a wonderful girl, some of the time." But I really think she's a nuisance.
"She's always late, except for every meal." Silently she reflected; "I don't understand; why is the Reverend Mother asking all these questions? Poor Maria, I do feel sorry for her."
"And you Sister Sophia." "I love her dearly but she's always seems to be in trouble."
Sister Berthe had heard enough and began to enumerate all the things Maria had done that were unbecoming of a postulant. She had climbed trees, torn her dress and skinned her knee. Others added that she whistled, danced and even sang in the Abby. Sister Margarita could not refrain herself; she defended Maria again. "She makes me laugh; huh huh huh." The other sisters were not amused.
Finally, the Reverend Mother asked a simple question; "how do you solve a problem like Maria?" The sisters answered her with a song. One that called poor Maria a flibbertigibbet, a demon; a pesky pest; even said she could throw a whirling dervish out of whirl. Only Sister Margareta spoke kindly of her; "she's a darling, she's a lamb."
They continued to try and define her; a will-o '-the-wisp, a riddle, a headache, an angel; but Sister Berthe had the last word, "a clown." Maria was a puzzle to them. They only could agree on one thing; Maria was like a moonbeam that you could never hold in the palm of your hand.
A noise that could only be the slamming shut of a door startled them; in unison they turned their heads. Maria was seen running into the courtyard; they watched as she stopped and pumped some water from the well. As she continued to run her eyes caught the women in black. She knew she had been caught, rolled her eyes up and shook her head and said silently, "I'm in trouble now, my head is uncovered." Her walk slowed as she contemplated her punishment.
In her room, Maria had changed into the formal garment of a postulant; she was pacing when Sister Margarita knocked on her door. "Come with me Maria, the Reverend Mother wishes to see you."
"Is she angry with me?"
"Maria, Reverend Mother is never angry, just concerned about all of her postulants; to be sure they are making the right decision."
Maria smiled at her. "I feel better;" but told herself, "I do need to ask for forgiveness." Maria could not stand in one place as she waited outside the door; she was so anxious.
"You may go in now, Maria."
Sister Margareta walked away. I wonder what the Reverend Mother will tell her; she asked me to find a dress for her. I wish Maria didn't have to leave us. Maybe she'll return as a better candidate.
"Come here my child." Maria respectfully knelt on one knee and kissed her ring.
"Now sit down." Maria began to tell her what happened but she stopped her. "I haven't summoned you for apologies."
"Please let me ask for forgiveness."
"If you'll feel better."
"Yes," Maria proceeded to tell her about the beautiful day; about her mountain and how she watched the sisters in the garden from the tree. The Reverend Mother prayed a silent prayer; "please God let me be gentle in sending her out into the world; I do believe this is Your will."
"Maria, when you saw us over the wall and longed to be one of us, that didn't mean you were prepared for the way we live here, did it?"
"No, Mother, but I pray and I try. And I am learning. I really am."
Years of experience had taught the Reverend Mother many things; she needed to explore Maria's faith. She knew Maria needed to experience life before making her commitment; having only recently found her faith.
"What is the most important lesson you have learned here?"
Maria spoke confidently, "To find out what is the will of God and do it wholeheartedly."
Maria was confused. "I know that was the right answer. Why does she look so serious?"
The Reverend Mother paused; took a deep breath and got up from behind her desk. "Maria, it seems to be God's will that you leave us." Did she say leave? Maybe I heard her wrong, I'll ask.
"Only for a while."
Maria vehemently begged her. "No, Mother! Please don't send me away! This is where I belong. It's my home, my family. It's my life." Silently she continued "please, please Reverend Mother let me stay."
"Are you truly ready for it?" She knew Maria well. "I know you will tell me yes but you're not ready, I'm not sure you ever will be."
"Yes, I am."
"If you go out into the world for a time, knowing what we expect, you will find out if you can expect it of yourself."
Maria almost cuts in on her words; she is such a hurry to tell her otherwise. "I know what you expect Mother, and I can do it! I promise I can!" earnestly begging her.
Maria reluctantly sat down and reflected, "I've heard that inflection in her voice before; there is no use arguing anymore. Her decision is final."
"Yes Mother, if it is the will of God." Silently she continued. "Tell me where I am going."
Maria heard nothing but governess, September and seven children; that got her attention. She shouted out, "Seven children."
"You like children, Maria."
"Yes, but seven."
Maria wanted to say out loud, "She doesn't know I didn't have even one sibling." But she didn't.
"I will tell Captain von Trapp to expect you tomorrow."
Maria's imagination conjured up all kinds of visions of sea captains. "He's probably gruff and shouts a lot; with a beard, rosy cheeks and sharp blue eyes."
"A retired officer of the lmperial Navy, a fine man and a brave one; his wife died several years ago, and he is alone with the children. I understand he has had a most difficult time keeping a governess there."
How sad, she thought, but I must ask. "Why difficult, Reverend Mother?"
"The Lord will show you in His own good time." Maria wasn't sure what to do; she sat and looked at the Reverend Mother, silently asking, "What kind of an answer was that?"
The Reverend Mother noticed her confusion. She spoke to reassure her. "Maria, the Captain and his children need you. God wouldn't want me to send you there if He didn't have a purpose. I'm sure the children will be very happy to see you; all the children at the orphanage are always so happy to see you when you visit them. Try not to worry."
"I'll try, Reverend Mother." Maria acknowledged her properly before walking slowly out of the office.
Meals were eaten in silence; even so Maria's face had always spoke volumes. The other sisters received great pleasure from her smile; it always seemed to go right to their hearts. Tonight was very different. Maria barely looked up; all the sisters knew Maria was leaving them in the morning; they wished it wasn't so.
Maria had difficulty sleeping that night; her visions of sea captains never left her mind. In the morning, she joined the community of sisters in the Abby chapel; praying with them one last time before her expulsion; the word she had given to her assignment.
After breakfast, Sister Margareta brought Maria the dress she had found. She was allowed to speak to her. "Maria, this is all I could find on such short notice. I know it's not very attractive."
Nothing Maria did kept tears from welling up in her eyes; they trickled out any way. She was barely able to muffle "thank you." She exchanged her postulant's dress for the grey one and her veil for the leather hat. It didn't matter to Maria what the dress looked like; she was being expelled from the Convent; to the home of a Captain with seven children.
"Maria," Sister Margareta called to her. She made the sign of the cross, "God be with you." The dejected Maria acknowledged her with a simple bow of her head and walked out the door. She paused on the path that would take her to the front gate, looked back and then read the plaque bearing the inscription: "When the Lord closes a door; somewhere He opens a window." At that moment it didn't make Maria feel any better.
She took a deep breath and began to talk to herself about her future; "how will I cope with a captain and seven children." Her talking became a song. "I do have confidence; I know I do." Her pace had grown faster; she even twirled around in a circle; flinging the guitar case and carpet bag she held in each hand. The stone fence along the dirt road soon came to an end; she had reached her destination.
Maria peered through the bars of the gate; there was the biggest house she had ever seen. "Oh, help," was softly whispered but in silence she added. "I can't turn back now." She opened the gate; leaned against it to close it; then she took two hesitant small steps as she started her song again.
"I have confidence….." her steps became faster as she hopped and skipped to the front door. She was out of breath as she rang the bell. Knowing nothing about the upper class of society she truly expected the captain to open the door.
Maria was bubbling with confidence when the door opened. "Hello. Here I am." She noticed the man looked at her strangely. "I'm from the convent. I'm the new governess, Captain."
"And I'm the old butler, Fräulein," not knowing any different, she reached for his hand to shake; very much a surprise to him.I thought women weren't allowed to shake the hand of a man; especially one she did not know. Maria was baffled by his reaction. "I was only being friendly."
He ushered Maria inside. She was overwhelmed by the opulence of the hall. The crystal glass chandelier caught her eye; she thought, everything is so beautiful, I've never seen a house like this. Its magnificence stopped her for a moment; carefully she walked down the stairs and put her guitar and carpet bag on the floor. She continued to look around; expecting to see trophies from the captain's sails around the world; lion and tiger hides, weapons, pottery and whatnots. She was terribly disappointed.
The poor butler had composed himself enough to say, "Please wait here." Maria was not one for staying in one place; she was inquisitive. A set of double doors caught her attention; she peered through the crack between them. Her curiosity got the best of her; she opened it and went inside. Immediately she knew where she was; this is a ballroom where people dance in fancy dresses; let me pretend.
In the meantime, the Captain had walked from his study into the hall; his eyes were immediately drawn to the opened door of the ballroom. I wonder why that is open.
Maria had curtsied twice. Her fanciful time was abruptly interrupted by the forceful slamming of the doors against the wall. She stopped dead in her tracks and look in that direction; she saw him standing at attention. He must be the captain. He didn't say a word; his thoughts were elsewhere; the nerve of her wondering around the house opening these doors; I suppose she would find it eventually. I'll tell her. A startled Maria ran past him; her eyes held that deer-in-the-headlight look; a bit stunned but mostly frightened.
"In the future, remember certain rooms in this house are not to be disturbed." Maria wanted to ask why, but decided to be polite.
"Yes, Captain, sir."
The stares began; Maria looking at him astounded and Georg looked at her and that dress, wondered. "What is she wearing? I can't believe they let her leave the Abby like that. Maybe there's a good reason, but I doubt it."
The questions and answers began. "Why do you stare at me that way?"
Maria had noticed his blue eyes. She thought, maybe he's not all that gruff. Her face softened."You don't look a t'all like a sea captain." She smiled at him.
Georg mused to himself. "A sea captain, is that who she was expecting?"
"I'm afraid you don't look very much like a governess."
Maria wondered. "What did all the others look like; I suppose old and frumpy."
"Turn around please."
Maria was surprised; she thought that was a strange request.
A silent conversation continued. "Why she is questioning me? I'll ask again."
"Turn," he made a circle with his hand. Then he looked at her hat. "And now, that thing on her head must go."
"Hat off." It's not the hat, it's the dress, he told himself.
He continued to stare at her. "It's the dress. You'll have to put on another one before you meet the children."
"But I don't have another one. When we enter the abbey, our worldly clothes are given to the poor." She thought, you should know that Captain.
I must ask. "What about this one?"
"The poor didn't want it."
She knew that really wasn't true; it belonged to the last postulant who was terribly poor.
Cheerfully Maria continued. "I would have made a new dress but there wasn't time. I can make my own clothes."
"Well, I'll see that you get some material; today, if possible."
Silently he added, "I hope it won't take you very long."
Now I wonder how is she at following instructions; let me begin with the easy things first. What is her first name? "Fräulein…."
Unspoken he added, "Yes that's the name."
"Fräulein Maria, I don't know how much the Mother Abbess told you."
"You are the twelfth of a long line of governess to look after my children since their mother died. I trust you will be an improvement on the last one. She stayed only two hours."
Maria had a silent conversation with herself.
"Oh my, how terrible, maybe it's the children. I'll ask. I might as well be blunt."
"What's wrong with the children, sir?"
"Nothing is wrong with the children, only the governesses."
"Oh really, I can't wait to meet these children and find out for myself."
"They could not maintain discipline, without it this house cannot be properly run."
"Now I understand, discipline, military discipline."
"Every morning you will drill them in their studies. I will not permit them to dream away their summer holidays. Each afternoon they will march about the grounds breathing deeply. Bedtime is to be strictly observed."
"When do they get to be children and do all the things children should do. I might as well ask."
"Excuse me sir, when do they play?"
"Why didn't he answer me?"
I can't believe she's interrupting me, asking about playtime; my children don't play. "You will see to it that they conduct themselves with the utmost decorum. I am placing you in command."
Maria decided. "He must be preparing all of them for the military. What kind of a father is he? I'll answer him just like I'm in the military."
Her hand briskly came to her temple and snapped down immediately. Her smile covered her face; her eyes held a mischievous look; her voice had a cadence to it. "Yes, sir."
Maria smirked silently. "I surprised you, didn't I?"
The Captain was totally unprepared for what he saw. He voiced to himself. "My goodness, when she smiles her whole face lights up. She has such beautiful eyes, looking so innocent; now why did I notice that? Let me call the children."