It was Katia who immediately sent a note to Alice after the baby was born. It was Rosemary who sent an immediate reply. It contained the usual congratulations but it also contained a sad note.
Alice passed away only a day after hearing about the baby's birth. Maria she had been ill for a few days; the doctors suspected pneumonia. She was having a lot of difficulty breathing; she seemed to hang on until you had the baby.
She passed in her sleep; I believe she let go of life.
Maybe one day I may have a chance to see the little one.
I promise to stay in touch.
Katia and Maria cried together. Georg was visibly upset; his mother-in-law had been a good friend. Isabel told the children. They too cried.
At Maria's urging they decided to walk down to the church for prayers.
It wasn't cold; but there was a breeze. Maria wrapped the baby in a light blanket. Father Michael found the family and was told.
He reminded everyone. "Alice is with those who have gone before her. She's smiling down on us right now."
The candles flickered as if an angel's wing had disturbed the air. The family left in silence; consoled. Their sadness would go away as this baby grew.
Who was that turncoat who alerted Dulles about Georg's location there in Bern?
This story starts late one night back in Salzburg. It had been several weeks since the Festival. Ralph was in town late one night; it was around two in the morning. He noticed he was being followed.
Ralph used his Army training to circle behind the man and was able to press him to the ground without a struggle.
The man could barely speak. "Ralph, it's me, Franz."
Even in a weak voice Ralph recognized the voice as belonging to Franz, Georg's butler. He helped him walk towards one on the few streetlights in the city. He saw Franz's clothes were dirty and torn and he looked several pounds lighter.
"What happened to you?"
"Can we talk somewhere?"
Ralph took him to a safe house. The room was totally dark; all the windows were covered with dark paper. Ralph lit a lone candle. Franz began to talk, in choppy sentences.
"I saw them leave, from a third floor window. I fled after they pushed the car to the lane. Fled to Germany, Berlin, my place of birth."
"But your last name is Durant. That's not German."
"It's my mother's maiden name. Father died. She's French-Austrian, moved us to Vienna. I grew up with Adolph Hitler; a strange boy and an even stranger young man.
His mother died after surgery for breast cancer. The surgeon was Jewish; Adolph blamed him. He hated all Jews.
I never realized I looked Jewish. In Berlin they noticed. I was warned to leave before the stormtroopers put me on a death train. I barely escaped.
"Ralph, Hitler must be stopped. I want to help anyway I can.
They know Georg is in Bern; we must warn him."
"Ralph stay here, there's food. I'll be back after I secure our travel plans."
Franz traveled with Ralph and Audrey to Bern. Franz met with Dulles.
Franz and Ralph worked secretly for several months. It was in August that their cover had been penetrated. Dulles made plans to send them to London. They escaped shortly after Maria had the baby.
When they got to London, it was Ralph who thought to contact Bobby, unaware that Alice had died. Once they arrived at the home, they learned the happy and the sad news.
Bobby came up with the idea to use the house as a safe haven for any who wanted to leave Austria. It became home not just to the Bittingers and Franz but soon to Harold and Eleanor and the Isenharts. They lived there until the war was over. When they were able, they went back to Salzburg to help rebuild their country.
Sidney's Lodge was close to the German border; it began to be over-run with German soldiers. They did not pay and their presence chased Sidney's paying guests away.
Sidney started to close it but first he found employment for his staff. Without a cook or staff to wait on the soldiers, they stopped coming. He deeded it to the seminary.
He had always been a very frugal man; he had considerable savings. He left Austria using the same back roads taken by the others. He traveled to London where he boarded a ship. When he arrived in New York, he had to go through the normal process of immigration. He used Georg's name as a contact.
In a matter of days he was released to travel; he took a train to Arlington Virginia. He found a driver to take him to the von Trapp home. Georg had told everyone to expect him any day. It wasn't a surprise when Stefan opened the door to find him on the porch.
The family celebrated and praised God for another safe escape. Of course Sidney's first interest was the new baby. Who Maria proudly showed off.
Rosemary took Alice's death very hard. She had been with Alice for two decades. She talked to Bobby.
"Do you think there is anyway I can get to America?"
Bobby didn't know but he was sure Ralph would. Not only did Ralph know; he helped prepare her entry papers. It wasn't Georg who was her sponsor; it was Sidney. He needed an Austrian cook for his Austrian Lodge.
Sidney and Katia took the train to New York City to meet her ship where they had an emotional reunion. Rosemary didn't want to spend a night there; they took the night train back. Georg was at the train station waiting for them. After a few days, Sidney and Rosemary drove to the Lodge. Within weeks Rosemary's grief began to be resolved and she once again started to appreciate life.
Max eventually moved there as well. Sidney wanted it to have all the flavors of a true Austrian Lodge, including music, just like the Salzburg Festival. Visitors enjoyed music from the blossoming of the Laurels in April until the end of the colorful display of leaves in early November. All kinds of music groups would perform; there were sing-a-longs and even a music camp.
When the snow began, those who preferred the sports of skiing and cross-country treks would be the guests.
The Lodge became a favorite vacation spot for the von Trapp family; they would spend time there both in winter and summer.
I really enjoyed writing this story. One reviewer commented, "This should have all been in the movie." Perhaps, but then we wouldn't have anything to write about. And we also know it would have made one very long movie.
Robert Wise, the director, once wrote that he wasn't making a biography; only a story about the faith, love and courage of this family. I'm sure he never imagined this movie would be so loved by future generations or scrutinized by fan fiction writers.
If you look carefully when you watch the movie again, study the scene with Georg and Elsa are walking beside the lake. If you look across the lake, you can see people on bicycles; it's even clearer when they begin to walk back. You can see the gazebo and where the lake ends. I've watched it many times and I'm almost positive it is the children on their bikes,
In Charmian Carr's book she writes; "they were in the countryside ….a beautiful spot on the edge of a lake," when they filmed the bicycle scene.
Also in her book she tells about the two scenes which were cut out. The first one was when Maria and the children meet Rolf in the plaza. I included that scene in my story. The second was a scene showing Georg all alone after agreeing to Elsa's party. I also included that as well.
The first few scenes were easy to fill in thoughts and add scenes to show the passage of time. The hardest for me were the scenes of being discovered by Herr Zeller and then again in the graveyard hiding.
I can't tell you how many times I watched those scenes. My new Blue Ray player has a feature that lets me go frame by frame.
It had been my plan from the very beginning to give Maria a wedding ring; I had a difficult time finding the proper place to add it. I hadn't planned on it being in the final chapter.
I even wrote to the Rogers and Hammerstein Organization. They concluded the ring that Georg wore on his ring finger of his right hand through out the movie was from his first marriage. They could give me no answer for Maria never having a wedding ring. They simply said it was an oversight.
Reviews and Readers
I want to thank all of you who took the time to leave me a review. I appreciate each one; even constructive criticism. I never planned on details about their time in New York City; it was only a transition to get them to their new home where I planned to end the story.
To my readers, I hope you may have smiled, laughed or even had a tear or two. As I said before I really enjoyed writing this story.
I could write a story of their life in America; it's possible but not probable. No matter what I write; I will always complete the story in a timely fashion, (baring an unexpected emergency). Also, I always have an idea of how I want my stories to end before I publish the first chapter; I also have a pretty good idea of the middle but those chapters are more flexible.
I will never write a dark out of character story; or any OOC story. They will always have the elements embodied in the original canon, faith, love and courage.