Disclaimer: "The Sound of Music" belongs to Rodgers and Hammerstein

Liesl and Marta: Growing Pains

The Nazis had been guarding the Trapp family Villa for two days. Their automobiles were stationed right outside the gates, and they had even gone so far as to set boats out on the lake behind their house.

Never in all her life had Liesl been more terrified. Not when that spider had crawled up her back, not when she had been caught sneaking around with Rolf by Maria, not even when her mother had fallen mortally ill with scarlet fever. It was made worse by the fact that her parents refused to tell her or the others anything. They didn't want to risk being overheard, or one of the children slipping up and saying something in front of the soldiers.

Still, she tried her best to put on a brave face for her younger siblings. They had already done so much to comfort her after Rolf's betrayal, and they knew even less than she did about what was going on.

The night before the festival, Liesl remembered a book she had meant to take with her - one of her mother's treasured editions - and snuck out of her room to fetch it from the library, when, as she was walking, she heard sniffling coming from . . .

Marta's room? She thought, confused.

Marta had always been the most quiet of the von Trapp children. Having grown up taking care of her siblings, Liesl was always on the lookout for the noisiest child, as they were the ones most likely to get into or cause trouble. In fact, Liesl realized, Marta was always so quiet and well-behaved that she usually overlooked her entirely. No one in the family really knew about Marta, not even Maria, who was close to all the children.

Tip-toeing on the balls of her feet, Liesl pushed open the door to Marta's bedroom, peering inside. The seven-year-old was huddled in the middle of her bed, with the sheet wrapped around her. The lights were off, but light filtered in through the thin drapes hanging over the windows.

"Marta?" Liesl called.

Marta looked up, her face tear-streaked. "Liesl?" Marta sniffed. "What are you doing here?"

"I heard you crying." Liesl crossed the room and sat down on the bed with her sister. "Is everything alright?"

Marta nodded her head, to which Liesl raised her eyebrows. Blushing, Marta shook her head no. "I'm scared," she admitted.

"Of what?" Liesl asked, crossing her legs and holding out her arms so Marta could climb onto her lap. As soon as she was settled, Liesl used the end of the bedsheet to wipe her eyes.

"Are we really going to drive all the way to Switzerland?" Marta asked.

Liesl chuckled. "If we can get that old car up and running, then yes."

"I don't want to go."

"Me neither," Liesl confessed. "But we have no other choice."


Liesl sighed, trying hard to think of the best way to explain the Anschluss when she herself barely knew what it was. "Have you seen how everyone in the neighborhood has the red flag with the black spider on display, but father still flies the Austrian flag?"

"Yes," Marta said quietly.

"They don't fly that flag because they want to. The ruler of Germany sent in people to make us obey their laws and display their flag," Liesl explained. "And now . . . now those same people want to take Father away."

"Why do they want our father?" Marta asked.

"Lots of reasons, darling. But now we have to get out of Austria before they can do that. Do you understand?"

"I think so," Marta said. "Will we be coming back here?"

"Someday, Marta. I do hope someday."

"I'm still scared."

Liesl hugged her sister tighter. "Me too. But it's like Mother said to me the day she came back; we have to face our fears." She paused, looking down at Marta. "Do you think you can do that?"

"I can try," Marta offered.

Liesl smiled sadly, kissing the top of her sister's head. "You can do it. You're the bravest little girl I know."