During the two weeks of Georg's absence, Maria used that time to bond with children: Gretl, Marta, Brigita, Liesl, Louisa, Kurt and Friedrich. After their failed attempts to scare her with childish jokes such as the frog and pine cone and more importantly, the way she was able to rise above the situation, she deserved their respect. Of course they didn't know some of the tricks she had used herself before.
Finally she felt free and enjoyed every moment with the children. They established a routine with studying in the mornings, and after lunch outdoor activities like riding a bicycle, playing games with balls or skipping ropes, chasing each other, going to the mountain, climbing trees and rowing on the lake. She was well aware that most of the activities were forbidden, but she saw the same sadness in the children's eyes that she had seen in the in Captain's, and she wanted to help them all heal.
To her surprise the children told her stories from happier times about how the Captain used to play with them, tuck them into the bed, sing with them and take them, hiking, etc. Through listening to those stories, her original annoyance with his arrogance and old fashioned views began to melt. Her first impressions of a strict and stiff aristocrat dissolved as she became more curious about him, aware that there was much more to him.
Georg's days in Vienna passed by with visits to the Opera and attending glorious parties all over the city. Elsa was in her natural habitat and was very satisfied being the center of attention in such handsome company. Max was there as well, but she had won the main prize and most women were jealous of her dashing Georg. Even when he was brooding and distant he still attracted the attention of all women by his appearance. Elsa sometimes wondered if she was a kind of shield for him from other women's attentions. Nevertheless, even though he seemed distant in the last two weeks, she was going to Salzburg. It was a good sign after two years of courting.
As his visit to Vienna came to an end, Georg finally made a resolution. As soon as he returned home, he would dismiss that stubborn and defiant Fraulein Maria, and send her back. How dare she challenge him and, and, and...conquer his every thought. She had completely disrupted his orderly home. She made him restless and he often found his mind wondering about where she was and what she was doing. Of course the night of the thunder-storm hadn't helped at all, just the opposite. She just stirred something in him.
What was with this woman? Why was she so different from any other he had met, he wondered. Why did he want to overpower her, to make her submissive to him?
He fought hard against thoughts of her occupying his mind by being active and being more involved in social gatherings but she was everywhere: in the colour of some woman's hair, every blue pattern reminded him of her eyes, some clear melodic voice sounded like hers. In the beginning, those reminders were attributed to merely missing panic calls from Frau Schmidt, but as time went by, he accepted defeat. She had invaded his mind.
Using his analytical and strategic mind to avoid all threats of losing his control, especially after she started appearing in his dreams in vivid ways, he decided to get rid of her as soon as possible. Despite his growing fixation with her, she was a postulant and he was too noble to compromise her, and after all he had a clear path established in his life by marrying Elsa.
As soon as he arrived home he would fire the governess, and announce his upcoming marriage with Elsa. And they would all be one big happy family.
Thank you for all reviews, I am really shocked and flattered especially coming from marvelous and "serious" writers. Thank you. Anyway I am not completely satisfied with this chapter, but had it anyway to continuing story and understanding of following chapters, so please be patient with me.