“I couldn’t do that.”
Later he asked her, “Remember when I wanted you to run off with me?” She frowned. He said, “I wouldn’t expect you to abandon your boys. I wouldn’t expect you to.” She looked confused. He dropped the subject. Later, after she had been thinking about it for a while, she said, “I would, you know…only…only I have my work with women.”
“And you love your husband.”
“Frederick, don’t! You know that there’s more to it than that.”
“I was thinking about us only going away for a week. My family has a hunting lodge near Mayerling.”
“A hunting lodge near Mayerling. Near but far enough. How convenient! Why haven’t you suggested this before?”
“You would’ve thought it sinister. After Crown Prince Rudolf…”
“How romantic! No, I wouldn’t consider it. Now…”
And then a few weeks later a letter came from Pauline.
“I’ve been thinking about your proposal, though I don’t know why I should trust you. Mayerling is close enough for an afternoon tryst, especially if we take the train, but I don’t think I’m in the mood for murder or suicide. But why did it have to be Mayerling? About other matters. Why don’t you find another woman, Frederick? You have no future with me, and you know it. I don’t understand why you hadn’t suggested going to Mayerling before now. I trust you, but Mayerling! You know that I love you, but you don’t know the half of it.”
Frederick thought, “I’ve made a mistake.”
But, as always, he was able to undo his mistake, but they stayed away from Mayerling. He couldn’t however stay away from Pauline or undo the mess they created. Undoing it would’ve been easy now. He knew that he could easily find another woman, and it bothered him that he brought up the murder/suicide at Mayerling.
So there was no way that he could get out of the intimate quadrangle that he found himself in. He and Pauline could share their most intimate thoughts, and that was important to him. Yet he wondered if he could hold onto her. He wondered how long he could stand sharing her with other men, though he would be the first to praise her for her rebellion against convention. Besides a lover, she became his idol, while she devalued herself. While the years went by, and he remained in the quadrangle, Frederick was trying to deal with the lies he told himself, that he fully accepted and supported the emancipation of women, he didn’t feel cheated, and he had his jealousy under control. To stay in the relationship, he had to misrepresent his true feelings. He never told her how he really felt. Everytime they talked about it he lied while she held nothing back. Wasn’t Pauline asking too much of him? Mayerling was spoilt for him, and he never went back there. (Remember he’d inherit the hunting lodge, and nearby it there was the much larger hunting lodge where the tragic deaths of Prince Rudolf and his lover occurred…was it simply a tragedy or a conspiracy?)
The three males would have gone on sharing her indefinitely had it not been for the matter-of-fact way Pauline handled the whole thing. Frederick and Herr Lippert would’ve preferred more discreetness, and Fritz had his suspicions but was too afraid to confront Pauline. He knew that she’d changed during the war. He had some idea of her infidelity. He would’ve liked for her to have been an obedient wife, but his worry about losing her kept him from pressing the issue. It was the same old unsatisfactory way that he dealt with so many things; like his duplicity with the Christian Democrats and later with the Nazis. And all this while he tried to act reasonably and hold onto his job with the court. No one there would’ve known that anything was wrong. And all this while Frederick and Herr Lippert were sexually involved with his wife.
Fritz wanted to put a stop to it, but he had too much to lose, though he felt that he’d already lost his wife. He didn’t think that he’d be able to start over again. He wasn’t in touch with the changes that had occurred and certainly didn’t believe in women’s emancipation, but he didn’t know what he could do about it. He thought, “I have my sons to think about. They need their mother. I can get my needs met somewhere else.”