As the family spent more time together, they spent more time in the Vienna Woods, where Pauline always looked for fawns, satyrs, and wolves. She loved the woods. She had gone there since her childhood. She loved the exercise and the fresh air, hearing the birds, the various calls, and it always brought to mind the happy harmonies of the “Tale of the Vienna Woods.” She loved the cartoon and watched it over and over again; only now it seemed unpatriotic to watch it. The thought of a satyr saving a fawn always delighted her. The thought now of the satyr reaching the fawn in time to save her from the wolves somehow seemed less likely, and it pained her. That was why she took her boys to the woods to look for fawns. But she didn’t want to seem panicky.
They still went to cultural events at the Hofburg, to the opera house, and the concert hall, and she loved to dress up. She still got all excited about the pomp, the fancy dresses and the tails and the refinery that went with the Opera Ball. But Fritz thought he couldn’t dance because of his leg. He was a drinker and would’ve preferred drinking all night in a less formal setting such as the Grinzing.
And if the truth were told, they never regained what they once had. Pauline felt that she was getting nowhere in her effort to change him. He could never match Frederick, and perhaps it was unfair of her to compare the two. But for a while there they were able to fool themselves. For a while there Pauline was able to drag her husband along whenever she decided she to go out in the evening. It was a concession he made. It was a small one considering what was at stake, and they all knew what was at stake. It was not a time for promiscuity. He knew that he had to toe the line. Yes, too much was at stake, and appearances mattered. He could lose everything and knew it. It was a wretched position to be in … to have to be on guard all the time. It got on his nerves. The boys were almost grown then. Though she wasn’t needed, Eva still lived with them, and she found that she had time on her hands, too much time and spent much of time walking around Vienna, though it was risky for her. At the same time Fritz drank more. That was when he began to lash out at everyone. Fritz’s work with the court doubled during this period, and there were times when he didn’t come home until late at night. He was still well regarded. He knew how to get along and was very efficient. He had always been like that, but it was more important now. But it was getting to him, since he was asked to rubberstamp the deportation of people like Eva. That was the main reason he drank so much.
Pauline never confronted Fritz about his drinking because she knew what he was going through. For her it was a form of revenge. His weakness made her feel strong. One afternoon she came back with the boys from a hike in the Vienna Woods and found him drunk on the sofa. The boys simply accepted it while Pauline knew that there was something terribly wrong. Now she had to be careful. She didn’t want to set him off. She didn’t want to ask him too many questions but was afraid that he’d been sacked or something worse. What could be worse? Then she decided to say nothing and allow him to tell her what the problem was. He never did.
For years he dreamt of becoming a judge because being a judge meant less pressure. He’d been passed over before. Now he was passed over again and there wasn’t anything he could do about it. He bought himself several bottles of wine and finished two of them before Pauline and boys came home. The courts were a sham, the times were uncertain, and he didn’t know if he wanted to be a part of it any longer. He’d been through these moods and stresses before and had always gotten through them, but what bothered him more than anything else was that he didn’t have a choice. His life was being decided for him.
This was why he came home early and drank himself silly. He knew that he couldn’t quit, knew he was stuck, and that their lives depended on it. But he decided to keep his family out of it. For their safety he compartmentalized his life, and he wanted to keep it that way. This wasn’t new because since the war they’d lived separate lives. And this included their sexual lives, and in some oblique way it was all tied together. Pauline could see disappointment and strain on his face. She thought that she could read him but never knew that he was jealous of her lovers. Now she was jealous because she wanted to know what was bothering him and he wouldn’t tell her. And thinking about all the times that she had withheld something from him, she felt weak and helpless rather than strong. .
He was now a part of the brutality of the Nazis. He knew more than he ever let on, and that was why he shielded his family, which left open what to do about Eva. Pictures of deportation played in his head whenever he saw her. Their love-making became more hurried and less frequent since Pauline was spending more time at home and he was the one who was rarely home in the evening. Fritz would say, “The chickens have come home to roost.” Or he wouldn’t say anything. And perhaps even then he knew that things would never be the same again and had already begun to make contingency plans if they were forced to leave Austria. And he thought that he’d send his oldest son first.