So in a way you could say they got a reprieve. Fritz allowed Pauline to stay, and the boys with Eva came home. There was not a sign of discord in the flat. It was all so artificial, and accommodation was the game they played. Fritz was more affectionate than he had ever been, but he overdid it. At one point Pauline caught him with Eva, and when she went into his study and found them in an embrace, she turned around and walked out. But it didn’t make her angry. It just made her think, “It’s what I deserve.” She pulled herself together, and before she went back into the study, she cleared her throat and waited a minute. He considered his study his sanctuary. Pauline was puzzled that he kept the door open, but it turned out that he wanted Pauline to know about his relationship with Eva. It actually increased his pleasure, though it made Eva feel uncomfortable. She wanted to resign but didn’t. She tried to talk to Pauline about it. They couldn’t avoid each other, and every day they looked at each other with envy. Pauline actually felt relieved. Fritz would already be at work, for he didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in. Eva took care of the boys. She’d feed them and make sure that they were clean and dressed for school. It was what she got paid for. She felt ashamed of herself for getting involved with her employer, but also enjoyed the attention and affection he gave her. She should’ve known better. Pauline thought she should’ve put a stop to it, but that was before she realized that it was what she wanted. She thought that she was free, free without the pretense, the make-believe, and with only a few complications. It was uncanny. It was unconventional and unbelievable, and it had gone too far for her to fix it.
She never wanted to know the explicit details of her husband’s relationship with Eva, and it worried her when she tried to imagine the consequences, and there was no denying that it hurt her whenever she allowed herself to accept the blame. So she wanted to keep as much of her for herself as possible for she knew who she was. And others around her never fooled her. She felt that she could take lovers or leave them. But she was unwilling to ditch any of them.
She had the closest relationship with Frederick. They were so close in nature that they could read each other’s faces. She wrote him notes in her lovely handwriting. He kept all of them and would reread them from time to time. He kept a passport and still hoped that one day that he could convince her to runaway with him. Money wouldn’t be a problem. They both had money, and they both teased each other about it. But Pauline wasn’t ready to give up everything. Still they talked about it, and if things ever got really unbearable at home for her she’d readily accept his offer. For insurance she kept a stash of money hidden where she knew that she could find it.
One day she came close to doing something foolhardy. She confronted Eva. Eva stood her ground. It was before Pauline had seen anything and confirmed her suspicions. What the boys might’ve seen worried her more than anything else. She thought that they shouldn’t be drawn into it. As far as she was concerned it was all right for Eva and her husband to have an affair, but they needed to be discreet about it. She believed in setting strict boundaries and had been very careful herself not to embarrass her boys in any way. That was what she confronted Eva about. She wanted to clear the air and make sure Eva understood where she stood. It was easy for her to re-create in her mind what was going on in Eva’s head, and she felt better after they had their little talk. Both of them felt better, though Pauline hadn’t exactly rolled over when she made it clear that the nanny’s principal duty was the care of her kids. Nothing else seemed to matter to her…while she knew that she was incapable of meeting Fritz’s needs. During the war she’d been robbed of so much. Since the war she’d felt that she didn’t have a claim on anyone. And she felt lost and stuck. The more she thought about it, the more stuck she felt. Sometimes she couldn’t think of anything else. She felt tormented, and that was when she was most likely to seek a sexual fix.
She told Frederick one day, “I’ve been talking to Fritz. He says that he’d like to meet you. I think that’s sick. Of course he knows about us. I don’t keep anything from him.”
Frederick said, “Do you think I’d want to talk to him?”
Pauline said, “I told him it wasn’t a good idea. I told him that I didn’t want to spoil it and that I didn’t know how you’d react. I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t want to spoil it with any rules except for one: no matter what my boys have to be protected. And I’m serious.”
She said the next day, “I’ve talked to Fritz again, and he agrees.”
That day Frederick and Pauline agreed to go away together for a weekend. She called Fritz and told him exactly what she was doing and when she’d be back. But there were other things going on.