Author's Note: Fuchs is pronounced: Fyooks. Sorry for any mix-up! Also this entire story from "Prelude to Austria" onward was derived from a line in the book "Christy" by Catherine Marshall. Miss Alice is telling Christy about Doctor MacNeill and she says that he is a man of dreams (or something to that effect) and she mentions his dream to be an associate of Dr. Ernst Fuchs in Vienna. I hope you enjoy it!
-=*=-To Austria With Love -=*=-
We had just celebrated our six month wedding anniversary in Austria. Neil was doing wonderfully in his research and as an Associate of Dr. Fuchs. Everyone was most impressed with his knowledge and understanding of the human eye. He had studied at the Wills Eyes Hospital, but much of his knowledge was self-taught through his own research of the eye in his 'locked room' laboratory back in Cutter Gap.
Dr. Fuchs was the most impressed. He had taken an instant liking to Neil and his knowledge impressed the Doctor tremendously.
Every evening Neil and I would sit and snuggle in front of the fire and he would have stories to tell me of the days events. It seemed he learned something new each day… and so did I.
I was going to school each day. Neil would walk me there on his way to work and our housekeeper, Berta came to walk me home when it was done.
Berta was more then our housekeeper, she was the cook, maid, and most especially, she was my companion and dear friend. She attended the same church we did. She was a selfless soul who never thought of herself before others. In fact, I don't believe she *ever* thought of herself! Day after day Berta was at our home to make breakfast in the early morning and was there until after the evening meal! I had on numerous occasions insisted she take time off, but her reply was always the same. "I am a widow, Christy. I have no children and no husband; there is nothing for me at home anymore! Being here and helping you gives me a family to care for once again, it gives me a reason to keep going."
I suppose I understood why she felt the way she did. Marrying Neil gave me a purpose in life that I thought I would never have again.
Berta surprised us with so many dishes we had never seen or heard of before! It was exciting to come to the table for each meal! So many new and fascinating things to disCover!
Neil had not, as yet brought up my eyesight with Dr. Fuchs, or anyone else. He wanted to be well established before he discussed it. Not wanting to jeopardize his position at the hospital. Realizing if he brought up my condition too soon it could be misconstrued as my blindness being the main reason for us coming to Austria and that the position only gave us a means of getting here.
Our pastor's wife Lisle came each afternoon to read the Bible and study with me. I enjoyed hearing the Bible again. I had missed the study as well. Neil and I read and studied, but not the same as Lisle and I. We studied from a womanly perspective such as my learning to be a better, more Godly wife.
I loved Austria! Neil and I walked often and he described the sights to me as we walked along. I was sorry, many times, that I couldn't see them! But Neil seemed to thoroughly enjoy describing things to me. It brought us closer together.
I loved being Neil's wife as well! Even though we weren't the newlyweds we had once hoped to be, we were happy.
Neil often said it would have been torture for him to be in Austria all-alone! To not have anyone to share his news with! To be alone all night! It made me that much happier that I had come along!
Neil came home from work one day, excited about something. I could tell by the sound of his voice, but he insisted the news wait until we were alone that evening.
After Berta's delicious meal that evening, Neil led me to the parlor. We sat side by side. Taking my hand he began, "Christy, today Dr. Fuchs extended an invitation. He's having a dance, a ball of sorts, at their home in honor of his wife's birthday. Only his closest friends, family and associates have been invited. There will be a formal invitation sent here of course, but he wanted to invite me in person as well."
"Oh Neil! That sounds marvelous for you! Very promising!"
"I'm not sure what this means, but I know it's got to be a positive step for my career! Just think what this could mean to us…
"There are so many things I want you to have but have been unable to give you. With a promotion I could get you everything your heart desires, Sweetheart! I've watched you struggle with so many things. This could mean no more struggling for either of us!"
"Neil, I already have everything I want right here with you! You're all I need. Don't think you're depriving me of anything! You'll have to remember every detail and tell me about it when you return home! I want to know how the ladies are dressed, and the men as well, of course. What you have to eat. What the house looks like, the decorations… *everything*!!"
"Christy, you don't understand…" Neil sounded less enthusiastic now. "He wants us *both* to come… the invitation is for you and I together!"
"How could *I* go to a dance, Neil!?!"
"We'll practice here at home. I've already asked Berta if she'd help and she readily agreed. She'll even take you to get a gown. I want you to be the most beautiful woman at the dance that evening. Of course you would be regardless, but I want everyone to sit up and take notice of my lovely bride." Neil began to chuckle.
"What's so funny?" I asked nervously.
"It's not you, Sweetheart! I promise!" He paused. "It's just that when the others at the hospital found out where I came from, they assumed I married what they refer to as a 'hillbilly'! They think you're dirty and smelly. You remember… 'New Years Day and Easter Sunday, them's the only safe times tah take baths'." He paused to laugh. "And they think your hair has never seen a brush or shampoo! Oh yes, they also think you're toothless! Boy will we surprise when they see *you*!!"
I tried to smile, but couldn't.
"Sweetheart, remember Ruby Mae's wedding? We danced all night together didn't we? You said you didn't know the steps, but I led the way for you. I can do it again. The dances here won't be as spirited as back in the Cove at least. And if they turn out to be, we'll just sit those out. We'll waltz when we can and sit out the ones we can't do.
"I have to go Christy and part of the arrangement is that *you* need to come along. All we have to do is dance a few waltzes' maybe I'll get to speak to Dr. Fuchs. We'll be eating first of course. I'll protect you as much as I possibly can, I promise! *Please* say yes!!"
I sat, stunned by the urgency in Neil's voice. He wanted, or needed, this so badly he was nearly begging me to go. How could I say 'no' to a request of this nature? I had no choice, but to agree. And yet, I had no idea how I was going to accomplish this task. *Me* in a formal gown!?! Dancing!?! Eating at an elegant dinner? I sighed deeply. It was going to take a lot of prayer and dedication on my part to be the obedient wife I was expected to be, or should I say, that I was *supposed* to be! I swallowed hard. "You said you promise to help me, correct?"
"I promise Christy!"
"You'll be with me the whole time?"
"As much as I possibly can. I swear!"
"You said you'd protect me?"
"Of course! Haven't I always?"
"Yes." I paused to think. "Well, then I have no choice but to say yes, I suppose."
Neil jumped up and hollered. Then he lifted me to my feet and spun me around as he did when I accepted his proposal. Then he took me in his arms and hugged me close. He drew back then sighed as he kissed me. But his kiss became more ardent and he began to rub my back.
I got scared and pushed myself back from his embrace. It wasn't Neil that frightened me, but the possible result of what was about to happen if I didn't put a stop to things right now.
"I'm sorry Christy." Neil apologized wholeheartedly. "I'm so sorry! I forgot myself! Please forgive me! This is one of the 'difficult' times I told you about back in Boston."
"I'm sorry too Neil. I wish I could be everything you want me to be." I hung down my head. I wanted to run to the bedroom and sob. But that wouldn't really do any good.
"Neil, what if I make a fool out of myself at the dance or the dinner?" I asked.
"You wouldn't make a fool our of yourself! You're too much of a lady to do that."
"I could trip, or get my foot caught in the hem of my dress. Or I could walk into something valuable, or…" I paused.
"Or what Sweetheart?" Neil asked with concern.
"Or I could spill food all over myself. You know I still have problems with that sometimes. Berta always helps out by trying to avoid anything messy, like soup and such. Whoever is making the meal for this occasion won't do that." I felt the tears begin to fall. "How is my making a fool out of myself going to help your career!?!" I wailed.
Neil took me into his arms and held me close as I sobbed. "There, there." He patted my back and kissed the top of my head. "I love you Christy. You're the woman I love more then any earthly thing. I'll never be ashamed of you! No matter what happens. And if my promotion could be removed because you spilled something or tripped, then it was never meant to be an offer to me because of my abilities in the first place. I don't want anyone's sympathy or pity! I want to earn my way just like all the other mountain men. If I have to spend the rest of my life in Cutter Gap I will. At least then I'd be earning my own way. And I'll make a way for you also, even in the Cove. You'll never lack for the necessities of life."
"I know that Neil. I trust you with everything that is in me. I'll do whatever you think is best for us. And I'll follow you wherever you want us to go. I followed you to Austria, didn't I?"
"Yes, you did. And you've been the best wife anyone could ever ask for."
"No, I haven't, but thank-you for thinking that way…."
"Now, I think it's time for bed." I said.
"You go on ahead, Christy. I have some reading to do before I can go."
"I'm sorry Neil."
"It's alright, Christy. I'll be fine, like I always am when I want to be with you. I'll read my medical journal, then my Bible and pray. That always helps me to feel better at these times."
I had nothing that I could say to make him feel better, so I just said 'good night' and went upstairs. I would sit at my desk and put today's events in my journal before retiring for the evening.
My journal entries today were not happy or excited. I was nervous about the ball… dance… whatever they called it here. How could I ever go to it without making everyone think I was a complete incompetent?
Also, I had once again disappointed Neil but I was too frightened of the outcome to do anything about it.
End of Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 Coming Soon!!