“Land of the Free”


Here’s a sneak peek at the writing project I am working on this summer. Some of you may recognize some of the names already.

 

Prologue: Land of the Free

July, 1892

Off the Coast of New York

Fritz Lowenstein let the cool morning ocean breeze hit his face as he leaned against the ship’s railing. This was one of the happiest days of his life. He looked ahead of him at the approaching shoreline. America! He had dreamed his entire life of coming to America, and now it was coming true. In fact, the last year of his life had seemed to pass by like a dream too good to be true.

He looked down at the railing, where the white gloved hand of his beloved Elizabeth, his bride of only two weeks, lay delicately grasping the polished wood. She had fretted and worried about what to wear on the day that they would come through Ellis Island as new immigrants to the United States. It had taken her what seemed like hours to get dressed in the stateroom that morning, but as he looked up at her beaming face, her blonde hair framed by the pale blue bonnet he had bought her before they had come aboard, all he could feel was a deep sense of devotion.

“Don’t say it,” she had told him that day, not too long ago. “Don’t say the words unless you absolutely mean them.”

“What are you talking about?” he stammered. “But of course I mean them. You know that—.”

“Because if you were to say you love me, I would believe you. And then I couldn’t help but love you with all of my heart and soul. It would be a love so intense that it could either change our lives, or destroy us.” She paused and looked at him seriously. “For I will love you with everything that I am and everything that I will be. That is my promise.”

That was the moment he knew that he couldn’t live without this woman. He had proposed to her then and there, and she had been right. Their love had changed their lives. He was a man of science, but she was a woman of intense faith, and just as she loved her God with all her heart and soul, he knew that she would commit her entire life to loving him as well.

He drank in her beauty, staring at her face until she turned away from looking at the shoreline and looked at him.

“What are you staring at, dear sir?” she said primly, pulling away slightly. “Is there something on my face? Or do you not approve of your wife’s apparel?” A slight smile played across her tender lips.

In turn, a smile crept across his. “How could I not approve, when I find myself standing next to the most beautiful woman on this ship? No, I was just wondering what I had done to merit the reward being laid out in front of me.”

Her smile grew larger. “You are being rewarded quite a bit, aren’t you? Well, sometimes we don’t understand God’s plan for our lives until much later. Sometimes He rewards us because He expects us to benefit others.” She paused and looked past Fritz to a crowd of men who walked their direction along the exterior walkway of the ship, all of them clustered around one individual who appeared to have the attention of the others.

“And some of us take for granted the blessings that God gives us, not recognizing our responsibility to others.”

Fritz turned to where she was looking and smiled knowingly. It was his new employer, Nikola Tesla, surrounded by his usual bevy of newspaper reporters. They were out of earshot, but Fritz imagined that Mr. Tesla was once again telling them of some grand idea he had for changing the world. Tesla had just concluded presentations of his discoveries in several of the capitals of Europe and now was on his way home. While in Europe, he had visited the school where Fritz had recently graduated. With stellar recommendations from his teachers, Fritz had been rewarded with a job in Tesla’s lab in New Jersey.

“I can’t speak for every person who has been blessed by God, but I consider myself fortunate to find work in the laboratories of Mr. Tesla,” he said. “It not only was an opportunity to come to America, but more importantly an opportunity to learn from a great man.”

“You will be a great man yourself someday,” Elizabeth said, hugging his arm. “The world may not see that yet, but you already are in my eyes.”

The ship let out a long blast of its horn and Fritz and Elizabeth looked up. Ahead of them stood the new Lady Liberty, her torch held high, the morning sunlight reflecting off it. It had become the new welcoming symbol to immigrants coming to America since its dedication six years before. This was the new couple’s first chance to see her.

“Elizabeth, my darling,” Fritz said as they both stared at the giant statue. “I already like America very much, but I think I love Lady Liberty.”

Elizabeth smiled. “That’s all right, Fritz. I think I might love her a little bit myself.”

And as the ship passed the great statue on its way to Ellis Island, the couple soaked in the joy of their new country even as his employer continued his discussions with reporters, oblivious to the changing world around them.

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