by Frank Wedekind
Frau Gabor sits, writing.
Dear Herr Stiefel:-After twenty-four hours of consideration and reconsideration of all you have written me, I take up my pen with a heavy heart. I cannot furnish you with the necessary amount for the voyage to America-I give you my word of honor. In the first place, I have not that much to my credit, and in the second place, if I had, it would be the greatest sin imaginable for me to put into your hands the means of accomplishing such an ill-considered measure. You will be doing me a bitter wrong, Herr Stiefel, if you see a sign of lack of love in my refusal. On the contrary, it would be the greatest neglect of my duty as your motherly friend were I to allow myself to be affected by your temporary lack of determination, so that I also lost my head and blindly followed my first fleeting impulse. I am very ready-in case you desire it-to write to your parents. I should seek to convince your parents that you have done what you could during this quarter, that you have exhausted your strength, that a rigorous judgment of your case would not only be inadvisable, but might be in the greatest degree prejudicial to your mental and bodily health.
That you imply a threat to take your own life in case flight is impossible for you, to speak plainly, has somewhat surprised me. No matter how undeserving is a misfortune, Herr Stiefel, one should never choose improper means to escape it. The way in which you, to whom I have always done only good, want to make me responsible for a possible frightful action on your part, has something about it which, in the eyes of an evil-thinking person, might be misconstrued very easily. I must confess that this outbreak of yours-you who know so well what one owes to oneself-is the last thing for which I was prepared. However, I cherish the strong conviction that you are laboring yet too much under the shock of your first fright to be able to understand completely your action.
And, therefore, I hope with confidence that these words of mine will find you already in better spirits. Take up the matter as it stands. In my opinion it is unwise to judge a young man by his school record. We have too many examples of bad students becoming distinguished men, and, on the other hand, of brilliant students not being at all remarkable in life. At any rate, I can assure you that your misfortune, as far as it lies with me, shall make no difference in your association with Melchior. On the contrary, it will afford me the greatest pleasure to see my son going with a young man who, let the world judge him as it will, is able to win my fullest sympathy.
And, therefore, hold your head high, Herr Stiefel!--Such a crisis as this comes to all of us and will soon be surmounted. If all of us had recourse to dagger or poison in such cases, there would soon be no men left in the world. Let me hear from you right soon again, and accept the heartfelt greetings of your unchanged