Fritz kept the letter from Wurzburg unopened in his hand.
"It's not from Minna," he said; "the handwriting is strange to me. Perhaps my father
knows something about it." He turned to his father's letter; read it; and handed it to me
without a word of remark.
Mr. Keller wrote briefly as follows:--
"The enclosed letter has reached me by post, as you perceive, with written instructions to
forward it to my son. The laws of honor guide me just as absolutely in my relations with
my son as in my relations with any other gentleman. I forward the letter to you exactly as
I have received it. But I cannot avoid noticing the postmark of the city in which the
Widow Fontaine and her daughter are still living. If either Minna or her mother be the
person who writes to you, I must say plainly that I forbid your entering into any
correspondence with them. The two families shall never be connected by marriage while
I live. Understand, my dear son, that this is said in your own best interests, and said,
therefore, from the heart of your father who loves you."
While I was reading these lines Fritz had opened the letter from Wurzburg. "It's long
enough, at any rate," he said, turning over the closely-written pages to find the signature
at the end.
"Well?" I asked.
"Well," Fritz repeated, "it's an anonymous letter. The signature is 'Your Unknown
"Perhaps it relates to Miss Minna, or to her mother," I suggested. Fritz turned back to the
first page and looked up at me, red with anger. "More abominable slanders! More lies
about Minna's mother!" he burst out. "Come here, David. Look at it with me. What do
you say? Is it the writing of a woman or a man?"
The writing was so carefully disguised that it was impossible to answer his question. The
letter (like the rest of the correspondence connected with this narrative) has been copied
in duplicate and placed at my disposal. I reproduce it here for reasons which will
presently explain themselves--altering nothing, not even the vulgar familiarity of the
"My good fellow, you once did me a kindness a long time since. Never mind what it was
or who I am. I mean to do you a kindness in return. Let that be enough.
"You are in love with 'Jezebel's Daughter.' Now, don't be angry! I know you believe
Jezebel to be a deeply-injured woman; I know you have been foolish enough to fight
duels at Wurzburg in defense of her character.