The following brief passage is part of the story
told by the Frankenthaler's former friend. A longer
extract is available through the To a Candid World
link on the Main Page. An account of the origin of the
Vitebsk Story is also to be found there.
“I confess that, in my private thoughts, I entertained
the idea that, through my helpfulness to my friend and
his family, I might find a place in the affections of future
generations, who would enjoy the satisfaction of
fulfilling the family’s sacred obligation. For, when I had
heard the story, I knew then that I was far better suited
to reclaim the relic for the family than my friend would
ever be. Yet, one obstacle stood squarely in the way of
my taking on the task and lifting the great burden and
injustice from my friend and his father, which burden,
no doubt, had been adding to the ill health of the father.
I could not leave Zenobia, as I alone saw to her needs,
neither could I take her with me on the journey to the
place where the stolen relic was kept. Nevertheless, as
the only comfort I could offer, I told my friend that he
could assure his father that, when Zenobia was old
enough to care for herself, I would do my utmost to
recover the relic.
“I cannot begin to describe the excitement with
which my life became so infused, when, on my friend’s
next visit, he told me that he could arrange for the care
of Zenobia, should I choose to make the journey to
recover the relic. Moreover, he could provide a
counterfeit of the relic that I might leave in its place,
so that my taking back the relic might not be detected.
“Virtually every waking moment of the next several
weeks was consumed in preparation for the great task,
which I had come to think of as our crusade. I set out for the
city in early October, where I would reverse injustice.
Traveling at night and concealing myself to rest during the
day, I made rapid progress toward the goal. Once I had
arrived at the city where the relic was kept, I carefully
proceeded to carry out the elaborate plan that my friend
and I had developed. On the fourth night, I had the relic in
my possession and was on my way home, filled with
anticipation of my friend’s great joy at receiving it on behalf
of generations past and generations to come.
“It was late December, when I returned, which was
somewhat earlier than we had thought possible. I used
the time, gained by my haste, to prepare for the occasion
of the relic’s return to the bosom of the family.
Following the custom of decorating a Christmas tree, as
described in the book that my friend had given me, I
placed my friend’s wrapped present, the relic, on the
lower limbs of the tree. The result was more attractive
than you might think. Although I had no candy, with
which to decorate the tree, I made many small candles
and had collected a variety of feathers, which I
fashioned as decorations, in combination with winter
berries. Also, on branches of the tree were several
wrapped presents for Zenobia. In all, it was a most
festive sight that would greet my friend’s eyes.”
To a Candid World, Copyright 1998, Thomas Wolfsehr publisher