Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Life on the Stage
Author: Morris, Clara, 1849-1925
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life on the Stage" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Life on the Stage


_Previous Books by Clara Morris_

The Silent Singer

Little Jim Crow

[Illustration: Frontispiece, photograph of Clara Morris]



CLARA MORRIS

Life on the Stage

My Personal Experiences and Recollections

New York

McClure, Phillips & Co.

MCMII

_Copyright, 1901, by_ S. S. MCCLURE CO.

_1901, by_ CLARA MORRIS HARRIOTT

FIFTH IMPRESSION



  In memory of a labor shared, I affectionately dedicate this
  book to my husband.



CONTENTS


CHAPTER FIRST--I am Born

CHAPTER SECOND--Beginning Early, I Learn Love, Fear, and Hunger--I Become
Acquainted with Letters, and Alas! I Lose One of my Two Illusions

CHAPTER THIRD--I Enter a New World--I Know a New Hunger and we Return to
Cleveland

CHAPTER FOURTH--I am Led into the Theatre--I Attend Rehearsals--I am Made
Acquainted with the Vagaries of Tights

CHAPTER FIFTH--I Receive my First Salary--I am Engaged for the Coming
Season

CHAPTER SIXTH--The Regular Season Opens--I have a Small Part to Play--I
am among Lovers of Shakespeare--I too Stand at his Knee and Fall under
the Charm

CHAPTER SEVENTH--I find I am in a "Family Theatre"--I Fare Forth away
from my Mother, and in Columbus I Shelter under the wing of Mrs. Bradshaw

CHAPTER EIGHTH--I Display my New Knowledge--I Return to Cleveland to Face
my First Theatrical Vacation, and I Know the very Tragedy of Littleness

CHAPTER NINTH--The Season Reopens--I meet the Yellow Breeches and become
a Utility Man--Mr. Murdock Escapes Fits and my "Luck" Proves to be Extra
Work

CHAPTER TENTH--With Mr. Dan. Setchell I Win Applause--A Strange
Experience comes to Me--I Know Both Fear and Ambition--The Actress is
Born at Last

CHAPTER ELEVENTH--My Promiscuous Reading wins me a Glass of Soda--The
Stage takes up my Education and Leads me through Many Pleasant Places

CHAPTER TWELFTH--The Peter Richings' Engagement brings me my First Taste
of Slander--Anent the Splendor of my Wardrobe, also my First Newspaper
Notice

CHAPTER THIRTEENTH--Mr. Roberts Refers to Me as "That Young Woman," to My
Great Joy--I Issue the "Clara Code"--I Receive my First Offer of Marriage

CHAPTER FOURTEENTH--Mr. Wilkes Booth comes to us, the whole Sex Loves
him--Mr. Ellsler Compares him to his Great Father--Our Grief and Horror
over the Awful Tragedy at Washington

CHAPTER FIFTEENTH--Mr. R. E. J. Miles--His two Horses and our Woful
Experience with the Substitute "Wild Horse of Tartary"

CHAPTER SIXTEENTH--I perform a Remarkable Feat, I Study _King Charles_ in
One Afternoon and Play Without a Rehearsal--Mrs. D. P. Bowers makes Odd
Revelation

CHAPTER SEVENTEENTH--Through Devotion to my Friend, I Jeopardize my
Reputation--I Own a Baby on Shares--Miss Western's Pathetic Speech

CHAPTER EIGHTEENTH--Mr. Charles W. Couldock--His Daughter Eliza and his
Many Peculiarities

CHAPTER NINETEENTH--I Come to a Turning-Point in my Dramatic Life--I play
my First Crying Part with Miss Sallie St. Clair

CHAPTER TWENTIETH--I have to pass through Bitter Humiliation to win High
Encomiums from Herr Bandmann; while Edwin Booth's Kindness Fills the
Theatre with Pink Clouds, and I Float Thereon

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIRST--I Digress, but I Return to the Columbus Engagement
of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Kean--Their Peculiarities and their Work

CHAPTER TWENTY-SECOND--I hear Mrs. Kean's Story of Wolsey's Robe--I laugh
at an Extravagantly Kind Prophecy

CHAPTER TWENTY-THIRD--Mr. E. L. Davenport, his Interference, his Lecture
on Stage Business, his Error of Memory or too Powerful Imagination--Why I
remain a Dramatic Old Slipper--Contemptuous Words arouse in me a Dogged
Determination to become a Leading Woman before leaving Cleveland

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOURTH--I recall the Popularity and too early Death of
Edwin Adams

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIFTH--I See an Actress Dethroned--I make myself a
Promise, for the World does Move

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIXTH--Mr. Lawrence Barrett the Brilliant and his Brother
Joseph the Unfortunate

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVENTH--I Play "Marie" to Oblige--Mr. Barrett's
Remarkable Call--Did I Receive a Message from the Dying or the Dead?

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHTH--I accept an Engagement with Mr. Macaulay for
Cincinnati as Leading Lady--My Adieus to Cleveland--Mr. Ellsler Presents
Me with a Watch

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINTH--My first Humiliating Experience in Cincinnati is
Followed by a Successful Appearance--I Make the Acquaintance of the
Enthusiastic Navoni

CHAPTER THIRTIETH--New York City is Suggested to Me by Mr. Worthington
and Mr. Johnson--Mr. Ellsler's Mild Assistance--I Journey to New York,
and Return to Cincinnati with Signed Contract from Mr. Daly

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIRST--John Cockerill and our Eccentric Engagement--I Play
a Summer Season at Halifax--Then to New York, and to House-Keeping at
Last

CHAPTER THIRTY-SECOND--I Recall Mr. John E. Owens, and How He "Settled my
Hash"

CHAPTER THIRTY-THIRD--From the "Wild West" I Enter the Eastern "Parlor of
Home Comedy"--I Make my First Appearance in "Man and Wife"

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOURTH--I Rehearse Endlessly--I Grow Sick with Dread--I
Meet with Success in _Anne Sylvester_

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIFTH--I Am Accepted by the Company--I am Warned against
Mr. Fisk--I Have an Odd Encounter with Mr. Gould

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIXTH--A Search for Tears--I Am Punished in "Saratoga"
for the Success of "Man and Wife"--I Win Mr. Daly's Confidence--We Become
Friends

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVENTH--A Study of Stage-Management--I Am Tricked into
Signing a New Contract

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHTH--I Go to the Sea-shore--The Search for a "Scar"--I
Make a Study of Insanity, and Meet with Success in "L'Article 47"

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINTH--I Am too Dull to Understand a Premonition--By Mr.
Daly's Side I See the Destruction of the Fifth Avenue Theatre by Fire

CHAPTER FORTIETH--We Become "Barn-stormers," and Return to Open the New
Theatre--Our Astonishing Misunderstanding of "Alixe," which Proves a
Great Triumph

CHAPTER FORTY-FIRST--Trouble about Obnoxious Lines in "Madeline
Morel"--Mr. Daly's Manipulation of Father X: In Spite of our Anxiety the
Audience accepts the Situation and the Play--Mr. Daly gives me the
smallest Dog in New York

CHAPTER FORTY-SECOND--I am Engaged to Star part of the Season--Mr. Daly
Breaks his Contract--I Leave him and under Threat of Injunction--I meet
Mr. Palmer and make Contract and appear at the Union Square in the
"Wicked World"

CHAPTER FORTY-THIRD--We Give a Charity Performance of "Camille," and Are
Struck with Amazement at our Success--Mr. Palmer Takes the Cue and
Produces "Camille" for Me at the Union Square

CHAPTER FORTY-FOURTH--"Miss Multon" Put in Rehearsal--Our Squabble over
the Manner of her Death--Great Success of the Play--Mr. Palmer's Pride in
it--My _Au Revoir_



LIFE ON THE STAGE



CHAPTER FIRST

  I am Born.


If this simple tale is to be told at all, it may as well begin at the
beginning and in the good old-fashioned and best of all ways--thus: Once
upon a time in the Canadian city of Toronto, on the 17th of March, the
sun rose bright and clear--which was a most surprising thing for the sun
to do on St. Patrick's Day, but while the people were yet wondering over
it the sunlight disappeared, clouds of dull gray spread themselves evenly
over the sky, and then the snow fell--fell fast and furious, quickly
whitening the streets and house-tops, softly lining every hollow, and was
piling little cushions on top of all the hitching-posts, when the flakes
grew larger, wetter, farther apart, and after a little hesitation turned
to rain--a sort of walk-trot-gallop rain, which wound up with one vivid
flash of lightning and a clap of thunder that fairly shook the city.

Now the Irish, being a brave people and semi-amphibious, pay no heed to
wet weather. Usually all the Hibernians residing in a city divide
themselves into two bodies on St. Patrick's Day, the ones who parade and
the ones who follow the parade; but on this occasion they divided
themselves into three bodies--the men who paraded, the men and women who
followed the parade, and the Orangemen who made things pleasant for both
parties.

As the out-of-time, out-of-tune band turned into a quiet cross-street to
lead its following green-bannered host to a broader one, the first brick
was thrown--probably by a woman, as it hit no one, but metaphorically it
knocked the chip off of the shoulder of every child of Erin. Down fell
the banners, up went the fists! Orange and Green were at each other tooth
and nail! Hats from prehistoric ages side by side with modern beavers
scarcely fifty years old received the hurled brick-bat and went down
together!

The band reached the broad avenue alone, and looked back to see the short
street a-sway with struggling men, while women holding their bedraggled
petticoats up, their bonnets hanging down their backs by green ribbon
ties, hovered about the edges of the crowd, making predatory dashes now
and then to scratch a face or rescue some precious hat from the mêlée,
meanwhile inciting the men to madness by their fierce cries--and in a
quiet house, in the very midst of this riot--just before the constabulary
charged the crowd--I was born. I don't know, of course, whether I was
really intended from the first for that house, or whether the stork
became so frightened at the row in the street that he just dropped me
from sheer inability to carry me any farther--anyway, I came to a house
where trouble and poverty had preceded me, and, worse than both these put
together--treachery.

Still, I accepted the situation with indifference. That the cupboard
barely escaped absolute emptiness gave me no anxiety, as I had no teeth
anyway. As a gentleman with a medicine-case in his hand was leaving the
house he paused a moment for the slavey to finish washing away a pool of
blood from the bottom step--and then there came that startling clap of
thunder. Brand new as I was to this world and its ways, I entered my
protest at once with such force and evident wrath that the doctor
down-stairs exclaimed: "Our young lady has temper as well as a good pair
of lungs!" and went on his way laughing.

And so on that St. Patrick's Day of sunshine, snow, and rain, of riot and
bloodshed, in trouble and poverty--I was born.



CHAPTER SECOND

  Beginning Early, I Learn Love, Fear, and Hunger--I Become Acquainted
  with Letters, and Alas! I Lose One of my Two Illusions.


Of the Days of St. Patrick that followed, not one found me in the city of
my birth--indeed, six months completed my period of existence in the
Dominion, and I have known it no more.

Some may think it strange that I mention these early years at all, but
the reason for such mention will appear later on. Looking back at them,
they seem to divide themselves into groups of four years each. During the
first four, my time was principally spent in growing and learning to keep
out of people's way. I acquired some other knowledge, too, and little
child as I was, I knew fear long before I knew the thing that frightened
me. I knew that love for my mother which was to become the passion of my
life, and I also knew hunger. But the fear was harder to endure than the
hunger--it was so vague, yet so all-encompassing.

We had to flit so often--suddenly, noiselessly. Often I was gently roused
from my sleep at night and hastily dressed--sometimes simply wrapped up
without being dressed, and carried through the dark to some other place
of refuge, from--what? When I went out into the main business streets I
had a tormenting barège veil over my face that would not let me see half
the pretty things in the shop windows, and I was quick to notice that no
other little girl had a veil on. Next I remarked that if a strange lady
spoke to me my mother seemed pleased--but if a man noticed me she was not
pleased, and once when a big man took me by the hand and led me to a
candy store for some candy she was as white as could be and so angry she
frightened me, and she promised me a severe punishment if I ever, ever
went one step with a strange man again. And so my fear began to take the
form of a man, of a big, smiling man--for my mother always asked, when I
reported that a stranger had spoken to me, if he was big and smiling.

I had known the sensation of hunger long before I knew the word that
expressed it, and I often pressed my hands over my small empty stomach,
and cried and pulled at my mother's dress skirt. If there was anything at
all to give I received it, but sometimes there was absolutely nothing but
a drink of water to offer, which checked the gnawing for a moment or two,
and at those times there was a tightening of my mother's trembling lips,
and a straight up and down wrinkle between her brows, that I grew to
know, and when I saw that look on her face I could not ask for anything
more than "a dwink, please."

As an illustration of her almost savage pride and honesty: I one day saw
a woman in front of the house buying some potatoes. I knew that potatoes
cooked were very comforting to empty stomachs. One or two of them fell to
the street during the measuring and I picked one up, and, fairly wild
with delight, I scrambled up the stairs with it. But my mother was angry
through and through.

"Who gave it to you?" she demanded.

I explained with a trembling voice: "I des' founded it on the very
ground--and I'se so hungry!"

But hungry or not hungry, I had to take the potato back: "Nothing in the
world could be taken without asking--that was stealing--and she was the
only person in the world I had a right to ask anything of!"

It was a bitter lesson, and was rendered more so by the fact that when I
carried the tear-bathed potato back to the street and laid it down,
neither the woman who bought nor the man who sold was in sight--and, dear
Heaven! I could almost have eaten it raw.

But I was learning obedience and self-respect; more than that, I was
already acquiring one of the necessary qualities for an actress--the
power of close observation.

The next four years (the second group) were the hardest to endure of them
all. True, I now had sufficient food and warmth, since my mother had
given up sewing for shops--which kept us nearly always hungry--and had
found other occupations. But the great object of both our lives was to be
together, and there are few people who are willing to employ a woman who
has with her a child. And if her services are accepted, even at a reduced
salary, it is necessary for that child to be as far as possible neither
seen nor heard. Therefore until I was old enough to be admitted into a
public school I never knew another child--I never played with any living
creature save a remarkable cat, that seemed to have claws all over her,
and in my fixed determination to trace her purr and find out where it
came from, she buried those claws to the very last one in my fat,
investigating little hands.

Meantime my "fear" had assumed the shape and substance of a man, a man
who bore a name that should have been loved and honored above all others,
for this "bogey" of my baby days--this nightmare and dread--was my own
father. When my mother had discovered his treachery--which had not
hesitated to boldly face the very altar--she took her child and fled from
him, assuming her mother's maiden name as a disguise. But go where she
would, he followed and made scenes. Finally, understanding that she was
not to be won back by sophistries, he offered to leave her in peace if
she would give the child to him. And when that offer was indignantly
rejected, he pleasantly informed her that he would make life a curse to
her until she gave me up, and that by fair means or by foul he would
surely obtain possession of me. Once he did kidnap me, but my mother had
found friends by that time, and their pursuit was so swift and unexpected
that he had to abandon me.

So, he who should have been the defender and support of my mother--whose
arms should have been our shelter from the world--the big, smiling
French-Canadian father--became instead our terror and our dread.
Therefore when my mother served in varying capacities in other people's
homes, and I had to efface myself as nearly as possible, I dared not even
go out to walk a little, so great was my mother's fear.

It seems odd, but in spite of my far-reaching memory, I cannot remember
when I learned to read. I can recall but one tiny incident relating to
the subject of learning. I stood upon a chair and while my hair was
brushed and braided I spelled my words, and I had my ears boxed--a custom
considered criminal in these better days--because, having successfully
spelled "elephant," I came to grief over "mouse," as, according to my
judgment, m-o-w-s filled all the requirements of the case. I remember,
too, that the punishment made me afraid to ask what "elephant" meant; but
I received the impression that it was some sort of a public building.

However, when I was six years old I joyfully betook myself to a primary
school, from which I was sent home with a note, saying that "in that
department they did not go beyond the 'primer,' and as this little girl
reads quite well from a 'reader,' she must have been taught well at
home." We were a proud yet disappointed pair, my mother and I, that day.

An odd little incident occurred about that time. One of our hurried
flights had ended at a boarding house, and my extreme quietude--unnatural
in a child of health and intelligence--attracted the attention of a
certain boarder, who was an actress. She was very popular with the
public, and both she and her husband were well liked by the people about
them. She took a fancy to me, and informing herself that my mother was
poor and alone, she offered to adopt me. She stated her position, her
income, and her intention of educating me thoroughly. She thought a
convent school would be desirable--from ten, say to seventeen.

Perhaps my mother was tempted--she was a fanatic on the question of
learning--but, oh! what a big _but_ came in just then: "but when I should
have, by God's will, reached the age of seventeen, she (the actress)
would place me upon the stage."

"Gracious Heaven! her child on the stage!" my mother was stricken with
horror! She scarcely had strength to make her shocked refusal plain
enough; and when her employer ventured to remonstrate with her, pointing
out the great advantage to me, she made answer: "It would be better for
her to starve trying to lead a clean and honorable life, than to be
exposed to such publicity and such awful temptations!"

Poor mother! the theatre was to her imagination but a beautiful vestibule
leading to a place of wickedness and general wrong-doing!

During those endless months, when I had each day to sit for hours and
hours in one particular chair in a corner, well out of the way--sit so
long that often when I was lifted down I could not stand at all, my limbs
being numbed to absolute helplessness, I had two great days to dream of,
to look forward to--Christmas and that wonderful 17th of March, when
because it was my birthday all those nice gentlemen, with the funny hats
and green collars, walked out behind the band. And I felt particularly
well disposed toward those most amusing gentlemen who wore, according to
my theory at least, their little girls' aprons tied about their big
waists.

I did not like so well the attendant crowd, but then I could not be
selfish enough to keep people from looking at "my procession" and
enjoying the music that made the blood dance in my own veins, even as my
feet danced on the chill pavement.

I always received an orange on that day from my mother, and almost always
a book, so it was a great event in my life, and I used to get down my
little hat-box and fix the laces in my best shoes days ahead of time that
I might be ready to stand on some steps where I could bow and smile to
the nice gentlemen who walked out in my honor. Heaven only knows how I
got the idea that the procession was meant for me, but it made me very
happy, and my heart was big with love and gratitude for those people who
took so much trouble for me.

I had but two illusions in the world--Santa Claus and "my
procession"--but, alas! on my eighth birthday, when in an outburst of
innocent triumph and joy I cried to a grown-up: "Ain't they good--those
funny gentlemen--to come and march and play music for my birthday?" I was
answered with the assurance that I "was a fool--that no one knew or cared
a copper about me--that it was a Saint, a dead and gone man, they marched
for!"

All the dance went out of my feet, heavy tears fell fast and stood round
and clear on the woolly surface of my cloak, and bending my head low to
hide my disappointment, I went slowly home, where the chair seemed
harder, the hours longer, and life more bare because I had lost the
illusion that had brightened and glorified it.

At the present time, here in my home, there is seated in an arm-chair, a
venerable doll. She is a hideous specimen of the beautiful doll of the
early "fifties." She sits with her soles well turned up, facing you, her
arms hanging from her shoulders in that idiotically helpless
"I-give-it-up" fashion peculiar to dolls. With bulging scarlet cheeks,
button-hole mouth and flat, blue staring eyes she faces Time and
unwinkingly looks him down. To anyone else she is stupidity personified,
but to me she speaks, for she came to me on my fourth Christmas, and she
is as gifted as she is ugly. Only last birthday--as I straightened out
her old, old dress skirt--she asked me if I remembered how I cried, with
my face in her lap, over that first loss of an illusion--and I told her
quite truly that I remembered well!



CHAPTER THIRD

  I Enter a New World--I Know a New Hunger and we Return to Cleveland.


The experiences of the first two of my third group of years have
influenced my entire life. Still flying from my seemingly ubiquitous
father, my mother after a desperate struggle gained enough money to pay
for our journey to what was then called the "far West"--namely, the
southwestern part of Illinois. Child-fashion, I was delighted at the
prospect of a change, and happy over the belief that I was going to some
place where I could be free to go and come like other children, without
dreading the appearance of a big, smiling man from any deep doorway or
from around the next corner. To tell the truth, that persistent,
indestructible smile always seemed an insult added to the injury of his
malicious and revengeful conduct.

Then, too, I experienced my first delicious thrill of imaginary terror.
In a torn and abandoned old geography I had seen a picture labelled
"Prairie." The grass was as high as a man's shoulders, and stealthily
emerging from it was a sort of compound animal, neither tiger nor
leopard, but with points of resemblance to both. And here every day I was
listening to the grown-ups talking of "prairie lands," and how far we
might have to drive across the prairie after leaving the train; and I
made up my mind that I would hold our umbrella all the time, and when the
uncertain beast came out I'd try to stick his eyes with it, and under
cover of the confusion we would undoubtedly escape.

That being settled, I could turn all my attention to preparations for
the long journey. Dear me, I remember just where each big red rose came
on the carpet-bag, and how sorry I was that the tiny brass lock came
right in the side of one. It was a large bag and held a great deal, but
was so arranged that whatever you wanted was always found at the
bottom--whether it was the tooth-brush or a night-gown or a pair of
rubbers. It had a sort of dividing wall of linen in its middle, and while
one side held clothing, the other side was the commissary department. No
buffet-cars then, travellers ran their own buffets, and though the things
did not come into actual contact, there was not an article, big or
little, in that bag that did not smell of pickles. And once when my
mother had hastily attended to my needs in the miserable toilet-room of
the car (no sleeper--just a sit-up-all-night affair), my clean stockings,
white apron and little handkerchief all exhaled vinegar so strongly that
I wrinkled up my nose, exclaiming: "I smell jes' like a pickled little
girl--don't I, ma'ma?" And then, when weary and worn and dusty, we left
the cars and had to drive some thirty miles, in a carriage of uncertain
class, over the open prairie--then smooth and bright and green--I wearily
remarked, after a time, that it was a "pretty big lawn, but where was the
prairie?" for true to my plan I had secured the umbrella, and being told
that I was crossing the prairie then, I was a bitterly disappointed young
person. Oh, how I longed to give way to one of those passionate outbursts
we so often see children indulge in! Oh, how I wanted to hurl aside the
umbrella I had begged for, to fling my weary self down on the floor and
cry, and cry! But I dared not--never in my whole life had I ventured on
such an exhibition of temper or feeling--so I winked fast and held very
still and swallowed hard at the disappointment, which was but the first
of such a number of very bitter pills that I was yet to swallow.

But, thank God! if I was easily cast down, I was as easily cheered; and
the prairie left behind, the sight of the first orchard we passed, with
the soft perfumed snow of the blossoms floating through the rosy sunset
light, raised my spirits to an ecstasy of joy; and when our journey
ended, at the rough farm-house, with my arm around the surly looking
watch-dog, I stood and heard for the first time the mournful cry of the
whippoorwill out in the star-pierced dark of the early May night, I
thrilled with the unspoken consciousness that this was a new world that I
was entering--a lovely, _lovely_ world, that the grown-ups called the
"country"!

For the two years I knew it the charm of that backwood life never palled.
I had never seen the country before, and I found it a place of beauty and
many marvels. I did not miss the fine city shops, for I never had had
money to spend in them. I did not miss the people, for they had been
nothing to me. And here no day that dawned failed to bring me some new
experience. With what awed wonderment I faced the mystery of the
springing grain. I saw the seed, hard and dry, fall into the furrowed
earth and, a few days later, with gentle strength, tiny pale green spears
come pricking through the brown. I learned not to look under the
hickory-trees for the oak acorns that I adored. I was soon able to tell
the rapidly forming furry green peaches from the smooth young apples, and
I literally fell down upon my knees and worshipped before lambs, calves,
and colts.

In this new, strange life everyone worked, but they worked for
themselves--to use a country expression, no one "hired out." I was a very
little girl. I could not spin as could my mother, who had passed her
childhood in backwood life. Of course I could not weave, but I was taught
to knit my own stockings--such humpy, lumpy knitting! But I was very
proud of the accomplishment, even though my mother did have to "turn the
heel." Then, too, I with other children at planting-time dropped corn in
the sun-warmed furrows, while a man followed behind with a hoe covering
it up; and when it had sprouted and was a tempting morsel for certain
black robbers of the field, I made a very active and energetic young
scare-crow.

Here, too, I became acquainted with children. They were all older than I
was, a hearty, healthy, wisely-ignorant lot. They knew so much about
farming and so little about anything else. Not one of them could tell a
story out of the Bible, and as for the "Pilgrim's Progress," they had
never heard tell of it; while Bunyan only meant to them an enlarged
toe-joint--not a great author.

The lack of reading matter was the one blemish on my country life. The
library, composed of the Bible and the almanac, was not satisfying to my
inquiring mind. One paper was taken in by the head of the family--it was
a weekly, in every possible sense--but I came to watch eagerly for it,
and it filled the family with amazement to see me sit down on the step
and gravely wade through its dreary columns--happy if I could catch hold
of some idea--some bit of news--some scrap of story; and my farmer host
one day at his noon smoke removed his corn-cob pipe from his lips long
enough to remark of me: "Dogorne my skin! if that young 'un ain't awake
and enj'ien hersel'. Now I allers go ter sleep over that paper mysel'!"
So should I--now--I presume.

These children being for-true, real children had no idea of showing
courtesy or politeness to a stranger, but they had a very natural
yearning to get fun out of that stranger if they could, and so they
blithely led me forth to a pasture shortly after our arrival at the farm,
and catching a horse they hoisted me up on to its bare, slippery back. I
have learned a good bit about horses since then--have hired, borrowed,
and bought them--have been to circuses and horse shows, but never since
have I seen a horse of such appalling aspect. His eyes were the size of
soup-plates, large clouds of smoke came from his nostrils. He had a
glass-enamelled surface, and if he was one half as tall as he felt, some
museum manager missed a fortune. Then the young fiends, leaving me on my
slippery perch, high up near the sky, drew afar off and stood over
against the fence and gave me plenty of room--to fall off. But when I
suddenly felt the world heave up beneath me, I uttered a wild
shriek--clenched my hands in the animal's back hair, and, madly flinging
propriety to any point of the compass that happened to be behind me, I
cast one pantalet over the enamelled back, and thus astride, safely
crossed the pasture--and lo! it was not I who fell, but their faces
instead. When they came to take me down, somehow the animal seemed
shrunken and I hesitated about leaving it, whereupon the biggest boy said
I had "pluck" (I had been frightened nearly to death, but I always could
be silent at the proper moment; I was silent then), and he would teach me
to ride sideways, for my mother would surely punish me if I sat astride
like that; and in a few weeks, thanks to him, I was the one who was
oftenest trusted to take the horses to water at noon, riding sideways and
always bare-back, mounted on one horse and leading a second to the creek,
until all had had their drink. Which habit of riding--from balance--has
made me quite independent of stirrups on various occasions since those
far-away days.

In the late autumn, these same children taught me where and when and how
to find such treasures of the woods as hickory-nuts, chestnuts (rare
there), butternuts, and pecan-nuts, while the thickets furnished
hazel-nuts and the frost brought sweetness to the persimmon, and
consequently pleasure to our palates, but never could I acquire a taste
for the "paw-paw," that inane custard-like fruit, often called the
American banana.

I helped obtain the roots and barks and nut-shells from which the
grown-ups made their dyes. I learned to use a bow and arrow; and on rainy
days, having nothing new to read, I learned by heart the best chapters of
my own birthday books, and often repeated them to the other children when
we cuddled in the hayloft, above the horses.

One day I became too realistic, and in my "flight from my step-mother's
home" I fell through the hole where the hay was tossed down to old
Jerry's manger. He was a serious-minded and kindly old horse, and did
nothing worse than snort a little over the change in his diet, from hay
to small girl. My severe bruises would have been borne with fortitude,
but when I arose--behold a wretched wandering hen had been in the manger
before me, and if one judged from the state of my clothing, the egg she
had left behind must have been the size of a melon at least! If that
seems an exaggeration, just break an egg in your pocket, if you don't
care to sit down on one, and see how far it will spread. Then, indeed, I
lifted my voice and wept!

Yes, those were two precious years, in which I learned to love
passionately the beauty of the world! The tender, mystic charm of dawn,
the pomp and splendor of the setting of the sun! Finding in the tiny
perfection of the velvety moss the minute repetition of the form and
branching beauty of the stately tree at whose root it grew! Seeing all
the beauty of the blue sky and its sailing clouds encompassed by a
quivering drop of dew upon a mullein leaf I dimly felt some faint
comprehension of the divine satisfaction when the Creator pronounced the
work of His hands, "Good!"

From the first my mother had been greatly distressed by the absence of
any school to which I might go, and also by her inability to earn money.
She had been wise enough not to leave Cleveland without sufficient means
to bring us back again--which proved most fortunate. For when quite
suddenly we heard of the published death of my father, we immediately
returned and she obtained employment, while I was sent to the public
school. But, oh, what a poor, meagre course of study I entered on.
Reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, and geography--that was all! Only
one class in the grammar-school studied history. However, improvements
were being discussed, and I remember that three weeks before my final
withdrawal from school my mother had to buy me a book on physiology,
which was to be taught to the children, who had not even a bowing
acquaintance with grammar. But I hungered and thirsted for knowledge--I
craved it--longed for it. During the weary years of repression I had
fallen back upon imagination for amusement and comfort, and when I was
ten my "thinks," as I then called my waking dreams, almost surely took
one of these two forms. Since I had abandoned "thinks" about fairies
coming to grant my wishes, I always walked out (in my best hat), and
saved either an old lady or an old gentleman--sometimes one, sometimes
the other--from some imminent peril--a sort of impressionist peril--vague
but very terrible! and the rescued one was always tremblingly grateful
and offered to reward me, and I always sternly refused to be rewarded,
but unbent sufficiently to see the saved one safely to his or her
splendid home. There I revelled in furniture, pictures, musical
instruments and an assortment of beautiful dogs. On leaving this palatial
residence I consented to give my address, and next day the "saved" called
on my mother and after some conversation it was settled that I was to go
to the convent-school for four years, where I knew the education was
generous and thorough, and that languages, music, and painting were all
taught. As these "thinks" took place at night after the ill-smelling
extinguishment of the candle, I generally fell asleep before, in white
robe and a crown of flowers, I gathered up all the prizes and diplomas
and things I had earned.

When my mother in the performance of her duties had to accept orders, she
received them calmly and as a matter of course--whatever she may have
felt in her heart--but I loved and reverenced her so! To me she was the
one woman of the world; and when I saw her taking orders from another I
flinched and shrank as I would have done beneath the sharp lash of a
whip, and then for nights afterward (so soon as I had released my nose,
tightly pinched to keep out the smell of candle-smoke), I settled down,
with my mother's hand tight clasped in mine, to my other favorite
"thinks" wherein I did some truly remarkable embroidery, of such
precision of stitch, such perfection of coloring and shading, that when
I offered it for sale I was much embarrassed by the numbers of would-be
buyers. However, an old lady finally won me away from the store (that old
lady was bound to appear in all my "thinks"), and I had to be very firm
with her to keep her from over-paying me for the work of my hands.

Then, as I had graciously promised the store-keeper any over-plus of
embroidery not needed by the generous old person, I felt my income
secure, and hastened to rent two rooms and furnish them, ready to take my
astonished mother there--where she could do the ordering herself.

I hung curtains, laid carpets, put dishes in the cupboard, gave one
window to my mother and kept one for myself and my very exceptional
embroidery; and, though I laugh now, I had then many an hour of genuine
happiness, furnishing this imaginary home and refuge for the mother I
loved!



CHAPTER FOURTH

  I am Led into the Theatre--I Attend Rehearsals--I am Made Acquainted
  with the Vagaries of Tights.


I was approaching my thirteenth birthday when it came about that a
certain ancient boarding-house keeper--far gone in years--required
someone to assist her, someone she could trust entirely and leave in
charge for a month at a time; and I, not being able to read the future,
was greatly chagrined because my mother accepted the offered situation. I
was always happiest when she found occupation in a house where there was
a library, for people were generally kind to me in that respect and gave
me the freedom of their shelves, seeing that I was reverently careful of
all books; but in a boarding-house there would be no library, and my
heart sank as we entered the gloomy old building.

No, there were no books, but among the boarders there were two or three
actors and two actresses--a mother and a daughter. The mother played the
"first old women"; the daughter, only a year or two older than I was,
played, I was told, "walking-ladies," though what that meant I could not
imagine.

The daughter (Blanche) liked me, while I looked upon her with awe, and
wondered why she even noticed me. She was very wilful, she would not
study anything on earth save her short parts. She had never read a book
in her life. When I was home from school I told her stories by the hour,
and she would say: "You ought to be in a theatre--you could act!"

And then I would be dumb for a long time, because I thought she was
making fun of me. One day I was chewing some gum she gave me--I was not
chewing it very nicely, either--and my mother boxed my ears, and Blanche
said: "You ought to be in a theatre--you could chew all the gum you liked
there!"

And just then my mother was so cruelly overworked, and the spring came in
with furious heat, and I felt so big and yet so helpless--a great girl of
thirteen to be worked for by another--and the humiliation seemed more
than I could bear, and I locked myself in our dreary cupboard of a room,
and flung myself upon my knees, and in a passion of tears tried to make a
bargain with my God! I meant no irreverence--I was intensely religious. I
did not see the enormity of the act--I only knew that I suffered, and
that God could help me--so I asked His help! But, instead of stopping
there, I cried out to Him this promise: "Dear God! just pity me and show
me what to do! Please--please help me to help my mother--and if you will,
I'll never say 'No!' to any woman who comes to me all my life long!"

My error in trying to barter with my Maker must have been forgiven, for
my prayer was answered within a week, while there are many women
scattered through the land who know that I have tried faithfully to keep
my part of that bargain, and no woman who has sought my aid has ever been
answered with a "No!"

One day Blanche greeted me with the news that extra ballet-girls were
wanted, and told me that I must go at once and get engaged.

"But," I said, "maybe they won't take me!"

"Well," answered she, "I've coaxed your mother, and my mother says she'll
look out for you--so at any rate go and see. I'll take you to-morrow."

And so dimly, vaguely, I seemed to see a way opening out before me, and
again behind the locked door I knelt and said: "Dear God! dear God!" and
got no further, because grief has many words and joy has so few.

The school term had closed on Friday, and on Saturday morning, with my
heart beating almost to suffocation, I started out to walk to the theatre
with Blanche, who had promised to ask Mr. Ellsler (the manager) to take
me on in the ballet. When we reached the sidewalk we saw the sky
threatened rain and Blanche sent me back for an umbrella. I had none of
my own, so I borrowed one from Mrs. Miller (our landlady), and at sight
of it my companion broke into laughter. It was a dreadful affair--with a
knobby, unkind handle, a slovenly and corpulent body, and a
circumference, when open, that suggested the idea that it had been built
to shelter not only the landlady, but those wise ones of the boarders who
had paid up before the winds rose and the rain fell. Then we proceeded to
the old Academy of Music on Bank Street, and entering, went upstairs, and
just as we reached the top step a small dark man hurried across the hall
and Blanche called quickly: "Oh, Mr. Ellsler--Mr. Ellsler! wait a moment,
please--I want to speak to you!"

I could not know that his almost repellent sternness of face concealed a
kindness of heart that approached weakness, so when he turned a frowning,
impatient face toward us, hope left me utterly, and for a moment I seemed
to stand in a great darkness. I think I can do no better than to give Mr.
Ellsler's own account of that, our first meeting, as he has given it
often since. He says: "I was much put out by a business matter and was
hastily crossing the corridor when Blanche called me, and I saw she had
another girl in tow; a girl whose appearance in a theatre was so droll I
must have laughed, had I not been more than a little cross. Her dress was
quite short--she wore a pale-blue apron buttoned up the back, long braids
tied at the ends with ribbon, and a brown straw hat, while she clutched
desperately at the handle of the biggest umbrella I ever saw. Her eyes
were distinctly blue and were plainly big with fright. Blanche gave her
name and said she wanted to go on in the ballet, and I instantly answered
she would not do, she was too small--I wanted women, not children, and
started to return to my office. Blanche was voluble, but the girl herself
never spoke a single word. I glanced toward her and stopped. The hands
that clutched the umbrella trembled--she raised her eyes and looked at
me. I had noticed their blueness a moment before--now they were almost
black, so swiftly had the pupils dilated, and slowly the tears rose in
them. All the father in me shrank under the child's bitter
disappointment; all the actor in me thrilled at the power of expression
in the girl's face, and I hastily added: 'Oh, well! You may come back in
a day or two, and if anyone appears meantime who is short enough to march
with you I'll take you on,' and after I got to my office I remembered the
girl had not spoken a single word, but had won an engagement--for I knew
I should engage her--with a pair of tear-filled eyes."

The following Tuesday, under the protection of the ever-faithful Blanche,
I again presented myself and was engaged for the term of two weeks, to go
on the stage in the marches and dances of a play called "The Seven
Sisters," for which service I was to receive three dollars a week, or
fifty cents a night, as there were no matinées then, and so I entered,
with wide-astonished eyes, into that dim, dusty, chaotic place known as
"behind the scenes"--a strange place, where nothing _is_ and everything
_may be_.

In the daytime I found the stage a thing dead--at night, with the blazing
of the gas, it lived! for light is its life, music is its soul, and the
play its brain.

Silently and cautiously I walked about, gazing curiously at the "scenes,"
so fine on one side, so bare and cheap on the other; at the tarlatan
"glass windows"; at the green "calico sea," lying flat and waveless on
the floor. Everything there pretended to be something else, and at last I
said solemnly to Blanche: "Is everything only make-believe in a theatre?"

And she turned her gum to the other side and answered: "Yes, everything's
make-believe--except salary day!"

Then came the rehearsal--everything was military just then--and there was
a Zouave drill to learn, as well as a couple of dances. The women and
girls who had been engaged were not the very nicest people in the world,
though they were the best to be found at such short notice; and Mrs.
Bradshaw told me not to stand about with them, but to come to her as soon
as my share in the work was over. "But," said this wise woman, "don't
fail in politeness to them; for nothing can hold a person so far off as
extreme politeness."

To me the manual of arms was mere child's play, and the drill a veritable
delight. The second day I scribbled down the movements in the order that
they had been made, and learned them by heart, with the result that on
the third day I sat aside chewing gum, while the stage-manager raved over
the rest. Then the star--Mr. McDonough--came along and furiously demanded
to know why I was not drilling. "The gentleman sent me out of the ranks,
sir," I answered, "because he said I knew the manual and drill!"

"Oh, indeed! well, there's not one of you that knows it--and you never
will know it! You're a set of numbskulls! Here!" he cried, catching up a
rifle, "take hold of this--get up here--and let's see how much you know!
Now, then, shoulder arms!"

And standing alone--burning with blushes, blinded with tears of
mortification--I was put through my paces with a vengeance; but I really
knew the manual as thoroughly as I knew the drill, and when it was over
Mr. McDonough took the rifle from me, and exclaimed: "Well, saucer-eyes,
you do know it! I'm d----d if you don't! and I'm sorry, little girl, I
spoke so roughly to you!"

He held out his fat white hand to me, and as I took it he added: "You
ought to stay in this business--you've got your head with you!"

It was a small matter, of course, but there was a faint hint of triumph
in it, and the savor was very pleasant to me.

Naturally, with a salary of but three dollars a week, we turned to the
management for our costumes. I wonder what the _danseuse_ of to-day
would think of the costume worn by her sister of the "sixties"? Now her
few gauzy limb-betraying skirts reach but to the middle of the thigh; her
scrap of a bodice, cut far below the shoulder blades at the back, being
absolutely sleeveless, is precariously held in place by a string or two
of beads. To be sure, she is apt to wear a collar of blazing diamonds,
instead of the simple band of black velvet that used to be sufficient
ornament for the peerless Bonfanti and the beautiful and modest Betty
Rigl, who in their graceful ignorance of "splits" and athletic "tours de
force," managed in their voluminous and knee-long skirts to whirl, to
glide, to poise and float, to show, in fact, the poetry of motion.

But we, this untrained ballet, were not Bonfantis nor Morlachis, and we
wore our dancing clothes with a difference. In one dance we were supposed
to be fairies. We wore flesh-colored slippers and tights. It took one
full week of our two weeks' engagement to learn how to secure these
treacherous articles, so that they would remain smooth and not wrinkle
down somewhere or twist about. One girl never learned, and to the last
added to the happiness of the public by ambling about on a pair of legs
that looked as if they had been done up in curl papers the night before.

We each had seven white tarlatan skirts, as full as they could be
gathered--long enough to come a little below the knee. Our waists were
also flesh-colored, and were cut fully two or three inches below our
collar-bones, so you see there was plenty of cloth at our backs to hook
our very immature wings to. We had wreaths of white roses on our
heads--Blanche, who was very frank, said they looked like wreaths of
turnips--and garlands of white roses to wave in the dance. I remember the
girl with the curled legs was loathed by all because she lassoed everyone
she came near with her garland--so you see we were very decorous fairies,
whether we were decorative or not.

Of course we were rather substantial, and our wings did seem too thin and
small to sustain us satisfactorily. One girl took hers off in the
dressing-room and remarked contemptuously that "they couldn't lift her
cat even!"

But another, who was dictatorial and also of a suspicious nature,
answered savagely: "You don't know nothing about wings--and you haven't
got no cat, nohow, and you know it--so shut up!" and the conversation
closed.

In our second costume we were frankly human. We still wore dancing
skirts, but we were in colors, and we had, of course, shed our
wings--nasty, scratchy things they were, I remember. Then for the drill
and march we wore the regular Fire Zouave uniform.

It was all great fun for me--you remember I was not stage-struck.
Dramatically speaking, I was not yet born--I had neither ambition nor
fear--I was simply happy because I was going to earn that, to me, great
sum of money, and was going to give it to my mother, and planned only
what I should say to her, and had no thought at all of the theatre or
anything or any person in it.

The donning of fleshings for the first time is an occasion of anxiety to
anyone, man or woman. I, however, approached the subject of tights with
an open mind, and Blanche freely gave me both information and advice. She
chilled my blood by describing the mortifying mishaps, the dread
disasters these garments had brought to those who failed to understand
them. She declared them to be tricky, unreliable, and malicious in the
extreme.

"There's just one way to succeed with 'em," she said, "and that's by
bullying 'em. Show you're afraid and they will slip and twist and wrinkle
down and make you a perfect laughing-stock. You must take your time, you
know, at first, and fit 'em on very carefully and smoothly over your feet
and ankles and up over your knees. See that they are nice and straight or
you'll look as if you were walking on corkscrews, but after that bully
'em--yank and pull and drag 'em, and when you have 'em drawn up as tight
as you can draw 'em, go at 'em and pull 'em up another inch at least.
They'll creak and snap and pretend they're going to tear, but don't you
ever leave your dressing-room satisfied, unless you feel you can't
possibly get down-stairs without going sideways."

"But," I remonstrated, "they'll break and let my knees through!"

"Oh, no they won't!" she cheerfully answered. "They'll make believe
they're going to split at the knee, of course, but instead they'll just
keep as safe and smooth as the skin on your arm. But, for Heaven's sake,
don't be afraid of 'em!"

And I gravely promised to be as bold as I possibly could in my first
encounter with the flesh-colored terrors.



CHAPTER FIFTH

  I Receive my First Salary--I am Engaged for the Coming Season.


At last the night came. Hot? Oh, my, hot it was! and we were so crowded
in our tiny dressing-room that some of us had to stand on the one chair
while we put our skirts on. The confusion was great, and I was glad to
get out of the room, down-stairs, where I went to show myself to Mrs.
Bradshaw or Blanche, to see if I was all right. They looked at me, and
after a hopeless struggle with their quivering faces they burst into
shrieks of laughter. With trembling hands I clutched my tarlatan skirts
and peering down at my tights, I groaned: "Are they twisted, or run down,
or what?"

But it was not the tights, it was my face. I knew you had to put on
powder because the gas made you yellow, and red because powder made you
ghastly, but it had not occurred to me that skill was required in
applying the same, and I was a sight to make any kindly disposed angel
weep! I had not even sense enough to free my eyelashes from the powder
clinging to them. My face was chalk white and low down on my cheeks were
nice round bright red spots.

Mrs. Bradshaw said: "With your round blue eyes and your round
white-and-red face, you look like a cheap china doll! Come here, my
dear!"

She dusted off a few thicknesses of the powder, removed the hard scarlet
spots, took a great soft hare's foot, which she rubbed over some pink
rouge, and then holding it in the air she proceeded: "To-morrow, after
you have walked to get a color, go to your glass and see where that color
shows itself. I think you will find it high on your cheek, coming up
close under the eye and growing fainter toward the ear. I'll paint you
that way to-night on chance. You see _my_ color is low on my cheek. Of
course when you are making-up for a character part you go by a different
rule, but when you are just trying to look pretty be guided by nature.
Now----"

I felt the soft touch of the hare's foot on my burning cheeks; then she
gave me a tooth-brush, which had black on it, and bade me draw it across
my lashes. I did so and was surprised at the amount of powder it removed.
She touched her little finger to some red pomade, and said: "Thrust out
your under lip--no, not like a kiss--that makes creases--make a sulky
lip--so!"

She touched my lip with her finger, then she drew back and laughed again,
in a different way. She drew me to the glass, and said, "Look!"

I looked and cried: "Oh--oh! Mrs. Bradshaw, that girl doesn't look a bit
like me--she's ever so much nicer!"

In that lesson on making-up was the beginning and the ending of my
theatrical instruction. What I have learned since then has been by
observation, study, and direct inquiry--but never by instruction, either
free or paid for.

Now, while I was engaged to go on with the crowd, fate willed after all
that I should have an independent entrance for my first appearance on the
stage. The matter would be too trivial to mention were it not for the
influence it had upon my future. One act of the play represented the back
of a stage during a performance. The scenes were turned around with their
unpainted sides to the public. The scene-shifters and gas-men were
standing about--everything was going wrong. The manager was giving orders
wildly, and then a dancer was late. She was called frantically and
finally when she appeared on the run, the manager caught her by the
shoulders, rushed her across the stage and fairly pitched her on the
imaginary stage--to the great amusement of the audience.

The tallest and prettiest girl in the ballet had been picked out to do
this bit of work, and she had been rehearsed and rehearsed as if she were
preparing for the balcony scene of "Romeo and Juliet"; and day after day
the stage-manager would groan: "Can't you run? Did you never run? Imagine
the house a-fire and that you are running for your life!"

At last, on that opening night, we were all gathered ready for our first
entrance and dance, which followed a few moments after the incident I
have described. The tall girl had a queer look on her face as she stood
in her place--her cue came, but she never moved.

I heard the rushing footsteps of the stage-manager: "That's you!" he
shouted; "go on! go on, run!"

Run? She seemed to have grown fast to the floor. We heard the angry
_aside_ of the actor on the stage: "Send someone on here--for Heaven's
sake!"

"Are you going on?" cried the frantic prompter.

She dropped her arms limply at her sides and whispered: "I--I--c-a-n-t!"

He turned, and as he ran his imploring eye over the line of faces, each
girl shrank back from it. He reached me--I had no fear, and he saw it.
"Can you go on there?" he cried. I nodded. "Then for God's sake go!"

I gave a bound and a rush that carried me half, across the stage before
the manager caught me--and so I made my entrance on the stage, and danced
and marched and sang with the rest, and all unconsciously took my first
step upon the path that I was to follow through shadow and through
sunshine--to follow by steep and stony places, over threatening bogs,
through green and pleasant meadows--to follow steadily and faithfully for
many and many a year to come.

On our first salary day, to the surprise of all concerned, I did not go
to claim my week's pay. To everyone who spoke to me of the matter, I
simply answered: "Oh, that will be all right." When the second day came I
was the last to present myself at the box-office window. Mr. Ellsler was
there and he opened the door and asked me to come in. As I signed my name
on the salary list I hesitated perceptibly and he laughingly said: "Don't
you know your own name?" Now on the first day of all, when the
stage-manager had taken down our names, I had been gazing at the scenery
and when he called out: "Little girl, what is your name?" I had not
heard, and someone standing by had said: "Her name is Clara--Clara
Morris, or Morrisey, or Morrison, or something like that," and he dropped
the last syllable from my name Morrison, and wrote me down Morris; so
when Mr. Ellsler put his question, "Don't you know your name?" that was
certainly the moment when I should have spoken--but I was too shy, and
there and thereafter held my peace, and have been in consequence Clara
Morris ever since.

I having signed for and received my two weeks' salary, Mr. Ellsler asked
why I had not come the week before, and I told him I preferred to wait
because it would seem so much more if I got both weeks' salary all at one
time. And he gravely nodded and said "it was rather a large sum to have
in hand at one time"--and, though I was very sensitive to ridicule, I did
not suspect him of making fun of me.

Then he said: "You are a very intelligent little girl, and when you went
on alone and unrehearsed the other night you proved you had both
adaptability and courage. I'd like to keep you in the theatre. Will you
come and be a regular member of the company for the season that begins in
September next?"

I think it must have been my ears that finally stopped my ever-widening
smile while I made answer that I must ask my mother first.

"To be sure," said he, "to be sure! Well, suppose you ask her, then, and
let me know whether you can or not."

Looking back and speaking calmly, I must admit that I do not now believe
that Mr. Ellsler's financial future depended entirely upon the yes or no
of my mother and myself; but that I was on an errand of life or death
everyone must have thought who saw me tearing through the streets on that
90-in-the-shade summer day, racing along in a whirl of short skirts, with
the boyish, self-kicking gait peculiar to running girls of thirteen.

One man, a tailor, ran out hatless and coatless and looked up the street
anxiously in the direction from which I came. A big boy on the corner
yelled after me: "S-a-a-y, Sis, where's the fire?" but you see they did
not know that I was carrying home my first earnings--that I was clutching
six damp one-dollar bills in the hands that had been so empty all my
life! Poor little hands that had never held a greater sum than one big
Canadian penny, that had never held a dollar bill till they had first
earned it. But if the boy was blind to what I held, so was I blind to
what the future held--which made us equal.

I had meant to take off my hat and smooth my hair, and in a decorous and
proper manner approach my mother and deliver my nice little speech, and
then hand her the money. But, alas! as I rushed into the house I came
upon her unexpectedly--for, fearing dinner was going to be late, she was
hurrying things by shelling a great basket of peas as she sat by the
dining-room window. At sight of her tired face, all my nicely planned
speech disappeared. I flung my arm about her neck, dropped the bills on
top of the empty pods, and cried with beautiful lucidity: "Oh, mother!
that's mine--and it's all yours!"

She kissed me, but to my grieved amazement put the money back into my
hand, folding my four stiff, unwilling fingers over it, as she said: "No,
you have earned this money yourself--you are the only one who has the
right to use it--you are to do with it exactly as you please."

And while tears of disappointment were yet swimming in my eyes, triumph
sprang up in my heart at her last words; for if I could do exactly as I
pleased, why, after all, she should have the new summer dress she needed
so badly. So I took the money to our room, and having secreted it in the
most intricate and involved manner I could think of, I returned and laid
Mr. Ellsler's offer before my mother, who at first hesitated, but
learning that Mrs. Bradshaw was engaged for another season, she finally
consented, and I rushed back to the theatre, where, red and hot and out
of breath, I was engaged for the ballet for the next season. After this I
was conscious of a new feeling, which I would have found it very hard to
explain then. It was not importance, it was not vanity, it was a pleasant
feeling, it lifted the head and gave one patience to bear calmly many
things that had been very hard to bear. I know now it was the
self-respect that comes to everyone who is a bread-winner.

Directly after breakfast next day I was off to get my mother's dress. I
went quite alone, and my head was well in the air; for this was indeed an
important occasion. I looked long and felt gravely at the edges of the
goods, I did not know what for, but I had seen other people do it, and
when my lavender-flowered muslin was cut off, done up and paid for, I
found quite a large hole in my six dollars; for it was war time, and
anything made of cotton cost a dreadful price. But, good Heaven! how
happy I was, and how proud that I should get a dress for my mother,
instead of her getting one for me! Undoubtedly, had there been a fire
just then, I would have risked my life to save that flowered muslin gown.

I had not been more than two or three days in the theatre when I
discovered that its people seemed to be divided into two distinct
parties--the guyers and the guyed--those who laughed and those who were
laughed at. All my life I have had a horror of practical joking, and I
very quickly decided I would not be among the guyed. I had borrowed many
of Mrs. Bradshaw's play books to read, and often found in the directions
for costumes the old word "ibid." "Count Rudolph--black velvet doublet,
hose and short cloak. Count Adolph, ibid." So when the property-man, an
incorrigible joker, asked me to go home and borrow Mrs. Bradshaw's ibid
for him, I simply looked at him and smiled a broad, silent smile and
never moved a peg. He gave me a sharp look, then affecting great anger at
my laziness, he wrote a request for an ibid and gave it to the fattest
girl in the crowd, and she carried it to Mrs. Bradshaw, who wrote on it
that her ibid was at Mrs. Dickson's, and the fat girl went to Mrs.
Dickson's, who said she had lent it to Mr. Lewis--so the poor fat goose
was kept waddling through the heat, from one place to another, until she
was half dead, to the great enjoyment of the property-man.

Next day he was very busy, when, glancing up, he saw me looking on at his
work. Instantly he caught up a bottle, and said: "Run upstairs to the
paint-frame (three flights up) and ask the painter to put a little
ad-libitum in this bottle for me--there's a good girl!"

Now I did not yet know what ad-libitum meant, but I was a very close
observer, and I saw the same malicious twinkle in his eye that had shone
there when he had sent the fat girl on her hot journey, and once more I
slowly chewed my gum, and smiled my wide, unbelieving smile. He waited a
moment, but as I did not touch the bottle he tossed it aside, saying:
"What a suspicious little devil you are!"

But when a man wanted me to blow down a gun-barrel next morning, the
property-man exclaimed: "Here, you! let saucer-eyes alone! I don't know
whether she gets her _savey_ out of her head or chews it out of her gum,
but she don't guy worth a cent, so you needn't try to put anything on to
her!"

And from that day to this I have been free from the attacks of the
practical joker.



CHAPTER SIXTH

  The Regular Season Opens--I have a Small Part to Play--I am among
  Lovers of Shakespeare--I too Stand at his Knee and Fall under the
  Charm.


Up to this time the only world I had known had been narrow and sordid and
lay chill under the shadow of poverty; and it is sunlight that makes the
earth smile into flower and fruit and laugh aloud through the throats of
birds. But now, standing humbly at the knee of Shakespeare, I began to
learn something of another world--fairy-like in fascination, marvellous
in reality. A world of sunny days and jewelled nights, of splendid
palaces, caves of horror, forests of mystery, and meadows of smiling
candor. All peopled, too, with such soldiers, statesmen, lovers, clowns,
such women of splendid chill chastity, fierce ambition, thistle-down
lightness, and burning, tragic love as made the heart beat fast to think
of.

Perhaps if I had attempted simply to read Shakespeare at that time, I
might have fallen short both in profit and in pleasure; but it was the
_hearing_ him that roused my attention. There was such music in the sound
of the words, that the mind was impelled to study out their meaning. It
seems to me that a human voice is to poetry what a clear even light is to
a reader, making each word give up its full store of meaning.

At that time Forrest, crowned and wrapped in royal robes, was yet
tottering on his throne. Charlotte Cushman was the Tragic Queen of the
stage. Mr. James Murdoch, frail and aging, but still acting, was highly
esteemed. Joseph Jefferson, E. L. Davenport, J. K. Hackett, Edwin Adams,
John E. Owens, Dan. Setchell, Peter Richings and his daughter Caroline,
Mrs. D. P. Bowers, Miss Lucille Western, Miss Maggie Mitchell, Mr. and
Mrs. Conway, Matilda Heron, Charles Couldock, Joseph Proctor, Mr. and
Mrs. Albaugh, Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams, the Webb Sisters, Kate
Reynolds, were all great favorites, not pausing to mention many more,
while Edwin Booth, the greatest light of all, was rising in golden glory
in the East.

Of the above-mentioned twenty-eight stars, eighteen acted in
Shakespeare's plays. All stars played a week's engagement--many played
two weeks, therefore at least twenty-four of our forty-two week season
was given over to Shakespearean productions, and every actor and actress
had the Bard at their tongue's tip.

In the far past the great disgrace of our profession was the inebriety of
its men. At the time I write of, the severity of the managers had nearly
eradicated the terrible habit, and I never saw but two of that class of
brilliant actor-drunkards, beloved of newspaper story writers, who made
too much of their absurd vagaries.

Looking back to the actors of '65, I can't help noticing the difference
between their attitude of mind toward their profession, and that of the
actor of to-day. Salaries were much smaller then, work was harder, but
life was simpler. The actor had no social standing; he was no longer
looked down upon, but he was an unknown quantity; he was, in short, an
actor pure and simple. He had enthusiasm for his profession--he lived to
act, not merely living by acting. He had more superstition than religion,
and no politics at all; but he was patriotic and shouldered his gun and
marched away in the ranks as cheerfully as any other citizen soldier.

But above all and beyond all else, the men and women _respected_ their
chosen profession. Their constant association of mind with Shakespeare
seemed to have given them a certain dignity of bearing as well as of
speech.

To-day our actors have in many cases won some social recognition, and
they must therefore give a portion of their time to social duties. They
are clubmen and another portion of their time goes in club lounging.
They draw large salaries and too frequently they have to act in long
running plays, that are made up of smartish wit and cheapest
cynicism--mere froth and frivolity, while the effective smashing of the
Seventh Commandment has been for so long a time the principal _motif_ of
both drama and farce, that one cannot wonder much at the general tone of
flippancy prevailing among the theatrical people of to-day. They guy
everything and everybody, and would jeer at their profession as readily
as they would at an old man on the street wearing a last year's hat.

They are sober, they are honest, they are generous, but they seem to have
grown utterly flippant, and I can't help wondering if this alteration can
have come about through the change in their mental pabulum.

At all events, as I watched and listened in the old days, it seemed to me
they were never weary of discussing readings, expressions, emphasis, and
action. One would remark, say at a rehearsal of "Hamlet," that Macready
gave a certain line in this manner, and another would instantly express a
preference for a Forrest--or a Davenport--rendering, and then the
argument would be on, and only a call to the stage would end the weighing
of words, the placing of commas, etc.

I well remember my first step into theatrical controversy. "Macbeth" was
being rehearsed, and the star had just exclaimed: "Hang out our banners
on the outward walls!" That was enough--argument was on. It grew
animated. Some were for: "Hang out our banners! on the outward walls the
cry is still: they come!" while one or two were with the star's reading.

I stood listening and looking on and fairly sizzling with hot desire to
speak, but dared not take the liberty, I stood in such awe of my elders.
Presently the "old-man" turned and, noticing my eagerness, laughingly
said: "Well, what is it, Clara? you'll have a fit if you don't ease your
mind with speech."

"Oh, Uncle Dick," I answered, my words fairly tripping over each other
in my haste. "I have a picture home, I cut it out of a paper, it's a
picture of a great castle, with towers and moats and things, and on the
outer walls there are men with spears and shields, and they seem to be
looking for the enemy, and, Uncle Dick, the _banner_ is floating over the
high tower!"

"Where it ought to be," interpolated the old gentleman, who was English.

"So," I went on, "don't you think it ought to be read: 'Hang out our
banners! on the outward walls'--the outward walls, you know, is where the
lookout are standing--'the cry--is still, they come!'"

A general laugh followed my excited explanation, but Uncle Dick patted me
very kindly on the shoulder, and said: "Good girl! you stick to your
picture--it's right and so are you. Many people read the line that way,
but you have worked it out for yourself, and that's a good plan to
follow."

And I swelled and swelled, it seemed to me, I was so proud of the gentle
old man's approval. But that same night I came quite wofully to grief. I
had been one of the crowd of "witches"; I had also had my place at that
shameless _papier-maché_ banquet given by _Macbeth_ to his tantalized
guests, and then, being off duty, was, as usual, planted in the entrance,
watching the acting of the grown-up and the grown-great. _Lady Macbeth_
was giving the sleep-walking scene. Her method was of the old, old
school. She spoke at almost the full power of her lungs, throughout that
mysterious, awe-inspiring sleep-walking scene. It jarred upon my
feelings--I could not have told why, but it did. I believed myself alone,
and when the memory-haunted woman roared out: "Yet, who would have
thought the old man to have had so much _blood_ in him?" I remarked,
_sotto voce_: "Did you expect to find ink in him?"

A sharp "ahem!" right at my shoulder told me I had been overheard, and I
turned to face--oh, horror! the stage-manager. He glared angrily at me,
and began: "Since when have the ladies of the ballet taken to
criticising the work of the stars?"

Humbly enough, I said: "I beg your pardon, sir, I was just talking to
myself, that was all."

But he went on: "Oh, you would not criticize a reading, unless you could
better it--so pray favor us with _your_ ideas on this speech!"

Each sneering word cut me to the heart. Tears filled my eyes. I struggled
hard to keep them from falling, while I just murmured: "I beg your
pardon!" Again he demanded my reading, saying they were not "too old to
learn," and in sheer desperation, I exclaimed: "I was only speaking to
myself, but I thought _Lady Macbeth_ was amazed at the _quantity_ of
blood that flowed from the body of such an old man--for when you get old,
you know, sir, you don't have so much blood as you used to, and I only
just thought, that as the 'sleeping men were laced,' and the knives
'smeared,' and her hands 'bathed' with it, she might have perhaps
whispered: 'Yet, who would have thought the old man to have had _so much_
blood in him?' I didn't mean an impertinence!" and down fell the tears,
for I could not talk and hold them back at the same time.

He looked at me in dead silence for a few moments, then he said: "Humph!"
and walked away, while I rushed to the dressing-room and cried and cried,
and vowed that never, never again would I talk to myself--in the theatre
at all events. I mention these incidents to show how quickly I came under
the influence of these Shakespeare-studying men and women, some of whom
had received their very adequate education from him alone.

It was odd to hear how they used his words and expressions in their daily
conversation. 'Twas not so much quoting him intentionally, as it was an
unconscious incorporation into their own language of Shakespeare's lines.

Tramps were to them almost always "vagrom men." When one did some very
foolish thing, he almost surely begged to be "written down an ass." The
appearance of a pretty actress in her new spring or fall gown was as
surely hailed with: "The riches of the ship have come on shore!"

I saw a pet dog break for the third time from restraint to follow his
master, who put his hand on the animal's head and rather worriedly
remarked: "'The love that follows us sometimes is our trouble--which
still'" (with a big sigh) "'we thank as love!' But you'll have to go
back, old fellow, all the same." If someone obliged you, and you
expressed the fear that you had given him trouble, he would be absolutely
certain to reply, pleasantly and quite honestly: "The labor we delight in
physics pain!" And so on and on unendingly. And I almost believe that had
an old actor seen these three great speeches: The "seven ages" of man,
"To be or not to be!" and "Othello's occupation's gone," grouped
together, he would have fallen upon his knees and become an idolator
there and then.

Yes, I found them odd people, but I liked them. The world was brightening
for me, and I felt I had a right to my share of the air and light, and as
much of God's earth as my feet could stand upon.

I had had a little part entrusted to me, too, the very first week of the
season. A young backwoods-boy, Tom Bruce, by name, and I had borrowed
some clothes and had slammed about with my gun, and spoken my few words
out loud and clear, and had met with approving looks, if not words, but
not yet was the actress aroused in me, I was still a mere school-girl
reciting her lessons. My proudest moment had been when I was allowed to
go on for the longest witch in the cauldron scene in "Macbeth." Perhaps I
might have come to grief over it had I not overheard the leading man say:
"That child will never speak those lines in the world!" and the leading
man was six feet tall and handsome, and I was thirteen and a half years
old, and had to be called a "child!"

I was in a secret rage, and I went over and over my lines, at all hours,
under all kinds of circumstances, so that nothing should be able to
frighten me at night. And then, with my paste-board crown and white sheet
and petticoat, I boiled-up in the cauldron and gave my lines well enough
for the manager (who was _Hecate_ just then) to say low, "Good! Good!"
and the leading man next night asked me to take care of his watch and
chain during his combat scene, and my pride of bearing was most unseemly,
and the other ballet-girls loved me not at all, for you see they, too,
knew he was six feet tall and handsome.



CHAPTER SEVENTH

  I find I am in a "Family Theatre"--I Fare Forth away from my Mother,
  and in Columbus I Shelter under the wing of Mrs. Bradshaw.


This theatre in which I found myself was, in professional parlance, a
family theatre, a thing abhorred by many, especially by actresses. Not
much wonder either, for even as the green bay tree flourisheth in the
psalm, so does nepotism flourish in the family theatre; and when it's a
case of the managerial _Monsieur_, _Madame_, _et Bébés_ all acting, many
are the tears, sobs, and hot words that follow upon the absorption by
these three of all the good parts, while all the poor ones are placed
with strictest justice where they belong. At that time men and women were
engaged each for a special "line of business," and to ask anyone to act
outside of his "line" was an offence not lightly passed over.

For the benefit of those who may not be familiar with theatrical terms of
procedure, I will state that a company was generally made up of a leading
man (heroes, of course), first old man, second old man, heavy man, first
comedian, second comedian, juvenile man, walking gentleman, and utility
man.

That term, "heavy man," of course had no reference to the actor's
physical condition, but it generally implied a deep voice, heavy
eyebrows, and a perfect willingness to stab in the back or smilingly to
poison the wine of the noblest hero or the fairest heroine in the
business; so the professional player of villains was a heavy man.

The juvenile man may have left juvenility far, far behind him in reality,
but if his back was flat, his eyes large and hair good; he would support
old mothers, be falsely accused of thefts, and win wealthy sweethearts in
last acts, with great _éclat_--as juvenile men were expected to do.

Walking gentlemen didn't walk all the time; truth to tell, they stood
about and pretended a deep interest in other people's affairs, most of
the time. They were those absent Pauls or Georges that are talked about
continually by sweethearts or friends or irate fathers, and finally
appear just at the end of everything, simply to prove they really do
exist, and to hold a lady's hand, while the curtain falls on the
characters, all nicely lined up and bowing like toy mandarins.

The utility man was generally not a man, but a large, gloomy boy, whose
mustache would not grow, and whose voice would crack over the few lines
he was invited to address to the public. He sometimes led mobs, but more
often made brief statements as to the whereabouts of certain
carriages--and therein laid his claim to utility.

Then came the leading lady, the first old woman (who was sometimes the
heavy woman), the first singing soubrette, the walking ladies, the second
soubrette (and boys' parts), the utility woman, and the ladies of the
ballet. These were the principal "lines of business," and in an artistic
sense they bound actors both hand and foot; so utterly inflexible were
they that the laws of the Medes and Persians seemed blithe and friendly
things in comparison.

"Oh, I can't play that; it's not in my line!" "Oh, yes, I sing, but the
singing don't belong to my line!" "I know, he _looks_ the part and I
don't, but it belongs to my line!" and so, nearly every week, some
performance used to be marred by the slavish clinging to these defined
"lines of business."

Mr. Augustin Daly was the first manager who dared to ignore the absolute
"line." "You must trust my judgment to cast you for the characters you
are best suited to perform, and you must trust my honor not to lower or
degrade you, by casting you below your rightful position, for I will not
be hampered and bound by any fixed 'lines of business.'" So said he to
all would-be members of his company. The pill was a trifle bitter in the
swallowing, as most pills are, but it was so wholesome in its effect that
ere long other managers were following Mr. Daly's example.

But to return to our mutton. If the family theatre was disliked by those
who had already won recognized positions, it was at least an ideal place
in which a young girl could begin her professional life. The manager, Mr.
John A. Ellsler, was an excellent character-actor as well as a first old
man. His wife, Mrs. Effie Ellsler, was his leading woman--his daughter
Effie, though not out of school at that time, acted whenever there was a
very good part that suited her. The first singing soubrette was the wife
of the prompter and the stage-manager. The first old woman was the mother
of the walking lady, and so it came about that there was not even the
pink flush of a flirtation over the first season, and, though another
season was shaken and thrilled through and through by the elopement and
marriage of James Lewis with Miss Frankie Hurlburt, a young lady from
private life in Cleveland, yet in all the years I served in that old
theatre, no real scandal ever smirched it.

True, one poor little ballet-girl fell from our ranks and was drawn into
that piteous army of women, who, with silk petticoats and painted cheeks,
seek joy in the bottom of the wine cup. Poor little soul! how we used to
lock the dressing-room door and lower our voices when we spoke of having
seen her.

I can never be grateful enough for having come under the influence of the
dear woman who watched over me that first season--Mrs. Bradshaw, one of
the most versatile, most earnest, most devoted actresses I ever saw, and
a good woman besides.

She had known sorrow, trouble, and loss. She was widowed, she had two
children to support unaided, but she made moan to no one. She worked
early and late; she rehearsed, studied, acted, mended, and made; for her
salary absolutely forbade the services of a dress-maker. She had two
gowns a year, one thick, one thin. She could not herself compute the age
of her bonnets, so often were they blocked over, or dyed and retrimmed.
Yet no better appearing woman ever entered a stage-door than this
excessively neat, well-groomed, though plainly clad, old actress.

It is not to be denied that a great many professional women are
absolutely without the sense of order. Their irregular hours, their
unsettled mode of life, camping out a few days in this hotel and then in
that in a measure explain it, but Mrs. Bradshaw set an example of neat
orderliness that was well worth following.

"I can't see," she used to say, "why an actress should be a slattern."

Then if anyone murmured: "Early rehearsals, great haste, you know!" she
would answer: "You know at night the hour of morning rehearsal--then get
up fifteen minutes earlier, and leave your room in order. Everything an
actress does is commented upon, and as she is more or less an object of
suspicion, her conduct should be even more rigidly correct than that of
other women." She had been a beauty in her youth, as her regular features
still proclaimed, and though her figure had become almost Falstaffian,
her graceful arm movements and the dignity of her carriage saved her from
being in the slightest degree grotesque. The secret of her smiling
contentment was her honest love for her work.

We had one taste in common--this experienced woman and my now
fourteen-year-old self--books! books! and yet books, we read. I borrowed
from my friends and she also read--she borrowed from her friends and I,
too, read, and she came to speak of them, and then of her own ideas, and
so I found that this woman, already on the way to age, who was so poor
and hard-working, and had nothing to look forward to but work, was yet
cheerfully contented, because she loved the work--yes, and honored it,
and held her head high, because she was an actress with a clean
reputation!

"Study your lines--speak them with exactitude, just as they are written!"
she used to say to me, with a sort of passion in her voice.

"Don't just gather the idea of a speech, and then use your own words,
that's an infamous habit. The author knew what he wanted you to say--for
God's sake honor the poor dead writer's wishes and speak his lines
exactly as he wrote them! If he says: 'My lord the carriage waits!' don't
you go on and say: 'My lord the carriage is waiting!'"

I almost believe she would have fallen in a dead faint had she been
prompted, and to have been late to a rehearsal would have been a shame
greater than she could have borne. To this woman's example, I owe the
strict business-like habits of attention to study and rehearsals that
have won so much praise for me from my managers.

Had Mr. Ellsler's intention of taking his company to another city for a
great part of the season been known in advance, my mother would never
have given consent to my membership; but the season was three months old
before we knew that we were to be transferred to Columbus, the State
capital, where we were to remain, while the Legislature sat in large
arm-chairs, passing bad bills, and killing good ones, for some three
months or more--at least that was the ordinary citizen's opinion of the
conduct of the State's wise men. It seemed to me that when a man paid his
taxes he felt he had purchased the right to grumble at his
representatives to his heart's content.

But that move to Columbus was a startling event in my life. It meant
leaving my mother and standing quite alone. She was filled with anxiety,
principally for my physical welfare, but I felt, every now and then, my
grief and fright pierced through and through with a delicious thrill of
importance. I was going to be just like a grown-up, and would decide for
myself what I should wear. I might even, if I chose to become so
reckless, wear my Sunday hat to a rehearsal; and when my cheap little
trunk came, with C. M. on the end, showing it was my very own, I stooped
down and hugged it. But later, when my mother with a sad face separated
my garments from her own, taking them from her trunk, where they had
always rested before, I burst into sobs and tears of utter forlornness.

The Columbus trip had a special effect upon the affairs of the ballet. We
had received $3 a week salary, but every one of us had had some home
assistance. Now we were going to a strange city, and no one on earth
could manage to live on such a salary as that, so our stipend was raised
to $5 a week, and the three of us (we were but three that season) set to
work trying to solve the riddle of how a girl was to pay her board-bill,
her basket-bill, her wash-bill, and all the small expenses of the
theatre--powder, paint, soap, hair-pins, etc., to say nothing at all of
shoes and clothing--all out of $5 a week.

Of course there was but one way to do it, and that was by doubling-up and
sharing a room with some one, and that first season I was very lucky.
Mrs. Bradshaw found a house where the top floor had been finished off as
one great long room, running the entire length of the building from gable
to gable, and she offered me a share in it.

Oh, I was glad! Blanche and I had one-half the room, and Mrs. Bradshaw
and the irrepressible little torment and joy of her life, small Jack, had
the other half. No wonder I grew to reverence her, whose character could
bear such intimate association as that. I don't know what her religious
beliefs were. She read her Bible Sundays, but she never went to church,
neither did she believe in a material hell; but it was not long before I
discovered that when I said my prayers over in my corner, she paused in
whatever she was doing, and remained with downcast eyes--a fact that made
me scramble a bit, I'm afraid.

There was but one thing in our close companionship that caused her pain,
and that was the inevitable belief of strangers, that I was her daughter
and Blanche her protegée--they being misled by the difference in our
manner toward her. In the severity of my upbringing I had been taught
that it was nothing short of criminal to be lacking in respect for those
who were older than myself; therefore I was not only strictly obedient to
her expressed wishes, but I rose when she entered a room, opened and
closed doors, placed chairs at table, gave her precedence on all
occasions, and served her in such small ways as were possible; while
Blanche ignored her to such a degree that one might have mistaken her for
a stranger to our little party.

Poor mother! the tears stood thick in her brave eyes when the landlady,
on our third day in her house, remarked to her, patting me on the
shoulder as she spoke: "You have a most devoted little daughter, here!"

And there was a distinct pause, before she answered, gently: "You
mistake--I have a devoted little friend here, in Clara, but Blanche is my
daughter!" She was a singular being, that daughter. It is seldom indeed
that a girl, who is not bad, can yet be such a thorn in the side of a
mother. She was a most disconcerting, baffling creature--a tricksy,
elfish spirit, that delighted in malicious fun. Pleasure-loving,
indolent, and indifferent alike to praise or blame, she (incredible as it
seems) would willingly give up a good part to save herself the trouble of
playing it. I recall a trick she once performed in my favor. I thought
the _Player-Queen_ in "Hamlet" was a beautiful part, and I hungered to
play it; but it belonged to Blanche, and, of course, she was cast for it;
but said she: "You could have it, for all I'd care!" Then, suddenly, she
added: "Say, you may play it with the next _Hamlet_ that comes along!"

I pointed out the impossibility of such an assertion coming true, but she
grinned widely at me and chewed her gum as one who knew many things
beyond my ken, and counselled me to "watch out and see what happened." I
watched out, and this happened:

When the mimic-play was going on before the King and Court, my impish
friend Blanche, as the _Player-Queen_, should have said: "Both here and
hence, pursue me lasting strife, if once a widow, ever I be wife!"

Instead of which, loudly and distinctly, she proclaimed: "Both here and
hence, pursue me lasting strife, _if once a wife, ever I be widowed_!"

_Hamlet_ rolled over on his face, _Queen Gertrude_ (Mrs. Bradshaw)
groaned aloud, _Polonius_ (Mr. Ellsler) threatened discharge, under cover
of the laughter of the audience, while guilty Blanche grinned in impish
enjoyment of her work, and next "Hamlet" I was cast for the
_Player-Queen_, to punish Blanche. To punish her, indeed--she was as
merry as a sand-boy, standing about chewing gum and telling stories all
the evening.

The "tatting" craze was sweeping over the country then, everybody wore
tatting and almost everybody made it. I worked day and night at it,
tatting at rehearsal and between scenes, and lady-stars often bought my
work, to my great pleasure as well as profit. Blanche wanted a new
shuttle, and her mother, who was under extra expense just then, told her
she could have it the next week. It was shortly before Christmas, and
next morning at rehearsal, with all the company present, Blanche walked
up to Mr. Ellsler and asked him if he had any money.

He looked bewildered, and answered somewhat doubtfully that he thought he
had a little. "Well," said she, "I want you to give me a quarter, so I
can get you a Christmas present."

There was a burst of laughter as Mr. Ellsler handed her the quarter, and
after rehearsal this is what she did with it:

On Superior Street a clothing store was being sold out--a forced sale.
There she bought a black shoe-string tie for five cents, as a gift for
Mr. Ellsler, and elsewhere got for herself a tatting-shuttle and five
pieces of chewing-gum, and chuckled over her caper, quite undisturbed by
her mother's tears.

One thing only moved her, one thing only she loved, music! She had a
charming voice, clear, pure, and cold as crystal, and she sang willingly,
nay, even eagerly, whenever she had the opportunity. In after years she
became a well-known singer in light opera.



CHAPTER EIGHTH

  I Display my New Knowledge--I Return to Cleveland to Face my First
  Theatrical Vacation, and I Know the very Tragedy of Littleness.


During that first season I learned to stand alone, to take care of myself
and my small belongings without admonition from anyone. One of my notions
was that, since an immortal soul had to dwell in my body, it became my
bounden duty to bestow upon it regular and painstaking care in honor of
its tenant. The idea may seem extravagant, yet it served me well, since
it did for me what a mother's watchful supervision does for other little
girls when habits are being formed.

I had learned, too, most of the technical terms used in the profession. I
knew all about footlights, wings, flies, borders, drops, braces, grooves,
traps, etc. I understood the queer abbreviations. Knew that O.P. side was
opposite the prompt side, where the prompter stood with his book of the
play to give the word to any actor whose memory failed him and to ring
the two bells for the close of the act--one of warning to the curtain-man
up aloft to get ready, the other for him to lower the curtain. Knew that
R.U.E. and L.U.E. were right or left upper entrance; C., centre of the
stage; R.C., right of centre; CD., centre-door. That to go D.S. or U.S.
was an intimation that you would do well to go down stage or up stage,
while an X. to C. was a terse request for you to cross to the centre of
the stage, and that a whole lot of other letters meant a whole lot of
other directions that would only bore a reader.

I understood how many illusions were produced, and one of the proofs that
I was meant to be an actress was to be found in my enjoyment of the
mechanism of stage effects. I was always on hand when a storm had to be
worked, and would grind away with a will at the crank that, turning a
wheel against a tight band of silk, made the sound of a tremendously
shrieking wind, which filled me with pride and personal satisfaction. And
no one sitting in front of the house looking at a white-robed woman
ascending to heaven, apparently floating upward through the blue clouds,
enjoyed the spectacle more than I enjoyed looking at the ascent from the
rear, where I could see the tiny iron support for her feet, the rod at
her back with the belt holding her securely about the waist (just as
though she were standing on a large hoe, with the handle at her back),
and the men hoisting her through the air, with a painted, sometimes
moving, sky behind her.

This reminds me that Mrs. Bradshaw had several times to go to heaven
(dramatically speaking), and as her figure and weight made the hoe
support useless in her case, she always went to heaven on the entire
paint-frame or gallery, as it is called--a long platform the whole width
of the stage that is raised and lowered at will by windlass, and on which
the artists stand while painting scenery. This enormous affair would be
cleaned and hung about with nice blue clouds, and then Mrs. Bradshaw,
draped in long, white robes, with hands meekly crossed upon her ample
breast and eyes piously uplifted, would rise heavenward, slowly, as so
heavy an angel should. But, alas! there was one drawback to this
otherwise perfect ascension. Never, so long as the theatre stood, could
that windlass be made to work silently. The paint-gallery always moved up
or down to a succession of screaks unoilable, untamable, blood-curdling,
that were intensified by Mrs. Bradshaw's weight, so that she ascended to
the blue tarlatan empyrean accompanied by such chugs and long-drawn
yowlings as suggested a trip to the infernal regions. Mrs. Bradshaw's
face remained calm and unmoved, but now and then an agonized moan
escaped her, lest even the orchestra's effort to cover up the
paint-frame's protesting cries should prove useless. Poor woman, when she
had been lowered again to terra firma and stepped off, the whole
paint-frame would give a kind of joyous upward spring. She noticed it,
and one evening looked back, and said: "Oh, you're not a bit more glad
than I am, you screaking wretch!"

I had learned to make up my face properly, to dress my hair in various
ways, and was beginning to know something about correct costuming; but as
the season was drawing to its close my heart quaked and I was sick with
fear, for I was facing, for the first time, that terror, that affliction
of the actor's life, the summer vacation.

People little dream what a period of misery that is to many stage folk.
Seeing them well dressed, laughing and talking lightly with the
acquaintances they meet on the street, one little suspects that the
gnawing pain of hunger may be busy with their stomachs--that a woman's
fainting "because of the extreme heat, you know," was really caused by
want of food. That the fresh handkerchiefs are of their own washing. That
the garments are guarded with almost inconceivable care, and are only
worn on the street, some older articles answering in their lodgings--and
that it is not vanity, but business, for a manager is not attracted by a
seedy or a shabby-looking applicant for an engagement.

Oh, the weary, weary miles the poor souls walk! with not a penny in their
pockets. They are compelled to say, "Roll on, sweet chariot!" to even the
street-car as it appears before their longing eyes.

Some people, mostly men, under these circumstances will stand and look at
the viands spread out temptingly in the restaurant windows; others,
myself among the number, will avoid such places as one would avoid a
pestilence.

We were back in Cleveland for the last of the season, and I used to
count, over and over again, my tiny savings and set them in little piles.
The wash, the board, and, dear heaven! there were six long, long weeks
of vacation, and I had only one little pile of board money to set against
the whole six. I had six little piles of wash money, and one other little
pile, the _raison d'être_ of which I may explain by and by, if I am not
too much ashamed of the early folly.

Now I was staying at that acme of inconvenience and discomfort, a cheap
boarding-house, where, by the way, social lines were drawn with sharp
distinction, the upper class coldly recognizing the middle class, but
ignoring the very existence of the lower class, refugees from ignoble
fortune.

Mrs. Bradshaw, by right of dignity and regular payments for the best room
in the house, was the star-boarder, and it was undoubtedly her friendship
which raised me socially from that third and lowest class to which my
small payments would have relegated me.

Standing in my tiny, closet-like room, by lifting myself to my toes, I
could touch the ceiling. There was not space for a bureau, but the yellow
wash-stand stood quite firmly, with the assistance of a brick, which made
up for the absence of part of its off hind leg. There was a kitchen-chair
that may have been of pine, but my aching back proclaimed it lignum-vitæ.
A mere sliver of a bed stretched itself sullenly in the corner, where its
slats, showing their outlines through the meagre bed-clothing, suggested
the ribs of an attenuated cab-horse. From that bed early rising became a
pleasure instead of a mere duty. Above the wash-stand, in a narrow, once
veneered but now merely glue-covered frame, hung a small looking-glass,
that, size considered, could, I believe, do more damage to the human
countenance than could any other mirror in the world. It had a sort of
dimple in its middle, which had the effect of scattering one's features
into the four corners of the glass, loosely--a nose and eyebrow here, a
mouth yonder, and one's "altogether" nowhere.

It was very disconcerting. Blanche said it made her quite sea-sick, or
words to that effect. This dreadful little apartment lay snug against the
roof. In the winter the snow sifted prettily but uncomfortably here and
there. In the summer the heat was appalling. Those old-timers who knew
the house well, called No. 15 the "torture-chamber," and many a time,
during the fiercest heat, Mrs. Bradshaw would literally drive me from the
small fiery furnace to her own room, where at least there was air to
breathe, for No. 15 had but half a window. And yet, miserable as this
place was, it was a refuge and a shelter. The house was well known, it
was ugly, as cheap things are apt to be, but it was respectable and safe,
and I trembled at the thought of losing my right to enter there.

In the past my mother had been employed by the landlady as seamstress and
as housekeeper, besides which she had once nursed the lonely old woman
through a severe sickness, and as I had been permitted to live with my
mother, Mrs. Miller of course knew me well; so one day when she found me
engaged in the unsatisfactory occupation of recounting my money she asked
me, very gruffly, what I was going to do through the summer. I gazed at
her with wide, frightened eyes, and was simply dumb. More sharply, she
asked: "Do you hear?--what are you going to do when the theatre closes?"

I swallowed hard, and then faintly answered: "I've got one week's board
saved, Mrs. Miller, but after that I--I--," had my soul depended upon the
speaking of another word I could not have uttered it.

She glared her most savage glare at me. She impatiently pushed her false
front awry, pulled at her spectacles, and finally took up one of my six
little piles of coin and asked: "What's this for?"

"Washing," I gasped.

"You don't send your handkerchiefs to the wash, do you?" she demanded,
suspiciously.

I shook my head and pointed to a handkerchief drying on a string at my
half-window.

"That's right," she remarked, in a slightly mollified tone. Then she
reached over, took up the pile that was meant for the next week's board,
and putting it in her pocket, she remarked: "I'll just take this _now_,
so you won't run no risk of losing it, and for the next five weeks after,
why, well your mother was honest before you, and I reckon you're going to
take after her. You promise to be a hard worker, too, so, well nobody
else has ever been able to stay in this room over a week--so I guess you
can go on stopping right here, till the theatre opens again, and you can
pay me by fits and starts as it comes handy for you. Why, what's the
matter with you? Well, I vum! you must be clean tuckered out to cry like
that! Land sakes, child! tie a wet rag on your head and lay right down,
till you can get picked up a bit!" and out she bounced.

Dear old raging savage! how she used to frighten us all! how she barked
and barked, but she never, never bit! How I wanted to kiss her withered
old cheek that day when she offered me shelter on trust! But she was
eighty-five years old and my honored guest here at "The Pines" before I
told her all the terror and the gratitude she brought to me that day.

My clear skin, bright eyes, and round face gave me an appearance of
perfect health, which was belied by the pain I almost unceasingly
endured. The very inadequate provision my poor mother had been able to
make for the necessaries of her child's welfare, the cruel restrictions
placed upon my exercise, even upon movement in that wooden chair, where I
sat with numb limbs five hours at a stretch, had greatly aggravated a
slight injury to my spine received in babyhood. And now I was facing a
life of hard work, handicapped by that most tenacious, most cruel of
torments, a spinal trouble.

At fourteen I knew enough about such terms as vertebra of the back,
spinal-column, spinal-cord, sheath of cord, spinal-marrow, axial nervous
system, curvatures, flexes and reflexes to have nicely established an
energetic quack as a specialist in spinal trouble; and, alas! after all
these years no one has added to my list of flexes and reflexes the words
"fixed or refixed," so my poor spine and I go struggling on, and I
sometimes think, if it could speak, it might declare that I am as dented,
crooked, and wavering as it is. However, I suppose that state of
uncertain health may have caused the capricious appetite that tormented
me. Always poor, I had yet never been able to endure coarse food. Heavy
meats, cabbage, turnips, beets, fried things filled me with cold
repulsion. Crackers and milk formed my dinner, day in and day out. Now
and then crackers and water had to suffice me; but I infinitely preferred
the latter to a meal of roast pork or of corned beef, followed by
rice-pudding.

But the trouble from the fastidious appetite came when it suddenly
demanded something for its gratification--imperiously, even furiously
demanded it. If anyone desires a thing intensely, the continual denial of
that craving becomes almost a torture. So, when that finical appetite of
mine would suddenly cry out for oysters, I could think of nothing else.
Quick tears would spring into my eyes as I approached the oysterless
table. Again and again I would dream of them, cans and cans would be
piled on my table (I lived far from shell-oysters then), and when I awoke
I would turn on my lumpy bed and moan like a sick animal. I mention this
because I wish to explain what that little odd pile of money had been
saved for.

At the approach of hot weather a craving for ice-cream had seized upon me
with almost agonizing force. It is a desire common to all young things,
but the poverty of my surroundings, the lack of the more delicate
vegetables, of fruits, of sweets, added to the intensity of my craving. I
had found a place away up on the market where for ten cents one could get
quite a large saucer of the delicate dainty. Fifteen or twenty-five cents
was charged elsewhere for no better cream, but a more decorative saucer.

But, good gracious! what a sum of money--ten cents for a mere pleasure!
though the memory of it afterward was a comfort for several days, and
then, oh, unfortunate girl! the sick longing would come again! And so, in
a sort of despair, I tried to save thirty cents, with the deliberate
intention of spending the whole sum on luxury and folly. Six long,
blazing-hot, idle weeks I should have to pass in the "torture-chamber,"
but with that thirty cents by me I could, every two weeks, loiter
deliciously over a plate of cream, feel its velvety smoothness on my lips
and its icy coldness cooling all my weary, heat-worn body. One week I
could live on memory, and the next upon anticipation, and so get through
the long vacation in comparative comfort.

There was no lock upon my room door, but I said nothing about it, as the
door would not close anyway; and at night, for security, I placed the
lignum-vitæ chair against it. In the day-time I had to entrust my
belongings to the honor of my house-mates, as it were.

The six little piles of wash-money I had, after the manner of a squirrel,
buried here and there at the bottom of my trunk, which I securely locked;
but my precious thirty cents I carried about with me, tied in the corner
of a handkerchief. It generally rested in the bosom of my dress, but
there came a day when, for economy's sake, I washed a pair of stockings
as well as my three handkerchiefs, and Mrs. Miller said I might hang them
on the line in the yard below. My tiny window opened in that direction.
The day was fiercely hot. I put the money in my pocket and carefully hung
my dress up opposite the window, and, in a little white jacket, did out
my washing; then, singing happily, I ran down-stairs, two long flights,
to hang the articles on the line. As I was putting a clothes-pin in place
I glanced upward at the musk-plant on my window-sill--and then my heart
stood still in my breast. I could neither breathe nor move for the
moment. I could see my dress-skirt depending from its nail, and oh, dear
God! a man's great red hand was grasping it--was clutching it, here and
there, in search of the pocket! Suddenly I gave a piercing cry, and
bounding into the house, I tore madly up the stairs--too late. The dress
lay in the doorway--the pocket was empty! On the floor, with my head
against the white-washed wall, I sat with closed eyes. The smell of a
musk-plant makes me shudder to this day. I sat there stupidly till dusk;
then I crept to my sliver of a bed, and cried, and cried, and sobbed the
whole weary, hot night through. Next day I simply could not rise, and so
for weeks I dragged heavily up and down the stairs, loathing the very
sight of the dining-room, and driven half wild with that never-sleeping
craving for ice-cream.

It was purgatory, it was the very tragedy of littleness. And that was my
first theatrical vacation.



CHAPTER NINTH

  The Season Reopens--I meet the Yellow Breeches and become a Utility
  Man--Mr. Murdock Escapes Fits and my "Luck" Proves to be Extra Work.


The exuberance of my joy over the opening of the new season was somewhat
modified by my close relations with a certain pair of knee-breeches--and
I wish to say right here that when Gail Hamilton declared inanimate
things were endowed with powers of malice and general mischievousness,
she was not exaggerating, but speaking strictly by the card.

Some men think her charge was made solely against collar-buttons, whose
conduct the world admits is detrimental to good morals; but they are
wrong; she included many things in her charge. Consider the
innocent-looking rocking-chair, for instance. When it strikes does not
the rocker always find your ankle-joint? In darkness or in light did it
ever miss that exact spot? Never! And then how gently it will sway, while
you rear and stamp, and, with briny eyes, say--well, things you should
not say, things you would not say but for the malice of an inanimate
thing.

Perhaps the quickest way to win your sympathy is to tell you at once that
those knee-breeches were made of yellow plush, bright yellow--I thought
that would move you! There was a coat, too--yes, things can always be
worse, you see; and when I was crowded into that awful livery I felt like
hopping about in a search for hemp-seed, I looked so like an enormous
canary that had outgrown its cage.

Had Gail Hamilton known those breeches she would have said: "Here is
total depravity in yellow plush!"

You see, the way they got their grip on me originally was this. There had
been two utility men engaged for the company, but one of them was taken
sick and could not come to the city at all, and the other one made the
manager sick, and was discharged for utter incompetency, and that very
night there was required a male servant who could in the first act summon
the star to the presence of his employer, with a name hard to pronounce;
and in the last act, when the star had become the boss of the whole
affair, could announce the coming of his carriage.

"Could I do those two lines?"

"Oh, yes!" I joyfully announced my ability and my willingness; "but I had
no clothes."

And then, instead of turning the part into a girl attendant, in an evil
moment the manager bethought himself of some wardrobe he had purchased
from a broken up or down opera manager, and search discovered the
yellow-plush breeches, coat, and white wig. I put them on--the canary was
hatched!

I played the part of two announcements; I walked out clear from the hip,
like a boy--and I became the utility man of the company, and the
tormented victim of the yellow breeches.

I was a patient young person and willing to endure much for art's sake,
but that wig was too much. Built of white horse-hair mounted upon linen,
its heat and weight were fearful. It had evidently been constructed for a
big, round, perfectly bumpless head. It came down to my very eyebrows on
top, and at the sides, instead of terminating just at the hair-line above
the ear, it swallowed up my ears, covered my temples, and extended clear
to my eyes, giving me the appearance of being harnessed up in large white
blinders--like a shying horse. In common humanity the manager released me
from the wig and let me wear powder, but the clutch of the yellow
breeches remained unbroken.

As in their opera days (I don't know what they sang, but they were
probably in the chorus) they had wandered through the world, knowing all
continental Europe and the South Americas, so now they wandered through
dramatic literature. One night accompanying me on to deliver a note to
Madame de Pompadour, the next night those same yellow breeches and I
skipped back to Louis XIV., and admitted many lords and ladies, with
tongue-tying names, to that monarch's presence, only to skip forward
again, in a few days, to bring in mail-bags to snuffy rural gentry, under
almost any of the Georges. Though the lace ruffles and jabots of the
French period might give place to a plain red waistcoat for the Georgian
English household, the canary breeches were always there, ready to burst
into song at any moment, to basely fire off a button or break a buckle
just at the moment of my entrance-cue, treacherously suggesting, by their
easy wrinkling while I stood, that I might just as well sit down and rest
my tired feet, and the moment I attempted to lower myself to a chair,
beginning such a mad cracking and snapping in every seam as brought me
upright with a bound and the settled conviction that weariness was
preferable to public shame.

I am glad to this day that the stage-door was always kept locked, for,
had it been open, heaven only knows where those cosmopolitan breeches
might have taken me--they were such experienced travellers that a trip to
Havana or to the City of Mexico would have struck them as a nice little
jaunt.

My pleasantest moments as utility man came to me when, in a very brief
white cotton Roman shirt and sandals, I led the shouts for the _supers_,
who are proverbially dumb creatures before the audience, though noisy
enough behind the scenes. So all the furious and destructive mobs of that
season were led on by a little whipper-snapper who yelled like a demon
with a copper-lined throat and then stood about afterward peacefully
making tatting.

It must not be thought that I had in the first place a monopoly of the
small parts; far from it, but the company being rather short of utility
people, if the ballet-girls could play speaking servants, it not only
saved a salary or two to the manager, but it was of immense advantage to
the girls themselves. Then, too, Mr. Ellsler was particularly anxious to
avoid any charge of favoritism; so in the earliest days these little
parts were given out turn and turn about, without choice or
favor--indeed, two or three times my short dress caused me to be passed
over in favor of long dresses and done-up hair. But a few disasters,
caused by failure of memory or loss of nerve on the part of these
competitors, gave the _pas_ to me, and it must be remembered that these
lapses and mishaps, though amusing to recall, were absolutely disastrous
at the time, ruining, as they did, the scene, if not the entire act, in
which they occurred.

With special vividness I recall the first one of these happenings. "Romeo
and Juliet" was the play, and _Balthazar_ the part. I longed for it
because, aside from his fine speech, he was really quite important and
had to show tenderness, anxiety, and determination during the time
_Romeo_ addressed him. I pleaded with my eyes, but I could not, dared not
speak up and ask for the part, as did Annie, who was older than I. The
star and prompter exchanged a few low-spoken sentences. I caught the
condemnatory word "child," and knew my fate was sealed--long skirts and
turned-up hair had won. However, my wound was salved when the page to
_Paris_ was given me with two lines to speak.

Now there is no one but _Romeo_ on the stage when _Balthazar_ enters,
which, of course, gives him great prominence. His first speech, of some
fifty or fifty-six words, is simply expressed, not at all involved, yet
from the moment Annie received the part she became a broken,
terror-stricken creature. Many people when nervous bite their nails, but
Annie, in that state of mind, had a funny habit of putting her hand to
the nape of her neck and rubbing her hair upward. She had a pretty dress
of her own, but she had to borrow a wig, and, like all borrowed wigs, it
failed to fit; it was too small, and at last, when the best had been
done, its wobbly insecurity must have been terrifying.

The girl's figure was charming, and as she stood in the entrance in her
boy's costume, I remarked: "You look lovely, Annie!"

Silently she turned her glassy, unseeing eyes toward me, while she
shifted her weight swiftly from one foot to the other, opening and
shutting her hands spasmodically. _Romeo_ was on, and he joyously
declared:

      "My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne!"

He then described his happy dream--I heard the words:

      "When but love's shadows are so rich in joy!"

And there Annie staggered forward on to the stage.

      "News from Verona!" cried _Romeo_: "How now, Balthazar?"

Oh, well might he ask "How now?" for, shifting from foot to foot, this
stricken _Balthazar_ was already feeling at the nape of her neck, and
instead of answering the questions of _Romeo_ about _Juliet_ with the
words:

      "Then she is well, and nothing can be ill,
      Her body sleeps in Capets' monument,
      And her immortal part with angels lives;
      I saw her laid low in her kindred's vault,
      And presently took post to tell it you:
      O pardon me for bringing these ill news,
      Since you did leave it for my office, sir,"

these were the startling statements he made in gulps and gasps:

      "O-Oh, y-yes! Sh-e's very well--and nothing's wrong;

[titter from audience, and amazement on _Romeo's_ face]

      H-her immortal parts are in a vault,
      I--I saw them laid there, and come to tell you!"

Perhaps she would have got to the right words at last, but just there the
wig, pushed too hard, lurched over on one side, giving such a piratical
look to the troubled face that a very gale of laughter filled the house,
and she retired then and there, though in the next speech she should have
refused to leave _Romeo_:

      "Pardon me, sir, I will not leave you thus:
      Your looks are pale and wild,"

yet now, because his looks were red and wild, she left without
permission, and the enraged instead of grieving _Romeo_ had no one to
receive his order:

      "----get me ink and paper,
      And hire post horses."

So when, in his confusion, he went on continuing his lines as they were
written, and, addressing empty space, fiercely bade _Balthazar_:

      "----get thee gone!"

and in unintentionally suggestive tones promised:

      "----I'll be with thee straight!"

the audience laughed openly and heartily at the star himself.

"Yes, sir," he snorted later on to Mr. Ellsler, "by heaven, sir! they
laughed at me--AT ME! I have been made ridiculous by your measly little
_Balthazar_--who should have been a man, sir! Yes, sir, a man, whom I
could have chastised for making a fool of himself, sir! and a d----d
fool of me, sir!"

For the real tragedy of that night lay in the wound given to the dignity
of Mr. F. B. Conway, who played a measured and stately _Romeo_ to the
handsome and mature _Juliet_ of his wife.

We had no young _Juliets_ just then, they were all rather advanced,
rather settled in character for the reckless child of Verona. But every
lady who played the part declared at rehearsal that Shakespeare had been
foolish to make _Juliet_ so young--that no woman had learned enough to
understand and play her before middle age at least.

Mrs. Bradshaw, one day, said laughingly to me: "By your looks you seemed
to disagree with Mrs. Ellsler's remarks this morning. She, too, thinks a
woman is not fit for _Juliet_ until she has learned much of nature and
the world."

"But," I objected, lamely, "while they are learning so much about the
world they are forgetting such a lot about girlhood!"

Her laughter confused and distressed me. "I can't say it!" I cried, "but
you know how very forward _Juliet_ is in speech? If she _knew_, that
would become brazen boldness! It isn't what she _knows_, but what she
_feels_ without knowing that makes the tragedy!" And what Mrs. Bradshaw
meant by muttering, "Babes and sucklings--from the mouths of babes and
sucklings," I could not make out; perhaps, however, I should say that my
mate Annie played few blankverse parts after _Balthazar_.

Then, one Saturday night, we were all corralled by the prompter before we
could depart for home, and were gravely addressed by the manager--the
whole thing being ludicrously suggestive of the reading of the riot act;
but after reminding us that Mr. James E. Murdoch would begin his
engagement on Monday night, that the rehearsals would be long and
important, he proceeded to poison the very source of our Sunday's rest
and comfort by fell suggestions of some dire mishap threatening the
gentleman through us. We exchanged wondering and troubled glances. What
could this mean?

Mr. Ellsler went on: "You all know how precise Mr. Murdoch has always
been about your readings; how exacting about where you should stand at
this word or at that; how quickly his impatience of stupidity has burst
into anger; but you probably do not know that since his serious sickness
he is more exacting than ever, and has acquired the habit, when much
annoyed, of--of--er--well, of having a fit."

"O-h!" it was unanimous, the groan that broke from our oppressed chests.
Stars who _gave us_ fits we were used to, but the star who went into fits
himself--good heavens! good heavens!

Rather anxiously, Mr. Ellsler continued: "These fits, for all I know, may
spell apoplexy--anyway, he is too frail a man to safely indulge in them;
so, for heaven's sake, do nothing to cross him; be on time, be
perfect--dead letter-perfect in your parts; write out all his directions
if necessary; grin and bear anything, so long as he doesn't have a fit!
Good-night."

The riot act had been read, the mob dispersed, but the nerve of the most
experienced was shaken by the prospect of acting a whole week with a
gentleman who, at any moment, might get mad enough to have a fit.

Think, then, what must have been the state of mind of my other
ballet-mate, Hattie, who, in her regular turn, had received a small part,
but of real importance, and who had to address her lines to Mr. Murdoch
himself. Poor girl, always nervous, this new terror made her doubly so.
She roused the star's wrath, even at rehearsal.

"Speak louder!" (imperatively). "_Will_ you speak louder?" (furiously).
"Perhaps, in the interest of those who will be in front to-night, I may
suggest that you speak loud enough to be heard by--say--the first row!"
(satirically). Now a calmly controlled body is generally the property of
a trained actress, not of a raw ballet-girl, and Hattie's restless
shifting about and wriggling drove him into such a rage that, to the
rest of us, he seemed to be trembling with inchoate fits, and I saw the
property man get his hat and take his stand by the stage-door, ready to
fly for the doctor, or, as he called him, "the fit sharp."

She, too, was to appear as a page. She was to enter hurriedly--always a
difficult thing for a beginner to do. She was to address Mr. Murdoch in
blank verse--a _more_ difficult thing--and implore him to come swiftly to
prevent bloodshed, as a hostile meeting was taking place between young
Count So-and-so and "your nephew, sir!"

This news was to shock the uncle so that he would stand dazed for a
moment, when the page, looking off the stage, should cry:

      "Ah, you are too late, sir, already their blades are out!
      See how the foils writhe," etc.

With a cry, the uncle should recover himself, and furiously order the
page to

      "----call the watch!"

Alas! and alas! when the night, the play, the act, the cue came, Hattie,
as handsome a boy as you could wish to see, went bravely on, as quickly,
too, as her terror-chilled legs could carry her, but when she got there
had no word to say--no, not one!

In a sort of icy rage, Mr. Murdoch gave her her line, speaking very low,
of course:

      "My lord--my lord! I do beseech you haste,
      Else here is murder done!"

But the poor girl, past prompting properly, only caught wildly at the
_sense_ of the speech, and gasped out:

      "Come on, quick!"

She saw his foot tapping with rage--thought his fits might begin that
way, and madly cried, at the top of her voice:

      "Be quick--see--see! publicly they cross their _financiers_!"

then, through the laughter, rushed from the stage, crying, with streaming
tears: "I don't care if he has a dozen fits! He has just scared the words
out of my head with them!"

And truly, when Mr. Murdoch, trembling with weakness, excitement, and
anger, staggered backward, clasping his brow, everyone thought the
dreaded fit had arrived.

Next day he reproachfully informed Mr. Ellsler that he could not yet see
blank verse and the King's English (so he termed it) murdered without
suffering physically as well as mentally from the shocking spectacle.
That he was an old man now, and should not be exposed to such tests of
temper.

Yes, as he spoke, he was an old man--pallid, lined, weary-faced; but that
same night he was young _Mirabel_--in spirit, voice, eye, and movement.
Fluttering through the play, "Wine Works Wonders," in his satins and his
laces--young to the heart--young with the immortal youth of the true
artist.

Both these girls spoke plain prose well enough, and always had their
share of the parts in modern plays; but, as all was grist to my
individual mill, most of the blankverse and Shakespearean small
characters came to me. Nor was I the lucky girl they believed me; there
was no luck about it. My small success can be explained in two
words--extra work. When they studied their parts they were contented if
they could repeat their lines perfectly in the quiet of their rooms, and
made no allowance for possible accidents or annoyances with power to
confuse the mind and so cause loss of memory and ensuing shame. But I was
a careful young person, and would not trust even my own memory without
first taking every possible precaution. Therefore the repeating of my
lines correctly in my room was but the beginning of my study of them. In
crossing the crowded street I suddenly demanded of myself my lines. At
the table, when all were chatting, I again made sudden demand for the
same. If on either occasion my heart gave a jump and my memory failed to
present the exact word, I knew I was not yet perfect, and I would repeat
those lines until, had the very roof blown off the theatre at night, I
should not have missed one. Then only could I turn my attention to the
acting of them--oh, bless you, yes! I quite thought I was acting, and at
all events I was doing the next best thing, which was trying to act.

But a change was coming to me, an experience was approaching which I
cannot explain to myself, neither has anyone else explained it for me;
but I mention it because it made such a different thing of dramatic life
for me. Aye, such a difficult thing as well. Looking back to that time I
see that all my childhood, all my youth, was crowded into that first year
on the stage. There I first knew liberty of speech, freedom of motion.
There I shared in the general brightness and seemed to live by right
divine, not by the grudging permission of some task-mistress of my
mother. I had had no youth before, for in what should have been babyhood
I had been a troubled little woman, most wise in misery. In freedom my
crushed spirits rose with a bound. The mimicry, the adaptability of
childhood asserted themselves--I pranced about the stage happily but
thoughtlessly.

It seems to me I was like a blind puppy, born into warmth and comfort and
enjoying both, without any fear of the things it could not see. As I have
said before, I knew no fear, I had no ambition, I was just happy, blindly
happy; and now, all suddenly, I was to exchange this freedom of
unconsciousness for the slavery of consciousness.



CHAPTER TENTH

  With Mr. Dan. Setchell I Win Applause--A Strange Experience Comes to
  Me--I Know Both Fear and Ambition--The Actress is Born at Last


My manager considered me to have a real gift of comedy, and he several
times declared that my being a girl was a distinct loss to the profession
of a fine low comedian.

It was in playing a broad comedy bit that my odd experience came to me.
Mr. Dan. Setchell was the star. He was an extravagantly funny comedian,
and the laziest man I ever saw--too lazy even properly to rehearse his
most important scenes. He would sit on the prompt table--a table placed
near the footlights at rehearsal, holding the manuscript, writing
materials, etc., with a chair at either end, one for the star, the other
for the prompter or stage manager--and with his short legs dangling he
would doze a little through people's scenes, rousing himself reluctantly
for his own, but instead of rising, taking his place upon the stage, and
rehearsing properly, he would kick his legs back and forth, and, smiling
pleasantly, would lazily repeat his lines where he was, adding: "I'll be
on your right hand when I say that, Herbert. Oh, at your exit, Ellsler,
you'll leave me in the centre, but when you come back you'll find me down
left."

After telling James Lewis several times at what places he would find him
at night, Lewis remarked, in despair: "Well, God knows where you'll find
_me_ at night!"

"Oh, never mind, old man," answered the ever-smiling, steadily kicking
Setchell, "if you're there, all right; if you're not there, no matter!"
which was not exactly flattering.

Of course such rehearsals led to many errors at night, but Mr. Setchell
cleverly covered them up from the knowledge of the laughing audience.

It is hard to imagine that lazy, smiling presence in the midst of awful
disaster, but he was one of the victims of a dreadful shipwreck while
making the voyage to Australia. Bat-blind to the future, he at that time
laughed and comfortably shirked his work in the day-time, and made others
laugh when he did his work at night.

In one of his plays I did a small part with him--I was his wife, a former
old maid of crabbed temper. I had asked Mr. Ellsler to make up my face
for me as an old and ugly woman. I wore corkscrew side curls and an awful
wrapper. I was a fearful object, and when Mr. Setchell first saw me he
stood silent a moment, then, after rubbing his stomach hard, and
grimacing, he took both my hands, exclaiming: "Oh, you hideous jewel! you
positively gave me a cramp at just sight of you! Go in, little girl, for
all you're worth! and do just what you please--you deserve the liberty
for that make-up!"

And goodness knows I took him at his word, and did anything that came
into my giddy head. Even then I possessed that curious sixth sense of the
born actress, and as a doctor with the aid of his stethoscope can hear
sounds of grim warning or of kindly promise, while there is but the
silence to the stander-by, so an actress, with that stethoscopic sixth
sense, detects even the _forming_ emotions of her audience, feeling
incipient dissatisfaction before it becomes open disapproval, or
thrilling at the intense stillness that ever precedes a burst of
approbation.

And that night, meeting with a tiny mishap, which seemed to amuse the
audience, I seized upon it, elaborating it to its limit, and making it my
own, after the manner of an experienced actor.

There was no elegant comedy of manners in the scene, understand, it was
just the broadest farce, and it consisted of the desperate effort of a
hen-pecked husband to assert himself and grasp the reins of home
government, which resolved itself at last into a scolding-match, in
which each tried to talk the other down--with what result you will know
without the telling.

The stage was set for a morning-room, with a table in the centre, spread
with breakfast for two; a chair at either side and, as it happened, a
footstool by mine. His high silk hat and some papers, also, were upon the
table. For some unexplainable cause the silk hat has always been
recognized, both by auditor and actor, as a legitimate object of
fun-making, so when I, absent-mindedly, dropped all my toast-crusts into
that shining receptacle, the audience expressed its approval in laughter,
and so started me on my downward way, for that was my own idea and not a
rehearsed one. When my husband mournfully asked if "There was not even
one hot biscuit to be had?" I deliberately tried each one with the back
of my knuckles, and remarking, "Yes, here is just one," which was the
correct line in the play, I took it myself, which was not in the play,
and so went on till the scolding-match was reached.

In my first noisy speech I meant to stamp my foot, but by accident I
brought it down upon the footstool. The people laughed, I saw a point--I
lifted the other foot and stood upon the stool. By the twinkle in Mr.
Setchell's eye, as well as by the laughter in front, I knew I was on the
right track.

He roared--he lifted his arms above his head, and in my reply, as I
raised my voice, I mounted from the stool to the seat of the chair. He
seized his hat, and with the toast-crusts falling about his face and
ears, jammed it on his head, while in my last speech, with my voice at
its highest screech, I lifted my foot and firmly planted it upon the very
breakfast-table.

It was enough--the storm broke from laughter to applause. Mr. Setchell
had another speech--one of resigned acceptance of second place, but as
the applause continued, he knew it would be an anti-climax, and he
signalled the prompter to ring down the curtain.

But I--I knew he ought to speak. I was frightened, tears filled my eyes.
"What is it?" I whispered, as I started to get down.

"Stand still," he sharply answered, then added: "It's you, you funny
little idiot! you've made a hit--that's all!" and the curtain fell
between us and the laughing crowd in front.

The prompter started for me instantly from his corner, exclaiming, in his
anger: "Well, of all the cheeky devilment I ever heard or saw--" But Mr.
Setchell had him by the arm in a second, crying: "Hold on, old man! I
gave her leave--she had my permission! Oh, good Lord! did you see that
ascent of stool, chair, and table? eh? ha! ha! ha!"

I stood trembling like a jelly in a hot day. Mr. Setchell said: "Don't be
frightened, my girl! that applause was for you! You won't be fined or
scolded--you've made a hit, that's all!" and he patted me kindly on the
shoulder and broke again into fat laughter.

I went to my room, I sat down with my head in my hands. Great drops of
sweat came out on my temples. My hands were icy cold, my mouth was dry,
that applause rang in my ears. A cold terror seized upon me--a terror of
what, the public?

Ah, a tender mouth was bitted and bridled at last! the reins were in the
hands of the public, and it would drive me--where?

The public! the public! I had never feared it before, because I had never
realized its power. If I pleased, well and good. If I displeased it, I
should be driven forth from the dramatic Eden I loved, in which I hoped
to learn so many things theatrical and to become very wise, and I should
wander all my life in the stony places of poverty and disappointment! I
clenched my hands and writhed in misery at the thought. I seemed again to
hear that applause, which had been for me--my very self! and I thrilled
at its wild sweetness. Ah, the public! it could make or it could mar my
whole life. Mighty monster, without mercy! The great many-headed
creature, all jewelled over with fierce, bright eyes, with countless ears
a-strain for error of any kind! That beat the perfumed air with its
myriad hands when pleased--when pleased! A strange, great stillness
seemed to close about me; something murmured: "In the future, in the
_dim_ future, a woman may cause this many-headed monster you fear to
think as one mind, to feel as one heart! _Then_ the bit and bridle will
be changed--that woman will hold the reins and will drive the public!" At
which I broke into shrill laughter, in spite of flowing tears. Two women
came in, one said: "Why, what on earth's the matter? Have they blown you
up for your didoes to-night? What need you care, you pleased the
audience?" But another said, quietly: "Just get a glass of water for her,
she has a touch of hysteria--I wonder who caused it?"

But I only thought of that woman of the dim future, who was to conquer
the public--who was she?

Why that round of applause should have so shattered my happy confidence I
cannot understand, but the fact remains that from that night I never
faced a new audience, or attempted a new part, without suffering a
nervous terror that sometimes but narrowly escaped collapse.



CHAPTER ELEVENTH

  My Promiscuous Reading wins me a Glass of Soda--The Stage takes up my
  Education and Leads me through Many Pleasant Places.

I suppose it sounds absurd to say that during those first seasons, with
choruses, dances, and small parts to learn, with rehearsals every day and
appearances every night, I was getting an education.

But that depends upon your definition of the word. If it means to you
schooling, special instruction, and formal training, then my claim is
absurd; but if it means information, cultivation of the intellectual
powers, enlightenment, why then my claim holds good, my statement stands,
I was getting an education. And let me say the stage is a delightful
teacher; she never wearies you with sameness or drives you to frenzy with
iteration. No deadly-dull text-book stupefies you with lists of bare,
bald dates, dryly informing you that someone was born in 1208, mounted
the throne in 1220, died in 1258, and was succeeded by someone or other
who reigned awhile--really you can't remember how long, and don't much
care. There's nothing in figures for the memory to cling to. But no one
can forget that Edward V. was born in 1470, because he is such a tragic
little figure, only thirteen years old and of scant two months reign,
because there was the Tower and there the crafty, usurping Duke of
Gloster eager for his crown.

Perhaps people would remember that Edward III. was born in 1312 and was
succeeded by his grandson, Richard, if they were told at the same moment
that he was father to that superb Black Prince, beloved alike of poet,
painter, and historian.

Now, to be a good actress and do intelligent work, one should thoroughly
understand the play and its period in history, as the mainspring of its
action is often political. To be able to do that requires a large fund of
general information. That I had from my very babyhood been a reckless
reader, came about from necessity--I had no choice, I simply read every
single thing in print that my greedy hands closed upon; the results of
this promiscuous reading, ranging from dime novels to Cowper, were
sometimes amusing. One day, I remember, an actress was giving a very
excited account of a street accident she had witnessed. Her colors were
lurid, and some of her hearers received her tale coldly. "Oh!" she cried,
"such an awful crowd--a mob, you know--a perfect mob!"

"Oh, nonsense!" contradicted another, "there couldn't have been a mob,
there are not people enough in that street to make a mob!"

Then I mildly but firmly remarked: "Oh, yes, there are, for you know that
legally three's a mob and two's a crowd."

A shout of laughter followed this bit of information. "How utterly
absurd!" cried one. "Well, of all the ridiculous ideas I ever heard!"
laughed another. And then, suddenly, dear old Uncle Dick (Mr. Richard
Stevens and player of old men, to be correct) came to my support, and,
with the authority of a one-time barrister, declared my statement to be
perfectly correct.

"But where, in the name of Heaven, did you get your information?"

"Oh," I vaguely replied, "I just read it somewhere."

"That's a rather broad statement," remarked Uncle Dick; "you don't give
your authority, page and line, I observe. Well, see here, now, Clara
_mia_, in whatever field you found that one odd fact, you certainly
gleaned others there, so if you can produce, at once, three other legal
statements, I will treat you to soda-water after rehearsal."

Oh, the delicious word was scarcely over his lips when I was wildly
searching my memory, and presently, very doubtfully, offered the
statement: "It is a fraud to conceal a fraud."

But Uncle Dick gravely and readily accepted it. Another search, and then
joyfully I announced: "Contracts made with minors, lunatics, or drunkards
are void."

A shout of laughter broke from the kind old man's lips, but he accepted
that, too. Oh, almost I could hear the cool hiss of the soda--but now not
another thing could I find. My face fell, my heart sank. Hitherto I had
been thinking of papers, now I frantically ran through stories. Suddenly
I cried: "A lead-pencil signature stands in law."

But, alas! Uncle Dick hesitated--my authority was worthless. Oh, dear!
oh, dear! was I to lose my treat, just for lack of a little legal
knowledge? Sadly I remarked, "I guess I'll have to give it up,
unless--unless you'll take: 'Principals are responsible for their
agents,'" and, with pleasure beaming in his kind old eyes, he accepted
it.

Ah, I can taste that vanilla soda yet--and, what is more, the old
gentleman took the trouble to find out about the legality of the
lead-pencil signature; and, as my statement had been correct, he took
great pains to make the fact known to all who had heard him question it,
and he added to my little store of knowledge, "that a contract made on
Sunday would not stand," which, by the way, later on, saved me from a
probably painful experience.

I mention this to show that even my unadvised reading had not been
absolutely useless, I had learned a little about a variety of things; but
now, plays continually presented new subjects to me to think and read
about; thus "Venice Preserved" set me wild to find out what a _Doge_ was,
and why Venice was so adored by her sons, and I straightway obtained a
book about the wonderful city--whose commerce, power of mart and
merchant may have departed, but whose mournful beauty is but hallowed by
her weakness.

So many plays were produced, representing so many periods, so many
countries, I don't know how I should have satisfied my craving for the
books they led me to had not the Public Library opened just then. I was
so proud and happy the day my mother surprised me with half the price of
a membership, and happier yet when I had the right to enter there and
browse right and left, up and down, nibbling here, feeding long and
contentedly there. Oh, the delight of reading one book, with two or three
others in my lap; 'twas the pleasure of plenty, new to one who could have
spelled "economy" in her sleep.

Then, again, if it is the Stage that is making you read, you have to keep
your eyes wide open and take note of many things. Some girls read just
for the sake of the story, they heed nothing but that, they are even
guilty of the impertinence of "skipping," "to get to the story more
quickly, you know." But if you are on the stage you understand, for
instance, that different kinds of furniture are used for different
periods and for different countries; so even the beginner knows, when she
sees the heavy old Flemish pieces of furniture standing on the stage in
the morning, that no modern play is on that night, and is equally sure
that the bringing out of the high tile-stove means a German interior is
in preparation. Therefore, if you read for the stage, you watch
carefully, not only Sir Thomas's doings, but his surroundings. If his
chair or desk or sideboard is described, you make a note of the "heavily
carved wood," or the "inlaid wood," or the "boule," or whatever it may
be, and then you note the date of the story, and you say to yourself:
"Ah, such and such furniture belongs to such a date and country."

I once heard the company expressing their shocked amazement over the
velvet robes of some _Macbeth_. I could not venture to ask them why it
was so dreadful, but later I found some paper stating that velvet was
first known in the fifteenth century, and was confined to the use of the
priests or high ecclesiastical authorities--and my mind instantly grasped
the horror of the older actors at seeing _Macbeth_ swathed in velvet in
the grim, almost barbaric Scotland of about 1012; for surely it was a
dreadful thing for an actor to wear velvet four hundred years ahead of
its invention.

You never know just where the Stage is going to lead you in your search
for an education; only one thing you may be sure of, it will not keep you
very long to any one straight road, but will branch off in this direction
or in that, taking up some side issue, as it seems, like this matter of
furniture, and lo, you presently find it is becoming a most important and
interesting subject, well worth careful study. You come to believe you
could recognize the workmanship of the great cabinet-makers at sight. You
learn to shrink from misapplied ornament, you learn what gave rise to the
"veneering reign-of-terror," you bow at the name of Chippendale, and are
filled with wonder by the _cinque-cento_ extravagance of beauty. You find
yourself tracing the rise and fall of dynasties through the chaste beauty
or the over-ornamentation of their cabinet work. If all that Sir Henry
Irving knows on this subject could be crowded into a single volume, the
book would have at least one fault--'twould be of most unwieldy size.

Then holding you by the hand the Stage may next lead you through the
green and bosky places that the poets loved, and, having had your eyes
opened to natural beauties, lo! you go down another lane, and you are
learning about costumes, and suddenly you discover that "sumptuary laws"
once existed, confining the use of furs, velvets, laces, etc., to the
nobility. Fine woollens and linens, and gold and silver ornaments being
also reserved for the privileged orders. That the extravagant young maids
and beaux of the lower class who indulged in yellow starched-ruff, furred
mantle, or silver chain were made to pay a cruel price for their folly
in aping their betters. So it was well for me to make a note of the date
of the "sumptuary law," that I might not some day outrageously overdress
a character.

It is a delightful study, that of costume--to learn how to drape the
toga, how to hang the peplum; to understand the meaning of a bit of
ribbon in the hair, whether as arranged in the three-banded fillet of the
Grecian girl or as the snood of the Scottish lassie; to know enough of
the cestus and the law governing its wearing, not to humiliate yourself
in adopting it on improper occasions; to have at least a bowing
acquaintance with all foot-gear, from sandals down to an Oxford tie; to
be able to scatter your puffed, slashed, or hanging sleeves over the
centuries, with their correct accompanying, small-close, large-round, or
square-upstanding ruffs. Why the mere detail of girdles and hanging
pouches, from distant queens down to "Faust's" _Gretchen_, was a joy in
itself.

Then a girl who played pages, and other young boys, was naturally anxious
to know all about doublets, trunks, and hose, as well as Scottish
"philibeg and sporran." And wigs? I used to wonder if anyone could ever
learn all about wigs--and I'm wondering yet.

But as one studies the coming and going of past fashions in garments, it
is amusing to note their influence upon the cabinet-makers, as it is
expressed in the changing shape of their chairs. For instance: when
panniers developed into farthingale and monstrous hoop, chairs, high and
narrow, widened, lowered their arms--dropped them entirely, making indeed
a fair start toward our own great easy-chair of to-day.

I remember well what a jump my heart gave when in rooting about among
materials--their weaves and dyes--I came upon the term "samite." It's a
word that always thrills me, "samite, mystic, wonderful." Almost I was
afraid to read what might follow; but I need not have hesitated, since
the statement was that "samite" was supposed to have been a delicate web
of silk and gold or silver thread. How beautiful such a combination must
have been--white silk woven with threads of silver might well become
"mystic, wonderful," when wrapped about the chill, high beauty of an
Arthur's face.

But hie and away, to armor and arms! for she would be but a poorly
equipped actress who had no knowledge of sword and buckler, of solid
armor, chain-mail, rings of metal on velvet, or of plain leather
jerkin--of scimitar, sword, broadsword, foil, dagger, dirk, stiletto,
creese.

Oh, no! don't pull your hand away if the Stage wants to lead you among
arms and armor for a little while; be patient, for by and by it will take
you up, up into the high, clear place where Shakespeare dwells, and there
you may try your wings and marvel at the pleasure of each short upward
flight, for the loving student of Shakespeare always rises--never sinks.
Your power of insight grows clearer, stronger, and as you are lifted
higher and higher on the wings of imagination, more and more widely opens
the wonderful land beneath, more and more clearly the voices of its
people reach you. You catch their words and you treasure them, and by and
by, through much loving thought, you comprehend them, after which you can
no longer be an uneducated woman, since no man's wisdom is superior to
Shakespeare's, and no one gives of his wisdom more lavishly than he.

Therefore, while a regular school-education is a thing to be thankful
for, the actress who has been denied it need not despair. If she be
willing to work, the Stage will educate her--nor will it curtly turn her
away at the end of a few years, telling her her "term" is ended. I clung
tightly to its hand for many a year, and was taken a little way through
music's halls, loitered for a time before the easel, and even made a
little rush at a foreign language to help me to the proper pronunciation
of names upon the stage; and no man, no woman all that time rose up to
call me ignorant. So I give all thanks and all honor to the profession
that not only fed and clothed me, but educated me too!



CHAPTER TWELFTH

  The Peter Richings' Engagement brings me my First Taste of
  Slander--Anent the Splendor of my Wardrobe, also my First Newspaper
  Notice.


I remember particularly that second season, because it brought to me the
first taste of slander, my first newspaper notice, and my first proposal
of marriage. The latter being, according to my belief, the natural result
of lengthening my skirts and putting up my hair--at all events, it was a
part of my education.

Of course the question of wardrobe was a most important one still. I had
done very well, so far as peasant dresses of various nationalities were
concerned; I had even acquired a page's dress of my own, but I had no
ball-dress, nothing but a plain, skimpy white muslin gown, which I had
outgrown; for I had gained surprisingly in height with the passing year.
And, lo! the report went about that Mr. Peter Richings and his daughter
Caroline were coming in a fortnight, and they would surely do their play
"Fashion," in which everyone was on in a dance; and I knew everyone would
bring out her best for that attraction, for you must know that actresses
in a stock company grade their costumes by the stars, and only bring out
the very treasures of their wardrobes on state occasions. I was in great
distress; one of my mates had a genuine silk dress, the other owned a
bunch of artificial gold grapes, horribly unbecoming, stiff things, but,
mercy, gold grapes! who cared whether they were becoming or not? Were
they not gorgeous (a lady star had given them to her)? And I would have
to drag about, heavy-footed, in a skimpy muslin!

But in the company there was a lady who had three charming little
children. She was the singing soubrette (by name Mrs. James Dickson). One
of her babies became sick, and I sometimes did small bits of shopping or
other errands for her, thus permitting her to go at once from rehearsal
to her beloved babies. Entering her room from one of these errands, I
found her much vexed and excited over the destruction of one of a set of
fine new lace curtains. The nursemaid had carelessly set it on fire. Of
course Mrs. Dickson would have to buy two more curtains to replace them;
and now, with the odd one in her hand, she started toward her trunk,
paused doubtfully, and finally said to me: "Could you use this curtain
for some small window or something, Clara?"

At her very first word a dazzling possibility presented itself to my
mind. With burning cheeks, I answered: "Oh, yes, ma'am, I--I can use it,
but not at a window, I'm afraid." Her bonnie face flashed into smiles.

"All right; take it along, then!" she cried, "and do what you like with
it. It's only been up two days, and has not a mark on it."

I fairly flew from the house. I sang, as I made my way uptown to buy
several yards of rose-pink paper cambric and a half garland of
American-made artificial roses. Then I sped home and, behind locked
doors, measured and cut and snipped, and, regardless of possible
accident, held about a gill of pins in my mouth while I hummed over my
work. All my fears were gone, they had fled before the waving white
curtain, which fortunately for me was of fine meshed net, carrying for
design unusually small garlands of roses and daisies. And when the great
night came, I appeared as one of the ball guests in a pink under-slip,
with white lace overdress, whose low waist was garlanded with wild roses.
So, happy at heart and light of foot, I danced with the rest, my pink and
white gown ballooning about me in the courtesies with as much rustle and
glow of color as though it had been silk.

But, alas! the imitation was too good a one! The pretty, cheap little
gown I was so happy over attracted the attention of a woman whose whisper
meant scandal, whose lifted brow was an innuendo, whose drooped lid was
an accusation. Like a carrion bird she fed best upon corruption. Thank
Heaven! this cruel creature, hated by the men, feared by the women, was
not an actress, but through mistaken kindness she had been made wardrobe
woman, where, as Mr. Ellsler once declared, she spent her time in ripping
up and destroying the reputation of his actors instead of making and
repairing their wardrobes.

That nothing was too small to catch her pale, cold eye is proved by the
fact that even a ballet-girl's dress received her attention. Next day,
after the play "Fashion" had been done, this woman was saying: "That
girl's mother had better be looking after her conduct, I think!"

"Why, what on earth has Clara done?" asked her listener.

"Done!" she cried, "didn't you see her flaunting herself around the stage
last night in silks and laces no honest girl could own? Where did the
money come from that paid for such finery?"

A few days later a woman who boarded in the house favored by the
mischief-maker happened to meet Mrs. Dickson, happily for me, and said,
_en passant_: "Which one of your ballet-girls is it who has taken to
dressing with so much wicked extravagance? I wonder Mrs. Ellsler don't
notice it."

Now Mrs. Dickson was Scotch, generous, and "unco" quick-tempered, and
after she had put the inquiring friend right, she visited her wrath upon
the originator of the slander in person, and verily the Scottish burr was
on her tongue, and her "r's" rolled famously while she explained the
component parts of that extravagant costume: window curtain--her
gift--and paper cambric and artificial flowers to the cost of one dollar
and seventy-five cents; "and you'll admit," she cried, "that even the
purse of a 'gude lass' can stand sic a strain as that; and what's mair,
you wicked woman, had the girl been worse dressed than the others, you
would ha' been the first to call attention to her as slovenly and
careless."

This was the first drop of scandal expressed especially for me, and I not
only found the taste bitter--very bitter--but learned that it had
wonderful powers of expansion, and that the odor it gives off is rather
pleasant in the nostrils of everyone save its object.

Mrs. Dickson, who, by the way, is still doing good work professionally,
has doubtless forgotten the entire incident, curtain and all, but she
never will forget the bonnie baby-girl she lost that summer, and she will
remember me because I loved the little one--that's a mother's way.

Mr. Peter B. Richings was that joy of the actor's heart--a character. He
had been accounted a very fine actor in his day, but he was a very old
man when I saw him, and his powers were much impaired. Six feet tall,
high-featured, Roman-nosed, elegantly dressed; a term from bygone
days--and not disrespectfully used--describes him perfectly: he was an
"old Buck!"

His immeasurable pride made him hide a stiffening of the joints under the
forced jauntiness of his step, while a trembling of the head became in
him only a sort of debonair senility at worst. Arrogant, short-tempered,
and a veritable martinet, he nevertheless possessed an unbending dignity
and a certain crabbed courtliness of manner very suggestive of the
snuff-box and ruffle period of a hundred years before.

His daughter, by adoption, was the object of his unqualified worship--no
other word can possibly express his attitude toward her. No heavenly
choir could have charmed him as she did when she sang, while her
intellectual head and marble-cold face seemed beautiful beyond compare in
his eyes. Really it was worth going far to see him walk through a
quadrille with her. His bow was a thing for young actors to dream of,
while with trembling head, held high in air, he advanced and retreated,
executing antiquated "steps" with a grace that deprived them of
comicality, while his air of arrogant superiority changed instantly to
profound homage whenever in the movement of the figures he met his
daughter.

His pronunciation of her name was as a flourish of trumpets--Car-o-line!
Each syllable distinct, the "C" given with great fulness, and the
emphasis on the first syllable when pleased, but heavily placed upon the
last when he was annoyed.

He was unconscionably vain of his likeness to Washington, and there were
few Friday nights, this being considered the fashionable evening of the
week, that he failed to present his allegorical picture of Washington
receiving the homage of the States, while Miss Richings, as _Columbia_,
sang the "Star-Spangled Banner," the States joining in the chorus.

In this tableau the circular opening in the flat, backed by a sky-drop
and with blue clouds hanging about the opening, represented heaven. And
here, at an elevation, Washington stood at the right, with _Columbia_ and
her flag on his left, while the States, represented by the ladies of the
company, stood in lines up and down the stage, quite outside of heaven.

Now a most ridiculous story anent Mr. Richings and this heaven of his was
circulating through the entire profession. Some of our company refused to
believe it, declaring it a mere spiteful skit against his well-known
exclusiveness; but that gentleman who had wished to send me for an
"Ibid," being an earnest seeker after knowledge, determined to test the
truth of the story. Therefore, after we had been carefully rehearsed in
the music and had been informed by the star that only Car-O-line and
himself were to stand back of that skylike opening, this "inquiring"
person gave one of the extra girls fifty cents to go at night before the
curtain rose and take her stand on the forbidden spot. She took the money
and followed directions exactly, and when Mr. Richings, as _Washington_,
made his pompous way to the stage, he stood a moment in speechless wrath,
and then, trembling with anger, he stamped his foot, and waving his arm,
cried: "Go a-way! Go a-way! you very presuming young person; this is
heaven, and I told you this morning that only my daughter Car-O-line and
I could possibly stand in heaven!"

It was enough; the "inquiring one" was rolling about with joy at his
work. He had taken a rise out of the old gentleman and proved the truth
of the story which had gone abroad in the land as to this claim of all
heaven for himself and his Car-O-line.

I naturally remember these stars with great clearness, since it was for a
small part in one of their plays that I received my first newspaper
notice. Imagine my incredulous joy when I was told of this journalistic
feat--unheard of before--of praising the work of a ballet-girl.
Suspecting a joke, I did not obtain a paper until late in the day, and
after I had several times been told of it. Then I ventured forth, bought
a copy of the _Herald_, and lo, before my dazzled eyes appeared my own
name. Ah, few critics, with their best efforts, have thrown as rosy a
light upon the world as did Mr. Jake Sage with his trite ten-word
statement: "Clara Morris played the small part allotted to her well."

My heart throbbed hard, I seemed to catch a glimpse, through the rosy
light, of a far-away Temple of Fame, and this notice was like a petal
blown to me from the roses that wreathed its portals. Could I ever, ever
reach them!

"Played the small part allotted to her well." "Oh," I cried aloud, "I
will try to do everything well--I will, indeed!" and then I cut the
notice out and folded it in a sheet of paper, and put both in an envelope
and pinned that fast to my pocket, that I might take it to my mother, who
was very properly impressed, and was a long time reading its few words,
and was more than a trifle misty about the eyes when she gave it back to
me. Looking at them now, the words seem rather dry and scant, but then
they had all the sweetness, life, and color of a June rose--the most
perfect thing of God's bounteous giving.



CHAPTER THIRTEENTH

  Mr. Roberts Refers to Me as "That Young Woman," to My Great Joy--I
  Issue the "Clara Code"--I Receive my First Offer of Marriage.


My mother, moved at last by my highly colored accounts of the
humiliations brought upon me by the shortness of my skirts, consented to
their lengthening, and though I knew she had meant them to stop at my
shoe-tops, I basely allowed a misunderstanding to arise with the
dress-maker, through which my new dress came home the full length of the
grown-ups, and though my conscience worried me a bit, I still snatched a
fearful joy from my stolen dignity, and many a day I walked clear up to
Superior Street that I might slowly pass the big show-windows and enjoy
the reflection therein of my long dress-skirt. Of course I could not
continue to wear my hair _à la_ pigtail, and that went up in the then
fashionable chignon.

Few circumstances in my life have given me such unalloyed satisfaction as
did my first proposal of marriage. I should, however, be more exact if I
spoke of an "attempted proposal," for it was not merely interrupted, but
was simply mangled out of all likeness to sentiment or romance. The party
of the first part in this case was Mr. Frank Murdoch, who later on became
the author of "Davy Crockett," the play that did so much toward the
making and the unmaking of the reputation of that brilliant actor, the
late Frank Mayo. He was the adoring elder brother of that successful
young Harry Murdoch who was to meet such an awful fate in the Brooklyn
Theatre fire. Neither of them, by the way, were born to the name of
Murdoch; they were the sons of James E.'s sister, and when, in spite of
his advice and warning, they decided to become actors, they added insult
to injury, as it were, by demanding of him the use of his name--their own
being a particularly unattractive one for a play-bill. He let them plead
long and hard before he yielded and allowed them to take for life the
name of Murdoch--which as a trade-mark, and quite aside from sentiment,
had a real commercial value to these young fellows who had yet to prove
their individual personal worth.

Frank was very young--indeed, our united ages would have barely reached
thirty-six. He had good height, a good figure, and an air of gentle
breeding; otherwise he was unattractive, and yet he bore a striking
resemblance to his uncle, James Murdoch, who had a fine head and most
regular features. But through some caprice of nature in the nephew those
same features received a touch of exaggeration here, or a slight twist
there, with the odd result of keeping the resemblance to the uncle
intact, while losing all his beauty. Frank had a quixotic sense of honor
and a warm and generous heart, but being extremely sensitive as to his
personal defects he was often led into bursts of temper, during which he
frequently indulged in the most childish follies. These outbreaks were
always brief, and ever followed by deep contrition, so that he was
generally regarded as a very clever, spoiled child.

Poor boy! his life was as sad as it was short. There may be few who
remember him now, but a woman never forgets the man who first pays a
compliment to her eyes, nor can I forget the first man who handed me a
chair and opened and closed doors for me, just as for any grown-up.

He joined the company in about the middle of that season in which I acted
principally as utility man. He was to play singing parts and young
lovers, and, to his amusement, I criticized his reading of one of
_Cassio's_ speeches. Our wrangle over Shakespeare made friends of us at
once. He had a veritable passion for poetry, and with me he felt free to
bring out his beautiful hobby to mount and ride and ride, with some of
the great poets up behind and me for applauding audience. When he wanted
me to know some special poem he bought it for me if he could; but if he
was short of money, he carefully copied out its every line, tied the
manuscript neatly up with ribbon, and presented the poem in that form. I
came across a copy of "Maud Muller" the other day in Frank's clear, even
handwriting. The paper was yellow, the ribbon faded. Frank is gone,
Whittier is gone, but "Maud Muller" lives on in her immortal youth and
pain.

But the morning when he first brought and offered me a chair was nothing
less than an epoch in my life. At first I regarded the act as an
aspersion on my strength--a doubt cast upon my ability to obtain a seat
for myself. Then, as I glanced frowningly into his face, I suddenly
realized that it was meant as a mark of consideration--the courtesy a man
shows a woman. A glow of satisfaction spread through my being. I hated to
rise, I was so afraid the thing might never happen to me again. I need
not have worried, however, as I was soon to receive a more impressive
proof of his consideration for my welfare.

One of the most unpleasant experiences in the life of a young actress is
her frightened lonely rush through the city streets at twelve o'clock at
night to reach her boarding-house and claim sanctuary. I doubt if even a
Una and her lion could pass unmolested through those streets dotted with
all-night "free and easys," where, by the way, nothing is free but the
poisonous air, and nothing easy but the language. At all events from my
own varied and unpleasant experiences, and from the stories of others, I
had first drawn certain deductions, then I had proceeded to establish
certain rules for the guidance and direction of any girl who was so
unfortunate as to be forced to walk abroad unattended at night. These
rules became known as "Clara's Code," and were highly approved,
especially by those girls who "couldn't think," as they declared, but
stood stock-still, "too frightened to move," when some wanderer of the
night unceremoniously addressed them.

I cannot remember all those rules now, since for these many years God has
granted me a protector, but from the few I can recall I am convinced that
their principal object was to gain plenty of leeway for the persecuted
girl's escape. No. 3 sternly forbade her ever, _ever_ to pass between two
advancing men--at night, of course, be it understood--lest they might
seize hold of and so frighten her to death. She was advised never to
permit herself to take the inside of the walk when meeting a stranger,
who might thus crowd her against the house and cut off her chance to run.
Never to pass the opening to an alley-way without placing the entire
width of the walk between her and it, and always to keep her eyes on it
as she crossed. Never to let any man pass her from behind on the outside
was insisted on, indeed she should take to the street itself first. She
was not to answer a drunken man, no matter what might be the nature of
his speech. She was not to scream--if she could help it--for fear of
public humiliation, but if the worst came and some hideous prowler of the
night passed from speech to actual attack, then she was to forget her
ladyhood and remembering only the tenderness of the male shin and her
right of self-defence, to kick like a colt till help came or she was
released.

Other portions of the code I have forgotten, but I do distinctly remember
that it wound up with the really Hoyle-like observation, "When in doubt,
take to the centre of the street."

We all know the magic power of the moonlight--have seen it transmute the
commonest ugliness into perfect beauty and change a world-worn woman into
the veriest lily-maid, but how few know the dread power exerted over man
by the street gaslight after midnight. The kindest old drake of the
farm-pond, the most pompously harmless gobbler of the buckwheat-field
becomes a vulture beneath the midnight street-light. A man who would
shoot for being called a blackguard between seven o'clock in the morning
and twelve at night, often becomes one after midnight. It is frequently
said that "words break no bones," but let a young girl pass alone through
the city streets a few nights and she will probably hear words that,
drowning her in shamed blushes, will go far toward breaking her pride, if
not her bones. Men seem to be creatures of very narrow margin--they so
narrowly escape being gods, and they so much more narrowly escape being
animals. Under the sunlight, man, made in the image of God, lifts his
face heavenward and walks erect; under the street-lamps of midnight he is
stealthy, he prowls, he is a visible destruction! You think I exaggerate
the matter? Do not; I speak from experience. And, what is more, at that
time I had not yet learned what the streets of New York could produce
after midnight.

But on the night after the chair episode, Frank Murdoch heard one of the
girls say she had used the Clara Code very successfully the night before,
when two drunken men had reeled out of an alley, who would have collided
with her had she not followed the rule and kept the whole sidewalk
between them. He stood at the door as I came down-stairs, and as soon as
I reached him he asked, sharply: "Do you go home alone of nights?"

"Yes," I answered.

"Good God!" he muttered.

After a pause I looked up at him, and met his eyes shining wet and blue
through two tears. "Oh," I hastily added, "there's nothing to be afraid
of."

"I wish I could agree with you," he answered. "Tell me," he went on,
"have you ever been annoyed by anyone?"

My eyes fell, I knew I was growing red.

"Good God!" he said again, then, suddenly, he ordered: "Give me that
bag--you'll not go through these streets alone again while I am here!
Never mind the distance. I don't see why you can't take my arm."

And thus I found myself for the first time escorted by a gentleman, and
after my hot embarrassment wore off a bit, I held my head very high and
languidly allowed my skirt to trail in the dust, and said to myself:
"This is like a real grown-up--surely they can't call me 'child' much
longer now."

The star playing with us just then was a tragedian, but he was a very
little man, whose air of alertness, even of aggressiveness, had won for
him the title of "Cocky" Roberts. He wore enormously high heels, he had
thick cork soles on the outside and thick extra soles on the inside of
all his boots and shoes. His wigs were slightly padded at their
tops--everything possible was done for a gain in height, while all the
time he was sputtering and swearing at what he called "this cursed cult
of legs!"

"Look at 'em!" he snorted--for he did snort like a horse when he was
angry, as he often was, at the theatre at least. "Look at 'em, Ellsler;
there's Murdoch, Proctor, Davenport, all gone to legs, damn 'em, and
calling themselves actors! You don't look for brains in a man's legs, do
you? No! no! it's the cranium that tells! Yes, blast 'em! Let 'em come
here and match craniums with me, that they think it smart to call
'Cocky'! They're a lot of theatrical tongs--all legs and no heads!"

And yet the poor, fuming little man, with his exaggerated strut, would
have given anything short of his life, to have added even a few inches to
his anatomy, the brevity of which was quite forgotten by the public when
he gave his really brilliant and pathetic performance of "Belphegor," one
of the earliest of the so-called "emotional" plays.

I have a very kindly remembrance of that fretful little star, because
when they were discussing the cast of a play, one of those tormenting
parts turned up that are of great importance to the piece, but of no
importance themselves. Capable actresses refuse to play them, and
incapable ones create havoc in them. This one had already been refused,
when Mr. Roberts suddenly exclaimed: "Who was it made those announcements
last night? She spoke with beautiful distinctness; let _that_ young woman
have the part, she'll do it all right."

Oh, dear Mr. Roberts! never "Cocky" to me! Oh, wise little judge! how I
did honor him for those precious words: "Let that young woman have the
part." That "_young woman_!" I could have embraced him for very
gratitude--a part _and_ the term "young woman," and since, as my old
washerwoman used to say, "it never rains but it pours," while these two
words were still making music in my ears, by some flash of intuition I
realized that I was being courted by Frank. The discovery filled me with
the utmost satisfaction. I gave no thought to him, in a sentimental way,
either then or ever; quite selfishly I thought only of my own gain in
dignity and importance, for I started out in life with the old-fashioned
idea that a man honored a woman by his courtship, and I knew naught of
the lover who "loves and rides away." Yet in a few days the curious
cat-like instinct of the unconscious coquette awakened in me, and I began
very gently to try my claws.

I wished very much to know if he were jealous, as I had been told that
real lovers were always so; and, naturally, I did not wish mine to fall
short of any of the time-honored attributes of loverdom. Therefore I, one
morning, selected for experimental use a man whose volume of speech was a
terror to all. Had he been put to the sword, he would have talked to the
swordsman till the final blow cut his speech. He was most unattractive,
too, in appearance, being one of those actors who get shaved after
rehearsal instead of before it, thus gaining a reputation for untidiness
that facts may not always justify--but he served my purpose all the
better for that.

I deliberately placed myself at his side; I was only a ballet-girl, but I
had two good ears--I was welcome. Conversation, or rather the monologue,
burst forth. Standing at the side of the stage, with rehearsal going on,
he of course spoke low. I watched for Frank's arrival. He came, I heard
his cheery "Good-morning, ladies! good-morning, gentlemen!" and then he
started toward me, but I heard nothing, saw nothing of _him_. My upraised
eyes, as wide as I possibly could make them, were fixed upon the face of
the talker. Yet, with a jump of the heart, I knew the brightness had gone
from Frank's face, the spring from his step. I smiled as sweetly as I
knew how; I seemed to hang upon the words of the untidy one, and oh! if
Frank could only have known what those words were; how I was being
assured that he, the speaker, had that very morning succeeded in stopping
a leaky hole in his shoe by melting a piece of india-rubber over and on
it, and that not a drop of water had penetrated when he had walked
through the rain-puddles; and right there, like music, there came to my
listening ear a word of four letters--a forbidden word, but one full of
consolation to the distressed male; a word beginning with "d," and for
fear that you may think it was "dear," why, I will be explicit and say
that it was "damn!" and that it was from the anger-whitened lips of
Frank, who during the morning gave not only to me, but to all lookers-on,
most convincing proof of his jealousy, and that was the beginning of my
experiments.

I did this, to see if it would make him angry. I did that, to see if it
would please him. Sometimes I scratched him with my investigating claws,
then I was sorry--truly sorry, because I was grateful always for his
gentle goodness to me, and never meant to hurt him. But he represented
the entire sex to me, and I was learning all I could, thinking, as I once
told him, that the knowledge might be useful on the stage some time, and
I wondered at the very fury my words provoked in him.

We quarrelled sometimes like spiteful children, as when I, startled into
laughter by hearing his voice break in a speech, unfortunately excused
myself by saying: "It was just like a young rooster, you know!" and he,
white with anger, cried: "You're a solid mass of rudeness, to laugh at a
misfortune; you have no breeding!"

This brought from me the rejoinder: "I know it, but you would have shown
better breeding yourself had you not told me of it!"

And then he was on his knee in the entrance, begging forgiveness, and
saying his "cursed, cracking voice made a madman of him!"

As it really did, for he often accused people of guying him if they did
but clear their own throats. And so we went on till something in his
manner--his increased efforts to find me alone at rehearsal, for as I was
without a room-mate in Columbus, I could not receive him at home, and I
truly think he would have kept silence forever rather than have urged me
to break any conventional rule of propriety--this something gave me the
idea that Frank was going to be--well--explicit, that--that--I was going
to be proposed to according to established form.

Now, though a proposal of marriage is a thing to look forward to with
desire, to look back upon with pride, it is also a thing to avoid when it
is in the immediate future, and I so successfully evaded his efforts to
find me alone, at the theatre or at some friend's house, that he was
forced at last to speak at night, while escorting me home.

I lodged in a quiet little street, opening out of the busier, more noisy
Kinsman Street. In our front yard there lived a large, greedy old tree,
which had planted its foot firmly in the very middle of the path, thus
forcing everyone to _chassé_ around it who wished to enter the house. Its
newly donned summer greenery extended far over the gate, and as the moon
shone full and fair the "set" was certainly appropriate.

We reached the gate, and I held out my hand for my bag--that small
catch-all of a bag that, in the hand of the actress, is the outward and
visible sign of her profession; but he let the bag slip to the walk and
caught my hand in his. The street was deserted. Leaning against the gate
beneath the sheltering boughs of the old tree, the midnight silence all
about us, he began to speak earnestly.

I made a frantic search through my mind for something to say presently,
when my turn would come to speak. I rejected instantly the ancient wail
of "suddenness." Frank's temper did not encourage an offer of
"sisterhood." I was just catching joyously at the idea of hiding behind
the purely imaginary opposition of my mother, when Frank's words: "Then,
too, dear heart! I could protect you, and--" were interrupted by a yowl,
so long, so piercing, it seemed to rise like a rocket of anguish into the
summer sky.

"Oh!" I thought, "that's one-eared Jim from next door, and if our Simmons
hears him--and he'd have to be dead not to hear--he will come out to
fight him!" I clenched my teeth, I dropped my eyes that Frank might not
see the threatening laughter there. I noted how much whiter his hand was
than mine, as they were clasped in the moonlight. The pause had been
long; then, very gently, he started again: "Mignonne!"

Distinctly I heard the thump of Simmons's body dropping from the
porch-roof. "Mignonne, look up! you big-eyed child, and tell me that I
may go to your mother with your promise!"

"Mi-au! Mi-au! Wow! Spit! Spit! Wow!" Four balls of fire glowed for a
moment beneath the tree, then two dark forms became one dark form, that
whirled and bounded through space, emitting awful sounds. The cats were
too much for me, I threw back my head and laughed.

My laugh was too much for Frank. His temper broke, he flung my hand away,
crying out: "Laugh, you little idiot! You're worse than the animals, for
they at least know no better! Laugh till morning, if you like!" and then
I'm sorry to say it, but he kicked my bag, the precious insignia of my
profession, and rushed down the street, leaving me standing there amid
the débris of the wrecked proposal.

Next night he frigidly presented himself to escort me home, and when I
coldly declined his company, he turned silently and left me. Truth to
tell, I did not enjoy my walk alone, through the market-place in
particular, and I planned to unbend a little the next evening; but I was
much piqued to find myself without an excuse for unbending, since on the
next evening he did not offer his company. The third night there was a
big lump in my throat, and the tears would have fallen had they not been
suddenly dried in my eyes by the sight of a familiar light-gray suit
slipping along close to the houses on the other side of the way.
Petulant, irritable, loyal-hearted boy! he had safe-guarded me both those
nights when I thought I was alone! My heart was warm with gratitude
toward him, and when I reached my gate, and passed inside, I called
across the street: "Thank you, Frank! Good-night!"

And he laughed and answered: "Good-night, Mignonne!"

And so it came about that Frank's wooing, being of the strict and stately
order, I gradually came to be Miss Morris to others beside himself. I saw
my advance in dignity, and if I did not love him I gave him profound
gratitude, and we were true friends his short and honorable life
through.



CHAPTER FOURTEENTH

Mr. Wilkes Booth comes to us, the whole Sex Loves him--Mr. Ellsler
Compares him to his Great Father--Our Grief and Horror over the Awful
Tragedy at Washington.


In glancing back over those two crowded and busy seasons one figure
stands out with such clearness and beauty that I cannot resist the
impulse to speak of him, rather than of my own inconsequential self. In
his case only (so far as my personal knowledge goes) there was nothing
derogatory to dignity or to manhood in being called beautiful, for he was
that bud of splendid promise, blasted to the core before its full
triumphant blooming--known to the world as a madman and an assassin--but
to the profession as "that unhappy boy," John Wilkes Booth.

He was so young, so bright, so gay, so kind. I could not have known him
well. Of course, too, there are two or three different people in every
man's skin, yet when we remember that stars are not generally in the
habit of showing their brightest, their best side to the company at
rehearsal, we cannot help feeling both respect and liking for the one who
does.

There are not many men who can receive a gash over the eye in a scene at
night without at least a momentary outburst of temper, but when the
combat between _Richard_ and _Richmond_ was being rehearsed, Mr. Booth
had again and again urged Mr. McCollom (that six-foot tall and handsome
leading man, who entrusted me with the care of his watch during such
encounters) to "Come on hard! Come on hot! Hot, old fellow!
Harder--faster!" He'd take the chance of a blow, if only they could make
a hot fight of it.

And Mr. McCollom, who was a cold man, at night became nervous in his
effort to act like a fiery one. He forgot he had struck the full number
of head blows, and when Booth was pantingly expecting a thrust, McCollom,
wielding his sword with both hands, brought it down with awful force fair
across Booth's forehead. A cry of horror rose, for in one moment his face
was masked in blood, one eyebrow being cut cleanly through. There came,
simultaneously, one deep groan from _Richard_, and the exclamation: "Oh,
good God! good God!" from _Richmond_, who stood shaking like a leaf and
staring at his work. Then Booth, flinging the blood from his eyes with
his left hand, said, as genially as man could speak: "That's all right,
old man! never mind me--only come on hard, for God's sake, and save the
fight!"

Which he resumed at once, and though he was perceptibly weakened, it
required the sharp order of Mr. Ellsler to "ring the first curtain bell,"
to force him to bring the fight to a close, a single blow shorter than
usual. Then there was a running to and fro, with ice and vinegar paper
and raw steak and raw oysters. When the doctor had placed a few stitches
where they were most required, he laughingly declared there was provision
enough in the room to start a restaurant. Mr. McCollom came to try to
apologize, to explain, but Booth would have none of it; he had out his
hand, crying: "Why, old fellow, you look as if _you_ had lost the blood.
Don't worry. Now if my eye had gone, that _would_ have been bad!" And so,
with light words, he tried to set the unfortunate man at ease, and though
he must have suffered much mortification as well as pain from the eye,
that in spite of all endeavors would blacken, he never made a sign.

He was, like his great elder brother, rather lacking in height, but his
head and throat, and the manner of its rising from his shoulders, were
truly beautiful. His coloring was unusual, the ivory pallor of his skin,
the inky blackness of his densely thick hair, the heavy lids of his
glowing eyes, were all Oriental, and they gave a touch of mystery to his
face when it fell into gravity; but there was generally a flash of white
teeth behind his silky mustache, and a laugh in his eyes.

One thing I shall never cease to admire him for. When a man has placed a
clean and honest name in his wife's care for life, about the most
stupidly wicked use she can make of it is as a signature to a burst of
amatory flattery, addressed to an unknown actor, who will despise her for
her trouble. Some women may shrivel as though attacked with "peach-leaf
curl" when they hear how these silly letters are sometimes passed about
and laughed at. "No gentleman would so betray a confidence!" Of course
not; but once when I made that remark to an actor, who was then flaunting
the food his vanity fed upon, he roughly answered: "And no _lady_ would
so address an unknown man. She cast away her right to respectful
consideration when she thrust that letter in the box." That was brutal;
but there are those who think like him this very day, and oh, foolish
tamperers with fire, who act like him!

Now it is scarcely an exaggeration to say the sex was in love with John
Booth, the name Wilkes being apparently unknown to his family and close
friends. At depot restaurants those fiercely unwilling maiden-slammers of
plates and shooters of coffee-cups made to him swift and gentle offerings
of hot steaks, hot biscuits, hot coffee, crowding round him like doves
about a grain basket, leaving other travellers to wait upon themselves or
go without refreshment. At the hotels, maids had been known to enter his
room and tear asunder the already made-up bed, that the "turn-over" might
be broader by a thread or two, and both pillows slant at the perfectly
correct angle. At the theatre, good heaven! as the sunflowers turn upon
their stalks to follow the beloved sun, so old or young, our faces
smiling, turned to him. Yes, old or young, for the little daughter of the
manager, who played but the _Duke of York_ in "Richard III.," came to
the theatre each day, each night of the engagement, arrayed in her best
gowns, and turned on him fervid eyes that might well have served for
_Juliet_. The manager's wife, whose sternly aggressive virtue no one
could doubt or question, with the aid of art waved and fluffed her hair,
and softened thus her too hard line of brow, and let her keen black eyes
fill with friendly sparkles for us all--yet, 'twas because of him. And
when the old woman made to threaten him with her finger, and he caught
her lifted hand, and uncovering his bonnie head, stooped and kissed it,
then came the wanton blood up in her cheek as she had been a girl again.

His letters then from flirtatious women, and, alas! girls, you may well
believe were legion. A cloud used to gather upon his face at sight of
them. I have of course no faintest idea that he lived the godly,
righteous, and sober life that is enjoined upon us all, but I do remember
with respect that this idolized man, when the letters were many and
rehearsal already on, would carefully cut off every signature and utterly
destroy them, then pile the unread letters up, and, I don't know what
their final end was, but he remarked with knit brows, as he caught me
watching him at his work one morning: "They," pointing to the pile of
mutilated letters, "they are harmless now, little one; their sting lies
in the tail!" and when a certain free and easy actor, laughingly picked
up a very elegantly written note, and said: "I can read it, can't I, now
the signature is gone?" He answered, shortly: "The woman's folly is no
excuse for our knavery--lay the letter down, please!"

I played the _Player-Queen_ to my great joy, and in the "Marble Heart" I
was one of the group of three statues in the first act. We were supposed
to represent _Lais_, _Aspasia_, and _Phryne_, and when we read the cast,
I glanced at the other girls (we were not strikingly handsome), and
remarked, gravely: "Well, it's a comfort to know that we look so like the
three beautiful Grecians."

A laugh at our backs brought us around suddenly to face Mr. Booth, who
said to me: "You satirical little wretch, how do you come to know these
Grecian ladies? Perhaps you have the advantage of them in being
all-beautiful within?"

"I wish it would strike outward, then," I answered; "you know it's always
best to have things come to the surface!"

"I know some very precious things are hidden from common sight, and I
know, too, you caught my meaning in the first place; good-night." And he
left us.

We had been told to descend to the stage at night with our white robes
hanging free and straight, that Mr. Booth himself might drape them as we
stood upon the pedestal. It really is a charming picture, that of the
statues in the first act. Against a backing of black velvet, the three
white figures, carefully posed, strongly lighted, stand out so
marble-like, that when they slowly turn their faces and point to their
chosen master, the effect is uncanny enough to chill the looker-on.

Well, with white wigs, white tights, and white robes, and half strangled
with the powder we had inhaled in our efforts to make our lips stay
white, we cautiously descended the stairs. We dared not talk, we dared
not blink our eyes, for fear of disturbing the coat of powder; we were
lifted to the pedestal and took our places as we expected to stand. Then
Mr. Booth came, such a picture in his Greek garments as made even the men
exclaim at him, and began to pose us. It happened that one of us had very
good limbs, one medium good, and the third had apparently walked on
broom-sticks. When Mr. Booth slightly raised the drapery of No. 3, his
features gave a twist as though he had suddenly tasted lemon-juice, but,
quick as a flash, he said: "I believe I'll advance you to the centre, for
the stately and wise _Aspasia_." The central figure wore her draperies
hanging straight to her feet, hence the "advance" and consequent
concealment of the unlovely limbs. It was quickly and kindly done, for
the girl was not only spared mortification, but in the word "advance"
she saw a compliment, and was happy accordingly. Then my turn came; my
arm was placed about _Aspasia_, my head bent and turned and twisted, my
right hand curved upon my breast, so that the forefinger touched my chin;
I felt I was a personified simper, but I was silent and patient until the
arrangement of my draperies began--then I squirmed anxiously.

"Take care, take care!" he cautioned, "you will sway the others if you
move!" But, in spite of the risk of my marble make-up, I faintly groaned:
"Oh, dear! must it be like that?"

Regardless of the pins in the corner of his mouth, he burst into
laughter, and taking a photograph from the bosom of his Greek shirt, he
said: "I expected a protest from you, miss, so I came prepared; don't
move your head, but just look at this."

He held the picture of a group of statuary up to me: "This is you on the
right; it's not so dreadful, now, is it?" and I cautiously murmured, that
if I wasn't any worse than that I wouldn't mind.

And so we were all satisfied and our statue scene was very successful.

Next morning I saw Mr. Booth come running out of the theatre on his way
to the telegraph office at the corner, and right in the middle of the
walk, staring about him, stood a child--a small roamer of the stony
streets, who had evidently got far enough beyond his native ward to
arouse misgivings as to his personal safety, and at the very moment he
stopped to consider matters, Mr. Booth dashed out of the stage-door and
added to his bewilderment by capsizing him completely.

"Oh, good Lord! Baby, are you hurt?" exclaimed Mr. Booth, pausing
instantly to pick up the dirty, touselled, small heap and stand it on its
bandy legs again.

"Don't cry, little chap!" and the aforesaid little chap not only ceased
to cry but gave him a damp and grimy smile, at which the actor bent
toward him quickly, but paused, took out his handkerchief, and first
carefully wiping the dirty little nose and mouth, stooped and kissed him
heartily, put some change in each freckled paw, and continued his run to
the telegraph office.

He knew of no witness to the act. To kiss a pretty, clean child under the
approving eyes of mamma might mean nothing but politeness, but surely it
required the prompting of a warm and tender heart to make a young and
thoughtless man feel for and caress such a dirty, forlorn bit of babyhood
as that.

Of his work, I suppose I was too young and too ignorant to judge
correctly, but I remember well hearing the older members of the company
express their opinions. Mr. Ellsler, who had been on terms of friendship
with the elder Booth, was delighted with the promise of his work. He
greatly admired Edwin's intellectual power, his artistic care, but
"John," he cried, "has more of the old man's power in one performance
than Edwin can show in a year. He has the fire, the dash, the touch of
_strangeness_. He often produces unstudied effects at night. I question
him, 'Did you rehearse that business to-day, John?' he answers: 'No, I
didn't rehearse it, it just came to me in the scene, and I couldn't help
doing it; but it went all right, didn't it?' Full of impulse, just now,
like a colt, his heels are in the air, nearly as often as his head, but
wait a year or two till he gets used to the harness, and quiets down a
bit, and you will see as great an actor as America can produce!"

And, by the way, speaking of Mr. Ellsler and the elder Booth, I am
reminded that I have in my possession a letter from the latter to the
former. It is written in a rather cramped hand, that carries the address
and the marks of the red wafers, as that was before the appearance of
envelopes, and it informs Mr. Ellsler that he, "Junius Brutus Booth, will
play a star engagement of one week for the sum of--" how many dollars? if
it were not unguessable, I should insist upon your guessing, but that
would not be fair, so here it is--"for the sum of three hundred
dollars," and wants to know how many and what plays he is desired to do,
that he may select his wardrobe.

Think of it--the mighty father of our Edwin asking but $300 for a week of
such acting as he could do, which, if this bright, light-hearted boy was
so much like him, must have been brilliant indeed.

One morning, going on the stage where a group were talking with John
Wilkes, I heard him say: "No! no, no! there's but one _Hamlet_ to my
mind, that's my brother Edwin. You see, between ourselves, he _is
Hamlet_, melancholy and all!"

That was an awful time when the dread news came to us. We were in
Columbus. We had been horrified by the great crime at Washington. My
room-mate and I had from our small earnings bought some black cotton, at
a tripled price, as all the black material in the city was not sufficient
to meet the demand, and as we tacked it about our one window, a man,
passing, told us the assassin had been discovered, and that he was the
actor Booth. Hattie laughed so she nearly swallowed the tack that,
girl-like, she held between her lips, and I, after a laugh, told him it
was a poor subject for a jest, and we went in. There was no store in
Columbus then where playbooks were sold, and as Mr. Ellsler had a very
large and complete stage library, he frequently lent his books to us, and
we would hurriedly copy out our lines and return the book for his own
use. On that occasion he was going to study his part first and then leave
the play with us as he passed going home. We heard his knock; I was busy
pressing a bit of stage finery. Hattie opened the door, and then I heard
her exclaiming: "Why--why--what?" I turned quickly. Mr. Ellsler was
coming slowly into the room. He is a very dark man, but he was perfectly
livid then, his lips even were blanched to the whiteness of his cheeks.
His eyes were dreadful, they were so glassy and seemed so unseeing. He
was devoted to his children, and all I could think of as likely to bring
such a look upon his face was disaster to one of them, and I cried, as I
drew a chair to him, "What is it? Oh, what has happened to them?"

He sank down, he wiped his brow, he looked almost stupidly at me, then,
very faintly, he said: "You--haven't--heard--anything?"

Like a flash Hattie's eyes and mine met; we thought of the supposed
ill-timed jest of the stranger--my lips moved wordlessly. Hattie
stammered: "A man, he lied though, said that Wilkes Booth--but he did
lie--didn't he?" and in the same faint voice Mr. Ellsler answered,
slowly: "No--no! he did not lie--it's too true!"

Down fell our heads and the waves of shame and sorrow seemed fairly to
o'erwhelm us, and while our sobs filled the little room, Mr. Ellsler rose
and laid two playbooks on the table. Then, while standing there, staring
into space, I heard his far, faint voice, saying: "So great, so good a
man destroyed, and by the hand of that unhappy boy! my God! my God!" He
wiped his brow again and slowly left the house, apparently unconscious of
our presence.

When we resumed our work--the theatre had closed because of the national
calamity--many a painted cheek showed runnels made by bitter tears, and
one old actress, with quivering lips, exclaimed: "One woe doth tread upon
another's heel, so fast they follow!" but with no thought of quoting, and
God knows the words expressed the situation perfectly.

Mrs. Ellsler, whom I never saw shed a tear for any sickness, sorrow, or
trouble of her own, shed tears for the mad boy who had suddenly become
the assassin of God's anointed--the great, the blameless Lincoln!

We crept about, quietly, everyone winced at the sound of the overture; it
was as if one dead lay within the walls, one who belonged to us.

When the rumors about Booth being the murderer proved to be authentic,
the police feared a possible outbreak of mob-feeling, and a
demonstration against the theatre building, or against the actors
individually; but we had been a decent, law-abiding, well-behaved people,
liked and respected, so we were not made to suffer for the awful act of
one of our number. Still, when the mass-meeting was held in front of the
Capitol, there was much anxiety on the subject, and Mr. Ellsler urged all
the company to keep away from it, lest their presence might arouse some
ill-feeling. The crowd was immense; the sun had gloomed over, and the
Capitol building, draped in black, loomed up with stern severity and that
massive dignity only obtained by heavily columned buildings. The people
surged like waves about the speakers' stand, and the policemen glanced
anxiously toward the new theatre, not far away, and prayed that some
bombastic, revengeful ruffian might not crop up from this mixed crowd of
excited humanity to stir them to violence.

Three speakers, however, in their addresses had confined themselves to
eulogizing the great dead. In life, Mr. Lincoln had been abused by many;
in death, he was worshipped by all, and these speakers found their words
of love and sorrow eagerly listened to, and made no harsh allusions to
the profession from which the assassin sprang. And then an unknown man
clambered up from the crowd to the portico platform and began to speak,
without asking anyone's permission. He had a far-reaching voice--he had
fire and "go."

"Here's the fellow to look out for!" said the policeman, and, sure
enough, suddenly the dread word "theatre" was tossed into the air, and
everyone was still in a moment, waiting for--what? I don't know what they
hoped for, I do know what many feared; but this is what he said: "Yes,
look over at our theatre and think of the little body of men and women
there, who are to-day sore-hearted and cast down, who feel that they are
looked at askant, because one of their number has committed that hideous
crime! Think of what they have to bear of shame and horror, and spare
for them, too, a little pity!"

He paused; it had been a bold thing to do--to appeal for consideration
for actors at such a time. The crowd swayed for a moment to and fro, a
curious growling came from it, and then all heads turned toward the
theatre. A faint cheer was given, and after that there was not the
slightest allusion made to us--and verily we were grateful.

That the homely, tender-hearted "Father Abraham," rare combination of
courage, justice, and humanity, died at an actor's hand will be a grief,
a horror, and a shame to the profession forever--yet I cannot believe
that John Wilkes Booth was "the leader of a band of bloody conspirators!"

Who shall draw a line and say: here genius ends and madness begins? There
was that touch of "strangeness." In Edwin Booth it was a profound
melancholy; in John it was an exaggeration of spirit, almost a wildness.
There was the natural vanity of the actor, too, who craves a dramatic
situation in real life. There was his passionate love and sympathy for
the South--why, he was "easier to be played on than a pipe!"

Undoubtedly he conspired to kidnap the President--that would appeal to
him, but after that I truly believe he was a tool, certainly he was no
leader. Those who led him knew his courage, his belief in fate, his
loyalty to his friends; and because they knew these things, he drew the
lot, as it was meant he should from the first. Then, half mad, he
accepted the part Fate cast him for--committed the monstrous crime and
paid the awful price.

And since,

      "God moves in a mysterious way
      His wonders to perform,"

we venture to pray for His mercy upon the guilty soul! who may have
repented and confessed his manifold sins and offences during those awful
hours of suffering before the end came.

And "God shutteth not up His mercies forever in displeasure!" We can only
shiver and turn our thoughts away from the bright light that went out in
such utter darkness. Poor, guilty, unhappy John Wilkes Booth!



CHAPTER FIFTEENTH

  Mr. R. E. J. Miles--His two Horses, and our Woful Experience with the
  Substitute "Wild Horse of Tartary."


But there, just as I start to speak of my third season, I seem to look
into a pair of big, mild eyes that say: "Can it be that you mean to pass
me by? Do you forget that 'twas I who turned the great sensation scene of
a play into a side-splitting farce?" And I shake my head and answer,
truthfully: "I cannot forget, I shall never forget your work that night
in Columbus, when you appeared as the 'fiery, untamed steed' (may Heaven
forgive you) in 'Mazeppa.'"

Mr. Robert E. J. Miles, or "All the Alphabet Miles," as he was frequently
called, was starring at that time in the Horse Drama, doing such plays as
"The Cataract of the Ganges," "Mazeppa," "Sixteen-String Jack," etc.
"Mazeppa" was the favorite in Columbus, and both the star and manager
regretted they had billed the other plays in advance, as there would have
been more money in "Mazeppa" alone. Mr. Miles carried with him two
horses; the one for the "Wild Horse of Tartary" was an exquisitely
formed, satin-coated creature, who looked wickedly at you from the tail
of her blazing eye, who bared her teeth savagely, and struck out with her
fore-feet, as well as lashed out with the hind ones. When she came
rearing, plunging, biting, snapping, whirling, and kicking her way on to
the stage, the scarlet lining of her dilating nostrils and the foam
flying from her mouth made our screams very natural ones, and the women
in front used to huddle close to their companions, or even cover their
faces.

One creature only did this beautiful vixen love--R. E. J. Miles. She
fawned upon him like a dog; she did tricks like a dog for him, but she
was a terror to the rest of mankind, and really it was a thrilling scene
when _Mazeppa_ was stripped and bound, his head tail-ward, his feet
mane-ward, to the back of that maddened beast. She seemed to bite and
tear at him, and when set free she stood straight up for a dreadful
moment, in which she really endangered his life, then, with a wild neigh,
she tore up the "runs," as if fiends pursued her, with the man stretched
helplessly along her inky back. The curtain used to go up again and
again--it was so very effective.

For a horse to get from the level stage clear above the "flies," under
the very roof, the platforms or runs he mounts on have to zig-zag across
the mountain background.

At each angle, out of sight of the audience, there is a railed platform,
large enough for the horse to turn upon and make the next upward rush.

The other horse travelling with Mr. Miles was an entirely different
proposition. He would have been described, according to the State he
happened to be in, as a pie-bald, a skew-bald, a pinto, or a calico
horse. He was very large, mostly of a satiny white, with big, absurdly
shaped markings of bright bay. He was one of the breed of horses that in
livery stables are always known as "Doctor" or "Judge." Benevolence
beamed from his large, clear eyes, and he looked so mildly wise, one half
expected to see him put on spectacles. The boy at the stable said one
day, as he fed him: "I wouldn't wunder if this ol' parson of 'er a hoss
asked a blessin' on them there oats--I wouldn't!"

I don't know whether old Bob--as he was called--had any speed or not, but
if he had it was useless to him, for, alas! he was never allowed to reach
the goal under any circumstances. He was always ridden by the villain,
and therefore had to be overtaken, and besides that he generally had to
carry double, as the desperado usually fled holding the fainting heroine
before him. Though old Bob successfully leaped chasms thus heavily
handicapped--for truly he was a mighty jumper--nevertheless he was
compelled to accept defeat, as Mr. Miles always came rushing up on the
black horse to the rescue. He was very lucky indeed, if he didn't have to
roll about and die, and he was a very impatient dead horse, often amusing
the audience by lifting his head to see if the curtain was not down yet,
and then dropping dead again with a sigh the whole house could hear.

By the way, "the house" is a theatrical term, meaning, on an actor's
lips, "the audience." "The house did thus or so," "the house is behaving
beautifully," "it's the most refined house you ever saw," "what a cold
house"; and so on. I have but rarely heard either actor or actress refer
to the "audience"--and after steadily using any term for years it is very
hard to lay it aside, and I shall long remember the grim moment that
followed on my remarking to my rector, "What a good house you had
yesterday--it must have been a pleasure to pla--to, to--er, er, to
address such an audi--er, that is, I mean congregation!" There was a
moment of icy silence, then, being a human being as well as a wearer of
the priestly collar, he set back his head and laughed a laugh that was
good to hear.

Anyway, being continually pushed back into second place and compelled to
listen to the unearned applause bestowed upon the beautiful black seemed
to rob old Bob of all ambition professionally, and he simply became a
_gourmet_ and a glutton. He lived to eat. A woman in his eyes was a sort
of perambulating store-house of cake, crackers, apples, sugar, etc.; only
his love for children was disinterested. The moment he was loose he went
off in search for children, no matter whose, so long as he found some;
then down he would go on his knees, and wait to be pulled and patted. His
silvery tail provided hundreds of horse-hair rings--and his habit of
gathering very small people up by their back breadths and carrying them a
little way before dropping them, only filled the air with wild shrieks of
laughter. In the theatre he walked sedately about before rehearsal began,
and though we knew his attentions were entirely selfish, he was so
urbane, so complaisant in his manner of going through us, that we could
not resist his advances, and each day and night we packed our pockets and
our muffs with such provender as women seldom carry about in their
clothes. All our gloves smelled as though we worked at a cider-mill.
While the play was going on old Bob spent a great part of his time
standing on the first of those railed platforms, and as he was on the
same side of the stage that the ladies' dressing-rooms were on, everyone
of us had to pass him on our way to dress, and he demanded toll of all.
Fruits, domestic or foreign, were received with gentle eagerness. Cake,
crackers, and sugar, the velvety nose snuffed at them approvingly, and if
a girl, believing herself late, tried to pass him swiftly by, his look of
amazement was comical to behold, and in an instant his iron-shod foot was
playing a veritable devil's tattoo on the resounding board platform, and
if that failed to win attention, following her with his eyes, he lifted
up his voice in a full-chested "neigh--hay--hay--_ha-ay_!" that brought
her back in a hurry with her toll of sugar. And that pie-bald hypocrite
would scrunch it with such a piteously ravenous air that the girl quite
forgot the basilisk glare and satirical words the landlady directed
against her recently-acquired sweet-tooth. My own landlady had, as early
as Wednesday, covered the sugar-bowl and locked the pantry, but she left
the salt-bag open, and I took on a full cargo of it twice a day, and old
Bob showed such an absolute carnality of enjoyment in the eating of it
that Mr. Miles became convinced that it had long been denied to him at
the stables.

Then, late in the week, there came that dreadful night of disaster. I
don't recall the name of the play, but in that one piece the beautiful,
high-spirited black mare had to carry double up the runs. John Carroll
and Miss Lucy Cutler were the riders. Mr. Carroll claimed he could ride a
little, and though he was afraid he was ashamed to say so. Mr. Miles said
in the morning: "Now, if you are the least bit timid, Mr. Carroll, say
so, and I will fasten the bridle-reins to the saddle-pommel and the Queen
will carry you up as true as a die and as safe as a rock of her own
accord; but if you are going to hold the bridle, for God's sake be
careful! If it was old Bob, you could saw him as much as you liked and he
would pay no attention, and hug the run for dear life; but the Queen, who
has a tender mouth, is besides half mad with excitement at night, and a
very slight pressure on the wrong rein will mean a forty or fifty-foot
fall for you all!"

Miss Cutler expressed great fear, when Mr. Miles, surprisedly, said:
"Why, you have ridden with me twice this week without a sign of fear?"
"Oh, yes," she answered, "but _you_ know what you are doing--you are a
horseman."

It was an unfortunate speech, and in face of it Mr. Carroll's vanity
would not allow him to admit his anxiety. "He could ride well enough--and
he would handle the reins himself," he declared.

During the day his fears grew upon him. Foolishly and wickedly he
resorted to spirits to try to build up some Dutch courage; and then, when
the scene came on, half blind with fear and the liquor, which he was not
used to, as he felt the fierce creature beneath them rushing furiously up
the steep incline, a sort of madness came upon him. Without rhyme or
reason he pulled desperately at the nigh rein and in the same breath
their three bodies were hurling downward, like thunderbolts.

It was an awful sight! I looked at them as they descended, and for the
fraction of a second they seemed to be suspended in the air. They were
all upside down. They all, without turning or twisting, fell straight as
plummets--the horse, the same as the man and woman, had its feet straight
in the air. Ugh! the striking--ugh!--never mind details! The curtain had
been rushed down. Miss Cutler had been picked up, dazed, stunned, but
without a mark. Mr. Carroll had crept away unaided amid the confusion,
the sorrow, and tears, for the splendid Queen was doomed and done for!
Though Mr. Miles had risked his own life in an awful leap to save her
from falling through a trap, he could not save her life, and the almost
human groan with which she dropped her lovely head upon her master's
shoulder, and his streaming eyes as he tenderly wiped the blood from her
velvety nostrils, made even the scene-shifters rub their eyes upon the
backs of their hands. While the Queen was half carried and half crept to
the fire-engine house next door (her stable was so far away), someone was
going before the curtain, assuring the audience that the accident was
very slight, and the lady and gentleman would both be before them
presently, and the audience applauded in a rather doubtful manner, for
several ladies had fainted, and the carrying out of a helpless person
from a place of amusement always has a depressing effect upon the
lookers-on. Meantime Mr. Carroll was getting his wrist bandaged and a cut
on his face strapped up, while a basket of sawdust was hurriedly procured
that certain cruel stains might be concealed. The orchestra played
briskly and the play went on. That's the one thing we can be sure of in
this world--that the play will go on. That night, late, the beautiful
Queen died with her head resting on her master's knee.

Now "Mazeppa" was billed for the next night, and there were many
consultations held in the office and on the stage. "The wild horse of
Tartary" was gone. It was impossible to find a new horse in one day.

"Change the bill!" said Mr. Miles.

"And have an empty house," answered Mr. Ellsler.

"But what can I do for a horse?" asked R. E. J. M.

"Use old Bob," answered Mr. Ellsler.

"Good Lord!" groaned Bob's master. They argued long, but neither wanted
to lose the good house, so the bill was allowed to stand, and "Mazeppa"
was performed with old white Bob as the "Wild Horse of Tartary." Think of
it, that ingratiating old Bob! That follower of women and playmate of
children! Why, even the great bay blotches on his white old hide made one
think of the circus, paper hoops, and _training_, rather than of
wildness. Meaning to make him at least impatient and restless, he had
been deprived of his supper, and the result was a settled gloom, an air
of melancholy that made Mr. Miles swear under his breath every time he
looked at him. There was a ring, known I believe as a Spanish ring, made
with a sharp little spike attachment, and used sometimes by circus-men to
stir up horses to a show of violence or of high spirits, and when a whip
was not permissible. It could be resorted to without arousing any
suspicion of cruelty, since the spike was on the under side and so out of
sight. The man with the ring on his finger would stand by a horse, and
resting his hand on the animal's neck, just at the most sensitive spot of
his whole anatomy--the root or end of his mane--would close the hand
suddenly, thus driving the spike into the flesh. It must have caused
exquisite pain, and naturally the tormented animal rears and plunges.
Sometimes they get effect enough by pricking the creatures on the
shoulder only. On that night, Mr. Miles, after gazing at the mild and
melancholy features of his new "Wild Horse of Tartary," went to his room
and dug up from some trunk a Spanish ring. Calling one of the men who
used to be dragged and thrashed about the stage by the black wild horse,
he explained to him its use, ending with: "I hate to hurt the old fellow,
so try him on the shoulder first, and if he dances about pretty lively,
as I think he will, you need not prick his mane at all."

The play moved along nicely, the house was large, and seemed pleased.
_Mazeppa_ fell into his enemy's hands, the sentence was pronounced, and
the order followed: "Bring forth the fiery, untamed steed!"

The women began to draw close to their escorts; many of them remembered
the biting, kicking entrance of the black, and were frightened
beforehand. The orchestra responded with incidental creepy music,
but--that was all. Over in the entrance, old Bob, surrounded by the four
men who were supposed to restrain him, stood calmly. But those who sat in
the left box heard "get-ups!" and "go-ons!" and the cluckings of many
tongues. The mighty Khan of Tartary (who could not see that entrance)
thought he had not been heard, and roared again: "Bring forth the fiery,
untamed steed!" Another pause, the house tittered, then some one hit old
Bob a crack across the rump with a whip, at which he gave a switch of his
tail and gently ambled on the stage, stopping of his own accord at
centre, and, lowering his head, he stretched his neck and sniffed at the
leader of the orchestra, precisely as a dog sniffs at a stranger. It was
deliciously ridiculous. We girls were supposed to scream with terror at
the "wild horse," and, alas! we were only too obedient, crowding down at
right, clinging together in attitudes of extremest fright, we shrieked
and screeched until old Bob cocked up his ears and looked so astonished
at our conduct that the audience simply rocked back and forth with
laughter, and all the time _Mazeppa_ was saying things that did not seem
to be like prayers. Finally he gave orders for the men to surround Bob,
which they did, and then the ring was used--the ring that was to make him
dance about pretty lively. It pricked him on the shoulder, and the "wild
horse" stood and switched his tail. It pricked him again--he switched his
tail again. The men had by that time grown careless, and when the ring
was finally used at his mane, he suddenly kicked one of them clear off
the stage, and then resumed his unruffled calm. The public thought it was
having fun all this time, but pretty soon it knew it. Nothing under
heaven could disturb the gentle serenity of that dog-like old horse. But
when _Mazeppa_ was brought forward to be bound upon his back, instead of
pulling away, rearing, and fighting against the burden, his one and only
quick movement was his violent effort to break away from his tormentors
to welcome _Mazeppa_ joyously.

"Oh!" groaned Miles, "kill him, somebody, before he kills me!"

While he was being bound on the wild horse's back, our instructions were
to scream, therefore we screamed as before, and being on the verge of
insanity, _Mazeppa_ lifted his head from the horse's back, and said: "Oh,
shut up--do!" The audience heard, and--well, it laughed some more, and
then it discovered, when the men sprang away and left the horse free to
dash madly up the mountain, that _Mazeppa_ had kept one foot unbound to
kick his horse with--and truly it did seem that the audience was going
into convulsions. Such laughter, pierced every now and then by the shrill
scream of hysteria. Then old Bob ambled up the first run all right, but,
alas! for poor _Mazeppa_, as he reached the first turn-table, a woman
passed on the way to her room, and hungry Bob instantly stopped to
negotiate a loan in sugar. Oh, it was dreadful, the wait, and when
finally he reappeared, trotting--yes, trotting up the next run, Mr.
Miles's foot could be plainly seen, kicking with the regularity of a
piston-rod, while his remarks were--well, they were irregular in the
extreme.

Of course the play was hopelessly ruined; the audience laughed at the
slightest mention of the "wild horse," and when, broken and exhausted,
the shepherds find them both lying at the foot of the mountain, the house
seemed to shake with laughter.

When the play was at last over, old white Bob walked over to his master
and mumbled his hand. Mr. Miles pushed him away with pretended anger,
crying: "You infernal old idiot, I'd sell you for a three-cent stamp with
gum on it!"

Bob looked hard at him a moment, then he calmly crossed behind him and
mumbled his other hand, and Mr. Miles pulled his ears, and said that "he
himself was the idiot for expecting an untrained, unrehearsed horse to
play such a part," and old Bob agreeing with him perfectly, they were, as
always, at peace with each other.



CHAPTER SIXTEENTH

  I perform a Remarkable Feat, I Study _King Charles_ in One Afternoon
  and Play Without a Rehearsal--Mrs. D. P. Bowers makes Odd Revelation.


Already in that third season my position had become an anomalous one,
from that occasion when, because of sickness, I had in one afternoon
studied, letter perfect, the part of _King Charles_ in "Faint Heart Never
Won Fair Lady," and played it in borrowed clothes and without any
rehearsal whatever, other than finding the situations plainly marked in
the book. It was an astonishing thing to do, and nearly everyone had a
kind word for me. The stage manager, or rather the prompter, for Mr.
Ellsler was his own stage manager, patted me on the shoulder and said:
"'Pon my soul, girl, you're a wonder! I think pretty well of my own
study, but you can beat me. You never missed a word, and besides that
I've seen the part played worse many a time. I don't know what to say to
you, my dear, but a girl that can do that can do most anything."

Ah, yes! and that was just what the powers that were seemed to
think--that I could do almost anything, for from that day I became a sort
of dramatic scape-goat, to play the parts of the sick, the halt, the
cross, the tricky, for whenever an actor or actress turns up with a
remarkable study--the ability to learn almost any part in a given
time--he or she is bound to be "put upon." Sickness will increase,
tempers will get shorter, airs of superiority will be assumed, all
because there is someone ready to play the obnoxious part, someone ready
to rush into the breach and prevent the changing of the "bill."

So often was I playing parts, thus leaving only two in the ballet, that
another girl was engaged. Thus to Hattie, Annie, and Clara there was
added Mary. And lo! in this young woman I recognized a friend of my
youth. I had known her but two days, but I could never forget the only
child I had ever had a play with. She had parted from me in wrath
because, after playing house-keeping all morning in the yard, I had
refused to eat a clay dumpling she had made, with a nice green
clover-leaf in its middle. She threw the dumpling at me, roaring like a
little bull calf, and twisting a dirty small fist into each dry eye, she
waddled off home, leaving me, finger in mouth, gazing in pained amazement
after her, until my fat little legs suddenly gave way, as was their wont
in moments of great emotion, and sat me unwillingly but flatly down upon
the ground, where I remained, looking gravely at them and wondering what
they did it for--and now here we were together again.

Of course this playing of many parts was, in a certain way, an advantage
to me, and I appreciated it; but there can be too much even of a good
thing. That I got little pay for all this work was nothing to me, I was
glad to do it for the experience it gave me, but when I was forced to
appear ridiculous through my inability to dress the parts correctly I
suffered cruelly. Once in a while, as in the case of _King Charles_, I
could get a costume from the theatre wardrobe, where the yellow plush
breeches lived when not engaged in desolating my young life, but, alas!
here, as everywhere, the man is the favored party, and the theatre
wardrobe contains only masculine garments; the women must provide
everything for themselves. Then, too, one is never too young or too
insignificant to feel an injustice.

I recall, very distinctly, having to go on for _Lady Anne_ in "Richard
III.," with a rather unimportant star. Now had I "held a position," as
the term goes, that part would, out of courtesy, have belonged to me for
the rest of the season, unless I chose to offer it back to the woman I
had obliged; but being only a ballet-girl I did well enough for the _Lady
Anne_ of an unimportant star, but when a more popular _Richard_ appeared
upon the scene, _Lady Anne_ was immediately reclaimed, and I traipsed
again behind the coffin, and with the rest of the ballet was witness to
that most savage fling of Shakespeare against a vain, inconsequential
womanhood as personified in _Lady Anne_, who, standing by her coffined,
murdered dead, eagerly drinks in the flattery offered by the murderer's
self. It is a courtship all dagger-pierced and reeking with innocent
blood--monstrous and revolting! One would like to know who the woman was
whose incredible vanity and levity so worked upon the master's mind that
he produced this tragic caricature. Who was the woman who inspired great
Shakespeare's one unnatural scene? Come, antiquaries, _cherchez la
femme_!

I suffered most when I had to play some lady of quality, for what, in
heaven's name, had I to dress a lady in? Five dollars a week to live on,
to dress myself on, and to provide stage wardrobe! Many a bitter tear I
shed. And then there was the surprise of the stars, when after playing an
important part one night, they suddenly recognized me the next standing
in the crowd of peasants or seated at _Macbeth's_ disheartening banquet.

Their comments used to be very caustic sometimes, and they almost,
without exception, advised me to rebel, to go and demand freedom from the
ballet, or at least salary enough to dress the parts given me to play.
But those long years of childish thraldom had left their mark--I could
not assert myself, an overwhelming shame came upon me, even at the
thought of asking to be advanced. So I went on playing boys and second
old women, singing songs when forced to it, going on for poor leading
parts even, for the leading lady being the manager's wife rarely played
parts with women stars, and then between times dropping back into the
ballet and standing about in crowds or taking part in a village dance.

It was a queer position and no mistake. Many stars had grown to know me,
and often on Monday morning he or she would come over to our group and
shake hands kindly, to my great pleasure. One morning, while we were
rehearsing "Lady Audley's Secret," Mrs. Bowers, whom I greatly admired,
came over to me, and remarked: "You hard-hearted little wretch! I've been
watching you; you are treating that boy shamefully! Don't you know
Murdoch is a gentleman?"

I was surprised, and rather quickly answered: "Well, have I treated him
as if he were not a gentleman?"

She was called just then, but when the act was over she came to me again,
and taking my hand in her right, she began beating it up and down upon
her left: "You are not vexed, are you?" she asked. "Don't be; I only
wonder how you can do it, and you are so young! Why," she sighed, from
her very soul it seemed to me, "Why," she went on, "ever since I was
fourteen years old I have been loving some man who has not loved me!"
Tears rose thickly into her eyes. "I am always laying my heart down for
some man to trample on!" She glanced toward Mr. McCollom (he who was six
feet tall and handsome), a little smile trembled on her lips. I caught
her fingers on a swift impulse and squeezed them, she squeezed back
answeringly; we understood each other, she was casting her heart down
again, unasked. Her eyes came back to me. "Yours is the best way, but I'm
too old to learn now, I shall have to go on seeking--always seeking!"

"And finding, surely finding!" I answered, honestly, for I could not
imagine anyone resisting her.

"Do you think so?" she said, eagerly; then, rather sadly, she added:
"Still it would be nice to be sought once, instead of always seeking."

Poor woman! Charming actress as she was, she did not exaggerate in
declaring she was always casting her heart before someone. She married
Mr. McCollom, and lived with him in adoring affection till death took
him.

The last time I saw her she was my guest here at "The Pines," and as I
fastened a great hibiscus flower above her ear, in Spanish fashion, she
remarked:

"How little you have changed in all these years! I'll wager your heart is
without a scar, while if you could only see mine," she laughed, "it's
like an old bit of tinware--so battered, and bent, and dented!"



CHAPTER SEVENTEENTH

  Through Devotion to my Friend, I Jeopardize my Reputation--I Own a Baby
  on Shares--Miss Western's Pathetic Speech.


I had at that time a friend--a rare possession that. "The ideal of
friendship," says Madame Switchine, "is to feel as one while remaining
two," which is a precise description of the condition of mind and feeling
of Mrs. Mollie Ogden and myself. She did not act, but her husband did,
and I saw her every night, nearly every morning, and when work permitted
we visited one another in the afternoons. There was but one kind of cake
on the market that I liked, and that cake, with coffee, was always
offered for my refreshment when I was her guest. When she was mine the
festal board was furnished forth with green tea, of which she was
inordinately fond, and oysters stewed in their own can and served in two
mugs; the one announcing, in ostentatious gold letters, that I was "a
good girl," was naturally at the service of my guest, while the plain
stone-china affair, from the toilet-table, answered my purposes. With
what happy eagerness we prepared for those absurd banquets, which we
heartily enjoyed, since we were boarders, and always hungry--and how we
talked! Of what? Why, good heaven! did I not hold a membership in the
library, and were we not both lightning-quick readers? Why, we had the
whole library to talk over; besides, there was the country to save! and
as Mollie didn't really know one party from the other, she felt herself
particularly fitted for the task of settling public questions.

Then, suddenly, she began to expect another visitor--a _wee_ visitor,
whom we hoped would remain permanently, and, goodness mercy! I nearly
lost my reputation through the chambermaid finding in my work-basket some
half-embroidered, tiny, tiny jackets. Whereupon she announced to the
servants, in full assembly, that I had too soft a tongue, and was deeper
than the sea, but _she_ had her eyes open, and, judging from what she
found in my work-basket, I was either going to buy a monkey for a pet, or
I had thrown away my character completely.

Mrs. Ogden was with me when the landlady, stony-eyed and rattling with
starch and rectitude, came to inquire into the contents of my
work-basket. Her call was brief, but satisfactory, and shortly after her
exit we heard her, at the top of her lungs, giving me a clean bill of
health--morally speaking--and denouncing the prying curiosity of the
maids. But we had had a scare, and Mollie implored me either not to help
her any more or to lock up my work-basket.

"Oh, no," I said, "I'll rest my head upon the chambermaid's breast and
confide all my intentions to her, then surely my character will be safe."

However, when the _wee_ stranger arrived, she might well have wondered
whom she belonged to. At all events she "goo-gooed and gurgled," and
smiled her funny three-cornered smile at me as readily as at her mother,
and my friendly rights in her were so far recognized by others that
questions about her were often put to me in her mother's very presence,
who laughingly declared that only in bed with the light out did she feel
absolutely sure that the baby was hers.

Mollie used to say the only really foolish thing she ever caught me in
was "Protestantism." It was a great grief to us all that I could not be
godmother, but though baby had a Protestant father, the Church flatly
refused to wink at a godmother of that forsaken race.

When, in God's good time, a tiny sister came to baby, she was called
Clara, but my friend had made a solemn vow before the altar, at the ripe
age of seven years, to name her first child Genevieve, and she, to quote
her husband, "being a Roman Catholic as well as a little idiot,"
faithfully kept her vow, and our partnership's baby was loaded up with a
name that each year proved more unsuitable, for a more un-Genevieve-like
Genevieve never lived. All of which goes to prove how unwise it is to
assume family cares and duties before the arrival of the family.

Miss Lucille Western was playing an engagement in Cleveland when "our
baby" was a few months old. My friend and I were both her ardent
admirers. I don't know why it has arisen, this fashion to sneer more or
less openly at Miss Western's work. If a woman who charms the eye can
also thrill you, repel you, touch you to tears, provoke you to laughter
by her acting, she surely merits the term "great actress." Well, now, who
can deny that she did all these things? Why else did the people pack her
houses season after season? It was not her looks, for if the perfect and
unblemished beauty of her lovely sister Helen could not draw a big house,
what could you expect from the inspired irregularity of Lucille's face?
How alive she was! She was not quite tall enough for the amount of fine
firm flesh her frame then carried--but she laced, and she was grace
personified.

She was a born actress; she knew nothing else in all the world. There is
a certain tang of wildness in all things natural. Dear gods! Think what
the wild strawberry loses in cultivation! Half the fascination of the
adorable Jacqueminot rose comes from the wild scent of thorn and earth
plainly underlying the rose _attar_ above. And this actress, with all her
lack of polish, knew how to interpret a woman's heart, even if she missed
her best manner. For in all she did there was just a touch of
extravagance--a hint of lawless, unrestrained passion. There was
something tropical about her, she always suggested the scarlet tanager,
the jeweled dragon-fly, the pomegranate flower, or the scentless splendor
of our wild marshmallow.

In "Lucretia Borgia" she presented the most perfect picture of opulent,
insolent beauty that I ever saw, while her "Leah, the Forsaken" was
absolutely Hebraic; and in the first scene, where she was pursued and
brought to bay by the Christian mob, her attitude, as she silently eyed
her foes, her face filled both with wild terror and fierce contempt, was
a thing to thrill any audience, and always received hearty applause.

So far as looks went, she was seen to least advantage in her greatest
money-maker, "East Lynne." Oh, dear! oh, dear! the tears that were shed
over that dreadful play, and how many I contributed myself! I would stand
looking on from the entrance, after my short part was over, and when she
cried out: "Oh, why don't I die! My God! why _don't_ I die?" I would lay
my head against the nearest scene and simply howl like a broken-hearted
young puppy. I couldn't help it, neither could those in front help
weeping--more decorously perhaps, because they were older and had their
good clothes on.

Now this brilliant and successful actress was not very happy--few are,
for one reason or another--but she worked much harder than most women,
and naturally liked to have some return for her work; therefore she must
have found it depressing, at least, when her husband formed the habit of
counting up the house by eye (he could come to within $5 of the money
contents of the house any night in this way), and then going out and
losing the full amount of her share in gambling. It was cruel, and it was
but one of the degradations put upon her. Lucille did not know how to
bear her troubles. She wept and used herself up. Then, to get through her
heavy night's work, she took a stimulant. Oh, poor soul! poor soul!
though the audience knew nothing, the people about her knew she was not
her best self; and she knew they knew it, and was made sore ashamed and
miserable. Her husband, on one occasion, had gambled away every cent of
three nights' work. On the fourth she had had resource to a stimulant,
and on the fifth she was cast down, silent, miserable, and humiliated.

That night "our baby" came to the theatre. She was one of those
aggressively sociable infants, who will reach out and grasp a strange
whisker rather than remain unnoticed. She had pretty little, straight
features and small, bright eyes that were fairly purply blue. I had
her--of course in so public a place it was my right to have her--she was
over my shoulder. I was standing near the star-room. The door opened and
next moment I heard a long, low, "O-o-h!" and then again, "O-o-h!
a--baby, and awake! and the peace of heaven yet in its eyes!"

I turned my head to look at Miss Western, and her face quickened my
heart. Her glowing eyes were fastened upon "baby," with just the rapt,
uplifted look one sees at times before some Roman Catholic altar. It was
beautiful! She gave a little start and exclaimed, as at a wonder: "Its
hand! oh, its tiny, tiny hand!" Just with the very tip of her forefinger
she touched it, and "baby" promptly grasped the finger and gurgled
cordially. Her face flushed red, she gave a gasp: "Good God!" she cried,
"it's touching me, me! It _is_, see--_see_!" Sudden tears slipped down
her cheeks. "Blessed God!" she cried, "if you had but sent me such a one,
all would have been different! I could never bring disgrace or shame on a
precious thing like this!"

As she raised the tiny morsel of a hand to her lips the prompter sharply
called: "The stage waits, Miss Western!" and she was gone.

Poor, ill-guided, unhappy woman! it was always and only the stage that
waited Miss Western.



CHAPTER EIGHTEENTH

  Mr. Charles W. Couldock--His Daughter Eliza and his Many Peculiarities.


There was one star who came to us every season with the regularity and
certainty of the equinoctial storm, and when they arrived together, as
they frequently did, we all felt the conjunction to be peculiarly
appropriate. He was neither young nor good-looking, yet no one could
truthfully assert that his engagements were lacking in interest--indeed,
some actors found him lively in the extreme. Charles W. Couldock was an
Englishman by birth, and had come to this country with the great Cushman.
He was a man of unquestionable integrity--honorable, truthful,
warm-hearted; but being of a naturally quick and irritable temper,
instead of trying to control it, he yielded himself up to every impulse
of vexation or annoyance, while with ever-growing violence he made
mountains out of mole-hills, and when he had just cause for anger he
burst into paroxysms of rage, even of ferocity, that, had they not been
half unconscious acting, must have landed him in a mad-house out of
consideration for the safety of others; while, worst of all, like too
many of his great nation, he was profane almost beyond belief; and
profanity, always painfully repellent and shocking, is doubly so when it
comes from the lips of one whose silvering hair shows his days have
already been long in the land of the God whom he is defying. And yet when
Mr. Couldock ceased to use plain, every-day oaths, and brought forth some
home-made ones, they were oaths of such intricate construction, such
grotesque termination, that they wrung a startled laugh from the most
unwilling lip.

In personal appearance he was the beau-ideal wealthy farmer. He was
squarely, solidly built, of medium height--never fat. His square,
deeply-lined, even-furrowed face was clean shaven. His head, a little
bald on top, had a thin covering of curly gray hair, which he wore a
trifle long; while his suit of black cloth--always a size or two too
large for him--and his never-changing big hat of black felt were excuse
enough for any man's asking him about the state of the crops--which they
often did, and were generally urgently invited to go to the hottest Hades
for their pains.

On his brow there was a deep and permanent scowl that seemed cut there to
the very bone. Two deep, heavy lines ran from the sides of his nose to
the corners of his lips, where they suddenly became deeper before
continuing down toward his chin, while a strong cast in one of his
steely-blue eyes gave a touch of malevolence to the severity of his face.

The strong point of his acting was in the expression of intense
emotion--particularly grief or frenzied rage. He was utterly lacking in
dignity, courtliness, or subtlety. He was best as a rustic, and he was
the only creature I ever saw who could "snuffle" without being absurd or
offensive.

Generally, if anything went wrong, Mr. Couldock's rage broke forth on the
instant, but he had been known to keep a rod in pickle for a day or more,
as in the case of a friend of mine--at least it was the husband of my
friend Mollie. He had played _Salanio_ in "The Merchant of Venice," and
in some way had offended the star, who cursed him _sotto voce_ at the
moment of the offence, and then seemed to forget all about the matter.
Next morning, at rehearsal, nothing was said till its close, when Mr.
Couldock quite quietly asked my friend to look in at his dressing-room
that evening before the play began.

Poor John was uneasy all the afternoon, still he drew some comfort from
the calmness of Mr. Couldock's manner. Evening came, John was before the
bar. The star seemed particularly gentle--he removed his coat leisurely
and said:

"You played _Salanio_ last night?"

"Yes, sir."

"And your name is--er?"

"Ogden, sir," replied John.

"Ah, yes, Ogden. Well, how long have you been at it, Ogden?"

"About three years," answered the now confident and composed prisoner at
the bar.

"Three years? huh! Well, will you let me give you a bit of advice,
Ogden?"

"Why, yes, sir, I shall be glad to listen to any advice from you,"
earnestly protested the infatuated one.

"Well," snapped the star, rather sharply, "I want you to _follow it_ as
well as to listen to it. Now you take some money--you _have_ some money
saved, I suppose?"

"Oh, yes, sir!" answered John.

"Well, then," he turned his queer eye on him, he took a long, full
breath, "well, then, you just get some of that money, and you go to a
hardware store," his rage was rising visibly, "and you buy a good sharp
hatchet, and then I want you to take it home and chop your d----d fool
head off!" and ripping off his vest he made a furious charge upon the
almost paralyzed Ogden, clouting him from the room, while roaring like a
bull.

He had played one set of plays so long he had lost the power to study
quickly, and he was so ill-advised once as to attempt a new part, on
rather short notice. The play was a miserable jumble of impossible
situations and strained, high-flown language; and, of all absurd things,
Mr. Couldock attempted to play a young Irish hero, with a love-scene--in
fact he was supposed to represent the young Emmet. Dear heaven! what a
sight he was, in those buckskin riding breeches (his legs were not beyond
suspicion as to their straightness), that cutaway green coat, and the
dinky little conical hat, looking so maliciously "larky," perched over
his fiercest eye. He forgot all his lines, but he never forgot his
profanity, and that night it took on a wild originality that was simply
convulsing. In one scene he had to promise to save his beloved Ireland.
He quite forgot the speech, and being reminded of it by the prompter, he
roared at the top of his voice: "I don't care! what the devil's Ireland
to me! d----n Ireland! I wish it and the man that wrote this play were
both at the bottom of the sea, with cock-eyed sharks eatin' 'em!" Then he
suddenly pulled out his part and began to search wildly for his next
scene, that he might try to recall his lines; at this he continued till
he was called to go upon the stage, then he made a rush, and in a moment
the house was laughing.

"Oh, dear! what was it?" Everyone ran to peep on the stage. Mr. Couldock
had discovered they were laughing at him, and was becoming recklessly
furious. Mr. Ellsler, fearing he would insult the people, hastily rang
down the curtain. Then Mr. Couldock, as _Emmet_, faced round to us, and
the laughter was explained. When he was reading over his part he had put
on a big pair of spectacles, and when he hurried on he simply pushed them
up and left them there. A young lover with big, old-fashioned spectacles
on his forehead and a perky little conical hat looking down on them was
certainly an unusual sight and an amusing one.

One of Mr. Couldock's most marked characteristics was the amazingly high
pitch of his voice in speaking. Anyone who has heard two men trying to
converse across a large open field has had a good illustration of his
style of intonation, which anger raised to a perfect shriek. The most
shocking exhibition of rage I ever saw came from him during a performance
of "Louis XI." Annie and I, as pages, were standing each side of the
throne, holding large red cushions against our stomachs. My cushion
supported a big gilded key, until, in my fright, I actually shook it off,
for when Mr. Couldock's passion came upon him on the stage his violence
created sad havoc in the memories of the actors. The audience, too,
could hear many of his jibes and oaths, and Mr. Ellsler was very angry
about it, for in spite of his affection for the man, he drew the line at
the insulting of the audience; therefore, when the curtain fell, Mr.
Ellsler said: "Charley, this won't do! you _must_ control yourself in the
presence of the public!"

The interference seemed to drive him mad. A volley of oaths,
inconceivably blasphemous, came from his lips, and then, with a bound, he
seized the manuscript (it was not a published play then, and the
manuscript was valuable) and tore it right down the centre. Mr. Ellsler
and the prompter caught his right hand, trying to save the play, but
while they held that he lifted the rest of the manuscript and tore it to
pieces with his teeth, growling and snarling like a savage animal. Then
he broke away and rushed frantically up-stairs to Mr. Ellsler's
dressing-room, where he locked himself in. When it was time to call the
next act he gave no answer to their knocking, though he could be heard
swearing and raving within. Mr. Ellsler finally burst open the door, and
there stood _Louis XI._ in his under-garments, and his clothing--where?
It was a tiny room, nevertheless no velvet costume could be found. The
window, a long French one, was nailed up for winter--the clothes had not
been thrown out. There was no stove yet, they had not been burned; where
then were they? Another overture was played. Some of Mr. Ellsler's
clothes were hastily brought--a nondescript covering for his royal
nakedness was found, and he went on to finish the performance somehow,
while the prompter guessed at the ringing down of the curtain, for there
was no manuscript to guide him.

Truly it had been a most humiliating spectacle. Many weeks later, when
stoves were going up, the men discovered that someone had torn away the
tin protector from the stove-pipe hole in Mr. Ellsler's room, and when
they were replacing it they found, crammed tightly into a narrow space
between the lath and plastering of the two rooms, the velvet garments of
_Louis XI._, even to the cap with the leaden images. How he had
discovered the place no one knows, and when his rage had passed he could
not remember what he had done, but he could play _Louis_ no more that
season.

We were always pleased when Mr. Couldock was accompanied by his daughter.
Eliza Couldock, bearing an absurdly marked resemblance to her father, of
course could not be pretty. The thin, curly hair, the fixed frown, the
deep lines of nose and mouth, the square, flat figure, all made of her a
slightly softened _replica_ of the old gentleman. Her teeth were pretty,
though, and her hazel eyes were very brilliant. She was well read,
clever, and witty, and her affectionate devotion to her father knew no
bounds; yet as she had a keen sense of the ridiculous, no eccentricity,
no _grotesquerie_ of his escaped her laughing, hawk-keen eye, and
sometimes when talking to old friends, like Mr. and Mrs. Ellsler, she
would tell tales of "poor pa" that were exceedingly funny.

They went to California--a great undertaking then, as the Pacific
Railroad was not completed, and they were most unsuccessful during their
entire stay here. Eliza told one day of how a certain school-principal in
'Frisco had met her father after a performance to a miserable house, and
with frightful bad taste had asked Mr. Couldock how he accounted for the
failure of his engagement, and that gentleman snarled out: "I don't try
to account for it at all! I leave that work for the people who ask fool
questions. If I only have one d----n cent in my pocket I don't try to
account for not having another d----n cent to rub against it!" And Eliza
added, in pained tones: "that principal had meant to ask 'poor pa' to
come and speak to the dear little boys in his school, but after that he
didn't--wasn't it odd?"

As Mr. Couldock was heard approaching that morning, his daughter quickly
whispered to Mrs. Ellsler: "Ask pa how he liked California?"

And after "good-mornings" were exchanged, the question was put, and
incidentally the red rag brought the mad bull into action.

"I wouldn't give a d----n for the whole d----d State!" roared Mr.
Couldock, while his daughter pushed his hair behind his ears, and mildly
said: "Pa's always so emphatic about California."

"Yes!" shouted the old man, "and so would you be if you wore breeches
and dared to speak the truth! You see," he went on, "no one ever gave me
even a hint, and it was just my cursed luck to go overland, risking my
own d----n skin and Eliza's too, and it seems that those God-forsaken
duffers look upon anyone coming to them by the overland route as a sort
of outcast tramp. In fact, that's entering by the back-kitchen door to
San Francisco. You ought to go by sea, and come in at the front door of
their blasted, stuck-up little city if you're to put any of their money
in your purse or be allowed to keep any of your own."

One morning we girls were boasting among ourselves of our abilities as
packers. Hattie, my room-mate, thought she could pack a trunk the
quickest, while I claimed I could pack one with the least injury to the
contents. Miss Couldock, hearing us, exclaimed, laughingly: "Oh, girls,
poor pa could give you all points at that work, while his manner of
_un_packing is so original, so swift, and so thorough, I think I should
explain it to you. First, I must tell you, that that slight bow to pa's
legs is an annoyance to him on every occasion of life, save that of
unpacking his trunks, then it is of great convenience. You see, the
trunks are brought up and dumped in the room. They don't have any locks,
because 'poor pa,' always losing the keys, has to kick the locks off
during the first week that he owns them. Next they are unstrapped and
opened, then pa yanks off the top spread from the bed and lays it open on
the middle of the floor; then he takes his place before the first trunk,
straddles his feet well apart (see, now, how useful that bow becomes),
and fires every single garment the trunk contains between his legs and
on to the quilt. Having emptied the trunks with lightning swiftness, he
claps down their covers for the rest of the week. Whenever he wants
anything for the theatre, he straddles the pile on the quilt, and paws it
wildly, but rapidly over, pulling out a shoulder-cape here, a doublet
yonder, one boot from the top and its mate from the bottom--all these he
pitches into the theatre-basket, and is happy for _that_ day. When the
week is over, pa dumps into the nearest trunk all it will hold, and
what's left over is pitched _en masse_ into the next one. If there is any
difficulty in closing the trunks he don't waste time in trying to
re-arrange the things. There is such beautiful simplicity in all pa's
actions, he just gets up and walks--well, perhaps stamps a little on the
contents, until the lid closes quite nicely, for he is a very quick
packer, is pa, though it's just possible that his method in some degree
may explain his generally rumpled appearance on the stage. What should
_you_ think about it, girls?"

The old gentleman was always very kind to me and had the oddest pet name
for me I ever heard. He used to hail me with: "Where's my crummie girl?
Well, Crummy, how are you?"

In answer to my amazed look, he explained one day that it was a Yorkshire
term, and meant "plump or round faced." The only time he ever cursed me
was when he gave me the cue in the wrong place, as he openly admitted,
and I went on too soon in consequence. Aside, he swore so the air seemed
blue--my legs shook under me. I did not know whether to speak or not. He
rose, and putting his arm about me, he led me off the stage (I was
playing his daughter), and as we crossed the stage, this is what he
said--the words in parentheses being asides to me, the other words being
aloud for the audience:

"(What in h--ll!) My little one! (you double d----n fool!) My bird, what
brings you here? (Yes, what the blankety, blankety, blanknation does
bring you here, crummie girl?) Get back to your nest, dearie! (and stay
there, d----n you!)" as he gently pushed me off the stage. Next day when
the prompter showed him his error he admitted it at once.

He knew much sorrow and trouble, and before that last long streak of good
fortune came to him, in New York, in "Hazel Kirke," he knew a time of
bitter poverty. Eliza had died--a sweet and noble woman--and the loss was
terrible to him. I was just winning success in the East when I was
dumfounded one day at seeing Mr. Couldock standing, bowed and broken,
before me, asking me for help.

A star--dear God! could such things happen to a star? I was so hurt for
him, for his broken pride. When I could speak, I simply told him my
salary, and that two (my mother and myself) were trying to live on it.
"Oh!" he cried, "crummie girl, why don't you demand your rights; your
name is on everyone's lips, yet you are hungry! Shall I speak for you?"

Poor old gentleman, I could not let him go empty away. I took one-half of
my rent-money and handed it to him. I dared not ask my landlady to favor
me further than that. His face lighted up radiantly--it might have been
hundreds from his look. "Dearie!" he said, "I'll pay this back to the
penny. You can ill spare it, I see that, crummie girl, but, oh, my lass,
it's worse to see another hungry than it is to hunger yourself. I'll pay
it back!" His eyes filled, he paused long, then he said, pathetically:
"Some time, crummie girl, some time!"

My landlady granted me grace. Months passed away--many of them--waves
went over me sometimes, but they receded before my breath was quite gone.
Things were bettering a little, and then one day, when I came home from
work, a man had called in my absence--an old man, who had left this
little packet, and, oh! he had been so anxious for its safety!

I opened it to find $25, all in bills of ones and twos. Such a pathetic
story those small bills told--they were for the crummie girl, "With the
thanks of the obliged, Charles W. Couldock."

He had kept his word; he was the only man in this profession who ever
repaid me one dollar of borrowed money. Mr. Couldock was like some
late-ripening fruit that requires a touch of frost for its sweetening. In
his old age he mellowed, he became chaste of speech, his acting of
strong, lovable old men was admirable. He was honored by his profession
in life and honestly mourned in death--he would not have asked more.



CHAPTER NINETEENTH

  I Come to a Turning-Point in my Dramatic Life--I play my First Crying
  Part with Miss Sallie St. Clair.


We were in Columbus; things were moving along smoothly and quietly, when
suddenly that incident occurred which had the power to change completely
my dramatic prospects, while at the same time it convinced the people
about me, in theatrical parlance, my head was "well screwed on," meaning
it was not to be turned by praise.

Miss Sallie St. Clair was the star of the week, and she was billed to
appear on Friday and Saturday nights in an adaptation of "La Maison
Rouge." I am not certain as to the title she gave it, but I think it was
"The Lone House on the Bridge." She was to play the dual characters--a
count and a gypsy boy. The leading female part Mrs. Ellsler declined,
because she would not play second to a woman. The young lady who had been
engaged for the juvenile business (which comes between leading parts and
walking ladies) had a very poor study, and tearfully declared she simply
_could_ not study the part in time--"No--no! she co--co--could not, so
now!"

There, then, was Blanche's chance. The part was sentimental, tearful, and
declamatory at the last, a good part--indeed, what is vulgarly known
to-day as a "fat" part, "fat" meaning lines sure to provoke applause.

Mrs. Bradshaw, who was herself ever ready to oblige her manager, could
not serve him in this instance, as the part was that of a very young
heroine, but she gladly offered her daughter's services in the emergency.
So sending for her to come to the theatre, the mother awaited her
arrival. She was very ambitious for Blanche, who had absolutely no
ambition for herself, outside of music, and here was the double
opportunity of playing a leading part, next to the star, and of obliging
the manager just at the time when contracts for the next season were in
order of consideration. No girl could help grasping at it eagerly, and
while Blanche studied the part, she, the mother, would baste up some
breadths of satin she had by her into a court dress. As she thus happily
planned it all Blanche sauntered in to inform her mother and her manager
that she would not do the part. _Would_ not, mind you; she did not
condescend to claim she _could_ not. Poor Mrs. Bradshaw drew her heavy
veil over her face with a shaking hand and moved silently away, only
waiting to reach the friendly privacy of her own room before yielding to
the tears caused by this cruel indifference to her wishes and to their
mutual welfare.

Mr. Ellsler then tried, in vain, to induce Blanche to undertake the part.
He tried to bribe her, promising certain gifts. He tried to arouse her
pride--he absolutely commanded her to take the part.

"Oh, very well, if you like," she answered, "but I'll spoil the play if I
do, you know!" And indeed he did "know" what she was capable of in the
line of mischief; and, knowing, gave her up in angry despair. There was
then but one chance left for the production of the play, to give the part
to one of the ballet-girls.

And Mr. Ellsler, who felt a strong friendship for the brave,
hard-working, much-enduring Miss St. Clair and her devoted if eccentric
husband, said, gently: "I'm sorry, Sallie, but it's no fault of mine; you
know I can't give memories to these two women, who say they can't study
the part. The girl I want to offer it to now will speak the words
perfectly to the last letter, and that's all we can expect of her, but
that's better than changing the bill."

Then I was called. I adored Miss St. Clair, as everyone else did. I
heard, I saw the long part, but instead of the instant smiling assent Mr.
Ellsler expected, I shook my head silently. Miss St. Clair groaned, Mr.
Barras snuffled loudly, and stammered: "W--what did you expect, if the
others can't study it, how can she?"

"Oh," I answered, "I can study the lines, Mr. Barras, but," big tears
came into my eyes, I was so sorry to disappoint the lovely blond star,
"it's--it's a crying part--a great lady and a crying part! I--I--oh, if
you please, I can't cry. I can laugh and dance and sing and scold, but I
don't know how to cry; and look here," I caught up the part and fluttered
over the leaves and pointed to the oft-repeated word "weeps--weeps,"
"and, Miss St. Clair," I excitedly finished, "I can't weep, and I won't
have a stitch of clothes for her back either!"

All three hearers burst out laughing. Miss St. Clair was in radiant
good-humor in an instant. She dried my eyes, and said: "Child, if you
really can study that long part, and just walk through it after only one
rehearsal, you will be a very clever little girl. You need not try to
act, just give me the lines and hold a handkerchief to your eyes when
tears are called for. You shall have one of my prettiest dresses for the
court scene, and I guess you have a white muslin of your own for the
garden scene, have not you?"

I had, yes, and so I went home, heavy-hearted, to undertake the study of
my first crying part.

Good heavens! In spite of this memory, I catch myself wondering was there
ever a _first one_--did I ever do anything else. For it seems to me I
have cried steadily through all the years of my dramatic life. Tears
gentle, regretful; tears petulant, fretful; tears stormy, passionate;
tears slow, despairing; with a light patter, now and then, of my own
particular brand, kept for the expression of my own personal
troubles--very bitter, briny tears they are, and I find that a very few
answer my purpose nicely.

Miss St. Clair, who was tall as well as fair, had measured the length of
my skirt in front, so that she might have one of her dresses shortened
for me during the afternoon, thus leaving me all the time possible for
study. After I had learned the words by heart, I began to study out the
character. It was an excellent acting part, very sweet and tenderly
pathetic in the first act, very passionate and fierce in the second, and
the better I understood the requirements of the part, the greater became
my terror of it. My room-mate tried to comfort me. "Think," she cried,
"of wearing one of Miss St. Clair's own dresses! I'll wager it will be an
awful nice one, too, since you are obliging her, and she is always kind,
anyway."

But that leaden weight at my heart was too great for gratified vanity to
lift. "Bother the tears," she added; "I heard Mr. Barras say the tears of
all actresses were in their handkerchiefs."

"Oh, yes, I heard him, too," I answered, "but he was just talking for
effect. There must be something else, something more. You can't move
anyone's heart by showing a handkerchief."

"Well," she exclaimed, a bit impatiently, "what do you _want_ to do? You
don't expect to shed real tears, do you?"

"N-n-no!" I hesitated, "not exactly that, but there's a tone--a--Hattie,
last Wednesday, when you quarrelled with young Fleming--I was not
present, you know--but that night, a half-hour after our light was out,
you spoke to me in the darkness, and I instantly asked you why you were
crying and if you had been quarrelling, though you had not even reached
the sobbing stage yet. Now how did I know you were crying?"

"I don't know--anyway I had no handkerchief," she laughed; "you heard it
maybe in my voice."

"Yes," I answered, eagerly, "that was it. That curious veiling of the
voice. Oh, Hattie, if I could only get that tone, but I can't, I've tried
and tried!"

"Why," she exclaimed, "you've got it now--this very moment!"

"Yes," I broke in impatiently, and turning to her a pair of reproachful,
tear-filled eyes, "yes, but why? because I'm really crying, with the
worry and the disappointment, and, oh, Hattie, the fright!"

And the landlady, a person who always lost one shoe when coming
up-stairs, announced dinner, and I shuddered and turned my face away.
Hattie went down, however, and bringing all her blandishments to bear
upon the head of the establishment, secured for me a cup of coffee--that
being my staff in all times of trouble or of need, and then we were off
to the theatre, Hattie kindly keeping at my side for companionship or
help, as need might be.

I did not appear in the first act, so I had plenty of time to receive my
borrowed finery--to try it on, and then to dress in my own white muslin,
ready for my first attempt at a crying part. It was a moonlit scene. Miss
St. Clair, tall, slender, elegant, looked the young French gallant to the
life in her black velvet court dress. I had to enter down some steps from
a great stone doorway. I stood, ready to go on. I wore a mantilla with my
muslin. I held a closed fan in my hand. My heart seemed to suffocate
me--I thought, stupidly, "Why don't I pray?" but I could not think of a
single word. I heard the faint music that preceded my entrance--a mad
panic seized me. I turned and dashed toward the street-door. Mr. Ellsler,
who had just made his exit, caught me by the skirts. "Are you mad, girl?"
he cried; "go back--quick--quick! I tell you--there's your cue!"

Next moment, tremulous but smiling, I was descending the steps to meet
the counterfeit lover awaiting me. My head was on his breast and my arm
stealing slowly about his neck before I knew that the closed fan in my
hand was crushed into fragments and marks of blood showing between my
clinched fingers. My first lines were simply recited, without meaning,
then the tender words and courtly manners aroused my imagination. The
glamour of the stage was upon me. The frightened actress ceased to
exist--I was the Spanish girl whose long-mourned lover had returned to
her; and there was something lacking in the greeting, some tone of the
voice, some glance of the eye seemed strange, alien. There was more of
ardor, less of tenderness than before. My lips trembled; suddenly I heard
the veiled, pathetic tone I had all day striven for in vain, and
curiously enough it never struck me that it was my voice--no! it was the
Spanish girl who spoke. My heart leaped up in my throat with a great
pity, tears rushed to my eyes, fell upon my cheeks. There was
applause--of course, was not Miss St. Clair there? Suspicion arose in my
mind--grew. I bethought me of the saving of my life on that stolen day
passed in the forest long ago. I took my lover's hand and with pretty
wiles drew him into the moonlight. Then swiftly stripping up the lace
ruffles, showed his arm smooth and unblemished by any scar, and with the
cry: "You are not Pascal de la Garde!" stood horror-stricken.

The moment the curtain fell Miss St. Clair sprang to me, and taking my
face between her hands, she cried: "You would move a heart of stone!" She
wiped her eyes, and turning to her husband, said: "Good God! she's a
marvel!"

"No, no!" he snuffled, "not yet, Sallie; but she's a marvel in embryo!"
He patted me on the shoulder. "You have a fortune somewhere between your
throat and your eyes, my girl--you have, indeed!"

And then I rushed to don my borrowed robes for the next act, and stared
stupidly when Hattie said: "What lovely applause you got, Clara, and you
so frightened; you shook all over when you went on, we could see you."

But I was too excited over what was yet to be done really to comprehend
her words. When I saw myself in the glass I was delighted. The open robe
of pale blue satin, brocaded with silver, was lifted at the sides with
big bunches of blush and deep-pink roses over a white satin petticoat. I
wore a high Spanish comb, a white mantilla, a pink rose over the ear,
after the national fashion, and a great cluster of roses at my breast,
and for the first time I felt the subtle joy that emanates from beautiful
and becoming garments. The fine softness of the rich fabric was pleasant
to my touch--its silken rustle was music to my ear. Miss St. Clair had
lent me of her best, and as I saw it all reflected there, I thought how
easy it must be for the rich to be good and happy, never dreaming that
the wealthy, who to escape _ennui_ and absolute idleness sometimes did
wrong simply because there was nothing else to do, might think in turn,
ah! how easy it must be for the poor to be good and happy.

But the overture ended abruptly. I gathered up my precious draperies and
ran to the entrance to be ready for my cue. The first speeches were cold,
haughty, and satirical. The gypsy who was personating my dead lover had
deceived everyone else, even the half-blind old mother had accepted him
as her son, though declaring him greatly changed in temper and in manner.
But I, the sweetheart, was not convinced, and ignoring the advice of the
highest at the court, was fighting the adventurer with the courage of
despair.

As the scene went on, the stage hands (carpenters, gas-men,
scene-shifters, etc.) began to gather in the entrances, always a sign of
something unusual going on. I saw them--an ugly thought sprang up in my
mind. Ah, yes, they are there waiting to see the ballet-girl fail in a
leading part! An unworthy suspicion, I am sure, but it acted as a spur
would have done upon an already excited horse, and with the same result,
loss of self-control.

In the denunciation of the adventurer as a murderer and a personator of
his own victim my passion rose to a perfect fury. I swept the stage,
storming, raging, fearing nothing under heaven but the possible escape of
the wretch I hated! Vaguely I noted the manager reaching far over a
balcony to see me--I didn't care even for the manager. The audience burst
into tremendous applause; I didn't care for that either, I only wanted
to see a rapier through the heart of the pale, sneering man before me. It
was momentary madness. People were startled--the star twice forgot her
lines. It was not correct, it was not artistic work. She, the part, was a
great lady, and even her passion should have been partially restrained;
but I, who played her, a ballet-girl, earning $5 a week, what could you
expect, pray, for the price? Certainly not polish or refinement. But the
genuine feeling, the absolute sincerity, and the crude power lavished
upon the scene delighted the audience and created a very real sensation.

The curtain fell. Miss St. Clair took me into her kind arms and, without
a word, kissed me heartily. The applause went on and on. She caught my
hand and said, "Come!" As she led me to the curtain, I suddenly realized
her intention, and a very agony of bashfulness seized upon me. I
struggled frantically. "Oh, don't!" I begged. "Oh, please, I'm nobody,
they won't like it, Miss St. Clair."

She motioned the men to pull back the curtain, and she dragged me out
before it with her. The applause redoubled. Shamed and stupid, I stood
there, my chin on my breast. Then I heard the laugh I so admired (Miss
St. Clair had a laugh that the word merry describes perfectly), her arm
went about my neck, while her fingers beneath my chin lifted my face till
I met her smiling glance and smiled back at her. Then the audience burst
into a great laugh, and bowing awkwardly to them and to her, I backed
off, out of sight, as quickly as I could; she, bowing like a young
prince, followed me. But again they called, and again the generous woman
took me with her.

And that was the first time I ever experienced the honor of going before
the curtain with a star. I supposed I had received the highest possible
reward for my night's work; I forgot there were such things as newspapers
in the town, but I was reminded of their existence the next day.

Never, never was I so astonished. Such notices as were given of the
performance, and what was particularly dwelt upon, think you? Why, the
tears. "Real tears--tears that left streaks on the girl's cheeks!" said
one paper. "Who is she--have you seen her--the wonderful Columbus
ballet-girl, who wins tears with tears, real ones, too?" asked another.

I was ashamed. I was afraid people would make fun of me at the theatre.
At the box-office window that day many people were asking: "That girl
that made the hit last night, is she really one of the ballet, or is it
just a story, for effect?"

Some women asked, anxiously: "Will that girl cry to-night, do you think?"

It was very strange. One paper had a quieter article; it spoke of a rough
diamond--of an earnest, honest method of addressing speeches directly to
the character, instead of to the audience, as did many of the older
actors. It claimed a future, a fair, bright future for the girl who could
so thoroughly put herself in another's place, and declared it would watch
with interest the movements of so remarkable a ballet-girl.

Now see how oddly we human dice are shaken about, and in what groups we
fall, again and again. Among the honorable gentlemen sitting at that time
in the Ohio Legislature was Colonel Donn Piatt, with the fever of the
Southern marshes yet in his blood as a souvenir of his services through
the war. He had gone languidly enough to the theatre that night, because
there was nothing else for him to do--unless he swapped stories of the
war in the hotel corridor with other ex-soldiers, and he was sick to
death of that, and he was so surprised by what he saw that he was moved
to write the article from which the last quotation is taken. Stopping in
the same hotel, but quite unknown to him, was a young man, hardly out of
boyhood, whose only lie, I honestly believe, was the one he told and
swore to in order to raise his age to the proper military height that
would admit him into the army. Bright, energetic, almost attaining
perpetual motion in his own person, ambitious John A. Cockerill just then
served in the double capacity of a messenger in the House and reporter on
a paper. Diphtheria, which was almost epidemic that winter, visited the
staff of the paper he was on, and in consequence he was temporarily
assigned to its dramatic work--thus he wrote another of the notices of my
first venture in the tearful drama. Every day these two men were in the
State-house--every day I walked through its grounds on my way to and from
the theater--each quite unconscious of the others.

But old Time shakes the box and casts the dice so many, many times,
groupings must repeat themselves now and again, so it came about that
after years filled with hard work and fair dreams, another shake of the
box cast us down upon the table of Life, grouped together again--but each
man knew and served me now faithfully, loyally; each giving me a hand to
pull me up a step higher. They hated each other bitterly, vindictively,
as journalists have been known to do occasionally; and as I knew the
noble qualities of both, what better reward could I give for their
goodness to me than to clasp their hands together and make them friends?
It was not an easy task, it required _finesse_ as well as courage, but
that was the kind of task a woman loves--if she succeeds, and I
succeeded.

They became friends, strong, earnest friends for the rest of their lives.
Death severed the bond, if it is severed; I do not know, and they may not
return to tell me--I only know that in the years that were to come, when
each man headed a famous paper, Colonel John A. Cockerill, of the New
York _World_, who wrote many a high word of praise for me when victory
had at last perched on my banner, and Colonel Piatt, who with his
brilliant wife made me known to many famous men and women in their
hospitable Washington home, loved to recall that night in Columbus when,
all unconsciously, we three came so near to each other, only to drift
apart for years and come together again.

And once I said, "like motes," and Donn Piatt swiftly added, "and a
sunbeam," and both men lifted their glasses and, nodding laughingly at
me, cried: "To the sunbeam!" while Mrs. Piatt declared, "That's a very
pretty compliment," but to me the unanimity of thought between those
erstwhile enemies was the prettiest thing about it.

But even so small a success as that had its attendant shadows, as I soon
found. Though I was then boarding, with Hattie McKee for my room-mate, I
felt I still owed a certain duty and respect to Mrs. Bradshaw. Therefore,
when this wonderful thing happened to me, I thought I ought to go and
tell her all about it. I went; she gave me a polite, unsmiling
good-morning and pointed to a chair. I felt chilled. Presently she
remarked, with a small, forced laugh: "You have become so great a person,
I scarcely expected to see you here to-day."

I looked reproachfully at her, as I quietly answered: "But you see I am
here;" then added, "I did not think you would make fun of me, Mrs.
Bradshaw, I only tried to do my best."

"Oh," she replied, "one does not make fun of very successful people."

I turned away to hide my filling eyes, as I remarked: "Perhaps I'd better
go away now."

I moved toward the door, wounded to the heart. I had thought she would be
so pleased--you see, I was young yet, and sometimes very stupid--I forgot
she had a daughter. But suddenly she called to me in the old, kindly
voice I was so used to: "Come back Clara," she cried, "come back! It's
mean to punish you for another's fault. My dear, I congratulate you; you
have only proved what I have long believed, that you have in you the
making of a fine actress. But when I think who had that same chance, and
that it was deliberately thrown away," her lips trembled, "I--well, it's
hard to bear. Even all this to-do about you in the part does not make
her regret what she has done."

Poor mother! I felt so sorry for her. I wished to go away then, I thought
my presence was unpleasant, but she made me tell her all about the
evening, and describe Miss St. Clair's dress, and what everyone said and
did. Loyal soul! I think that was a self-inflicted penance for a
momentary unkindness.

Blanche gave me her usual kind greeting, and added the words: "Say, if I
hadn't given you the chance, you couldn't have been a big gun to-day. You
know Mr. Ellsler won't dare to give you anything, but he would have given
me a nice present if I had done the part for him. So after all I've lost,
I think you might give me a new piece of chewing-gum, mine won't snap or
squeak or stretch out or do anything, it's just in its crumbly old age."

I gave the new gum; so, now, if that success seems not quite square, if
you think I made an unfair use of my funds in obtaining promotion, do
please remember that I was only an accessory _after_ the act--not before
it. I am the more anxious this should be impressed upon your mind because
that penny was the only one I ever spent in paying for advancement
professionally.

The second night of the "Lone House" was also the last night of Miss St.
Clair's engagement, and when I carried her blue-brocade gown back to her,
eagerly calling attention to its spotless condition, she stood with her
hand high against the wall and her head resting heavily upon her
outstretched arm. It was an attitude of such utter collapse, there was
such a wanness on her white face that the commonplace words ceased to
bubble over my lips, and, startled, I turned toward her husband. Charles
Barras, gentleman as he was by birth and breeding, and one time officer
in the American navy, was nevertheless in manner and appearance so odd
that the sight or the sound of him provoked instant smiles, but that
night his eyes were a tragedy, filled as they were with an anguish of
helpless love.

For a sad moment he gazed at her silently--then he was counting drops
from a bottle, holding smelling-salts to her pinched nostrils, removing
her riding-boots, indeed, deftly filling the place not only of nurse, but
dressing-maid, and as the wanness gradually faded from her weary face,
bravely ignoring her own feelings, she made a little joke or two, then
gave me hearty thanks for coming to her rescue, as she called it, praised
my effort at acting, and asked me how I liked a crying part.

"Oh, I don't like it at all," I answered.

"Ah," she sighed, "we never like what we do best; that's why I can never
be contented in elegant light comedy, but must strain and fret after
dramatic, tragic, and pathetic parts--and to think that a young,
untrained girl should step out of obscurity and without an effort do what
I have failed in all these years!"

I stood aghast. "Why--why, Miss St. Clair!" I exclaimed, "you have
applause and applause every night of your life!"

"Oh," she laughed, "you foolish child, it's not the applause I'm thinking
of, but something finer, rarer. You have won tears, my dear, a thing I
have never done in all my life, and never shall, no, never, I see that
now!"

"I wish I had not!" I answered, remorsefully and quite honestly, because
I was quite young and unselfish yet, and I loved her, and she understood
and leaned over and kissed my cheek, and told me not to bury my talent,
but to make good use of it by and by when I was older and free to choose
a line of business. "Though," she added, "even here I'll wager it's few
comedy parts that will come your way after to-night, young lady." And
then I left her.

That same night I heard that a dread disease already abode with her, and
slept and waked and went and came with her, and would not be shaken off,
but clung ever closer and closer; and, oh! poor Charles Barras! money
might have saved her then--money right then might have saved this woman
of his love, and God only knows how desperately he struggled, but the
money came not. Then, worse still, Sallie was herself the bread-winner,
and though Mr. Barras worked hard, doing writing and translating, acting
as agent, as nurse, as maid, playing, too, in a two-act comedy, "The
Hypochondriac," he still felt the sting of living on his wife's earnings,
and she had, too, a mother and an elder sister to support; therefore she
worked on and disease worked with her.

Charles Barras said, with bitter sarcasm in his voice: "I-I-I always see
m-my wife Sallie with a helpless woman over each shoulder, a-a-and myself
on her back, like the 'old man of the sea,' a-a-a pretty heavy burden
that for a sick woman to carry, my girl! a-a-and a mighty pleasant
picture for a man to have of his wife! A-a-and money--great God, money,
right now, might save her--might save her!" He turned suddenly from me
and walked on to the pitch-dark stage.

Poor Mr. Barras, I could laugh no more at his heelless boots, his funny
half-stammer, and his ancient wig, not even when I recall the memory of
that blazing Sunday in a Cincinnati Episcopal church, when, the stately
liturgy over, the Reverend Doctor ascended the pulpit and, regardless of
the suffering of his sweltering hearers, droned on endlessly, and Mr.
Barras leaned forward, and drawing a large palm fan from the next pew's
rack, calmly lifted his wig off with one hand while with the other he
alternately fanned his ivory bald head and the steaming interior of his
wig. The action had an electrical effect. In a moment even the sleepers
were alert, awake, a fact which so startled the preacher that he lost
his place--hemmed--h-h-med, and ran down, found the place again,
started, saw Barras fanning his wig, though paying still most decorous
attention to the pulpit, and before they knew it they were all
scrambling to their feet at "Might, Majesty, and Power!"--were
scrabbling for their pockets at "Let your light so shine," for Mr.
Barras had shortened the service with a vengeance; hence the forgiving
glances cast upon him as he carefully replaced his wig and sauntered
forth.

Several years after that night in Columbus, when I had reached New York
and was rehearsing for my first appearance there, I one morning heard
hasty, shuffling steps following me, and before I could enter the
stage-door, a familiar "Er-er-er Clara, Clara!" stopped me, and I turned
to face the wealthy author of the "Black Crook"--Mr. Charles Barras.
There he stood in apparently the same heelless cloth gaiters, the same
empty-looking black alpaca suit, the clumsy turned-over collar that was
an integral part of the shirt and not separate from it, the big black
satin handkerchief-tie that he had worn years ago, but the face, how
bloodless, shrunken, lined, and sorrowful it looked beneath the
adamantine youthfulness of that chestnut wig!

"D-d-don't you know me?" he asked.

"Yes, of course I do," I answered as I took his hand.

"W-w-well then don't run away--er-er it's against law, r-religion, or
decency to turn your back on a rich man. D-d-dodge the poor, Clara, my
girl! but never turn your back on a man with money!"

I was pained; probably I looked so. He went on: "I-I-I'm rich now, Clara.
I've got a fine marine villa, and in it are an old, old dog and a dying
old woman. They both belonged to my Sallie, and so I'll keep hold of 'em
as long as I can, for her sake. A-a-after they go!" he turned his head
away, he looked up at the beautiful blue indifference of the sky, his
face seemed to tremble all over, his eyes came back, and he muttered:
"W-w-we'll see--w-w-we'll see what will happen then. But, Clara, you
remember that time when money could have saved her? The money I receive
in one week now, if I could have had it then, she, Sallie, might be over
there on Broadway now buying the frills and furbelows she loved and
needed, too, and couldn't have. The little boots and slippers--you
remember Sallie's instep? Had to have her shoes to order always," he
stopped, he pressed his lips tight together for a moment, then suddenly
he burst out: "By God, when a man struggles hard all his life, it's a
damn rough reward to give him a handsome coffin for his wife!"

Oh, poor rich man! how my heart ached for him. A tear slipped down my
cheek; he saw it. "D-d-don't!" he said, "d-don't, my girl, she can't come
back, and it hurts her to have anyone grieve. I want you to come and see
me, when you get settled here, a-a-and I wish you a great big success. My
Sallie liked you, she spoke often of you. I-I-I'll let you know how to
get out there, and I-I-I'll show you her dog--old Belle, and you can
stroke her, and er-er sit in Sallie's chair a little while perhaps--and
er--don't, my girl, don't cry, she can't come back, you know," and
shaking my hands he left me, thinking I was crying for Sallie, who was
safe at rest and had no need of tears, while instead they were for
himself--so old, so sad, so lonely, such a poor rich man! Did he know
then how near Death was to him? Some who knew him well believe unto this
day that the fatal fall from the cars was no fall, but a leap--only God
knows.

I never paid the promised visit--could find no opportunity--and I never
saw him again, that eccentric man, devoted husband, and honest gentleman,
Charles Barras.



CHAPTER TWENTIETH

  I Have to Pass through Bitter Humiliation to Win High Encomiums from
  Herr Bandmann; while Edwin Booth's Kindness Fills the Theatre with Pink
  Clouds, and I Float Thereon.


Occasionally one person united two "lines of business," as in the case of
Mrs. Bradshaw, who played "old women" and "heavy business" both, and when
anything happened to disqualify such a person for work the inconvenience
was of course very great. Mrs. Bradshaw, as I have said before, was very
stout, but her frame was delicate in the extreme, and her slender ankles
were unable to bear her great weight, and one of them broke. Of course
that meant a long lying up in dry-dock for her, and any amount of worry
for ever so many other people. Right in the middle of her imprisonment
came the engagement of the German actor, Herr Daniel Bandmann. He was to
open with "Hamlet," and, gracious Heaven! I was cast for the
_Queen-mother_. It took a good deal in the way of being asked to do
strange parts to startle me, but the _Queen-mother_ did it. I was just
nicely past sixteen, but even I dared not yet lay claim to seventeen, and
I was to go on the stage for the serious Shakespearian mother of a star.

"Oh, I couldn't!"

"Can't be helped--no one else," growled Mr. Ellsler. "Just study your
lines, right away, and do the best you can."

I had been brought up to obey, and I obeyed. We had heard much of Mr.
Bandmann, of his originality, his impetuosity, and I had been very
anxious to see him. After that cast, however, I would gladly have
deferred the pleasure. The dreaded morning came. Mr. Bandmann, a very big
man, to my frightened eyes looked gigantic. He was dark-skinned, he had
crinkly, flowing hair, his eyes were of the curious red-brown color of a
ripe chestnut. He was large of voice, and large of gesture. There was a
greeting, a few introductions, and then rehearsal was on, and soon, oh!
so soon, there came the call for the _Queen_. I came forward. He glanced
down at me, half smiled, waved his arm, and said: "Not you, not the
_Player-Queen_, but _Gertrude_."

I faintly answered: "I'm sorry, sir, but I have to play _Gertrude_."

"Oh, no you won't!" he cried, "not with me!" He was furious, he stamped
his feet, he turned to the manager: "What's all this infernal nonsense? I
want a woman for this part! What kind of witches' broth are you serving
me, with an old woman for my _Ophelia_, and an apple-cheeked girl for my
mother! She can't speak these lines! she, dumpling face!"

Mr. Ellsler said, quietly: "There is sickness in my company. The heavy
woman cannot act; this young girl will not look the part, of course, but
you need have no fear about the lines, she never loses a word."

"Curse the _words_! It is, that that little girl shall not read with the
sense one line, no, not one line of the Shakespeare!" his English was
fast going in his rage.

Mr. Ellsler answered: "She will read the part as well as you ever heard
it in your life, Mr. Bandmann." And Mr. Bandmann gave a jeering laugh,
and snapped his fingers loudly.

It was most insulting, and I felt overwhelmed with humiliation. Mr.
Ellsler said, angrily: "Very well, as I have no one else to offer you, we
will close the theatre for the night!"

But Mr. Bandmann did not want to close--not he. So, after swearing in
German for a time, he resumed rehearsal, and when my time came to speak I
could scarcely lift my drooping head or conquer the lump in my throat,
but, somehow, I got out the entreating words:

      "Good Hamlet, cast thy Knighted color off,
      And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark."

He lifted his head suddenly--I went on:

      "Do not, for ever, with thy veiled lids
      Seek for thy noble father in the dust."

He exclaimed, surprisedly: "So! so!" as I continued my speech. Now in
this country, "So--so!" is a term applied to restless cows at
milking-time, and the devil of ridicule, never long at rest in my mind,
suddenly wakened, so that when I had to say:

      "Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet:
      I pray thee, stay with us; go not to Wittenberg."

and Mr. Bandmann smilingly cried: "So! so!" and I swiftly added the word
"Bossy," and every soul on the stage broke into laughter. He saw he was
laughed at, and it took a whole week's time and an elaborate explanation,
to enable him to grasp the jest--but when he got a good hold of it, he
so! so! bossied and stamped and laughed at a great rate.

During the rehearsal--which was difficult in the extreme, as his business
(_i.e._, actions or poses accompanying certain words) was very different
from that we were used to--he never found one single fault with my
reading, and made just one suggestion, which I was most careful to
follow--for one taste of his temper had been enough.

Then came the night--a big house, too, I remember. I wore long and loose
garments to make me look more matronly; but, alas! the drapery _Queen
Gertrude_ wears, passed under her jaws from ear to ear, was particularly
becoming to me, and brought me uncommonly near to prettiness. Mr.
Ellsler groaned, but said nothing, while Mr. Bandmann sneered out an "Ach
Himmel!" shrugged his shoulders, and made me feel real nice and happy.
And when one considers that without me the theatre must have closed or
changed its bill, even while one pities him for the infliction, one feels
he was unnecessarily unkind.

Well, all went quietly until the closet scene--between _Hamlet_, the
_Queen_, and the _Ghost_. It is a great scene, and he had some very
effective business. I forgot Bandmann in _Hamlet_. I tried hard to show
shame, pride, and terror. The applause was rapturous. The curtain fell,
and--why, what, in the name of heaven, was happening to me?

I was caught by the arms and lifted high in air; when I came down I was
crushed to _Hamlet's_ bosom, with a crackling sound of breaking
Roman-pearl beads, and in a whirlwind of "Himmels!" "Gotts!" and things,
I was kissed with frenzied wet kisses on either cheek--on my brow--my
eyes. Then disjointed English came forth: "Oh, you so great, you kleine
apple-cheeked girl! you maker of the fraud--you so great nobody! ach! you
are fire--you have pride--you are a _Gertrude_ who have shame!" More
kisses, then suddenly he realized the audience was still
applauding--loudly and heartily. He grasped my hand, he dragged me before
the curtain, he bowed, he waved his hands, he threw one arm about my
shoulders.

"Good Lord!" I thought, "he isn't going to do it all over again--out
here, is he?" and I began backing out of sight as quickly as possible.

It was a very comforting plaster to apply to my wounds--such a success as
that, but it would have been so much pleasanter not to have received the
wound in the first place.

Mr. Bandmann's best work, I think, was done in "Narcisse." His _Hamlet_
seemed to me too melodramatic--if I may say so. If _Hamlet_ had had all
that tremendous fund of energy, all that love of action, the _Ghost_
need never have returned to "whet his almost blunted purpose." Nor could
I like his scene with his guilty mother. There was not even a _forced_
show of respect for her. There was no grief for her wrong-doing--rather,
his whole tone was that of a triumphant detective. And his speeches,
"Such an act!" and "Look upon this picture!" were given with such
unction--such a sneeringly, perfect comprehension of her lust, as to
become themselves lustful.

His _Shylock_ was much admired, I believe, but _Narcisse_ was a most
artistic piece of work. His appearance was superb; his philosophical
flippancy anent his poverty, his biting contempt of the powerful
_Pompadour_; his passion and madness on discovering his lost wife in the
person of the dying favorite, and his own death, were really great.

And just one little month after the departure of the impetuous German,
who should be announced but Mr. Edwin Booth. I felt my eyes growing
wider as I read in the cast, "_Queen Gertrude--Miss Morris_." Uncle
Dick, behind me, said: "Would you like me to d----n poor Brad's bones
for you, Clara? It's hard lines on you, and that's a fact!"

"Oh!" I thought, "why won't her blessed old bones mend themselves! she is
not lazy, but they are! oh, dear! oh, dear!" and miserable tears slid
down my cheeks all the way home, and moistened saltily my supper of
crackers after I got there.

I had succeeded before, oh, yes; but I could not help recalling just how
hot the ploughshares were over which I had walked to reach that success.
Then, too, all girls have their gods--some have many of them. Some girls
change them often. My gods were few. Sometimes I cast one down, but I
never changed them, and on the highest, whitest pedestal of all, grave
and gentle, stood the god of my professional idolatry--Edwin Booth. I
wiped off cracker-crumbs with one hand and tears with the other.

It was so humiliating to be forced upon anyone, as I should be forced
upon Mr. Booth, since there was still no one but my "apple-cheeked" self
to go on for the _Queen_; and though I dreaded indignant complaint or
disparaging remarks from him, I was honestly more unhappy over the
annoyance this blemish on the cast would cause him. Well, it could not be
helped, I should have to bear a second cruel mortification, that was all.
I put my four remaining crackers back in their box, brushed up the
crumbs, wiped my eyes, repeated my childish little old-time "Now I lay
me," and went to sleep; only to dream of Mr. Booth holding out a hideous
mask, and pressing me to have the decency to put it on before going on
the stage for _Gertrude_.

When the dreaded Monday came, lo! a blizzard came with it. The trains
were all late, or stalled entirely. We rehearsed, but there was no Mr.
Booth present. He was held in a drift somewhere on the line, and at
night, therefore, we all went early to the theatre, so that if he came we
would have time to go over the important scenes--or if he did not come
that we might prepare for another play.

He came. Oh, how my heart sank! This would be worse for him even than it
had been for Mr. Bandmann, for the latter knew of his disappointing
_Queen_ in the morning, and had time to get over the shock, but poor Mr.
Booth was to receive his blow only a few minutes before going on the
stage. At last it came--the call.

"Mr. Booth would like to see you for a few moments in his room."

I went, I was cold all over. He was so tired, he would be so angry. I
tapped. I went in. He was dressed for _Hamlet_, but he was adding a touch
to his brows, and snipping a little at his nails--hurriedly. He looked
up, said "Good-evening!" rather absently, then stopped, looked again,
smiled, and waving his hand slightly, said, just in Bandmann's very
words: "No, not you--not the _Player-Queen_--but _Gertrude_."

Tears rushed to my eyes, my whole heart was in my voice as I gasped: "I'm
so sorry, sir, but _I_ have to do _Queen Gertrude_. You see," I rushed
on, "our heavy woman has a broken leg and can't act."

A whimsical look, half smile, half frown, came over his face. "That's bad
for the _heavy_ woman," he remarked.

"Yes," I acquiesced, "but, if you please, I had to do this part with Mr.
Bandmann too, and--and--I'll only worry you with my looks, sir, not about
the words or business."

He rested his dark, unspeakably melancholy eyes on my face, his brows
raised and then knit themselves in such troubled wise as made me long to
put an arm about his shoulders and assure him I wouldn't be so awfully
bad.

Then he sighed and said: "Well, it was the closet-scene I wanted to speak
to you about. When the _Ghost_ appears, you are to be--" He stopped, a
faint smile touched his lips, even reached his eyes; he laid down his
scissors, and remarked, "There's no denying it, my girl, I look a great
deal more like your father than you look like my mother--but," he went on
with his directions, and, considerate gentleman that he was, spoke no
single unkind word to me, though my playing of that part must have been a
great annoyance to him, when added to hunger and fatigue.

When the closet-scene was over, the curtain down, I caught up my petticoats
and made a rapid flight roomward. The applause was filling the theatre.
Mr. Booth, turning, called after me: "You--er--_Gertrude_--er--_Queen_! Oh,
somebody call that child back here," and someone roared: "Clara--Mr. Booth
is calling you!"

I turned, but stood still. He beckoned, then came to me, took my hand,
and saying: "My dear, we must not keep them waiting _too_ long!" led me
before the curtain with him. I very slightly bent my head to the
audience, whom I felt were applauding _Hamlet_ only, but turned and bowed
myself to the ground to him whose courtesy had brought me there.

When we came off he smiled amusedly, tapped me on the shoulder, and said:
"My Gertrude, you are very young, but you know how to pay a pretty
compliment--thank you, child!"

So, whenever you see pictures of nymphs or goddesses floating on pink
clouds, and looking idiotically happy, you can say to yourself: "That's
just how Clara Morris felt when Edwin Booth said she had paid him a
compliment."

Yes, I floated, and I'll take a solemn oath, if necessary, that the whole
theatre was filled with pink clouds the rest of that night--for girls are
made that way, and they can't help it.

In after years I knew him better, and I treasure still the little note he
sent me in answer to my congratulation on his escape from the bullet
fired at him from the gallery of the theatre in Chicago. A note that
expressed as much gentle surprise at my "kind thought for him," as though
I only, and not the whole country, was rejoicing at his safety.

He had a wonderful power to win love from other men--yes, I use the word
advisedly. It was not mere good-fellowship or even affection, but there
was something so fine and true, so strong and sweet in his nature, that
it won the love of those who knew him best.

It would seem like presumption for me to try to add one little leaf to
the tight-woven laurel crown he wore. Everyone knows the agony of his
"Fool's Revenge," the damnable malice of his _Iago_, the beauty and fire
of _Antony_, and the pure perfection of his _Hamlet_--but how many knew
the slow, cruel martyrdom of his private life! which he bore with such
mute patience that in my heart there is an altar raised to the memory of
that Saint Edwin of many sorrows, who was known and envied by the world
at large--as the great actor, Edwin Booth.



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIRST

  I Digress, but I Return to the Columbus Engagement of Mr. and Mrs.
  Charles Kean--Their Peculiarities and Their Work.


Before one has "arrived," it is astonishing how precious the simplest
word of encouragement or of praise becomes, if given by one who has
"arrived." Not long ago a lady came up to me and said: "I am Mrs. D----,
which is, of course, Greek to you; but I want to thank you now for your
great goodness to me years ago. I was in the ballet in a Chicago theatre.
You were playing 'Camille.' One day the actress who played _Olympe_ was
sick, and as I was, you said, the tallest and the handsomest of the
girls, you gave the part to me. I was wild with delight until the
nervousness got hold of me. I was not strong--my stomach failed me; the
girls thought that very funny, and guyed me unmercifully. I was surely
breaking down. You came along, ready to go on, and heard them. I could
scarcely stand. You said: 'What's the matter--are you nervous?' I tried
to speak, but only nodded. You took my hand and, stroking it, gently
said, 'Isn't it awful?' then, glancing at my tormentors, added, 'but it's
nothing to be ashamed of, and just as soon as you face the footlights all
your courage will come back to you, and, my dear, comfort yourself with
the knowledge that the perfectly collected, self-satisfied beginner
rarely attains a very high position on the stage.' Oh, if you only knew
how my heart jumped at your words. My fingers grew warmer, my nerves
steadier, and I really did succeed in getting the lines over my lips some
way. But you saved me, you made an actress of me. Ah, don't laugh! don't
shake your head, please! Had I failed that night, don't you see, I should
never have had a chance given me again; while, having got through safely,
it was not long before I was pointed out as the girl who had played
_Olympe_ with Miss Morris, and on the strength of that I was trusted with
another part, and so crept on gradually; and now I want to thank you for
the sympathy and kindness you showed me so long ago"--and though her warm
gratitude touched me deeply, I had then--have now--no recollection
whatever of the incident she referred to, nor of ever having seen before
her very handsome face. And so, no doubt, many of whom I write, who from
their abundance cast _me_ a word of praise or of advice now and again,
will have no memory of the _largesse_ which I have cherished all these
years.

Among my most treasured memories I find the gentle words and astonishing
prophecy of Mr. Charles Kean. That was the last visit to this country of
Mr. and Mrs. Kean, and his memory was failing him grievously. He had with
him two English actors, each of whom knew every line of all his parts,
and their duty was, when on the stage or off, so long as Mr. Kean was
before the house, to keep their eyes on him, and at the first sign of
hesitancy on his part one of them gave him the needed word. Once or
twice, when he seemed quite bewildered, Mr. Cathcart, turning his back to
the audience, spoke Mr. Kean's entire speech, imitating his nasal tones
to the life.

But it was off the stage that the ancient couple were most delightful.
Ellen and Charles were like a pair of old, old love-birds--a little dull
of eye, nor quite perfect in the preening of their somewhat rumpled
plumage, but billing and cooing with all the persistency and satisfaction
of their first caging. Their appearance upon the street provoked
amusement--sometimes even excitement. I often saw drivers of drays and
wagons pull up their horses and stop in the crowded street to stare at
them as they made their way toward the theatre. Mrs. Kean lived inside
of the most astounding hoop woman ever carried. Its size, its weight, its
tilting power were awful. Entrances had to be cleared of all chairs or
tables to accommodate Mrs. Kean's hoop. People scrambled or slid sideways
about her on the stage, swearing mentally all the time, while a sudden
gasp from the front row or a groan from Mr. Cathcart announced a tilt and
a revelation of heelless slippers and dead-white stockings, and in spite
of his dignity Charles was not above a joke on Ellen's hoop, for one
rainy day, as she strove to enter a carriage door she stuck fast, and the
hoop--mercy! It was well Mr. Kean was there to hold it down; but as a
troubled voice from within said: "I'm caught somehow--don't you see,
Charles?" With a twinkling eye Charles replied: "Yes, Ellen, my dear, I
do see--and--and I'm trying to keep everyone else from seeing, too!" a
speech verging so closely upon impropriety that, with antique coquetry,
Mrs. Kean punished him by tweaking his ear when he squeezed in beside
her.

The Kean bonnet was the wonder of the town. It was a large coal-scuttle
of white leghorn and at the back there was a sort of flounce of ribbon
which she called her "bonnet-cape"; draped over it she wore a great,
bright-green barège veil. But she was not half so funny as was her
husband on the street. His short little person buttoned up tightly in a
regular bottle-green "Mantellini" sort of overcoat, loaded with frogs of
heavy cord, and lined, cuffed, and collared with fur of such remarkable
color, quality, and marking as would have puzzled the most experienced
student of natural history to name; while vicious little street boys at
sight of it always put searching questions as to the cost of cat-skins in
London.

As they came down the street together, Mrs. Kean, majestically towering
above her lord and master, looked like an old-time frigate with every
inch of canvas spread, while at her side Charles puffed and fretted like
a small tug. The street boys were a continual torment to him, but Mrs.
Kean appeared serenely unconscious of their existence, even when her
husband made short rushes at them with his gold-headed cane, and crying:
"Go a-way--you irreverent little brutes--go a-way!" and then puffed
laboriously back to her again as she sailed calmly on.

One day a citizen caught one of the small savages, and after boxing his
ears soundly, pitched him into the alley-way, when the seemingly enraged
little Englishman said, deprecatingly: "I--I wouldn't hurt the little
beast--he--he hasn't anyone to teach him any better, you know--poor
little beggar!" and then he dropped behind for a moment to pitch a
handful of coppers into the alley before hurrying up to his wife's side
to boast of the jolly good drubbing the little monster had received--from
which I gathered the idea that in a rage Charles would be as fierce as
seething new milk.

Everyone who knew anything at all of this actor knew of his passionate
love and reverence for his great father. He used always to carry his
miniature in _Hamlet_, using it in the "Look here, upon this picture,
then on this," scene; but I knew nothing of all that when he first
arrived to play engagements both in Cleveland and Columbus, but being
very eager to see all I could of him, I came very early to the theatre,
and as I walked up and down behind the scenes I caught two or three times
a glint of something on the floor, which might have been a bit of tinsel;
but finally I went over to it, touched it with my foot, and then picked
up an oval gold case, with handsome frame enclosing a picture; a bit of
broken ribbon still hung from the ring on top of the frame. I ran with it
to the prompter, who knew nothing of it, but said there would soon be a
hue and cry for it from someone, as it was of value. "Perhaps you'd
better take it to Mr. Kean--it might be his." I hesitated, but the
prompter said he was busy and I was not, so I started toward the
dressing-room the Keans shared together, when suddenly the door was flung
open and Mr. Kean came out in evident excitement. He bumped against me
as he was crying: "I say there--you--have you seen--oh, I--er beg your
pardon!"

I also apologized, and added: "If you please, sir, does this belong to
you? I found it behind the scenes."

He caught it from my hand, bent to look at it in the dim light, then,
pressing it to his lips, exclaimed fervently: "Thank the good God!" He
held up a length of broken black ribbon, saying: "Hey, but you have
played me a nice trick!" I understood at once that he used the locket in
"Hamlet," and I ventured: "If you can't wear gold and your ribbon cuts,
could you not have a silver chain oxidized for your 'property' picture,
sir?" He chucked me under the chin, exclaiming: "A good idea
that--I--I'll tell Ellen of that; but, my dear, this is no 'property'
locket--this is one of my greatest earthly treasures--it's the picture
of----"

He stopped--he looked at me for quite a moment, then he said: "You come
here to the light." I followed him obediently. "Now can you tell me who
that is a miniature of?" and he placed the oval case in my hands. I gave
a glance at the curled hair, the beautiful profile, the broad turned-down
collar, and smilingly exclaimed: "It's Lord Byron!"

Good gracious, what was the matter with the little old gentleman! "Ha!
ha!" he cried. "Ha! ha! listen to the girl!" He fairly pranced about; he
got clear out on the dark stage and, holding out his hands to the
emptiness, cried again: "Listen to the girl--Lord Byron, says she--at one
glance!"

"Well," I replied resentfully, "it _does_ look like Byron!" And he "Ha!
ha'd!" some more, and wiped his eyes and said, "I must tell Ellen this.
Come here, my dear, come here!" He took my hand and led me to the
dressing-room, crying: "It's Charles, my dear--it's Charles--and oh, my
dear, my dear, I--I have it--see now!" he held up the locket.

"Oh, how glad I am! And now, Charles, perhaps you'll give up that
miserable ribbon," and she kissed his cheek in congratulation.

But on the old gentleman went: "And, Ellen, my dear, look at this girl
here--just look at her. She found him for me, and I said, who is he--and
she up and said--Ellen, are you listening?--said she, 'It's Lord Byron!'"

"Did she now?" exclaimed Mrs. Kean, with pleased eyes.

But I was getting mad, and I snapped a bit, I'm afraid, when I said:
"Well, I don't know who it is, but it does look like Byron--I'll leave it
to anyone in the company if it doesn't!"

"Listen to her, Ellen! Hang me if she's not getting hot about it, too!"
Then he came over to me, and in the gravest, gentlest tone said, "It _is_
like Byron, my girl, but it is not him--you found the picture of my
beloved and great father, Edmund Kean," and he kissed me gently on the
forehead, and said, "Thank you--thank you!" and as Mrs. Kean came over
and put her arm about me and repeated the kiss and thanks, Charles
snuffled most distinctly from the corner where he was folding his
precious miniature within a silk handkerchief.

They were both at their very best in the tragedy of "Henry VIII." Mr.
Kean's _Wolsey_ was an impressive piece of work, and to the eye he was as
true a Cardinal as ever shared in an Ecumenical Council in Catholic Rome,
or hastened to private audience at the Vatican with the Pope himself; and
his superb robes, his priestly splendor had nothing about them that was
imitation. Everything was real--the silks, the jewelled cross and ring,
and as to the lace, I gasped for breath with sheer astonishment. Never
had I seen, even in a picture, anything to suggest the exquisite beauty
of that ancient web. Full thirty inches deep, the yellowing wonder fell
over the glowing cardinal-red beneath it. I cannot remember how many
thousands of dollars they had gladly given for it to the sisters of the
tottering old convent in the hills, where it had been created long ago;
and though it seemed so fragily frail and useless a thing, yet had it
proved strong enough to prop up the leaning walls of its old home, and
spread a sound roof above the blessed altar there--so strong sometimes is
beauty's weakness.

And Mrs. Kean, what a _Catherine_ she was! Surely nothing could have been
taken from the part, nothing added to it, without marring its perfection.
In the earlier acts one seemed to catch a glimpse of that Ellen Tree who
had been a beauty as well as a popular actress when Charles Kean had come
a-wooing. Her clear, strong features, her stately bearing were
beautifully suited to the part of _Queen Catherine_. Her performance of
the court scene was a liberal education for any young actress. Her regal
dignity, her pride, her passion of hatred for _Wolsey_ held in strong
leash, yet now and again springing up fiercely. Her address to the _King_
was a delight to the ear, even while it moved one to the heart, and
through the deep humility of her speech one saw, as through a veil, the
stupendous pride of the Spanish princess, who knew herself the daughter
of a king, if she were not the wife to one. With most pathetic dignity
she gave her speech beginning:

      "Sir, I desire you do me right and justice;"

maintaining perfect self-control, until she came to the words:

      "----Sir, call to mind
      That I have been your wife in this obedience
      Upward of twenty years and,----"

Her voice faltered, the words trembled on her lips:

      "----have been blest
      With many children by you."

In that painful pause one remembered with a pang that all those babes
were dead in infancy, save only the Princess Mary. Then, controlling her
emotion and lifting her head high, she went on to the challenge--if aught
could be reported against her honor. It was a great act, her passionate
cry to _Wolsey_:

      "----Lord cardinal,
      To _you_ I speak."

thrilled the audience, while to his:

      "----Be patient yet,"

her sarcastic:

      "I will, when you are humble!"

cut like a knife, and brought quick applause. But best, greatest,
queenliest of all was her exit, when refusing to obey the King's command:

      "----Call her again."

for years one might remember those ringing words:

      "I will not tarry: no, nor ever more,
      Upon this business, my appearance make
      In any of their courts."

It was a noble performance. Mr. Kean's mannerisms were less noticeable
in _Wolsey_ than in other parts, and the scenes between the Queen and
Cardinal were a joy to lovers of Shakespeare.



CHAPTER TWENTY-SECOND

  I Hear Mrs. Kean's Story of Wolsey's Robe--I Laugh at an Extravagantly
  Kind Prophecy.


From the time I found the miniature and by accident fed Mr. Kean's
innocent vanity in his father's likeness to Byron, he made much of me.
Evening after evening, in Columbus, he would have me come to their
dressing-room, for after the habit of the old-time actor, they came very
early, dressed without flurry, and were ready before the overture was on.
There they would tell me stories, and when Charles had a teasing fit on
him, he would relate with great gusto the awful disaster that once
overtook Ellen in a theatre in Scotland, "when she played a Swiss boy, my
girl--and--and her breeches----"

"Now, Charles!" remonstrated Mrs. Kean.

"Knee breeches, you know, my dear----"

"Charles!" pleadingly.

"Were of black velvet--yes, black velvet, I remember because, when they
broke from----"

"C-h-a-r-l-e-s!" and then the stately Mrs. Kean would turn her head away
and give a small sob--when Charles would wink a knowing wink and trot
over and pat the broad shoulder and kiss the rouged cheek, saying: "Why,
why, Ellen, my dear, what a great baby! now, now, but you know those
black breeches did break up before you got across the bridge."

Then Mrs. Kean turned and drove him into his own corner or out of the
door, after which she would exclaim: "It's just one of his larks, my
dear. I _did_ have an accident, the seam of one leg of my breeches broke
and showed the white lining a bit; but if you'll believe me, I've known
that man to declare that--that--they fell off, my dear; but generally
that's on Christmas or his birthday, when only friends are by."

Mr. Kean had been the first man to wear an absolutely correct cardinal's
robe on the stage, and very proud he was of that fact, and never failed
in giving his Ellen all the credit of it. Until this time actors had worn
a scarlet "something," that seemed a cross between a king's mantle or a
woman's wrapper. Mr. Kean had been quite carried away with enthusiasm
over his coming production of "Henry VIII.," and his wife, seeing his
disappointment and dissatisfaction over the costumer's best efforts in
the direction of a cardinal's robe, determined, some way or somehow, to
obtain for him an exact copy of the genuine article.

One night, while "Louis XI." was going on, Mrs. Kean herself told me how
she had at last succeeded. They were in Rome for their holiday; they had
many letters, some to very important personages. In her story Mrs. Kean
gave names and dates and amounts of money expended, but they have passed
from my memory, while the dramatic incident remains.

From the first she had made known to her most powerful Roman friend her
desire to see the robe of a cardinal--to obtain measurements from it, and
had been treated at first to a great showing of uplifted hands and eyes
and many "impossibles," but later on had received positive promises of
help. Yet days, even weeks passed, and always there was some
excuse--nothing came of the fine promises.

One day, in her anxiety and disappointment, she mentioned to an English
friend, who had long resided in Rome, her trouble over the
procrastination of her Italian acquaintance, when the Englishwoman asked:
"What have you paid him?" "Paid him?" cried Mrs. Kean. "Do you know you
are speaking of F----, whose high official as well as social position is
such----"

"Oh," laughed the visitor, "his position has nothing to do with it--his
being your friend has nothing to do with it. The Italian palm is an
itching palm--no wonder time is being wasted. Soothe that palm the next
time he calls, and mention the day on which you are compelled to leave
for home, and he will act quickly enough, though you really are asking
for next to an impossibility, when you, a woman, ask to see and handle a
cardinal's robe."

"Oh, my dear!" cried Mrs. Kean, "when that stately, gray-haired gentleman
next came, I almost fainted at the thought of putting such an insult upon
him as to offer him money. Indeed I could barely whisper, when clasping
his hand I left some broad gold pieces there, murmuring, 'For the poor,
sir!'--and if you'll believe me, he brightened up and instantly said:
'Keep to the house to-morrow, Madame, and I will notify you what you are
to do, and the effort to get a robe to you here having failed, you will
have to come to the general "audience" his Holiness will grant day after
to-morrow, and, and, hem! you will do well to have some loose _lire_ in
your pouch, and be sure, sure, you carry a smelling-bottle. I suppose, of
course, so famous an actress as yourself can faint at command, if need
be? Then the tailor, an usher or two, possibly even a guard may require a
fee, for they will run great risk in serving you, Madame. A woman within
those sacred passages and chambers!'

"He held up his hands in horror, but nevertheless he was doing directly
what he had been promising to do for weeks, and all for a few broad
pieces of gold. After he left me I was fairly sick with feverish
excitement. I dared not tell Charles of the arrangement; he would have
left Rome instantly, and here was I preparing to bribe tailor, ushers,
guard--and beyond them, to be still armed with loose _lire_. Oh, to what
depth was I falling!

"Next day I received a card of admission for the 'audience,' and orders:
'To keep my eyes open--to show no surprise, but to follow _silently_
wherever a hand beckoned with a single finger. To bring all things
needful for my use--not forgetting the loose _lire_ and the
smelling-bottle.'

"When I entered the carriage to go to the Vatican, I was so weak with
hope and fear and fright that Charles was quite upset about me, and was
all for going with me; so I had to brace up and pretend the air was
already doing me good. As I looked back at him, I wondered if he would
divorce me, if in my effort to secure the pattern of a cardinal's gown I
should create a tremendous scandal? I wore the regulation black silk,
with black veil, demanded for the occasion, but besides the little pouch
of silk depending from my belt with _lire_, salts, and 'kerchief, I had
beneath my gown a pocket in which were some white Swiss muslin, pins,
pencil, and tablets, and small scissors.

"There were many carriages--many people. I saw them all as in a dream. In
a magnificent room the ladies were formed in line, waiting to be admitted
to the Holy Father's presence. I was forgetting to keep my eyes
open--there was a stir. A great door was opening down its centre. I heard
a faint, low 'Hem!' The line began to move forward--a little louder that
'Hem!' Suddenly my eyes cleared--I looked. A pair of curtains, a little
ahead, trembled. I drew my smelling-bottle and held it to my nostrils, as
if ill, but no one noticed me--all were intent upon the opening of the
great door. As I came on a line with the curtains, a hand, dream-like,
beckoned. I stepped sidewise between the curtains, that parted, then fell
thick and soft behind me. Another white beckoning hand appeared at the
far side of this chamber. Swiftly I crossed toward it. A whisper of
'Quick! quick!' just reached me--a door opened, and I was in a
passage-way, and for the first time saw a guide.

"At the foot of the stairs he paused--yet the voice had said 'Quick!
quick!' I thought of the loose _lire_--yes, that was it. I gave him
three, and saw him glide up the stairs with cat-like stealth. Here were
bare walls and floors, and all that cold cleanliness that makes a woman
shrink and shiver.

"At last I was in a small, bare room, with brick-paved floor. A table
stood in its centre, and a small and wizened man, red-eyed and old,
glided in and laid upon the table--oh, joy--oh, triumph almost
reached!--a glowing-red cardinal's robe. As I laid my hand upon it the
ferret-like custodian gave a sort of whispered groan, 'Oh, the sacrilege!
and the danger! his whole life's occupation risked!'

"I remembered the 'itching palm,' and as my hand went toward my pocket,
his brown claw was extended, and the glint of gold so warmed his heart
that smiles came about his toothless mouth, and seeing me, woman fashion,
measuring by finger-lengths, he offered me a dirty old tape-measure--then
stole to the second door 'to watch for me.' Oh, yes--to watch like the
cat--while with all the haste possible the good and most high lady would
gain such knowledge as she could, and after all the robe was but an old
one, etc., etc.

"All whispered, while I with the deft fingers of a skilled seamstress and
the comprehending eye of the actress, well used to strange costumes, was
measuring here and putting down notes, swiftly pinning on a bit of muslin
there, and cutting an exact pattern. And, lo! the piece that crosses the
chest, cape-like, yet without visible opening, came near undoing me.
Tears began to blind me, but--but, ah well, my dear, I thought of
Charles, and it is astonishing what love can do to sharpen the eyes and
clear the brain. Suddenly the thing seemed quite plain to me. I then
turned the hem, and ripping it open an inch or so, I took a few
ravellings of the silk, where it was clean and bright, for a sample for
the dyers to go by--since the silk would have to be prepared especially
if it was to be absolutely correct.

"I rearranged my veil, crept to the door, and agreeably surprised the
watchers by telling them I was through. The ferrety old man had the robe
in his arms, and was gliding swiftly out of the room in the merest
instant. I followed as softly as possible the other watcher. Once an
unseen man cleared his throat as we passed, and I thought my guide would
have fallen from sheer terror, but we reached in safety the frescoed
corridor again and stood at the door waiting. The guide scratched gently
with his nails on the lower panel--a pause, then the door began to move,
and he disappeared as a ghost might have done. Across the room a hand
appeared between the hangings, beckoning me; I moved swiftly toward it. I
could hear a hum of voices, low and restrained. There was but one room
now between me and the great chamber in which we had waited in line for
'audience.' No further signal came, what should I do? I was nearly
fainting. Then another hand, a hand I knew by the splendid ring on its
middle finger, appeared. I almost staggered to it. A whisper like a
breath came to me, 'smelling-salts,' in an instant the bottle was in my
hand, I was through the curtains, my Italian friend was asking me, was I
not wrong to remain in Rome so late? He hoped my faintness was quite
past, but he must himself see me to my carriage, and so he swept me
forth, under cover of his courteous chatter, and the next day I sent him
money for those who had to be rewarded.

"And for fear of Charles's rage about the infamy of bribing, said
nothing, till he, in great anxiety about my feverish state, removed me
from Rome. And then, my dear! I threw my arms about his neck and told him
he should have a true and veritable cardinal's robe for his _Wolsey_, and
in outrageous pride I cried: '_Ego hoc feci!_'" At which _I_ gravely
said: "That sounds like 'I have done something,' anyway it's I; but that
'_fetchy_' word bothers me."

And she laughed and laughed, and said: "It means _I_ did this! And I am
ashamed to have used a Latin term to you, child. You must forgive me for
it, but I _must_ tell Charles that 'fetchy' word that bothered you--I
must indeed, because he does so love his laugh!"

Then came the night when by chance I played an important part in one of
their plays. My scenes were mostly with Mr. Cathcart, and I only came in
contact with Mr. Kean for a moment in one act. I was as usual frightened
half out of my life, and as I stood in the entrance ready to go on, Mr.
Kean smilingly caught my fingers as he was passing me, but their icy
coldness brought him to a stand-still. "Why, why! bless my soul, what's
the matter? this--this is not nervousness, is it?" he stammered.

I nodded my head. "Oh, good Lord!" he cried. "I say, Cathcart, here's a
go--this poor child can't even open her mouth now----"

I tried to tell him I should be all right soon, but there was no time.
The word of entrance came, and a _cue_ takes the _pas_ even in presence
of a star. I went on, and as my lines were delivered clearly and
distinctly, I saw the relieved face of Mr. Kean peering at us, and when
Mr. Cathcart (who enacted my soldierly lover) gave me a sounding kiss
upon the cheek as he embraced me in farewell, we plainly heard the old
gentleman exclaim: "Well, well, really now, James, upon my word, you
_are_ coming on!" and Mr. Cathcart's broad shoulders shook with laughter
rather than grief as he rushed from me.

When, later on, Mr. Kean took my hand to give it in betrothal to my
lover, he found it so burning hot as to attract his attention.

Next night I did not play at all, but came to look on, and being invited
to the dressing-room, Mr. Kean suddenly asked me: "Who are you, child?"

"No one," I promptly answered.

He laughed a little and nudged his Ellen, then went on: "I mean--who are
your people?"

"I have none," I said, then quickly corrected, "except my mother."

"Ah, yes, yes, that's what we want to get at--who is that mother? for I
recognize an inherited talent here--a natural grace and ease, impossible
for one so young to acquire by any amount of effort."

I was a bit confused--I hesitated. Mrs. Kean asked: "Were both of your
parents actors, child?"

Suddenly I broke into laughter. The thought of my mother as an actress
filled me with amusement. "Oh, I beg your pardon," I cried, "I have no
father, and my mother just works at sewing or nursing or housekeeping or
anything she can get to do that's honest."

They looked disappointedly at each other, then Mrs. Kean brightened up
and exclaimed: "Then it's foreign blood, Charles--you can see it in her
use of her hands."

They turned expectantly to me. I thought of the big, smiling
French-Canadian father, who had been the _bête noire_ of my babyhood. My
head drooped. "He, my father, was bad," I said, "his father and mother
were from the south of France, but he was a horrid Canadian--my mother,
though, is a true American," I proudly ended.

"That's it!" they exclaimed together, "the French blood!" and Mr. Kean
nodded his head and tapped his brow and said: "You remember, Ellen, what
I told you last night--I said 'temperament'--here it is in this small
nobody; no offence to you, my girl. Here's our dear niece, who can't act
at all, God bless her! our 'blood,' but no temperament. Now listen to me,
you bright child!"

He pushed my hair back from my forehead, so that I must have looked quite
wild, and went on: "I have seen you watch that dear woman over there,
night after night; you admire her, I know." (I nodded hard.) "You think
her a great, great way from you?" (More nods.) "A lifetime almost?"
(Another nod.) "Then listen to what an old man, but a most experienced
actor, prophesies for you. Without interest in high places, without help
from anyone, except from the Great Helper of us all, you, little girl,
daughter of the true American mother and the bad French father, will,
inside of five years, be acting my wife's parts--and acting them well."

I could not help it, it seemed so utterly absurd, I laughed aloud. He
smiled indulgently, and said: "It seems so funny--does it? Wait a bit, my
dear, when my prophecy comes true you will no longer laugh, and you will
remember us."

He gave me his hand in farewell, so did his gracious wife, then with
tears in my eyes I said: "I was only laughing at my own insignificance,
sir, and I shall remember your kindness always, whether I succeed or not,
just as I shall remember your great acting."

Simultaneously they patted me on the shoulder, and I left them. Then Mr.
Kean put his arm about his wife and kissed her, I know he did, because I
looked back and saw them thus reflected in the looking-glass. But did I
not say they were love-birds?

Four years from that month I stood trembling and happy before the
audience who generously applauded my "sleep-walking scene" in "Macbeth,"
and suddenly I seemed to hear the kind old voice making the astonishing
prophecy, and joyed to think of its fulfilment, with a whole year to the
good.



CHAPTER TWENTY-THIRD

  Mr. E. L. Davenport, his Interference, his Lecture on Stage Business,
  his Error of Memory or too Powerful Imagination--Why I Remain a
  Dramatic Old Slipper--Contemptuous Words Arouse in Me a Dogged
  Determination to Become a Leading Woman before Leaving Cleveland.


Just what was the occult power of the ballet over the manager's mind no
one ever explained to me. I found my companions very every-day,
good-natured, kind-hearted girls--pretty to look at, pleasant to be with,
but to Mr. Ellsler they must have been a rare and radiant lot, utterly
unmatchable in this world, or else he knew they had awful powers for evil
and dared not provoke their "hoodoo." Whatever the reason, the fact
remained, he was _afraid_ to advance me one little step in name, even to
utility woman; while, in fact, I was advanced to playing other people's
parts nearly half the time, and the reason for this continued holding
back was "fear of offending the other ballet-girls." Truly a novel
position for a manager. One feels at once there must have been something
unusually precious about such a ballet, and he feared to break the set.
Anyway, before I got out, clear out, this happened:

A number of stars had spoken to me about my folly in remaining in the
ballet, and when I told them Mr. Ellsler was afraid to advance me for
fear of offending the other girls, they answered variously, and many
advised me to break the "set" myself, saying if I left he would soon be
after me and glad to engage me for first walking lady. But my crushed
childhood had its effect, I shall always lack self-assertion--I stayed
on and this happened.

There was no regular heavy actress that season, and the old woman was a
tiny little rag of a creature, not bigger than a doll. Mr. E. L.
Davenport was to open in "Othello." Mrs. Effie Ellsler was to play the
young _Desdemona_ and I was to go on for _Emilia_. Mr. Davenport was a
man of most reckless speech, but he was, too, an old friend of the
Ellslers, calling them by their first names and meeting them with hearty
greetings and many jests. So, when in the middle of a story to Mrs.
Ellsler at rehearsal, the call came for _Othello_, _Desdemona_, and
_Iago_, she exclaimed: "Excuse me, Ned, they are calling us," but he held
her sleeve and answered, "Not you--it's me," and glancing hurriedly
about, his eye met mine, and he added pleasantly, "You, my dear; they're
calling _Desdemona_."

I stood still. Mrs. Ellsler's round, black eyes snapped, but this man who
blundered was a star and a friend. She tossed her head and petulantly
pushed him from her toward the stage. He went on, and at the end of his
speech:

      "This only is the witchcraft I have used;
      Here comes the lady, let her witness it."

he turned to face Mrs. Ellsler entering with _Iago_ and her attendants.
Looking utterly bewildered, he exclaimed: "Why, for God's sake, Effie,
you are not going on for _Desdemona_, are you?"

Perhaps his dissatisfaction may be better understood if I mention that a
young man twenty-three years old, who took tickets at the dress-circle
door, called Mrs. Ellsler mother, and that middle-aged prosperity
expressed itself in a startling number of inches about the waist of her
short little body. Though her feet and hands were small in the extreme,
they could not counteract the effect of that betraying stodginess of
figure. Mrs. Ellsler, in answer to that rude question, laughed, and said:
"Well, I believe the leading woman generally does play _Desdemona_?"

"But," cried Mr. Davenport, "where's--w-who's _Emilia_?"

Mr. Ellsler took him by the arm and led him a little to one side. Several
sharp exclamations escaped the star's lips, and at last, aloud and ending
the conference, he said: "Yes, yes, John, I know anyone may have to twist
about a bit now and then in a cast, but damn me if I can see why you
don't cast Effie for _Emilia_ and this girl for _Desdemona_--then they
would at least look something like the parts. As it is now, they are both
ridiculous!"

It was an awful speech, and the truth that was in it made it cut deep.
There were those on the stage who momentarily expected the building to
fall, so great was their awe of Mrs. Ellsler. The odd part of the
unpleasant affair was that everyone was sorry for Mr. Ellsler, rather
than for his wife.

Well, night came. I trailed about after _Desdemona_--picked up the fatal
handkerchief--spoke a line here and there as Shakespeare wills she
should, and bided my time as all _Emilias_ must. Now I had noticed that
many _Emilias_ when they gave the alarm--cried out their "Murder!
Murder!" against all the noise of the tolling bells, and came back upon
the stage spent, and without voice or breath to finish their big scene
with, and people thought them weak in consequence. A long hanging bar of
steel is generally used for the alarm, and blows struck upon it send
forth a vibrating clangor that completely fills a theatre. I made an
agreement with the prompter that he was not to strike the bar until I
held up my hand to him. Then he was to strike one blow each time I raised
my hand, and when I threw up both hands he was to raise Cain, until I was
on the stage again. So with throat trained by much shouting, when in the
last act I cried:

      "I care not for thy sword; I'll make thee known,
      Though I lost twenty lives."

I turned, and crying:

      "Help! help, ho! help!"

ran off shouting,

      "The Moor has killed my mistress!"

then, taking breath, gave the long-sustained, ever-rising, blood-curdling
cry:

      "Murder! Murder! Murder!"

One hand up, and one long clanging peal of a bell.

      "Murder! Murder! Murder!"

One hand up and bell.

      "Murder! Murder! Murder!"

Both hands up, and pandemonium broken loose--and, oh, joy! the audience
applauding furiously.

"One--two--three--four," I counted with closed lips, then with a fresh
breath I burst upon the stage, followed by armed men, and with one last
long full-throated cry of "Murder! the Moor has killed my mistress!"
stood waiting for the applause to let me go on. A trick? yes, a small
trick--a mere pretence to more breath than I really had, but it aroused
the audience, it touched their imagination. They saw the horror-stricken
woman racing through the night--waking the empty streets to life by that
ever-thrilling cry of "Murder!" A trick if you like, but on the stage
"success" justifies the means, and that night, under cover of the
applause of the house, there came to me a soft clapping of hands and in
muffled tones the words: "Bravo--bravo!" from _Othello_.

When the curtain had fallen and Mr. Davenport had been before it, he
came to me and holding out his hands, said: "You splendid-lunged
creature--I want to apologize to you for the thoughts I harbored against
you this morning." I smiled and glanced uneasily at the clock--he went
on:

"I have always fancied my wife in _Emilia_, but, my girl, your readings
are absolutely new sometimes, and your strength is--what's the matter? a
farce yet? well, what of it? you, _you_ have to go on in a farce after
playing Shakespeare's _Emilia_ with E. L. Davenport? I'm damned if I
believe you!"

And I gathered up my cotton-velvet gown and hurried to my room to don
calico dress, white cap and apron, and then rush down to the
"property-room" for the perambulator I had to shove on, wondering what
the star would think if he knew that his _Emilia_ was merely walking on
in the farce of "Jones's Baby," without one line to speak, the second and
speaking nursemaid having very justly been given to one of the other
girls. But the needless sending of me on, right after the noble part of
_Emilia_, was evidently a sop thrown by my boldly independent manager to
his ballet--Cerberus.

Heretofore stars had advised or chided me privately, but, oh, dear, oh,
dear! next morning Mr. Davenport attacked Mr. Ellsler for
"mismanagement," as he termed it, right before everybody. Among other
things, he declared that it was a wound to his personal dignity as a star
to have a girl who had supported him, "not acceptably, but brilliantly,"
in a Shakespearian tragedy, sent on afterward in a vulgar farce. Then he
added: "Aside from artistic reasons and from justice to her--good Lord!
John, are you such a fool you don't understand her commercial value? Here
you have a girl, young and pretty" (always make allowances for the warmth
of argument), "with rare gifts and qualifications, who handles her
audience like a magician, and you cheapen her like this? Placing her in
the highest position only to cast her down again to the lowest. If she is
only fit for the ballet, you insult your public by offering her in a
leading part; if she's fit for the leading part, you insult her by
lowering her to the ballet; but anyway I'm damned if I ever saw a
merchant before who deliberately cheapened his own wares!"

If the floor could have opened I would have been its willing victim, and
I am sure if Mr. Davenport had known that I would have to pay for every
sharp word spoken, he would have restrained his too free speech for my
sake--even though he was never able to do so for his own.

And what a pity it was, for he not only often wounded his friends, but
worse still, he injured himself by flinging the most boomerang-like
speeches at the public whenever he felt it was not properly appreciating
him. He was wonderfully versatile, but though versatility is a requisite
for any really good actor, yet for some mysterious reason it never meets
with great success outside of a foreign theatre. The American public
demands specialists--one man to devote himself solely to tragedy, another
to romantic drama and duels, another to dress-suit satire. One woman to
tears, another to laughter, and woe betide the star who, able to act both
comedy and tragedy, ventures to do so; there will be no packed house to
bear witness to the appreciation felt for such skill and variety of
talent.

Mr. Davenport's vogue was probably waning when I first knew him. He had a
certain intellectual following who delighted in the beautiful precision
and distinctness of his reading of the royal Dane. He always seemed to me
a _Hamlet_ cut in crystal--so clear and pure, so cold and hard he was.
The tender heart, the dread imaginings, the wounded pride and love, the
fits and starts, the pain and passion that tortures _Hamlet_ each in
turn, were utterly incompatible with the fair, highbrowed, princely
philosopher Mr. Davenport presented to his followers. And after that
performance I think he was most proud of his "horn-pipe" in the play of
"Black-Eyed Susan"; and he danced it with a swiftness, a lightness, and a
limberness of joint that were truly astonishing in a man of his years.
Legend said that in London it had been a great "go," had drawn--oh,
fabulous shillings, not to mention pounds--but I never saw him play
_William_ to a good house, never--neither did I ever see the dance
_encored_. The people did not appreciate versatility, and one night,
while before the curtain in responding to a call, he began a bitter
tirade against the taste of the public--offering to stand there and count
how many there were in the house, and telling them that next week that
same house would not hold all who would wish to enter, for there would be
a banjo played by a woman, and such an intellectual treat was not often
to be had, but they must not spend all their money, he was even now
learning to swallow swords _and_ play the _banjo_; he was an old dog now,
but if they would have a little patience he would learn their favorite
tricks for them, even though he could not heartily congratulate them on
their intelligence, etc., etc. Oh, it was dreadful taste and so unjust,
too, to abuse those who were there for the fault of those who remained
away.

However, during the week's engagement of which I have been speaking, I
had two nights in the ballet, then again I was cast for an important
part. It was a white-letter day for me, professionally, for, thanks to
Mr. Davenport, I learned for the first time the immense value of
"business" alone, an action unsustained perhaps by a single word. I am
not positive, but I believe the play was "A Soldier of Fortune" or "The
Lion of St. Mark"--anyway it was a romantic drama. My part was not very
long, but it had one most important scene with the hero. It was one of
those parts that are talked about so much during the play that they gain
a sort of fictitious value. At rehearsal I could not help noticing how
fixedly Mr. Davenport kept gazing at me. His frown grew deeper and deeper
as I read my lines, and I was growing most desperately frightened, when
he suddenly exclaimed: "Wait a minute!" I stopped; he went on roughly,
still staring hard at me, "I don't know whether you are worth breaking a
vow for or not."

Naturally I had nothing to say. He walked up the stage; as he came down,
he said: "I've kept that promise for ten years, but you seem such an
honest little soul about your work--I've a good mind, yes, I have a
mind----"

He sat down on the edge of the prompt-table, and though he addressed
himself seemingly to me alone, the whole company were listening
attentively.

"When I first started out starring I honestly believed I had a mission to
teach other less experienced actors how to act. I had made a close study
of the plays I was to present, as well as of my own especial parts in
them, and I actually thought it was my duty to impart my knowledge to
those actors who were strange in them. Yes, that's the kind of a fool I
was. I used to explain and describe, and show how, and work and sweat,
and for my pains I received behind my back curses for keeping them so
long at rehearsals, and before my face stolid indifference or a thinly
veiled implication that I was grossly insulting them by my minute
directions. Both myself and my voice were pretty well used up before I
realized that my work had been wasted, my good intentions damned, that I
had not been the leaven that could lighten the lump of stupid
self-satisfaction we call the 'profession'; and I took solemn oath to
myself never again to volunteer any advice, any suggestion, any hint as
to reading, or business, or make-up to man or woman in any play of mine.
If they acted well, all right; if they acted ill, all right too. If I
found them infernal sticks, I'd leave them sticks. I'd demand just one
thing, my _cue_. As long as I got the word to speak on, all the rest
might go to the devil! Rehearsals shortened, actors had plenty of time
for beer and pretzels; and as I ceased to try to improve their work, they
soon called me a good fellow. And now you come along, willing to work,
knowing more than some of your elders, yet actually believing there is
still something for you to learn. Ambitious, keenly observant, you tempt
me to teach you some business for this part, and yet if I do I suppose
what goes in at one ear will go out of the other!"

Embarrassed silence on my part.

"Well," he went on, whimsically, "I see this is not your day for making
protestations, but I'm going to give you the business, and if you choose
to ignore it at night--why, that will serve me right for breaking my
promise."

"Mr. Davenport," I said, "I always try to remember what is told me, and I
don't see why I should not remember what you say; goodness knows you
speak plainly enough," at which, to my troubled surprise, everyone, star
and all, burst out laughing, but presently he returned to the play.

"See here," he said, "you, the adventuress, are worsted in this scene.
You sit at the table. I have forced you to sign this paper, yet you say
to me: 'You are a fool!' Now, how are you going to say it?"

"I don't know yet," I answered, "I have not heard the whole play
through."

"What's that got to do with it?" he asked, sharply.

"Why," I said, "I don't know the story--I don't know whether she is
really your enemy, or only injures you on impulse; whether she truly
loves anyone, or only makes believe love."

"Good!" he cried, "good! that is sound reasoning. Well, you _are_ my
enemy, you love no one, so you see your 'fool' is given with genuine
feeling. It's years since the line has drawn fire, but you do this
business, and see. You sit, I stand at the opposite side of the table.
You write your name--you are supposed to be crushed. I believe it and
tower triumphantly over you. The audience believes it too. Now you lay
down your pen--but carefully, mind you, carefully; then close the
inkstand, and with very evident caution place it out of danger of a fall.
Be sure you take your time, there are places where deliberation is as
effective as ever rush and hurry can be. Then with your cheek upon your
hand, or your chin on your clasped hands--any attitude you fancy will
do--look at me good and long, and _then_ speak your line. Have you
thought yet how to deliver it?"

"Well," I answered, hesitatingly, "to call you a fool in a colloquial
tone would make people laugh, I think, and--and the words don't fit a
declamatory style. I should think a rather low tone of sneering contempt
would be best," and he shouted loudly: "You've hit it square on the head!
Now let's see you do it to-night. Don't look so frightened, my girl, only
take your time, don't hurry. I've got to stand there till you speak, if
you take all night. Be deliberate; you see, you have played all the rest
so fiercely fast, the contrast will tell."

The night came. Cornered, check-mated, I slowly signed the paper, wiped
the pen, closed the inkstand, and set it aside. He stood like a statue.
The silence reached the house. I stretched out my arms and rested my
crossed hands lightly on the table. I met his glance a moment, then, with
a curling lip, let my eyes sweep slowly down length of body to boot-tip
and back again, rose slowly, made a little "pouf" with lips and wave of
hand, and contemptuously drawled: "My friend, you are a fool!" while,
swift and sharp, came the applause Mr. Davenport at least had
anticipated. The act ended almost immediately, and I hurried to him,
crying: "Oh, thank you so much, Mr. Davenport. I never, never could have
found applause in a speech like that."

"Ah, it was the business, child, not the speech. Always try to find good
business."

"Suit the action to the word?" I laughed.

"Yes," he answered, "and remember, Miss, actions speak louder than words,
too! But, my dear, it's a comfort to teach you anything; and when I saw
you trying so carefully to follow directions to-night, I swear I almost
prayed for the applause you were so honestly earning. You are a brick, my
girl! oh, I don't mean one of those measly little common building
bricks--I mean a great lovely Roman tile!"

And when, in God's good time, success came to me, as I entered the
green-room at the Fifth Avenue one evening, a tall man in a gray suit
released himself from a bevy of pretty women, and coming over to me, held
out his hands, saying: "Did I ever make any remarks to you about building
materials?" and, laughingly, I answered: "Yes, sir, you said something
about bricks some years ago."

And while I ran away to change, he called after me: "Say, 'Jones's Baby'
isn't on to-night, is it?" and immediately began to tell about _Emilia_,
and such is the power of imagination that he declared "She raged up and
down behind the scenes crying 'Murder,' till the very house broke loose,
and _right through all the pealing of the bells high and clear, you heard
her voice topping everything_!"

I was resting and getting breath while the bell clanged, remember, but so
much for human memory.

It is strange how often the merest accident or the utterance of a chance
word may harden wavering intentions into a fixed resolve. Though I am not
aggressive, there is in me a trace of bull-dog tenacity, made up of
patient endurance and sustained effort. Rather slow to move, when I am
aroused I simply _cannot_ let go my hold while breath is in me, unless I
have had my will, have attained my object.

Perhaps people may wonder why I retained my anomalous position in that
theatre--why I did not follow the advice of some of the lady stars, who
gave me a kindly thought and word now and then. And at the risk of giving
them a poor opinion of my wisdom, I present the reason that actuated me.
One day at rehearsal, while waiting for the stage to be reset, several of
the actresses gossiped about theatrical matters. One had a letter from a
friend who announced her advance to "first walking lady," which turned
the talk to promotion generally, and laughingly she asked me: "What line
of business shall you choose, Clara, when your turn comes?" but before I
could reply, the eldest woman present sneered: "Oh, she can save herself
the trouble of choosing; if she's ever advanced it will be in some other
city than this."

I was astonished; I had just made one of my small hits, and had a nice
little notice in the paper, but it did not occur to me that _envy_ could
sustain itself, keeping warm and strong and bitter on such slight
nourishment as that. And then, she of the letter, answered: "Why, Clara's
getting along faster than anyone else in the company, and I shall expect
to see her playing leading business before so very many seasons pass by."

"Leading business here?" cried the other, "I guess not!"

"Oh," laughed the first, "I see, you mean that Mrs. Ellsler will claim
the leading parts as long as she lives? Well, then, I shall expect to see
Clara playing the leading juveniles."

"Well, you go right on expecting, and your hair will be as gray as mine
is, when she gets into any line of business in this town!"

Unspeakably wounded, I asked, timidly: "But if I work hard and learn to
act well, can't I hold a position as well as anyone else?"

She looked contemptuously at me, and then answered: "No, you must be a
fool if you suppose that after standing about in the ballet for months on
end that Cleveland will ever accept you in a respectable line of
business. You've got to go to some other place, where you are not known,
and then come back as a stranger, if you want to be accepted here."

A dull anger began to burn in me--there was something so suggestive of
shame in the words, "Some other place, where you are not known." I had
nothing to hide. I could work, and by and by I should be able to act as
well as any of them--better perhaps. I felt my teeth come together with a
snap, the bull-dog instinct was aroused. I looked very steadily at the
sneering speaker and said: "I shall never leave this theatre till I am
leading woman." And they all laughed, but it was a promise, and all these
provoking years I was by way of keeping it. The undertaking was hard,
perhaps it was foolish, but of the group of women who laughed at me that
day every one of them lived to see my promise kept to the letter. When I
left Cleveland it was to go as leading woman to Cincinnati, one season
before I entered New York.

But after I had at last escaped the actual ballet, and was holding a
recognized position, I was still treated quite _en haut--en bas_ by the
management. Mr. and Mrs. Ellsler had acquired the old-shoe habit. I was
the easy old dramatic slipper, which it was pleasant to slip on so
easily, but doubly pleasant to be able to shake off without effort.

That you may thoroughly understand, I will explain that I was an
excellent _Amelia_ in "The Robbers" when a rather insignificant star
played the piece, but when a Booth or some star of like magnitude
appeared as _Charles de Moor_, then the easy slipper was dropped off, and
Mrs. Ellsler herself played _Amelia_. Any part belonging to me by right
could be claimed by that lady, if she fancied it, and if she wearied of
it, it came back to me. When we acted in the country in the summer-time,
at Akron or Canton, where there were real theatres, she played
_Parthenia_ or _Pauline_ in the "Lady of Lyons," or any other big part;
but if the next town was smaller, I played _Parthenia_ or _Pauline_ or
what not. Because I had once been in the ballet I had become an old pair
of dramatic slippers, to be slipped on or kicked off at will--rather
humiliating to the spirit, but excellent training for the growing
actress, and I learned much from these queer "now-you're-in-it and now
you're-not-in-it" sort of casts, and having much respect and admiration
for Mr. Ellsler, I fortunately followed in his wake, rather than in that
of any woman. He was one of the most versatile of actors. _Polonius_ or
_Dutchy_ (the opposite to Chanfrau's _Mose_), crying old men or broad
farce-comedy old men. Often he doubled _King Duncan_ and _Hecate_ in
"Macbeth," singing any of the witches when a more suitable _Hecate_ was
on hand--acquainted with the whole range of the "legitimate," his
greatest pleasure was in acting some "bit" that he could elaborate into a
valuable character. I remember the "switch-man" in "Under the
Gaslight"--it could not have been twenty lines long, yet he made of him
so cheery, so jolly, so kindly an old soul, everyone was sorry when he
left the stage. He always had a good notice for the work, and a hearty
reception ever after the first night. It was from him I learned my
indifference to the length of my parts. The value of a character cannot
always be measured by the length and number of its speeches, but I think
the only word of instruction he ever gave me was: "Speak loud--speak
distinctly," which was certainly good as far as it went. He was the most
genial of men, devotedly fond of children, he was "Uncle John" to them
all, and while never famous for the size of the salaries he paid, he was
so good a friend to his people that he often had trouble in making
desirable changes, and the variegated and convoluted falsehoods he
invented in order to get rid of one excessively bad old actor with an
affectionate heart, who wished to stay at a reduced salary, must lay
heavy on his conscience to this hour.

I used to wonder why he had never taken to starring, but he said he had
not had enough self-assertion. He was a hard-working man, but he seemed
to lack resolution. He had opinions--not convictions. He was always
second in his own theatre--often letting "I dare not wait upon I would."
After years of acquaintanceship, not to say friendship, when my ambition
had been aroused, and I turned hopeful eyes toward New York, Mr. Ellsler
opposed me bitterly, telling me I must be quite mad to think that the
metropolis would give me a hearing. He said many pleasant and encouraging
things, or wrote them, since I was in Cincinnati then. Among them I find:
"The idea of your acting in New York; why, better actresses than you are,
or can ever hope to be, have been driven broken-hearted from its stage.
Do you suppose you could tie the shoe of Eliza Logan, one of the greatest
actresses that ever lived--but yet not good enough for New York? How
about Julia Dean, too? Go East, and be rejected, and then see what
manager will want you in the West."

Verily not an encouraging friend. Again I find: "Undoubtedly you are the
strongest, the most original, and the youngest leading lady in the
profession--but why take any risk? why venture into New York, where you
may fail? at any rate, wait _ten years_, till you are surer of yourself."

Good heavens! If I was original and strong in the West, why should I wait
ten years before venturing into the East?



CHAPTER TWENTY-FOURTH

  I recall the Popularity and too Early Death of Edwin Adams.


I hear many tales of the insolence of stars--of their overbearing
manners, and their injustice to "little people," as the term goes; but
personally I have seen almost nothing of it. In the old days stars were
generally patient and courteous in their manners to the supporting
companies.

Among the stars whose coming was always hailed with joy was Edwin Adams,
he of the golden voice, he who should have prayed with fervor, both day
and night: "Oh, God! protect me from my friends!" He was so popular with
men, they sought him out, they followed him, and they generally expressed
their liking through the medium of food and drink. Like every other
sturdy man that's worth his salt, he could stand off an enemy, but he was
as weak as water in the hands of a friend, and thus it came about that he
often stood in slippery places, and though he fell again and again, yet
was he forgiven as often as he sinned, and heartily welcomed back the
next season, so great was his power to charm.

He was not handsome, he was not heroic in form, but there was such dash
and go, such sincerity and naturalness in all his work, that whether he
was love-making or fighting, singing or dying, he convinced you he was
the character's self, whether that character was the demented victim of
the _Bastille_, young _Rover_ in "Wild Oats," or that most gallant
gentleman _Mercutio_, in which no greater ever strode than that of Edwin
Adams. His buoyancy of spirit, his unconquerable gayety made it seem but
natural his passion for jesting should go with him to the very grave.
Many a fine _Mercutio_ gives:

      "----a plague o' both your houses!"

with a resentful bitterness that implies blame to _Romeo_ for his "taking
off," which would be a most cruel legacy of grief and remorse to leave to
his young friend--but Adams was that brave _Mercutio_:

      "That gallant spirit that aspired the clouds,
      Which too untimely here did scorn the earth."

and whose last quips, coming faintly across paling lips, expressed still
good-natured fun, and so:

      "----a plague o' both your houses!"

but no blame at all.

His grace of movement and his superb voice were his greatest gifts. Most
stars had one rather short play which they reserved for Saturday nights,
that they might be able to catch their night train _en route_ for the
next engagement; so it happened that Mr. Adams, having bravely held
temptation from him during the first five nights, generally yielded to
the endearments of his friends by the sixth, and was most anyone but
himself when he came to dress for the performance of a play most
suggestively named: "The Drunkard." It was a painful and a humiliating
sight to see him wavering uncertainly in the entrance. All brightness,
intelligence, and high endeavor extinguished by liquor's murky fog. His
apologies were humble and evidently sincere, but the sad memory was one
not to be forgotten.

I had just married, and we were in San Francisco. I was rehearsing for my
engagement there. The papers said Mr. Adams had arrived from Australia
and had been carried on a stretcher to a hotel, where, with his devoted
wife by his side, he lay dying. A big lump rose in my throat, tears
filled my eyes. I asked my husband, who had greatly admired the actor,
and who was glad to pay him any courtesy or service possible, to call,
leave cards, and if he saw Mrs. Adams, which was improbable, to try to
coax her out for a drive, if but for half an hour, and to deliver a
message of remembrance and sympathy from me to her husband. To his
surprise, he was admitted by the dying man's desire to his room, where
the worn, weary, self-contained, ever gently smiling wife sat and, like
an automaton, fanned hour by hour, softly, steadily fanned breath between
those parched lips, that whispered a gracious message of congratulation
and thanks.

Mrs. Adams never left him, scarce took her eyes from him. Poor wife! who
knew she could hold him but a few hours longer.

My husband was deeply moved, and when he tried to describe to me that
wasted frame--those helpless hands, whose faintly twitching fingers could
no longer pluck at the folded sheet, my mind obstinately refused to
accept the picture, and instead, through a blur of tears, I saw him as on
that last morning, when in his prime, strong and gentle, at his rehearsal
of "Enoch Arden," he said to me: "I am disappointed to the very heart,
Clara, that you are not my _Annie Lee_."

He took his hat off, he drew his hand across his eyes. "I can't find
her," he said, with that touch of pathos that made his voice
irresistible; "no, I have not found her yet--they are not innocent and
brave! They are bouncing, buxom creatures or they are whimpering little
milk-sops. They are never fisher-maidens, flower-pure, yet strong as the
salt of the sea! She loved them both, Clara, yet she was no more weak nor
bad than when, with childish lips, she innocently promised to be 'a
little wife to both' the angry lads--to Philip and young Enoch! Now your
eyes are sea-eyes, and your voice--oh, I am disappointed! I thought I
should find my _Annie_ here!"

And so I see him now as I think with tender sorrow of the actor who was
so strong and yet so weak--dear Ned Adams!

When Mr. Joseph Jefferson came to us I found his acting nothing less than
a revelation. Here, in full perfection, was the style I had feebly,
almost blindly been reaching for. This man, this poet of _comedy_, as he
seemed to me, had so perfectly wedded nature to art that they were indeed
one. Here again I found the immense value of "business" the most minute,
the worth of restraint, if you had power to restrain, and learned that
his perfect naturalness was the result of his exquisite art in cutting
back and training nature's too great exuberance.

I was allowed to play _Meenie_, his daughter, in the play of "Rip Van
Winkle," and my delight knew no bounds. He was very gentle and kind, he
gave me pleasant words of praise for my work; he was very great, and--and
his eyes were fine, and I approved of his chin, too, and I was, in fact,
rapidly blending the actor and the man in one personality. In the last
act, when kneeling at his feet, during our long wait upon the stage, I
knelt and adored! and he--oh, Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Jefferson, that I should
say it, but _did_ you not hold my fingers unnecessarily close when you
made some mild little remarks that were not in the play, but which filled
my breast with quite outrageous joy, and pride--indeed, my crop of young
affections, always rather a sparse growth, came very near being gathered
into a small sheaf and laid at your feet.

Fortunately, I learned in time that there was an almost brand-new wife in
the hotel next door, and I looked at him with big, reproachful eyes and
kept my fingers to myself, and wisely put off the harvesting of my
affections until some distant day.

Mind you, I was well within my rights in this matter. Girls always fall
in love with stars--some fall in love with all of them, but that must be
fatiguing; besides, as I said before, my affections were of such sparse
growth they could not go round. Yet since I could honor thus but one
star, I must say I look back with complete approval upon my early choice,
and the shock to my heart did not prevent me from treasuring up some
kindly words of advice from the artist-actor anent the making-up of eyes
for the stage.

Said he to me one evening: "My girl, I want to speak to you about that
'make-up' you have on your eyes."

"Yes, sir?" I answered, interrogatively, feeling very hot and
uncomfortable, "have I too much on?"

"Well, yes," he said, "I think you have, though you have much less than
most women wear."

"Oh, yes," I hurriedly interposed, "there was a French dancer here who
covered nearly a third of her eyelids with a broad blue-black band of
pomatum, and she said----"

"Oh," he protested, "I know, she said it made the eyes large and
lustrous, and as you see yourself in the glass it does seem to have that
effect; but, by the way, what do you think of my eyes?"

And with truth and promptness, I made answer: "I think they're lovely."

My unexpected candor proved rather confusing, for for a moment he
"Er-er-erd," and finally said: "I meant as a feature of acting, they are
good acting eyes, aren't they? Well, you don't find _them_ made up, do
you? Now listen to me, child, always be guided as far as possible by
nature. When you make up your face, you get powder on your eyelashes,
nature made them dark, so you are free to touch the lashes themselves
with ink or pomade, but you should not paint a great band about your eye,
with a long line added at the corner to rob it of every bit of
expression. And now as to the beauty this lining is supposed to bring,
some night when you have time I want you to try a little experiment. Make
up your face carefully, darken your brows and the lashes of one eye; as
to the other eye, you must load the lashes with black pomade, then draw a
black line beneath the eye, and a broad line on its upper lid, and a
final line out from the corner. The result will be an added lustre to the
made-up eye, a seeming gain in brilliancy; but now, watching your
reflection all the time, move slowly backward from the glass, and an odd
thing will happen, that made-up eye will gradually grow smaller and
smaller, until, at a distance much less than that of the auditorium, it
will really look more like a round black hole than anything else, and
will be absolutely without expression. You have an admirable stage
eye--an actor's eye, sensitive, expressive, well opened, it's a pity to
spoil it with a load of blacking."

And I said, gratefully: "I'll never do it again, sir," and I never have,
first from respect to a great actor's opinion, and gratitude for his
kindly interest, later having tried his experiment, from the conviction
that he was right, and finally because my tears would have sent inky
rivulets down my cheeks had I indulged in black-banded eyes. So in all
these years of work, just once, in playing a tricky, treacherous,
plotting female, that I felt should be a close-eyed, thin-lipped
creature, I have painted and elongated my eyes, otherwise I have kept my
promise "not to do it again."

I met Mr. Jefferson in Paris at that dreadful time when he was threatened
with blindness, and I never shall forget his gentle patience, his
marvelous courage. That was a day of real rejoicing to me, when the news
came that his sight was saved. Blindness coming upon any man is a horror,
but to a man who can see nature as Joseph Jefferson sees her it would
have been an almost incredible cruelty.



CHAPTER TWENTY-FIFTH

  I See an Actress Dethroned--I Make Myself a Promise, for the World Does
  Move.


To be discarded by the public, that is the _bête noire_, the
unconquerable dread and terror of the actor. To fail in the great
struggle for supremacy is nothing compared to the agony of falling after
the height has once been won.

Few people can think of the infamous casting down of the great column
Vendôme without a shiver of pain--the smashing of the memorial tablet,
the shattering of the statue, these are sights to shrink from, yet what
does such shrinking amount to when compared to the pain of seeing a human
being thrust from the sunlight of public popularity into the darkness of
obscurity?

I was witness once to the discrowning of an actress, and if I could
forget the anguish of her eyes, the pallor beneath her rouge, I would be
a most grateful woman.

She had been handsome in her prime, handsome in the regular-featured,
statuesque fashion so desirable for an actress of tragic parts; but Mrs.
P---- (for I shall call her only by that initial, as it seems to me that
naming her fully would be unkind) had reached, yes, had passed, middle
age and had wandered far into distant places, had known much sorrow, and,
alas, for her, had not noticed that her profession, like everything
alive, like the great God-made world itself, moved, moved, moved! So not
noticing, she, poor thing, stood still in her method of work, loyally
doing her best in the style of acting that had been so intensely admired
in her triumphant youth.

She had most successfully starred in Cleveland years before, but at the
time I speak of she was returning from distant parts, widowed and poor,
yet quite, quite confident of her ability to please the public, and with
plans all made to star two, possibly three, years, long enough to secure
a little home and tiny income, when she would retire gracefully from the
sight of the regretful public. Meantime she entreated Mr. Ellsler, if
possible, to give her an engagement, that she might earn money enough to
carry her to New York and see the great agents there.

By some unlooked-for chance the very next week was open, and rather
tremulously as manager, but kind-heartedly as man, Mr. Ellsler engaged
her for that week.

The city was billed accordingly: "Mrs. P----, the Queen of
Tragedy!"--"The celebrated Mrs. P----, Cleveland's great
favorite!"--"Especial engagement of Mrs. P----!" etc., etc.

I had a tiny part in the old Grecian tragedy she opened in. I came early,
as was my wont, and when dressed went out to look at the house--good
heavens! I gasped. Poor? it was worse than poor. Bad? it was worse than
bad. My heart sank for her as I recalled how, that morning, she had
asked, with a little nonchalant air of: "It doesn't really matter, of
course, but do the people here throw their flowers still, or do they send
them up over the footlights?" Flowers? Oh, poor Mrs. P----!

The overture had ended before she came out of her dressing-room, so she
had no warning of what the house was like. She was all alight with
pleasant anticipation. At a little distance she looked remarkably well;
her Grecian robes hung gracefully, her hair was arranged and filleted
correctly and becomingly, her movements were assured; only looking at the
deeply drawn lines about her mouth, made one regret that her opening
speeches referred so distinctly to her "dewy youth"; but Cleveland was
well used to that sort of contradiction, and I might have taken heart of
grace for her if only she had not looked so very pleased and happy.

The opening scene of the old-fashioned play was well on when the star
appeared, and smiling graciously--faced the almost empty house. She
halted--she gave the sort of sudden gasp that a dash of icy water in the
face might cause. The humiliating half-dozen involuntary hand-claps that
had greeted her fell into silence as she came fully into view, where she
stood dismayed, stricken--for she was an old actress and she read the
signs aright, she knew this was the great _taboo_.

Her face whitened beneath her rouge, her lips moved silently. One moment
she turned her back squarely upon the audience, for she knew her face was
anguished, and moved by the same instinct that makes an Indian draw the
blanket across his dying face, or the wounded animal seek deepest
solitude, she sought to hide _her_ suffering from the coldly observant
few.

With the light stricken from her eyes they looked dull and sunken, while
every nerve and muscle of her poor face seemed a-quiver. It was a
dreadful moment for us who looked on and understood.

Presently she clinched her hands, drew a long breath, and facing about,
took up the burden of the play, and in cold, flat tones began her part.
She did her best in the old, stilted declamatory style, that was as dead
as many of the men and women were who used to applaud it. Once only the
audience warmed to her a trifle, and as she accepted their half-hearted
"call," her sad eyes roved over the empty spaces of the house, a faint,
tired smile touched her lips, while two great tears coursed down her
cheeks. It was the moment of renunciation! They denied her right to the
crown of popularity, and she, with that piteous smile, bowed to their
verdict, as an actress must.

At the curtain's final fall her stardom was over. She went very quietly
to Mr. Ellsler and gave him back the engagement he had granted her,
saying, simply: "They do not want me any longer."

A short time after that, she sat one evening in Mr. Ellsler's family box,
and with wide, astonished eyes gazed at the packed house which greeted
the jig, the clog, the song, the banjo of Miss Lotta, whose innocent
deviltries were bringing her a fortune, and when, in response to a
"call," instead of appearing, Miss Lotta thrust her foot and ankle out
beyond the curtain and wriggled them at the delighted crowd, poor Mrs.
P---- drew her hand across her forehead and said, in bewildered tones:
"But--I don't understand!"

No, she could not understand, and Miss Lotta had not yet faced New York,
hence John Brougham, the witty, wise, and kindly Irish gentleman, had not
yet had his opportunity of summing up the brilliant and erratic star, as
he did later on in these words: "Act, acting, actress? what are you
thinking of? she's no actress, she's--why, she's a little dramatic
cocktail!" which was a delicious Broughamism and truthful withal.

But that sad night, when Mrs. P---- first set her feet in the path of
obscurity, I took to myself a lesson, and said: "While I live, I will
move. I will not stand still in my satisfaction, should success ever come
to me--but will try to keep my harness bright by action, in at least an
effort to keep abreast with the world, for verily, verily, it does
move!"



CHAPTER TWENTY-SIXTH

  Mr. Lawrence Barrett the Brilliant and his Brother Joseph the
  Unfortunate.


There were few stars with whom I took greater pleasure in acting than
with Mr. Lawrence Barrett. I sometimes wonder if even now this profession
really knows what great reason it has to be proud of him. He was a man
respected by all, admired by many, and if loved but by few, theirs was a
love so profound and so tender it amply sufficed.

We are a censorious people, and just as our greatest virtue is generosity
in giving, so our greatest fault is the eagerness with which we seek out
the mote in our neighbor's eye, without feeling the slightest desire for
the removal of the beam in our own eye. Thus one finds that the first and
clearest memory actors have of Mr. Barrett is of his irascible temper and
a certain air of superiority, not of his erudition, of the high position
he won socially as well as artistically, of the almost Titanic struggle
of his young manhood with adverse circumstances.

Nor does that imply the slightest malice on their part. Actors, as a
family trait, have a touch of childishness about them which they come by
honestly enough. We all know the farther we get from infancy the weaker
the imagination grows. Now it is imagination that makes the man an actor,
so it is not wonderful if with the powerful creative fancy of childhood
he should also retain a touch of its petulance and self-consciousness.
Thus to many actors Mr. Barrett's greatness is lost sight of in the
memory of some dogmatic utterance or sharp reproval that wounded
self-love.

It would seem like presumption for me to offer any word of praise for the
artistic work of his later years; the world remembers it; the world
knows, too, how high he climbed, how secure was his position; but twice I
have heard the stories of his earlier years--some from the lips of his
brave wife, once from the lips of that beloved brother Joe, who was yet
his dread and sorrow--and at each telling my throat ached at the pain of
it, while my nerves thrilled with admiration for such endurance, such
splendid determination.

A paradox is, I believe, something seemingly absurd, yet true in fact. In
that case I was not so very far wrong, in spite of general laughter,
when, after my first rehearsal with him, I termed Mr. Barrett a man of
cold enthusiasm. "But," one cried to me, "you stupid--that's a paradox!
don't you see your words contradict each other?"

"Well," I answered, with shame-faced obstinacy, "perhaps they do, but
they are not contradicted by _him_. You all call him icy-cold, and _I_
know he is truly enthusiastic over the possibilities of this play, so
that makes what I call cold enthusiasm, however par-a-paradoxy (?) _it_
sounds."

And now, after all the years, I can approve that childish judgment. He
was a man whose intellectual enthusiasm was backed by a cold
determination that would never let him say "die" while he had breath in
his body and a stage to rehearse on.

I have a miserable memory for names, and often in the middle of a remark
the name I intended to mention will pass from my remembrance utterly; so,
all my life, I have had the very bad habit of trying to make my hearers
understand whom I meant by imitating or mentioning some trait peculiar to
the nameless one, and I generally succeeded.

As, for instance, when I wished to tell whom I had seen taking away a
certain book, I said: "It was Mr.--er--er, oh, you know, Mr.--er, why
this man," and I pulled in my head like a turtle and hitched up my
shoulders to my ears, and the anxious owner cried: "Oh, Thompson has it,
has he?" Thompson having, so far as _we_ could see, no neck at all--my
pantomime suggested his name.

Everyone can recall the enormous brow of Mr. Barrett, and how beneath his
great, burning eyes his cheeks hollowed suddenly in, thinning down to his
sensitive mouth. I was on the stage in New Orleans, the first morning of
my engagement there (I was under Mr. Daly's management, but he had loaned
me for a fortnight), and I started out with: "Mr. Daly said to please ask
Mr.----," away went the name--goodness gracious, should I forget my own
name next!

The stage manager suggested: "Mr. Rogers."

"No, oh, no! I mean Mr.--er--er," and I trailed off helplessly.

"Mr. Seymour?" offered a lady.

"No, no! that's not it!" I cried; "why, goodness mercy me! you all know
whom I mean--the--the actor with the _hungry eyes_?"

"Oh, Barrett!" they shouted, all save one voice, that with a mighty laugh
cried out: "That's my brother Larry, God bless him! no one could miss
that description, for sure he looks as hungry to-day as ever he did when
he felt hungry to his heart's core!"

And so it was that I first met poor Joe Barrett, who worshipped the
brother whose sore torment he was. For this great, broad-shouldered,
ruddy-faced fellow with the boyish laugh had ever in his veins the
craving for liquor--that awful inherited appetite that can nullify prayer
and break down the most fixed determination.

"Ah!" he cried to me, "no one, no one can ever know how good Larry has
been to me, for while he is fighting and struggling to rise, every little
while some lapse of mine drags him back a bit. Yet he never casts me
off--never disowns me. He has had to discharge me for the sake of
discipline here, but he has re-engaged me. He has sent me away, but he
has taken me back again. I promise, and fail to keep my promise. I fall,
and he picks me up. Through the cursed papers I have dragged my brother
through the mud, but the sweet Saviour could hardly forgive me more fully
than Larry does, for, look you, he never forgets that I am the son of my
father, who was accursed before me, while he is the son of our poor
mother--blessed be her name! It isn't that I don't try. I keep straight
until the agony of longing begins to turn into a mad desire to do bodily
harm to someone--anyone, and then, fearing worse, I drink my fill, and
the papers find me out, and are not content to tell of the disgraceful
condition of Joseph Barrett, but must add, always, 'the brother of the
prominent actor, Mr. Lawrence Barrett.' Poor Larry! poor little delicate
chap that he used to be, with his big, brainy head--too heavy for his
weak neck and frail body to carry."

And then he told me of their sorrowful life, their poverty. The
often-idle father and his dislike for the delicate boy, whose only moment
of happiness was when the weary mother, the poor supper over, sat for a
little to breathe and rest, and held his heavy head upon her loving
breast, while Joe sang his songs or told all the happenings of the day.

That happy Joe, who had no pride and was quite as satisfied without a
seat to his small trousers as with one! Then he told me how hard it was
for Lawrence to learn; how he had to grind and grind at the simplest
lesson, but once having acquired it, it was his for life.

"Why, even now," said he, "in confidence I'm telling you, my brother is
studying like a little child at French, and it does seem that he cannot
learn it. He works so desperately over it, a doctor has warned him he
must choose between French and his many 'parts' or break down from
overwork. But he _will_ go on hammering at his _parlez-vous_ until he
learns them or dies trying."

"If you were to live with your brother, might not that help to keep you
strong?" I asked.

"Now, my dear little woman," he smiled, "Larry is human, in some
respects, if he is almost God-like toward me. Remember he has a young
family now, and though his wife is as good as gold and always patient
with me, I am not the kind of example a man would care to place before
his little ones, and as Lawrence is devoured with ambition for them and
their future, he rightly guards them from too close contact with the drag
and curse of his own life, in whom he, and he alone, can see the sturdy
tow-headed brother of the old boyish days, who saved him from many and
many a kick and thump his delicate body could ill have borne."

Joe told me of his dead wife--Viola Crocker that was--the niece of Mrs.
Bowers and Mrs. Conway; of their happiness and their misery. Describing
himself as having been "in heaven or in hell--without any betwixts and
betweens." His devotion to me was very great. He was "hard-up" for money,
as the men express it, but he would manage to bring me a single rose or
one bunch of grapes or a half-dozen mushrooms or some such small offering
every day; and learning of his bitter mortification because he could not
hire a carriage to take me out to see the curious old French cemetery, I
made him supremely happy by expressing a desire to ride in one of those
funny bob-tailed, mule-drawn street-cars--the result being a trip by my
mother, Mr. Barrett, and myself to the famous cemetery.

I don't know that I ever heard anyone sing Irish and Scottish ballads
more tenderly, more pathetically than did Joe Barrett, and as my mother
was very fond of old songs, he used to sit and sing one after another for
her. That day there was no one in the crawling little car but we three,
and presently he began to sing. But, oh, what was it that he sang? Irish,
unmistakably--a lament, rising toward its close into the _keen_ of some
clan. It wrung the very heart.

"Don't!" I exclaimed. My mother's face was turned away, my throat ached,
even Joe's eyes had filled. "What is it?" I asked.

"I don't know its name," he answered, "I have always put it on programmes
as 'A Lament.' I learned it from an Irish emigrant-lad, who was from the
North, and who was dying fast from consumption and home-hunger. Is not
that wail chilling? As he gave the song it seemed like a message from the
dying."

At the end of our stroll among the flowers and trees and past those
strange stone structures that look so like serious-minded bake-ovens,
having to wait for a car, we sat on a stone bench, and in that quiet city
of the dead Joe's voice rose, tenderly reverent, in that simple air that
was yet an anguish of longing, followed by a wail for the dead.

My mother wept silently. I said, softly: "It's a plaint and a farewell,"
and Joe brought his eyes back from the great cross, blackly silhouetted
against the flaming sky, and slowly said: "Beloved among women, it is a
message--a message from the dying or the dead, believe that."

And a time came when--well, when _almost_ I did believe that.

Later on, when Mr. Barrett stood second only to Mr. Booth in his
profession, well established, well off, well dressed, polished and
refined of manner, aye, and genial, too, to those he liked, I came by
accident upon a most gracious act of his and, following it up, found him
deep in a conspiracy to deceive a stricken woman into receiving the aid
her piteous determination to stand alone made impossible to offer openly.
I looked at the generous, prosperous, intellectual, intensely active
gentleman, surrounded by clever wife and the pretty, thoroughly educated
daughters, who were chaperoned in all their walks to and from park or
music-lesson or shopping-trip, and I wondered at the distance little
"Larry," with the heavy head and frail body, had traveled, and bowed
respectfully to such magnificent energy.

Even then there arose a cry from the profession that Mr. Barrett was
dictatorial, that he assumed airs of superiority. Mr. Barrett was
wrapped up, soul and body, in the proper production of the play in hand.
He was keenly observant and he was sensitive. When an actor had his mind
fixed upon a smoke or a glass of beer, and cared not one continental
dollar whether the play failed or succeeded, so long as he got his
"twenty dollars per--," Mr. Barrett knew it, and became "dictatorial" in
his effort to force the man into doing his work properly. I worked with
him, both as a nobody and as somebody, and I know that an honest effort
to comprehend and carry out his wishes was recognized and appreciated.

As for his airs of superiority--well, the fact is he was superior to
many. He was intellectual and he was a student to the day of his death.
When work at the theatre was over he turned to study. He never was well
acquainted with Tom and Dick, nor yet with Harry. His back fitted a
lamp-post badly. He would not have known how "to jolly the crowd." He was
not a full, voluminous, and ready story-teller for the boys, who called
him cold and hard. God knows he had needed the coldness and the so-called
hardness, or how could he have endured the privations of the long journey
from his weary mother's side to this position of honor.

Cold, hard, dictatorial, superior? Well, there is a weak lean-on-somebody
sort of woman, who will love any man who will feed and shelter her--she
doesn't count. But when a clear-minded, business-like, clever woman, a
wife for many years, loves her husband with the tenderest sentiment and
devotion, I'm ready to wager something that it was _tenderness_ and
_devotion_ in the husband that first aroused like sentiments in the wife.

Mrs. Barrett was shrewd, far-seeing, business-like--a devoted and
watchful mother, but her love for her husband had still the freshness,
the delicate sentiment of young wifehood. When she thought fit, she
bullied him shamefully; when she thought fitter, she "guyed" him
unmercifully. Think of that! And it was delightful to see the great,
solemn-eyed personification of dignity smilingly accepting her buffets.

But, oh, to hear that wife tell of the sorrows and trials they had faced
together, of their absurd makeshifts, of their small triumphs over
poverty, of Lawrence's steady advance in his profession, of that
beautiful day when they moved into a little house all by themselves, when
he became, as he laughingly boasted, "a householder, not a forlorn,
down-trodden boarder!"

Their family, besides themselves, then consisted of one little girl and
Lawrence's beloved old mother, and he had a room to study in in peace,
and the two women talked and planned endlessly about curtains and
furniture, and--oh, well, about some more very small garments that would,
God willing, be needed before a very great while. And one day Lawrence
looked about his little table, and said: "It's too good, it can't last,
it can't!" and the women kissed him and laughed at him; yet all the time
he was right, it did not last. An awful bolt seemed to fall from the blue
sky. It was one of those pitiful disasters that sometimes come upon the
very old--particularly to those who have endured much, suffered much, as
had the elder Mrs. Barrett in the past.

I wept as I heard the story of the devoted son's dry-eyed agony, of the
awful fears his condition aroused in the minds of those close to him, and
then suddenly she, the wife, had been stricken down, and her danger and
that of the tiny babe had brought him to his old self again.

He worked on then for some months, grateful for the sparing of his dear
ones, when quite suddenly and painlessly the stricken old mother passed
from sleep to life everlasting. Then when Joseph was to be summoned--Joe
who worshipped the mother's footprint in the dust--he was not to be
found. He had fallen again into disgrace, had been discharged, had
disappeared, no one knew whither.

"Oh, dear Father!" cried Mrs. Barrett, "what did not Lawrence suffer for
Joe! knowing what his agony would be when he knew all--but we could do no
more. The funeral took place. White as marble, Lawrence sent us all
home, and himself waited till the last clod of earth was piled upon the
grave; then waited till the men had gone, waited to kneel and pray a
moment before leaving the old mother there alone. And as he knelt he
noted how nearly dark it was, and thought he must not linger long or the
gates would be locked upon him. As he rose from his knees, he was
startled to see, through the dusk, a tall form coming toward him. It
would dodge behind a monument, and after a moment's pause would come a
little nearer. Suddenly the drooping, lurching figure became familiar to
him. With a groan he hid himself behind a tombstone and waited--waited
until suspicion became certainty, and he knew that the bent, weary
funeral guest was his brother, Joe!

"He held his peace until the wanderer found his way along the darkening
path to that pathetic stretch of freshly broken earth, where, with an
exceeding bitter cry, he flung his arms above his head and fell all his
length along the grave that held the sweetest and the holiest thing God
had ever given him, an honest, loving mother, and clutched the damp clods
in his burning hands, and gasped out: 'Oh, mother! I have hungered and I
have tramped with the curse upon me, too; I have hungered and tramped so
far, so far, hoping just to be in time to see your dear face once more,
and now they've shut you away from me, from the bad boy you never turned
your patient eyes away from! Oh, mother! whatever can I do without you,
all alone! all alone!'

"At that child-like cry from the broken man, prostrate on the grave,
Lawrence Barrett's heart turned to water, and kneeling down he lifted to
his breast the tear-blurred, drink-blemished face of his brother, and
kissed him as his mother might have done. Thus they prayed together for
the repose of the soul of their beloved, and then, with his arm about the
wanderer, to steady his failing steps, Lawrence led him to his little
home, and, as they entered, he turned and said: 'Joe, can't you take back
those words, "all alone," can't you?' and Joe nodded his head, and
throwing his arms about his brother's neck, answered: 'Never alone, while
my little brother Larry lives and forgives!'"



CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVENTH

  I play "Marie" to Oblige--Mr. Barrett's Remarkable Call--Did I Receive
  a Message from the Dying or the Dead?


From the time when, as a ballet-girl, I was called forward and given the
part of _Marie_ in "The Marble Heart," a play Mr. Barrett was starring
in, to the then distant day of that really splendid combination with Mr.
Edwin Booth, I never saw the former when he was not burning with
excitement over some production he had in mind, if not yet in rehearsal.
Even in his sleep he saw perfect pictures of scenery not yet painted,
just as before "Ganalon" he used to dream of sharp lance and gay pennon
moving in serried ranks, of long lines of nobles and gentlemen who wore
the Cross of the Crusader.

His friends were among the highest of God's Aristocracy of Brains--'twas
odd that sculptors, artists, poets, thinkers should strike hands with so
"cold" a man and call him friend!

I remember well the dismayed look that came upon his face when I was
ordered from the ballet ranks to take the place of the lady--a hard,
high-voiced soubrette, who was to have played _Marie_, had not a sore
throat mercifully prevented her. But at my first "Thank you--I'd rather
go--yonder--," pointing to the distant convent, his eyes widened,
suddenly a sort of tremor came to his lips. He was at my side in an
instant, telling me to indicate my convent as on the opposite side, so
that my own attitude would be more picturesque to the audience. Between
the acts he said to me: "Have you any opinion of _Marie_, Miss er--er?"

"My name's 'just Clara,'" I kindly interjected.

"Well," he smiled, "'just Clara,' have you formed any idea of this
_Marie's_ character?"

"Why," I answered, "to me she seems a perfect walking gratitude; in real
life she would be rather dog-like, I'm afraid; but in the play she is
just beautiful."

He looked solemnly at me, and then he said: "And _you_ are just
beautiful, too, for you are a little thinking actress. Now if you have
the power of expressing what you think, do you know I am very honestly
interested, 'just Clara,' in your share of to-night's work."

The play went well as a whole, and as _Marie_ is one of the most tenderly
pathetic creations conceivable, I sat and wept as I told her story; but
imagine my amazement when, as Mr. Barrett bent over my hand, a great hot
tear fell from his cheek upon it.

"Oh, my girl," he said, when the play was over, "don't let anything on
God's footstool dishearten you. Work! work! you have such power, such
delicacy of expression with it--you _are Marie_, the little stupidly
religious, dog-like 'Marie the resigned,' that you have renamed for me
'Marie the grateful.'"

When I was leading woman he wished to do that play for a single night. Of
course _Marco_ belonged to me, but the big, handsome, cold-voiced second
woman could well talk through _Marco_, while she would (artistically
speaking) damn _Marie_. Mr. Barrett was very hungry-eyed, there was
positive famine in them, as he mournfully said: "I would give a great
deal to hear you tell _Marie's_ story again--to see you and your little
bundle and bandaged foot. Such a clever touch that--that bandaged foot,
no other _Marie_ dares do that; but you have turned your back on the
'grateful one'; you can't afford to do her again."

"Mr. Barrett," I asked, "do you wish me to play _Marie_ now?"

"Do I wish it?" he echoed, "I wish it with all my heart, but I have no
right to ask a sacrifice from you even if it would benefit the whole
performance, as well as give me a personal pleasure."

"If the manager does not object," I said, "I am quite willing to give up
the leading part and play _Marie_ again."

He held my hands, he fairly stammered for a moment, then he said: "You
are an _artiste_ and a brave and generous girl. I shall remember this
action of yours, 'just Clara,' always."

The amazed manager, after some objection, having consented, I once more
put on the rusty black gown, took my small bundle, and asked of the gay
ladies from Paris my way to the convent, yonder--finding in the tears of
the audience and the excellence of the general performance, full reward
for playing second fiddle that evening.

In my early married days, when the great coffee-urn was still a menace to
my composure and dignity, at a little home-dinner, when Mr. William
Black, the famous writer of Scottish novels, honored me by his presence
on my right, Mr. Barrett on my left, moved, no one knows by what freak of
memory, lifted his glass, and, speaking low, said: "'Just Clara,' your
health!"

I laughed a little, and was nodding back, when Mr. Black, who saw
everything through those glasses of his, cried out: "Favoritism,
favoritism! why, bless my heart, I drank your health ten minutes ago, and
you never blushed a blush for me! And I am chief guest, and on the right
hand of the hostess--explanations are now in order!"

And Mr. Barrett said that he would explain on their way to the club,
whereupon Mr. Black wrinkled up his nose delightedly, and said he
"scented a story"--"and, oh," he cried, "it's the sweetest scent in the
world, the most fascinating trail to follow!"

But I was thankful that he did not hunt down his quarry then and there,
for he could be as mischievous as a squirrel and as persistent as any
_enfant terrible_, if he thought you were depriving him of a story.

Though tears creep into my eyes at the same moment, yet must I laugh
whenever I think of Mr. Barrett's last "call" upon me. We were
unknowingly stopping in the same hotel. On the way to the dining-room for
a bit of lunch, Mr. Harriott and Mr. Barrett met, exchanged greetings,
and when the latter found I was not going to luncheon, and was moreover
suffering from a most severe attack of neuralgia, he asked if he could
not call upon me for a few moments.

Mr. Harriott looked doubtful, and while he hesitated, Mr. Barrett hastily
added: "Of course I shall merely say 'How do you do,' and express my
sympathy, since I know something about neuralgia myself--that's all."

Upon which they turned back, and Mr. Harriott ushered the unexpected, the
spick-and-span caller into my presence, with the reassuring word: "Mr.
Barrett is sparing a moment or two of his time, Clara, to express his
sympathy for you."

When a woman knows she is an "object," words of welcome for the
unexpected visitor are apt to come haltingly from the tongue, and that I
was an "object" no one can deny. A loose, pink dressing-gown was bad, a
knit white shawl huddled about the shoulders was worse, but, oh, worst of
all, my hair was all scrambled up to the top of my head (hair was dressed
low then), and a broad handkerchief bandage concealed from the eye, but
not from the nose, the presence of a remedial poultice of flour and
brandy.

Truly it is such acts as this that brings many a well-meaning but
apparently demented husband into the divorce court. Now any friend,
relative, or servant would have bravely but politely prevaricated to the
last gasp rather than have admitted a caller to me in that state, but
husbands have no discretion, husbands have no--well, that's too large a
contract, so I'll keep to that call.

I was aghast for a moment, but the warm pressure of Mr. Barrett's hand,
his brightening eye gave me such an impression of sincerity in his
pleased greeting that I forgot I was an "object," and asked him to sit
down for a chat, as eagerly as though I had had all my war-paint on.

We were soon exchanging memories of the past, and Mr. Harriott, having a
business engagement ahead, excused himself and withdrew. Mr. Barrett,
calling after him: "I'll join you in a moment," resumed his conversation.
There still stood on the table a pot of tea and a plate holding two
pieces of toast. They had been meant for my lunch, but neuralgia had the
call, and lunch had been ignored; so, as we talked on and on, presently
Mr. Barrett, seeing my bandage sliding down over my eyes, rose, and,
without pausing in his rapid description of a certain picture he had seen
abroad in its creator's studio, he passed behind me, tightened the knot
of the handkerchief, put the sofa-pillow behind my head, a stool under my
feet, and resumed his seat.

Then I talked and talked, and grew excited, then thirsty. I drew the tray
nearer and poured out a cup of tea.

"Give me some," said Mr. Barrett, who was now telling me about a sitting
of Parliament in London.

"Let me order some that's fresh," I replied.

"No, no!" he cried, impatiently, "that will be such an interruption--no,
no!"

I gave him then a cup of cold tea. Presently I broke off a bit of the
stiff and repellant toast, with its chilled, pale gleam of butter, and
nibbled it. His hand went forth and broke off a bit also. We were on a
new poem then, and Mr. Barrett seemed thrilling to his fingertips with
the delight of it. He repeated lines; I questioned his reading; we
experimented, placing emphasis first on this word, then on that. We
generally agreed, but we came an awful cropper over Gladstone.

How fiercely we clashed over the grand old man those who knew Mr. Barrett
will guess from the fact that during the fray he excitedly undid two
buttons of his tight frock-coat. The ends of his white silk muffler now
hung down his back, fluttering when he moved like a small pair of white
wings. I have a recollection, too, of his rising, and, apparently
unconscious of his act, lighting the gas, while he passionately demanded
of me the reason why Dickens could not create a real woman.

At last we came up hard and fast against _Hamlet_. The air was thick with
stories. Part of the time we talked together in our eagerness. Mr.
Barrett's coat was quite unbuttoned; the curl on his wide brow had grown
as frizzly as any common curl might grow. Two round, red spots spread
over his high cheek-bones, his eyes were hungrily glowing; he had just
taken a long breath and made a start on an audience with the Pope, when
Mr. Harriott entered and said: "I beg your pardon, Mr. Barrett, there's a
man outside who is very anxiously inquiring for you."

"For me?" exclaimed Mr. Barrett, with astonishment, "that's rather
impertinent, it seems to me!"

Suddenly he noticed the gas-light. He started violently, he pulled out
his watch, then sprang to his feet, crying: "Good God! Harriott, that's
my dresser looking for me--I ought to be in my dressing-room. What will
Mr. Booth think has become of me, and what, in heaven's name, do you
think of me?"

He hastily buttoned himself into rigidity, rescued the flying ends of his
muffler, and holding my hands for a moment, he laughed: "You are not only
'just Clara,' but you are the only Clara that would make me so utterly
forgetful of all rules of etiquette. Forgive, and good-by!" and he made
an astonishingly hasty exit.

That "call," that lasted from one till seven, with the accompanying
picture of the stately Lawrence Barrett drinking cold tea and eating
stiff cold toast, while he talked brilliantly of all things under heaven,
is one of my quaintest memories.

One loves to think of those years of his close relations with Mr. Booth.
Artistically, the combination was an ideal one; commercially, it was a
most successful one; while it certainly brought out qualities of
gentleness and devotion in Mr. Barrett that the public had not
accredited him with.

The position of manager and co-star was a difficult one, and only
Barrett's loving comprehension of Booth's peculiarities, as well as his
greatness, made that position tenable. Mr. Booth loathed business
details; he was sorrowful and weary; he had tasted all the sweets the
world had to offer, but only their under tang of bitterness was left upon
his lips. He had grown coldly indifferent to the call of the public, but
Mr. Barrett believed that under this ash of lassitude there still glowed
the clear fire of genius, and when they went forth to try their great
experiment, Mr. Booth found himself respected, honored, guarded as any
woman might have been. He was asked no questions about scene or scenery,
about play or percentage--his privacy and peace were ever of the first
consideration. Mr. Barrett was his agent, manager, stage-manager, friend,
co-worker, and dramatic guardian angel--all he asked of him in return was
to act.

And how splendidly Mr. Booth responded the public can well remember. As
he said laughingly to a friend, at the end of the first season: "Good
work, eh? well, why should I not do good work, after all Barrett has done
for me. Why, I never knew what c-o-m-f-o-r-t spelled before. I
arrive--someone says: 'Here's your room, Mr. Booth.' I go in and smoke.
At night, someone says: 'Here's your dressing-room, sir,' and I go in and
dress, yes, and smoke, and then act. That's all, absolutely all that I
have to do, except to put out my hand and take my surprisingly big share
of the receipts now and then. Good work, eh? well, I'll give him the best
that's in me, he deserves it."

And in the beautiful friendship that grew up between the melancholy,
gentle Booth and the nervously energetic Barrett I believe each gave to
the other the best that was in him.

Before leaving the Barretts I should like to mention an odd happening
connected with Joe and my visit to New Orleans, where the theatre was
under the management of Lawrence Barrett and Mr. Rogers. The company had
taken for me one of those quick likings peculiar to our people;
principally, I think, because being a temporary star (by the grace of Mr.
Daly's will) they had expected me to be haughtily dictatorial, instead of
shy to the point of misery, and because of their mistake they treated me
like a long-sought sister, instead of the stranger I was.

They publicly presented me with a gift on my last night, and almost in a
body saw my mother and myself off on our Sunday night start for home.
Everyone had left the car but big, hearty Joe Barrett--he still clung
silently to my hands, though my mother begged him to go before he met
with an injury. The train was out of the depot--the speed increasing
rapidly, before he dropped off, safely landing just beneath a light, high
above his head. His hat was off, his empty hand held out toward me, and
in that light his face was as the face of the sorrowful dead. It chilled
me, all my high spirits flattened down suddenly; I turned, and said: "Did
_you_ see, mother?" and she answered: "It was the light, and his
unhappiness, that made him look so like a--so sad," so I knew she had
seen him as I had.

Our journey was saddened by an accident, and when the train backed to
take up the creature it had crushed, not knowing what had happened, by
chance, I glanced down from the window, full into the face of the victim
as they bore him past. He had been a large, broad-shouldered man, and the
still, white face was so like Barrett's that I almost fainted. Everyone
in the car seemed to feel some measure of culpability for the mishap; and
at every unusual jolt or jar we looked with frightened eyes from the
windows, dreading lest another stretcher might be borne into view. At
last we were at home, and in work I regained my usual spirits.

A few weeks, three or four, had passed. One morning I awakened myself
from a dreamless sleep by my own singing. I faced the blank wall. I
smiled sleepily at the absurdity of the thing, then I grew more awake,
and as I sang on, I said to myself: "What is it--why, what can it be,
that I am singing?"

There were no words to this mournful, heart-breaking air, that ended with
a wail, long and weird.

"Mother," I called, the door being open between our rooms, "Mother, did
you hear me singing just now?"

"Well, yes," she replied, "since I am not deaf, I heard you very
plainly."

"Oh," I cried, "can you tell me what it was I sang?"

My mother raised her head and looked in at me surprisedly: "Why, what is
the matter with you, child--aren't you awake, that you don't know what
you are doing? You were singing 'the lament' Joe Barrett sang in the
French cemetery."

"Oh!" I cried, in late-coming recognition, "you are right." I scrambled
up, and thrusting back my hair from my face, started to sing it again,
and lo! not a note could I catch. Again and again I tried; I shut my eyes
and strove to recall that wail--no use. Then, remembering what a memory
my mother had for _airs_ heard but once or twice, I called: "Dear, can't
you start 'the lament' for me, I have lost it entirely?"

She opened her lips, paused, looked surprised, then said, positively: "I
might never have heard it, I can't get either its beginning or ending."

I sprang from the bed, and in bare, unslippered feet, ran to the piano in
the front room--no use; I never again heard, waking or sleeping, another
note of "the lament."

Mother called out presently: "Do you know what time it is? Go back and
finish your sleep, it's not quite six o'clock."

As I obediently returned to my room, I said, in a troubled voice: "What
do you suppose it means, mother?" and as she snuggled her head back upon
her pillow, she laughingly answered: "Oh, I suppose it's a sign you are
going to hear from Joe Barrett soon. If you do, I hope it won't be
anything bad, poor fellow!" for mother liked the "big Irish boy," as she
called him.

I fell asleep again, but was up and ready at nine for our rather-foreign
breakfast of coffee, rolls, and salad. Now in our partnership mother was
mistress of the house, and I, doing the outside work, being the
wage-winner, was the _man_ of the house, and as such had the master's
inalienable right to the morning paper with my coffee. That the mistress
occasionally peeped at the headlines before the _master_ rose was a fact
judiciously ignored by both, so long as the paper was ever found neatly
folded beside the waiting coffee-cup. Imagine then my surprise when,
coming into the room, I found my mother sitting at table with the badge
of authority in her own hands, and my cup standing shorn of all its
dignity. She avoided my eye, and hastily pouring coffee, said: "Drink it
while it's hot, dear, and--and I'll just glance at the paper a moment."

I sat back and stared, and I was just beginning to laugh at our small
comedy when I discovered that mother, she of the rock-steady nerves, was
trembling. Without looking up, she said again: "Drink your coffee--I'll
give you the paper presently."

I sipped a little and watched. She was not reading a line. I put down the
cup. "Mother," said I, "is there anything in that paper that will
interest me?"

She looked up hastily: "Drink your coffee, and I'll----"

"Is there?" I broke in.

Tears rose in her eyes. "Y-y-yes," she stammered, "there is something
here that will interest--rather that will grieve you, but if you would
please take your coffee!"

I caught up the cup and emptied it at a draught, then held out my hand.
Mother gave me the paper and left the room; as her first sob reached my
ear, I read: "Sudden death of the actor, Joseph Barrett." I sat staring
stupidly, and before I saw another word there came to my ears the
shivering of leaves, and a grave voice, saying: "It is a message from the
dying or--the dead--believe that."

"What," I asked, dully, "what is a message?" and then the blood chilled
at my heart as I recalled "the lament," Joe had said: "It is a message
from the dying--or the dead."

After rehearsal, Mr. Daly wished to see me in his bit of a
staircase-office in front of the house. He desired help in deciding about
several scenes he meant to have built from old engravings. Suddenly he
came to a stand-still. "What's the matter with you?" he cried; "where are
your splendid spirits? you have been absent and heavy all morning--what's
the matter?"

"Oh, nothing much," I began, when he angrily interrupted: "For heaven's
sake, spare me that senseless answer. If you won't tell me, say so.
Refuse me your confidence, if you choose, but don't treat me as though I
were a fool by saying _nothing_, when you look as if you'd seen a ghost!"

"Oh, don't!" I cried, and astonished my irate manager by bursting into
tears. He instantly became gentle, and forcing a thimbleful of
_Chartreuse_ (which I loath) upon me, he once more asked what was the
matter.

And then I told him of the dying emigrant--of Joe's feeling for me--of
the singing of "the lament," and at Joe's words: "It's a message from the
dying, or the dead."

Mr. Daly's fingers trembled like aspen leaves, his eyes dilated to
perfect blackness, and almost he whispered the words: "Well,
child--well?"

I told of the song, begun in sleep, continued in wakefulness to its
wailing end, and then lost--utterly lost! And leaning his pale face
eagerly toward me, Mr. Daly exclaimed: "He proved his words, good God!
don't you see that--that air was his message to you? a message from the
dying or the dead!" his fingers nervously sought the little amulet he
wore.

"But," I objected, "he had been dead many hours before the song came to
me?"

When, with the utmost conviction, he instantly answered: "Think how far
you were asunder--what a distance he had to come to you!"

Being a very practical young person, a smile was rising to my lips, but a
glance into his earnest eyes, that had become strange and mystic, checked
it.

"I shall tell Father D----y of this," he said, half to himself, then,
looking at me, he added: "The man loved you greatly, whatever he may
have been, for you have received his message--whether it came from the
man dying or the man dead. Go home, child; never mind about the scenes
to-day--go home!"

And with that weird idea firmly fixed in his mind, he dismissed me.



CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHTH

  I accept an Engagement with Mr. Macaulay for Cincinnati as Leading
  Lady--My Adieus to Cleveland--Mr. Ellsler Presents Me with a Watch.


After years of weary waiting, years of patient work, I had reached the
position of juvenile leads _de jure_, but of general lack _de facto_, and
then, lacking as my character was in the element of "push," even _I_
could see plainly that I was throwing away myself and my chances in life
by remaining in a position where I faced the sign of "No thoroughfare."

That Mrs. Ellsler would retain the leading business while her husband
retained a theatre was certain. I knew positively that some of
Cleveland's leading business men, sturdy supporters of the theatre,
finding that their mildly expressed dissatisfaction with the make-up of
the company was ignored, had written and plainly asked for a change, just
as Mr. Ellsler, every two years, changed the comedian, leading man, etc.,
etc. They declared that his business would double in consequence; and
this was submitted with the kindliest intentions and no wish to wound
anyone, etc., and they were, with great respect--various business men.

At all events, when the letter had produced embarrassed discomfort in one
quarter and fierce anger in another, it became inactive. I rightly judged
that the "No thoroughfare" sign was permanent--there was no further
advancement possible in that theatre; therefore I rejoiced greatly when I
had an engagement offered me, even though, for reasons touching the
reputation of the manager who wrote, I refused it--still an offer of
leading business heartened me, and I felt gratefully sure some star had
spoken a kind word in my behalf. There was so much hanging upon that
possible engagement, too; it meant more than advancement professionally,
more than gratified ambition. Never yet had I been able to go beyond the
taking care of myself and lending a helping hand in sickness to my
mother; while, to my unsleeping distress, my bitter mortification, she
had still to work. We were still apart, save for my regular weekly visit,
and such a small increase in salary would have made it possible for us to
live together, after a manner, in a very small way, but we would rather
have been half alive and together than have thrilled with superabundant
vitality while separated.

As my services had never seemed to be regarded seriously by anyone but
the star of the especial occasion, I was not utterly taken aback when I
found my intention of stepping bravely out into the big world received
with surprise and cold disapproval. Really, I was almost convinced that I
had still the very a-b-abs of my business yet to learn, that I was rash
and headstrong and all puffed up with strange, unseemly vanity; but just
as I was sinking back to that "old-slipper" state of mind desired, a
letter came from the well-known, thoroughly established actor-manager,
Mr. Barney Macaulay, who offered me the leading business at Wood's
Museum, Cincinnati, O.

The salary was very small, but I understood perfectly that any manager
would offer as small a salary to any actress whose _first_ season it was
as leading woman.

Oh, my! oh, my! but there followed a period of scant sunshine, of hot
argument, of cold and cautious advice, of terrifying hints of lacking
qualities. Want of dignity, of power, of authority! The managerial forces
were winning all along the line of argument, when, like many another
combatant who faces annihilation, I took a desperate chance; I called up
every dissatisfied speech of my absent mother, every complaint, regret,
reproach, every word of disappointment, of vexation, of urging, of
goading, of stern command, and arming these words with parental authority
I mounted them upon a mother's fierce wrath, and thus, as cavalry,
recklessly hurled them at full charge upon the enemy's line. I had no
infantry of proof to support my cavalry's move, it was sheer desperation;
but Fortune is a fickle jade, she sprang suddenly to my side. The
managerial lines broke before the mother's charge, and before he had them
reformed I had written Mr. Macaulay that I was ready to consider to
accept the offered engagement, if, etc., etc., and then put on my hat and
jacket and went forth and cleverly showed, first the offered engagement
to arouse my victimized parent's hopes, then descanted upon the
opposition offered to my acceptance of it, and when _she_ was warmed with
indignation I confessed to using her as my principal weapon--even
admitted making up some speeches, and being hot and pleased, indignant
and proud, she forgave me, and I bit my lips hard to keep silence about a
great hope that she might possibly go with me to that new engagement;
but, to spare her a possible disappointment, I held my peace.

Later, when everything was seemingly settled and only the contract left
to sign, came the amazing suggestion from Mr. Macaulay, that, because of
my youth, I would undoubtedly be perfectly willing to let him reserve a
few heavy _parts_ for his wife's acting. It is quite needless for me to
explain that the few _parts_ to be reserved were the choicest of the
legitimate drama. And then an amusing thing came to pass. I, who was so
lacking in self-confidence, so backward and retiring, so easily cast down
by a look of disapprobation, suddenly developed (on paper) an ability to
stand up for my rights that was startling. By return mail I informed Mr.
Macaulay that my youth did not affect me in the manner he anticipated;
that I was not willing to resign all those important parts to another--no
matter whose wife that other happened to be.

A long, argumentative, soothing sort of letter came back to me, ending
with the positive conviction that I would yield two parts to his
wife--great pets of hers they were, too, and one of them being _Lady
Macbeth_, I would of course be grateful to have it taken off my hands,
while _Julia_, in "The Hunchback," had really come to be considered, in
Cincinnati, as Miss Johnson's special property--Miss Rachael Johnson
being the stage name of Mrs. Macaulay.

Had he asked two _parts_ in the first place I would have granted them,
but now my blood was up (on paper, mind you), and with swift decision I
boldly threw the engagement up, declaring I would be the leading woman or
nothing. For, you see, I had been in the frying-pan of one family theatre
all my dramatic life, and I was not willing to throw myself at once into
the fire of another one.

The next letter contained a great surprise: a couple of signed contracts
and a pleasant request for me too to sign both and return one
immediately. Then the writer quite gently regretted my inability to grant
his request, but closed by expressing his respect for my firmness in
demanding my rights; and straightway I signed my first contract; went out
and mailed one copy, and when I returned I had made up my mind to take
the great risk--I had decided that my mother should never again receive
commands from anyone. That my shoulders were strong enough to bear the
welcome burden, and so we would face the new life and its possible
sufferings together--_together_, that was the main thing.

As I stood before the glass, smoothing my hair, I gravely bowed to my
reflection, and said: "Accept my congratulations and best wishes, 'Wood's
leading lady,'" and then fell upon the bed and sobbed, as foolish
nerve-strained women will; because, you see, the way had been so long and
sometimes so hard, dear Lord! so hard, but by His mercy I had won one
goal--I was a leading woman!

And then began my good-by to the city that I loved. I had lived in so
many of its streets; I had attended so many of its schools, and still
more of its churches. There was the great lake, too. I had sailed on it,
had been wrecked on it, but against that I set the memory of those days
when, in night-gown bath-dress, I reveled in its blue waters on Fourth of
July family picnics.

One church--old Bethel on Water Street--I hated, because the
Sunday-school superintendent had been a hypocrite, and we knew it, and
because in every one of its library books the good child died at the end,
which was very discouraging to youthful minds.

Another church, on Prospect Street, I loved, because that Sunday-school
teacher had been so gentle and smiling and had worn such pretty pink
flowers in her bonnet.

Then there was the fountain in the square. I laughed as I said good-by to
that, recalling the morning when, because of a bad throat, I had
unobservedly, as I supposed, swallowed a powder (homoeopathic), and
next moment heard hurrying footsteps behind me and felt a heavy hand on
my shoulder, while a rough voice cried: "Where's the paper? what did you
do it for? what's your name? say, answer up, now, before it gets hold of
you--what's your name?"

Frightened and bewildered, 'twas with difficulty I convinced the
suspicious policeman that I was not attempting suicide by poison, but was
trying to cure a sore throat. A theatre bill-board was in fair view, and
my part in the _play_, which I luckily held rolled in my hand, induced
him to let me go to rehearsal instead of the station-house; and while the
policeman dispersed the crowd his own error had gathered, I resolved, as
I flew toward the theatre, to take no more powders in public parks--no
matter how empty they might seem to be.

And then there was the _jail_, and as I nodded a good-by at its blackened
walls I saw again that sunny morning when, in greatest haste, I passed
that way and observed, coming toward me, three men walking very closely,
who showed no intention of making way for me--which made me look at them
surprisedly. And then the astonishing beauty of the tail, white-clothed
central figure brought me to a halt. His ruddy features were as severely
perfect as those stamped on an ancient coin. His glittering hair and
mustache were of that pale and precious gold most often seen crowning a
baby's head. His figure was tall, broad-shouldered, small-waisted, and
his hands, good God! I whispered, and stopped there, for he wore the
hand-cuffs, and on either side of him a strong and grimy hand gripped his
arm. That was why they made no room for me; and as I swerved swiftly out
into the middle of the street to pass them by, there came a glitter of
bold blue eyes, a flash of white teeth, and a deep voice cried back to
me: "I'm awfully sorry; I beg your pardon," and then they wheeled inside
the iron gates, and five minutes later I knew the physically splendid
creature I had seen was that Dr. Hughes who had just been taken for the
murder of his victim (of a mock marriage), poor little sixteen-year-old
Tamsie Parsons--she of the curly head, but steel-firm mouth, who loved
passionately this God-like devil, yet had the moral courage to resist him
to the death.

And then the post-office was quite full of memories. One made my brow
grow moist, even after years had passed since the damp autumn day when,
as a child, I had let fall upon the stone floor a good large bottle of
benzine. The crushed thing, wrapped nicely in blue paper, lay there,
innocent to behold, while its escaping volatile contents got in some
really fine work. First, two ladies held their noses, then a fierce old
be-whiskered man looked about suspiciously, working his offended member
just as a dog would. Then two men hurrying in opposite directions, but
with their eyes turned up inquiringly toward the gas-fixture overhead,
collided violently, and instead of apologizing, each abused the other as
a blundering idiot, and wrinkling up their noses disgustedly, unlocked
their boxes, and still grumbling went their ways, one declaring that the
gas being wasted there was sufficient to illuminate the whole building.
Then doors began to open violently, and pale men in office coats of
alpaca darted out and ran about, frantically trying to turn off gas that
was not turned on; and there I stood, shivering over the innocent blue
package, very wet by that time, with my fear of a whipping for breaking
the bottle losing itself in the greater terror of some swift public
expiation of my fault. The unknown is always terrifying, and I strove in
vain to imagine what the punishment would be for creating evil odors in a
public building that brought postal clerks from their work in pursuit of
them. But the sight of a policeman advancing toward the delivery window
suddenly set me in motion, and with a bound I was out of the door and
running like mad for a (then) Kinsman Street car. I wonder yet if that
gas leak was ever properly located.

Another day I had been sent for an advertised letter, and as several
grown-ups were ahead of me at the little window, I withdrew to lean
against the wall and rest a bit while waiting, for I had walked far and
was very tired. And then a very white-haired, white-whiskered, white-tied
old gentleman entered one of the many doors and looked nervously about
him; when, seeing me, he brightened up, and at once began to beckon me
toward him. Always respectfully obedient to the old, I at once approached
the pink and white chipper old man, who nodded, smiled, and patting my
head, asked, eagerly: "Er--er, do you--can you get letters from the
office-window yonder?"

His restless eyes wandered all over the place. "Oh, yes, sir," I
answered, "I often get them for my mother, and for other people, too!"

"Quite right, yes, yes, quite right, quite right!" responded the old
gentleman, then added, reflectively: "Yes, she's a female, but females
receive letters, though they don't vote, yes, yes! Well, my child, I want
you to help me in a great and good work. You know people are taught from
their earliest infancy the necessity of minding their P's and Q's, and
that they don't do it! Now you and I will mind the P's and Q's of this
great city, won't we, my dear? So, you just go to the window there and
get all the letters there are for Parker, Purley, Prentiss, and Porter,
and I'll come after you and get all the letters for Pixley, Pratt,
Prince, and Pettigrew, and to-morrow, my dear, we'll come down and get
all the Q's--the Quigley, Quinn, and Quiller crowd--and--and we'll take
all the letters over to the fountain and throw them in the basin of
water, and if they float we'll pitch bricks at 'em! Now, now's your time,
go ahead, and get all the P's you can--it's a great scheme, great!" and
then he stopped, for an almost breathless voice called out: "Here he is,
Hank! confound him!" And as two men hurried toward my chipper old
reformer, one said, reproachfully: "Now, look-a-here, Mr. Peiffer, if you
don't keep your word no better nor this, Hank and me'll have to keep hold
of you on your walks, and you won't like that!"

"No," meekly murmured the old man, "I--er--I won't like that, I'm sure."

Then Hank turned to me and asked, suspiciously: "Has he been filling you
full of P's and Q's?"

I nodded. "Then," said the other man, "we'd better get him back quick,
that's the way he begins. Come on, now, Mr. Peiffer, come on!" and
between them they led away the poor white-haired old madman, who looked
back as he passed me, and whispered: "Pitch 'em in the fountain, I'll get
the Q's to-morrow!"

There, too, was the old, old grave-yard that the city had crept up to,
cautiously at first, then finding them quite harmless--the quiet
dead--had stretched out brick and mortar arms and circled it about. A
network of streets had tangled about it, and turbulent life dashed
against its very gates on the outside, but inside there was a great green
silence.

How well I knew the quiet place--the far, damp corner where, in lifting
bodies for removal to a new cemetery, one had been found petrified; the
giant sycamore-tree that guarded the grave of a mighty Indian chief, the
lonely hemlock blackened nook where a grave had been cruelly robbed, the
most expensive tomb, the most beautiful tomb, the oldest tomb, I knew
them all. But the special attraction for me was a plain white headstone
that happened to bear my own name. Whenever my mother boxed my ears, or
was too hasty in her judgment to be quite just, I went over to my silent
city and sat down and looked at the tombstone, and thought if it were
really mine how sorry my mother would feel for what she had done. And
when I had, in imagination, seen her tears and remorse, I would begin to
feel sorry for her and to think she was punished enough, especially if it
was rather late, and the shadows of tombstones and trees all fell long
upon the sunny walks, all pointing like warning black fingers toward the
gate. Then, indeed, I was apt to forgive my mother and flee to her--and
supper.

And so, up and down, smiling and sighing, I went, taking _congé_ of the
city that had been home to me all my life, save just two years. I even
paused at the little old cottage whose gate was the only one I had ever
swung on, and I had hated the swinging, but I was six and was
passionately enamoured of a small person named Johnnie, who lived there
and who wore blue aprons; so I swung on the gate with him and to please
him, and then, being like most of his sex, fickle of fancy, he deserted
me for a new red dress worn by another. And when he spilled milk on it
(his mother sold milk) and spoiled its glory, she scratched his face, and
he wanted to return to me; but my love was dead, so dead I wouldn't even
accept sips of milk out of the little pails he had to carry around to
customers. And, so cruel is life, there I stood and laughed as I took
leave of the small gate.

At last all was done, my trunks were gone, I sat in my empty room waiting
for the carriage. I had to make my journey quite alone, since my mother
was to join me only when I had found a place to settle in. I was very
sad. Mr. Ellsler was ill, for the first time since I had known him, and I
had been over to his home, three or four blocks away, and bade good-by
to Mrs. Ellsler and gentle little Annie--the other children were out. And
finding I had no fear of contagion from a bad throat, she showed me into
Mr. Ellsler's room. I was shocked to see him so wasted and so weak, and
not being used to sickness I was frightened about him. Judge, then, my
amazement, when, hearing a knock on my door and calling, "Come in,"
instead of a bell-boy, there entered, pale and almost staggering, Mr.
Ellsler. A rim of red above his white muffler betrayed the bandaged
throat, and his poor voice was but a husky whisper.

"I could not help it," he said; "you were placed under my care once by
your mother. You were a child then, and though you are pleased to
consider yourself a woman now, I could not bear to think of your leaving
the city, at this saddest hour of the day, to begin a lonely journey,
without some old friend being by for a parting God-speed."

I was inexpressibly grateful, even through all my fright at his rashness;
but he had yet another surprise for me. He said: "I wanted, too, Clara,
to make you a little present, to give you a keepsake that would last long
and would remind you daily of--of--er the years you have passed in my
theatre."

He drew a small box from his pocket. "A good girl and a good actress," he
said, "needs and ought to own a--" he touched a spring, the box flew
open--"a good watch," he finished.

I gave a cry, I could not realize it was for me--I _could_ not! I clasped
my hands in admiration instead of taking it, so, with his thin, sick
man's fingers, he took it from its case and dropped it in my lap. I
caught it then, and "Oh!" and again "Oh!" was all that I could cry, while
I pressed it to my cheek and gloated over it.

Literally, I could not speak, such an agony of delight in its beauty, of
pride in its possession, of satisfaction in a need supplied, of gratitude
tremendous and surprise immeasurable were more than I could find words
for. If you are inclined to think this exaggeration, remember how poor I
was--had always been; remember, too, there were no cheap watches then;
this was of the best make and had a chain attached as well; then think
how great was my need of it for the theatre, day and night, and for
traveling. By my utter inability to earn such a thing measure my joyful
surprise at receiving it, a gift.

It was one of the red-letter days of my life, the day I owned a watch. My
thanks must have been sadly jumbled and broken, but my pride and pleasure
made Mr. Ellsler laugh, and then the carriage was there, and laughter
stilled into a silent, close hand-clasp. As I opened the door of the
dusty old hack, I glanced up and saw the first star prick brightly
through the evening sky. Then the hoarse voice said, "God bless you!" and
I had left my first manager.

As I stepped out of the carriage at the depot, glancing up again I saw
the sky sown thick with stars, like a field of heavenly daisies. I smiled
a little at the thought, then suddenly _drew my watch_ to see the time,
and hurried to my train. Thus grateful for a kindly send-off, made happy
by a gift, I turned my back upon the old, safe life and brightly,
hopefully faced the new. For I was young, and therefore confident; and it
is surely for the old world's need that God has made youth so.



CHAPTER TWENTY-NINTH

  My first Humiliating Experience in Cincinnati is Followed by a
  Successful Appearance--I Make the Acquaintance of the Enthusiastic
  Navoni.


It is a deep humiliation to relate my first experience in Cincinnati, but
for reasons I set it down.

A friend of mine, who hailed from Cincinnati and who wished to serve me,
had said: "One thing I think I can do for you, friend Clara, I can save
you the weariness and annoyance of a long search in a strange city for
board. My wife and I were never so comfortable in our lives before as we
were at the house of a Mrs. Scott. She is a gentlewoman, therefore she
never pries, never gossips, never 'just runs in a moment,' when you want
to study a 'part.' Her charges are reasonable, the table a little close,
perhaps, but the cooking perfect. You and your mother would suit her
demands as to regularity of habits, quiet conduct, etc., completely, and
going there so early in September you will stand a good chance of
securing a room. Try for 'ours'--it was so sunny and bright." And I,
delighted at such a prospect, looked upon my letter of introduction as a
very valuable document--a sort of character from my last place, and early
on Monday morning went forth from my temporarily sheltering hotel to find
Mrs. Scott and beg her to take me in on the word of her boarders of a
year ago.

I found the house easily, but, modest as was its exterior, its rich
interior sent my heart down rapidly--it was going to be away beyond my
salary I decided. Yet after a, to me, most bewildering interview, I found
myself inspecting the big sunny room, and shrinking at the thought of my
rough trunks coming in contact with such a handsome carpet. Mrs. Scott
had remarked, casually, that she had put her earnings back on the house,
as a pure matter of business, and I was radiant when she named her price
for the room, and hastily engaging it, I started out at once to order my
trunks taken there and to telegraph mother to come.

As I descended the steps I could not help humming a little tune. A
policeman strolled across the street toward me, and I had a hazy notion
that he had been there when I went in. As I reached the pavement he
stepped up, and holding out to me a handkerchief, palpably his own,
asked, while looking at me closely, if it was mine.

I was indignant, and I answered, sharply: "It is not mine--as you very
well know!"

He laughed rather sheepishly, and said: "Well, you are not stupid, if you
are innocent," then asked: "Are you a stranger here?"

I turned back toward the house I had just left, then paused as I said,
angrily: "I have a mind to go back and ask Mrs. Scott to come out with me
to protect me from the impertinence of the police!"

"Who?" he asked, with wide-open, wondering eyes, "you will go back to
who?"

"To Mrs. Scott," I snapped.

"Why," said he, "there's no Mrs. Scott there."

"No?" I questioned satirically. "No? Well, as I have just engaged board
from Mrs. Scott, I venture to differ with you."

"Good Lord, Miss," the man said, "Mrs. William Scott's been dead these
nine months or more. That's no place for honest people now. Why--why,
we're watchin' the house this moment, hoping to catch that woman's
jail-bird son, who has broken jail in Louisville--don't look so white,
Miss!"

"But--but," I whispered, "I--I was sent here by a friend--I--I have
engaged a room there! Oh, what shall I do?"

"That's all right, Miss," reassuringly answered the policeman, "I'll give
up the room for you. You ain't the only one that has come here expecting
to find Mrs. Scott in the house. You don't need to go back to the door;"
and the theatre being in full view, in an agony of humiliation and
terror, I flung myself into its friendly, just-opened office, where Mr.
Macaulay presently found me shaking like a leaf and almost unable to make
plain my experience.

He was furious, and finding my name was mentioned in the letter of
introduction to Mrs. Scott, and that "Mrs. Scott" had retained it, he
called the policeman and together they went to the house and demanded the
letter back. It was given up, but most unwillingly, as the woman, with
the superstition of all gambling people, looked upon it as a
luck-breeder, a mascot; and an hour later, by Mr. Macaulay's aid, I had
found two wee rooms, whose carpets would welcome my trunks as hiders of
holes--rooms that were dull, even dingy, but had nevertheless securely
sheltered honest poverty for long years past, and could do as much for
years to come.

I mention this unpleasant incident simply to show how utterly unexpected
are some of the pitfalls that make dangerous the pathway of honest
girlhood. To show, too, that utter ignorance of evil is in itself a
danger. The interview that bewildered me would have been, for instance, a
danger signal to my mother, who would, too, having seen how the richness
of furniture contradicted outside shabbiness, have had her suspicions
aroused. I noted that fact, but not knowing of gambling being unlawful
and secretly carried on, my observation was of no service to me, as it
suggested nothing. Ignorance of the existence of evil may sometimes
become the active foe of innocence.

No one learned of the unpleasant experience, so I was spared
disagreeable comment; and, sending for my mother to join me, I devoted
myself to preparations of my opening night.

The meeting with strangers, which I had greatly dreaded, passed off so
easily, even so pleasantly, as to surprise me. Everyone offered a kind
word of greeting, and all the women expressed their sympathy because I
had to open in so poorly dressed a part. That troubled _me_ very little,
however.

The character was that of a country girl (_Cicely_) in some old comedy,
whose name I have forgotten. She wore just one gown--a black and white
print, as she was in mourning for her old, farmer father. A rustic wench,
a milk-maid come up to "Lun'un-town," she had one speech that was a trial
for any woman to have to speak. It was not as brutally expressed as are
many of the speeches given to rustics in the old English comedies--but it
was the _double-entendre_ that made it coarse.

Some of the ladies were speaking with me of the matter, and the "old
woman" suggested that I just mumble the words. I said I could not well do
that, as it was a part of the principal scene of the play.

"Well," declared another, "I should hang my head and let the house see
that I was ashamed of the speech."

I said nothing, but I thought that would be a most inartistic breaking
away from the part of the rustic _Cicely_, and a dragging in of
scandalized Miss Morris.

The girl was supposed to make the speech through blundering ignorance,
she alone not seeing its significance; and to my idea there was but one
way to deliver it, and that certainly was not with a hanging head and
shamefaced manner, thus showing perfect, if disapproving, knowledge of
its double meaning.

When the opening night came a pleasant little thing happened to me. As I
entered with straw hat tied under chin and bundle in hand, I received a
modest little reception, what would about equal the slight raising of a
hat in passing a woman in a corridor; but the moment I had spoken the
first insignificant speech the house gave me as hearty a greeting as any
leading woman could wish for.

I was startled and much confused for a few moments, but very pleased and
grateful withal, yet when I came off, Mr. Macaulay's pleasure seemed
twice as great as mine, and as I laughingly told him so, he said: "Well,
now I'm going to make a confession. Your letters gave me an impression
of--of--well, you are entirely unlike your letters--you are smaller, and
you look even younger than you really are. There isn't the very faintest
suggestion of the actress in your manner, and--and--to be honest, I was a
bit frightened over the engagement I had made. Then your having to open
in this insignificant part was against you. But they are no fools out
_there_, my girl. They have found you out already. Your eyes and voice
alone won that welcome, and I'd not be afraid to wager something now that
the last curtain falls to-night upon a new favorite."

I was greatly pleased, but those broad lines were still hanging over me,
still disturbing me.

At last the scene arrived. I gave the inquiring speech, with its wretched
double meaning, clearly and plainly, looking squarely and honestly into
the eyes of the person I addressed--the result was described as follows
by a morning paper:

"That one speech proved the newcomer an actress of superior quality.
Clearly and simply given, the great guffaw that instantly responded to
the _double-entendre_ had scarcely risen, when the girl's perfect
honesty, her wide-eyed innocence, so impressed the audience that applause
broke from every part of the house. It was the most dramatic moment of
the evening, for that outburst was not merely approbation for the
actress, it was homage to the woman."

So it came to pass that Mr. Macaulay's words came true--the curtain fell
upon a favorite, by grace of the warm and kindly hearts of the
Cincinnatians, who were quick to see merits and ever ready to forgive
errors.

The Hebrew citizens, who are enthusiastic and most generous patrons of
the theatre, became especially fond of me, so much so indeed that the
company christened me "Rebecca," in jesting allusion to their favor, of
which I was nevertheless very proud, for better judges of matters
theatrical it would be hard to find.

When my mother arrived, we settled down in our little rooms, where my
trunks, which had to be opened every day for the nightly change of
costume, had to stand one on top of another in order to make room for an
old battle-scarred piano that I had hired.

I do not know its maker's name--no one knows--which was well for that
person, because his act in constructing such a thing placed him in the
criminal classes. It seemed to be a cross between a coffin and a
billiard-table, and there was just enough left of its rubber cover to
make an evil smell in the room.

Had it not been for the generosity of the leader of the orchestra (Mr.
Navoni) I could not have enjoyed the luxury of even a few music lessons,
but he saw my willingness to learn--to practise when possible, and loving
music rapturously himself, he took a generous delight in helping others
to the knowledge he had such a store of. Therefore, for a ridiculously
small price, just enough, he said, to properly mark our relations as
master and pupil, he introduced me to my notes and lines and
ledger-lines, too (confound them!), and accidentals and sharps (which I
hated) and flats (which I liked), and I developed a great affection for
_c_, because I could always find it, while I hate _a_ to this hour
because of the trouble it gave me so long ago.

One thing I am sure of, had anyone awakened me suddenly from a deep sleep
at that time I would instantly have exclaimed: "One _and_ two _and_ three
_and_." Mr. Navoni and his wife had the room directly over ours; of
course I knew every loud sound we made must penetrate to his room, and as
I could conceive of nothing more maddening than to have to listen to a
beginner's _one_, two, three--_one_, two, three, I tried to practise when
he was out, which was difficult, as our hours were the same. Then one
day, knowing he was composing a march for a special occasion, I closed
the piano and determined I would not disturb him with any noise of mine.

Upstairs, then, Mr. Navoni sat, rumpled as to hair, fiery as to eye, with
violin on table and pen in hand. He hummed a little, tried one or two
bars on the violin, then savagely threw a few notes of ink on to his
ruled paper. Then he hummed a little, and seemed to listen, jotted down a
note or two, listened attentively, and then burst out: "Do you hear a
sound of practice from Miss Morris's room?"

"No, dear," gently replied Mrs. Navoni, "she doesn't want to disturb you
at your work, she----"

But a burst of wrath stopped her. Mr. Navoni was clattering down-stairs
and pounding on our door: "What does this mean? Get you to that devilish
bad piano and do your scales--_scales_, mind you--let the exercises wait
till the last! Interrupt me? Love I not music! nothing is sweeter to me
than the '_one_, two, three' of the beginner--_if_ the beginner is not a
fool--_if_ the beginner counts the '_one_, two, three' correctly! Damn!
yes, I say _damn_! look at the time lost! afraid to disturb me? How the
devil am I to compose that march they want with this room still as the
dead? Now I go back, and if you don't do those scales, all smooth and
even, and the exercises rightly timed, you--well, you know what you'll
get! I can hear, even if I am composing. So you get to work, quick now!
before I get back to my table!"

And he tore off again, while, with clammy fingers, I sat down to the
wretched old piano, that was showing its teeth at me in a senile grin,
and feebly and uncertainly began to wobble up and down the keyboard.

Mrs. Navoni afterward told me that when her husband returned to his work
he hummed to himself a few moments, jotted down a few notes, listened to
the sound of the rattling old piano, and, smiling and nodding, remarked:
"_Now_ I can do something--_one_, two, three--_one_, two, three--that's
right. I couldn't compose a bar with her wasting a precious hour down
there. She keeps good time, eh, doesn't she? Now I'll give the boys
something that will move their feet for them!" and he returned to the
march.

The thing which I was to get if I failed to practise correctly was so
unusual that I feel I must explain it. Mr. Navoni wore an artificial foot
and leg of the cumbrous type then offered to the afflicted, and in the
privacy of his own room he used to remove the burdensome thing and lay it
on a chair by the couch on which he rested or read or wrote, and when I,
down-stairs, made a first mistake in my practice, he growled and kicked
viciously with his "for-true" leg, while a second blunder would make him
seize his store-leg and pound the floor. Then when I began again he would
whack the correct time with it with such emphasis that bits of my ceiling
would come rattling down about me and the gas-fixture threatened not to
remain a fixture.

Another trick of his was to bring down his violin with him. How my heart
sank when I saw it, and, my lesson over, he requested me to play such or
such an exercise: "And keep to your own business, and leave my business
to me, if you please, Miss. _Now!_"

I was then expected to go over and over that exercise and keep perfect
time, while he stood behind me and improvised on the violin, growing more
and more distracting every moment, and if that led my attention away from
my _one_, two, three, what a crack I got across the top of my ear from
his fiddle-bow, and a sharp order to: "Go back--go back! _one_, two,
three; _one_, two, three! Cry by and by, but now play! _One_, two,
three!"

I should have thought myself a hopeless case, and given up, had I not one
morning overheard him boasting to some of the musicians: "That I was a
good enough leading woman, he supposed, but it was as a piano pupil that
I really counted for something. Why," he cried, "she has the most perfect
ear, and such steadiness--a whole band-wagon of instruments turned loose
on her wouldn't make her lose time!"

I smiled and felt of my even then burning ear, but still his boast
encouraged me to return to my scales, which were wofully interrupted by
the necessity I experienced of clawing up with my nails several old keys
that were too weak to rise again having once been pressed down.

When Mr. Navoni played, and he came to one of those tired-out ivories, he
put a _damn_ in the place of the absent note, but for obvious reasons I
could not do that. But Mr. Navoni was an earnest, determined, and
enthusiastic teacher, and I remember him gratefully and respectfully.

The widow of the boarding-house differs from the widow of the Testament
in that the boarding-house widow's cruse of oil seems always "just out,"
and her meal at a like low ebb. Neither my mother nor myself were used to
luxuries; we expected little, and, truth to tell, we got it. To say we
were nearly always hungry would be putting things quite mildly, but we
were _together_! and so 'twas better to feel a bit "gone" under the belt
than to be filled to repletion and live apart.

I worked hard at all times, and five nights out of seven I had to study
till far on toward morning. The Saturday brought me a double performance,
and left me a wreck; thus I thought I had a right to a bit of a treat on
Sunday; and I can see the important air mother unconsciously assumed as
she went forth on her secret errand--secret that no offence might be
given to the economical landlady.

When the matinée was over I brought home my personal offering for our
next day's comfort and pleasure--a copy of an illustrated weekly paper
and five cents' worth of candy, always something hard that would last us
long while we read. Thus on Saturday night, on the sill of the back
window, there stood a small can of oysters, while in the top drawer
rested a box marked handkerchiefs, but which held crackers, beside it a
folded paper, and on top of that the wee package of candy.

I had a membership at the library on the corner, so we had books, too,
thank heaven! I have always been a fairly regular church-goer; in
Cincinnati the limitations of my wardrobe would have made me conspicuous.
I had but one street dress in the world, and constant wear in rain or
shine made it a very shabby affair. In novels the heroine who has but one
gown is always so exquisitely gloved and shod, and her veil and neck-wear
are so immaculately fresh, that no one notices the worn dress; but in
real life it's just the gloves and shoes and veils and ruffles that cost
the most money, yet their absence stamps you ill-bred in the eyes of
other women. Therefore I knew the inside of but one church in Cincinnati,
"Christ's Episcopal," and only knew that in the spring, when I had
fluttered forth in new gown and gloves and things; so Sundays were given
over to a late breakfast, a little reading in the Bible, a good long
reading of secular matter, sweetened by candy, a calm acceptance (that
was puzzling to the Navonis) of a shadowy dinner, a short walk if weather
permitted, then, oh, then! a locked door, a small tea-pot, a tiny
saucepan (we had not the bliss of owning a chafing-dish), and presently
we sat enjoying, to the last spoonful, a hot and delicious stew, a pot of
tea, that brought to mind many stories and made old jokes dance forth
with renewed youth, and kept us loitering over our small banquet in a
quite disgraceful way. Then back to our novels again till bed-time, and
next day, all fresh and rested, I began my "one _and_ two _and_ three
_and_" before breakfast, and thus won approval from Navoni and started a
new week's work under fair auspices.



CHAPTER THIRTIETH

  New York City is Suggested to Me by Mr. Worthington and Mr.
  Johnson--Mr. Ellsler's Mild Assistance--I Journey to New York, and
  Return to Cincinnati with Signed Contract from Mr. Daly.


To say I made a success in Cincinnati is the barest truth. Almost at
once--the third night of the season, to be exact--I received my first
anonymous gift: a very beautiful and expensive set of jewelry, pale-pink
corals in combined dead and burnished gold. They rested in their
satin-lined nest and tempted me. The sender wrote: "Show that you forgive
my temerity by wearing my offering in the third act."

_I did not wear them in any act_, and yet, oh, eternal feminine! I "tried
them on"--at least I put one ring in my ear and held the pendant against
my throat, "just to see" how they _would_ have looked, you know.

Flowers came over the footlights, the like of which I had never seen in
my life before--great baskets of hot-house beauties, some of them costing
more than I earned in a week. Then one night came a bolder note, with a
big gold locket. A signature made it possible for me to return that gift
next morning.

All that sort of thing was new to me, and, naturally, pleasing--yes,
because earned approbation pleases one, even though it be not quite
correctly expressed. It soon became whispered about that I sent back all
gifts of jewelry, and lo! one matinée, with a splendid basket of white
camelias, fringed about with poinsettia leaves, there came a box of
French candied fruit. My! what a sensation it created in the
dressing-room. I remember some of the ladies (we dressed in one great
long room there) took bits of peach and of green figs to show their
friends, while I devoted myself to the cherries and apricots. That seemed
to start a fashion, for candies, in dainty boxes, came to me as often as
flowers afterward, and, to my great pride and pleasure, were often from
women, and my Saturday five cents' allowance was turned over to mother
for the banqueting fund--that meant a bit of cheese for supper.

At the time of the season's opening there was a man in Cincinnati who was
there sorely against his will, a wealthy native of the city, a lawyer who
would not practise, a traveler in distant lands, he had lived mainly for
his own pleasure and had grown as weary of that occupation as he could
possibly have grown had he practised the law. Tired of everything else,
he still kept his liking for the theatre. Living in New York in the
winter, at Cape May in the summer, he only came to his old home when
someone was irritating enough to die and need burying in state, or when
some lawsuit required his attention, as in this instance. So, being
there, and not knowing what else to do, he had gone dully and moodily to
the theatre, saying to his cousin companion: "I'll take a look at
Macaulay's new leading lady, and then I'll sleep through the rest of the
evening comfortably, for no one can talk to me here as they do at the
hotel"--and the country _Cicely_ had appeared, and, to use Mr.
Worthington's own words: he had sat up straight as a ramrod and as
wide-awake as a teething baby for the rest of the evening.

Between acts he had made inquiries as to the history of the new actress,
only to find that, like most happy women, she had none. She came from
Cleveland, she lived three doors away with her mother--that was all. On
that first night he had said: "Good Lord, Will, what is that girl doing
out here in the West? I must see her in a better part. What's on
to-morrow night? Secure our seats for the season, that will save a lot
of trouble;" and incidentally it made a lot of annoyance for me.

Next night I played what actresses call a "dressed part," which, in spite
of suggestion, does not mean that there are parts that are not dressed,
only that the character wears fine clothes instead of plain ones. It was
a bright, light comedy part. The audience was enthusiastic, though, of
course, I was only supporting the star. Then Mr. Worthington exclaimed:
"That girl ought to be in New York this very moment!"

"Do you think so?" questioned his inseparable.

"Do I think so?" mocked his cousin. "Yes, I know it. I know the theatres
foreign--their schools and styles, as well as I know the home theatres
and their actors. I believe I've made a discovery!"

A beautiful mass of flowers came to me that night with Mr. Worthington's
visiting card, without message. The third night I played a tearful part;
the papers (as the women put it) "went on awful," and Mr. Worthington,
snapping his glasses into their case, said, as he rose: "I shall never
rest till this Clara Morris faces New York. She need clash with no one,
need hurt no one, she is unlike anyone else, and New York has plenty of
room for her. I shall make it my business to meet her some way or other,
and preach New York until she accepts the idea and acts upon it."

His visit to Cincinnati was prolonged; his young cousin, Mr. Will
Burnett, thought he was on the high-road to crankiness on the subject.
Then Mr. Worthington discovered we had a common friend in lawyer Egbert
Johnson, and he was presented in proper form to my mother (oh, wise Mr.
Worthington), and winning her approval by praise of her wonderful chick
(where is the mother that does not readily believe her goose a swan?),
she in her turn presented him to me, and for the first time I listened to
a suggestion of coming to New York.

To say I was amused at the idea would be putting it mildly indeed, for I
was tickled to such laughter that tears came to my eyes. He was annoyed,
but I laughed on. He waited--I was called upon for some heavy tragic
parts. He came again--I laughed still.

"Good heavens!" I cried, "I'm not pretty enough!"

He said: "You have your eyes and voice and expression, and you don't seem
to be suffering much here from your lack of beauty."

"N-no," I answered, naïvely, "you see, all the women in this company are
rather plain."

He laughed, but he continued to urge me to try for an engagement in New
York.

"I don't know enough," I faltered.

"You lack polish of manner, perhaps," he admitted, "but you will acquire
that quickly, while no one can acquire your fire and strength and pathos!
For God's sake, let me do one unselfish act in my life--let me serve you
in this matter. I will go to the managers in New York and speak for you."

But that offer I curtly declined, asking him how long my reputation would
remain unassailed if I allowed him to act for me.

In spite of all his praise of my work, I should have remained unmoved had
Mr. Johnson not joined forces with Mr. Worthington, and calmly assured me
that he, too, knew the New York theatres and actors, and he honestly
believed I had a chance of acceptance by the public, if only a manager
would give me an opening, for, said he: "Worthington is right this time,
you really are an exceptionally clever girl, so why should you bury
yourself in small Western cities?"

"Oh!" I indignantly cried, "Cleveland and Cincinnati are very big cities,
indeed!"

"Yes," smiled Mr. Johnson, "but New York is quite a bit larger, and
besides you would like to be accepted by the metropolis of your country,
would you not?"

And straightway my heart gave a bound, my cheeks began to burn, the
leaven was working at last--my ambition was awakened! I wondered day and
night, could I act well enough to please New York? I thought not; I
thought yes! I thought--I thought there could be no harm just to ask the
managers if they had an opening. But there my courage failed me--I could
not. I never had written to a manager in my life, save to answer a
letter. Finally, I wrote to Mr. Ellsler--he knew all the New York
managers (few then)--and told him I was about to ask my first favor at
his hands. Would he write to one or two managers for me, or give me a
line of introduction to them? and his unexpected opposition to my plans,
the cold water he cast upon my warm hopes, instead of crushing my spirit
utterly, aroused the old dogged determination to do what I had undertaken
to do--make a try for a New York opening!

The controversy finally ended in my receipt of a letter from Mr. Ellsler
informing me he had written to four managers, and said what he could for
me--which proved to be mighty little, as I afterward saw two of the four
letters, as they were in duplicate, though one was to a stranger, one to
an acquaintance, and two to friends. He simply asked: "If they had an
opening for a young woman, named Clara Morris, for leading or
leading-juvenile business." That was all; not a word of recommendation
for ability or mention of years of thorough experience--not even the
conventional expression of a personal obligation if they were able to
consider my application.

Had I been a manager, and had I received such a letter, I know I should
have cast it aside, thinking: "Oh, that's a duty letter and amounts to
nothing. If the girl had any recommendations for the position he would
have said so." Still, some answers were returned, though Mr. Wallack
ignored his copy. Mr. Jarrett (of Jarrett & Palmer) wrote Mr. Ellsler
that they were bound to spectacular ("Black Crook") for the year to come,
and had no earthly use for an actress above a soubrette or a walking
lady. Mr. Edwin Booth wrote: "If you had only addressed me a few days
earlier. I remember well the young woman of whom you speak. I have
unfortunately" (this last word was crossed out)--"I have just closed with
Miss Blanche DeBar--old Ben is persistent and has great confidence in
her, and, as I said, I have just closed with her for the coming season.
With," etc., etc.

Then there was a wee bit of paper--little, niggly-naggly, jetty-black,
impishly vindictive-looking writing on two short-waisted lines of about
eleven words each. That was from Mr. Daly, and it snapped out this
information: "If you send the young woman to me I will willingly consider
proposal. Will engage no actress without seeing her. A. Daly."

These letters were blithely sent to me by Mr. Ellsler, who evidently
looked upon the question as closed, but that was where we differed. I
considered it a question just fairly opened. I admit Mr. Daly's calm
ordering of me from Cincinnati to his office in New York for inspection
staggered me at first, but there was that line: "I will willingly
consider the proposal;" that was all I had to trust to; not much, heaven
knows! "Yet," I argued, "he is evidently a man who says much in little;
at all events, though the chance is small, it is the only one offered,
and, if I can stand the expense, I'll go and take that chance."

I would have to obtain leave of absence; I would have to pay a woman for
at least two performances, even if I got off on Saturday night; I would
have to stop one night in a hotel at New York, and, oh, dear, oh, dear!
would I dare to risk so much--to spend all my little savings toward the
summer vacation for this trip that might end disastrously after all? I
read again: "_Will engage no actress without seeing her._" Well, that
settled the matter. Suddenly I seemed to hear my old Irish washerwoman
saying: "Ah, well! God niver shuts one dure without opening anither!" I
laughed a bit and decided to risk my savings--nothing venture, nothing
win!

That very night I asked leave of absence; the time was most favorable--I
obtained it. I found next day an actress to take my place on Monday and
Tuesday evenings. Then mother and I emptied out our flat and old
pocket-books. I brought from its secret hiding-place the little roll of
bills saved for summer's idle time, and we put all in a pile. Then I drew
out a week's board in advance and gave it to mother; drew out enough to
pay the woman who took my place, and all the rest, to the last dollar,
was required for the expenses of my solitary journey to the great
beckoning city by the sea.

As I closed my pocket-book, I said to myself: "There, I have shut one
door with my own hand, but I'll trust God to open another for me before
vacation arrives."

There's an old saw that gravely states: "It never rains but it pours,"
and surely business opportunities "poured" upon me at that time, for in
that very week I received two offers of engagements, and one of them, had
not the New York bee been buzzing so loudly in my bonnet, would have
driven me quite wild with delight. That was from Mr. Thomas Maguire, of
San Francisco, and the salary was to me enormous. One hundred dollars a
week in gold, a benefit, and no vacation at all, unless I wished it. I
temporized. I wished to gain time enough to learn my fate in New York
before deciding. But Mr. Maguire was in haste, and as I hurried from the
theatre to start on my journey, a long envelope was placed in my hands. I
opened it on the cars, and found signed contracts for the leading
business at San Francisco, with an _extra_ benefit added as an inducement
for me to accept.

So I journeyed onward to tempt Fate, a little forlorn and frightened at
first, but receiving so many courtesies and little kindnesses from my
more fortunately placed fellow-travelers, that I quite forgot to be
either frightened or forlorn--but was amazed at the beauty of the stately
river we crossed, whose ripples caught the glowing color of the sky and
broke them into jewels; and beyond that silvery curtain of haze stretched
the great city of my dreams, all circled round and guarded by living
waters.

Then I was ashore again and clambering into the great swaying coach of
the Fifth Avenue Hotel, the conductor having told me it was right next
door to the theatre. I breakfasted, took from my bag a new gray veil, a
pair of gray gloves, a bit of fresh ruffling, and a needle and thread,
with which I basted the ruffle into the neck of my gown; put on the veil
and gloves, that being all the preparation I could make by way of toilet
to meet the arbiter of Fate, said "Our Father," and coming to "Amen" with
a jerk, discovered I had not been conscious of the meaning of one single
word, and whispering with shame, "only lip service," remorsefully
repeated again, and with absolute sincerity, that prayer which expresses
so simply, so briefly, all our needs, physical and spiritual; that places
us at once in the comforting position of a beloved child asking with
confidence for a father's aid. A prayer whose beauty and strength share
in the immortality of its Divine composer.

And then I rose and went forth, prepared to accept success or defeat,
just as the good Lord should will.

As I passed around the hotel and approached the theatre on Twenty-fourth
Street, an enormous upheaval of ice blocked the way--ice piled shoulder
high in front of the theatre door, and on one side of the glittering mass
stood a long, tall, thin man, as mad as a hornet, while on the other
side, stolidly, stupidly silent, stood a squat Irishman, holding an
ice-man's tongs in one hand and his shock of red hair in the other. The
long, flail-like arms of the tall man were in wild motion. In righteous
wrath he was trying to make the bog-trotter understand that the ice was
for the hotel, whose storage door was but a few feet to his right, when
he saw me making chamois-like jumps over the blocks of ice trying to
reach the door. With black-browed courtesy he told me to use the second
door, that morning, to reach the box-office.

I had, all unconsciously, formed an idea of Mr. Daly, and I was looking
for a small, dark, very dark, nervously irritable man, and was therefore
frankly amused at the wrath of the long, thin man, whose vest and whose
trousers could not agree as to the exact location of the waist-line, and
laughed openly at the ice-scene, winning in return as black a scowl as
any stage-villain could well wear. Then I cheerfully remarked: "I'm
looking for Mr. Daly; can you tell me where I am likely to find him?"

"You want Mr. Daly?" he repeated. "Who are you?"

"I'll tell Mr. Daly that, please," I answered.

He smiled and said: "Well, then, tell _me_--I'm Mr. Daly--are you----"

"Yes," I answered, "I'm the girl come out of the West, to be inspected.
I'm Clara Morris."

He frowned quickly, though he held out his hand and shook mine heartily
enough, and asked me to come into his office.

It was a cranny in the wall. It held a very small desk and one chair,
behind which was a folding stool. As he entered, I laughingly said: "I
think I'll lean here, I'm not used to sitting on the floor," but to my
surprise, as he brought forth the stool, he curtly replied: "I was not
going to ask you to sit on the floor," which so amused me that I could
not resist asking: "Are you from Scotland, by chance, Mr. Daly?" and he
had frowningly said "No!" before the old, old joke about Scotch density
came to him.

Then he said, with severity: "Miss Morris, I'm afraid your bump of
reverence is not well developed."

And I laughed and said: "There's a hole there, Mr. Daly, and no bump at
all," and though the words were jestingly spoken, there was truth and to
spare in them, and there, too, was the cause of all the jolts and jars
and friction between us in our early days together. Mr. Daly was as a god
in his wee theatre, and was always taken seriously. I knew not gods and
took nothing under heaven seriously. No wonder we jarred. Every word I
spoke that morning rubbed Mr. Daly's fur the wrong way. I offended him
again and again. He wished to show me the theatre, and, striking a match,
lit a wax taper and held it up in the auditorium, at which I exclaimed:
"Oh, the pretty little match-box! Why, it's just a little toy
play-house--is it not?"

Which vexed him so I was quite crushed for a minute or two. One thing
only pleased him: I could not tear myself away from the pictures, and I
praised, rapturously, a beautiful velvety-shadowed old engraving. We grew
quite friendly over that, but when we came to business he informed me I
was a comedy woman, root and branch.

"But," I said, "ask Mr. Edwin Booth, or Mr. Davenport, or Mr. Adams!"

He waved me down. "I won't ask anyone," he cried; "I never made a mistake
in my life. You couldn't speak a line of sentiment to save your soul!"

"Why, sentiment is my line of business--I play sentiment every week of my
life," I protested.

"Oh, you know what I mean," he said, "you can _speak_ and _repeat_ the
lines, but you couldn't give a line of sentiment naturally to save your
life--your forte is comedy, pure and simple."

It all ended in his offer to engage me, but without a stated line of
business. I must trust to his honor not to degrade me by casting me for
parts unworthy me. He would give me $35 a week (knowing there were two to
live on it), _if I made a favorable impression he would double that
salary_.

A poor offer--a risky undertaking. I had no one to consult with. I had in
my pocket the signed contract for $100 in gold and two benefits. I must
decide now, at once. Mr. Daly was filling up a blank contract.
Thirty-five dollars against $100! "_But if you make a favorable
impression_ you'll get $70," I thought. And why should I not make a
favorable impression? Yet, if I fail now in New York, I can go West or
South, not much harmed. If I wait till I am older, and fail, it will ruin
my life.

I slipped my hand in my pocket and gave a little farewell tap to the
contract for $100. I took the pen; I looked hard at him. "There's a heap
of trusting being asked for in this contract," I remarked. "You won't
forget your promise about doubling the salary?"

"I won't forget anything," he answered.

I looked at the pen, it was a stub, the first I ever saw; then I said:
"That's what makes your writing look so villainous. I can't sign with
that thing--I'd be ashamed to own my signature in court, when we come to
the fight we're very likely to have before we are through with each
other."

He groaned at my levity, but got another pen. I wrote Clara Morris twice,
shook hands, and went out and back to my home--a Western actress with an
engagement in a New York theatre for the coming season.



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIRST

  John Cockerill and our Eccentric Engagement--I Play a Summer Season at
  Halifax--Then to New York, and to House-Keeping at Last.


Mr. Worthington passed out of my life after he had done me the service he
set out to do. It had been an odd notion to step down from his carriage,
as it were, and point out to a girl, struggling along a rough and dusty
path, a short cut to the fair broad highway of prosperity; but I thank
him heartily, for without his urging voice, his steadily pointing hand, I
should have continued plodding along in the dust--heaven knows how long.

One of the few people I came to know well in Cincinnati was John A.
Cockerill. At that time he was the city editor on the _Enquirer_, and my
devoted friend. We were both young, poor, energetic, ambitious. We
exchanged confidences, plans, hopes, and dreams, and were as happy as
possible so long as we were just plain friends, but as soon as sentiment
pushed in and an engagement was acknowledged between us, we, as the
farmer says:

      "Quarrel'd and fit--and scratched and bit--"

For John was jealous of my profession, which made my temper hot, and we
were a queer engaged pair. I used to say to him: "It's just a question
which one of us suicides first!"

Yet on some days we would forget we were engaged and be quite cheerful
and happy; and when I came back from New York, I cried: "Congratulate me,
John, I've got an engagement, so we can't nag each other to death for a
year at least!" and though that gave a lovely opening for a quarrel he
passed it by, congratulating me very gently instead, but very sadly,
adding: "You are getting so far ahead of me, dear--and you will learn to
despise a man who comes toiling always behind you!"

A statement that came so dangerously near the truth that it threw me into
a passion, and we had a battle royal then and there. However, we parted
in a gale of laughter, for as John suddenly discovered he was overstaying
his intended short visit, he sprang up and grabbed his hat and exclaimed:
"Well, good-by, Clara, we haven't indulged in much sentiment to-day,
but," drawing a long, satisfied breath, "we've enjoyed a good lusty old
row all the same!"

No wonder we laughed. We were a rare engaged couple. Lovers? why Cupid
had never even pointed an arrow at us for fun! We were chums--good
fellows in sunny weather; loyal, active friends in time of trouble, and,
after I came to New York, and found quarreling at length, with pen and
ink, too fatiguing, I broke the engagement, and we were happy ever
after--our friendship always standing firm through the years; and when,
in the _Herald's_ interests, he started on that last long journey to
report upon the Japanese-Chinese War, he said to me: "I never understood
the meaning of the word friendship until that day when you flung all your
natural caution--your calm good sense aside, and rushed through the first
cheering message that reached me after that awful St. Louis shooting:
'You acted in self-defence, I _know_--command any service from your
faithful friend,' that's what you said, over your full name, while as yet
you knew absolutely nothing. And when I realized that, guilty or
innocent, you meant to stand by me, I--well, you and my blessed mother
live in a little corner of my heart, just by your two loyal selves."

And when he left me he carried on either cheek as affectionate a kiss as
I knew how to put there, and again, and for the last time, we parted in a
gale of laughter, as he cried: "You would have seen me in the bottomless
pit before you would have done that in Cincinnati!"

"Oh, well," I replied, "we both preferred quarreling to kissing in those
days!"

"Speak for yourself!" he laughed, and so we parted for all time.

I had returned to my work in Cincinnati; had thanked the Washington and
San Francisco managers for their offers of engagements, and was putting
in some spare moments in worrying about the summer, when (without meaning
to be irreverent) God opened a door right before me. Never, since I had
closed a small geography at school, had I heard of "Halifax," save as a
substitute for another place beginning with H, but here, all suddenly, I
was invited to Halifax--not sent there in anger, for, oh, incredible! for
a four, perhaps six, weeks' summer engagement. Was I not happy? Was I not
grateful? One silver half-dollar did I recklessly give away to the Irish
washerwoman, who had said: "God niver shuts one dure without openin'
anither!" I could not help it, and she, being in trouble at the time,
declared, with hope rising in her tired old eyes, that she would "at onct
burn a waxen candle before the blissed Virgin!" Poor soul! I hope her
loving offering found favor in the eyes of the gentle Saint she honored!

I had a benefit in Cincinnati before the season closed, and so it came
about that I was able to get my mother a spring gown and bonnet that she
might go home in proper state to Cleveland for a visit; while I turned my
face toward Halifax, the picturesque, to play a summer engagement, and
then to make my way to New York and find a resting-place for my foot in
some hotel, while I searched for rooms to which my mother might be
summoned, for I had determined I could board no longer.

If we had rooms we could make a little home in them. If we had still to
go hungry, we could at least hunger after our own fashion, and endure our
privations in decent privacy. So, with plans all made, I landed at
Halifax and felt a shock of surprise, followed by a pang of
homesickness, at the first sight of the scarlet splendor of the British
flag waving against the pale blue sky, when instinctively my eyes had
looked for the radiant beauty of Old Glory. The next thing that impressed
me was the astonishing number of people who were in mourning. Men in
shops, in offices, on the streets, were wearing crêpe bands about their
left arms, and women, like moving pillars of crêpe, dotted the walks
thickly, darkened the shops, and gloomed in private carriages. What does
it mean? I asked. I never before saw so many people in black. And one
made answer: "Ah, your question shows you are a stranger, or you would
know that there are few well-to-do homes and _no_ business house in
Halifax that does not mourn for at least one victim of that great mystery
of the sea, the unexplained loss of the City of Boston--that monster
steamer, crowded with youth and beauty, wealth, power, and brains!"

I recalled then how, at the most fashionable wedding of the year in
Cincinnati, the bride and groom had been dragged from the just-beginning
wedding-breakfast, and rushed off at break-neck speed that they might be
in time for the sailing of the City of Boston, and after her sailing no
word ever came of her. What had been her fate no man knew--no man knows
to-day. The ocean gave no sign, no clew, as it often has done in other
disasters. It sent back no scrap of wood, of oar, of boat, of mast, of
life-preserver--nothing, nothing! No fire had been sighted by other
ships. Had she been in collision with an iceberg, been caught in the
centre of a tornado, had she run upon a derelict, been stricken by
lightning, been blown up by explosion? No answer had ever come from the
mighty bosom of the deep, that will keep its grim secret until the awful
day when, trembling at God's own command, it will give up its dead!
Meantime thousands of tender ties were broken. The awful mystery
shrouding the fate of the floating city turned more than one brain, and
sent mourners to mad-houses to end their ruined lives. Halifax was a very
sad city that summer.

I met in the company there Mr. Leslie Allen (the father of Miss Viola
Allen), Mr. Dan Maginnis (the Boston comedian), and Mr. John W. Norton.
The future St. Louis manager was then leading man, and the friendship we
formed while working together through those summer weeks was never
broken, never clouded, but lasted fair and strong up to that very day
when, sitting in the train on his way to New York, John Norton had, in
that flashing moment of time, put off mortality.

He had changed greatly from the John Norton of those early days. He had
known cruel physical suffering, and while he had won friends and money,
shame and bitter sorrow had been brought upon him by another. No wonder
the laughing brightness had gone out of him. It was said that he believed
in but two people on earth--Mary Anderson and Clara Morris, and he said
of them: "One is a Catholic, the other an Episcopalian; they are
next-door neighbors in religion; they are both honest, God-fearing women,
and the only ones I bow my head to." Oh, poor man! to have grown so
bitter! But in the Halifax days he loved his kind, and was as full of fun
as a boy of ten, as full of kindness as would be the gentlest woman.

Mr. Maginnis had his sister-in-law with him, a helpless invalid. She knew
her days were numbered, yet she always faced us smilingly and with
pleasant words. She was passionately fond of driving, but dreaded lonely
outings; so clubbing together, that no one might feel a sense of
obligation, we four, Dan and his sister, John Norton and I, used evenly
to divide the expense of a big, comfortable carriage, and go on long,
delightful drives about the outskirts of the gray old hilly city.

The stolid publicity of Tommy Atkins's love-making had at first covered
us with confusion, but we soon grew used to the sight of the scarlet
sleeve about the willing waist in the most public places, while a loving
smack, coming from the direction of a park bench, simply became a sound
quite apropos to the situation.

One yellow-haired, plaided and kilted young Highlander, whom I came upon
in a public garden, just as he lifted his head from an explosive kiss on
his sweetheart's lips, startled at my presence, flushing red, lifted his
hand in a half-salute, and at the same moment, in laughing apologetic
confusion, he--winked at me! And his flushing young face was so bonnie,
that had I known how I believe in my heart I'd have winked back, just
from sheer good-fellowship and understanding.

In that short season I had one experience, the memory of which makes me
pull a wry face to this day. I played _Juliet_ to a "woman-_Romeo_"--a so
plump _Romeo_, who seemed all French heels, tights, and wig, with _Romeo_
marked "absent." I little dreamed I was bidding a personal farewell to
Shakespeare and the old classic drama, as I really was doing.

One other memory of that summer engagement that sticks is of that
performance of Boucicault's "Jessie Brown, or the Siege of Lucknow," in
which real soldiers acted as supernumeraries, and having been too well
treated beforehand and being moved by the play, they became so hot that
they attacked the _mutineers_ not only with oaths but with clubbed
muskets; and while blood was flowing and heads being cracked in sickening
earnest on one side of the stage, a sudden wall-rending howl of derisive
laughter rose from that part of the theatre favored by soldiers. I saw
women holding programmes close, close to their eyes, and knew by that
that something was awfully wrong.

The Scotch laddies were pouring over the wall, coming to the rescue of
the starving besieged. I looked behind me. The wall, a stage wall, was
cleated down the middle to keep the join there firm, and no less than
three of the soldiers had had portions of their clothing caught by the
cleats as they scaled the wall. The cloth would not tear, the men were
too mad to be able to see, and there they hung, kicking like fiends
and--well, the words of a ginny old woman, who sold apples and oranges in
front of the house, will explain the situation. She cried out, at the top
of her voice: "Yah! yah! why do ye no pull down yer kilties, instead o'
kickin' there? yah! yer no decent--do you ken?" and the curtain had to
come whirling down before the proper time to save the lives of the men
being pounded to death, and the feelings of the women who were being
shamed to death.

A surgeon had to attend to two heads before their owners could leave the
theatre, and after that an officer was kind enough to come and take
charge of the men loaned to the manager.

Then I bade the people, whom I had found so pleasant, good-by--Mr. Louis
Aldrich arriving as I was about leaving, keen, clever, active, full of
visions, of plans, just as he is to-day. I and my little dog-companion
made our way to New York. A lady and gentleman, traveling acquaintances,
advised me to go to the St. Nicholas, and as all hotels looked alike to
me I went there. My worst dread was the dining-room. I could not afford
to take meals privately, yet how could I face that great roomful of
people alone! At last I resolved on a plan of action. I went up to the
head waiter--from his manner an invisible crown pressed his brow; his
eyes gazed coldly above my humble head, his "Eh?--beg pardon!" was
haughty and curt, yet, believe it or not, when I told him I was quite
alone, and asked could he place me at some quiet retired table, he became
human, he looked straightly and kindly at me. He himself escorted me, not
to a seat in line with the kitchen smells or the pantry quarrels, as I
had expected, but to a very retired, very pleasant table by an open
window, and assured me the seat should be reserved for me every day of my
stay, and only ladies seated there. I was grateful from my heart, and I
mention it now simply to show the general willingness there is in America
to aid, to oblige the unprotected woman traveler.

Naturally anxious to find, as quickly as possible, a less expensive
dwelling-place, I showed my utter ignorance of the city by the blunder I
made in joyfully engaging rooms in a quiet old-fashioned brick house
because it was on Twenty-first Street and the theatre was on
Twenty-fourth, and the walk would be such a short one. All good New
Yorkers will know just how "short" that walk was when I add that to reach
the neat little brick house I had first to cross to Second Avenue, and,
alas! for me on stormy nights, there was no cross-town car, then.

However, the rooms were sunny and neatly furnished; the rent barely
within my reach, but the entire Kiersted family were so unaffectedly kind
and treated me so like a rather overweighted young sister that I could
not have been driven away from the house with a stick. I telegraphed to
mother to come. She came.

To the waiter who feeling the crown upon his brow yet treated me with
almost fatherly kindness, I gave a small parting offering and my thanks;
and to the chambermaid also--she with the pure complexion, bred from
buttermilk and potatoes, and the brogue rich and thick enough to cut
with a knife--who had "discoursed" to me at great length on religion, on
her own chances of matrimony, on the general plan of the city,
describing the "lay" of the diagonal avenues, their crossing streets and
occasional junctures, in such confusing terms that a listening
city-father would have sent out and borrowed a blind man's dog to help
him find his home. Still she had talked miles a day with the best
intentions, and I made my small offering to her in acknowledgment, and
leaving her very red with pleasure, I departed from the hotel. That
blessed evening found my mother and me house-keeping at last--_at last_!
And as we sat over our tea, little Bertie, on the piano-stool at my
side, ate buttered toast; then, feeling license in the air, slipped
down, crept under the table, and putting beseeching small paws on
mother's knee, ate more buttered toast--came back to me and the
piano-stool, and bringing forth all her blandishments pleaded for a lump
of sugar. She knew it was wrong, she knew _I_ knew it was wrong, but,
good heavens! it was our house-warming--Bertie got the sugar. So we were
settled and happily ready to begin the new life in the great strange
city.



CHAPTER THIRTY-SECOND

  I Recall Mr. John E. Owens, and How He "Settled my Hash."


Just previous to my coming East I met, for the first time, Mr. John E.
Owens. He was considered a wealthy man, and was at the height of his
popularity as a comedian. He was odd, even his marriage seemed an
expression of eccentricity, and one felt as if one had received a dash of
cold water in the face when the hot-tempered, peppery, and decidedly
worldly Mr. Owens presented the little orthodox Quakeress, with a
countenance of gentle severity, as his wife.

She wore the costume of her people, too, and watched him above her
knitting-needles with folded lips and condemning eye as he strutted and
fumed and convulsed his audience. She was said to be a most tender and
gentle nurse and, indeed, a devoted wife, but she certainly seemed to
look down upon theatrical life and people.

Mr. Owens was telling me she was a clever business woman, with a quick
eye for a good investment, when I jestingly answered: "That seems to be a
peculiarity of the sect--thee will recall the fact that William Penn
showed that same quality of eye in his beautiful and touching relations
with the shrewd and knowing Indians," and in the middle of his laugh, his
mouth shut suddenly, his eyes rolled: "Oh, Lord!" he said, "you've done
for yourself--she heard you, your fate's fixed!"

"But," I exclaimed, "I was just joking."

"No go!" he answered, mournfully, "the eye that can see the main chance
so clearly is blind to a joke. She has you down now on her list of the
ungodly. No use trying to explain--I gave that up years ago. Fact of the
matter is, when that Quakeress-wife of mine puts her foot down--I--well,
I take mine up, but hers stays right there."

Mr. Owens was of medium height and very brisk in all his movements,
walking with a short and quick little step. He had a wide mouth, good
teeth, and a funny pair of eyes. The eyeballs were very large and round,
and he showed an astonishing amount of their whites, which were of an
unusual brilliancy and lustre; this, added to his power of rolling them
wildly about in their sockets, made them very funny; indeed, they
reminded many people of a pair of large peeled onions.

I think his most marked peculiarity was his almost frantic desire to
provoke laughter in the actors about him. He would willingly throw away
an entire scene--that is, destroy the illusion of the audience--in order
to secure a hearty laugh from some actor or actress whom he knew not to
be easily moved to laughter; and what was more astonishing still, if an
actress in playing a scene with him fell from tittering into helpless
laughter and failed to speak her lines, he made no angry protest, but
regarded the situation with dancing eyes and delighted smiles, seeming to
accept the breakdown as proof positive that he was irresistible as a
fun-maker.

For some reason I never could laugh at "Solon Shingle." Mr. Owens had
opened in that part, and as I stood in the entrance watching the
performance, my face was as grave as that of the proverbial judge. He
noticed it at once, and paused a moment to stare at me. Next morning,
just as he entered and crossed to the prompt-table at rehearsal, I, in
listening to a funny story, broke out in my biggest laugh. Open flew the
star's eyes, up slid his eyebrows.

"Ha! ha!" said he, "ha! ha! there's a laugh for you--by Jove, that's a
laugh as is a laugh!"

I turned about and faced him. He recognized me instantly. "Well, blast my
cats!" he exclaimed, "say, you young hyena, you're the girl that wouldn't
laugh at me last night. I thought you couldn't, and just listen to your
roars now over some tomfoolery. What was the matter with me, if you
please, mum?"

I stood in helpless, awkward embarrassment, then, drawing in his lip and
bulging out his eyes until they threatened to leap from their places, he
advanced upon me, exclaiming: "Spare me these protestations and
explanations, I beg!" then tapped me on the chest with his forefinger
and, added, in a different tone: "My young friend, I'll make you laugh or
I'll cut my throat!" next turned on his heel, and called: "Everybody
ready for the first act? Come on, come on, let's get at it!"

Rehearsal began and Mr. Owens did not have to cut his throat.

Funny in many things, it was the old farce of "Forty Winks" that utterly
undid me, and not only sat me violently and flatly down upon the entrance
floor, but set me shrieking with such misguided force that next day all
the muscles across and near my diaphragm were too lame and sore for me to
catch a breath in comfort. Perhaps that's not the right word, and I may
not be locating the lamed muscles properly, but if you will go to see
some comedian who will make you laugh until you cry, and cry until you
scream, and laugh and cry and scream until you only breathe in gasps and
sobs, you will next morning know exactly which muscles I have been
referring to--even if you haven't got a diaphragm about you.

But really the mad absurdities Mr. Owens indulged in that night might
have made the very Sphinx smile stonily. As a miserly old man, eating his
bread-and-cheese supper in his cheap little bedroom, and retiring for the
night only to be aroused by officers who are in pursuit of a flying man,
and think they have now found him. Not much to go upon, that, but, oh, if
you could have seen his ravening hunger; have seen his dog-like snaps at
falling crumbs; his slanting of the plate against the light to see if any
streak of butter was being left; his scooping up of bread-crumbs from
his red-handkerchief lap, and eager licking up of the same; have seen him
sorting out his money and laying aside the thin, worn pennies to give the
waiter; breaking off the hardened grease that in melting had run down the
candle's side, putting it away in his valise, "to grease his boots next
winter" (a line he introduced for my especial benefit).

Having gone up-stage and taken off his shoes, he suddenly bethought him
that there might be a few crumbs on the floor, and taking his candle,
down he came to look, and turning his back to the audience, they screamed
with sudden laughter, for two shining bare heels were plainly showing
through his ragged black woollen socks. He paid no heed, but sought
diligently, and when he found a crumb he put his finger to his lip to
moisten it, and pouncing upon the particle, conveyed it to his mouth, and
mumbled so luxuriously one almost envied him. Then, remarking that it was
too cold to undress, he undressed, and as his coat came off he started
toward a chair, saying, querulously: "He couldn't abide a man that wasn't
neat and careful about his clothes," and down he pitched the coat in a
heap upon the floor in front of the chair. His vest he dumped beside
another seat, as he dolorously declared: "He had neat habits ever since
his mother had taught him to put his clothes carefully on the chair at
night."

And so he went up and down and about, until that stage was one litter of
old clothes. Blowing out his candle he got into bed, and, shivering with
cold, tried frantically to pull the clothes over his poor shoulders--but
all in vain. At last a tremendous jerk brought the quilt and sheet about
his shoulders, only to leave his ancient black feet facing the audience,
all uncovered. And so went on the struggle between feet and shoulders
until, worn out, the old man finally "spooned" himself with knees in
chest, and so was covered and fell asleep, only to be aroused by
officers, and turned into driveling idiocy by a demand "for the girl."

It was at the point when, sitting up in bed, trying, with agonizing
modesty, to keep covered up, his eyes whitely and widely rolling, he
pleadingly asked: "N-n-now I, leave it to you--do I look like a seducer?"
that my knees abandoned me to my fate, and sat me down with a vicious
thud that nearly shook the life out of me. And John Owens sat in bed and
saw my fall and rejoiced with a great joy, and said: "Blast my cats--look
at the girl! there, now, that's something like laughing. I'd take off my
hair and run around bald-headed for her!"

I was called upon to play blind _Bertha_ to Mr. Owens's _Caleb Plummer_
in the "Cricket on the Hearth," and I was in a great state of mind, as I
had only seen one or two blind persons, and had never seen a blind part
acted. I was driven at last by anxiety to ask Mr. Owens if he could make
any suggestions as to business, or as to the walk or manner of the blind
girl. But he was no E. L. Davenport, he had no desire to teach others to
act, and he snappishly answered: "No--no! I can't suggest anything for
you to do--but I can suggest something for you not to do! For God's sake
don't go about playing the piano all evening--that's what the rest of 'em
do!"

"The piano?" I repeated, stupidly.

"Yes," he said, "the piano! D----d if they don't make me sick! Here they
go--all the '_Berthas_'!"

He closed his eyes, screwed up his face dismally, and advancing, his
hands before him, began moving them from left to right and back, as
though they were on a keyboard. It was very ridiculous.

"And that's what they call blindness--playing the piano and tramping
about as securely as anybody!"

Ah, ah! Mr. Owens, you did make a suggestion after all, though you did
not mean to do it, but I found one all the same in that last contemptuous
sentence, "_tramping about as securely as anybody_." It quickened my
memory--I recalled the piteous uncertainty of movement in the blind; the
dread hesitancy of the advancing foot, unless the afflicted one was on
very familiar ground. I tried walking in the dark, tried walking with
closed eyes. It was surprising how quickly my fears gathered about my
feet. Instinctively I put out one hand now and then, but the fear of
bumping into something was as nothing to the fear of stepping off or
down, or falling through the darkness--oh!

Then I resolved to play _Bertha_ with open eyes. It was much the more
difficult way, but I was well used to taking infinite pains over small
matters, and believing that the open, unseeing eye was far more pathetic
than the closed eye, I proceeded to work out my idea of how to produce
the unseeing look. By careful experiment I found that if the eyes were
very calm in expression, very slow in movement, and at all times were
raised slightly above the proper point of vision, the effect was really
that of blindness.

It was unspeakably fatiguing to keep looking just above people's heads,
instead of into their faces, as was my habit, but where is the true actor
or actress who stops to count the cost in pain or in inconvenience when
striving to build up a character that the public may recognize? Says the
ancient cook-book: "First catch your hare, and then--"; so with the
actor, first catch your idea, your desired effect, and _then_ reproduce
it (if you can). But in the case of blind _Bertha_ I must have reproduced
with some success the effect I had been studying, for an old newspaper
clipping beside me says that: "The doubting, hesitating advance of her
foot, the timid uncertainty of her occasional investigating hand spelled
blindness as clearly as did her patient unseeing eyes," and for my reward
that wretched man amused himself by pulling faces at me and trying to
break me down in my singing of "Auld Robin Grey," until I was obliged to
sing with my eyes tight shut to save myself from laughter; and when the
curtain had fallen he said to me: "I'll settle your hash for you some
night, young woman, you see if I don't--you just wait now!" And the next
season, in Cincinnati, in very truth, he did "settle my hash" for me, to
his great delight and my vexation.

He was so very, very funny as _Major Wellington de Boots_ in "Everybody's
Friend"; his immense self-satisfaction, his stiff little strut, his
martial ardor, his wild-eyed cowardice were trying enough, but when he
deliberately acted _at_ you--oh, dear! He would look me straight in the
eye and make faces at me, until I sobbed at every breath. Then he had a
wretched little trick of rising slowly on his toes and sinking back to
his heels again, while he cocked his head to one side so like a knowing
old dicky-bird that he simply convulsed me with laughter.

I was his _Mrs. Swansdown_, and I had kept steady and never lost a line,
until we came to the scene where, as my landlord and would-be husband, he
brought some samples of wall-paper for me to choose from. Where, in
heaven's name, he ever found those rolls of paper I can't imagine. They
were not merely hideous but grotesque as well, and were received with
shouts of laughter by the house.

With true shopman's touch, he would send each piece unrolling toward the
footlights, while holding up its breadth of ugliness for _Mrs.
Swansdown's_ inspection and approval, and every piece that he thus
displayed he greeted at first sight with words of hearty admiration for
its beauty and perfect suitability, until, catching disapproval on the
widow's face, he in the same breath, with lightning swift hypocrisy,
turned his sentence into contemptuous disparagement, and fairly shook his
audience with laughter at the quickness of his change of opinion.

At last he unfurled a piece of paper whose barbarity of design and
criminality of color I remember yet. The dead-white ground was widely and
alternately striped with a dark Dutch blue and a dingy chocolate brown,
and about the blue stripes there twined a large pumpkin-colored
morning-glory, while from end to end the brown stripes were solemnly
pecked at by small magenta birds. The thing was as ludicrous as it was
ugly--an Indian clay-idol might have cracked into smiles of derision over
its artistic qualities.

Then Mr. Owens, bursting into encomiums over its desirability as a
hanging for the drawing-room walls of a modest little retreat, caught my
frown, and continued: "Er--er, or perhaps you'd prefer it as trousering?"
then, delightedly: "Yes--yes, you're quite right, it _is_ a neat
thing--cut full at the knee, eh? Close at the foot, yes, yes, I see,
regular peg-tops--great idea! I'll send you a pair at once. Oh, good
Lord! what have I done! I--I--mean, I'll have a pair myself, _Mrs.
Swansdown_, cut from this very piece of your sweet selection!"

Ah, well! that ended the scene so far as my help went. The shrieking
audience drowned my noise for a time, but, alas, _it_ recovered directly,
having no hysterics to battle with, while I buried my head deep in the
sofa-pillows and rolled and screamed and wept and bit my lips, clinched
my hands, and vainly fought for my self-control; while all the time I saw
a pair of trousers cut from that awful wall-paper, and Mr. Owens just
bulged his white shiny eyes at me and pranced about and rejoiced at my
downfall, while the audience, seeing what the trouble was, laughed all
over again, and--and--well, "my hash" was very thoroughly "settled," even
to the entire satisfaction of Mr. Owens's self.



CHAPTER THIRTY-THIRD

  From the "Wild West" I Enter the Eastern "Parlor of Home Comedy"--I
  Make my First Appearance in "Man and Wife."


The original Fifth Avenue Theatre was a tiny affair, with but small
accommodation for the public and none at all for the actor, unless he
burrowed for it beneath the building; and indeed the deep, long basement
was wonderfully like a rabbit-warren, with all its net-work of narrow
passageways, teeming with life and action. The atmosphere down there was
dreadful--I usually prefer using a small word instead of a large one, but
it would be nonsense to speak of the "air" in that green-room, because
there was none. Atmosphere was there stagnant, heavy, dead, with not even
an electric fan to stir it up occasionally, and the whole place was
filled with the musty, mouldy odor that always arises from carpets spread
in sunless, airless rooms. Gas, too, burned in every tiny room, in every
narrow slip of passageway, and though it was all immaculately clean, it
was still wonderful how human beings endured so many hours imprisonment
there.

It was on a very hot September morning that the company was called
together in the green-room of the Fifth Avenue Theatre. This first "call"
of the season is generally given over to greetings after the vacation, to
chattings, to introductions, to welcomes, and a final distribution of
parts in the first play, and a notification to be on hand promptly next
morning for work. With a heavily throbbing heart I prepared for the
dreaded first meeting with all these strange people, and when I grew
fairly choky, I would say to myself, "What nonsense, Mr. Daly or the
prompter will be there, and in the general introductions you will, of
course, be included, and after that you will be all right--a smile, a
bow, or a kind word will cost no more in a New York theatre than in any
other one," which goes to prove what a very ignorant young person I was
then. In looking back to that time, I often drop into the habit of
considering myself as another person, and sometimes I am sorry for the
girl of that day, and say: "You poor thing, if you had only known!" or
again, "What wasted trust--what needless sorrow, too!" But I was then
like the romping, trusting, all-loving puppy-dog who believes every
living being his friend, until a kick or a blow convinces him to the
contrary.

I had two dresses, neither one really fit for the occasion, but I put on
the best one, braided my mass of hair into the then proper _chatelaine_
braids, and found comfort in them, and encouragement in a fresh,
well-fitting pair of gloves. At half-past ten o'clock I entered the
underground green-room. Two young men were there before me. I slightly
bent my head, and one responded doubtfully, but the other, with the
blindness of stone in his eyes, bowed not at all. I sat down in a
corner--the stranger always seeks a corner; can that be an instinct, a
survival from the time when a tribe fell upon the stranger, and with the
aid of clubs informed him of their strength and power? Anyway, as I said,
I sat in a corner. There was the carpet, the great mirror, the cushioned
bench running clear around the room, and that was all--oh, no! on the
wall, of course, there hung that shallow, glass-covered frame or cabinet
called, variously, "the call-board," the "call-case," or even the
"call-box." It is the official voice of the manager--when the "call-case"
commands, all obey. There, in writing, one finds the orders for next
day's rehearsal; there one finds the cast of characters in the plays;
there, too, the requests for the company's aid, on such a day, for such a
charity benefit appears. Ah, a great institution is the "call-case,"
being the manager's voice, but not his ears, which is both a comfort and
an advantage at times to all concerned.

That day I glanced at it; it was empty. The first call and cast of the
season would be put up presently. I wondered how many disappointments it
would hold for me. Then there was a rustle of skirts, a tapping of heels,
a young woman gayly dressed rushed in, a smile all ready for--oh! she
nodded briefly to the young men, then she saw me--she looked full at me.
The puppy-dog trust arose in me, I was a stranger, she was going to bow,
perhaps smile! Oh, how thankful I am that I was stopped in time, before I
had betrayed that belief to her. Her face hardened, her eyes leisurely
scorched up and down my poor linen gown, then she turned frowningly to
the glass, patted her bustle into shape, and flounced out again. I felt
as though I had received a blow. Then voices, loudly laughing male
voices, approached, and three men came in, holding their hats and mopping
their faces. They "bah-Joved" a good deal, and one, big and noisy, with a
young face topped with perfect baldness, bowed to me courteously, the
others did not see me.

Where, I thought, was the manager all this time? Then more laughter, and
back came my flouncy young woman and two of her kind with her; pretty,
finely dressed, badly bred women, followed by one whom I knew instantly.
One I had heard much of, one to whom I had a letter of introduction--I
have it still, by the way. She was gray even then, plain of feature, but
sweet of voice and very gentle of manner. I lifted my head higher. Of
course she would not know me from sole-leather, but she would see I was a
stranger and forlornly alone, and besides, being already secure in her
position in the company--she was its oldest member--and therefore, in a
certain measure, a hostess, and as my mere presence in the green-room
showed I was a professional of some sort or quality, both authority and
kindness would prompt her to a bow, a smile, perhaps a pleasant word. I
looked hungrily at her, her bright, small eyes met mine, swept swiftly
over me, and then she slowly turned her black silk back upon me, the
stranger in her gate; and as I swallowed hard at the lump Mrs. Gilbert's
gentle indifference had brought to my throat, my old sense of fun came
uppermost, and I said to myself: "No morning is lost in which one learns
something, and I have discovered that covering a club neatly in velvet
improves its appearance, without in the least detracting from the force
of its blow."

And then the passage resounded with laughter and heel-taps, the small
room filled full; there was a surging of silken gowns, a mingling of
perfumes and of voices, high and excited, and, I must add, affected; much
handshaking, many explosive kisses, and then, down the other passageway,
came more gentlemen. They were a goodly crowd--well groomed, well
dressed, manly fellows, and all in high good-humor, except Mr. Davidge,
but, in mercy's name! who ever saw, who would have wished to see "rare
old Bill" in a good humor?

Such gay greetings as were exchanged around about and even over me, since
my hat was twice knocked over my eyes by too emphatic embracings in such
crowded quarters--and still no manager, no prompter. When they quieted
down a bit, everyone took stock of me. It would have been a trying
position even had I been properly gowned, but as it was the
ill-suppressed titters of two extravagantly gowned nonentities and the
swift, appraising glances of the others kept me in agony.

Suddenly a quick step was heard approaching. I nearly laughed aloud in
all my misery at their lightning-quick change of manner. Silence, as of
the grave, came upon them. They all faced toward the coming
steps--anxious-eyed, but with smiles just ready to tremble on to their
lips at an instant's notice. Never had I seen anything so like
trick-poodles. They were ready to do "dead dog," or jump over a chair, or
walk on two legs--ready, too, for either the bone or the blow. I knew
from their strained attitude of attention who was coming, and next
moment, tall and thin and dour, Mr. Daly stood in the doorway. He neither
bowed nor smiled, but crossly asked: "Is Miss Morris here?"

Everyone looked reproachfully at everyone else for not being the desired
person. Then as the managerial frown deepened, from my corner I lifted a
rather faint voice in acknowledgment of my presence, saying: "Yes, sir, I
am here," and he gave that peculiar "huh!" of his, which seemed to be a
combination of groan and snort, and instantly disappeared again.

Oh, dear! oh, dear! I had felt myself uncomfortable before, but now? It
was as if I had sprung up and shouted: "Say! I'm Miss Morris!" Everyone
gazed at me openly now, as if I were a conundrum and they were trying to
guess me. I honestly believe I should have broken down under the strain
in a moment more, but fortunately a slender little man made his silent
appearance at one of the doors and took off his immaculate silk hat,
revealing the thin, blond hair, the big, pale blue pop-eyes of James
Lewis. Twenty minutes ago my heart would have jumped at sight of him, but
I had had a lesson. I expected no greeting now, even from a former
friend. I sat quite still, simply grateful that his coming had taken the
general gaze from my miserable face. He shook hands all round, glanced at
me and passed by, then looked back, came back, held out his hand, saying:
"You stuck-up little brute, I knew you in aprons and pig-tails, and now
you ain't going to speak to me; how are you, Clara?"

While I was huskily answering him, a big woman appeared at the door. Her
garments were aggressively rich, and lockets (it was a great year for
lockets) dangled from both wrists, from her watch-chain, and from her
neck-chain. She glittered with diamonds--in a street-dress which might
also have answered for a dinner-dress. I laughed to myself as I thought
what a prize she would be for pirates. Then I looked at her handsome face
and, as our eyes met, we recognized each other perfectly, but my lesson
being learned I made no sign, I had no wish to presume, and she--looked
over my head.

M. Bènot, the Frenchman who died in harness early in the season, poor
little gentleman! came in then with the MSS. and the parts of the play,
"Man and Wife." Silence came upon the company. As M. Bènot called Mr. or
Miss So-and-so, he or she advanced and received the part assigned to
them. "Miss Clara Morris!" I rose stiffly--I had sat so long in my
corner--and received rather a bulky part. I bowed silently and resumed my
seat, but the place was for a moment only a black, windy void; I had seen
the name on my part--I was cast for _Blanche_, a comedy part!

As I came back to my real surroundings, M. Bènot was saying: "Eleven
o'clock sharp to-morrow, ladies and gentlemen, for rehearsal."

People began hurrying out. I waited a little, till nearly all were gone,
whispering "Miss Ethel for _Anne_, Miss Ethel for _Anne_" when the
handsome "Argosy of wealth" sailed up to me, and, in a voice of sweet
uncertainty, said: "I wonder if you can possibly recognize me?"

"Oh, yes," I answered, smiling broadly, "we recognized each other at the
moment you entered, Miss Newton."

She reddened and stammered something about "not being quite sure--and out
West, and now here," and as she was even prettier than when I had last
seen her, I told her so, and--we were happy ever after.

Then I slipped out of the theatre and crossed to Twenty-first Street
safely, but could control my grief and pain, my mortification and my
disappointment, no longer. Tears would have their way, and I held my
sunshade low before my tear-washed, grieving face. Those little
ill-suppressed smiles at my clothes, those slightly lifted eyebrows, and
there was not even a single introduction to shelter me to-morrow, and as
to _Blanche_, oh, I thought "let her wait till I get home!"

At last mother opened the door for me. I flung the hat from my aching
head, and as she silently tied a wet handkerchief about my throbbing
temples, I blurted out three words: "_A comedy part!_" and fell face
downward on the bed, and cried until there was not a tear left in me, and
considering my record as a shedder of tears, that's saying a good deal.
Afterward I knelt down and hid my shamed face in the pillow and asked
forgiveness from the ever-pitiful and patient One above, and prayed for a
clear understanding of the part entrusted to me. Oh, don't be shocked. I
have prayed over my work all my life long, and I can't think the Father
despises any labor that is done to His honor. And I humbly gave over my
further thought of _Anne_, and praying pardon for the folly of "kicking
against the pricks" and wasting my scant strength in useless passion, I
retired, at peace with myself, the world, and even _Blanche_.

Next morning a curious thing happened. I heard, or thought I heard, the
words: "The first shall be last and the last shall be first," and I
called from my bed: "Did you speak to me, mother?" and she answered,
"No."

As I sat over my coffee and rolls, I said, absently: "The first shall be
last, and the _last_ shall be first."

"What do you mean?" mother asked.

"Nothing," I said. "The words were in my ears when I awoke, and they keep
coming back to me."

I rose and dressed for rehearsal. As I drew on my gloves I heard a
hurried voice asking for me in the hall. I recognized it as M. Bènot's.
My heart sank like lead--was even the comedy part to be taken from me? I
opened the door. Out of breath, the little man gasped: "I so come quite
quick for Monsieur Da-_lay_. He make me to ask you right away, very
quick, can you play that part of _Anne_?"

My breath came in gasps, I might have been the runner! I answered,
briefly: "Yes!"

"Then," said he, "here give you to me that other part, _Blanche_."

I gave it joyously.

"Take you now this of _Anne_ and make of the great haste to Monsieur
Da-_lay's_ office, before--_comprenez-vous_--before that you go on the
stage, or see anyone else, he want you to make some lies, I tink, so you
best hurry!"

"Mother, mother!" I cried. As she ran, I held out to her the part, _Anne
Sylvester_, written large on it. She looked, and said: "The last shall be
first!" and kissing me, pushed me toward the stairs.

I almost ran in my anxiety to obey orders; my mind was in a state of
happy confusion--what could it all mean? The announcement had been
distinctly made only yesterday that Miss Agnes Ethel would play _Anne_.
Was she ill? Had she met with an accident? And why should Mr. Daly wish
to see me privately? Could he be going to ask me to read the part over to
him? Oh, dear, heaven forbid! for I could much more successfully fly up
into the blue sky.

The stairs that led down from the sidewalk to the stage-door passed
across the one, the only, window of the entire basement, which let a
modicum of light into a tiny den, intended originally for the janitor's
use, but taken by Mr. Daly for his private office. Here the great guiding
intelligence of the entire establishment was located. Here he dreamed
dreams and spun webs, watching over the incomings, the outgoings, the
sayings and the doings of every soul in the company. He would have even
regulated their thoughts, if he could. I once said to him, after a
rehearsal: "If you could, sir, while in the theatre at least, you would
force us all to think only 'Hail, Daly!'"

He laughed a little, and then rather grimly remarked: "That speech made
to anyone else would have cost you five dollars, Miss Morris. But if you
have absolutely _no_ reverence, neither have you fear, so let it pass,"
and I never said "Thank you" more sincerely in my life, for I could ill
afford jests at five dollars apiece.

But that morning of the first rehearsal, as I hurried down the stairs,
the shade was drawn up high, and through the window I saw Mr. Daly
sitting, swinging about, in his desk-chair. Before I could tap, he called
for me to enter. He was very pale, very rumpled, very tired-looking. He
wasted no time over greetings or formalities, but curtly asked: "Can you
play _Anne Sylvester_?"

And, almost as curtly, I answered: "Yes, sir!"

The calm certainty of my tone seemed to comfort him; he relaxed his
seemingly strained muscles, and sank back into his chair. He passed his
long, thin fingers wearily across his closed eyes several times, then, as
he opened them, he asked, sharply: "Can you obey orders?"

"Yes," I answered, "I've been obeying orders all my life long."

"Well," he said, "can you keep quiet--that's the thing. Can you keep
quiet about this part?"

I stared silently at him.

"This thing is between ourselves. Now, are you going to tell the people
all about when you received it?"

I smiled a little bitterly as I replied: "I am hardly likely to tell my
business affairs to people who do not speak to me."

He looked up quickly, for I stood all the time, and asked: "What's that,
don't speak to you? Were you not welcomed----"

I broke his speech with laughter, but he would not smile: "Were you not
properly treated? Who was lacking in courtesy?"

"Oh, please," I hurried, "don't blame anyone. You see there were no
introductions made, and of course I should have remembered that the
hospitality of the East is more--er--well, cautious than that of the
West, and besides I must look very woolly and wild to your people."

"Ah!" he broke in, "then in a measure the fault is mine, since worry and
trouble kept me away from the green-room. But Bènot should have made
introductions in my place--and--well, I'm ashamed of the women! cats!
cats!"

"Oh, no!" I laughed, "not yet, surely not yet!"

Suddenly he returned to the part: "You will tell the people that you were
to play _Anne_ in the first place."

"But, Mr. Daly," I cried, "the whole company saw me receive the part of
_Blanche_."

He gnawed at the end of his mustache in frowning thought. "One woman to
whom it belongs refuses the part," he said; "another woman, who can't
play it, demands it from me, and I want to stop her mouth by making her
believe the part was given to you before I knew her desire for it--do you
see?"

Yes, with round-eyed astonishment, I saw that this almost tyrannically
high-handed ruler had someone to placate--someone to deceive.

"You will therefore tell the people you received _Anne_ last night."

I was silent, hot, miserable.

"Do you hear?" he asked, angrily. "Good God! everything goes wrong. The
idiot that was to dramatize the story of "Man and Wife" for me has failed
in his work; the play is announced, and I have been up all night writing
and arranging a last act for it myself. If Miss Davenport thinks she has
been refused _Anne_, she will take her revenge by refusing to play
_Blanche_, and the cast is so full it will require all my people--you
_must_ say you received the part last night!"

"Mr. Daly," I said, "won't you please trust to my discretion. I don't
like lying, even for my daily bread, but if silence is golden, a discreet
silence is away above rubies."

He struck his hand angrily on the desk before him: "Miss Morris, when I
give an order----"

Up went my head: "Mr. Daly, I have nothing to do with your private
affairs; any business order----"

Heaven knows where we would have brought up had not a sudden darkness
come into the little room--a woman quickly passed the window. Mr. Daly
sprang to his feet, caught my fingers in a frantic squeeze, and pushing
me from the door rapidly, said: "Yes--yes--well, do your best with it.
I'm very glad Bènot found you last night!" Then turning to the new-comer,
who had not been present the day before, he cheerfully exclaimed: "Well,
you didn't lose to-day's train, I see! I have a charming comedy part for
you--come in!"

She went in, and the storm broke, for as I felt my way through the
passage leading to the stage-stairs, I heard its rolling and rumbling,
and two dimly-seen men in front of me laughed, while one, pointing over
his shoulder, toward the office, sneered, meaningly: "Ethel stock is
going down, isn't it?"

And almost I wished I was back in a family theatre.



CHAPTER THIRTY-FOURTH

  I Rehearse Endlessly--I Grow Sick with Dread--I Meet with Success in
  _Anne Sylvester_.


Up-stairs I found a bare stage, as is often the case for a first mere
reading of parts, and most of the company sitting on camp-stools,
chatting and laughing. Already M. Bènot had announced the change in the
cast, and people looked at me in perfect stupefaction: "Good heavens!
what a risk he is taking! Who on earth is she, anyway?" and I cleared my
throat in mercy to the speaker, who didn't know I stood behind her.

That morning I was introduced to a number of the ladies and gentlemen,
but it was a mere baptism of water, not of the spirit. I was not one of
them. Understand, no one was openly rude to me, everyone bowed a
"good-morning," but, well, you can bow a good-morning over a large iron
fence with a fast-locked gate in it. That my dresses of gray linen or of
white linen struck them as being funny in September is not to be wondered
at, yet they must have known that necessity forced me to wear them, and
that their smiles were not always effaced quickly enough to spare me a
cruel pang. And my amazement grew day by day at their own extravagance of
dress. Some of the ladies wore a different costume each day during the
entire rehearsal of the play. How, I wondered, could they do it? Two of
them, Miss Kate Claxton and Miss Newton, had husbands to pay their bills,
I found, and Miss Linda Dietz--the gentlest, most sweetly-courteous
creature imaginable--had parents and a home; but the magnificence of the
others remained an unsolvable mystery.

Another thing against me was, I could not act even the least bit at
rehearsal. Foreign actors will act in cold blood at a daylight rehearsal,
but few Americans can do it. I read my lines with intelligence, but gave
no sign of what I intended to do at night. Of course that made Mr. Daly
suffer great anxiety, but he said nothing, only looked at me with such
troubled, anxious eyes that I felt sorry for him. One gentleman, however,
decided that I was--not to put too fine a point upon it--"a lunk-head."
He treated me with supercilious condescension, varied occasionally with
overbearing tyranny. Just one person in the theatre knew that I was
really a good actress, of considerable experience, and that was James
Lewis; and from a tricksy spirit of mischief he kept the silence of a
graven image, and when Mr. Dan Harkins took me aside to teach me to act,
Lewis would retire to a quiet spot and writhe with suppressed laughter.

One day he said to me: "Say, you ain't cooking up a huge joke on these
gas-balloons, are you, Clara? And upon my soul you are doing it well--you
act as green as a cucumber."

And never did I succeed in convincing him that I had not engineered a
great joke on the company by deceptive rehearsing. One tiny incident
seemed to give Mr. Daly a touch of confidence in me. In the "Inn scene" a
violent storm was raging, and at a critical moment the candle was
supposed to be blown out by a gust of wind from the left door, as one of
the characters entered. They were using a mechanical device for
extinguishing the candle, and it was tried several times one morning, and
always, to my surprise, from the _right_ side of the stage. No one seemed
to notice anything odd, though the flame streamed out good and long in
the wrong direction before going out. At last I ventured, as I was the
principal in the scene: "I beg your pardon, gentlemen, but is it not the
wind from the open door that blows that light out?"

Then, quick and sharp, mine enemy was upon me: "This is _our_ affair,
Miss Morris."

"Yes," I answered, "but the house will laugh if the candle goes out
_against_ the storm," and Mr. Daly sprang up, and, smiling his first
kindly smile at me, said: "What the deuce have we all been thinking
of--you're right, the candle must be extinguished from the _left_," and
as I glanced across the stage I saw Lewis doing some neat little dancing
steps all by himself.

The rehearsals were exhausting in the extreme, the heat was unnatural,
the walk far too long, and, well, to be frank, I had not nearly enough to
eat. My anxiety was growing hourly, my strength began to fail, and at the
last rehearsals, white as wax from weakness, I had to be carried up the
stairs to the stage. Having such a quick study, requiring but few
rehearsals, I was from the fourth day ready at any moment to go on and
play my part. Fancy, then, what a waste of strength there was in forcing
me, day after day, to go over long, important scenes--three, five, even
seven times of a morning for the benefit of one amateur actress, who
simply could not remember to-day what she had been told yesterday. It was
foolish, it was risking a breakdown, when they had no one to put in my
place. Mr. William Davidge was the next greatest sufferer, and as an
experienced old actor he hotly resented being called back to go over a
scene, again and again, "that a 'walking vanity' might be taught her
business at his expense!"

And though I liked and admired the "walking vanity" (who did not in the
least deserve the name), I did think the manner of her training was
costly and unjust, and one morning, just before the production of the
play, I--luckily as it would seem--lost my self-control for a moment, and
created a small sensation. In my individual case, fainting is always
preceded by a moment of total darkness, and that again by a sound in my
ears as of a rushing wind. That morning, as I finished the sixth
repetition of _Anne's_ big scene with _Lady Glenarm_, the warning whir
was already in my ears, when the order came to go over it again, "that
_Mrs. Glenarm_ might be quite easy." It was too much--a sudden rage
seized upon me: "_Mrs. Glenarm_ will only be quite easy when the rest of
us are dead!" I remarked as I took my place again, and when I received my
cue I whirled upon her with the speech: "Take care, _Mrs. Glenarm_, I am
not naturally a patient woman, trouble has done much to tame my temper,
but endurance has its limits!"

It was given with such savage passion that Miss Dietz burst into
frightened tears and forgot utterly her lines, while a silence that
thrilled, absolute, dead, came upon the company for a moment. Hastily I
controlled myself, but there were whispers and amazed looks everywhere.
Mr. George Brown, who played the pugilist, said aloud to a group: "She's
done the whole crowd--she's an actress to the core!"

Mr. Daly sat leaning forward at the prompt-table, white as he could well
be. His eyes were wide and bright, and, to my surprise, he spoke quite
gently to me as he said: "Spare yourself--just murmur your lines, Miss
Morris." And Miss Dietz said: "Oh, Mr. Daly, I am so glad I am prepared;
I should have fallen in my tracks if she had done that to me at night,
without warning."

When I left the stage, one of the ladies swept her dress aside, and said:
"Sit here by me; how tired you must be!" It was the first friendly
advance made to me. Before rehearsal ended I overheard the young man with
the bald head saying: "She has sold us all, and I bet she will completely
change the map of the Fifth Avenue Theatre."

"Oh, no, she won't," answered Lewis, shortly, "she's not that type of
woman!"

"Well, at all events, on the strength of that outburst, I ain't afraid to
bet twenty good dollars that she makes pie out of Ethel's vogue!" Then,
seeing me, he removed his hat hurriedly, offering his shoulder for me to
lean upon as I descended the winding-stairs, and I said to myself:
"Yesterday this would have been a kindly service; to-day--to-day it is
not far from an humiliation."

Hitherto I had known neither clique nor cabal in a theatre; now I found
myself in a network of them. The _favorite_--who, I had supposed, lived
only in the historic novel--I now met in real life, and found her as
charming, as treacherous, and as troublesome in the theatre as she could
ever have been in a royal court. There was no one to explain to me the
nature or progress of the game that was being played when I came upon the
scene; but I soon discovered there were two factions in the theatre, Miss
Agnes Ethel heading one, Miss Fanny Davenport the other. Each had a
following, but Miss Ethel, who had been all-powerful, had overestimated
her strength when she refused, point-blank, to play _Anne Sylvester_,
giving as her reason "the immorality of _Anne_." This from the lady who
had been acting all season in "Fernande" and "Frou-Frou"--as a gambler's
decoy and an adulterous wife abandoning child and home--satisfactorily
proved the utter absence of a sense of humor from her charming make-up.

Mr. Daly, like every other man, could be managed with a little patient
_finesse_, but he would not be bullied in business affairs by any living
creature, as he proved when, rather than change the play to please the
actress he then regarded as his strongest card, he trusted a great part
to the hands of an unknown, untried girl, and gave out to the newspapers
that Miss Ethel had sprained her ankle, and, though in perfect health,
could not walk well enough to act. And, after my momentary outburst, the
anti-Ethelites suddenly placed me on one of the sixty-four squares of
their chess-board; but I knew not whether I was castle, knight, bishop,
or pawn, I only knew that I had become a piece of value in their game,
and they hoped to move me against Ethel.

It was all very bewildering, but I had other things to think about, and
more important. My money had run so low I was desperately afraid I could
not get dresses for the play, and for the white mousseline necessary for
the croquet-party of the first act I was forced to go to a very cheap
department store, a fact the dress nightly proclaimed aloud from every
inch of its surface. Shawl dresses were the novelty of that season, and
at Stewart's I found a modestly priced dark-gray shawl overskirt and
jacket that I could wear over a black alpaca skirt for two acts. The
other two dresses I luckily had in my wardrobe, and when my new shoes, a
long gray veil, and two pairs of gray gloves were laid into the
dressing-room basket, I had in the whole world $2.38, on which we had to
live until my first week's salary came to me. But, oh, that last awful
day before the opening night. I was suffering bodily as well as mentally.
I had had an alarming attack of pleurisy. My mother had rung the bell and
left a message at the first house that carried a doctor's sign. He came;
he was far gone in liquor; he was obstinate, almost abusive--to be brief,
he blistered me shockingly; another doctor had to be called to dress and
treat the hideous blisters the first had produced; and the tight closing
of dress-waists about me was an agony not yet forgotten. But what was
that to the nervous terror, the icy chill, the burning fever, the deadly
nausea! I could not swallow food--I _could_ not! My mother stood over me
while, with tear-filled eyes, I disposed of a raw, beaten egg, and then
she was guilty of the dreadful extravagance of buying two chops, of which
she made a cup of broth, and fearing a breakdown if I attempted without
food five such acts as awaited me, she almost forced me to swallow it to
the last drop after my hat was on and I was ready to start. I always kiss
my mother good-by, and that night my lips were so cold and stiff with
fright that they would not move. I dropped my head for a moment upon her
shoulder, she patted me silently with one hand and opened the door with
the other. My little dog, escaping from the room, rushed to me, leaping
against my knees. I caught her up, and she covered my troubled, veiled
face with frantic kisses. I passed her to mother and crept painfully down
the steps. I glanced back--mother waved her hand and innocently called:
"Good luck! God bless you!"

The astonishing conjunction of superstition and orthodox faith touched my
sense of the ridiculous. I laughed aloud, Bertie barked excitedly, I
faced about and went forward almost gayly to meet--what? As I reached
Broadway, I remember quite distinctly that I said aloud, to myself:
"Well, God's good to the Irish, and at all events I was born on St.
Patrick's day--so Garryowen forever!"

The pendulum was swinging to the other extreme, I was in high spirits;
nor need you be surprised, for such is the acting temperament.

I had not on that first night even the comfort of a dressing-room to
myself, but shared one of the tiniest closets with Mrs. Roberta Norwood,
in whose chic blonde person I failed utterly to see a future friend. The
terrible heat, the crowding, the strange companion, all brought back the
memory of that far-away first night of all in Cleveland; but now there
was no Mrs. Bradshaw to go to for advice or commendation. The sense of
utter loneliness came upon me suddenly, and I bent my head low over the
buckling of my shoe that my rising tears might not be noticed.

We were directly beneath the auditorium parquet, and every seat flung
down by the ushers seemed to strike a blow upon our heads, while applause
shook dust into our eyes and hair. Forced occupation is the best cure for
nervousness, and in the hurried making-up and dressing I for the time
forgot my fright. Two or three persons had come to the door to speak to
Mrs. Norwood, and it seemed to me they were all made up unusually pale. I
looked at myself in the glass, I hesitated, at last I turned and asked if
I wore too much color--if I was too red, and the answer I received was:
"That's a matter of taste."

Now it was not a matter of taste, but a matter of business. She was
familiar with the size and the lighting of the theatre, and I was not,
yet either from extreme self-occupation or utter indifference she allowed
me to go upon that tiny stage painted like an Indian about to take the
war-path. Truly I was climbing up a thorny stem to reach the flower of
success.

The overture was at its closing bars, all were rushing to the stairs for
the first act. I stopped behind the dressing-room door and bent my head
for one dumbly pleading moment, then muttering "Amen--amen," I, too,
hurried up the stairs to face the awful first appearance before a New
York audience.

I had always been rehearsed to enter with the crowd of guests. The cue
came, and as I stepped forward, a strong hand caught my arm. Mr. Daly had
suddenly changed his mind, he held me fast till all were on, then let me
go, whispering, "Now--now," and I went on alone.

I had to retire to the back of the stage and wait a few moments till
spoken to. Never shall I forget the sort of horror the closeness of the
audience caused me, I felt I should step upon the upturned faces; I
wanted to put out my hands and push the people back, and their use of
opera-glasses filled my eyes with angry tears. Suddenly I understood the
meaning of the lightly painted faces. I raised my handkerchief and wiped
some of the red from my cheeks, while somewhat bitterly, I am afraid, I
thought that "love ye one another" and "thy neighbor as thyself" had been
relegated to the garret with "God bless our home."

Then the astonishing beauty of the women on the stage struck me with
dismay; their exquisite lacy dresses, their jewel-loaded fingers. Oh! I
thought, how can I ever hope to stand with them. I grew sick and cold.
Then there dully reached my ears the words of _Lady Lundy_: "I
choose--Anne Sylvester." It was my cue. I came slowly down; no one knew
me, no one greeted me. I opened my lips, but no sound came. I saw a
frightened look on Miss Newton's face; I tried again, and in a husky
whisper, answered: "Thank you; I'd rather not play."

Out in front one actor friend, John W. Norton, watched and prayed for a
success for me; when he heard the hoarse murmur, he dropped his head and
groaned: "A failure--total and complete!" But I also had noted that
hoarse croak, and it had acted like a mighty spur. I was made desperate
by it. I threw up my head, and answered my next cue with: "No, Lady
Lundy, nothing is the matter; I am not very well, but I will play if you
wish it."

I gave the words so bell-clear and with so much insolent humility that a
round of applause of lightning quickness followed them. It was the first
bit of genuine hearty kindness I had received in the city of New York. In
my pleasure I forgot the character of _Anne_ completely, and turned to
the audience a face every feature of which, from wide, surprised eyes to
more widely-smiling lips, radiated such satisfaction and good-fellowship
that they first laughed aloud and then a second time applauded.

At last! I was starting fair, we had shaken hands, my audience and I; my
nerves were steady, my heart strong, the "part" good. I would try hard, I
would do my best. I made my whispered appointment to meet _Geoffrey_, and
when I returned and stood a moment, silently watching him, there came
upon the house the silence that my soul loves--the silence that might
thrill a graven image into acting, and I was not stone.

Our scene began. _Anne_, striving desperately to restrain her feelings,
said: "You are rich, a scholar, and a gentleman; are you something else
besides all these--_are you a coward and a villain, sir?_"

Clear and distinct from the right box, in suppressed tones, came the
words: "Larmes de la voix! larmes de la voix!" Many glanced at the box, a
few hissed impatiently at the new mayor, Oakey Hall, who had spoken. Our
interview was interrupted by _Lady Lundy_ (Miss Newton) and _Sir Patrick
Lundy_ (Mr. Lewis). I was dismissed by the first and left the stage.
Applause broke forth--continued. Mr. Lewis and Miss Newton began to
speak--the applause redoubled. I turned angrily. "What bad manners!" I
said. Mr. Daly ran up to me, waving his hands: "Go on! go on! It's you,
you fool!"

"I know it," I replied, "but I'm not going to insult any actor by taking
a call in the middle of his scene."

"Confound you!" he said, "will you do as I tell you?" He caught me,
whirled me about and, putting his hand between my shoulders, literally
pitched me on to the stage, where I stood ashamed and mortified by what I
honestly felt to be a slight to those two waiting to proceed.

After that the evening's triumph, like the rolling snowball, grew as it
advanced. At the end of the quarrel act with _Mrs. Glenarm_ the curtain
was raised on the stage picture--once, twice, three times. Then M. Bènot
said to Mr. Daly: "They want her," and Mr. Daly answered, sharply: "I
know what they want, and I know what I don't want--ring up again!"

He did so; no use, the applause went on. Then Mr. Daly said to me: "Take
_Mrs. Glenarm_ on with you, and acknowledge this call."

We went on together; retired; more applause. Again we went on together;
no use, the applause _would_ not stop. "Oh, well, ring up once more,"
said Mr. Daly, "and here, you, take it yourself."

I went on alone, and the audience rose as one individual. I saw them,
all blurred through happy tears. I held my hands out to them, with a very
passion of love. The house blossomed with white waving handkerchiefs in
answer. The curtain fell and, before I moved, rose once more, and then,
as I live by bread! I saw pass between me and those applauding people a
little crying child carrying a single potato in her hand. Of course that
was nerves; but I saw her, I tell you I saw her! and surely I should know
myself!

In the fourth act, which was a triumph for all concerned in it--and that
meant nearly everyone in the cast--I received a compliment that I prize
still. There is a certain tone which should be reserved for short
important speeches only in strong and exciting scenes, where, by force of
contrast, it has a great effect; so, in tones low, level, clear and cold
as ice, _Anne_ had scarcely taken her solemn oath: "I swear it, on my
honor as a Christian woman, sir!" when from end to end of their railed-in
semicircle the musicians broke into swift applause. Catching the effect,
their foreign impetuosity made them respond more quickly than could the
Americans who seconded their action, while mere recognition from these
play-worn, _blasé_ men was to me veritable incense. In the last act, Mrs.
Gilbert, as _Hester Detheridge_, the supposed dumb woman, proved herself
an artist to the fingertips. Later I saw many _Hesters_, but never one to
equal hers.

At last, and late, far too late, the play ended in a blaze of glory. The
curtain was raised for final compliments. All the actors in the play had
been summoned--we all stood in line, a bowing, smiling, happy
line--facing a shouting, hat, handkerchief, or cane-waving crowd of
pleased, excited people. As I saw how many eyes were turned my way, with
a leap of the heart I repeated: "If you make a favorable impression I
will--yes, I will double that salary."

Surely, I thought, no one can doubt that I have made a favorable
impression, and, oh, mother, we will be so happy! Just then I caught the
eye of a young girl--I could have touched her outstretched hand, she was
so close--she gave me a lovely smile, and taking from her bosom a bunch
of scarlet carnations she threw them herself. They fell on the stage.
One of the actors picked them up and, turning, handed them to _Blanche_.
I heard the disappointed "Oh!" and caught her eye again, when,
regardless of all the rules and regulations forbidding communication
with the audience, I smiled and kissed my hand to her. As the curtain
fell, in an instant everyone was talking with everyone else. I had begun
alone--well, I must end alone. I slipped down the staircase least used,
and at its foot met Mr. George Brown, who was waiting for me. He took my
hands in his and gave me both commendation and congratulation, though
they were stayed and braced with unconscious profanity; and I squeezed
his hands hard and said: "You are so good, oh! you are so good! but
please take care, I'm afraid you'll get forfeited." When he cried:
"D----n the forfeit, it's worth a few dollars to speak as you feel
sometimes, so good-night!"

I scrambled into my street-clothes, caught up the inevitable bag, and
fairly rushed from the theatre, and as I came up from that place of
mouldy smell and burnt-out air, and lifted my face to the stupendous
beauty of the heavens, sniffing delightedly at the cool, pure night air,
suddenly I thought how delicious must have been the first long breath
young Lazarus drew when, obeying the Divine command, he "came forth" from
the tomb.

Tired, excited, I hurried to carry the news to the two who awaited me--my
mother and my dog. At the corner of Twenty-third Street and Broadway I
had to pass around a party of ladies and gentlemen who stood talking
there, and a lady said as I passed: "No, no! it's Morris, I tell you;
see, here it is--Clara Morris." She held up a folded programme, pointing
out the name to a gentleman beside her. I laughed happily. Odd bits of
the evening's happenings kept appearing before me like pictures.
Sometimes I saw the unknown young girl's smiling face--and the scarlet
flowers I failed to receive. Sometimes 'twas Mr. Daly's angry one as he
pitched me on to the stage to acknowledge a compliment I did not want,
great as it was. Most often I saw the faces of the lovely women of the
company. What a galaxy of beauty they made! The stately Newton, the
already full-blown, buxom Davenport, the tall, slender, deer-eyed Dietz,
the oriental Volmer, the auburn-haired Claxton, the blond Norwood! There
were just two women in that company who were not beauties--Mrs. Gilbert
and Miss Morris; even they were wholesome, pleasant women, who did not
frighten horses by any means, but still if you speak of beauty--why,
next! please!

At last I saw the lighted windows that told me home was near. Then up the
stairs, where there bounded upon my breast the little black-and-tan
bundle of love and devotion, called Bertie the loyal, whose fervid
greetings made the removal of my hat so difficult a job that it was
through the tangle of hat, veil, and wriggling dog I cried at last: "It's
all right, Mumsey--a success! Lots and lots of 'calls,' dear! and, oh! is
there anything to eat--_I am so hungry!_"

So, while the new actress's name was floating over many a dainty
restaurant supper, its owner sat beneath one gas-jet, between mother and
pet, eating a large piece of bread and a small piece of cheese; and,
thankful for both, she talked to her small circle of admirers, telling
them all about it, and winding up supper and talk with the declaration:
"Mother, I believe the hearts are just the same, whether they beat
against Western ribs or Eastern ribs!"

Then, supper over, I stumbled through my old-time "Now I lay me," and
adding some blurred words of gratitude (God must be so well used to sleep
thanks, but very wide-awake entreaties!) I fell asleep, knowing that
through God's mercy and my own hard work I was the first Western actress
who had ever been accepted by a New York audience, and as I drowsed off,
I murmured to myself: "And I'll leave the door open, now that I have
opened it--I'll leave it open for all others."



CHAPTER THIRTY-FIFTH

  I Am Accepted by the Company--I am Warned against Mr. Fisk--I Have an
  Odd Encounter with Mr. Gould.


The following morning we were called to the theatre at eleven o'clock to
have the play cut "judiciously," as old actors used to say. It was very
loosely constructed, and, besides cutting, the entire drama required a
tightening-up, as it were.

Mr. Daly was the first to greet me and offer hearty and genial
congratulations. Everyone followed his example, and that morning I was
admitted into the family circle and came into my just inheritance of
equality and fraternity.

A little surprised, but very happy, I gave back smile for smile,
hand-pressure for hand-pressure; for being held off at arm's length by
them all had hurt worse I'm sure than they knew, therefore when they
offered me kindly greeting I did not stop to study out the _cause_ of
this _effect_, but shut my eyes and opened my mouth, and took what luck
had sent me, and thankfully became so much one of them that I never had a
clashing word with a member of the company--never saw the faintest cloud
darken our good-fellowship.

That morning, as the cutting was going on, I advanced and offered my
part, but Mr. Daly waved me away. "No," he said, "there's plenty of
useless matter to take out, but the public won't want _Anne_ cut, they
have none too much of her now."

He gave but few compliments, even to those he liked, and he did not like
me yet, therefore that gracious speech created a sensation among the
other hearers and was carefully treasured up by me.

Another of his sayings of that morning I recall. In conversation with one
of the ladies, I remarked: "As a Western woman, I suppose I have various
expressions to unlearn?" when Mr. Daly turned quickly from the
prompt-table, saying, sharply: "Miss Morris, don't say that again. You
are a New York woman now--please remember that. You ceased to be a
Westerner last night when you received the New York stamp."

I thought him jesting, and was about to make some flippant reply, when
one of the ladies squeezed my arm and said: "Don't, he will be angry; he
is in earnest."

And he was, just as he was in earnest later on when we had become good
friends, and I heard him for the first time swear like a trooper because
I had been born in Canada. And when I laughed at his anger, he was not
far from boxing my ears.

"It's a damn shame!" he declared; "in the first place you are an American
to the very marrow of your bones. In the next place you are the only
woman I know who has a living, pulsing love of country and flag! Oh, the
devil! I won't believe it--you born in a tu'penny ha'penny little
Canadian town under that infernal British flag! See here, if you ever
tell anyone that--I'll--I'll never forgive you! Have you been telling
that to people?"

I answered him: "I have not--but I have permitted the assertion that I
was born in Cleveland to go uncorrected," and, with the sweet frankness
of friendship, he answered that I had more sense than he had given me
credit for. But, small matter that it was, it annoyed him greatly, and I
still have notes of his, sent on my birthdays, in which he petulantly
refers to my unfortunate birth-place, and warns me to keep silent about
it.

Like many other great men--and Mr. Daly was a great man--he often made
mountains out of mole-hills, devoting to some trifle an amount of
consideration out of all proportion to the thing considered.

On the first night of the season Mr. Daly had said to me: "One word,
Miss Morris, that I had forgotten before--Mr. James Fisk, unfortunately,
as landlord, has the right of entrance into the green-room. He doesn't
often appear there, but should he come in, if you are present I desire
you should instantly withdraw. I do not wish you to be introduced to him
under any circumstances."

I felt my face flushing red as I answered: "I have no desire to meet
either Mr. Fisk or any other gentleman in the green-room!" But Mr. Daly
said, hurriedly: "Don't misunderstand me, there's no time for
explanations now, only do as I ask you. You will recognize him when I
tell you he is very blond and very like his pictures," and away flew Mr.
Daly to attend to things enough to drive most men crazy.

Now, that speech did not mean that Mr. Fisk was a monster of ill-breeding
or of immorality, but it did mean that that was Mr. Daly's "tat" to Mr.
Fisk's "tit" in a very pretty little "tit-for-tat" quarrel between them.

Mr. Daly very seldom tasted defeat--very, very seldom came out second
best in an encounter; but there had been a struggle anent the renting of
the theatre: Mr. Fisk, as landlord, refusing to renounce his right of
entrance by the stage-door to any theatre he owned--nothing could move
him, no argument, no entreaty, no threat; not even an offer of more rent
than he himself asked. To Mr. Daly the right of entrance of an outsider
back of the stage was almost unbearable, even though the privilege was
seldom used and never abused. He declared he would not sign any agreement
holding such a clause. He gave up the theatre rather than yield, and
then, with a large company already engaged, he sought in vain for a house
to shelter it. Now, the city is broken out all over, close and fine, with
theatres, like a case of well-developed measles; but then 'twas
different. Mr. Daly could find no other theatre, and he was compelled to
accept the Fifth Avenue with the hated clause compromised thus: Mr. Fisk
was to have the right of entrance to the green-room, but was never to go
upon the stage or behind the scenes; an ending to the struggle that
pleased the company mightily, for they were all very fond of Jimmy Fisk,
or "The Prince," as he was called.

He never forgot them on benefit nights; whether the beneficiary was man
or woman there was always a gift ready from the "Railroad Prince."

He looked like a man well acquainted with his tub. His yellow hair
crisped itself into small waves right from its very roots. His blue eyes
danced with fun, for he was one of nature's comedians. His manner was
what he himself would describe as "chipper." No one could talk five
minutes with him without being moved to laughter.

His own box was the right upper one, and as I first had him pointed out
to me, yellow-haired, laughing, flashing now and then a splendid ring, I
wondered if he really was the stalking-horse of the dark little man with
the piercing eyes who sat for one act well back of the redundant and
diffuse Mr. James Fisk. Wishing to make sure of the dark man's identity,
I asked who he was. "Oh," was the answer, "he's gone now, but I suppose
it was Gould, rooting out the 'Prince' to talk shop to him!" then,
thrusting out a contemptuous under-lip, my informant added: "He's no
good--he has nothing to do with the theatre! Scarcely ever comes to a
performance, and doesn't see anything when he does. He couldn't tell any
one of us apart from the others if he tried--and he's not likely to try.
You want to keep your eye on Jimmie. If he likes you, you're in for
flowers and a present, too, on your benefit!"

Imagine, then, my amazement on the third night of the season when this
occurred: In one act I made my exit before the curtain fell--all the
other characters being still upon the stage. Having a change of dress
there, I always hurried down-stairs as quickly as possible, and passing
in one door and out of the other, crossed the green-room to reach my
dressing-room. That evening as I ran in I saw a gentleman standing near
the opposite door. I turned instantly to retreat, when a voice called:
"If you please." I paused, I turned. The gentleman removed his hat, and
coming to the centre of the room held out his hand, saying: "Miss
Morris--you _are_ Miss Morris?"

I smiled assent and gave him my hand. His small, smooth fingers closed
upon mine firmly. We stood and looked at each other. He was small, and
dark of hair and of beard, and his piercing eyes seemed to be reading me
through and through. He spoke presently, in a voice low and
gentle--almost to sadness.

"I wanted to speak to you," he said; "I'm not going to waste time telling
you you are a wonderful actress, because the papers have already done
that, and all New York _will_ do it, but I see you are an honest girl and
alone here----"

"No--oh, no!" I broke in, "my mother, too, is here!"

A faint smile seemed to creep about his bearded lips, there was a
distinct touch of amusement in his voice as he said: "I-n-d-e-e-d! a
valiant pair, no doubt--a truly valiant pair! but," his small fingers
closed with surprising strength about mine in emphasis of his words,
"but, oh, my honest little woman, you are going to see trouble here!" He
glanced down at the hateful cheap dress I wore, he touched it with the
brim of his hat: "Yes, you will have sore trouble on this score, to say
nothing of other things; but don't let them beat you! When your back is
to the wall, don't give up! but at a last pinch turn to me, Clara Morris,
and if I don't know how to help you out, I know somebody who will!
She----"

Steps, running steps, were coming down the passageway, then tall,
dead-white with anger, Mr. Daly stood in the doorway. He almost gasped
the words: "What does this mean, sir?" then angrily to me: "Leave the
room at once!"

Flushing at the tone, I bent my head and moved toward the door, when,
calm and clear, came the words: "Good-night, Miss Morris, please
remember!"

Mr. Daly seemed beside himself with anger. "Mr. Gould," he cried (my
heart gave a jump at the name; to save my life I could not help glancing
back at them), "how dare you pass the stage-door? You have no more right
here than has any other stranger! Your conduct, sir----"

The gray, blazing eyes of the speaker were met by Mr. Gould's, calm,
cold, hard as steel, and his voice, low and level, was saying: "We will
not discuss my conduct here, if you please--your office perhaps," as I
fled down the entry to my own room.

Mr. Daly sent for me at the end of the play to demand my story of the
unexpected meeting. Had I received any note, any message beforehand? Had
we any common acquaintance? What had he said to me--word for word, what
had he said?

I thought of the gentle voice, the piercing eyes that had grown so kind,
the friendly promise, and somehow I felt it would be scoffed at--I
rebelled. I would only generalize. He had called me an honest girl, had
said the city praised me; but when I got home I told my mother all, who
was greatly surprised, since she had had only the newspaper Gould in her
mind--a sort of human spider, who wove webs--strong webs--that caught and
held his fellow-men.

His words came true. I saw trouble of many kinds and colors. More than
once I thought of his promise, but I had learned much ill of human nature
in a limited time, and I was afraid of everyone. Knowing much of poor
human nature now, and looking back to that evening, recalling every tone,
every shade of expression, I am forced to believe Mr. Jay Gould was
perfectly honest and sincere in his offer of assistance.

If this incident seems utterly incredible at first, it is because you are
thinking of Mr. Gould wholly in his character of "The Wizard of Wall
Street;" but turn to the domestic side of the man, think of his undying
love for, his unbroken loyalty and devotion to, the wife of his choice,
who, as mother of his little flock, never ceased to be his sweetheart.

Is it so improbable, then, that his heart, made tender by love for one
dear woman, sheltered and protected, might feel a throb of pity for
another woman, unsheltered and alone, whose poverty he saw would be a
cruel stumbling-block in her narrow path? I think not.

Who that "she" was whose aid he would have asked in my behalf I do not
know, can never know; but it always gives me an almost childish pleasure
to imagine it was the sweet, strong woman who was his wife. At all
events, Mr. Gould that night furnished me with a pleasant memory, and
that is a thing to be thankful for.

The first time I saw Mr. Fisk in the green-room he was surrounded by a
smiling, animated party, and as he advanced a step, expectantly, I
disappeared. I have been told that he laughed at his own disappointment
and the suddenness of some claim upon my attention. The second time, I
was in the room when he entered, and at my swift departure he reddened
visibly, and, after a moment, said: "If you were not all such good
friends of mine, I should think someone had been making a bugaboo of me
to scare that young woman."

"Oh," laughed one of the men, "she's from the West and is a bit wild
yet."

"Well," he replied, "it doesn't matter where she's from, New York's got
her now and means to keep her. I'd like to offer her a word of welcome
and congratulation, but she won't give a chap any margin," and he resumed
his conversation.

The third time, he was alone in the room, and as I backed hastily out he
followed me. I ran--so did he--but as that was too ridiculous I stopped
at his call and, turning, faced him. He removed his hat and hurriedly
said: "I beg your pardon for forcing myself upon your attention, Miss
Morris, but any man with a grain of self-respect would demand an
explanation of such treatment as I have received from you. Come now, you
are a brave girl, an honest girl--tell me, please, why you avoid me as if
I were the plague. Why, good Lord! your eyes are all but jumping out of
your head! Are you afraid even to be seen listening to me?" Suddenly he
stopped, his own words had given him an idea. His eyes snapped angrily.
"Well, I'll be blessed!" he exclaimed; then he came closer. He took my
hand and asked: "Miss Morris, have you been putting these slights on me
by order?"

I was confused, I was frightened; I remembered the anger Mr. Gould's
presence had aroused, and this was an actual breech of orders. I
stammered: "I--oh, I just happened to be busy, you know."

I glanced anxiously about me; he replied: "Yes, you were very busy
to-night, sitting in the green-room doing nothing--yet you ran as if I
were a leper. Tell me, little woman--don't be afraid--have you been
obeying an order?"

"If you please--if you please!" was all I could say.

He looked steadily at me, lifted my hand to his lips, and said, with a
compassionate sigh: "Bread and butter comes high in New York, doesn't it,
child? There, I won't worry you any longer, but Brother Daly and I will
hold a little love-feast over this matter." And with a laugh he returned
to the green-room, where I could hear him singing "Lucy Long" to himself.

A fortnight later, finding him again surrounded by the company, he
laughingly called out to me: "Don't run away, the embargo is raised. It
won't cost you a cent to shake hands and be friendly!" And as I seated
myself in the place he made beside him, he added, low: "And no advantage
taken of it outside the theatre."

He used so many queer, old-fashioned words, such as "chipper,"
"tuckered," "I swan!" "mean tyke," etc., that I once said to him: "I'm
afraid you have washed your face in a pail by the pump ere this, Mr.
Fisk?"

He laughed, and responded: "I'm afraid I used to be sent back to do it
better, when I had first to break the ice to get to the water in the
pail, Miss Guesswell!"

And then he gave a funny imitation of a boy washing his face in icy
water, by wetting his fingers and drawing a circle about each eye and
his mouth. He called his wife Lucy. Heaven knows whether it really was
her name, but he always referred to her as Lucy. He was very fond of
her, in spite of appearances, and proud of her, too. He said to me once:
"She is no hair-lifting beauty, my Lucy, just a plump, wholesome,
big-hearted, commonplace woman, such as a man meets once in a lifetime,
say, and then gathers her into the first church he comes to, and seals
her to himself. For you see these commonplace women, like common-sense,
are apt to become valuable as time goes on!"

When anyone praised some wife, he would look up and say: "Wife--whose
wife? What wife? Bring your wives along, I ain't afraid to measure my
Lucy with 'em. For, look here, you mustn't judge Lucy by her James!"

A divorce case was before the courts, and it was much discussed
everywhere. The wife had been jealous and suspicious, and blond hairs
(she was very dark herself) and strange hair-pins held a ludicrous
prominence in the evidence. "Ah!" said Fisk, "that's not the kind of a
wife I have! Never, _never_ does Lucy surprise me with a visit, God bless
her! No, she always telegraphs me when she's coming, and I--I clear up
and have a warm welcome for her, and then she's pleased, and that pleases
me, and we both enjoy our visit. Hang'd if we don't! And just to show you
what a hero--yes, a _hero_--she is, and, talking of hair-pins, let me
tell you now. You know those confounded crooked ones, with three infernal
crinkles in the middle to keep them from falling out of the hair? Those
English chorus-girls wear them, I'm told. Well, one day Lucy comes to see
me. Oh, she had sent word as usual, and everything was cleared up (I
supposed) as usual, and George, my man, was laying out some clothes for
me, when Lucy, smoothing her hand over the sofa-cushion, picks up and
holds to the light an infernal crinkled hair-pin. George turned white and
looked pleadingly at me. I saw myself in court fighting a divorce like
the devil; and then, after an awful, perspiring silence, my Lucy
says--she that has worn straight pins all her life: 'James, that is a
lazy and careless woman that cares for your rooms. It's three weeks
to-day since I left for home, and here is one of my hair-pins lying on
the sofa ever since!'

"If she had put it in her hair I should have thought her really deceived
in the matter, but when she dropped it in the fire, I knew she was just a
plain hero! I walked over and knelt down and said: 'Thank you, Lucy,'
while I pretended to tie her shoe. George was so upset that he dropped
the studs twice over he was trying to put into a shirt-front. Oh, I tell
you my Lucy can't be beat!"

The time he won the name of "Jubilee Jim," when the whole country was
laughing over his triumphant visit to Boston with his regiment, he made
this unsmiling explanation of the matter:

"You see, the Ninth and I were both tickled over the invitation to visit
Boston, and as there were so many of us I paid the expenses myself.
Being proud of the regiment and anxious it should be acquainted with all
real American institutions, I arranged for it to stay over Sunday, for
there were dozens of the boys who had never even seen a slice of real
Boston brown-bread or a crock-baked bean--and a Boston Sunday breakfast
was to be the educational feature of the visit. Everything was lovely,
until the Ninth suddenly felt a desire to pray, as well as to eat, and
I'll be switched on to a side-track if the minister of that big church
didn't begin to kick like a steer, and finally refuse to let us pray in
his shop. Now, if there's anything that will make a man hot as blazes in
a minute, it's choking him off when he wants to pray. Some sharply
pointed and peppery words were exchanged on the subject. I suppose our
numbers rather muddled up his schedule, but if he'd said so quietly I
could have straightened out his heavenly time-table so that there would
have been no collision between trains of prayer. But no, instead of
that, he slams the doors of his church in our visiting faces, and, in
act at least, tells us to go to--what's that polite word now that means
h--? What--what do you call it _sheol_? Shucks! that word won't become
popular--hasn't got any snap to it! Well, the boys were mighty blue,
they thought the visit was off. But I got 'em into the armory, and I
said, what amounted to this, I says: 'This visit ain't off; Boston is
right as a trivet, and wants us! We ain't bucking against the city, but
against that sanctified stingyike who don't want anyone in heaven but
his own gang; but you see here, when the Ninth Regiment wants to pray,
I'm d----d if it don't do it. Who cares for that church, anyway, where
you'd be crowded like sardines and have your corns crushed to agony!
We'll go to Boston, boys, and we'll praise the Lord on the Common, if
they'll let us, and if they won't, we'll march out to the suburbs and
have a perfect jubilee of prayer!' And what do you think," he cried,
grinning like a mischievous boy, as he twisted the long, waxed ends of
his mustache to needle-like points, "what do you think--we prayed out of
doors, with all female Boston and her attendants looking on and saying
_amen_; and, oh, by George! I sent a man to see, and 'stingyike's'
church was nearly empty! Ha! ha! I tell you what it is, when a New York
soldier wants to pray, he prays, or something gives!" After that he was
Jubilee Jim.

His growing stoutness annoyed him greatly, yet he was the first to poke
fun at what he called his "unmilitary figure." One evening I said: "Mr.
Fisk, I'm afraid you have cast too much bread upon the waters; it's said
to be very fattening food when it returns?"

"Well, I swan!" he answered, "I'll never give another widow a pass over
any road of mine--whether she's black, mixed, or grass, for that's about
all the breadcasting I do."

This was not true, for he was very kind-hearted and generous, especially
to working people who were in trouble. His "black widow" was one in full
mourning, his "mixed widow" was the poor soul who had only a cheap black
bonnet or a scanty veil topping her ordinary colored clothing to express
her widowed state, while the "grasses" were, in his own words: "All those
women who were not married--but ought to be."

Whenever he gave a diamond or an India shawl to a French opera-bouffe
singer the world heard of it, and the value grew and grew daily, and that
publicity gratified his strange distorted vanity, but the lines of
widows, sometimes with hungry little flocks hanging at their skirts, that
he passed over roads, the discharged men he "sneaked" (his own word) back
into positions again, because of their suffering brood, he kept silent
about.

He never got angry at the papers, no matter what absurdity they printed
about him. At the time of the riot some paper declared he had left his
men and had climbed a high board fence in order to escape from danger. In
referring to the article at the theatre one evening, he said, in
reproachful tones: "Now wasn't that a truly stupid lie?" He rose, and
placing his hands where his waist should have been, he went on
mournfully: "Look at me! I look like a sprinter, don't I? If you just
could see me getting into that uniform--no offence, ladies, I don't mean
no harm. Oh, Lord, who has a small grammar about them? Well, when I'm in
the clothes, it takes two men's best efforts, while I hold my breath, to
clasp my belt--and they say I climbed that high fence! Say, I'd give five
thousand dollars down on the nail if I had the waist to do that act
with!"

He was not only a natural comedian, but he had an instinct for the
dramatic in real life, and he was quick to grasp his opportunity at the
burning of Chicago. _His_ relief train must be rushed through first--_he_
must beg personally; and then--and then, oh, happy thought! all the city
knew the value he placed upon the beautiful jet black stallion he rode
in the Park. Out, then, he and his stall-mate came--splendid, fiery,
satin-coated aristocrats! And taking their places before a great express
wagon, went prancing and curvetting their way from door to door, Mr. Fisk
stopping wherever a beckoning hand appeared at a window. And bundles of
clothing, boxes of provisions, anything, everything that people would
give, he gathered up with wild haste, and brief, warm thanks, and rushed
to the express offices for proper sorting and packing. Of course that
personal service was not really necessary. A modest man would not have
done it, but he was spectacular. His act pleased the people, too, and
really many were moved to give by it. Their fancy was caught by the
picture of the be-diamonded Jubilee Jim placing himself and his valuable
horses at the service of the terror-stricken, homeless Chicagoans.

Though he was himself the butt of most of his jokes, he often expressed
his opinions in terms as conclusive and quite as funny as those of his
world-famous reply to the sanctimonious fence-committee, who, claiming
that the laying of his railroad had destroyed the greater part of the old
fence about a country graveyard, demanded that he should replace it with
a new one. Scarcely were the words out of their lips than, swift as a
flash, came the characteristic answer: "What under heaven do you want a
fence round a graveyard for? The poor chaps that are in there can't get
out, and, I'll take my Bible oath, those that are out don't want to get
in! Fence around a graveyard! I guess not; I know a dozen better ways of
spending money than that!"

I heard much of his generosity on benefit nights, but personally I never
tested it. Before my benefit night arrived, Mr. Edward Stokes had caught
Mr. Fisk on a walled-in staircase, as in a trap, and had shot him down,
and then, in that time of terror and excitement, Jubilee Jim proved that
whatever else he had been called--man of sin, fraud, trickster, clown--he
was _not_ a coward! With wonderful self-control he asked, as the
clothing was being cut from his stricken body: "Is this the end of me; am
I going to die, doctor?"

And when the man addressed made an evasive and soothing answer, that his
hopeless eyes contradicted, James Fisk testily continued: "I want to
know the truth!" Then, more gently: "I'm not afraid to die, doctor, but
_I am_ afraid of leaving things all at sixes and sevens! This is the end
of me, isn't it? Well, do what you can, and, George, send for ---- and
for ---- [his lawyers], and I will do what I can. When can Lucy get
here?"

And so he quickly and calmly made all possible use of his ebbing
strength--of the flying moments--disproving at least one charge, that of
cowardice. He was dying, and crowds were waiting about the hotel where he
lay, hungry for any morsel of news from the victim's bedside. That was
the situation as I went to the theatre. I dressed and went through one
act, then, as I came upon the stage in the second act, I faced Mr. Fisk's
private box. I glanced casually at it, and stopped stock-still, the words
dying on my lips. A shiver ran over me--someone had entered the box since
the first act and had lowered the heavy red curtains and drawn them close
together.

No one could fail to understand. The flood of light, the waves of music
reached to the edge of the box only--within were silence, darkness! The
laughing owner would enter there no more, forever!

With swelling throat I stood looking up. Another actor entered, saw the
direction of my eyes, followed it, and next moment tears were on his
cheeks. Then people in the house, noticing our distress, glanced in that
same direction, and here and there a man rose and slipped out. Here and
there a handkerchief was pressed to a face, for without a word being
spoken all knew, by the blank, closed box, that Mr. Fisk was dead.

I never knew a more trying evening for actors, for all knew him
well--liked him and grieved for him. I was the only mere acquaintance,
yet I was deeply moved and found it hard to act as usual before that
mute, blank box--hard as though the body of its one-time owner lay
within.

So he made his exit--dramatic to the last. A strange character--shrewd,
sharp, vain, ostentatious, loving his diamonds, velvet coats, white
gloves. The monumental silver water-pitchers in his private boxes were
too foul to drink from generally, but then the public could see the mass
of silver. A bit of a mountebank, beyond a question, but with a temper so
sunny and a heart so generous that in spite of all his faults Jubilee Jim
had a host of friends.



CHAPTER THIRTY-SIXTH

  A Search for Tears--I Am Punished in "Saratoga" for the Success of "Man
  and Wife"--I Win Mr. Daly's Confidence--We Become Friends.


The people who have known happiness without the alloying _if_ or _but_
are few and far between. "Yes, of course we are happy--but," "I should be
perfectly and completely happy--_if_," you hear people saying every day;
and so in my case, having been admitted into fellowship with the men and
women of the company, who were a gracious and charming crowd, and
receiving hearty approval each night from the great Public, by whose
favor I and mine existed, I was grateful and would have been quite
happy--_but_ for a brand-new difficulty that suddenly loomed up, large,
and wide, and solid before me.

Never in my life had I been in a play of a longer run than one week.
Imagine, then, my misery when I found this play, that was already old to
me at the end of the first week, was likely to go on for a long time to
come. It was not mere _ennui_ over the repetition of the same lines,
night after night, that troubled me, it was something far more serious. I
had made my hit with the public by moving the people's feelings to the
point of tears; but to do that I had first to move my own heart, for, try
as I would, no amount of careful acting had the desired effect. _I_ had
to shed tears or _they_ would not. Now that is not an easy thing to do to
order, in cold blood. While the play is new one's nerves are strained
almost to the breaking point--one is over-sensitive and the feelings are
easily moved; then the pathetic words I am speaking touch my heart, tears
rush to my eyes, tears are heard in my voice, and other hearts respond
swiftly; _but_ when you have calmed down, when you have repeated the
lines so often that they no longer mean anything to you, what are you to
do then?

Really and truly there were days when I was nearly out of my mind with
terror lest I should not be able to cry that night; for those tears of
mine had a commercial value as well as an artistic, and Mr. Daly was
swift to reproach me if the handkerchief display in front was not as
great as usual. This sounds absurd perhaps to a reader, but heaven knows
it was tragic enough to me. I used to agonize all day over the question
of tears for the night, and I have seen the time when even my own
imaginary tomb failed to move me.

One night, when my eyes were dry as bones, and my voice as hard as stone,
and Mr. Daly was glaring whitely at me from the entrance, I had suddenly
a sort of vision of that dethroned actress whom, back in Cleveland, I had
seen uncrowned. I saw her quivering face, her stricken eyes, and a sudden
rush of tears blinded me. Later, Mr. Daly said: "What a tricky little
wretch you are. I thought you were going to throw that scene away,
without a single tear to-night. I suppose you were doing it to aggravate
me, though?"

Goodness knows I was grateful enough myself for the tears when they did
come, and I got an idea from that experience that has served me all the
years since. Everything else--love, hate, dignity, passion, vulgarity,
delicacy, duplicity, all, everything can be assumed to order; but, for
myself, tears are not mechanical, they will not come at will. The heart
must be moved, and if the part has lost its power then I must turn to
some outside incident that _has_ power. It may be from a book, it may be
from real life--no matter, if only its recalling starts tears to weary
eyes.

Thus in "Alixe" it was not for my lost lover I oftenest wept such racing
tears, but for poor old _Tennessee's partner_ as he buried his worthless
dead, with his honest old heart breaking before your eyes. While in
"Camille" many and many a night her tears fell fast over the memory of a
certain mother's face as she told me of the moment when, returning from
the burial of her only child, the first snowflakes began to whirl through
the still, cold air, and she went mad with the anguish of leaving the
little tender body there in the cold and dark, and flung herself from the
moving carriage and ran, screaming, back to the small rough pile of earth
to shelter it with her own living body.

So there is my receipt for sudden tears. I being--thank heaven--a
cheerful body, and given to frequent laughter, may laugh in peace up to
the last moment, if I have only stowed away some heart-breaking incident
that I can recall at the proper moment. It seems like taking a mean
advantage of a tender heart, I know--what Bret Harte would call "playing
it low down" on it; but what else could I do? I leave it to you. What
could _you_ do to make yourself cry seven times a week, for nine or ten
months a year?

Then there was another great change in the new life. I was used to
rehearsing every day, and, lo! when once a play was on here, there
followed weeks, perhaps months, when there were no rehearsals. Mercy! I
could never afford to waste all that time; but what could I do? "One
_and_ two _and_ three _and_," I could not afford; but, oh, _if_ I could
take some French lessons, _what_ a help they would be to me in the proper
pronunciation of names upon the stage. But I did not want lessons from
some ignorant person, or someone who had a strange dialect. I have all my
life had such a horror of _unlearning_ things. I knew a real French
teacher would charge me a real "for-true" price, and my heart was
doubtful--but see how fate was good to me. There was in Tenth Street a
little daughter of a well-known French professor--he taught in a certain
college. The daughter was eager to teach. The father said: "Who will
trust so young a girl to instruct them? If you only had a first and
second pupil, you would be self-supporting. French teachers are in great
demand, but where shall you find that first pupil--tell me that, _ma
fille_. No matter how small your charge, the question will be, where have
you taught? No one will wish to be the first pupil."

But, fine old French gentleman as he was, he was mistaken nevertheless,
for I was willing, nay, eager, to be that first pupil, and she found my
name of so much value to her in obtaining a full class that she became
absolutely savage in her fell determination to make me speak her beloved
language correctly. In spite of her eighteen years she looked full
fourteen, and her dignity was a fearful thing to contemplate, until she
had a chocolate-cream in one cheek and a dimple in the other, then
somehow the dignity broke in the middle and the lesson progressed through
much laughter.

She was not beautiful, but pretty and charming to such an extent that,
within the year, she became Madame, carried her own chocolates, and was
absolutely vicious over irregular verbs. Dear little woman--I remember
her gratefully, and also remember that, later on, I paid just six times
as much per lesson to an elaborate person, well-rouged, who taught me
nothing, lest she might offend me in the act. I know this to be true,
because one day I deliberately mispronounced and let tenses run wild, to
see if she would have the honesty or courage to correct me; but she
looked a trifle surprised, rearranged her bangles, and let it all pass. I
then resigned my position as pupil, that she might give her very
questionable assistance as teacher to some other scholar, shorter of
temper, and more sensitive to rebuke or correction than I was.

At the theatre I think everyone liked me well enough, save Mr. Daly. He
disliked me because I simply could not learn to treat him with reverence.
I had the greatest admiration for him, I showed him respect by obeying
him implicitly, but if he was funny I laughed, if he gave me an
opportunity to twist his words absurdly I accepted it as gleefully as if
he had been the gas-man.

But two things happened, and lo! my manager's attitude toward me changed
completely. Mr. Daly was convinced that no man or woman could bear
decently a sudden success. He was positive that no head could stand it.
When I made no demand for my promised increase of salary, but went
pinching along as best I could, he only said to himself: "She will be all
the worse when her head does begin to turn."

One day a certain newspaper man looked in at his office, and said: "Oh, I
have something here about the play, and I've given a few pretty good
lines to your _find_ (Clara Morris): do you want to look at them?"

"I want them cut out!" sharply ordered Mr. Daly.

"Cut out?" repeated the surprised man. "Why, she's the play--or mighty
near it. I thought you'd want her spoken of most particularly?"

And then Mr. Daly made his famous speech: "I don't want individual
successes, sir, in my theatre! I want my company kept at a level. I put
them all in a line, and then I watch, and if one head begins to bob up
above the others, I give it a crack and send it down again!"

I had heard that story in several forms, when one day I spoke of it to
Mr. Daly, and he calmly acknowledged the speech, as I have given it
above, adding the words: "And next week I'm going to give Mr. Crisp's
head a crack, he's bobbing up, I see!"

The play of "Saratoga," by Mr. Bronson Howard, had been read to the
company, and, after the custom of actors the world over, they began to
cast the characters themselves--such a part for Lewis, such a one for
Miss Davenport. The splendid Irish part for Amy Ames (of course, with her
wonderful brogue), etc.; almost everyone remarking that there was nothing
for me. Lewis said: "Well, Clara, you're out of this play, sure. Will you
study Greek or the Rogue's Vocabulary? for I'll wager a hat to a hair-pin
you'll be turning a good head of hair gray over some nonsense of the
kind--good Lord!"

For M. Bènot was holding toward me a thin little part, saying: "For you,
Miss Morris."

Mr. Daly stood at the far end of the room; he was watching me. The part
was a walking lady of second quality. It was an indignity to give it to
me. Like lightning I recalled the terms of my contract--I realized my
helplessness.

I rolled up the small part, calmly rose, and smiling a comprehending
smile into Mr. Daly's disappointed eyes, for which he could have choked
me, I sauntered out of the room. At home I wept bitterly. It was
undeserved! I had borne so much from gratitude, and here I was being
treated just as a fractious, brain-turned, presuming person might have
been treated for a punishment. However, my tears were only seen at home.
At the theatre I rehearsed faithfully and good-temperedly, and writhed
smilingly at the expressions of surprise over the cast, and for one
hundred nights I was thus made to do penance for having made a success in
"Man and Wife." Truly I had got a good "crack" for bobbing up; still my
patient, uncomplaining acceptance of the part had made an impression on
Mr. Daly, and he often expressed his regret, later on, for the error he
made as to the possible turning of my head.

Then came the second happening. To Mr. Daly a confidant was an absolute
necessity of existence. If they had tastes in common, so much the happier
for Mr. Daly, but such tastes were not imperatively demanded, neither was
sex of importance--male or female would answer; but the one great,
indispensable, and essential quality was the ability to respect a
confidence, the power to hold a tongue.

In the early weeks of the season he had been drifting into a friendship
with a man in the company, and had told him, in strictest confidence, of
a certain plan he was forming, and twenty-four hours later he heard that
plan being discussed in one of the dressing-rooms. It had traveled by way
of husband to wife, wife to friend, friend to her husband, and husband
No. 2 was busy in explaining it to all and sundry.

That ended the career of one gentleman as friend and confidant to Mr.
Daly. One day after rehearsal I was detained on the stage to discuss a
fashion-plate he was tearing from a magazine. A short poem caught his
eye. He glanced at it carelessly, then looked more closely at the lines,
and began to mumble the words:

      "She of the silver foot--fair goddess--"

His brows were knit, his eyes looked away, dreamily. Again he repeated
the words, adding, impatiently: "I can't place that silver foot--the bow,
the lyre, yes; but the foot? Oh, probably it's a mere figure of speech,"
and he turned to the plate again, when I said: "Perhaps it means
_Thetis_, you know, silver-footed queen--daughter of old sea-god."

His whole face lit up with pleasure. "That's it," he said, "that's whom
it means; but are you sure the word 'queen' belongs right there?"

"No," I laughed, "I have grave doubts about my 'queen,' but I'm solid as
a rock on the rest of the line."

Then he repeated, with lingering enjoyment: "'Thetis, silver-footed,
_silver-footed_, daughter of old sea-god.' Do you know I often wonder why
someone does not make a play of mythological characters--a play after the
modern method I mean."

"Oh," I broke in, "then I shall have a rest, for I am not beautiful
enough for even a walking-lady divinity."

"Ah," he said, kindly, "you are not going to do any more walking
ladies--divine or human. I have already in my possession a play with a
great part for you. Boucicault wrote it, and----"

He stopped suddenly, all the brightness went out of his face. He played
nervously with his watch-guard. He started out with: "Miss Morris, I
wish--" stopped, frowned; then impatiently took up the picture-plate,
pointed out which dress he wanted me to wear, and curtly dismissed me.

I understood him perfectly. In a genial moment he had unintentionally
given me some information which he now regretted, though he would not
stoop to ask my silence; and he felt sure that I would at once boast of
the great part that was to be mine; and I went home, one broad smile of
malicious satisfaction, for in spite of my seemingly-careless speech, I
had, by long and careful training, acquired the fine art of holding my
tongue about other people's affairs, even though I ascended to the roof
to babble to the city of my own; and Mr. Daly would be again
disappointed, as he had been the day I accepted, without protest, the
walking-lady part.

That night he barely nodded in silent recognition of my "Good-evening,
sir." Next morning he kept his eyes averted from me when he gave me any
stage directions; but whenever or wherever we women formed a little group
to chat, there Mr. Daly, like a jack-in-the-box, suddenly sprang into
evidence. It was very funny--he was simply waiting for me to repeat my
interesting information.

Two, three days passed, then a certain kindness began to show in his
manner toward me. Quite suddenly, and of course unasked, he gave me a
dressing-room to myself. I was delighted! Hesitatingly, I tapped at the
door of his office. I had never stood there before, save by order. I
said: "I will not come in, Mr. Daly, I only wished to thank you for the
room you have given me. It will be a great comfort, for we are terribly
crowded in the other one."

But he rose, took my hand, and said: "You deserve anything and everything
this theatre can provide for you." Drawing me to a chair, he placed me in
it, while still speaking: "And I am proud of you. You are a girl in ten
thousand! For you can respect a confidence."

I was very much embarrassed by such unexpected warmth, and laughing
nervously I said: "Even when the confidence was unintentional and deeply
regretted?"

"Ah!" he answered, "you saw that, did you? Well, I've been listening and
waiting to hear about the 'new play' ever since, but not a word have you
dropped, and I did not ask for silence either. You are a woman worth
talking to, and I shall never be afraid to tell you things I am going to
do, and----"

And straightway he told me all about the new play--its good points, its
bad ones, and where he feared for it; and to show you how true was his
judgment, the play, which later on gave me a great personal success, was
itself a failure from the very causes he then indicated.

And so it came about that Mr. Daly, putting aside his dislike for
me--coming to enjoy my sense of the ridiculous, instead of resenting
it--confided many, many plans and dreams, likes and dislikes, hates and
loves to me. We quarreled spitefully over politics, fought furiously over
religion, wickedly bowed down and worshipped before odds and ends of
lovely carvings or precious _cloisonné_, to whose beauty I first
introduced him, and hung in mutual rapture over rare old engravings.

Thus I came to know him fairly well. A man with unbounded ambition, a man
of fine and delicate tastes, with a passionate love of beauty--in form,
color, sound. I have known him to turn a sentence, exquisitely, word by
word, slowly repeating the line, as though he were tasting its beauty, as
well as hearing it. Interested in the occult and the inscrutable--a man
of many tastes, but of one _single purpose_--every power and acquirement
were brought to the service of the stage.

In love he was mutability personified. In friendship, always exigent. Now
sullenly silent, now rapidly talkative, whimsical, changeable, he was
ever lavishly generous and warm-hearted. And it is a comfort to know that
in one respect at least I proved satisfactory during the friendship that
lasted as long as I remained in the theatre, since I never, even by
chance, betrayed his confidence.

When we had finally parted, a man one day mentioned me to Mr. Daly,
expecting to bring forth some disparaging remark. There was a pause while
my former manager gazed out at the heavily falling rain, then he said,
quietly: "When you drop a thing in a well, it can go no further. Clara
Morris is a sort of human well, what you confide to her goes no further.
Some people call that 'discretion,' I call it loyalty. I--I guess you'll
get a wetting on the way home." And acting on that hint the surprised
gentleman withdrew. He told me himself of the occurrence, and I confess
that Mr. Daly's words gave me a thrill of pleasure.

After those two occurrences I found my theatrical life pleasanter, for I
love my kind and wish to live at peace with them--and Mr. Daly's dislike
had disturbed and distressed me; therefore, when that had been conquered,
great was my contentment. A sympathetic word, a comprehending glance, a
friendly smile, proving ample indemnification for former injuries.

Nor could I be made to accept at full value the cruel gibes, the bitter
sarcasms reported to me as coming from Miss Agnes Ethel. For some reason
there was a distinct effort made to arouse in me an enmity against that
lady. Unpleasant stories had been repeated to me during the run of "Man
and Wife"; some of them had wounded me, but I had only listened silently.
Then one night I met her--a slender, auburn-haired, appealing creature,
with clinging fingers, sympathetic voice, and honest eyes--a woman whose
charming and cordial manner not only won my admiration, but convinced me
she was incapable of the brutalities charged to her.

So when "Jezebel" was announced, and it was known that Mr. Daly desired
Miss Ethel and me both to appear in it, great interest was aroused, only
to be crushed by Miss Ethel's refusal to play the part allotted to her. I
think she was in error, for the two parts were perfectly balanced. Mine
was the wicked, even murderous adventuress; hers the gentle, sweet, and
triumphant wife. I had the first act; she was not in that, but Mr.
Daly's idea was that her victory in the last act--where I was simply
pulverized for my sins--evened things up. But Miss Ethel listened to the
advice of outside friends. Her relations with Mr. Daly were already
strained, and her second refusal of a part was the beginning of the end.

Mr. Daly himself informed me that she said her part was secondary, but
that the real difficulty sprang from an earlier wrangle between them,
with which I had nothing to do. Yet there were persons who, with great
indignation, informed me that Miss Ethel had positively "refused to
appear upon the stage in any play with me--a mere vulgar outsider!"

But "vulgar outsider" was just a touch too strong; "malice had o'erleaped
self" and fallen on the other side. The silly story even reached some of
the papers, but that did not increase my belief in its truth.

Mr. Daly and Miss Ethel parted company before, or at, the end of the
season, and while I never worked with her, later on I privately received
such gracious courtesies from her kindly hands that the name of Agnes
Ethel must ever ring pleasantly in my ears.



CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVENTH

  A Study of Stage-Management--I Am Tricked into Signing a New Contract.


Before I came under the management of Mr. Daly, I may say I never really
knew what stage-management meant. He was a young man then; he had had, I
believe, his own theatre but one season before I joined his forces, yet
his judgment was as ripe, his decisions were as swift and sure, his eye
for effect was as true, his dramatic instinct as keen as well could be.

We never exchanged so much as a frown, let alone a hasty word, over work.
I realized that he had the entire play before his "mind's eye," and when
he told me to do a thing, I should have done it, even had I not
understood why he wished it done. But he always gave a reason for things,
and that made it easy to work under him.

His attention to tiny details amazed me. One morning, after Mr. Crisp had
joined the company, he had to play a love-scene with me, and the
"business" of the scene required him to hold me some time in his embrace.
But Mr. Crisp's embrace did not suit Mr. Daly--no more did mine. Out he
went, in front, and looked at us.

"Oh," he cried, "confound it! Miss Morris, relax--relax! lean on him--he
won't break! That's better--but lean more! lean as if you needed support!
What? Yes, I know you don't need it--but you're in love, don't you see?
and you're not a lady by a mile or two! For God's sake, Crisp, don't be
so stiff and inflexible! Here, let me show you!"

Up Mr. Daly rushed on to the stage, and taking Crisp's place, convulsed
the company with his effort at acting the lover. Then back again to the
front, ordering us to try that embrace again.

"That's better!" he cried; "but hold her hand closer, tighter! not quite
so high--oh, that's too low! Don't poke your arm out, you're not going to
waltz. What in ---- are you scratching her back for?"

It was too much; in spite of the awe in which Mr. Daly was held,
everyone, Crisp included, screamed with laughter, while Mr. Daly fumed
and fretted over the time that was being wasted.

One of my early experiences of his way of directing a rehearsal made a
deep impression upon me. In the play of "Jezebel" I had the title part.
There were a number of characters on in the scene, and Mr. Daly wanted to
get me across the stage, so that I should be out of hearing distance of
two of the gentlemen. Now, in the old days, the stage-director would
simply have said: "Cross to the Right," and you would have crossed
because he told you to; but in Mr. Daly's day you had to have a _reason_
for crossing the drawing-room, and so getting out of the two gentlemen's
way--and a reason could not be found.

Here are a few of the many rejected ideas: There was no guest for me to
cross to in welcoming pantomime; no piano on that side of the room for me
to cross to and play on softly; ah, the fireplace! and the pretty warming
of one foot? But no, it was summer-time, that would not do. The ancient
fancy-work, perhaps? No, she was a human panther, utterly incapable of so
domestic an occupation. The fan forgotten on the mantel-piece? Ah, yes,
that was it! you cross the room for that--and then suddenly I reminded
Mr. Daly that he had, but a moment before, made a point of having me
strike a gentleman sharply on the cheek with my fan.

"Oh, confound it, yes!" he answered, "and that's got to stand--that blow
is good!"

The old, old device of attendance upon the lamp was suggested; but the
hour of the day was plainly given by one of the characters as three
o'clock in the afternoon.

These six are but few of the many rejected reasons for that one cross of
the stage; still Mr. Daly would not permit a motiveless action, and we
came to a momentary standstill. Very doubtfully, I remarked: "I suppose a
smelling-bottle would not be important enough to cross the room for?"

He brightened quickly--clouded over even more quickly: "Y-e-e-s! N-o-o!
at least, not if it had never appeared before. But let me see--Miss
Morris, you must carry that smelling-bottle in the preceding scene,
and--and, yes, I'll just put in a line in your part, making you ask some
one to hand it to you--that will nail attention to it, you see! Then in
this scene, when you leave these people and cross the room to get your
smelling-bottle from the mantel, it will be a perfectly natural action on
your part, and will give the men their chance of explanation and
warning." And at last we were free to move on to other things.

Above all was he eager to have his stage present a home-like interior.
Never shall I forget my amazement when I first saw a piece of furniture
occupying the very centre of the stage, while I with others were reduced
to acting in any scrap of room we could "scrooge" into, as children say.

Long trains were fashionable then, and it was no uncommon sight to see
the lover standing with both feet firmly planted upon his lady's train
while he implored her to fly with him--the poor man had to stand
somewhere! Miss Davenport, in one of her comedy scenes, having to move
about a good deal on the crowded stage, finally wound her trailing skirts
so completely about a chair that, at her exit, the chair went with her,
causing a great laugh.

One night a male character, having to say boastfully to me: "I have my
hand upon a fortune!" I added in an undertone: "And both feet upon my
white satin dress!" at which he lost his grip (as the boys say) and
laughed aloud--said laugh costing him a forfeit of fifty cents, which
really should have been paid by me, as I was the guilty cause of that
disastrous effect. But the gentleman was not only gallant but well used
to being forfeited, and unconcernedly paid the penalty exacted.

But really it was very distressing trying to make your way between pieces
of furniture--stopping to release your skirts from first one thing and
then another, and often destroying all the effect of your words by such
action. One evening I petulantly observed to Mr. Daly: "I see now why one
is only _woolly_ in the West--in the East one gets the wool all rubbed
off on unnecessary pedestals and centre-divans."

He laughed first, then pulled up sharply, saying: "Perhaps you did not
notice that your comment contained a criticism of my judgment, Miss
Morris? If I think the furniture necessary, that is sufficient," and I
gave him a military salute and ran down-stairs. At the foot Mr. George
Brown and one of the pretty young women stood. She was saying: "Now if
any of _us_ had said there was too much crowding from that rubbishy old
furniture, he would have made us pay a nice forfeit for it, but Miss
Morris gets off scot-free!"

"Yes, I know," said Mr. Brown, "but then she amused him first with the
idea of rubbing the Western wool off here, and you can't very well laugh
and then turn around and forfeit the person who made you do it."

And so I learned that if no detail was too small for Mr. Daly to consider
carefully in his preparation of a play, so no detail of daily life in his
theatre was too small for notice, consideration, and comment, and I
resolved to try hard to curb my careless speech, lest it get me into
trouble.

Early during that first week my friend, John Norton, said to me: "Have
you spoken to Mr. Daly about your salary yet?"

"Good gracious, no!" I answered.

"Well, but you should," he persisted; "that is only business. You have
made a great hit; he promised you to double thirty-five dollars if you
made a favorable impression."

"Well," I cried, "wait till salary-day, and very likely I'll get it; he
will keep his word, only, for mercy's sake, give him a chance! It would
insult him were I to remind him, now, of his promise."

I was content to wait, but Mr. Norton was anxious. Monday came and,
tremblingly, I opened my envelope to find thirty-five dollars--no more,
no less. I knew what anyone else would do, I knew I was valuable to Mr.
Daly, but, oh, those years and years of repression--for so long a time
_to be seen--not heard_, had been the law of my weary life, and now the
old thrall was upon me, I simply could not demand my right.

The tears fell fast as I went home, with that miserable wage in my hand.
We were in such dreadful straits for clothing. Other needs we could hide,
but not the need of outer garments. I was quite sick with disappointment
and anxiety, yet I would not permit Mr. Norton to go and speak for me, as
that would mean gossip as to his right to interfere.

I used to plan out exactly what I was going to say, and start a little
earlier to the theatre, that I might have time to see Mr. Daly and remind
him of his promise, and then, when I got there, unconquerable shame
overcame me--I _could_ not!

Then one night Mr. Daly asked me to sign a contract for five years, with
a certain rise in salary each year. I utterly refused. I knew that would
mean absolute bondage. He said he would raise my salary now, if I would
sign; and I did actually whisper, that he had not kept his promise about
this year's salary.

He curtly answered: "Never mind this year--sign for five, and this season
will then take care of itself!"

"No," I said, and yet again "No!" "Mr. Daly," I cried, "I shall be
grateful to you all the days of my life for giving me this chance in New
York--you are treating me badly, but I am grateful enough not to rebel. I
will play for you every season of my life, if you want me; I will never
consider an offer without first telling you of it, but you must engage me
but for one season at a time."

"Then you can go!" he said. "All my people are engaged from three to five
years--I will not break my rule for anyone; so now you can choose!"

"Pardon me," I answered, huskily, "you chose for me when you told me to
go!" I bowed to him and went out, sore at heart and deeply wounded, for I
was keeping silent as to his broken promise out of sheer gratitude for
the opening he had given me.

The letter-box for the company hung near his private office. One night,
as he unlocked his door, he saw old man Keating (the stage-door man)
sorting out letters for the various boxes. One caught Mr. Daly's eye,
bearing the name of Wallack. He took it from Keating's hand; it was
addressed to Clara Morris. No one ever called Mr. Daly a dull man, and
when he put two and two together, even in a hurry, he knew quite well
that the result would be four; and when he put the words, "Wallack's
Theatre," and the address, "Clara Morris," together he knew equally well
the result would be an offered engagement. Then Mr. Daly put back the
letter and said sharply to the reverent Keating: "Whatever you do, don't
let Miss Morris pass you when she comes in. Stop her before she takes her
key. Remember, whether early or late, stop her anyway, and send her to my
room. Tell her it is urgent--you understand? Before she gets her key (by
the letter-box) I _must_ see her!"

Yes, he understood, for when I came in I was switched away from the
key-board in a jiffy and rushed by the elbow to the governor's office,
and even held there until the summons to enter answered the knock of the
determined and obedient Keating.

Inside, Mr. Daly, smiling benignly, greeted me as one greets a naughty,
spoiled child, and pulling me by my fingers toward his desk, showed me a
contract outspread: "A contract for _one_ season," he said, giving me a
light tap on my ear. "Though you must promise silence on the subject, for
there would be an outcry of favoritism if it were known that I broke a
rule for you! Salary? oh, the salary is only fifty-five dollars, but we
will balance that by my assistance in the matter of wardrobe. Whenever
you have five dresses to buy I will provide three, which will belong to
me afterward, of course--and--and just sign now, for I'm in a great
haste, child, as I have an appointment to keep! Oh, you don't want any
time to think over an engagement of just one season! You obstinate little
block! and, by the way, I'll add five dollars a week to your present
salary for the rest of the season, if you sign this--yes, that's the
right place!"

So pinched, so tormented were we for money that I signed instantly to
secure that immediate poor little five dollars a week rise! Signed and
went out to find, awaiting me in the letter-box, a better offer from Mr.
Lester Wallack.

And let me say right here that about the middle of the season I found
that some young actresses, who handed me cards on the stage, and in laced
caps and aprons appeared as maids in my service, were receiving for their
arduous duties a higher salary than I received as leading woman and their
play-mistress. "It's a strange world, my masters, a very strange world!"



CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHTH

  I Go to the Sea-shore--The Search for a "Scar"--I Make a Study of
  Insanity, and Meet with Success in "L'Article 47."


I had got safely through my first dreaded vacation. I had had two
wonderful weeks at the seaside, where, with Mr. and Mrs. James Lewis and
George Parkes, I had boarded with Mrs. By Baker, whom we left firmly
convinced of our general insanity--harmless, but quite hopeless cases she
thought us. Awed into reverent silence I had taken my first long look at
the ocean; that mighty monster, object of my day-dreams all the years,
lay that day outstretched, smiling, dimpling, blinking like the babe of
giants, basking in the sun.

I had inhaled with delight the briny coolness of its breath, and with my
friends had engaged in wild romps in its waves, all of us arrayed
meanwhile in bathing dresses of hideous aspect, made from gray flannel of
penitential color and scratchiness, and most malignant modesty of cut;
which were yet the eminently proper thing at that time.

I almost wonder, looking at the bathing dresses of to-day, that old
Ocean, who is a lover of beauty, did not dash the breath out of us, and
then fling us high and dry on the beach, where the sands might quickly
drift over our ugly shells and hide them from view.

All this happened, and much more, before I came to the play "L'Article
47," famous for its great French court scene, and for the madness of its
heroine. I am so utterly lacking in self-confidence that it was little
short of cruelty for Mr. Daly to tell me, as he did, that the fate of the
play hung upon that single scene; that the production would be expensive
and troublesome, and its success or failure lay absolutely in my hands.

I turned white as chalk, with sheer fright, and could scarcely force
myself to speak audibly, when asked if I could do the part.

I answered, slowly, that I thought it unfair for Mr. Daly first to reduce
me to a state of imbecility, through fear, and then ask me to make a
close study of violent madness--since the two conditions were generally
reversed.

The people laughed, but there was no responsive smile on my lips, as I
entered upon a period of mental misery that only ended with the
triumphant first night.

I did all I could do to get at _Cora's_ character and standing before the
dread catastrophe--feeling that her madness must to some extent be tinged
by past habits and personal peculiarities. I got a copy of the French
novel--that was not an affectation, but a necessity, as it had not then
been translated, and I was greatly impressed with the minute description
of the destruction done by the bullet _George_ had fired into her face.
Portions of the jaw-bone had been shot away; the eye, much injured, had
barely been saved, but it was drawn and distorted.

As the woman's beauty had been her letter of introduction to the gilded
world, indeed had been her sole capital, that "scar" became of tremendous
value in the make-up of the part, since it would explain, and in some
scant measure excuse, her revengeful actions.

Still, as the play was done in Paris, the "scar" was almost ignored by
that brilliant actress, Madame Rousseil. I had her photograph in the part
of _Cora_, and while she had a drapery passed low beneath her jaws to
indicate some injury to her neck or breast, her face was absolutely
unblemished.

To my mind that weakened _Cora's_ case greatly--she had so much less to
resent, to brood over.

I took my trouble to Mr. Daly, after I had been out to the mad-house at
Blackwell's Island, and had gained some useful information from that
awful aggregation of human woe. He listened to Bèlot's description of
_Cora's_ beauty and its wrecking "scar"; he looked condemningly at the
Rousseil picture, and then asked me what I wanted to do.

I told him I wanted a dreadful scar--then I wanted to veil it always; and
he broke in with, "Then why have the scar, if it is to be veiled?"

But I hurried on: "My constant care to keep it covered will make people
imagine it a hundred times worse than it really is. Then when the veil is
torn off by main force, and they catch a glimpse of the horror, they will
not wonder that her already-tottering brain should give way under such a
blow to her vanity."

Mr. Daly studied over the matter silently for a few moments, then he
said: "Yes, you are right. That scar is a great factor in the play; go
ahead, and make as much of it as you can."

But right there I came up against an obstacle. I was not good at even an
eccentric make-up. I did not know how to proceed to represent such a
scar, as I had in my mind.

"Try," said Mr. Daly. I tried, and with tear-reddened eyes announced my
failure, but I said: "I shall ask Mr. Lemoyne to help me--he is the
cleverest and most artistic maker-up of faces I ever saw."

"Yes," said Mr. Daly, "get him to try it after rehearsal; you have no
time to lose now!"

Only too well I knew that; so at once I approached Mr. Lemoyne, and made
my wants known. I had not the slightest hesitation in doing so, because,
in spite of his sinful delight in playing jokes on me, he was the
kindest, most warm-hearted of comrades; and true to that character he at
once placed his services at my disposal, though he shook his head very
doubtfully over the undertaking.

"You know I never saw a scar of such a nature in my life," he said, as he
lighted up his dressing-room.

"Oh," I said, "you, who can change your nose or your mouth or your eyes
at will, can make an ugly scar, easily enough," and off went hat and
veil, and Mr. Lemoyne, using my countenance for his canvas, began work.

He grew more and more glum as he wiped off and repainted. One scar was
too small--oh, much too small. Then the shattered jaw-bone was described.
Again he tried. "Clara," he said, "I can't do it, because I don't know
what I am aiming at!"

"Oh, go on!" I pleaded, "make a hideous scar, then I'll learn how from
you, and do it myself."

He was patience and kindness personified, but when at last he said he
could do no more, I looked in the glass, and--well, we both laughed
aloud, in spite of our chagrin. He said: "It looks as though some
street-boy had given you a swat in the eye with a chunk of mud."

I mournfully washed it off and begged him to try just once
more--to-morrow; and he promised with a doleful air.

I had tears in my eyes as I left the theatre, I was so horribly cast
down, for if Mr. Lemoyne could not make up that scar no one could. But he
used too much black--that was a grave mistake, and--oh, dear! _now_ what?
Men were peeling up the stone walk. I could not go home by the Sixth
Avenue car as usual, without a lot of bother and muddy shoes. I was just
tired enough from rehearsal and disappointed enough to be irritated by
the tiniest _contretemps_, and I almost whimpered, as I turned the other
way and took a Broadway car. I dropped into a corner. Three men were on
my side of the car. I glanced casually at them, and, "Goodness mercy!"
said I to myself, "what are they gazing at--they look fairly frightened?"

I followed the direction of their eyes, and, I gasped! I felt goose-flesh
creeping up my arms! On the opposite side sat a large and handsome
mulatto woman, a small basket of white linen was on her knees, her face
was turned toward the driver, and oh, good God! not so long ago, her
throat had been cut almost from ear to ear!

The scar was hideous--sickening, it made one feel faint and frightened,
but I held my quivering nerves with an iron hand--here was my scar for
_Cora_! I must study it while I could. It had not been well cared for, I
imagine, for the edges of the awful gash were puckered, as though a
gathering thread held them. There was a queer, cord-like welt that looked
white, while the flesh either side was red and threatening; and then, as
if she felt my eyes, the woman turned and faced me. A dull color rose
slowly over her mutilated throat and handsome face, and she felt hastily
for a kerchief, which was pinned at the back of her dress-collar, and
drew the ends forward and tied them.

I kept my eyes averted after that, but when I left the car weariness was
forgotten. I stopped at a druggist's shop, bought sticking-plaster,
gold-beaters' skin, and absorbent cotton, and with springy steps reached
home, materials in hand, model in memory--I was content, I had found my
scar at last!

If you are about to accuse me of hardness of heart in using, to my own
advantage, this poor woman's misfortune, don't, or at least wait a moment
first.

When I had gone through the asylum's wards and the doctor had called my
attention to this or that exceptional case and had tried to make clear
_cause_ and _effect_; when I had noted ophidian's stealth in one and
tigerish ferocity in another, I suddenly realized that to single one of
these unfortunates out, then to go before an indifferent crowd of people
and present to them a close copy of the helpless afflicted one, would be
an act of atrocious cruelty. I could not do it! I would instead seize
upon some of the general symptoms, common to all mad people, and build up
a mad-scene with their aid, thus avoiding a cruel imitation of one of
God's afflicted.

So in this scar I was not going exactly to copy that riven throat, but,
with slender rolls of cotton, covered and held by gold-beaters' skin, I
was going to create dull white welts with angry red spaces painted
between--with strong sticking-plaster attached to my eyelid, I was going
to draw it from its natural position. Oh, I should have a rare scar! yet
that poor woman might herself see it without suspecting she had given me
the idea.

Oh, what a time of misery it was, the preparation of that play! Poor Mr.
Daly--and poor, poor Miss Morris!

You see everything hung upon the mad-scene. Yet, when we came to that, I
simply stood still and spoke the broken, disjointed words.

"But what are you going to do at night?" Mr. Daly cried. "Act your scene,
Miss Morris."

Act it, in cold blood, there, in the gray, lifeless daylight? with a
circle of grinning, sardonic faces, ready to be vastly amused over my
efforts? He might better have asked me to deliver a polished address in
beautiful, pellucid Greek, to compose at command a charming little
_rondeau_ in sparkling French, or a prayer in sonorous Latin--they would
have been easier for me to do, than to gibber, to laugh, to screech, to
whisper, whimper, rave, to crouch, crawl, stride, fall to order in
street-clothes, and always with those fiendish "guyers" ready to assist
in my undoing. Yet, poor Mr. Daly, too! I was sorry for him, he had so
much at stake. It _was_ asking a good deal of him to trust his fate
entirely, blindly to me.

"Oh!" I said, "I would if I could--do please believe me! I want to do as
you wish me to, but, dear Mr. Daly, I can't, my blood is cold in
daylight, I am ashamed, constrained! I cannot act then!"

"Well, give me some _faint_ idea of what you are going to do," he cried,
impatiently.

"Dear goodness!" I groaned, "I am going to try to do all sorts of
things--loud and quiet, fast and slow, close-eyed cunning, wide-eyed
terror! There, that's all I can tell about it!" and I burst into harassed
tears.

He said never another word, but I used to feel dreadfully when, at
rehearsals, he would rise and leave the stage as soon as we reached the
mad-scene.

Then it happened we could not produce the play on Monday. An old comedy
was put on for that one night. I was not in it, and Mr. Daly, seeing how
near I was to the breaking-point with hard work and terror, tried to give
me a bit of pleasure. He got tickets for my mother and me, and sent us to
the opera to hear Parepa and Wachtel. I was radiant with delight; but,
alas, when did I ever have such high spirits without a swift dampening
down. Elaborately dressed as to hair, all the rest of my little best was
singularly plain for the opera. Still I was happy enough and greatly
excited over our promised treat.

Mother and I set out to go to Miss Linda Dietz's home, where we were to
pick her up, and, under escort of her brother, go over to the Academy of
Music. We could not afford a carriage, so we had to take one of the
'busses then in existence. Mr. Daly had sent me, with my box tickets, a
pair of white gloves, and with extreme carefulness I placed them in my
pocket, drawing on an old pair to wear down to Fifteenth Street, where I
would don the new ones at Miss Dietz's house. How I blessed my
fore-thought later on!

Long skirts were worn, so were bustles. A man in the omnibus was in
liquor; he sat opposite me, right by the door. I signaled to stop. Mother
passed out before me--I descended. The man's feet were on my dress-skirt.
I tried to pull it free--he stupidly pulled in the door. The 'bus
started--I was flung to the pavement!

I threw my head back violently to save my face from the cobbles, my hands
and one knee were beating the cruel stones. Mother screamed to the
driver, a gentleman sprang to the horses, stopped them, picked me up, and
even then had to thrust the drunken man's feet from my torn flounce. I
had faintly whispered: "My glass--my fan!" and the gentleman, placing me
in mother's arms, went out into the street and found them for me. I sat
on a bench in the Park: I was shaken and bruised and torn and muddy, but
I would not go home--not I, I was going to hear Parepa and Wachtel!

The gentleman simply would not leave us; he gave me his arm to Miss
Dietz's house, and I needed its aid, for each moment proved I was worse
hurt than I had at first thought. There, however, when with my heartiest
thanks we parted from our good Samaritan, the Dietz family, with dismayed
faces, received us. They were kindness personified. I was sponged and
arnicaed and plastered and sewed and brushed, and at last my ankle's hurt
being acknowledged, it was tightly bound. The new white gloves safely
came forth, and "Dietzie and Morrie" (our nicknames for each other) set
forth, with brother Frank and mother in attendance, and arrived at the
crowded Academy just as the curtain rose. We went quite wild with delight
over the old moss-draped "Il Trovatore." I broke my only handsome
fan--applauding. Suddenly "Dietzie" saw me whiten--saw me close my eyes.
She thought it was the pain of my ankle, but it was a sudden memory of
_Cora_ and the mad-scene. As the whirlwind of applause roared about me, I
sickened with a mortal terror of the ordeal awaiting me. I hope I may
always thrust Satan behind me with the whole-hearted force I used in
thrusting "L'Article 47" behind me on that occasion. I returned to "Il
Trovatore." I enjoyed each liquid jewel of a note, helped to raise the
roof, afterward declined supper, hastened home, romped my dog, and put
her to bed. Got into a dressing-gown, locked myself in my room, and had
it out with _Cora_, from A to Z. Tried this walk and that crouch; read
this way and that way. Found the exact moment when her mind began to
cloud, to waver, to recover, to break finally and irretrievably.
Determined positively just where I should be at certain times; allowed a
margin for the impulse or inspiration of the moment, and at last, with
the character crystal-clear before me, I ended my work and my vigil.

After turning out the gas I went to the window and looked at the sky. The
stars had gone in; low down in the east a faint, faint band of pink held
earth and sky together. I was calm and quite ready to rest. All my
uncertainty was at an end. What the public would do I could not know;
what I would do was clear and plain before me at last.

Poor Mr. Daly! I sighed, for I knew _his_ anxiety and uneasiness were not
allayed. Bertie, tired of waiting for me, had curled her loving little
body up in my pillow--a distinct breach of family discipline. A few
moments later, feeling her small tail beating a blissful tattoo on my
feet, I muttered, laughingly: "A little prayer, a little dog, and a
little rest," and so sank into the sound sleep I so desperately needed,
in preparation for the ever-to-be-dreaded first night of "L'Article 47"
of the French Penal Code.

The house was packed. Well-known people were seen all through the
theatre. Act I. represented the French Court with a trial in full
swing--it played for one hour, lacking three minutes. I was on the stage
ten minutes only. I was told Mr. Daly shook his head violently at the
curtain's fall.

The next act I was not in at all, but it dragged, and when that was over
Mr. Daly's peculiar test of public feeling showed the presence of
disappointment. Like many other managers, he often placed men here and
there to listen to the comments made by his patrons, but his quickest,
surest way of judging the effect a new play was making, was by watching
and listening at the very moment of the curtain's fall. If the people
instantly turned to one another in eager speech, and a bee-like hum of
conversation arose, he nodded his head with pleased satisfaction--he knew
they were saying, "How lovely!" "That was a fine effect!" "We've had
nothing better for a long time!" "It's just divine!" "It's great!" etc.

When they spoke slowly and briefly, he shook his head; but when they sat
still and gazed steadily straight ahead of them, he called a new play for
rehearsal next morning.

That second act had made him shake his head; the third came on with
_Cora's_ rejected love, her strangling tears of self-pity, her whirlwind
of passion, ending with that frantic and incredible threat. The people
caught at it! I suppose the swiftness of its action, the heat and fury
following so close upon the two slow, dull acts, pleased and aroused
them. The curtain went up and down, up and down, call after call, and
when at last it was allowed to remain down, myriads of bees might have
been swarming in front, and Mr. Daly, nodding and smiling as I rushed
past on my way to change my gown, said: "Hear 'em--hear the bees
buzz--that's good! Now if only you----"

I waited not for the rest--too well I knew how to complete the sentence:
"If only I could safely hive those swarming bees" for him. Could I? Oh,
could I? for the moment was at hand, the "mad-scene," so dreaded, so
feared!

Three things I had counted upon to help my effects: the crouch, the
laugh, the scar. The crouch had just done splendid service at the end of
Act III. Would the other two be as effective?

I went up to the stage; I was to be discovered lying on a lounge. Miss
Davenport, magnificently handsome in person and gown, beside me; the
others at the gambling-table. As she took my hand she gave a sharp little
cry: "Heavens!" she said, "you might be dead, you are like ice!" She
touched my forehead, asking, "Are you ill? Why, your head is burning,
hot! hot! hot! Mr. Daly, just touch her hands and head!"

He looked down on me in silence; two pairs of frightened eyes met; he
gave a groan; threw out his hands helplessly; stepped off the stage, and
signaled the curtain up on what was to make or break the play--and he
knew no more what to expect than did one of the ushers out in front.

Under cover of the music and the applause accompanying the curtain's
rise, I caught myself muttering, vaguely: "The power and the glory--the
power and the glory," and knew that involuntarily I was reaching out for
the old staff on which I had leaned so many times before.

The scene was on--the laughing cynicism of the _Baroness_--the chatter of
the players--then, at last, _George_ and _Cora_ were alone!

My terror had slipped from me like a garment, I was in the play once
more; save for just one awful moment! _George_ had torn the veil from my
disfigured face, and, casting in my teeth the accusation: "You are mad!"
had left me there alone, standing, stunned by the word! That was the
moment of actual dethronement of reason, and, as I slowly, stupidly
turned my eyes, I saw Mr. Daly's white face thrust forward eagerly. His
gray eyes wide and glowing, his thin hand tightly grasping the lapel of
his coat, his whole being expressing the very anguish of anxiety!

One moment I felt I was lost! I had been dragged out of the play at the
crucial moment! I clasped my hands across my eyes: "The kingdom and the
power!" I groaned--I faced the other way! The low, eerie music caught my
attention and awakened my imagination, in another second I was as mad as
a March hare. The first time the low, gibbering laugh swelled into the
wild, long-sustained shrieking _ha! ha!_ a voice said, low and clear:
"Oh, dear God!"

Yet I who had heard the genuine laugh at the mad-house knew this to be
but a poor, tame, soulless thing, compared to that Hecate-like
distillation--the very essence of madness, that ran through that real
gibber of laughter.

Yet it was enough. At the end there came to me one of those moments God
grants now and then as a reward for long thirst, way-weariness, and
heart-sickness patiently borne! One of those foolishly divine moments you
stand with the gods and, like them, are young and fair and powerful! Your
very nerves thrill harmonious, like harp-strings attune--your blood
courses like quicksilver for swiftness, like wine for warmth, and on that
fair peak of Triumph, where one tarries but by moments, there is no
knowledge of sin or suffering, of death or hate; there is only sunshine,
the sunshine of success! love for all those creatures who turn smiling
faces on you, who hold their hands to you with joyous cries!

There is no question of deserts, of qualifications! No analysis, no
criticism then--they follow later! That is just a moment of delicious
madness; and to distinguish it from other frenzies it is called--a
Dramatic Triumph!



CHAPTER THIRTY-NINTH

  I Am too Dull to Understand a Premonition--By Mr. Daly's Side I See the
  Destruction of the Fifth Avenue Theatre by Fire.


How shall I call that strange influence that dumbly tries to warn, to
prepare?

Many of us have had experience of this nameless something whose efforts
are but rarely heeded. The something that one morning suddenly fills the
mind with thoughts of some friend of the far past, who is almost entirely
forgotten--persistent thoughts not to be shaken off.

You speak of the matter, and your family exclaim: "What on earth ever
brought him to your mind?" and that night you either hear of the old
friend's death or he sends you a letter from the other side of the world.

I had an acquaintance who one day found herself compelled, as it were, to
talk of thefts, of remarkable robberies. She seemed unable to turn her
mind to any other subject. If she looked at a lock, she thought how easy
it would be to force it; at a window, how readily a man might enter it.
Her people laughed and told her she was hoodooed; but next day she was
robbed of every jewel she had in the world. What was it that was trying
dumbly to warn her?

It was on the 1st of January that my mind became subject to one of those
outside seizures. The snow was banked high in the streets--had been so
for days. The unexpected sale of the house in Twenty-first Street had
forced me to new quarters; I was at that moment in Twenty-fourth Street.
As I raised my head from kissing my mother a Happy New Year, I remarked:
"The streets are in a terrible condition for a great fire--are they
not?"

"Let us hope there won't be a great fire," replied mother, and began to
pour out the coffee.

A little later the French lady coming in, to pass the compliments of the
day, I was immediately moved to ask her if our fire service here was not
superior to that of Paris? And I was greatly pleased at her joyous
acquiescence, until I discovered that her remarks had reference to our
larger fireplaces--there are always certain drawbacks accompanying a
foreign landlady.

Then I went to the matinée--for, lo, the poor actress always does double
work on days of festivity for the rest of the world, and all occasions of
legalized feasting find her eating "a cold bite." We were doing a play
called "False Shame," known in England as "The White Feather," a very
light three-act play. The dresses and scenery were beautiful; Mr. Daly
provided me with one gown--a combination of sapphire-blue velvet and
Pompadour brocade that came within an ace of making me look handsome,
like the rest.

He remarked upon its effect, and I told him I felt compelled to look
well, since I had nothing else to do; but the day had gone by when such
remarks could anger him. He laughed good-humoredly and said: "All the
same, Miss, that scene at the organ is mighty pretty and taking, too."

For, look you, in the theatre "a little knowledge is not a dangerous
thing." Complete knowledge is, of course, preferable; but, ah, how far a
very little will go, and here was my poor tum-tumming, "one _and_ two
_and_ three _and_," filling Mr. Daly's very soul with joy, because
forsooth, in a lovely old English interior, all draped in Christmas
greens, filled with carved-wood furniture, big logs burning in an
enormous fireplace, wax candles in brass sconces, two girls are at the
organ in dinner dress, who, nervously anxious about a New Year carol,
with which they are going to surprise their guests at mid-night, seize
the moment before dinner to try said carol over.

Miss Davenport, regal in satin, stood, music in hand, the fire-light on
her handsome face. I, seated at the organ in my precious blue and
brocade, played the accompaniment, and sang alto, and, though terror over
this simple bit of work brought me to the verge of nervous prostration,
the scene was, from the front, like a stolen peep into some beautiful
private home, and it brought an astonishing amount of applause. But if I
had not "_one_ two threed" in Cincinnati on that grinning old piano,
where would the organ-scene have been? Ah, a little knowledge, if spread
ever so thin by a master hand like Mr. Daly's, will prove useful.

So don't refuse to learn a little because you fear you cannot afford to
study thoroughly--if you are an actress.

While I was sitting through a long wait that day I fell into a brown
study. The theatre dresser, who was very fond of me and gave me every
spare moment of her time, came into my room and twice addressed me before
I came out of my reverie.

"What in the world are you thinking of, Miss Clara?" she asked, and I
answered with another question: "Mary, were you ever in a great fire?"

"No," she said; "were you?"

"Yes," I answered; "I have been twice burned out from shelter at dead of
night," and I told her of that hotel fire at 3 A.M., where there was but
one stairway to the street; of the mad brutality of the men; of the
terrible and the ludicrous scenes; of my own escape, quite alone, in bare
feet and one white garment; of my standing across a leaking hose, while a
strange man pulled my right arm, frantically crying, "You come with me!
my mother's got a blanket to wrap you up in!" and Mr. Ellsler, who had
just arrived, seized my left arm, dragging me his way and shouting, "Come
over to the house and get to bed quick, before you die of exposure!"
while I felt the water spraying my forlornly shivering shins, and was
more nearly torn asunder than was ever the Solomon baby.

"Oh, my!" said Mary, "how dreadful!"

"Yes," I said, musingly, "and what a fire this place would make--all
these partitions of painted pine!"

"Oh, don't!" protested Mary.

"But," said I, "you know that's what theatres are built for--to burn is
their natural end!" and then I was called, and went up-stairs to saunter
through another act of the mild little play.

I owned but little jewelry then, but what I had was noticeably good. My
rings, including the handsome pearl one Mr. Daly had given me as a
souvenir of "47," I had to remove from my fingers for the last act, and
when the curtain had fallen and I had rushed myself into street garments,
and was leaving the dressing-room in haste to join my waiting mother at
dinner, Mary called to me: "Miss Clara, you are leaving your diamond
rings--but never mind," she picked them up and dropped them, one by one,
into a little box: "I'll lock the door myself, you run along, the rings
will be safe enough--run!" and the answering words I heard swiftly
leaving my lips were absolutely involuntary and dictated by no thought of
mine. They were:

"Yes, as far as theft is concerned, they are safe enough, but in case of
fire? Better give them to me, Mary. Oh!" for the girl had dropped one on
the floor. It was a bit of Oriental enamel set about with tiny sparks of
diamonds. I put the others on, but would not wait for her to pick up the
rolling truant, and away I went.

At the corner of Sixth Avenue and Twenty-fourth Street I came to a
stand-still before two great snow-banks, and I thought again what they
might mean in case of a fire.

I reached home at a brisk pace, ran up-stairs, threw off my cloak, and
had drawn my dress-waist half off, when, without a preliminary knock, the
door was flung open and my landlord, Mr. Bardin, white with the
excitement that had wiped out his knowledge of English, stood
gesticulating wildly and hurling French at me in seething masses. I
caught "_le feu!_" "_le feu!_" many times repeated; then "_le théâtre!_"
and with a cry I seized his arm and shook him.

"What is it?" I cried, "do you mean fire?"

He nodded, and again came the words: "_le théâtre!_"

"Good heaven and earth! you don't mean _my_ theatre, do you?" and then
two great horses, hurling a fire-engine around the corner into our street
made swift and terrifying answer. With a piercing cry I caught up my
cloak, and throwing off somebody's restraining hands I dashed down-stairs
and into the street, racing like mad, giving sobbing cries, and utterly
unconscious for over two blocks' space that my waist was unclosed and my
naked throat and chest were bare to the wintry wind.

At the corner of the street at Sixth Avenue I wrung my hands in anguish,
crying, "Oh, dear God! I knew it! I knew it!" for there, stalled in the
snow, was the engine, so desperately needed a little further on! And as I
resumed my run I said to myself: "What is it that has tried so hard to
tell me--to warn me? Tried all the day--and I would not understand--and
now it's too late!"

Why I ran I do not know--it was not curiosity. I felt, somehow, that if I
could get there in time I might do something--God knows what! As I neared
the theatre the crowd grew more dense, yet to my gasping: "Please, oh,
please!" an answer came in a quick moving aside to let pass the woman
with the white, tear-wet face. I broke through the cordon and was making
for the stage-door, when a rough hand caught me by the shoulder. There
was an oath, and I was fairly hurled back toward the safety line.

"Oh, let me alone!" I cried, "I want to go to my room! It will take me
but a moment!"

Again the rough hand reached out for me, when a strange man threw his arm
in front of me protectingly: "Take care what you're about!" he said. "Be
a little gentle--she has a right close to the line, she's one of the
company! Can't you see?"

"Oh," grunted the policeman, "well, I didn't know, and I couldn't let her
kill herself!"

"No," said the stranger, "but you had no call to pitch her about as you
did!" And just then a long, thin hand caught mine, and Mr. Daly's voice
said: "Come here, child!" and he led me across the street and up some
steps, and there, opposite the burning building, I could realize the
madness of my act in trying to enter. The front of the building stood
firm, but beyond it, within, all was seething flame. It was like some
magnificent spectacular production--some Satanic pantomime and ballet,
and every now and then a whirling flame, crowned with myriad sparks,
sprang madly up into the very sky like some devilish _première danseuse_;
while the lesser fiends joined hands and circled frenziedly below.

Mr. Daly never spoke a word. He had not released my fingers, and so we
stood, hand in hand, watching silently over the torment of his beloved
theatre--the destruction of his gathered treasures. I looked up at him.
His face gleamed white in the firelight; his eyes were wide and strained;
his fingers, icy cold, never lessened their clinching grasp on mine. Then
came the warning cry firemen are apt to give when they know the roof is
going. I had heard it often, and understood that and their retreating
movement. Mr. Daly did not, and when, with a crackling crash, the whole
roof fell into the roaring depths, his hand, his body, relaxed suddenly;
a sort of sobbing groan escaped his pale lips. But when the column of
glowing sparks flew high into the air he turned away with a shiver and
gave not one other look at the destroyed building.

Not one word was spoken on the subject. Glancing down he noticed I had no
rubbers on and that streams of water were running in the street:

"Go home, child!" he said, speaking quickly and most kindly. A crowd of
reporters came up to him: "Yes," he said, "in one moment, gentlemen,"
then to me: "Hurry home, get something to eat--you could have had no
dinner!"

He gave one heavy sigh, and added: "I'm glad you were with me, it would
have been worse alone." He pushed me gently from him. As I started down
the street he called: "I'll send you word some time to-night what we're
to do."

I left him to the reporters; I had not spoken one word from the moment I
had begged to enter my dressing-room. I felt strangely sad and forlorn as
I dropped, draggled and tired, into a chair. I said to mother: "It's
gone! the only theatre in New York whose door was not barred against me,
and--I--I think that at this moment I know just how a dog feels who has
lost a loved master," and, dropping my face upon my hands, I wept long
over the destruction of my first dramatic home in New York, the little
Fifth Avenue Theatre.



CHAPTER FORTIETH

  We Become "Barn-stormers," and Return to Open the New Theatre--Our
  Astonishing Misunderstanding of "Alixe," which Proves a Great Triumph.


My first thought on awaking the next morning was one of dismay, on
recalling the destruction of the little "P.H.C."--that being the actors
contraction of Mr. Daly's somewhat grandiloquent "Parlor Home of Comedy."
My grief over the burning of the pretty toy theatre was very real, and I
would have been an astonished young woman had anyone prophesied that for
me, personally, the disaster was to prove a piece of unqualified good
luck.

And, by the way, that expression "good luck" reminds me of one of the
incidents of the fire. That morning, when the firemen went to the ruins
to examine into the state of the standing front wall, they looked upward,
and there, all alone, on the burned and blackened space, smiling down in
friendly fashion upon them, was the picture of Clara Morris--a bit
charred as to frame and smoky as to glass, but the photograph (one taken
by Kurtz), absolutely uninjured, being the one and only thing saved from
the ruins. The firemen very naturally wanted it for their engine-house,
and Mr. Daly said that for it many were claiming, pleading, demanding,
bartering--but all in vain. His superstition was aroused. Not for
anything in the world, he cried, would he part from his "luck," as he
ever after called the rescued picture. So there again appeared the malice
of inanimate things, for how else could one account for the plunging of
that line, the entire length of the staircase, of splendidly framed
pictures of loveliness, into the fiery depths, while the plain and
unimportant one kept its place in calm security?

Mr. Daly had a very expensive company on his hands. He had amazed other
managers by his "corner" on leading men. With three already in his
company he had not hesitated to draw on Boston for Harry Crisp, and on
Philadelphia for Mr. Louis James; and when he added such names as George
Clark, Daniel Harkins, George DeVere, James Lewis, William Lemoyne,
William Davidge, A. Whiting, Owen Fawcett, George Parkes, F. Burnett, H.
Bascombe, J. Beekman, Charles Fisher, George Gilbert, etc., one can
readily understand that the salary of the men alone must have made quite
an item in the week's expenses, and added to the sharp necessity of
getting us to work as quickly as possible. And in actual truth the ruins
of the little theatre were not yet cold when Mr. Daly had, by wire,
secured a week for us, divided between Syracuse and Albany, and we were
scrambling dresses together and buying new toilet articles--rouge,
powders, and pomades, and transforming ourselves into "strolling
players"; though, sooth to say, there was precious little "strolling"
done after we started, for we were all rushing for rooms, for food, for
trains, through a blizzard that was giving us plenty of delaying
snow-drifts. And while the company was cheerfully "barn-storming," Mr.
Daly was doing his best to find shelter for us in New York, engaging the
little one-time church on Broadway. He had painters, paper-hangers,
scrub-women, upholsterers, climbing over one another in their frantic
efforts to do all he desired to have done in about one-half the
regulation time allowed for such work; and while they toiled day and
night with much noise and great demonstration of haste, he sat
statue-still in a far corner, mentally reviewing every manuscript in his
possession, searching eagerly for the one that most nearly answered to
the needs of the moment. Namely, a play that required a strong cast of
characters (he had plenty of men and women), little preparation, and
scanty scenery (since he was short of both time and money). And, finding
"Alixe," then known as "The Countess de Somerive," he stopped short. The
action of the play covered but one day--that was promising. There were
but three acts--good; but two scenes--better! A conventional château
garden-terrace for one act, and a simply elegant morning-room or stately
drawing-room, according to managerial taste, could stand for the other
two acts. A strong and dramatic work--requiring the painting of but two
scenes. The play was found! The company was ordered home to rehearse it.

Now at that time, to my own great anxiety, I was by way of standing on
very dangerous ground. The public had favored me almost extravagantly
from the very first performance of _Anne Sylvester_, but the critics, at
least the most important two, seemed to praise my efforts with a certain
unwilling drag of the pen. Nearly all their kind words had the sweetness
squeezed out of them between "buts" and "ifs," and, most wounding of all,
my actual work was less often criticized than were my personal defects.
Occasionally an actress's work may be too good for her own welfare. You
doubt that? Yet I know an actress, still in harness, who in her lovely
prime made so great a hit, in the part of an adventuress, that she has
had nothing else to act since. Whenever a play was produced with such a
character in it, she was sent for. But if she was proposed for a loyal
wife, a gentle sweetheart, a modern heroine, the quick response
invariably was: "Oh, she can't play anything but the adventuress."

There is nothing more fatal to the artistic value, to the future welfare
of a young player, than to be known as "a one-part actress"; yet that was
the very danger that was threatening me at the time of the burning of the
home theatre. Following other parts known as strong, _Jezebel_, the
half-breed East Indian, a velvet-footed treachery and twice would-be
murderess, and _Cora_, the quadroon mad-woman, were in a fair way to
injure me greatly. Already one paper had said: "Miss Morris has a
strange, intuitive comprehension of these creatures of mixed blood."

But worse than that, the most powerful of the two critics I dreaded had
said one morning: "Miss Morris played with care and much feeling. The
audience wept _copiously_" (to anyone who has long read the great critic,
that word "copiously" is tantamount to his full signature, so
persistently does he use it), "but her performance was flecked with those
tigerish gleams that seem to be a part of her method. She will probably
find difficulty in equaling in any other line her success as _Cora_."

No animal had ever a keener sense of approaching danger than I had, when
my professional welfare was threatened, and these small straws told me
plainly which way the wind was beginning to blow, and now, looking back,
I am convinced that just one more "tigerish part" at that time would have
meant artistic ruin to me, for, figuratively speaking, pens were already
dipped to write me down "a one-part actress."

Then, one bitter cold day we returned to New York and Mr. Daly, sending
for me, said he must ask a favor of me. A form of speech that literally
made me "sit up straight"--yes, and gasp, too, with astonishment. With a
regretful sigh he went on: "I suppose you know you are a strong
attraction?"

I smiled broadly at his evident disapproval of such knowledge on my part,
and he continued: "But in this play there is no part for you--yet I
greatly need all my strongest people in this first cast. Of course as far
as ability is concerned you could play the _Countess_ and make a hit, but
she's too old--so you'll not play the mother to marriageable daughters
under my management, even in an emergency. Now I have Miss Morant, Miss
Davenport and Miss Dietz, but--but I must have your name, too."

I nodded vigorously--I understood. And having seen the play in Paris,
where it was one of the three pieces offered for an evening's programme,
I mentally reviewed the cast and presently made answer, cheerfully and
honestly: "Oh, yes! I see--it's that--'er--_Aline?_ _Justine?_ No, no!
_Claudine?_ that's the name of the maid. You want me to go on for that?
All right! anything to help!"

He leaned forward, asking, eagerly: "Do you mean that?"

"Of course I do!" I answered.

"Ah!" he cried, "you don't guess well, Miss Morris, but you've the heart
of a good comrade, and now I'm sure you will do as I ask you, and play
_Alixe_ for me?"

I sprang to my feet with a bound. "_Alixe?_" I cried. "I to play that
child? oh, impossible! No--no! I should be absurd! I--I--I know too
much--oh, you understand what I mean! She is a little convent-bred bit of
innocence--a veritable baby of sixteen years! Dear Mr. Daly don't you
see, I should ruin the play?"

He answered, rather coldly: "You are not given to ruining plays. The part
does not amount to much. Good heavens! I admit it does not suit you, but
think of my position; give me the benefit of your name as _Alixe_ for one
single week, and on the second Monday night Miss Jewett shall take the
part off your hands."

"But," I whimpered, "the critics will make me the butt of their ridicule,
for I can't make myself look like an _Alixe_."

"Oh, no they won't!" he answered, sharply. "Of course you won't expect a
success, but you need fear no gibes for trying to help me out of a
dramatic hole. Will you help me?" And of course there was nothing to do
but swallow hard and hold out my hand for the unwelcome part.

Imagine my surprise when, on my way to rehearsal, I saw posters up,
announcing the production of the play of "Alixe." I met Mr. Daly at the
door and said: "Why this play was always called 'The Countess of
Somerive.'"

"Yes," he replied, "I know--but 'Alixe' looks well, it's odd and
pretty--and well, it will lend a little importance to the part!"--which
shows how heavy were the scales upon our eyes while we were rehearsing
the new play.

Everyone sympathized with me, but said a week would soon pass, and I
groaned and ordered heelless slippers, and flaxen hair parted simply and
waved back from the temples to fall loosely on the shoulders, to avoid
the height that heels and the fashionable chignon would give me, while a
thin, white nun's veiling gown, high-necked and long-sleeved, over a
low-cut white silk lining, buttoned at the back and finished with a pale
blue sash and little side pocket, completed the costume, I prepared for
the character. I was beginning to understand, as I studied her, and
shamefacedly--to love!

Oh, yes, one often feels dislike or liking for the creature one is trying
to represent. Just at first I said to myself, here is a modern _Ophelia_,
but I was soon convinced that the innocence of _Alixe_ was far more
perfect than had been that of Shakespeare's weakling, who, through the
training of court life, the warnings of a shrewd brother, and the
admonitions of a tricky father, had learned many things--was ductile in
stronger hands and could play a part; could lead a lover on to speech,
without giving slightest hint of the hateful watching eyes she knew were
upon him.

Poor "Rose of May," whose sweetness comes to us across the ages! As the
garden-spider's air-spun silken thread is cast from bough to twig across
the path, so her fragile thread of life looped itself from father to
lover, to brother, to queen, and all the web was threaded thick with
maiden's tears, made opalescent by rosy love, green hope, and violet
despair. But each one she clung to raised a hand to brush the fragile
thing aside, and so destroyed it utterly. Yet that tangled wreck of
beauty, sweetness, and "a young maid's wits," remains one of the world's
dearest possessions--the fair _Ophelia_!

But this modern maid was yet unspotted by the world. She found all earth
perfect, as though God had just completed it, and loved ardently and
without shame, as the innocent do love. For this pure flower of crime
was ignorant, to the point of bliss, of evil in the world about her.
While her adored mother was to her as the blessed Madonna herself.

More and more convincing, as I carefully studied the part, became that
perfect innocence. Not cold or reserved, but alive with faith, quivering,
too, with girlish mirth, yet innocent. And as with roots deep in rankest,
blackest ooze and mud, the lily sends up into the sunlit air its
stainless, white-petaled blossom, to float in golden-hearted beauty upon
the surface of the stream, so all sweet and open-hearted _Alixe_ floated
into view.

And I was expected to act a part like that! I worried day and night over
it. Should I do this, should I do that? No--no! she was not
coy--detestable word. I recalled the best _Ophelia_ I had ever seen--a
German actress. Would she do for a model? Perhaps--no! she was mystic,
strange, aloof!

Oh, dear! and then, by merest accident, my mind wandered away to the
past, and I said to myself, it should not be so hard. Every woman has
been innocent. I was innocent enough when my first sweetheart paused at
my side to say to me the foolish old words that never lose sweetness and
novelty. I recalled with what open pleasure I had listened, with what
honest satisfaction I accepted his attention. With a laugh I exclaimed:
"I didn't even have sense enough to hide my gratification and pride, or
to _pretend the least bit_." I stopped suddenly--light seemed to come
into my mind. Innocence is alike the world over, I thought; it only
differs in degree. I sprang to my feet! I cried joyously: "I have caught
the cue, I do believe--_I won't act at all!_ I'll just speak the lines
sincerely and simply and leave the effect to Providence."

The scales loosened a trifle over Mr. Daly's eyes at the last rehearsal
but one. He was down in the orchestra speaking to the leader when I came
to the end of the act, and the words: "The mother whom I have insulted?
That young girl, then, is my sister--the sister whose happiness I have
stolen? whose future I have shattered? What--is--there--left--for--me to
live for?"

Mr. Daly glanced up, and said, sharply: "What's that? 'er, Miss Morris,
what are you going to do there as the curtain falls? I--I haven't noticed
that speech before. Go back a bit, Mr. Fisher, Miss Morant, back to the
Count's entrance; let me hear that again."

We went over the scene again: "H-e-m-m!" said Mr. Daly; "you've not
answered my question, Miss Morris. What do you do at the fall of the
curtain?"

"Nothing, sir," I answered, "just stare dazedly at space, I
think--swaying a little perhaps."

"I want you to fall!" he declared.

"Oh!" I exclaimed, "please, don't you think that would be rather
melodramatic? If she could stand while receiving that awful shock about
her mother's shame she would hardly fall afterward, from mere horror of
her own thoughts?"

"I know all that, but let me tell you there's always great effect in a
falling body. At any rate you can sink into a chair--and so get the
suggestion of collapse."

"There is no chair," I answered, cheerfully.

"Well," he replied, testily, "there can be one, I suppose. Here, boy,
bring a large chair and place it behind Miss Morris."

"Mr. Daly," I argued, "if I fall heavily, as I must, for effect, the
chair will jump, and that will be funny--see."

I fell--it did start backward, but Mr. Daly was equal to the emergency.
"Take off the castors and place the chair hard against the end of the
piano; now try!"

I did; the chair was firm as a rock. It was settled; I did as I was told,
and fell at the end of the act ever after. And Mr. Daly came and patted
me on the back, and said, kindly: "Don't fret; I honestly believe there's
something in the little part after all. That speech made me feel creepy."

But the scales on my own eyes were still firm and tight, and all I could
see in the play was the strength, power, and passion of the scenes
between the _Count_ and _Countess_, and the probable hit of Mr. Louis
James in his part of the _Duc de Mirandol_. The fate of this play rested
in other hands than mine, thank goodness, and I rejoiced in the freedom
from responsibility my small part gave me, and planned what I would do
when Miss Jewett took _Alixe_.

The great night came. Another small auditorium awaited the coming of our
patrons. There was a smell of scarce dried paint in front of the curtain
and of scrubbing-soap behind it; but all was bright and fresh, and the
house was soon packed with a brilliant audience. As the play to be
produced had but a small cast, and as Mr. Daly was anxious that the
entire company should share in this house-warming, he had invited Mr.
John Brougham to write a sort of prologue, giving a few apt lines to
every member of the company, and then to proceed to the play. This was
done--but, alas! Mr. Brougham's work was utterly unworthy of him. There
was not one flash of his wonderful wit. He confined himself to comments
upon the fire, after this manner; I spoke, saying:

"I can't remember half the things I lost, I fear----"

_Mr. Lewis_ (breaking in). "One article you have not lost----"

_C. M._ "What?"

_Lewis._ "'L'Article 47,' my dear."

Then Miss Jewett came forward to exclaim:

      "My lovely 'peau de soie,'
      The sweetest thing in silk I ever saw!"

It was only spoken one night. But the audience was so heartily kind to us
all that many of us had tears of sheer gratitude in our eyes. We were in
evening dress and were formed in a crescent-like line from box to box, as
the heavy red curtains parted revealing us, and Mr. Daly was very proud
of his family of manly-looking men and gracious women, and the audience
greeted the assembled company heartily. But that was nothing to the
welcome given as each favorite actor or actress stepped forward to
speak--and I was happy, happy, happy! when I found myself counted in as
one of them, with the welcome to the beautiful Davenport, Jewett, Dietz,
to the ever-favored Mrs. Gilbert, no longer, no heartier than my own! And
as I bowed low and gratefully, for just one moment I could not help
wishing that I had an important part to play, instead of the childish
thing awaiting me.

The prologue being over, Mr. Daly, with a frowning, disappointed face,
told those of the play to make all possible haste in changing their
dresses, that they might get to work and rub out the bad impression
already made.

Every important occasion seems to have its touch of the ridiculous, and
so had this one. The "bustle"--the big wire affair, extending to the
bottom of the skirt, had reached its hideous apogee of fashion at that
time, yet what possible relation could there be between that teetering
monstrosity and grace or sentiment or tragedy? Surely, I thought, this
girl-pupil, brought straight from convent-school to country-home, might
reasonably be bustleless--and I should look so much smaller--so much more
graceful! But--Mr. Daly? Never--never! would he consent to such a breach
of propriety! Fashion his soul loved! He pored over her plates! he bowed
to her mandates!

My courage having failed me, when I hurried to my room I put on the
obnoxious structure; but one glimpse of that camel-like hump on the back
of _Alixe_, and the thought of the fall in the chair made me desperate. I
tore the mass of wire off, and decided to keep out of sight till the last
moment, and then make a rush for the stage.

"Ready, Miss Morris?"

"Ready!" I answered, as the question was asked from door to door.

In a few moments the call-boy came back again: "Are you ready? Everyone
is out there but you."

"Oh, yes!" I said, showing myself to him, but still not leaving the
shelter of my room; and I heard him saying: "Yes, sir, she's all ready, I
saw her."

The curtain rose. Only a few lines were spoken before my entrance. I
dared wait no longer--heavens! no! for there was Mr. Daly coming for me.
I gathered up my skirts as bunchily as I could and ran out; but I could
not deceive Mr. Daly. In an instant he missed the necessary camel's hump.
"Good heaven and earth!" he shouted, "you've left your bustle!"

I broke into a run. "Wait!" he cried, loudly. He dashed into my open
room, caught the big bustle up, and dragging it like a great cage behind
him, came plunging down the entrance to me, crying: "Wait--wait!" and
waving the other hand commandingly above his head.

I heard my music; I sprang to the platform I had to enter from. "That's
me!" I cried. "Wait!" he ordered and reached out to catch me. I evaded
his grasp and skipped through the door, leaving but a fold of my skirt in
his hand. I was on the stage--and joy, oh, joy! I was without a bustle!

Mr. Daly did not like being laughed at, but when he glanced down and saw
the thing he was dragging behind him, after the manner of a baby's tin
wagon, he had to laugh, and verily there were others who laughed with
him, while the scandalized dresser carried the rejected article back to a
decent seclusion.

There is no manager, star, or agent alive whose experience will enable
him to foresee the fate of an untried play. A very curious thing is that
what is called an "actor's" play--one, that is, that actors praise and
enjoy in the rehearsing, is almost always a failure, while the managerial
judgment has been reversed so often by the public, that even the most
enthusiastic producer of new plays is apt "to hedge" a bit, with: "Unless
I deceive myself, this will prove to be the greatest play," etc.; while
the mistakes made by actors and managers both anent the value of certain
parts are illustrated sufficiently by E. H. Sothern, C. W. Couldock,
Joseph Jefferson--all three of whom made immense hits in parts they had
absolutely refused to accept, yielding only from necessity or
obligingness, and to their own astonishment finding fame in presenting
the unwelcome characters. And to the misjudged _Lord Dundreary_, _Asa
Trenchard_, etc., that night was added the name of _Alixe_.

Refined, intensely modern, the play was nevertheless a dread tragedy, and
being French it almost naturally dealt with the breaking of a certain
great commandment. And now--see: we actors thought that the stress and
power of the play would be shown in the confession of the wife and in the
scene of wild recrimination between her and the _Comte de Somerive_, when
they met after eighteen years of separation. But see, how different was
the view the public took. In the very first place then, when I escaped
the bustle, and entered, straight, and slim, art had so reduced my usual
height and changed my coloring, that until I spoke I was not recognized.
The kindly welcome then given me calmed my fears, and I said to myself:
"I can't be looking ridiculous in the part, or they would not do that!"
And women, at least, can understand how my very soul was comforted by the
knowledge. And just then a curious sense of joy seemed to bubble up in my
heart. The sudden relief, the feeling of irresponsibility, the
first-night excitement. Perhaps one, perhaps all together caused it. I
don't know--I only know that meaning no disrespect, no irreverence, I
could have sung aloud from the Benedicite: "_Omnia opera Domini!_" "Bless
ye the Lord: praise him and magnify him forever!"

And the audience accepted the joyous little maid almost from the first
girlish, love-betraying words she spoke, and yet--so sensitive is an
audience at times--while still laughing over her sweet ignorance, they
thrilled with a nameless dread of coming evil. They seemed to see the
blue sky darkening, the threatening clouds piling up silently behind the
white-robed child, whose perfect innocence left her so alone! Before the
first act ended we discovered that the tragedy was shifting from the
sinful mother and was settling down with crushing weight upon the
shoulders of the stainless child. Indeed, the whole play was like a
dramatization of the awful words: "The sins of the fathers shall be
visited upon the children!"

As the play went on and the impetuous grief of the child changed into
proud self-restraint, while her agonizing jealousy of her adored mother
developed, Mr. Daly, with wide, bright eyes, exclaimed: "I must have been
blind--stone-blind! Why _Alixe_ is the bone and marrow, the heart and
soul of this play!"

Certainly the audience seemed to share his belief, for it called and
called and called again for that misunderstood young person, in addition
to the hearty approval bestowed upon the other more prominent characters.
It was a very fine cast, Miss Fanny Morant making a stately and powerful
_Comtesse de Somerive_, while Mr. Louis James gave a performance of the
_Duc de Mirandol_ that I never saw even approached again. Every other
actor made of him either a fool or a brute, while James made of him a
delightful enigma--a sort of well-bred simpleton, rattle-brain, and
braggart, who at the last moment shows himself, beneath all disguise, a
brave and loyal gentleman.

But the greatest triumph for _Alixe_ followed in that act--the last--in
which she does not speak at all. She had been able to bear loss, sorrow,
renunciation, but as in olden times poison-tests were kept, crystal cups
of such rare purity they shattered under contact with an evil liquid--so
her pure heart broke at contact with her mother's shame. Poor, loving,
little base-born! Pathetic little marplot! Seeing herself as only a
stumbling-block to others, she sought self-effacement beneath the gentle
waters of the lily-pond. And early in that last act, as her drowned body,
carried in the arms of the two men who had loved her, was laid before the
starting eyes of the guilty mother, and the loving, forgiving, pleading
letter of the suicide was read above her, actual sobs rose from the front
of the house. It _was_ a heart-breaking scene.

But when the curtain fell, oh! what a very whirlwind broke loose in that
little theatre! The curtain shot up and down, up and down, and then, to
my amazement, Mr. Daly signaled for me to go before the curtain, and I
couldn't move. He stamped his foot and shouted: "Come over here and take
this call!" and I called back: "I can't! I am all pinned up, so I can't
walk!"

For, that my skirts might not fall away from my ankles, when I was being
carried across the stage, I had stood upon a chair and had my garments
tightly wound about me and securely fastened, and unfortunately the pins
were behind--and I all trussed up, nice and tight and helpless.

Mr. Daly came tearing over to me, and down he went upon his knee to try
to free me, but a muttered "D----n!" told me that he could not find the
pins, and the applause, oh, the precious applause that was being wasted
out there! Suddenly he rose--tossed that extraordinary hat of his off,
picked me up in his arms and carried me like a big property doll to the
curtain's side, signaled it up, and, with his arm about me, supported me
on to the stage. Oh, but I was proud to stand there with him, for in
those days he would not make the simplest speech; would not show himself
even. Why, at the banquet of his own giving, he hid behind a big floral
piece and made Mr. Oakey Hall speak for him. And yet he had been pleased
enough with my work to bring me there himself. I saw his hand upon my
shoulder, and suddenly I stooped my head and kissed it, in purest
gratitude.

Afterward, when I had been unpinned, as we walked through the entrance
together, he said, with a gleeful laugh: "This is the third and greatest,
but we share it."

"The third what?" I asked.

"The third surprise," he answered. "First you surprised the town in 'Man
and Wife'; second, you surprised _me_ in 'L'Article 47'; now 'Alixe'--the
greatest of all--surprises you as well as me!"

He stopped, stepped in front of me and asked: "What do you most wish
for?"

I stared at him. He added, "About your home, say?"

And swiftly I made answer: "A writing-desk; why?"

He laughed a little and said: "Good-night, now. Oh, by the way, there's a
forfeit against you for not wearing your bustle to-night."

But I was not greatly alarmed or excited--not half so much as I was next
day, about four o'clock, when some men drove up and insisted upon leaving
in my room a handsome inlaid desk that was taller than I was. At first I
protested, but a card, saying that it was "A souvenir of 'Alixe,' from
your manager and friend, A. Daly," changed my bearing to one of most
unseemly pride.

In the next ten days I wrote I think to every soul I knew, and kept up my
diary with vicious exactitude, just for the pleasure of sitting before
the lovely desk, that to-day stands in my "den" in the attic. Its
mirror-door, is dim and cloudy, its sky-blue velvet writing-leaf faded to
a silvery gray, but even so it still remains "A souvenir of 'Alixe,' from
A. Daly."



CHAPTER FORTY-FIRST

  Trouble about Obnoxious Lines in "Madeline Morel"--Mr. Daly's
  Manipulation of Father X: In Spite of our Anxiety the Audience accepts
  the Situation and the Play--Mr. Daly gives me the smallest Dog in New
  York.


The last and fourth success that was granted to me under Mr. Daly's
management was in "Madeline Morel." Of course I played in many plays,
sometimes small, comparatively unimportant parts, sometimes, as in the
two-hundred-night run of "Divorce," I played a long, hard-working part,
that was without any marked characteristic or salient feature to make a
hit with.

But I only mention "Madeline Morel" because of a couple of small
incidents connected with its production. First of all, let me say that I
believe Mr. Daly, who was an ardent Catholic, was not the first manager
to give benefits to the Orphan Asylums, for I think that had long been a
custom, but he was the first to arrange those monster programmes, which
included the names of every great attraction in the city--bar none. The
result was not merely an Academy of Music literally packed, but crowds
turned from its doors. I remember what excitement there was over the
gathering together in one performance of such people as Fechter, Sothern,
Adelaide Neilson, Aimée, and Mr. and Mrs. Barney Williams. I first saw
the beautiful Mary Anderson at one of these benefits, as well as those
two clever English women, Rose Coghlan and Jeffreys Lewis. Later on, when
I was under Mr. Palmer's management, I had an experience at a benefit
that I am not likely to forget. I had consented to do the fourth act of
"Camille" (the ball-room scene), and when I swept through the crowd of
"guests," every word was wiped clean out of my memory, for as they faced
me I recognized in the supposed supers and extras all the various
stars--the leading ladies and gentlemen who had had a place on the
lengthy programme. Working hard, giving of their best, they had all
laughingly joined in this gracious whim of playing supernumeraries in
Dumas's ball-scene. And I remember that Mademoiselle Aimée was
particularly determined to be recognized as she walked and strolled up
and down. Once I whispered imploringly to her: "Turn your back, Madame!"
but she laboriously answered: "Non! I haiv' not of ze shame to be supe
for you, Mademoiselle!" It was a charming compliment, but more than a bit
overwhelming to its recipient.

Well, Mr. Daly having originated, as I believe, these splendid and
lengthy benefit performances, was, as a result, able to place a goodly
sum of money at the service of the Asylum authorities, and naturally he
received warm thanks from his Church.

Then, when "Madeline Morel" came along, with the great cathedral scene,
we all stood aghast at what I was called upon to say and do. Everyone was
on the stage, and nearly everyone whispered: "Sacrilege!" I stopped
stock-still, in sheer fright. Mr. Daly pulled nervously at the lapel of
his coat for a moment, and then said, sharply, "Go on!" I obeyed, but
right behind me someone said: "And he calls himself a Catholic!"

It was a horrid bit, in an otherwise beautiful and impressive act. As a
"sister" who had served the "novitiate," I had just taken the life vows
and had been invested with the black veil. Then the wedding procession
and the Church procession, coming from opposite sides and crossing before
the altar, like a great "X," brought the bridegroom and the black nun
face to face, in dreadful recognition, and in the following scene I had
to drag from my head the veil and swathing white linen--had to tear from
my breast the cross, and, trampling it under foot, stretch my arms to
Heaven and, with upraised face, cry: "I call down upon my guilty soul
the thunders of a curse, that none may hear and live!" and then fall
headlong, as though my challenge had been accepted.

Nothing was talked of day or night but that scene, and those of the
company who were Catholics were particularly excited, and they cried:
"Why, if we find it so repellant, what on earth will an audience think of
it?"

Some prophesied hisses, some that the people would rise and leave the
theatre. That Mr. Daly was uneasy about its effect he did not attempt to
hide, and one day he said to me: "I think I'll call on Father X---- (his
confessor and friend) to-morrow evening, and get his--well--his opinion
on this matter." But, unfortunately, rumors had already reached churchly
ears, and the reverend gentleman came that same day to inquire of Mr.
Daly concerning them. I say "unfortunately," because Mr. Daly was a
masterful man and resented anything like interference. Had he been
permitted to introduce the matter himself, no doubt a few judicious
words from the priest would have induced him to tone down the
objectionable speech and action: but the visit to him rubbed him the
wrong way and aroused every particle of obstinacy in him. He described
the play, however, assured his old friend there were no religious
arguments, no homilies in it, but when he came to _the_ scene, the
Father shook his head: "No--no! my son!" said he, "I do not see how that
can be sanctioned."

Mr. Daly reasoned, argued, almost pleaded; but though it evidently hurt
the good man to refuse, since he was greatly attached to his son in the
church, he still shook his head and at last declared it was a serious
matter, and he would have to bring it to the Bishop's attention. But that
was just what Mr. Daly did not want. "Can you not see, Father," he said,
"these lines are spoken in a frenzy? They come from the lips of a woman
mad with grief and trouble! They have not the value or the consequence of
words spoken by a sane person!"

The priest shook his head. Suddenly Mr. Daly ceased his arguments and
persuasions. After a little silence, he said: "You cannot sanction this
scene, then, Father?"

A positive shake of the head. Mr. Daly looked pensively out of the
window.

"Too bad!" he sighed, "too bad!"

The kind old man sighed too, companionably.

"You see, if that scene is not done, the play cannot be done."

"Dear, dear!" murmured the priest.

"And if the play is not done, having nothing else at hand, I shall have
to close the season with the old play, and naturally that will mean bad
business."

"Too bad, too bad!" muttered the voice, comfortably.

"And if the season ends badly, why, of course, there can be no charity
benefit."

"What?" sharply exclaimed the erstwhile calm voice. "No benefit for our
poor? Why--why--'er--I--dear me! and the Asylum needs help so
badly!--'er--a 'frenzy' you said, my son? Spoken in
madness?--'er--I--well--I will give the matter serious thought, and I'll
acquaint you with my conclusion," and evidently much disturbed he
retired.

And when Mr. Daly told me this, he added, with a twinkle in his eye: "He
will get the benefit, surely enough." And when he saw my bewilderment, he
added: "Don't you see? I had my doubts about the Bishop, but dear old
Father X---- will be so anxious about his orphans that he will make
things right for me with him, for their sakes." A view of the matter that
proved to be correct. Verily a clever man was our manager.

Day after day we rehearsed, and day after day I hoped that the dreadful
bit of business might be toned down. At last my nerves gave way
completely, and after a particularly trying rehearsal I rushed to the
managerial office, and, bursting into tears, begged hard to be excused
from trampling the cross under foot.

"Surely," I sobbed, "it's bad enough to have to tear off the
veil--and--and--I'm afraid something will happen!"

"And," said Mr. Daly, "to tell you the truth, I'm afraid, too!"

He gave me a glass of water, and waiting a moment for me to conquer my
tears, he went on: "I'm glad you have come in, I was just about sending
for you."

"Oh!" I interrupted, "you are going to cut something out?" But he
answered, gravely: "No! I shall cut nothing out! But look here, you are a
brave girl, and forewarned is forearmed, you know, so I am going to speak
quite plainly. I don't know how the public may receive that bit of
business; perhaps with dead silence; perhaps with hisses."

I sprang to my feet. "Sit down!" he said, "and listen. You shall not be
held responsible, in the slightest degree, for the scene, I promise you
that. If anything disagreeable happens it shall be fairly stated that you
played under protest. It is, of course, possible that the scene may go
along all right, but I want to warn you that you may prepare yourself for
the storm, should it come. I don't want you to be taken unawares and have
you faint or lose your nerve. So, now whenever you go over your part and
reach that point, say to yourself: 'Here they hiss!' Don't look so pale.
I'm sorry you have to bear the brunt alone, but you will be brave, won't
you?"

And I rose, and after my usual habit, tried to jest, as I answered:
"Since you alone gave me my opportunity of being _applauded_ in New York,
I suppose it's only fair that I should accept this opportunity of being
_hissed_."

Excited and miserable I went home. Faithfully I followed Mr. Daly's
suggestion. But no matter how often I went over the scene, whenever I
said: "Here they hiss," my face went white, my hands turned cold as
stone. 'Twas fortunate the first performance was near, for I could not
have borne the strain long. As it was, I seemed to wear my nerves on the
outside of my clothes until the dreaded night was over.

The play had gone finely; most of the people were well cast. Miss Morant,
Miss Davenport, Miss Jewett, Miss Varian especially so; while Fisher,
Lewis, Lemoyne, Crisp, Clark, and James did their best to make a success
and close in glory the season that had been broken in half by the burning
of the home theatre. The end of the third act had been mine. The
passionate speech of renunciation and farewell had won the favor of the
house, and call after call followed. As I had played the scene alone, I
should have been proud and happy--should have counted the calls with a
miser's gloating satisfaction. But instead my blood was already chilling
with dread of the coming act.

"Good Lord, child!" said Mr. Daly, "your face is as long as my arm! Don't
anticipate evil--take the good the gods send you. You are making a hit
and you're losing all the pleasure of it. I'm ashamed of you!"

But he wrung my fingers hard, even as he spoke, and I knew that his words
were, what the boys call a "bluff."

Then the curtain was rising. The cathedral scene won a round of applause,
and kneeling at the altar, as children say, "I scringed" at the sound.
Then after a little I was coming down the stage and the audience,
recognizing _Madeline_ in the nun, applauded long and heartily, and I
fairly groaned aloud. After that the act proceeded really with stately
dignity, but to my terrified eyes it seemed indecent haste; and as I fell
into line with the Church procession of sisters, of novices, of priests
and acolytes, I felt myself a morsel in a kaleidoscopic picture of bright
colors, the churchly purple and its red and white, the brilliant gowns of
the women of fashion, the golden organ-pipes, the candles burning
star-like upon the altar, the massed flowers, and over all, giving a
touch of floating unreality to everything, the clouds of incense.

Then suddenly, out of the bluish haze, there gleamed the white, set face,
for love of which I was to sacrifice my very soul! The scene was on,
swift, passionate, and furious, and almost before I could realize it, the
dreadful words had been spoken--and with my foot upon the cross, I stood
in a silence the like of which I had never known before! I had not
fallen--stricken absolutely motionless with terror I stood--waiting.

In that crowded building even breathing seemed suspended. There reigned a
silence, like to death itself! It was awful! Then without changing my
attitude by the movement of a finger, I pitched forward, falling heavily
at the feet of the dismayed lover and the indignant priest. And suddenly,
sharply as by a volley of musketry, the silence was broken by applause.
Yes, actually by applause, and beneath its noise I heard a voice behind
me gasp: "Well, I'll be blest!"

When all was ended, and after the final courtesies had been extended and
gratefully accepted, there was an outburst of excited comment, and more
than one experienced actor declared that never again would they even try
to anticipate the conduct of an audience. Old Mr. Fisher told Mr. Daly
he had felt the rising hiss and he was positive it was regard for the
woman that had restrained its expression.

Mr. Daly patted the old gentleman on the shoulder and answered:
"Perhaps--perhaps! but if for her sake the public has swallowed that
scene one night, the public have got to go on swallowing it every
night--and that's the important point for us."

Very shamefacedly I apologized for not falling at the proper time, and as
I hurriedly promised to do so the next night, to my surprise Mr. Daly
stopped me with a quick: "No! no! change nothing! I was in front, and
that pause, staring straight up into heaven, was tremendously effective.
It was as if God offered you a moment to repent in--then struck you down!
Change nothing, and to-morrow you shall have your heart's desire."

I gazed at him in amazement. He laughed a bit maliciously and said: "Old
heat-registers and things carry voices. I hear many things. I have heard,
for instance, about a man named Dovey and a wonderful toy terrier that
weighs by ounces. I wouldn't open my eyes any wider, if I were you; they
might stay that way. Well, will you show me the way to Dovey's by eleven
to-morrow?"

"But," I faltered, "I'm afraid of the price----"

"That's my affair," he answered curtly, then added, more kindly,
"Good-night! you have behaved well, Miss Morris, and if I can give you a
pleasure--I shall be glad."

And next day I owned the tiniest dog in New York, who slept in a
collar-box, by my pillow, that I might not hurt it in the night. Whose
bark was like a cambric needle, and who, within five minutes after her
arrival, challenged to deadly combat my beloved Bertie, who weighed good
four pounds.



CHAPTER FORTY-SECOND

  I am Engaged to Star part of the Season--Mr. Daly Breaks his
  Contract--I Leave him and under Threat of Injunction--I meet Mr. Palmer
  and make Contract and appear at the Union Square in the "Wicked World."


The third season in New York was drawing to its close, and by most
desperate struggling I had managed just to keep my head above water--that
was all. I not only failed to get ahead by so much as a single dollar,
but I had never had really enough of anything. We were skimped on
clothes, skimped on food, indeed we were skimped on everything, except
work and hope deferred. When, lo! a starring tour was proposed to me.
After my first fright was over I saw a possibility of earning in that way
something more than my mere board, though, truth to tell, I was not
enraptured with the prospect of joining that ever-moving caravan of
homeless wanderers, who barter home, happiness, and digestive apparatus
for their percentage of the gross, and the doubtful privilege of having
their own three-sheet posters stare them out of countenance in every town
they visit. Yet without the brazen poster and an occasional lithograph
hung upside down in the window of a German beer saloon, one would lack
the proof of stardom.

No, I had watched stars too long and too closely to believe theirs was a
very joyous existence; besides, I felt I had much to learn yet, and that
New York was the place to learn it in; so, true to my promise, off I went
and laid the matter before Mr. Daly--and he _did_ take on, but for such
an odd reason. For though he paid me the valued compliment of saying he
could not afford to lose me, his greatest anger was aroused by what he
called the "demoralization" my act would bring into his company.

"You put that bee in their bonnets and its buzzing will drown all
commands, threats, or reasons. Every mother's son and daughter of them
will demand the right to star! Why, confound it! Jimmie Lewis, who has
had one try at it, is twisting and writhing to get at it again--even now;
and as for Miss Davenport, she will simply raise the dead over her effort
to break out starring, and Ethel--oh, well, she's free now to do as she
likes. But you star one week and you'll see how quick she will take the
cue, while Miss--oh, it's damnable! You can't do it! it will set everyone
on end!"

"If you will give me a salary equal to that of other people, who do much
less work than I do, I will stay with you," I said.

But he wanted me to keep to the small salary and let him "make it up to
me," meaning by that, his paying for the stage costumes and occasional
gifts, etc. But that was not only unbusiness-like and
unsatisfactory--though he undoubtedly would have been generous
enough--but it was a bit humiliating, since it made me dependent on his
whims and, worst of all, it opened the door to possible scandal, and I
had but one tongue to deny with, while scandal had a thousand tongues to
accuse with.

It was a queer whim, but he insisted that he could not give me the really
modest salary I would remain for, though, in his own words, I should have
"three times its value." Finally we agreed that I should give him three
months of the season every year as long as he might want my services, and
the rest of the season I should be free to make as much money as I could,
starring. He told me to go ahead and make engagements at once to produce
"L'Article 47" or "Alixe"--I to pay him a heavy nightly royalty for each
play, and when my engagements were completed to bring him the list, that
he might not produce "Alixe" with his company before me in any city that
I was to visit. I did as he had requested me. I was bound in every
contract to be the first to present "L'Article 47" or "Alixe" in that
city. I was then to open in Philadelphia. I had been announced as a
coming attraction, when I received startling telegrams and threats from
the local manager that "Mr. Daly's Fifth Avenue Company" was announced to
appear the week before me in "Alixe," in an opposition house. Thus Mr.
Daly had most cruelly broken faith with me. I went to him at once. I
reproached him. I said: "These people will sue me!"

"Bah!" he sneered, "they can't take what you have not got!"

"But," I cried, "they will throw over my engagement!"

His face lit up with undisguised pleasure. He thrust his hand into the
open desk-drawer. "Ah," he smiled, "I have a part here that might have
been written for you. It is great--honestly great, and with this starring
business disposed of, we can get at it early!"

I rose. I said: "Mr. Daly, you have done an unworthy thing, you have
broken faith with me. If you produce 'Alixe' next week, I will never play
for you again!"

"You will have to!" he threatened. "I have broken the verbal part of our
contract, but you cannot prove it, nor can you break the written part of
the contract!"

I repeated: "I shall play for you no more!"

And he hotly answered: "Well, don't you try playing for anyone else. I
give you fair warning--I'll enjoin you if you do! The law is on my side,
remember."

"My dear sir," I said, "the law was not specially created for you to have
fun with, and it has an odd way of protecting women at times. I shall at
all events appeal to it to-morrow morning."

Next morning my salary was sent to me. I took from it what was due me for
two nights' work I had done early in the week, and returned the rest,
saying: "As I am not a member of the company, no salary need be sent me."
And eleven o'clock found me in the office of ex-Judge William Fullerton.

He declared that my mind showed a strong legal bent, and he congratulated
me upon my refusal of the proffered salary. "If," said he, "you receive a
desirable offer in the way of an engagement, take it at once and without
fear. Mr. Daly will threaten you, of course, but I can't believe his
lawyers will permit him to take this matter into court. In attacking you
he will attack every young, self-supporting woman in New York, in your
person. The New York man will sympathize with you. Public opinion is a
great power, and no manager wishes to see it arrayed against him."

And thus it happened that I was not legally quite off with the old
manager when I was on with the new--in the person of Mr. A. M. Palmer, my
sometime manager and still my honored friend. Our relations were always
kindly, yet to this hour I squirm mentally when I recall our first
meeting. I was taking some chocolate at a woman's restaurant on Broadway,
and a common friend brought the "Union Square" manager in and introduced
him, simply as a friend, for whatever my secret hope, there had been no
open word spoken about business in connection with this interview. But,
given a meeting between an idle actress and an active manager, a
Barkis-like willingness to talk business is sure to develop.

Looking up and seeing Mr. Harriott advancing toward my table with a
strange gentleman in tow, I gave a nervous swallow and fixed my attention
upon the latter. His rigid propriety of expression, the immaculately
spotless and creaseless condition of his garments made me expect each
moment to hear the church-bells clang out an invitation to morning
service. Being presented, he greeted me with a gentle coldness of
manner--if I may use the expression--that sent my heart down like lead.
Now extreme nervousness on my part nearly always expresses itself in
rapid, almost reckless speech, and directly I was off at a tangent,
successfully sharing with them the fun of various absurdities going on
about us; until, in an evil moment, my eye fell upon the smug face of a
young rural beau, whose terrified delight in believing himself a very
devil of a fellow was so ludicrously evident, that one wept for the
presence of a Dickens to embalm him in the amber of his wit.

"Oh!" I said, egged on by one of those imps who hover at the elbow of
just such women as I am, "can't you see he is a minister's son? He has
had more religion given to him than he can digest. He's taking a sniff of
freedom. He has kicked over the traces and he has not quite decided yet
whether he'll go to the demnition bow-wows entirely, or be moderately
respectable. He's a minister's son fast enough, but he doesn't know yet
whether he will manage a theatre in New York or run away with the
Sunday-school funds; and that red-haired young person oppo--opposite----"
And I trailed off stupidly, for judging by the ghastly silence that had
fallen upon my hearers and the stricken look upon Mr. Harriott's face, I
knew I had set my foot deep in some conversational morass. I turned a
frightened glance upon Mr. Palmer's face, and I have always been glad
that I was in time to catch the twinkling laughter in his cool, hazel
eyes. Then he leaned toward me and gently remarked: "I am the son of a
minister, Miss Morris, and the manager of a theatre, but upon my word the
Sunday-school funds never suffered at my hands."

"Oh!" I groaned. And I must have looked just as a pet dog does when it
creeps guiltily to its mistress's foot and waits to be smacked. I
_really_ must, because he suddenly broke into such hearty laughter. Then
presently he made a business proposition that pleased me greatly, but I
felt I must tell him that Mr. Daly promised to get out an injunction to
prevent my appearance anywhere, and he would probably not care to risk
any trouble. And then there came a little squeeze to Mr. Palmer's lips
and a little glint in his eye, as he remarked: "You accept my offer and
I'll know how to meet the injunction."

And I can't help it--being born on St. Patrick's Day and all that--if
people _will_ step on the tail of one's coat, why of course they must
expect "ructions." And to tell the honest truth, Mr. Palmer's perfect
willingness to fight that injunction filled me with unholy glee; which
combined beautifully with gratitude for his quick forgiveness of my _faux
pas_--and I signed a contract with Mr. Sheridan Shook and Mr. A. M.
Palmer and was announced to appear in "The Wicked World" at the Union
Square Theatre, and I was pursued day and night by slim young men with
black curly hair, who tried to push folded papers into my unwilling
hands; while life behind the scenes grew more and more strenuous, as
scene-shifters, property-men, and head carpenters, armed with braces and
screw-eyes, charged any unknown male creature that looked as if he could
define the word injunction.

The night came, and with it an equinoctial gale of perfect fury. Whether
the people were blown in by the storm or fought their way in by
intention, I can't decide. I only know they were there and in numbers
sufficient to crowd the bright and ruddy auditorium. They were a trifle
damp about the ankles and disordered about the hair, but their hands were
in prime working order, their hearts were warm, their perceptions
quick--what more could the most terrified actress pray for in an
audience?

The play was one of Gilbert's deliciously poetic satires--well cast,
beautifully produced, after the manner of Union Square productions
generally, and Success shook the rain off her wings and perched upon our
banners, and we were all filled with pride and joy, in spite of the young
men with folded white papers who swirled wildly up and down Fourth Avenue
in the storm, and of those other young men who came early and strove
diligently to get seats within reaching distance of the foot-lights, only
to find that by some strange accident both those rows of chairs were
fully occupied when the doors were first throw open. Yes, in spite of all
those disappointed young men, we had a success, and I was not enjoined.
Yet there were two rather long managerial faces there that night. For
unless my out-of-town managers threw me overboard, because of the
trouble about "Alixe," I could remain in this charming play of "The
Wicked World" but two short weeks. And no manager can be expected to
rejoice over the forced withdrawal of a success.

And right there Mr. Palmer saw fit to do a very gracious thing. After the
first outburst of anger and disappointment from Mr. Thomas Hall (my
Philadelphia manager), instead of breaking his engagement with me, as he
had every right to do, he stood by his contract to star me and at the
same terms, if I could provide a play--any play to fill the time with. I
had nothing of course but the Daly plays, so my thanks and utter
abandonment of the engagement were neatly packed within the regulation
ten telegraphic words, when Mr. Palmer offered me the use of his play,
"The Geneva Cross," written by George Fawcett Rowe. In an instant my
first telegram changed into a joyous acceptance. I was studying my part
at night, my mother was ripping, picking out and pressing at skirts and
things by day. Congratulating myself upon my good fortune in having once
seen the play in New York, I went to Philadelphia, and after just one
rehearsal of this strange play, I opened my starring engagement. Can I
ever forget the thrill I felt when I received my first thousand dollars?
I counted it by twenties, then by tens, but I got the most satisfaction
out of counting it by fives--it seemed so much more that way. I was
spending it with the aid of a sheet of foolscap paper and a long pencil
until after two o'clock in the morning. My mother to this day declares
that that was the very best black silk dress she has ever owned--that one
out of that first thousand she means, and on the wall here beside me
hangs a fine and rare engraving of the late Queen Victoria in her
coronation robes that I gave myself as a memento of that first wonderful
thousand. That, when the other managers saw that Mr. Hall kept faith with
me, and had apparently not lost by his action, they followed suit and all
my engagements were filled--thanks to Mr. Palmer's kindness and Mr.
Hall's pluck as well as generosity.



CHAPTER FORTY-THIRD

  We Give a Charity Performance of "Camille," and Are Struck with
  Amazement at our Success--Mr. Palmer Takes the Cue and Produces
  "Camille" for Me at the Union Square.


Then came the great "charity benefit," and "Camille"--that "Ninon de l'
Enclos" of the drama, who, in spite of her years, can still count lovers
at her feet.

It is amazing how much accident has to do with the career of actors.

Shakespeare says:

      "There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
      Rough-hew them how we will."

And heaven knows I "rough-hewed" the "Camille" proposition to the best of
my power. I came hurrying back to New York, specially to act at the
mighty benefit, given for the starving poor of the city. Every theatre
was to give a performance on the same day, and a ticket purchased was
good at any one of them. I had selected "Love's Sacrifice," an old
legitimate play, for that occasion and Mr. Palmer had cast it, when an
actress suddenly presented herself at his office declaring she had made
that play _her_ property, by her own exceptional work in it in former
years, at another theatre. Threatening hysterics often prove valuable
weapons in a manager's office, where, strangely enough, "a scene" is
hated above all things.

I was informed of this lady's claim to a play that was anybody's
property, and at once withdrew in the interest of peace. But what then
was to be done for the benefit? Every play proposed had some drawback.
Mr. Palmer suggested "Camille," and all my objections crowding to my lips
at once, I fairly stammered and spluttered over the expression of them: I
hated! hated! hated! the play! The people who had preceded me in it were
too great! I should be the merest pigmy beside them. I did not think
_Camille_ as vulgar and coarse as one great woman had made her--nor so
chill and nun-like as another had conceived her to be. And the critics
would fall upon me and joyously tear me limb from limb. They would justly
cry "Presumption," and--and--I had no clothes! no, not one stitch had I
to wear (of course you will make the usual allowance for an excited woman
and not take that literally!) and then, oh, dear! I'm dreadfully ashamed
of myself, but to tell the exact truth, I wept--for the first and only
time in my life--I wept from anger!

We all fumed--we, meaning Mr. Palmer, Mr. Cazauran, that ferret-faced,
mysterious little man, whose clever brain and dramatic instincts made him
so valuable about a theatre; and the big, silently observant Mr. Shook,
and I. Cazauran said he knew all the business of the play and could tell
me it, and began with certain things Miss Heron (the greatest _Camille_
America had had) had done, and I indignantly declared I would leave a
theatre before I would do as much. I argued it was unnecessary. _Camille_
was not brutal--she had associated with gentlemen, members of the
nobility, men who were acquainted with court circles. She would have
learned refinement of manners from them. Such brutalities would have
shocked and driven away the boyish, clean-hearted _Armand_. Her very
disease made her exquisitely sensitive to music, to beauty, to sentiment.
If she repelled, it was with cynicism, sarcasm, her evident knowledge of
the world. She allured men by the very refinement of her vice. And as I
paused to take breath, Mr. Shook's bass voice was heard for the first
time, as he asked, conclusively: "Whom can we get for _Armand_ on such
short notice?"

I turned piteously to Mr. Palmer: "The critics"--I gasped and stopped. He
smiled reassuringly and said: "Don't be frightened, Miss Morris, they
will never attack a piece of work offered in charity. Just do your best
and remember it's only for once."

"Dear Lord! only for once!" and with wet cheeks I made my way home, with
a copy of the detested play in my hand. Late that evening I was notified
that Mr. Mayo would play _Armand_.

I had not one dress suited for the part. I knew I should look like a
school-mistress in one act and a stage _ingénue_ in another. I had a
ball-room gown, but it was not a suitable color. I should only be correct
when I got into my night-dress and loose wrapper in the last act. Actress
fashion, I got my gowns together first, and then sat down with my string
of amber beads to study--I never learn anything so quickly as when I have
something to occupy my fingers, and my string of amber beads has assisted
me over many and many an hour of mental labor--a pleasanter custom than
that of walking and studying aloud, I think, and surely more agreeable to
one's near neighbors.

The rehearsing of that play was simply purgatorial. We went over two acts
on one stage one day and over three acts on another stage the next day,
and we shrieked our lines out against the tumult of creaking winches, of
hammering and sawing, of running and ordering--for every stage was filled
at the rear with rushing carpenters and painters. Yet those were the only
rehearsals that unfortunate play received for the benefit performance,
and, as a result, we were all abroad in the first act, in particular, and
I remember I spent a good part of my time in trying to induce the
handsome young English woman who did _Olympe_ to keep out of my chair and
to go to and from the piano at the right moment.

The house was packed to the danger-point, the play being given at what
was then called "The Lyceum," which Charles Fechter had just been having
remodeled, and the police discovering that day that the floor of the
balcony was settling at the right, under the too great weight, very
cleverly ordered the ushers to whisper a seeming message in the ear of a
person here, there, and yonder, who would nod, rise, and step quietly
out, returning a moment later to smilingly motion their party out with
them, and thus the weight was lightened without a panic being caused,
though it made one feel rather sick and faint afterward to note the depth
to which the floor had sagged under the feet of that tightly packed
audience.

James Lewis used to say to me: "Clara is the biggest fraud of a
first-nighter the profession can show. There she'll stand shivering and
shaking, white-sick with fright, waiting for her cue, and when she gets
it, she skips on and waltzes through her scene as if she'd been at it for
a year at least. No wonder Mr. Daly calls her his best first-nighter."

So at that first performance of "Camille," as Frank Mayo touched my icy
hand and burning brow, and saw the trembling of my limbs, as with
fever-dried lips I waited for the curtain's rise, he said: "God! but you
suffer! I reckon you'll not act much to-day, little woman!" And a few
minutes later, as I laughed and chatted gayly through the opening lines
of the play, I distinctly heard Frank say: "Well, of all the sells! Why
confound her, I'm twice as nervous as she is!"

The first act went with a sort of dash and go that was the result of pure
recklessness. The house was delighted. The curtain had to go up twice. We
all looked at one another, and then laughingly laid it to the crowd. The
second act went with such a rush and sweep of hot passion between
_Armand_ and _Camille_ that when _De Varville's_ torn letter was cast to
_Nanine_ as _Camille's_ answer, and the lovers leaped to each others'
arms, the house simply roared, and as the curtain went up and down, up
and down, Mayo gasped in amazement: "Well, I'm damned!" But I made
answer: "No, you're not--but you _will_ be if you hammer my poor spine in
another act as you have in this. Go easy, Frank; I can't stand it!"

The third act went beautifully. Many women sobbed at times. I made my
exit some little time before the end of the act, and of course went
directly to my room, which was beneath the stage, and there began to
dress for the ball-room scene, and lo! after _Armand_ had had two or
three calls for his last speech, something set them on to call for
_Camille_. And they kept at it, too, till at last a mermaid-like
creature--not exactly half fish and half woman, but half ball-gown train
and half dinky little dressing-sack--came bobbing to the curtain side,
delighting the audience by obeying it, but knocking spots out of the
illusion of the play.

In the fourth act Mr. Mayo played base-ball with me. He batted me and
hurled me and sometimes I had a wild fear that he would kick me. Finally,
he struck my head so hard that a large gold hairpin was driven through my
scalp and I found a few moments' rest in truly fainting from fatigue,
fright, and pain.

But it all went. Great heaven! how it went! For Mayo was a great actor,
and it was but intense excitement that made him so rough with me.
Honestly we were so taken aback behind the scenes that none of us knew
what to make of the frantic demonstrations--whether it was just the
result of an extreme good nature in a great crowd, or whether we were
giving an extremely good performance.

The last act I can never forget. I had cut out two or three pages from
the dialogue in the book. I felt there was too much of it. That if
_Camille_ did not die, her audience would, and had built up a little
scene for myself. Never would I have dared do such a thing had it been
for more than one performance. That scene took in the crossing of the
room to the window, the looking-glass scene, and the return to the bed.

Dear heaven! it's good to be alive sometimes! to feel your fingers upon
human hearts, to know a little pressure hurts, that a little tighter
pressure will set tears flowing. It was good, too, when that madly-rushed
performance was at last over, to lie back comfortably dead, and hear the
sweet music that is made by small gloved hands, violently spatted
together. "Yes, it was 'werry' good."

And Mr. Palmer, standing in his box, looking at the pleased, moist-eyed
people in front, took up the cue they offered, so promptly that within
twenty-four hours I had been engaged to play _Camille_ at the Union
Square, as one of a cast to be ever proud of, in a handsome production
with sufficient rehearsals and correct gowns and plenty of extra ladies
and gentlemen to "enter all!" at the fourth act. And more still, the new
play that was then in preparation was called in and packed away with
mothballs to wait until the old play had had its innings.

Such a cast! Just look at it!

      _M. Armand Duval_       MR. CHARLES R. THORNE
      _Comte de Varville_          MR. MCKEE RANKIN
      _M. Duval (Père)_           MR. JOHN PARSELLE
      _M. Gustave_             MR. CLAUDE BURROUGHS
      _M. Gaston_                 MR. STUART ROBSON
      _Mademoiselle Olympe_      MISS MAUDE GRANGER
      _Mademoiselle Nichette_     MISS KATE CLAXTON
      _Mademoiselle Nanine_       MISS KATE HOLLAND
      _Madame Prudence_         MISS EMILY MESTAYER

If Mr. Palmer ever eats opium or hashish and has beauteous visions, I am
sure he will see himself making out those splendid old casts again.

Every theatre-goer knows it's difficult for a stout, romantic actor to
make his love reach convincingly all the way round, and it is almost as
difficult for an actor who has attained six feet of height to make his
love include his entire length of anatomy. But Charles R. Thorne was the
most satisfactory over-tall lover I ever saw. He really seemed entirely
possessed by the passion of love. "My God Thorne" he was nicknamed
because of his persistent use of that exclamation. Of course it did
often occur in plays by authority of their authors, but whenever Thorne
was nervous, confused, or "rattled," as actors term it, or uncertain of
the next line, he would pass his hand across his brow and exclaim, in
suppressed tones: "My God!" and delicious creepy chills would go up and
down the feminine spine out in the auditorium--the male spine is not so
sensitive, you know. A fine actor, hot-tempered, quick to take offence,
equally quick to repent his too hasty words; as full of mischief as a
monkey, he was greatly beloved by those near to him. I worked with him in
perfect amity, albeit I do not think he ever called me anything but
_Johnny_, the name Lou James bestowed upon me at Daly's; and his death
found me shocked and incredulous as well as grieved. He should have
served his admiring public many a year longer, this most admirable
_Armand_.

And Mr. Parselle, what a delight his stage presence was. He had unction,
jollity, tenderness, dignity, but above all a most polished courtesy. It
was worth two dollars to see John Parselle in court dress, and his
entrance and salutation as _Duval Père_ in the cottage scene of "Camille"
was an unfailing gratification to me--he was a dramatic gem of great
value.

Mr. Stuart Robson, by expressing a genuine tenderness of sympathy for the
dying woman in the last act, amazed and delighted everyone. It had not
been suspected that a trained comedian, who hopped about and lisped and
squeaked through the other acts, could lay aside those eccentricities and
show real gentleness and sincerity in the last--a very memorable _Gaston_
was Mr. Stuart Robson.

But oh, how many of these names are cut in marble now! Poor Claude
Burroughs! with his big eyes, his water curls, and his tight-waisted
coats. We would not have poked so much fun at him, had we known how
terrible was the fate approaching him.

And little Katie Holland--she of the knee-reaching auburn locks, the
gentlest of living creatures--God in His wisdom, which finite man may not
understand, has taken and held safe, lo! these many years.

As an ex-votary of pleasure, _Prudence_ is always more convincing if she
can show some remnant of past beauty; so the statuesque regularity of
feature the Mestayer family was famous for, told here, and the _Prudence_
of Miss Emily Mestayer was as handsome and heartless a harpy as one ever
saw.

Then, too, there were the gorgeous Maude Granger, the ruddy-haired
Claxton, and the piratically handsome Rankin; their best opportunities
were yet to come to all three. And with that cast Mr. Palmer achieved a
great success, with the play that, old then, shows to this day the most
astounding vitality.

The only drawback was to be found in its impropriety as an entertainment
for the ubiquitous "young person," in the immorality of _Camille's_ life,
which was much dwelt upon. Now--oh, the pity of it!--now _Camille_ is, by
comparison with modern plays, absolutely staid. It is the adulteries of
wives and husbands that the "young person" looks unwinkingly upon to-day.
Worse still--the breaking of the Seventh Commandment no longer leads to
tragic punishment, as of yore, but the thunders that rolled about Mount
Sinai at the promulgation of that awful warning: "Thou shalt not commit
adultery!" are answered now by the thunders of laughter that greet the
taking in adultery of false wives and husbands in milliners' many-doored
rooms, or restaurants' _cabinet particulier_. Alas, that the time should
come that this passion for the illicit should so dominate the stage!

One more delightful production at the Union Square Theatre I shared in,
and then my regular company days were over.



CHAPTER FORTY-FOURTH

  "Miss Multon" Put in Rehearsal--Our Squabble over the Manner of her
  Death--Great Success of the Play--Mr. Palmer's Pride in it--My _Au
  Revoir_.


The other day, in recalling to Mr. Palmer a long list of such successful
productions of his as "Led Astray," "The Two Orphans," "Camille," "Miss
Multon," "The Danicheffs," "The Celebrated Case," etc., he surprised me
by emphatically declaring that the performance of "Miss Multon" came
nearer to absolute perfection than had any other play he had ever
produced; and to convince me of that, he simply brought forward the cast
of the play to help prove the truth of his assertion. As we went over the
characters one by one, I was compelled to admit that from the leading
part to the smallest servant, I had never seen one of them quite equaled
since. Mr. Palmer's pride in this production seemed the more odd at
first, because of its slight demands upon the scenic-artist, the
carpenter, and upholsterer. It needs just two interior scenes--a busy
doctor's study in London and a morning-room in a French
country-house--that's all. "But," he will enthusiastically cry, "think of
that performance, recall those people," and so, presently, I will obey
him and recall them every one.

The play had twice failed in Paris, which was, to say the least,
discouraging. When it was read to me I thought the tremendous passion of
maternity ought to touch the public heart--others there were, who said
no, that sexual love alone could interest the public. Mr. Palmer thought
the French play had needed a little brightening; then, too, he declared
the people wanted to see the actual end of the heroine (one of Mr. Daly's
fixed beliefs, by the way), therefore he had Mr. Cazauran write two
additional short acts--a first, to introduce some brightness in the
children's Christmas-tree party and some amusement in the old bachelor
doctor and his old maid sister; and a last for the death of _Miss
Multon_.

After brief reflection I concluded I would risk it, and then, just by way
of encouragement, Mr. Cazauran, who had always been at pains to speak as
kindly of my work as that work would allow, when he was critic on the
different papers, declared that all my acquired skill and natural power
of expressing emotion united would prove useless to me--that _Miss
Multon_ was to be my Waterloo, and to all anxious or surprised "whys?"
sapiently made answer: "No children." His argument was, that not being a
mother in reality, I could not be one in imagination.

Always lacking in self-confidence, those words made my heart sink
physically, it seemed to me, as well as figuratively; but the ever-ready
jest came bravely to the fore to hide my hurt from the public eye, and at
next rehearsal I shook my head mournfully and remarked to the little man:
"Bad--bad! Miss Cushman must be a very bad _Lady Macbeth_--I don't want
to see her!"

"What?" he exclaimed, "Cushman not play _Lady Macbeth_--for heaven's
sake, why not?"

"No murderess!" I declared, with an air of authority recognized by those
about me as a fair copy of his own. "If Miss Cushman is not a murderess,
pray how can she act _Lady Macbeth_--who is?" And the laugh that followed
helped a little to scare away the bugaboo his words had raised in my
mind.

Then, ridiculous as it may seem to an outsider, the question of dress
proved to be a snag, and there was any amount of backing and filling
before we could get safely round it.

"What are you going to wear, Miss Morris?" asked Mr. Cazauran one day
after rehearsal--and soon we were at it, and the air was thick with
black, brown, gray, purple, red, and blue! I starting out with a gray
traveling-dress, for a reason, and Mr. Cazauran instantly and without
reason condemned it. He thought a rich purple would be about the thing.
Mr. Palmer gave a small contemptuous "Humph"! and I cried out, aghast:
"Purple? the color of royalty, of pomp, of power? A governess in a rich
purple? Your head would twist clear round, hind side to, with amazement,
if you saw a woman crossing from Calais to Dover attired in a royal
purple traveling-suit."

Mr. Palmer said: "Nonsense, Cazauran; purple is not appropriate;" and
then, "How would blue--dark blue or brown do?" he asked.

"For just a traveling-dress either one would answer perfectly," I
answered; "but think of the character I am trying to build up. Why not
let me have all the help my gown can give me? My hair is to be
gray--white at temples; I have to wear a dress that requires no change in
going at once to cars and boat. Now gray or drab is a perfect
traveling-gown, but think, too, what it can express--gray hair, white
face, gray dress without relief of trimming, does it not suggest the
utterly flat, hopeless monotony of the life of a governess in London? Not
hunger, not cold, but the very dust and ashes of life? Then, when the
woman arrives at the home of her rival and tragedy is looming big on the
horizon, I want to wear red."

"Good God!" exclaimed Cazauran; and really red was so utterly unworn at
that time that I was forced to buy furniture covering, reps, in order to
get the desired color, a few days later.

"Yes, red," I persisted. "Not too bright, not impudent scarlet, but a
dull, rich shade that will give out a gleam when the light strikes it;
that will have the force of a threat--a menacing color, that white
collar, cuffs and black lace shoulder wrap will restrict to
governess-like primness, until, with mantle torn aside, she stands a
pillar of fire and fury. And at the last I want a night-dress and a
loose robe over it of a hard light blue, that will throw up the ghastly
pallor of the face. There--that's what I want to wear, and why I want to
wear it."

Mr. Palmer decided that purple was impossible and black too conventional,
while the proposed color-scheme of gray, red, and blue seemed reasonable
and characteristic. And suddenly that little wretch, Cazauran, laughed as
good-naturedly as possible and said he thought so, too, but it did no
harm to talk things over, and so we got around that snag, only to see a
second one looming up before us in the question of what was to kill _Miss
Multon_.

I asked it: "Of what am I to die?"

"Die? how? Why, just die, that's all," replied Cazauran.

"But _of_ what?" I persisted; "what kills me? _Miss Multon_ at present
dies simply that the author may get rid of her. I don't want to be
laughed at. We are not in the days of 'Charlotte Temple'--we suffer, but
we live. To die of a broken heart is to be guyed, unless there is an
aneurism. Now what can _Miss Multon_ die from? If I once know that, I'll
find out the proper business for the scene."

"Perhaps you'd have some of the men carry knives," sneered Cazauran, "and
then she could be stabbed?"

"Oh, no!" I answered; "knives are not necessary for the stabbing of a
woman; a few sharp, envenomed words can do that nicely--but we are
speaking of death, not wounds; from what is _Miss Multon_ to die?"

Then Mr. Palmer made suggestions, and Miss Morris made suggestions, and
Mr. Cazauran triumphantly wiped them out of existence. But at last
Cazauran himself grudgingly remarked that consumption would do well
enough, and Mr. Palmer and I, as with one vengeful voice, cried out,
_Camille!_ And Cazauran said some things like "Nom de Dieu!" or "Dieu de
Dieu!" and I said: "Chassez à droite," but the little man was vexed and
would not laugh.

Someone proposed a fever--but I raised the contagion question. Poison was
thought of, but that would prevent the summoning of the children from
Paris, by _Dr. Osborne_. We parted that day with the question unanswered.

At next rehearsal I still wondered how I was to die, hard or easy, rigid
or limp, slow or quick. "Oh," I exclaimed, "I must know whether I am to
die in a second or to begin in the first act." And in my own exaggerated,
impatient words I found my first hint--"why _not_ begin to die in the
first act?"

When we again took up the question, I asked, eagerly: "What are those two
collapses caused by--the one at the mirror, the other at the school-table
with the children?"

"Extreme emotion," I was answered.

"Then," I asked, "why not extreme emotion acting upon a weak heart?"

Mr. Palmer was for the heart trouble from the first--he saw its
possibilities, saw that it was new, comparatively speaking at least--I
suppose nothing is really new--and decided in its favor; but for some
reason the little man Cazauran was piqued, and the result was that he
introduced just one single line, that could faintly indicate that _Miss
Multon_ was a victim of heart disease--in the first act, where, after a
violent exclamation from the lady, _Dr. Osborne_ said: "Oh, I thought it
was your heart again," and on eight words of foundation I was expected to
raise a superstructure of symptoms true enough to nature to be readily
recognized as indicating heart disease; and yet oh, difficult task! that
disease must not be allowed to obtrude itself into first place, nor must
it be too poignantly expressed. In brief, we decided I was to show to the
public a case of heart disease, ignored by its victim and only recognized
among the characters about her by the doctor.

And verily my work was cut out for me. Why, when I went to the Doctors
Seguin to be coached, I could not even locate my heart correctly by half
a foot. Both father and son did all they could to teach me the full
horror of _angina pectoris_, which I would, of course, tone down for
artistic reasons. And to this day tears rise in my eyes when I recall the
needless cruelty of the younger Seguin, in running a heart patient up a
long flight of stairs, that I might see the gasping of the gray-white
mouth for breath, the flare and strain of her waxy nostrils. Then, in
remorseful generosity, though heaven knows her coming was no act of mine,
I made her a little gift, and as she was slipping the bill inside her
well-mended glove, her eye caught the number on its corner, and, she must
have been very poor, her tormented and tormenting heart gave a plunge and
sent a rush of blood into her face that made her very eyeballs pinken;
and then again the clutching fingers, the flaring nostrils, the gasping
for air, the pleading look, the frightened eyes! Oh, it is unforgettable!
poor soul! poor soul!

Well, having my symptoms gathered together, they yet had to be sorted
out, toned down, and adapted to this or that occasion. But at least the
work had not been thrown away, for on the first night Dr. Fordyce
Barker--a keen dramatic critic, by the way--occupied with a friend a
private box. He had rescued me from the hands of the specialists in
Paris, and I had at times been his patient. He applauded heartily after
the first two acts, but looked rather worried. At the end of the third
act a gentleman of his party turned and looked at him inquiringly. The
doctor threw up his hands, while shaking his head disconsolately. The
friend said: "Why, I'm surprised--I thought Miss Morris suffered from her
spine?"

"So she does--so she does," nodded Dr. Barker.

"But," went on the friend, "this thing isn't spine--this looks like heart
to me."

"I should say so," responded the doctor. "I knew she wasn't strong--just
a thing of nerves and will--but I never saw a sign of heart trouble
before. But it's here now, and it's bad; for, by Jove, she can't go
through another attack like that and finish this play. Too bad, too bad!"

And his honest sympathy for my new affliction spoiled his evening right
up to the point of discovery that it was all in the play. Then he enjoyed
the laugh against himself almost as much as I enjoyed his recognition of
my laboriously acquired symptoms.

And now for Mr. Palmer's beloved cast.

With what a mixture of pleasure and grief I recall Sara Jewett, the
loveliest woman and the most perfect representative of a French lady of
quality I have ever seen in the part of _Mathilde_.

Mr. James O'Neil's success in _Maurice de la Tour_ was particularly
agreeable to me, because I had earnestly called attention to him some
time before he was finally summoned to New York. His fine work in
Chicago, where I had first met him, had convinced me that he ought to be
here, and that beautiful performance fully justified every claim I had
made for him in the first place. The part is a difficult one. Some men
rant in it, some are savagely cruel, some cold as stone. O'Neil's
_Maurice_ bore his wound with a patient dignity that made his one
outbreak into hot passion tremendously effective, through force of
contrast; while his sympathetic voice gave great value to the last tender
words of pardon.

And that ancient couple--that never-to-be-forgotten pair, Mr. Stoddard
and Mrs. Wilkins! The latter's husband, belonging to the English bar, had
been Sergeant Wilkins, a witty, well-living, popular man, who quite
adored his pretty young wife and lavished his entire income upon their
ever-open house, so that his sudden taking off left her barely able to
pay for a sea of crape--with not a pound left over for a life-preserver
or raft of any kind. But on her return to the stage, her knowledge of
social amenities, the dignity and aplomb acquired by the experienced
hostess, remained with her, in a certain manner, an air of suave and
gentle authority, that was invaluable to her in the performance of
gentlewomen; while the good-fellowship, the downright jollity of her
infectious laugh were the crown of her comedy work. Who can forget the
Multon tea-table scene between Mrs. Wilkins and Mr. Stoddard. How the
audience used to laugh and laugh when, after his accusing snort: "More
copperas!" he sat and glared at her pretty protesting face framed in its
soft white curls. He was so ludicrously savage I had to coin a name for
him; and one night when the house simply would not stop laughing, I
remarked: "Oh, doesn't he look like a perfect old Sardonyx?"

"Yes-m!" quickly replied the property boy beside me; "yes-m, that's the
very beast he reminds _me_ of!"

Certainly, I never expect to find another _Dr. Osborne_ so capable of
contradicting a savage growl with a tender caress.

Mr. Parselle, as the gentle old Latin scholar, tutor, and acting
godfather, was beyond praise. He admitted to me one night, coming out of
a brown study, that he believed _Bélin_ was a character actually beyond
criticism, and that, next to creating it as author, he ranked the honor
of acting it; but there spoke the old-school actor who respected his
profession.

And those children--were they not charming? That _Sister Jane_, given so
sweetly, so sincerely by the daughter of the famous Matilda Heron, who,
christened Helène, was known only by the pet name Bijou, in public as
well as in private life. And the boy _Paul_, her little brother. Almost,
I believe, Mabel Leonard was herself created expressly to play that part.
Never did female thing wear male clothes so happily. All the impish
perversity, all the wriggling restlessness of the small boy were to be
found in the person of the handsome, erratic, little Mabel.

Even the two maids were out of the common, one being played by a clever
and very versatile actress, who had been a friend of my old Cleveland
days. She came to me out of the laughing merry past, but all pale and sad
in trailing black, for death had been robbing her most cruelly. She
wished for a New York engagement and astonished me by declaring she would
play anything, no matter how small, if only the part gave her a foothold
on the New York stage.

I sought Mr. Palmer and talked hard and long for my friend, but he
laughed and answered: "An actress as clever as that will be very apt to
slight a part of only two scenes."

But I assured him to the contrary; that she would make the most of every
line, and the part would be a stepping-stone to bigger things. He granted
my prayer, and Louise Sylvester, by her earnestness, her breathless
excitement in rushing to and fro, bearing messages, answering bells, and
her excellent dancing, raised _Kitty_ to a character part, while
_Louise_, the smallest of them all, was played with a brisk and bright
assurance that made it hard to believe that Helen Vincent had come direct
from her convent school to the stage-door--as she had.

A great, great triumph for everyone was that first night of "Miss
Multon," and one of the sweetest drops in my own cup was added by the
hand of New York's honored and beloved poet, Edmund Clarence Stedman,
for, all nested in a basket of sweet violets, came a sonnet from him to
me, and though my unworthiness was evident enough, nevertheless I took
keenest joy in the beauty of its every line--surely a very sweet and
gracious token from one who was secure to one who was still struggling.
And now, when years have passed, he has given me another beautiful memory
to keep the first one company. I was taking my first steps in the new
profession of letters, which seems somewhat uncertain, slow, and
introspective, when compared with the swift, decisive, if rather
superficial profession of acting, and Mr. Stedman, in a pause from his
own giant labor on his great "Anthology," looked at, nay, actually
considered, that shivering fledgling thing, my first book, and wrote a
letter that spelled for me the word _encouragement_, and being a
past-master in the art of subtle flattery, quoted from my own book and
set alight a little flame of hope in my heart that is not extinguished
yet. So gently kind remain some people who are great. Just as Tomasso
Salvini, from the heights of his unquestioned supremacy--but stay, the
line must be drawn somewhere. It would not be kind to go on until my
publisher himself cried: "Halt!"

So I shall stop and lock away the pen and paper--lock them hard and fast,
because so many charming, so many famous people came within my knowledge
in the next few years that the temptation to gossip about them is hard to
resist. But to those patient ones, who have listened to this story of a
little maid's clamber upward toward the air and sunshine, that God meant
for us all, I send greeting, as, between mother and husband, with the
inevitable small dog on my knee, I prepare to lock the desk--I pause just
to kiss my hands to you and say _Au revoir_!



THE END



By A. Conan Doyle

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES

A Sherlock Holmes Novel

Illustrated by Sidney Paget

[Illustration]

_The London Chronicle_, in a review headed "THE ZENITH OF SHERLOCK
HOLMES," says:

  "We should like to pay Dr. Doyle the highest compliment at our command.
  It is not simply that this book is superior in originality and
  construction to the earlier adventures of the great detective. Dr.
  Doyle has provided a criminal who, as Mr. Holmes admits, is indeed a
  foeman worthy of his steel.[*] Hitherto he has found it comparatively
  easy to unmask his antagonists. But in the present case he finds
  himself checkmated again and again. There is pitted against him a skill
  nearly equal to his own, and he wins the game almost by a hair."

  [*] "I tell you, Watson, this time we have a foeman who is
  worthy of our steel."--_Sherlock Holmes._

$1.25

McClure, Phillips & Co.



By George Douglas

THE HOUSE WITH THE GREEN SHUTTERS

The first novel of a new master. The work has gained wide-spread
recognition on both sides of the water. Three of the most conservative
and authoritative publications in England include it among the first
twelve of the year. In this country _Harper's Weekly_ gives it as one of
the two most interesting novels of the year.

  _The critics differ as to with what other master George Douglas should be
  compared_:

  _The London Times_ says: "Worthy of the hand that drew 'Weir of
  Hermiston,'" and that "Balzac and Flaubert, had they been Scotch, would
  have written such a book."

  _The Spectator_: "His masters are Zola and Balzac, but there are few
  traces of the novice and none of the imitator."

  _Vanity Fair_: "It moves to its end with all the terrible unity of an
  Æschylean tragedy."

  _Harper's Weekly_: "If Thomas Hardy had written of Scotland, instead of
  Wessex, it would have been something like 'The House with the Green
  Shutters'.... If any man is his (Douglas') master it is Thomas Hardy."

Hardy, Stevenson, Zola, Flaubert, Balzac, and Æschylus.

Eighth Edition. $1.50.

McClure, Phillips & Co.



By Stewart Edward White

THE BLAZED TRAIL

A tale from beyond the bounds of civilization. The second in Mr. White's
series of thoroughly American stories.

The inspiriting breath of the great pine woods is in this dramatic novel
of frontier struggle in which a green "land looker" plays a lone hand
against a powerful and unscrupulous land company for a vast tract of
timber land.

_Third Edition._ $1.50



_By the same author_:

THE WESTERNERS

Mr. White shows us the rough-and-ready life of a Western mining camp.

"'THE WESTERNERS' lays strong hold on the reader. The thing is vital.
There is a force and a sincerity distinctly Western--of the frontier;
the grim naturalness of elemental things. Furthermore Mr. White knows
his West, his plains, his Indians and his mining camps."

--_Chicago Record-Herald._

_Third Edition._ $1.50.

McClure, Phillips & Co.



Two New Books


THE MADNESS OF PHILIP

_AND OTHER STORIES OF CHILDHOOD_

_By Josephine Dodge Daskam_

Illustrated by F. Y. Cory.

It would be hard to decide which of Miss Daskam's little heroes and
heroines is the most attractive. There is Philip who demoralized the
kindergarten class; Edgar, the Choir Boy Uncelestial; Ardelia who didn't
like Arcady, and the little beau who dreamed that he went to
dancing-school and that he "was the only fellow there and all the little
girls were Cecilia." Miss Cory has caught the spirit of the stories
admirably in her illustrations. $1.50.


RED SAUNDERS

_HIS DOINGS WEST AND EAST_

_By H. W. Phillips_

Red Saunders is not the misconception of an American cowboy usually found
in fiction. He is a "sure enough live" cow puncher, brimful of keen
Western humor, and capable of performing mighty interesting stunts,
whether in the East or West. $1.25.

McClure, Phillips & Co.



By Anthony Hope

TRISTRAM OF BLENT

As sparkling as the "Dolly Dialogues."

As enthralling as "The Prisoner of Zenda."

"Mr. Hope's most mature and most artistic work."

--_The Book Buyer._

"A powerful novel by one of the great masters in literature."--_Boston
Times._

"It is a notable book."--_Philadelphia Inquirer._

"It takes hold of the reader and he cannot put it down until he has read
the last chapter."--_N. Y. Tribune._

"'Tristram of Blent' is quite different from the 'Prisoner of Zenda,' but
it is quite as interesting, while much more satisfactory and complete;
and whereas the sword-play and the glitter of the courts is missing, its
reality more than makes up for the omission."

--_Philadelphia Telegraph._

"The character studies in the book are admirable. Not only the main
figures are treated with consummate art; there is not a person in the
book, however unimportant to the furtherance of the main action, but
receives the touch which gives life, which suggests a type without
sacrificing the individual.... It stands as a revelation of the fulness
of Mr. Hope's resources, his grasp of plot and character and
construction.... In workmanship it ranks with his best as an exposition
of the maturity of his art."--_N. Y. Mail and Express._

_Twenty-eighth Thousand._ $1.50.

McClure, Phillips & Co.



Told on the Fighting Line

War Tales of Every-Day Life

HELD FOR ORDERS

_By Frank H. Spearman_

Stories of the Never-Ending Warfare of the Railroads. William Allen White
says of them: "The American who can read those tales and not love his
country better for being a compatriot with real heroes, is a poor sort."

_Second Edition._ $1.50.



WALL STREET STORIES

_By Edwin Lefèvre_

Vivid pictures of the cutthroat campaign carried on under the Standard of
the Dollar.

"Edwin Lefèvre has written the one book about Wall Street which hits
the mark."--_N. Y. Sun._

"Rattling good tales."--_Life._

_Third Edition._ $1.25.



BY BREAD ALONE

_By I. K. Friedman_

Scenes from the great battle between capital and labor, as waged in the
world of the mighty steel industry.

"A work of genuine power and profound interest."

--_Chicago Post._

_Second Edition._ $1.50.

McClure, Phillips & Co.



Always in Demand

MONSIEUR BEAUCAIRE

_By Booth Tarkington_

This little masterpiece has become the standard by which other romances
are judged.

Cloth, $1.25. Full Leather, $2.00.

_Seventieth Thousand._



THE FIREBRAND

_By S. R. Crockett_

A stirring romance of Carlist plotting in Spain, told in the author's
usual captivating style.

_Twelfth Thousand._ $1.50.



SONS OF THE SWORD

_By Mrs. Margaret L. Woods_

An historical romance. A romance of action, and glory, of brave hearts
and fair women.

_Second Edition._ $1.50.



FIVE YEARS OF MY LIFE

_Alfred Dreyfus_

Including The Devil's Island diary and containing maps and diagrams.

_Third Edition._ $1.50.

McClure, Phillips & Co.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Life on the Stage" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home