Part 3 out of 3
Some women scold because he has not given pictures of the great people
whom he met. "Why," they ask, "did he not describe Crown Princess
Victoria" (the late Empress Frederick) "at least--how she looked, what
she wore? Such portraits would be interesting." But Salvini was not
painting portraits, not even his own--truly. He was giving a list of his
triumphs; and if he has shown self-appreciation, he was at least
perfectly honest. There is no hypocrisy about him. If he knew Uriah
Heep, he did not imitate him; for in no chapter has he proclaimed
himself "'umble." If one will read Signor Salvini's book, remembering
that the paeans of a world have been sung in his honour, and that he
really had no superior in his artistic life, I think the I's and my's
will seem simply natural.
However he may have been admired in other characters, I do truly believe
that only those who have seen him in "Othello" and "Morte Civile" can
fully appreciate the marvellous art of the actor. I carry in my mind two
pictures of him,--Othello, the perfect animal man, in his splendid
prime, where, in a very frenzy of conscious strength, he dashes Iago to
the earth, man and soldier lost in the ferocity of a jungle male beast,
jealously mad--an awful picture of raging passion. The other, Conrad,
after the escape from prison; a strong man broken in spirit, wasted with
disease, a great shell of a man--one who is legally dead, with the
prison pallor, the shambling walk, the cringing manner, the furtive
eyes. But oh, that piteous salute at that point when the priest
dismisses him, and the wrecked giant, timid as a child, humbly,
deprecatingly touches the priest's hand with his finger-tips and then
kisses them devoutly! I see that picture yet, through tears, just as I
saw for the first time that illustration of supreme humility and
Oh, never mind a little extravagance with personal pronouns! A beloved
father, a very thorough gentleman, but above all else the greatest actor
of his day. There is but the one Salvini, and how can he help knowing
it? So to book and author--ready! _Viva Salvini!_
FRANK SEN: A CIRCUS EPISODE_
The circus season was over, the animals had gone into comfortable winter
quarters, while the performers, less fortunate than the beasts, were
scattered far and near, "some in rags and some in tags, and some" (a
very few) "in velvet gowns." But one small group had found midwinter
employment, a party of Japanese men and women, who were jugglers,
contortionists, and acrobats; and as their work was pretty as well as
novel, they found a place on the programme of some of the leading
They were in a large Western city. Behind the curtain their retiring
manners, their exquisite cleanliness, their grave and gentle
politeness, made them favourites with the working forces of the theatre,
while before the curtain the brilliant, graceful precision with which
they carried out their difficult, often dangerous, performance won them
the high favour of the public.
On that special day the matinee was largely attended, the theatre being
filled, even to the upper circles, as at night. Smilingly the audience
had watched the movements of the miniature men and women in their
handsome native costumes, and with "Ohs!" and "Ahs!" had seen them
emerge from those robes, already arrayed for acrobatic work, in suits of
black silk tights with trunks and shoulder and wrist trimmings of red
velvet fairly stiffened with gold embroideries; and then came the act
the people liked best, because it contained the element of danger,
because in its performance a young girl and a little lad smilingly
risked life and limb to entertain them.
The two young things had climbed like cats up to the swinging bars,
high up, where the heat had risen from a thousand gas lights, and the
blood thundered in their ears, and the pulses on their temples beat like
hammers. So high, that looking down through the quivering, bluish mist,
the upturned faces of the people merged together and became like the
waters of a pale, wide pool. Their work was well advanced. With
clocklike precision they had obeyed, ever-smilingly obeyed, the orders
conveyed to them by the sharp tap of the fan their trainer held, though
to the audience the two young forms glittering in black and scarlet and
gold, poising and fluttering there, were merely playing in midair like a
pair of tropical birds.
They were beginning their great feat, in which danger was so evident
that women often cried out in terror and some covered their eyes and
would not look at all--the music even had sunken to a sort of tremor of
fear. They were for the moment hanging head downward from their
separate bars, when across the stillness came the ominous sound of
cracking, splintering wood; afterward it was known that the rung of a
chair in an upper private box had broken, but then,--but _then_! the
sound was close to the swaying girl's ear!
Believing it was her bar that was breaking, her strained nerves tore
free from all control! Driven by fear, she made a mad leap out into
space, reaching frantically for the little brown hands that a half
second later would have been ready for her, with life and safety in
their tenacious grasp.
To those who do their work in space and from high places, the distance
between life and death, between time and eternity, is often measured by
half seconds. Little Omassa had leaped too soon, the small brown hands
with power to save were not extended. She grasped the empty air, gave a
despairing cry, and as she whirled downward, had barely time to realize
that the sun had gone black out in the sky, and that the world with its
shrieking millions was thundering to its end, when the awful crash came.
There were shouts and shrieks, tears and groans, and here and there
helpless fainting. Ushers rushed from place to place, the police
appeared suddenly. The Japanese, silent, swift, self-controlled, were
moving their paraphernalia that the curtain might be lowered, were
stretching a small screen about the inert, fallen figure, were bringing
a rug to lift her on, and their faces were like so many old, _old_ ivory
Tom McDermott, in his blue coat, stood by the silent little figure
waiting for the rug and for the coming of the doctor, and groaned, "On
her face, too--and she a girl child!"
Tom had seen three battle-fields and many worse sights, but none of them
had misted his eyes as did this little glittering, broken heap, and he
turned his face away and muttered, "If she'd only keep quiet!" for truly
it was dreadful to see the long shudders that ran over the silent,
huddled thing, to see certain red threads broadening into very rivulets.
At last the ambulance, then the all-concealing curtain, the reviving
music, a song, a pretty dance, and _presto_, all was forgotten!
When Omassa opened her eyes, her brain took up work just where it had
left off; therefore she was astonished to find the sun shining, for had
she not seen the sun go out quite black in the sky? Yet here it was so
bright, and she was--was, where? The room was small and clean, oh,
clean! like a Japanese house, and almost as empty. Could it be? But no,
this bed was American, and then why was she so heavy? What great weight
was upon her? She could not move one little bit, and oh, my! _what_ was
it she could faintly see beyond and below her own nose--was it shadow?
Surely she could not see her own _lip_? She smiled at that, and the
movement wrung a cry of agony from her--when, like magic, a face was
bending over her, so kind and gentle, and then a joyous voice cried to
some one in the next room, "This little girl, not content with being
alive, sir, has her senses--is she not a marvel?"
And with light, delicate touch the stranger moistened the distended,
immovable lip poor Omassa had dimly seen, through which her lower teeth
had been driven in her fall, and in answer to her pleading, questioning
glances at her own helpless body, told her she was encased in plaster
now, but by and by she would be released, and now she was to be very
quiet and try to sleep. And then she smoothed a tiny wrinkle out of the
white quilt, shut out the sunlight, and, smiling kindly back at her,
left Omassa, who obediently fell asleep--partly because her life was one
of obedience, and partly because there was nothing else to do.
And then began the acquaintance between Mrs. Helen Holmes, nurse, and
Omassa, Japanese acrobat. The other nurses teased Helen Holmes about
her pet patient, saying she was only a commonplace, Japanese child
woman; but Mrs. Holmes would exclaim, "If you could only see her light
up and glow!"
And so they came to calling Omassa "the lantern," and would jestingly
ask "when she was going to be lighted up"; but there came a time when
Mrs. Holmes knew the magic word that would light the flame and make the
lantern glow, like ruby, emerald, and sapphire; like opal and
The child suffered long and terribly; both arms were broken, and in
several places, also her little finger, a number of ribs, her
collar-bone, and one leg, while cuts were simply not counted. During her
fever-haunted nights she babbled Japanese for hours, with one single
English name appearing and reappearing almost continually,--the name of
Frank; and when she called that name it was like the cooing of a pigeon,
and the down-drooping corners of her grave mouth curled upward into
smiles. She spoke English surprisingly well, as the other members of the
troupe only knew a very little broken English; and had she not placed
the emphasis on the wrong syllable, her speech, would have been almost
Generally she was silent and sad and unsmiling, but grateful,
passionately grateful to her "nurse-lady," as she called Mrs. Holmes;
yet when, that kind woman stooped to kiss her once, Omassa shrank from
the caress with such repugnance as deeply to wound her, until the
little Japanese had explained to her the national abhorrence of kissing,
assuring her over and over again that even "the Japan ma'ma not kiss
little wee baby she love."
Mrs. Holmes ceased to wonder at the girl's sadness when she found she
was absolutely alone in the world: no father, no mother; no, no sister,
no brother, "no what you call c-cousine?--no nothing, nobody have I got
what belong to me," she said.
One morning, as her sick-room toilet was completed, Mrs. Holmes said
"Omassa, who is Frank?" and then fairly jumped at the change in the
ivory-tinted, expressionless face. Her long, narrow eyes glowed, a pink
stain came on either cheek, she raised herself a little on her best arm,
eagerly she cried, "You know him--oh, you know Frank?"
Regretfully Mrs. Holmes answered, "No, dear, I don't know him."
"But," persisted Omassa, "you know him, or how could you speak his
"I learned the name from you, child, when you talked in the fever. I am
very sorry I have caused you a disappointment. I am to blame for my
All the light faded from her face and very quietly she lay down upon her
pillow, her lips close-pressed, her eyes closed; but she could not hide
the shining of the tears that squeezed between her short, thick lashes
and clung to them. 'Twas long before his name was mentioned again; but
one day something had been said of friends, when Omassa with intense
pride had exclaimed:--"I have got my own self one friend--he--my friend
"What's his other name?" asked the nurse.
"Oh, he very poor, he got only one name."
"But, dear, he must have another name, he is Frank somebody or
"No! no!" persisted Omassa with gentle obstinacy, "he tell me always
true, he very poor, good man--he got only one name, my Frank Sen."
"There," cried Mrs. Holmes, triumphantly, "you see he _has_ two names
after all, you have just called him by them both--Frank Sen."
At which the invalid sent forth a tinkling laugh of amusement, crying:
"Oh, that not one man's name, oh, no! That Sen that like your Mr.--Mrs.;
you nurse-lady, you Holmes Sen. Ito--big Japan fight man, he Ito Sen,
you unnerstand me, nurse-lady?"
"Yes, child, I understand. Sen is a title, a term of respect, and you
like to show your friend Frank all the honour you can, so you call him
And Omassa with unconscious slanginess gravely answered: "You right _on_
to it at first try. My boss" (her manager Kimoto) "find _me_ baby in
Japan, with very bad old man. He gamble all time. I not know why he have
me, he not my old man, but he sell me for seven year to Kimoto, and
Kimoto teach me jump, turn, twist, climb, and he send my money all to
old man--_all_. We go Mexico--South America--many Islands--to German
land, and long time here in this most big America--and the world so
big--and then I so little Japan baby--I no play--I no sing--I know
nothing what to do--and just _one_ person in this big lonesome_ness_
make a kindness to me--my Frank Sen--just one man--just one woman in all
world make goodness to me--my Frank Sen and my nurse-lady," and she
stroked with reverent little fingers the white hand resting on the bed
"What was he like, your Frank?" asked the nurse.
"Oh, he one big large American man--he not laugh many times loud, but he
laugh in he blue eye. He got brown mustache and he hair all short,
thick, wavy--like puppy dog's back. He poor--he not perform in circus,
oh, no! He work for put up tents, for wagon, for horses. He ver good man
for fight too--he smash man that hurt horse--he smash man that kick dog
or push me, Japan baby. Oh, he best man in all the world" (the exquisite
Madame Butterfly was not known yet, so Omassa was not quoting). "He tell
me I shall not say some words, 'damn' and 'hell' and others more long,
more bad, and he tell me all about that 'hell' and where is--and how you
get in for steal, for lie, for hurt things not so big as you--and how
you can't get out again where there is cool place for change--and he
smooth my hair and pat my shoulder, for he know Japan people don't ever
be kissed--and he call me one word I cannot know."
She shook her head regretfully. "He call me 'poor little wave'--why poor
little wave--wave that mean water?" she sighed. "I can't know why Frank
Sen call me that."
But quick-witted Mrs. Holmes guessed the word had been "waif"--poor
little waif, and she began dimly to comprehend the big-hearted, rough
tent-man, who had tried to guard this little foreign maid from the
ignorance and evil about her.
"But," resumed Omassa, with perfect conviction, "Frank Sen meaned
goodness for me when he called me 'wave'--I know _that_. What you think
that big American man do for help me little Japan baby--with no sense?
Well, I will tell you. When daylight circus-show over, he take me by
hand and lead me to shady place between tents--he sit down--put me at he
knee, and in what you call primer-book with he long brown finger he
point out and make me know all those big fat letters--yes, he do _that_.
Other mens make of him fun--and he only laugh; but when they say he my
father and say of me names, he lay down primer and fight. When he lay
out the whole deck, he come back and wash he hands and show me some more
letters. Oh, I very stupid Japan baby; but at last I know _all_, and
_then_ he harness some together and make d-o-g say dog, and n-o say no,
and so it come that one day next week was going to be his
fete-day,--what you call birsday,--and I make very big large secret."
She lifted herself excitedly in bed, her glowing eyes were on her
nurse's face, her lips trembled, the "lantern" was alight and glowing
"What you think I do for my Frank Sen's birsday? I have never one
penny,--I cannot buy,--but I make one big great try. I go to
circus-lady, that ride horse and jump hoops--she read like Frank Sen. I
ask her show me some right letters. Oh, I work hard--for I am very
stupid Japan child; but when that day come, Frank Sen he lead me to
shady place--he open primer--then," her whole face was quivering with
fun at the recollection, "then I take he long finger off--I put _my_
finger and I slow spell--not cat--not dog--oh, _what_ you think?--I
spell F-r-a-n-k--Frank! He look to me, and then he make a big jump--he
catch me--toss me, high up in air, and he shout big glad shout, and then
I say--'cause for your birsday.' He stop, he put me down, and he eyes
come wet, and he take my hand and he say: 'Thank you, that's the only
birsday gift I ever _re_ceived that was not from my mother. Spell it
again for me,' he said; and then he was very proud and said, 'there was
not any-other birsday gift like that in all the world!' What you think
"Then the end to season of circus come--Frank Sen he kneel down by
me--he very sad--he say, 'I have nothing to give--I am such a fool--and
the green-cloth--oh, the curse of the green-cloth!' He took off my Japan
slippers and smiled at them and said, 'Poor little feet'; he stroked my
hands and said, 'Poor little hands'; he lifted up my face and said,
'Poor little wave'; then he look up in air and he say, very
troubled-like, 'A few home memories--some small knowledge, all I had, I
have given her. To read a little is not much, but maybe it may help her
some day, and I have nothing more to give!'
"And I feeling something grow very fast, here and here" (touching throat
and breast), "and I say, '_You_ have nothing to give me? well'--and then
I forget all about I am little Japan girl, and I cry, 'Well, _I_ have
something to give you, Frank Sen, and that is one kiss!' And I put my
arms about he neck and make one big large kiss right on he kind lips."
Her chin sank upon her night-robed breast. After a moment she smiled
deprecatingly at Mrs. Holmes and whispered: "You forgive me, other day?
You see I Japan girl--and just once I give big American kiss to my
friend, Frank Sen."
STAGE FORFEITS AND THEIR HUMOUR_
It was during the rehearsals of "L'Article 47" that I enjoyed one single
hearty laugh,--a statement that goes far to show my distressed state of
mind,--for generally speaking that is an unusual day which does not
bring along with its worry, work, and pain some bubble of healing
laughter. It was a joke of Mr. Le Moyne's own special brand that found
favour in my eyes and a place in my memory. Any one who has ever served
under Mr. Daly can recall the astounding list of rules printed in fine
type all over the backs of his contracts. The rules touching on
_forfeits_ seemed endless: "For being late," "For a stage wait," "For
lack of courtesy," "For gossiping," "For wounding a companion's
feelings"--each had its separate forfeiture. "For addressing the manager
on business outside of his office," I remember, was considered worth one
dollar for a first offence and more for a second. Most of these rules
ended with, "Or discharge at the option of the manager." But it was well
known that the mortal offence was the breaking that rule whose very
first forfeit was five dollars, "Or discharge at the option of," etc.,
that rule forbidding the giving to outsiders of any stage information
whatever; touching the plays in rehearsal, their names, scenes, length,
strength, or story; and to all these many rules on the backs of our
contracts we assented and subscribed our amused or amazed selves.
When the new French play "L'Article 47" was announced, the title aroused
any amount of curiosity. A reporter after a matinee one day followed me
up the avenue, trying hard to get me to explain its meaning; but I was
anxious not to be "discharged at the option of the manager," and
declined to explain. Many of the company received notes asking the
meaning of the title. At Mr. Le Moyne's house there boarded a walking
interrogation-point of a woman. She wished to know what "L'Article 47"
meant; she would know. She tried Mr. Harkins; Mr. Harkins said he didn't
know. She tossed her head and tried Mr. Crisp; Mr. Crisp patiently and
elaborately explained just why he could not give any information. She
implied that he did not know a lady when he saw one, and fell upon Mr.
Le Moyne, tired, hungry, suavely sardonic. "_He_ was," she assured him,
"a gentleman of the old school. _He_ would know how to receive a lady's
request and honour it." And Le Moyne rose to the occasion. A large
benevolence sat upon his brow, as assuring her that, though he ran the
risk of discharge for her fair sake, yet should she have her will. He
asked if she had ever seen a Daly contract. The bridling, simpering
idiot replied, "She had seen several, and such numbers of silly rules
she had never seen before, and--"
"That's it," blandly broke in Le Moyne, "there's the explanation of the
whole thing--see? 'L' Article 47' is a five-act dramatization of the
47th rule of Daly's contract."
"Did you ever?" gasped the woman.
"No," said Le Moyne, reaching for bread, "I never did; but Daly's up to
anything, and he'd discharge me like a shot if he should ever hear of
It was almost impossible to get Mr. Daly to laugh at an actor's joke; he
was too generally at war with them, and he was too often the object of
the jest. But he did laugh once at one of the solemn frauds perpetrated
on me by this same Le Moyne.
On the one hundred and twenty-fifth performance of "Divorce" I had
"stuck dead," as the saying is. Not a word could I find of my speech. I
was cold--hot--cold again. I clutched Mrs. Gilbert's hand. I whispered
frantically: "What is it? Oh! what is the word?" But horror on horror,
in my fall I had dragged her down with me. She, too, was
bewildered--lost. "I don't know," she murmured. There we were, all at
sea. After an awful wait I walked over and asked Captain Lynde (Louis
James) to come on, and the scene continued from that point. I was
angry--shamed. I had never stuck in all my life before, not even in my
little girl days. Mr. Daly was, of course, in front. He came rushing
back to inquire, to scold. Every one joked me about my probable
five-dollar forfeit. Well, next night came, and at that exact line I did
it again. Of course that was an expression of worn-out nerves; but it
was humiliating in the extreme. Mr. Daly, it happened, was attending an
opening elsewhere, and did not witness my second fall from grace. Then
came Le Moyne to me--big and grave and kind, his plump face with the
shiny spots on the cheek-bones fairly exuding sympathetic commiseration.
He led me aside, he lowered his voice, he addressed me gently:--
[Illustration: _W.J. Le Moyne_]
"You stuck again, didn't you, Clara? Too bad! too bad! and of course you
apprehend trouble with Daly? I'm awfully sorry. Ten dollars is such a
haul on one week's salary. But see here, I've got an idea that will help
you out, if you care to listen to it."
I looked hard at him, but the wretch had a front of brass; his
benevolence was touching. I said eagerly: "Yes, I do care indeed to
listen. What is the idea?"
He beamed with affectionate interest, as he said impressively, "Well,
now you know that a bad 'stick' generally costs five dollars in this
"Yes," I groaned.
"And you stuck awfully last night?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"Then to-night you go and repeat the offence. But here is where I see
hope for you. Daly is not here; he does not know yet what you have done.
Watch then for his coming. This play is so long he will be here before
it's over. Go to his private office at once. Get ahead of every one
else; do you understand? Approach him affably and frankly. Tell him
yourself that you have unfortunately stuck again, and then offer him
_the two 'sticks' for eight dollars_. If he's a gentleman and not a Jew,
he'll accept your proposal."
Just what remarks I made to my sympathetic friend Le Moyne at the end of
that speech I cannot now recall. If any one else can, I can only say I
was not a church member then, and let it pass at that. But when I opened
my envelope next salary day and saw my full week's earnings there, I
went to Mr. Daly's office and told him of my two "sticks" and of Le
Moyne's proposed offer, and for once he laughed at an actor's joke.
It has happened to every one of us, I don't know why, but every mother's
son or daughter of us can look back to the time when we habitually
referred to some acquaintance or friend as "poor So-and-So"; and the
curious part of it is that if one pauses to consider the why or
wherefore of such naming, one is almost sure to find that, financially
at least, "poor So-and-So" is better off than the person who is doing
the "pooring." Nor is "poor So-and-So" always sick or sorrowful, stupid
or ugly; and yet, low be it whispered, is there not always a trace of
contempt in that word "poor" when applied to an acquaintance? A very
slight trace, of course,--we lightly rub the dish with garlic, we do not
slice it into our salad. So when we call a friend "poor So-and-So,"
consciously or unconsciously, there is beneath all our affection the
slight garlic touch of contemptuous pity; how else could I, right to her
merry, laughing face, have called this girl poor Semantha?
I had at first no cause to notice her especially; she was poor, so was
I; she was in the ballet, so was I. True, I had already had heads nodded
sagely in my direction, and had heard voices solemnly murmur, "That
girl's going to do something yet," and all because I had gone on alone
and spoken a few lines loudly and clearly, and had gone off again,
without leaving the audience impressed with the idea that they had
witnessed the last agonized and dying breath of a girl killed by fright.
I had that much advantage, but we both drew the same amount of salary
per week,--five very torn and very dirty one-dollar bills. Of course
there could have been no rule nor reason for it, but it had so happened
that all the young women of the ballet--there were four--received their
salary in one-dollar bills. However, I was saying that we, the ballet,
dressed together at that time, and poor Semantha first attracted my
attention by her almost too great willingness to use my toilet soap,
instead of the common brown washing soap she had brought with her. At
some past time this soap must have been of the shape and size of a
building brick, but now it resembled a small dumb-bell, so worn was its
middle, so nobby its ends. Then, too, my pins were, to all intents and
purposes, her pins; my hair-pins her hair-pins; while worst of all, my
precious, real-for-true French rouge was _her_ rouge.
At that point I came near speaking, because poor Semantha was not
artistic in her make-up, and she painted not only her cheeks but her
eyes, her temples, her jaws, and quite a good sample of each side of
her neck. But just as I would be about to speak, I would bethink me of
those nights when, in the interest of art, I had to be hooked up behind,
and I would hold my peace.
On the artistic occasions alluded to, I hooked Semantha up the back, and
then Semantha hooked up my back. Ah, what a comfort was that girl; as a
hooker-up of waists she was perfection. No taking hold of the two sides
of the waist, planting the feet firmly, and taking a huge breath, as if
the Vendome column was about to be overthrown. No hooking of two-thirds
of the hooks and eyes, and then suddenly unhooking them, remarking that
there was a little mistake at the top hook. No putting of thumbs to the
mouth to relieve the awful numbness caused by terrible effort and
pinching. Ah, no! Semantha smiled,--she generally did that,--turned you
swiftly to the light, caught your inside belt on the fly, as it were,
fastened that, fluttered to the top, exactly matched the top hook to
the top eye, and, high presto! a little pull at the bottom, a swift
smooth down beneath the arms, and you were finished, and you knew your
back was a joy until the act was over.
That was all I had known of Semantha. Probably it was all I ever should
have known had not a sharp attack of sickness kept me away from the
theatre for a time, during which absence Semantha made the discovery
which was to bring her nearer to me.
Finding my dressing place but a barren waste of pine board, Semantha
with smiling readiness turned to the dressing place on her left for a
pin or two, and was stricken with amazement when the milder of her two
companions remarked in a grudgingly unwilling tone, "You may take a few
of my pins and hair-pins if you are sure to pay them back again."
While she was simply stunned for a moment, when the other companion,
with that rare, straightforward brutality for which she became so
deservedly infamous later on, snorted angrily: "No, you don't! Don't you
touch anything of mine! You can't sponge on me as you do on Clara!"
Now Semantha was a German, as we were apt to find out if ever she grew
excited over anything; and whenever she had a strange word used to her,
she would repeat that word several times, first to make sure she fully
understood its meaning, next to impress it upon her memory; so there she
stood staring at her dressing mate, and slowly, questioningly repeated,
"Spoonge? spoonge? w'at is that spoonge?" And received for answer,
"_What is_ it? why, it's stealing." Semantha gave a cry. "Yes,"
continued the straightforward one, "it's stealing without secrecy;
that's what sponging is."
Poor Semantha--astonished, insulted, frightened--turned her quivering
face to the other girl and passionately cried, "Und she, my Fraeulein
Clara, tink she dat I steal of her?"
Then for the first time, and I honestly believe the last time in her
life, that other pretty blond, but woolly-brained, young woman rose to
the occasion--God bless her--and answered stoutly, "No, Clara never
thought you were stealing."
So it happened that when I returned to work, and Semantha's excited and
very German welcome had been given, I noticed a change in her. When my
eyes met hers, instead of smiling instantly and broadly at me, her eyes
sank to the ground and her face flushed painfully. At last we were left
alone for a few moments. Quick as a flash, Semantha shut the door and
bolted it with the scissors. Then she faced me; but what a strange, new
Semantha it was! Her head was down, her eyes were down, her very body
seemed to droop. Never had I seen a human look so like a beaten dog. She
came quite close, both hands hanging heavily at her sides, and in a
low, hurried tone she began: "Clara, now Clara, now see, I've been usen
your soap--ach, it smells so goot!--nearly all der time!"--"Why," I
broke in, "you were welcome!"
But she stopped me roughly with one word, "Wait," and then she went on.
"Und der pins--why, I can't no more count. Und der hair-pins, und der
paint," (her voice was rising now), "oh, der lofely soft pink paint! und
I used dem, I used 'em all. Und I never t'ought you had to pay for dem
all. You see, I be so green, fraeulein, I dun know no manners, und I did,
I did use dem, I know I did; but, so help me, I didn't mean to spoonge,
und by Gott I didn't shteal!"
I caught her hands, they were wildly beating at the air then, and said,
"I know it, Semantha, my poor Semantha, I know it."
She looked me brightly in the eyes and answered: "You do? you _truly_
know dat?" gave a great sigh, and added with a fervour I fear I
ill-appreciated, "Oh, I hope you vill go to heaven!" then quickly
qualified it, "dat is, dat I don't mean right avay, dis minute--only ven
you can't keep avay any longer!"
Then she sprang to her dress hanging on the hook, and after struggling
among the roots of her pocket, found the opening, and with triumph
breathing from every feature of her face, she brought forth a small
white cube, and cried out, "Youst you look at dat!"
I did; it seemed of a stony structure, white with a chill thin line of
pink wandering forlornly through or on it (I am sure nothing could go
through it); but the worst thing about it was the strange and evil smell
emanating from it. And this evil, white, hard thing had been purchased
from a pedler under the name of soap, fine shaving or toilet soap, and
now Semantha was delightedly offering it to me, to use every night, and
I with immense fervour promised I would use it, just as soon as my own
was gone; and I mentally registered a solemn vow that the shadow of my
soap should never grow less.
I soon discovered that poor Semantha was very ambitious; yes, in spite
of her faint German accent and the amusing abundance of negatives in her
conversation, she was ambitious. One night we had been called on to "go
on" as peasants and sing a chorus and do a country dance, and poor
Semantha had sung so freely and danced so gracefully and gayly, that it
was a pleasure to look at her. She was such a contrast to the two
others. One had sung in a thin nasal tone, and the expression of her
face was enough to take all the dance out of one's feet. With frowning
brows and thin lips tightly compressed, she attacked the figures with
such fell determination to do them right or die, that one could hardly
help hoping she _would_ make a mistake and take the consequences. The
other,--the woolly-brained young person,--having absolutely no ear for
music or time, silently but vigorously worked her jaws through the
chorus, and affably ambled about, under everybody's feet, through the
dance, displaying all the stiff-kneed grace of a young, well-meaning
When we were in our room, I told Semantha how well she had sung and
danced, and her face was radiant with delight. Then becoming very grave,
she said: "Oh, fraeulein, how I vant to be an actor! Not a common van,
but" and she laid her hand with a childish gesture on her breast--"I
vant to be a big actor. Don' you tink I can ever be von--eh?"
And looking into those bright, intelligent, squirrel-like eyes, I
answered, "I think it is very likely," Poor Semantha! we were to recall
those simple remarks, later on.
Christmas being near, I was very busy working between acts upon
something intended for a present to my mother. This work was greatly
admired by all the girls; but never shall I forget the astonishment of
poor Semantha when she learned for whom it was intended.
"Your mutter lets you love her yet--you would dare?" And as I only gazed
dumbly at her, she went on, while slow tears gathered in her eyes, "My
mutter hasn't let me love her since--since I vas big enough to be
Through the talkativeness of an extra night-hand or scene-shifter, who
knew her family, I learned something of poor Semantha's private life.
Poor child! from the very first she had rested her bright brown eyes
upon the wrong side of life,--the seamy side,--and her own personal
share of the rough patchwork, composed of dismal drabs and sodden browns
and greens, had in it just one small patch of rich and brilliant
colour,--the theatre. Of the pure tints of sky and field and watery
waste and fruit and flower, she knew nothing. But what of that! had she
not secured this bit of rosy radiance, and might it not in time be added
to, until it should incarnadine the whole fabric of her life?
Semantha's father was dead; her mother was living--worse luck. For had
she been but a memory, Semantha would have been free to love and
reverence that memory, and it might have been as a very strong staff to
support her timid steps in rough and dangerous places. But alas! she
lived and was no staff to lean upon; but was, instead, an ever present
rod of punishment. She was a harmful woman, a destroyer of young
tempers, a hardener of young hearts. Many a woman of quick, short temper
has a kind heart; while even the sullenly sulky woman generally has a
few rich, sweet drops of the milk of human kindness, which she is
willing to bestow upon her own immediate belongings. But Semantha's
mother was not of these. How, one might ask, had this wretch obtained
two good husbands? Yes, Semantha had a stepfather, and the only excuse
for the suicidal marriage act as performed by these two victims was that
the woman was well enough to look upon--a trim, bright-eyed, brown
creature with the mark of the beast well hidden from view.
When Semantha, who was her first born, too, came home with gifts and
money in her hands, her mother received her with frowning brows and
sullen, silent lips. When the child came home with empty hands, and gave
only cheerfully performed hard manual labour, she was received with
fierce eyes, cruel rankling words, and many a cut and heavy blow, and
was often thrust from the house itself, because 'twas known the girl was
afraid of darkness.
[Illustration: _Clara Morris before coming to Daly's Theatre in 1870_]
Her stepfather then would secretly let her in, though sometimes she
dared go no farther than the shed, and there she would sit the whole
night through, in all the helpless agony of fright. But all this was as
nothing compared to the cruelty she had yet to meet out to poor
Semantha, whose greatest fault seemed to be her intense longing for some
one to love. Her mother _would not_ be loved, her own father had wisely
given the whole thing up, her step-father _dared_ not be loved. So, when
the second family began to materialize, Semantha's joy knew no bounds.
What a welcome she gave each newcomer! How she worked and walked and
cooed and sang and made herself an humble bond-maiden before them. And
they loved her and cried to her, and bit hard upon her needle stabbed
forefinger with their first wee, white, triumphant teeth, and for just a
little, little time poor Semantha was not poor, but very rich indeed.
And that strange creature, who had brought them all into the world,
looked on and saw the love and smiled a nasty smile; and Semantha saw
the smile, and her heart quaked, as well it might. For so soon as these
little men could stand firmly on their sturdy German legs, their gentle
mother taught them, deliberately taught them, to call their sister
names, the meaning being as naught to them, but enough to break a
sister's heart. To jeer at and disobey her, so that they became a pair
of burly little monsters, who laughed loud, affected laughter at the
word "love," and swore with many long-syllabled German oaths that they
would kick with their copper-toes any one who tried to kiss them. Ah!
when you find a fiercely violent temper allied to a stone-cold heart,
offer you up an earnest prayer to Him for the safety of the souls coming
under the dominion and the power of that woman.
I recall one action of Semantha's that goes far, I think, to prove what
a brave and loyal heart the untaught German girl possessed. She was very
sensitive to ridicule, and when people made fun of her, though she would
laugh good-humouredly, many times she had to keep her eyes down to hide
the brimming tears. Now her stepfathers name was a funny one to American
ears, and always provoked a laugh, while her own family name was not
funny. Yet because the man had shown her a little timid kindness, she
faithfully bore his name, and through storms of jeering laughter, clear
to the dismal end, she called herself Semantha Waacker.
Once we spoke of it, and she exclaimed in her excited way: "Yes, I am
alvays Waacker. Why not, ven he is so goot? Why, why, dat man, dat vater
Waacker, he have kissed me two time already. Vunce here" (placing her
finger on a vicious scar upon her check), "von de mutter cut me bad, und
vun odder time, ven I come very sick. Und de mutter seen him in de
glass, und first she break dat glass, und den she stand and smile a
little, und for days und days, when somebody be about, my mutter put out
de lips und make sounds like kisses, so as to shame de vater before
everybody. Oh, yes, let 'em laugh; he kiss me, und I stay Semantha
The unfortunate man's occupation was also something that provoked
laughter, when one first heard of it; but as Semantha herself was my
informant, and I had grown to care for her, I managed by a great effort
to keep my face serious. How deeply this fact impressed her, I was to
learn later on.
Christmas had come, and I was in high glee. I had many gifts, simple and
inexpensive most of them, but they were perfectly satisfactory to me. My
dressing-room mates had remembered me, too, in the most characteristic
fashion. The pretty, woolly-brained girl had with smiling satisfaction
presented me with a curious structure of perforated cardboard and gilt
paper, intended to catch flies. Its fragility may be imagined from the
fact that it broke twice before I got it back into its box; still there
was, I am sure, not another girl in Cleveland who could have found for
sale a fly-trap at Christmas time.
The straightforward one had presented me with an expensively repellent
gift in the form of a brown earthenware jug, a cross between a Mexican
idol and a pitcher. A hideous thing, calculated to frighten children or
sober drunken men. I know I should have nearly died of thirst before I
could have forced myself to swallow a drop of liquid coming from that
Semantha was nervous and silent, and the performance was well on before
she caught me alone, out in a dark passageway. Then she began as she
always did when excited, with: "Clara, now Clara, you know I told my
vater of you, for dat you were goot to me, und he say, vat he alvays
say--not'ing. Dat day I come tell you vat his work vas, I vent home und
I say, 'Vater Waacker, I told my fraeulein you made your livin' in de
tombstone yard,' und he say, quvick like, 'Vell,'--you know my vater no
speak ver goot English" (Semantha's own English was weakening
fast),--"'vell, I s'pose she make some big fool laugh, den, like
everybodies, eh?' Und I say, 'No, she don't laugh! de lips curdle a
little'" (curdle was Semantha's own word for tremble or quiver. If she
shivered even with cold, she curdled with cold), "'but she don't laugh,
und she say, "It vas the best trade in de vorldt for you, 'cause it must
be satisfactions to you to work all day long on somebody's tombstone."'"
"Oh, Semantha!" I cried, "why did you tell him that?"
"But vy not?" asked the girl, innocently. "Und he look at me hard, und
his mouth curdle, und den he trow back his head und he laugh, pig
laughs, und stamp de feet und say over und over, 'Mein Gott! mein Gott!
satisfackshuns ter vurk on somebody's tombstones--_some_body's. Und she
don't laugh at my vurk, nieder, eh? Vell, vell! dat fraeulein she tinks
sometings! Say, Semantha, don't it dat you like a Kriss-Krihgle present
to make to her, eh?' Und I say, dat very week, dere have to be new shoes
for all de kinder, und not vun penny vill be left. Und he shlap me my
back, une! say, 'Never mindt, I'll make him,' und so he did, und here
it is," thrusting some small object into my hand. "Und if you laugh,
fraeulein, I tink I die, 'cause it is so mean und little."
Then stooping her head, she pressed a kiss on my bare shoulder and
rushed headlong down the stairs, leaving me standing there in the dark
with "it" in my hand. Poor Semantha! "it" lies here now, after all these
years; but where are you, Semantha? Are you still dragging heavily
through life, or have you reached that happy shore, where hearts are
hungry never more, but filled with love divine?
"It" is a little bit of white marble, highly polished and perfectly
carved to imitate a tiny Bible. A pretty toy it is to other eyes; but to
mine it is infinitely pathetic, and goes well with another toy in my
possession, a far older one, which cost a human life.
Well, from that Christmas-tide Semantha was never quite herself again.
For a time she was extravagantly gay, laughing at everything or nothing.
Then she became curiously absent-minded. She would stop sometimes in the
midst of what she might be doing, and stand stock-still, with fixed
eyes, and thoughts evidently far enough away from her immediate
surroundings. Sometimes she left unfinished the remark she might be
making. Once I saw a big, hulking-looking fellow walking away from the
theatre door with her. The night was bad, too, but I noticed that she
carried her own bundle, while he slouched along with his hands in his
pocket, and I felt hurt and offended for her.
And then one night Semantha was late, and we wondered greatly, since she
usually came very early, the theatre being the one bright spot in life
to her. We were quite dressed, and were saying how lucky it was there
was no dance to-night, or it would be spoiled, when she came in. Her
face was dreadful; even the straightforward one exclaimed in a shocked
tone, "You must be awful sick!"
But Semantha turned her hot, dry-looking eyes upon her and answered
slowly and dully, "I'm not sick."
"Not sick, with that white face and those poor curdling hands?"
"I'm not sick, I'm going avay."
Just then the act was called, and down the stairs we had to dash to take
our places. We wore pages' dresses, and as we went Semantha stood in the
doorway in her shabby street gown and followed us with wistful eyes--she
did so love a page's costume.
When we were "off" we hastened back to our dressing room. Semantha was
still there. She moved stiffly about, packing together her few
belongings; but her manner silenced us. She had taken everything else,
when her eyes fell upon a remnant of that evil-smelling soap. She paused
a bit, then in that same slow way she said, "You never, never used that
soap after all, Clara?" and when I answered: "Oh, yes, I have. I've used
it several times," she put her hand out quickly, and took the thing, and
slipped it into her pocket, and then she stood a moment and looked
about; and if ever anguish grew in human eyes, it slowly grew in hers.
Her face was pale before; it was white now.
At last her eyes met mine, then a sudden tremor crossed her face from
brow to chin, a piteous slow smile crept around her lips, and in that
dull and hopeless tone she said, "You see, my fraeulein, I'll never be a
big actor after all," and turned her back upon me, and slowly left the
room and the theatre, without one kiss or handshake, even from me. And
I, who knew her, did not guess why. She went out of my life forever,
stepping down to that lower world of which I had only heard, but by
God's mercy did not know.
That same sad night a group of men, close-guarded, travelled to
Columbus, that city of great prisons and asylums, and one of those
guarded men was poor Semantha's lover, alas! her convicted lover now;
and she, having cast from her her proudest hope, her high ambition,
trusting a little in his innocence, trusting entirely in his love, now
followed him steadily to the prison's very gate.
After this came a long silence. One girl had fallen from our ranks, but
what of that? Another girl had taken her place. We were still four,
marching on,--eyes front, step firm and regular,--ready when the quick
order came quickly to obey. There could be no halt, no turning back to
the help of the figure already growing dim, of one who had fallen by the
After a time rumours came to us, at first faint and vague--uncertain,
then more distinct--more dreadful! And the stronger the rumours grew,
the lower were the voices with which we discussed them; since we were
young, and vice was strange to us, and we were being forced to believe
that she who had so recently been our companion was now--was--well, to
be brief, she wore her rouge in daylight now upon the public street.
Poor, poor Semantha! They were playing "Hamlet," the night of the worst
and strongest rumour, and as I heard Ophelia assuring one of her noble
friends or relatives:--
"You may wear your rue with a difference,"
I could not help saying to myself that "rue" was not the only thing that
could be so treated, since we all had rouge upon our cheeks; yet
Semantha--ah, God forgive her--wore her rouge with a difference.
A little longer and we were all in Columbus, where a portion of each
season was passed, our manager keeping his company there during the
sitting of the legislature. We had secured boarding-houses,--the memory
of mine will never die,--and in fact our round bodies were beginning to
fit themselves to the square holes they were expected to fill for the
next few weeks, when we found ourselves sneezing and coughing our way
through that spirit-crushing thing they call a "February thaw."
Rehearsal had been long, and I was tired. I had quite a distance to
walk, and my mind was full of professional woe. Here was I, a ballet
girl who had taken a cold whose proportions simply towered over that
nursed by the leading lady's self; and as I slipped and slid slushily
homeward, I asked myself angrily what a fairy was to do with a
handkerchief,--and in heaven's name, what was that fairy to do without
one. The dresses worn by fairies--theatrical, of course--in those days
would seem something like a fairy mother-hubbard now, at all events a
home toilet of some sort, so very proper were they; but even so there
was no provision made for handkerchiefs, no thought apparently that
stage fairies might have colds in their star-crowned heads.
So as my wet skirt viciously slapped my icy ankles, I almost tearfully
declared to myself I would have to have a handkerchief, even though it
wore pinned to my wings, only who on earth could get it off in time for
me to use? Now if poor Semantha were only--and there I stopped, my eyes,
my mind, fixed upon a woman a little way ahead of me, who stood staring
in a window. Her figure drooped as though she were weary or very, very
sad, and I said to myself, "I don't know what you are looking at, but I
_do_ know it's something you want awfully," and just then she turned and
faced me. My heart gave a plunge against my side. I knew her. One
woman's glance, lightning-quick, mathematically true, and I had her
photograph--the last, the very last I ever took of poor Semantha.
As her eyes met mine, they opened wide and bright. The rosy colour
flushed into her face, her lips smiled. She gave a little forward
movement, then before I had completed calling out her name, like a flash
she changed, her brows were knit, her lips close-pressed, and all her
face, save for the shameful red sign on her cheeks, was very white. I
stood quite still--not so, she. She walked stiffly by, till on the very
line with me she shot out one swift, sidelong glance and slightly shook
her head; yet as she passed I clearly heard that grievous sound that
coming from a woman's throat tells of a swallowed sob.
Still I stood watching her as she moved away, regardless quite of watery
pool or deepest mud; she marched straight on and at the first corner
disappeared, but never turned her head. As she had left me first without
good-by, so she met me now without a greeting, and passed me by without
farewell. And I, who knew her, understood at last the reason why. Poor
wounded, loyal heart, who would deny herself a longed-for pleasure
rather than put the tiniest touch of shame upon so small a person as a
ballet girl whom one year ago she had so lovingly called friend.
At last I turned to go. As I came to the window into which Semantha had
so lovingly been gazing, I looked in too, and saw a window full of fine,
thick underwear for men.
Two crowded, busy years swept swiftly by before I heard once more, and
for the last time, of poor Semantha. I was again in Columbus for a short
time, and was boarding at the home of one of the prison wardens.
Whenever I could catch this man at home, I took pains to make him talk,
and he told me many interesting tales. They were scarcely of a nature to
be repeated to young children after they had gone to bed, that is, if
you wanted the children to stay in bed; but they were interesting, and
one day the talk was of odd names,--his own was funny,--and at last he
mentioned Semantha's. Of course I was alert, of course I questioned
him--how often I have wished I had not. For the tale he told was sad.
Nothing new, nay, it was common even; but so is "battle, murder, and
sudden death," from which, nevertheless, we pray each day to be
delivered. Ah! his tale was sad if common.
It seemed that when Semantha followed that treacherous young brute, her
convicted lover, she had at first obtained a situation as a servant, so
she could not come to the prison every visiting day, and what was worse
in his eyes, she was most poorly paid, and had but very small sums to
spend upon extras for him. He grumbled loudly, and she was torn with
loving pity. Then quite suddenly she was stricken down with sickness,
and her precious brute had to do without her visits for a time and the
small comforts she provided for him, until one visiting day he fairly
broke down and roared with rage and grief over the absence of his
The hospital sheltered Semantha as long as the rules permitted, but
when she left it she was weak and worn and homeless, and as she crept
slowly from place to place, a woman old and well-dressed spoke to her,
calling her Mamie Someone, and then apologized for her mistake. Next she
asked a question or two, and ended by telling Semantha she was the very
girl she wanted--to come with her. She could rest for a few days at her
home, and after that she should have steady employment and better pay,
and--oh! did I not tell you it was a common tale?
But when on visiting day the child with frightened eyes told what she
had discovered about her new home, the soulless monster bade her stay
there, and every dollar made in her new accursed trade was lavished upon
By a little sickness and a great deal of fraud the wretch got himself
into the prison hospital for a time, and there my informant learned to
know the pair quite well. She not only loved him passionately, but she
had for all his faults of selfishness and general ugliness the tender
patience of a mother. And he traded upon her loving pity by pretending
he could obtain the privilege of this or immunity from that if he had
only so many dollars to give to the guard or keeper. And she, poor
loving fool, hastened a few steps farther down the road of shame to
obtain for him the money, receiving in return perhaps a rough caress or
two that brought the sunshine to her heart and joy into her eyes.
His term of imprisonment was nearly over, and Semantha was preparing for
his coming freedom. His demands seemed unending. His hat would be
old-fashioned, and his boots and his undergarments were old, etc. Then
he wanted her to have two tickets for Bellefontaine ready, that they
might leave Columbus at once, and Semantha was excited and worried. "One
day," said the warden, "she asked to see me for a moment, and I
exclaimed at sight of her, 'What is it that's happened?'
"Her face was fairly radiant with joy, and she shook all over. It seemed
as though she could not speak at first, and then she burst forth, 'Mr.
S----, now Mr. S----, you don't much like my poor boy, but joust tink
now how goot he is! Ach, Gott, he tells me ven all der tings are got,
und de tickets too, have I some money left I shall buy a ring, und
then,'--she clutched my arm with both her hands, and dropped her head
forward on them, as she continued in a stifled voice,--und then we go to
a minister and straight we get married.'
"And," continued Mr. S----, "as I looked at her I caught myself wishing
she were dead, that she might escape the misery awaiting her.
"At last the day came. Her lover and a pal of his went out together.
Faithful Semantha was awaiting him, and was not pleased at the pal's
presence, and was more distressed still when her lover refused to go to
the shelter she had prepared for him, in which he was to don his new
finery, but insisted upon going with his friend. Semantha yielded, of
course, and on the way her lover laughed and jested--asked for the
tickets, then the ring, and putting on the latter declared that he was
married to _her_ now, and would wear the ring until they saw the
'Bible-sharp,' and then she should be married to _him_; and Semantha
brightened up again and was happy.
"They came at last to the house they sought. It was a low kind of
neighbourhood, had a deserted look, and was next door to a saloon. The
pal said there were no women in the house, and Semantha had better not
come in. The lover bade her wait, and they went in and closed the door,
and left the girl outside. There she waited such a weary time, then at
last she rang--quite timidly at first, then louder, faster, too, and a
scowling fellow from the saloon told her that the house was empty. She
rang wildly then, until he threatened a policeman. Then she ceased, but
walked round to the back and found its rear connected with a stable
yard. She came back again, dazed and white, her hand pressed to her
heart, and as she stood there a lad who hung about the prison grounds a
good deal, did odd jobs or held a horse now and then, and who knew
Semantha well, came along and cried out, 'I say, why didn't you go with
yer feller and his pal?'
"'She didn't say nary a word,' said the boy, 'she didn't say nary a
word, but pushed her head out and looked at me till her eyes glared same
as a cat's, and I says: "Why, I seed 'em ketch the 4.30 train to
Bellefontaine! They had to run and jump to do it, but they didn't scare
a darn, they just laughed and laughed." And, Boss, something like a
tremble, but most like my dog when I beats him, and I have the stick up
to hit him again, and not a word did she say, but just stood as still
as still after that doglike tremble went away. I got muddled, and at
last I says, "Semantha, hav' yer got no sponds?" She didn't seem to see
me no more, nor hear me, and I goes on louder like, "Say, Semantha!
where yer goin' to? what yer goin' ter do now?" and, Boss, she done the
toughest thing I ever seen. She jes' slowly lifted up her hands and
looked at 'em, looked good and long, like they were strange to her, and
then jes' as slow she turns 'em over, they were bare and empty, and the
palms was up, and she spreads the fingers wide apart and moves 'em a
bit, and then without raisin' up her eyes, she jes' smiles a little
slow, slow smile.
"'And then she turned 'round and walked away without nary a word at all;
but, Boss, her shoulders sagged down, and her head kind of trembled, and
she dragged her feet along jes' like an old, old woman, what was too
tired to live. I was skeered like, and thought I'd come here and tell
you, but I looked back to watch her. 'Twas almost dark then, and when
she came to the crossin', the wind was blowin' so she could hardly
stand, but she stopped awhile and looked down one street, then she
looked down the other street, and then she lifts up her face right to
the sky the longest time of all, and so I looks up ter see was ther'
anything there; but ther' wasn't nothin' but them dirty, low-hangin'
clouds as looks so rainy and so lonesome. And then right of a suddent
she gives a scream; but no, not a scream, a groan and a scream together.
It made my blood turn cold, I tell yer; and she trows both her empty
hands out from her, and says as plain as I do now, Boss, "My God, it is
too much! I cannot, cannot bear it!" Then she draw'd herself up quite
tall, shut her hands tight before her, and walked as fast as feet could
carry her straight toward the river.'"
And that was the last that he, my friend, had ever heard of poor
Semantha. I tried to dry my falling tears, but he dried them more
effectually by remarking:--
"Yes, she was a bright, promising, true-hearted girl; but you see she
went wrong, and the sinner has to pay both here and hereafter."
"Don't," I hotly cried. "Don't go on! don't! Sin? sin? Don't hurl that
word at her, the embodiment of self-sacrifice! Sin? where there is no
law, there can be no sin. And who had taught her anything? She was a
heathen. So far as one person can be the cause of another person's
wrong-doing, so far was Semantha's mother the guilty cause of Semantha's
loving fall. She was a heathen. She had been taught just one law--that
she was always to serve other people. That law she truly kept unto the
end. Of that great book, the Bible, closely packed with all sustaining
promises, she knew naught. I tell you the only Bible she ever held
within her hand was that mimic one of marble her father carved for me.
She was a heathen. Of that all-enduring One--'chief among ten thousand
and altogether lovely,' for whom there was no thing too small to love,
no sin too great to pardon--she knew nothing. Even that woman who with
wide-open, lustrous eyes had boldly broken every law human and divine,
yet was forgiven her uncounted sins, because of her loving faith and
true repentance, Semantha knew not of, nor of repentance nor its
necessity, nor its power.
"Let her alone! I say, she was a heathen. But even so, God made her. God
placed her; and if she fell by the wayside in ignorance, she _did not_
fall from the knowledge of her Maker."