THAT winsome Maude Adams, kin to the great ones of earth by the common bond of an exquisite talent developed to the uttermost, is by ties of blood the kinswoman of two Presidents of the United States, is a fact that she has modestly hidden but which attested and authentic records of genealogy prove.
One Joshua Adams was the cousin and boyhood chum of John Qyincy Adams. Manhood's stern responsibilities and obligations separated the cousins. John Qyincy Adams' path led him to the Presidency of the United States. Joshua Adams moved to Canada. The eldest son of Joshua Adams fell in with a party of Mormon missionaries, and love of travel and adventure led him to follow them from Canada to Salt Lake City. Miss Annie Adams, the daughter of this emigrant to Utah, made her debut on the stage of the theatre built by Brigham Young and which still stands in the quaint capital of the Mormon intermountain dominion. She became Mrs. James Kiskadden. When the child grew to the estate of an actress she, by her mother's wish, and because the Kiskadden family had the traditional prejudice against the theatre, caused the first two names only to be printed on the programmes. The name Kiskadden was dropped except for purely business purposes. Should those who read these pages ever receive a cheque or a receipt for services rendered from the most popular dramatic star in America the document would be signed Maude Adams Kiskadden. But for professional purposes, since she reached the years of free choice, she has continued to use the name which in a former decade her mother had made memorable in the theatrical annals of the Pacific Slope, that fine old New England name which has appeared twice on the roster of the Chief Executives of these United States.
James Kiskadden, the father of her who is widely known and as widely loved as Maude Adams, was himself of an excellent old Ohio family, a few scions of which still reside in that state. He was a banker, and because of his handsome face and magnetic personality, was one of the most popular young men in Utah. He died when his little daughter was seven years old. Vaguely but affectionately she remembers the debonnair, handsome young father, and in cabinet, under lock and key, keeps as sacred relics the few souvenirs that remain of him, a faded photograph, a watch fob worn thin, a lock of hair, thick and soft and ashen brown like her own. Calling at a friend's apartment she saw an engraved copy of Hans Makart's "Diana's Chase." "I remember that picture," she said with the wistful tenderness so effective because so sincere in "The Little Minister" and "Peter Pan." "It was my father's. It hung over his desk in our home in Salt Lake City."
Maude Adams was born November 11th, 1872, in one of the simple cottages of structure peculiar to the Zion of the Latter-Day Saints. It was an unostentatious birthplace, a narrow, two-story adobe house, with a lean-to for summer convenience in the matter of kitchen and laundry details. The house stands near Liberty Park. At the time the cottage was regarded as a country residence. Now it is in the compact portion of the city, where Seventh East Street -- which means that it is the seventh street east of the Mormon Temple, a centre from which all streets begin and are relatively named -- intersects Eighth South, which is the eighth street south of the temple of mysterious rites. On the first day of her arrival, when in solemn family council, at which her grandmother, the now venerable Mrs. Julia Adams, presided, it was decided formally that the small pink bundle of humanity resembled her mother in all her physical attributes, and her father in temperament and character. It was also decided that her name should be Maude, and at once with grandmotherly prerogative Mrs. Julia Adams referred to the small stranger as "Maudie."
As "Maudie" she was known and billed on theatre programmes until, by virtue of long skirts and a mass of brown hair with golden glints in it piled high on her head, she insisted upon dropping the now superfluous and undignified "i." Her first few months were spent in the important, though seemingly insignificant manner of infants. She played peek-a-boo with the sunbeams that fell across her crib in the same delighted way that ordinary babies play hide and seek with solar rays. She cried very little, but when she did, the family traditions affirm, she cried hard, which, according to the character readings of sage mothers and nurses, proved that the baby would achieve a quietly determined character before she reached her grown up state. The same fragility of physical makeup, a healthy frallness, the physician called it, denoting that though her frame was slight the constitution was keyed to health, characterized her babyhood as her maturity. She was gentle, and to those she knew well, affectionate, as now. She was shy with other babies, looking upon them with mild-eyed wonder that there was any human specimen so small as this, and found more pleasure in the companionship of her elders.
She loved demonstratively her mother, whom she saw less often than she would have liked, for Mrs. Kiskadden resumed her playing in the stock company of the Brigham Young Theatre soon after the little one's birth. Her grandmother was her playmate, enjoyed and admonished in turn. Her handsome young father was the special object of the baby's worship. They were rare chums. Beside the old-fashioned fireplace in the old adobe house near the park the young man sat on winter evenings with the wee baby in his arms. By her command he talked to her or sang to her, but quite as often they sat silent, looking into each other's eyes, smiling often at each other as do those who understand. Visitors to the Adams home said the mental communion between the two was perfect. They said it was because Love was the interpreter of their unspoken thoughts.
Surrounded by the loving care of this trio whom she loved, her rare glimpses of the world being from the high old-fashioned windows, and between the half-open doors of her home, or from her perambulator, from which she gazed more interestedly at trees and flowers, and skipping squirrels, and far offclouds, than at the persons who peeped into the carriage and said "that's Annie Adams' baby," the first months of her babyhood passed as pleasantly as baby could wish. She had dolls but preferred the society of a brindle dog that came footsore to the house to beg and stayed because the fair-haired, blue-eyed baby, with beseeching arms about his neck, begged him to remain.
"But he's only a tramp dog," remonstrated her grandmother. "I will get you a nice, clean dog."
"Love tramp dog," protested the baby, preparing to "cry hard." The baby prevailed. The dog was a guest of the household until he died of old age. Maudie Adams, baby, was as tender to animals as is Maude Adams, woman.
She whom they called Maudie spent her life uneventfully, her paths being those of placid pleasantness, until at eight months there occurred a development which made her the show baby of the neighborhood, and infant wonder of all Salt Lake City.
A friend of the family called one evening bringing the baby a gift, a wonderful box of red and blue alphabet blocks. He played house building with her on a rug before the fire, telling her the names of the letters on each block as the building went forward. Before he left he found, to his amazement, that the baby had learned her letters in that single play lesson. And she never forgot them. Before she was a year old the primer was superfluous. She had taught herself to read.
At the age of nine months, and unexpectedly, litde Maudie Adams made her first appearance on the stage. Mrs. Annie Adams, as a member of the Salt Lake City stock company, made up of local talent and known as the Home Dramatic Company, was supporting a visiting star in a play "The Cottage Girl." The melodrama was followed by a farce entitled "The Lost Child." The cast of the farce was a small one and Mrs. Adams, having no part in it, remained to see the new piece. The farce hinged upon a child's identity, and the infant was a prominent figure in it, and had to be brought on and off several times. Having been rushed on and off the stage until it was nearly breathless, the little one was finally brought into the room by a waiter who set it on the table before its father's wondering eyes. The infant who was utilized for the part performed its thinking role placidly enough in the several rushes on and off the stage.
Mrs. Adams, having assured herself that the nurse and Maudie werewaiting for her at the stage door, and had come to take her home as usual, lingered in the wings to sec the rest of the play. A shriek, infantile and pronounced and uncompromising, cut the air. The women who were not engaged in the play ran to the quarter whence came the noise. The mother of the infant actor was nearly distracted.
"He's mad," she said. "There's nothing the matter with his clothes nor with him. It's just temper. He don't want to act any more. When he commences like that he hollers for an hour."
The farce was moving forward in the double-quick time of farces. There remained but three minutes before the child should be carried before the astounded father. The manager was in the throes of despair. Looking hopelessly about, he glanced past Mrs. Adams who stood beside the call board, and caught a glimpse of an infant smiling up into her nurse's face from the cozy pink depths of a perambulator. With a run and slide he crossed the hall, snatched the baby out of her carriage, ran back with her to where the waiter stood with useless platter in a limp hand, thrust the baby upon the platter and the platter into the waiter's hands. A second later the audience shouted its delight. The laughs the distraught stage manager had worked for were heard, but there were others. Why this added volume of laughter? The manager of the house came back to explain.
"The other baby was two months old. This one is at least nine. It's grown twenty pounds in five minutes. Whose baby is it?"
"Don't know," was the reply. " Just a baby I saw hanging around."
The little one, sitting upon the platter, heard the roar of laughter. It was a cheerful sound. She smiled at it. As it continued she crawled forward and with hands resting upon the platter blinked and cooed at the vague mass in front. At which the audience laughed amid "Bravos." Her first appearance upon any stage was, therefore, auspicious. Notwithstanding her undeniable hit on this occasion Maudie Adams went back to private life after her debut. She resumed her sunbeam chasing, her blockhouse building, her silent smiling communion with ^ader' and her caresses of the brindle dog, and was content. She lived thus until, when she was four years old, Mr. and Mrs. Kiskadden removed to San Francisco, the wife continuing on the stage. While she was playing with J. K. Emmet in "Fritz m Ireland," the star became dissatisfied with the little girl who was playing the child's role. He had noticed the bright-faced little one who sometimes came to the stage door with her mother and had inquired her name.
"Why don't you let Maudie play this part?" he asked while voicing his complaints of the wooden bit of humanity who walked through it. "I will ask her father," responded Mrs. Kiskadden. That night at dinner she kept her promise to the manager,
"Mr. Emmet would like Maudie to try the child's part," she said. "What do you think about it ?" "Certainly not. I don't want the child to go on the stage and make a fool of herself."
The four-year-old who had been permitted to sit at the table that night laid down her knife and fork with precision and looked gravely across at her father. "Fader," she said, "I won't make a fool of myself."
Her father laughed and consented. The child studied her lines avidly and learned them in one day. She played the part to her own and her mother's and Mr. Emmet's satisfaction. The only lapse from professional gravity and decorum was when, having been tied to a water-wheel and told that she must scream at a particular moment, she injected a speech not set down in her part.
"Mamma," she asked, "must I scweam now?"
She finished the season with Mr. Emmet, then went back to domestic existence, somewhat against her will. When she was six years old she reappeared upon the stage, this time as the child in "The Celebrated Case." Miss Belle Douglass, an actress who played a prominent role in the piece, studied the child's part so that she might prompt herIn a scene in which she knelt beside the little girl she tried to prompt her in whispers, but to her amazement the child made the precocious reply;
"I know my part and yours too. Mind your own lines." To emphasize her displeasure the wee one pinched her mentor's ears.
That "little pitchers have big ears" was proven in connection with tiny Miss Adams' connection with the play.
While the company was rehearsing she overheard her mother say to the stage manager:
"I am awfully anxious about Maudie's performance to-night. Mr. Leman is so fishy in his lines that I am afraid he will confuse her."
The actress whose performance was at that moment in doubt turned from the window sill where she was teaching a dilapidated rag doll to dance.
"Don't be afraid, mother. I know Mr. Leman's lines better than he knows them himself."
The second act of the play, one of tragic intensity, centers upon the child. Mr. Leman as the Colonel propounded lawyer-like questions to the little one, and upon her answers depended the life or death of her father. There was a pause before the category began. The house was tense with suspense and expectancy. Not a word came. The child, looking into the wings, saw Miss Belle Douglass looking aghast.
"0, Auntie Belle," cried the child commiseratingly, "poor Mr. Leman doesn't know a single line of his part."
A statement which her shrill interpolation made almost true. For it was difficult for the fine old actor, Walter Leman, to get himself together after that, and most of his lines came staggeringly in quivering voice, while he bent unkind glances upon the child. The child's replies were always correct, but maddeningly interlarded with observations to "Auntie Belle": " I told you so." " There he goes again."
Featured and billed now as " Little Maudle Adams" the small actress next appeared with J. B. Murphy in " Out to Nurse." Again maternal solicitude was excited lest the child forget her lines. Mrs. Adams haunted the wings and prompted her daughter in whispers, to which the little one made Irritated reply:
"Mamma, I do know my part. I wish you would please go away and let me alone." To punish her Mrs. Adams went upstairs to her dressing room, where five minutes later a member of the company joined her.
"I am so afraid Maudie will go up in her lines," fretted Mrs. Adams. "What's that awful noise about?"
"Go up in her lines?" returned the other. "That noise is the audience applauding your daughter."
Thereafter Mrs. Adams never feared that her daughter would not be letter perfect. Before she was seven years old the star began to manifest a strong tendency toward realism. In a scene of "Out to Nurse," she was sent out of the room to bring a pitcher of beer. At first the property man handed her a pitcher filled with water. After a few performances of the part she went to the star and said: "Mr. Murphy, I bring in the pitcher and set It before you and say, 'Here's the beer' when it isn't beer, only water. I think it ought to be beer. I don't want to carry In water and say its beer when it isn't."
"Maybe ye're right, young one, I think we'll make it beer, anyway."
And always after that the property man handed the child a pitcher of odorous, foaming stuff instead of limpid, clear, colorless liquid, and the actors, knowing how the reform had been wrought, always toasted the child slyly as they drank. Again the tendency to naturalism manifested itself when she played a boy's part in "The Streets of New York." She watched with deep interest her mother's fashioning of a pair of trousers for her to wear at her debut.
"Make a rip here. Mamma," she said, drawing her finger along a side seam, "and let the red flannel poke out. That's the way I've seen little boys' trousers look."
A few years later the trousers of which she had once been so proud became odious to her. In "Little Jack Sheppard" she was cast for one of the Little Boy Blues. Beholding the tight blue knickerbockers in whic^. she was to appear, she burst into tears.
"0, Mr. Osborne," she sobbed, "I really can't wear those things."
"All right, dear," said George Osborne, patting her head. "You needn't wear them. We'll give you a skirt." As that anomaly, a Boy Blue In a short skirt, she appeared, and was happy.
Very early in her youthful career wee Miss Adams comprehended dimly the value of the prefix "Miss" to a theatrical name. Overhearing a member of the company say that someone had mistaken the little girl for Mrs. Adams' sister, the child whispered to her mother, "Mamma, don't you think that I had better call you Annie?" Her dramatic sense developed early. When she was seven years old and playing in "The Octoroon" she played the part of a pickaninny.
"Move about the stage quickly while you talk," said the stage manager. "It would be better for me to be doing something," she said. "I'll use my new jumping rope."
Thus it was by her own suggestion that the smallest of the pickaninnies introduced the "new business" of rope Jumping, "business" that "went well" with the audience.
The strange reversion of realities that take place when a company is cast for a play was exemplified in "Harbour Lights," when Mrs. Annie Adams and Miss Ethel Brandon were cast for young, frivolous girls, and their daughters,
Maude Adams and Polly Brandon, each aged about eleven, played the parts of old crones. The little creatures were made up to look withered and toothless and bent nearly double under the weight of their assumed years.
From the time she played the child's part in "Fritz" at four years of age Maudie Adams was never satisfied unless she was traveling and playing with her mother. Again and again Mrs. Adams sent her daughter back to the old home and to her grandmother in Salt Lake City, but there came from school and from home the report:
"Maudie is good and learns fast, but she frets so much for you and the life of the stage that we are afraid she may be ill." Again and again, especially after the death of Mr. Kiskadden, Mrs. Adams reluctantly consented to her little daughter's "taking one more engagement, but this must really be the last before she is graduated."
One of these reluctant consents was given to her appearance in "Chums," which James A. Herne played and David Belasco directed in the Baldwin Theatre in San Francisco. Mr. Belasco took the small, spindle-legged, pigtailed child with the serious eyes and the magnetic smile on his knees and taught her the part of Chrystal, a part that he says she amazingly vitalized.
Sometimes during the little girl's enforced banishment from the boards her mother came home for a vacation. These were seasons of delirious delight for the child. She clung to her mother incessantly, as though did she once relinquish the grasp of her thin, strong arms, her plump, pretty little mother would be whisked away from her on the wings of the genius of Thespis land.
Cuddled in her mother's arms, supremely happy, the child made her replies to the catechism of maternal love.
"Whom do you love?" asked her mother.
"Whom do you love best in the world?"
Seeing her grandmother sitting apart from the group, and fearing to wound her, she said in a loud voice, sure to reach the elder ears, "and dramma." One remarkable predilection of the Maude Adams not yet emerged from the chrysalis of Maudie was her taste for licorice root. Of too dainty habit to eat the smeary black confection in its finished form, she preferred the root itself, which she could chew with comparative neatness, extracting the flavor while escaping the penalty of soiled lips and handkerchief. On her way to school she passed a wholesale drug house where the roots could be secured. Every morning she called at the drug store and asked for and received two pieces of licorice root from the hands of the head of the firm. For years this custom was invariable. Entered Maudie Adams with school books under her arm and an expectant smile on lips and in eyes. Arose the bulky form of the head of the house, who produced the allotted two pieces of licorice root and bestowed them, with a bow, upon Mrs. Annie Adams' daughter. Smiled Maudie Adams and departed. When after a long absence the little girl, now Maude Adams, the most popular of American stars, revisited her old home, the wholesale druggist sent her two pieces of licorice root with his card and compliments. From New York she sent him a silver souvenir, reproducing the licorice roots, and tied with a pink ribbon. "Thank you. Maude Adams," was written on the accompanying card.
Tenderly Maude Adams recalls all the incidents of life in the quaint town in which she was born. A resident of that city, who knew her but slightly, had asked a favor and received it from her.
"I shall never forget your kindness," said the recipient of the favor.
"It was not kindness. It was Salt Lakeness," returned Miss Adams.
For two years, between the ages of twelve and fourteen, Maudie Adams found her mother inexorable. She must remain in school for two years at least, and finding her protests unavailing, the girl adapted herself so well to the environment of the Collegiate Institute, the Presbyterian school in Salt Lake City, that she became the favorite and, it was generally admitted, the brightest pupil in the school. In elocution she always received the hundred-mark, of perfection, and pupils of that school and time, now grown and married, and in many instances parents, recall that on declamation day one girl with bright eyes and a sweet smile always accompanied her recitations by gestures and swift changes of facial expression that carried conviction of the sentiment, whatever it might be that she chose to impress. They recall one recitation in which she impersonated a spinster reading her old love letters that was a triumph of mimicry, a superb mingling of the humor and pathos so curiously blended in the situation.
When the girl was nearly fourteen Mrs. Adams returned to Salt Lake City to visit her daughter. She was astonished at the flower-like growth of the girl. "Why Maudie," she cried almost reproachfully, "we cannot realize your ambition!"
"What ambition, dear mother?" "You always said 'when I am tall enough to rest my head upon your shoulder we are going to play "The Two Orphans," you Adrienne and I Louise.' Now you are as tall as I am." "Quite tall enough and old enough to leave school," pleaded her daughter. And the mother, reflecting upon the child's quick growth and her unconquerable love for the stage, listened yieldingly to her arguments.
"I shall not need any more education unless I become a teacher or a literary woman," urged the daughter, "and I don't want to be either." The citadel of the opposition to her leaving school life being won, little Miss Adams cared nothing for the outposts. One of these was the principal of the school, a woman of saint-like character, who was exceedingly fond of her young pupil.
"Don't take Maudie from school," she besought the mother. " Leave her with us for a few years and we will make her a teacher of elocution in the school. She will earn a salary of two thousand dollars a year." Outwardly making courteous reply, Mrs. Adams smiled inwardly. " If Maude amounts to anything on the stage she will earn more than that. If not I may send her back." Soon afterward Maude Adams left Salt Lake City with her mother. Seeing her look wistfully out of the car window at the mountain-encircled city receding in the distance the mother asked the daughter whether she was already homesick.
"I love Salt Lake City, but I love you and the life of work before me still better."
It was a life of hard work to which her mother guided her. It led within a year to New York, that Mecca of the ambitious American actor, that land which when conquered is all smiles and sunshine and surpassing fairness, but that until won is a wilderness of hard paths and stern faces and Arctic cold.
There followed all the thorns in the path of the strange seeker after success in Thespis land in New York. There were the frequent and not too warmly welcome calls upon managers and agents. There were lodgings in an unfashionable and not too comfortable region down town near Union Square where car fare from their humble rooms to offices of mighty managers and difficult agents might be saved. There were discouragement and tears. But it was agreed by the brave two that they were never to yield to "blues" at the same time. When the mother was despondent the daughter must be cheerful. When the daughter was overwhelmed in the sea of difficulties the mother must draw her out to the rock of safety and confidence.
And there was confidence of the pair in themselves and in each other. Mrs. Adams had had a general experience of many years. The child had long ago worn off the awkwardness of unaccustomedness upon the stage. She had studied music and could sing. She read well. She could dance. In the flush of her first success, before her present manager had interdicted interviews, the girl chatted freely to the press. In one of those early and now forbidden and forgotten interviews she tells how she learned dancing. "When I left school a little before I was fourteen I went into the ballet." "Into the ballet?"
"Yes. I was there six months and in that time I learned a great deal to fit me for my present position. It is a great school for the actress." Sufficient preparation is more than half the battle. The rest is steadiness of purpose mingled with the power to wait. Miss Adams, reinforced by her mother, had both of these, and seeing the need of them, cultivated them yet more. The ultimate result was an engagement for both in Duncan Harrison's "The Paymaster." Maudie Adams, at last evolved to the dignity of Miss Maude Adams on the bill, played a leading, juvenile role. She caused a great sensation by plunging into a tank of water and being rescued by the hero.
She developed from this sensational "business" a cold that alarmed her vigilant mother. Mrs. Adams begged Mr. Harrison to excuse her daughter from the scene. Mr. Harrison demurred. It was one of the biggest scenes in his piece. He could not sacrifice It even for friends so esteemed as Miss Adams and her mother. Mrs. Adams devised an expedient. So cleverly was it devised and executed that no one except the manager, the protesting daughter and herself knew it -- no one, that is, except a small, dark man with sphinx-like features, who sat in front one night and watched the play with all the discriminating vision of one who had produced it. When the figure jumped into the tank and, dripping, was dragged from it by the panting hero of the play, although the figure flitted out immediately to the wings, the sphinx-featured watcher smiled. Later when he felicitated mother and daughter upon their debut upon a New York stage he exposed the expedient. The daughter's countenance was rueful.
"I didn't want her to," she said half in tears.
"Yes, it was I who jumped into the tank," said the mother. " Do you suppose I would let Maudie take her death of cold in that freezing water?" she added to David Belasco.
There sat in the audience the same night, although quite unconscious of the device, another great manager.
He perceived the natural note and exuberant youth in the juvenile leading woman. "I've seen her before," he said to himself, exploring the hazy recesses of crowded memory. "Yes, she was playing a child's part at the Newmarket Theatre in Portland, Oregon, when I was traveling with a Wallack play. She was a child then. 'Little Maudie Adams' she was billed. Yes, I remember." He recalled a later picture of her in his mental album. She had called at his office with her mother. "Yes. I had nothing for her. I remember them now."
"I have often thought of the time I took Maudie to Mr. Frohman to ask for an engagement," said Mrs. Adams of those early New York days antedating the success of "The Paymaster." "Ah, those were disappointing days, days of impatient waiting, days of doubt and anxiety, days of hard work and much suffering! Mr. Frohman had nothing for us to do, although he asked us to call again. However, after 'The Paymaster' and another visit or two, Mr. Frohman did find an opening for her. Indeed, he sent for us."
While playing the part of Moyna Sullivan in "The Paymaster," Maude Adams' bent toward naturalism received no melodramatic warp. Rather than use the artificial flowers in the play, she paid out of her then meagre purse for the florist's best roses to use in the scene. It was the sacrifice of her personal comfort upon the altar of her ambitions. For there were no carriages to the theatre in those days of a beginning career. There was not even the democratic aid of the street car.
Trudging across Union Square in a storm one night Maude Adams' mother stopped and, placing her hands on the girl's slight shoulders, said: "Maude, do go home. You have coughed four times while we walked a block and a half."
"No, mamma, no. I am quite well."
"Then let us take a car. This is dreadful."
The star of the future drew herself up and looked at her mother with steady eyes."
"Please don't talk of such a thing, mother. I am merely accustoming myself to the vicissitudes of an actor's life."
When "The Paymaster" closed its run at the Star Theatre and set forth upon its Journey in that vague land of discomfort called "the Road," Miss Adams and her mother remained behind. Virginia Harned (Mrs. E. H. Sothern) had interested her husband in the younegirl who had been her friend. Of this period in her career Miss Adams said in one of those now ignored interviews:
"The stage was not beckoning me in those days. Too young for mature parts, too old for child parts, I was a strange, unattractive, unclassified creature. Mrs. Sothern, who had played child parts with me, interested her husband in me after awhile. He invited me to dine with them at a restaurant once and I am sure that I disgusted him by my bashfulness and awkwardness. I never spoke a word through the whole dinner, I was so painfully diffident. But his wife's influence prevailed and he afterwards helped me."
She joined the Sothern company, playing Louisa in "The Highest Bidder," and Jessie Dean in " Lord Chumley." Opportunity for the display other winsome personality did not come, however, until Charles Hoyt engaged her to create the r51e of Dot Bradbury, the young school teacher in "The Midnight Bell."
That production was the line of demarkatlon between the known and the unknown for Maude Adams. To her in "The Paymaster," and in the small parts in the Sothern companies, the metropolitan memory harks not back. Only a few experts in the watch-tower, sweeping their glasses upon the future of the drama, had fixed their glasses and their memories upon her. But from her debut in "The Midnight Bell" the lay mind embraced her henceforth in the arms of memory. The critics of that time made little mention of her, some of them none at all, but the public, which is perhaps the most discerning of the critics, began to say, "There's a charming little girl in Hoyt's new play. I think her name is Adams, or something like that. She's so different."
Charles Hoyt, the manager, had his finger ever upon the pulse of the public. He discovered that its beats spelt popularity for his obscure little "find." When "The Midnight Bell" terminated its run in New York he offered her a five years' contract to play juvenile comedy at practically her own terms.
It was the point of the road where every actor halts in more or less dismay. One way the road stretches, the sign spelling " Money." Diverging from it sweeps the other road along which the sign post's finger points "Artistic opportunity." Maude Adams was the image of youthful irresolution. Her mother intervened. There had been an offer from Charles Frohman. The part was a small one in the play by David Belasco and H. C. De Mille, "Men and Women," with which Mr. Frohman proposed to open his Twenty-third Street Theatre. The salary was scarcely half that which Charles Hoyt extended with open hand.
"Stay in New York and join the Frohman company," said her mother, and on October s^d, 1890, she appeared as Dora Prescott, at the opening of the Stock company at Proctor's Twenty-third Street Theatre. The next year she played, in the same theatre, Nell, a cripple, in "The Lost Paradise." Then it was that New York audiences came to know that delicate, heart-touching, indefinable thing known as the pathos of Maude Adams. It is more than half natural, that pathos, being writ in curiously pensive features and sounded in a sweetly plaintive voice that are Maude Adams' own.
At the close of the long runs of these plays in New York there was much concern along the Rialto when the news went forth that John Drew had renounced his eighteen years fealty to Augustin Daly and had gone over to the Frohman forces. Of equally agitating interest was the question, "To whom will John Drew make stage love now?" Audiences that had seen him pouring forth the fervor of his heart in many years of accumulated affection at the feet of Ada Rehan could not fancy his making stage love to any one else. It was a disturbing question and Charles Frohman, to all queries, replied: "I have not yet decided." It was a demure young girl who answered the question a great many miles from New York. She was posing for her old friend, that venerable photographer, Thors, of San Francisco. As he manipulated the green curtain and focused the camera he chatted of matters theatrical.
"Who is to be John Drew's leading woman?" he inquired, without in the least expecting that his small sitter would know.
"Why. I am."
"You! Don't tell fibs. You! The idea."
"Yes. I'm not telling fibs," she Insisted.
Whereupon the photographer became so angry that he crossed the room and gave her ears an admonitory pinch. Not until three months later, when he saw headlines challenging the attention of the hasty reader to Charles Frohman's announcement that he had chosen Maude Adams for the leading support for his new star, John Drew, did the old photographer believe in the truthfulness of the little girl who had sat for him every year since the time when she and Flora Walsh stood together in all the glory of their seven years and the trousers that, belonged to their costumes in "The Wandering Boy," and a blinding light revealed to him that she had, all unnoticed by him, grown up, grown into the ranks and dignity of leading woman for a foremost American star.
The play which was chosen for Mr. Drew's stellar debut was "The Masked Ball." The play was an adaptation from the French by Clyde Fitch. A fashionable audience, made up of the folk who had hitherto "gone to no playhouse but Daly's," gathered to bid John Drew welcome under the new auspices. The audience was pleased by the play, charmed with its old favorite, John Drew, but it was fascinated by the small, girlish creature at whom it had looked critically through its lorgnette when she made her diffident entrance. She played the young wife, Suzanne Blondet, and played a feigned tipsy scene. By way of administering to her husband a needed lesson she came reeling out upon the stage with a stammering: "Good-- morn-- Paul! Hello Paulie!" "Your husband is a nice man," she continued. "A very nice man, but he can't dance very well. I think he has too many feet." When her husband inquired where she had been she said: "I don't know." Reeling and swaying she dropped into a chair and with a queer little grimace stammered: "I-- I-- think m have to sit down a minute."
In clumsier hands this scene would have been gross. The frail young girl, clad in an Empire gown of old pink brocade, and carrying a long-stemmed pink rose which she waved aimlessly to emphasize her vague remarks, made it bewitching. Twelve times the audience called her before the curtain to express its pleasure. The next morning the frosty critics thawed and made noble amends for their previous indifference. "To make a tipsy scene Interesting and at the same time inoffensive is the test of acting. Not one actor out of a thousand can achieve it," said one. Of that tipsy scene Miss Adams said:
"It wasn't easy to do. You see I couldn't get tipsy myself to form my conception of the part, for when you are really intoxicated you don't know how you feel and can't remember what you do at all afterwards; my men friends tell me I might have studied the part from tipsy women, but there was the great danger of overdoing it and shocking people. Then, too, I am not really intoxicated in the piece. I am only feigning it. I realized that I must do it as a sober woman who is trying to make others think that she is intoxicated. I thought about it, dreamed about it, acted it out before the mirror for weeks, my only assistant being my imagination. I call the whole scene a flight of tipsy imagination.
"The scene isn't a bit like me. My old friends are astonished at my actions.
One of the members of the Sothern company said: 'Why, whatever has gotten into you? You never used to touch a drop with us.' 'Why,' I said, 'I've gone to the demnition bow-wows and am tipsy every night now.'"
That scene in "The Masked Ball" made Maude Adams what she has been ever since, a prime metropolitan favorite. "The Masked Ball," having run its successful course for eighteen months, Henry Guy Carleton's light comedy, "The Butterflies," was chosen for Mr. Drew's next vehicle. Miss Adams' part as Miriam, the daughter of a pauperized follower after the gods of Society, was not a strong one, but 'in its circumscribed scope she revealed a marked and pleasing personality. One who saw her for the first time in "The Butterflies" said: "Her laughter was delicious. One stared at the stage to see from which of the four women standing on the stage it proceeded. It was different from the ordinary laugh as a tattoo on a tin pan is from the vox humana of a pipe organ. It welled up musically from a light, girlish heart. It trilled as a bird trills. It rippled as a brook ripples. It caused the grimmest face in the house to relax into lines of merriment. And yet there was no hint of hoyden in it. It was the laugh of a gentlewoman, keyed to the diapason of refined merriment."
In the third of the series of Drew plays is the door of opportunity again swung wide open to Miss Adams. As Jessie Keber, a toymaker's daughter, she is wooed by Lord Cllvebrooke, in "The Bauble Shop." The play evolves from the starting point of the young nobleman's dishonorable intentions toward the shopkeeper's daughter to the pure and honorable love he offers her at the close of the play. Henry Arthur Jones gave Miss Adams a chance for exquisite character portrayal in the scene in which she describes to her father the beautiful home which her lover has promised her. "The Imprudent Young Couple," a comedy by Henry Guy Carleton, was a failure, but it did not fall soon enough to rob Miss Adams of her success as the young wife, a part which disclosed equally her gifts of comedy and pathos. "Christopher, Jr.," a comedy by Madeleine Lucette Riley, was soon substituted for "The Imprudent Young Couple." In this Miss Adams again etched delicately the gamut of a gentlewoman's emotions with the effect of reaching both the brain and heart 'of her audience.
Fortune veered in the next Drew dramatic venture. The play was "The Squire of Dames." A flippant and totally heartless young society matron it was that Miss Adams portrayed.
The part was an unsympathetic one and Maude Adams was sadly miscast. For the first time since those hard, early days, when she walked in the rain across Union Square and said she chose to learn the vicissitudes of an actor's life, she looked failure In the eyes.
But fortune veered once more and turned upon her a smiling face when it granted Louts N. Parker and Murray Carson's "Rosemary" for the next season's play. "Rosemary" was an idyllic play of young love and, as Dorothy Cruikshank, Maude Adams was its heroine. In the mmds of lovers of good plays the opening scene lingers as a fadeless picture. Maude Adams, in a quaint bonnet and shawl, sits beside the youthful and ill-tempered young lover with whom she had started to elope, looking very dispirited, for which there was, indeed, ample cause. The carriage had broken down. The rain was descending in sheets. The youthful pair, who would have eloped, looked as though they wished they were at their respective homes and in their respective individual beds. Elopement had lost its savor at this contrast with the savage elements. The middle-aged Sir Jasper Thorndyke discovers their plight and offers them the hospitality of his home. They accept and confide in him the wonderful story of their elopement. Shortly afterward the pursuing parents of the would-be bride, also stormbound, seek his hospitality. The scenes lhat ensue provide much wholesome comedy. But the golden thread of sympathy in the story is the undiscovered and unspoken love of the eloping bride for her host and his noble renunciation of it. Her portraiture of Dorothy Cruikshank redoubled the firmness of Maude Adams' hold upon the popular heart. The only adverse criticism of the play was that of the epilogue in which Sir Jasper, John Drew, fifty years later discovers a tiny sprig of rosemary that the little bride had given him "for remembrance," and wonders how he came mto possession of it. The hearts that had warmed to little Mistress Cruikshank were wounded by his forgetfulness. They declared that this lack of memory of his misty romance was a false note. Her surpassing success in this role gave to Charles Frohman the greater courage of his conviction that her talents and popularity made of Maude Adams valuable star material. The time for the beginning of a stellar career had arrived and now for the play. Fortuitously it happened that J. M. Barrie, the author of "The Little Minister," was paying a visit to America and while in New York saw the play "Rosemary."
"There," said he, when the final curtain had fallen upon Maude Adams, to an accompaniment of "bravos," "is the woman to play my Lady Babbie."
When he returned to England he had signed a contract to deliver a dramatization of "The Little Minister" the following summer. On September a8th, 1897, Miss Adams made her debut in the play as a star at the Empire Theatre in New York. She burst into splendid stardom in a night. The play ran for three years. At the close of her second season in it she played a supplementary season as Juliet.
Less satisfying than her surpassing Lady Babbie, her rendition of the character of the passionate young Capulet was exquisitely girlish. The pathetic note of hopeless love was firmly struck and held. The lack of stately declamation was deplored by the older critics who had memory standards by which to measure her performance. Of thesememory standards Maude Adams had none.
"If I have smashed the traditions it was because I knew no traditions," she said, yet it was well known that Miss Adams as Juliet had disappointed herself.
"I have not done what I intended to do," she said to those who congratulated her.
When it became known that Charles Frohman designed to place the heavy mantle of L'Aiglon, the Rostand drama which Bernhardt was playing with tremendous success in Paris, upon Maude Adams' slight shoulders, there was a storm of friendly protest. The storm of dissuasion increased when it was known that Mme. Bernhardt would come to New York and play in a rival theatre in the same production that winter.
"It isn't fair to Miss Adams," exclaimed the protestants, "to pit a young girl against a woman of twice her age and four times her experience. Compared with the rush and roar of the Bernhardt dramatic strength, Maude Adams' performance will be as the piping of a shepherd's reed in a storm." But Charles Frohman persisted. He said that Miss Adams was physically adapted to the role of the weakling son of Napoleon. He said that what she lacked in dramatic force would be more than made up by the skill in depicting pathos, which is one of her rarest gifts. Miss Adams created the Eaglet for Americans. Later Mme. Bernhardt arrived and played it magnificently.
But Miss Adams' engagement in New York was the longer one.
Subsequently she played for a season the role of Phoebe in "Quality Street," another Barrie play of gossamer texture and furnishing a diaphanous part for the star. But while the play was of character so flimsy the public remained loyal to its Maude Adams.
At the close of this season it was announced that Miss Adams' impaired health forbade her returning to the stage'. She would rest and recuperate abroad. Various and disturbing were the rumors of the nature of her illness. Visions of tuberculosis were exaggerated into rumors that set matinee girls and even matinee matrons mourning.
No better index of the character of the most popular of American actresses can be shown than to describe the manner in which she spent her vacation abroad. To those who read that she would spend the summer of 1901 in Europe there arose visions of banquetmgs and gay festal occasions in the capitals of Europe. But the cables brought no such intelligence of Lady Babbie. Shortly after her arrival in Paris, when ships with the peasant children on the way. Odd keepsakes they gave her, bits of coral and seaweed that had been brought back by wandering relatives from excursions on the sea, feathers from the hats of the peasants, odd, worn sabots and scraps of their bright-colored, new frocks. All of these she brought back with her. One of the little girls was her most faithful attendant. This was the daughter of Jacques, the wood cutter, a tiny girl with a small face lit by big, wistful eyes that smiled seldom except when they looked upon "the nice little American lady who never tires of walking." Little Angelique followed Miss Adams on all her long tramps between the convent and the village of Tours.
Dinner was served at mid-day. This, too, was a simple meal; chicken, a salad and one vegetable, usually carrots. The nuns eschewed sweets as in the class of the useless things of this world. After dinner she went to the small room above the olive groves and studied French, covering pages of an American writing pad with conjugations and declensions.
"The greatest trouble I have here is to know what to do with these pages when I have finished with them. They are useless to me and yet they represent so much hard work that I don't like to throw them away. Fancy a place so restful that such a trouble as this is the only one in life. But that is all the trouble there is in the world when you live in La Maison de Retraite near Tours."
Then came another walk and then a light supper, frequently of stewed fruit and French bread without butter. There was a vesper service, and the nuns and their guest retired to their rooms and five minutes later the lights were out. Thus the day passed with but the slight difference that when she knew them better and had told them gently that she was an actress instead of an heiress, the afternoons were devoted less to French verbs than to conversation lessons from the nuns.
"After all," said Sister Mercia, the venerable Sister Superior, "you were a woman before you were an actress, a good woman, and I am sure you are a good actress."
While she lived at the convent a bulky package of paper arrived. It came from New York and bore many marks of its travels, the cover being tattered, and there being the impress of many seals. It was the first and only intrusion of the concerns of the unquiet, outer world. Miss Adams carried it to her room and broke the seal. Then she read it avidly. It was her part in " Quality Street," the new Barrie play In which she would play Phoebe Throssel in October. She rehearsed it in the narrow room, or in the olive groves beneath her window, or even on tramps about Tours to the wonder of the ever-attending Angelique. One sister came upon her pirouetting on the sward. She was rehearsing the scene in which she complained that she couldn't make her feet stop dancing. Seeing the shadow of a black robe and the wonder in a pair of watching blue eyes. Miss Adams laughed and confessed. And, thereafter, she rehearsed before the nuns instead of behind them. W hen she left the place of peace, turning her back reluctantly upon its gray walls, silhouetted against a placid sky and the green background of hills and trees, she carried with her a keepsake nearly unique. Sister Mercia had departed from a rigid rule. She had sat for her photograph, and Miss Adams keeps it always in the room which she has finished to duplicate her retreat at Tours in her New York home, a reminder of a quieter world than that bordered every night by a ribbon of lights.
It was after her season in the pretty fantasy " Quality Street" that the rumors of Miss Adam's ill health broke out anew and that she confirmed them to a certain degree by deciding to not play for another year at least. When the rumors of the alarmists were sifted to a substratum of truth it was learned that Miss Adams had taxed her strength too greatly by playing almost incessantly for seventeen years. Her vacations had been short and with the exception of the idyllic one at Tours had been in great measure filled with onerous preparations for the next season. She was justly proud of the fact that she had never in her life missed a performance, but the long strain had affected a frail constitution to the point of exhaustion.
"Miss Adams is simply tired," said her physician. " She must rest for a year at least."
And Miss Adams obeyed. She rested at the doctor's will, and in obedience to her own moods, at her mountain home at Oneteola Park, near Tannersville, N. Y.i in the CatskiIIs, at Sandy Garth, at her farm near Ronkonkoma, Long Island, and at her town house, No. 11 East 4 ist Street, New York. And when resting in these accustomed spots began to pall upon her, the kindly autocrat of her physical well-being ordered her to go abroad, to travel wherever she wished, though slowly, but at all events to make her ultimate objective point a trip up the Nile and a tented sojourn on the Lybtan Desert. His patient was docile. In company with Miss Davis, the sister of Richard Harding Davis, she set out for Jerusalem, stopping for a month's camping on the Lyblan Desert. A native cook and a guide accompanied them. Miss Adams slept in a tent and spent all day in a saddle. Five weeks of the imposed year of rest she spent at Jerusalem.
The year of exile from stageland ended, she returned to the heart of Thespis, refreshed, renewed, and eager for the work she loved. The year's rest had been efficacious. Maude Adams had, in respect to health, been born again. She returned to the stage in "The Pretty Sister of Jose," which sufficed for a successful season.
The manner of the adoption of " Peter Pan," her latest vehicle, now in its second year, was unusual. Her manager, having found no modern play to his liking for her, had planned a Shakespearian year. They were to produce "As You Like It," the star to appear as Rosalind, and later, perhaps, other lighter and more joyous of Shakespeare's heroines. As he was leaving his star's presence, the manager drew from his overcoat the manuscript of "Peter Pan."
"Here's a play for children, by your beloved Barrie," said Mr. Frohman. "I do not think that I will produce it, but you may be interested In reading it." Miss Adams said: " I had not finished the first act before the quaint character of ? Peter Pan' had charmed me. I could feel the presence of the Fairies and the Indians and the Pirates and the lost boys of Never-Never-Never Land, and in their midst the dashing, winsome 'Peter Pan.' When I had reached the last line of the play I had made my decision. I would play the character. When I saw Mr. Frohman again I said, 'You may shelve your Shakespearian plans for the present. I am going to play Peter Pan.' "
It was not until then that I recalled a remark which Mr. Barrie had made to me the year before. " A character is in my mind that has come to me through you and I am going to make a play of it." When he learned that we were going to produce his play he wrote, " I want you to know that It was you that inspired the writing of the play." So it was a kind of mental telepathy" between Mr. Barrie and "Peter Pan" and me all the while.
Secondary only to her interest in the stage is that in her home. Miss Adams, as has been said, has three homes. That which shelters her when she is in New York is a narrow four-story brownstone English-basement house, a stone's throw east of Bryant Park, and near Madison Avenue.
Here she has gathered under one roof most of the souvenirs of her travels. The bookroom is her favorite, apartment. In this quiet spot which others might call the library, but which she gives the Anglo-Saxon title, is the papyrus which she brought from her tour of the Holy Lands, the oldest play manuscript in the world. Sixty books, chiefly in papyrus, she brought from her journeyings in Egypt and on the Desert of Sahara and keeps on locked shelves in her bookroom. Rare books and first editions are Maude Adams' only form of extravagance. Beyond the bookroom on the main floor is a conservatory, and beyond this lies her nunlike bed chamber and bathroom. On the second floor are a dining room and drawing room and on upper floors still other bedrooms for the family and servants.
The family consists of her mother and her aged grandmother, besides the star. It has been named by those who have visited it "The House of Silence." A scholastic calm always reigns there and so quiet are the servants, so exclusive of all noise the menage, that the home might be mistaken for one in the depths of the country Instead of in the centre of the swirl and roar of the largest and noisiest city in America.
Here, as at her farm. Miss Adams' frequent alterations and remodeling of the house indicate her fad for architecture. She seeks quaint, Elizabethan effects. Her farm house at Ronkonkoma has for the lower floor one vast hall like that in which the heroes'of Scotland entertained their kingly visitors. This simple room has four fireplaces, one in the middle of each wall. Here the family sk and chat, and in one corner dine. The upper floor of the half-brick, half-stone structure isgiven over to large, airy, sunny bed chambers. On the farm Miss Adams keeps her dogs. A half dozen handsome ones tumble about the visitor in rollicking welcome. There is a huge St. Bernard, two greyhounds, a French bull and a collie. The St. Bernard has the unique name, bestowed by the star, "Day's Eye." Near the house is an artificial lake where, in the summer months. Miss Adams takes a morning swim. She keeps a half dozen horses and rides and drives a great deal while at home. Three years ago she set out a grove of walnut trees, declaring that it was every landholder's duty to contribute to the arboreal beauty of the landscape, and that she planted the trees with full knowledge that she would probably not live to see the maturity of their full-grown splendor. She offered to donate a new station house to the village of Ronkonkoma, but the railroad regulations forbidding this beneficence, she asked permission to lay out some flower beds to add to its attractiveness, and this pleasure was granted her. To the farm she always goes to spend Sunday when she is playing in New York or Philadelphia. She has sometimes traveled from Boston after a Saturday night performance to enjoy a Sabbath rest at her favorite retreat. A special train carries the star on her quest of rest. To a picturesque cottage in the Catskills she resorts for a few weeks of the exhilaration of mountain air in the summer.
While her popularity is pre-eminent, it being evident not only from her never diminished power to draw crowded houses in all cities of the United States, but from such tangible tokens as an automobile which she won in a competitive vote for the most popular actress in New York, and by the golden life-sized statue of her which was sent to the Paris Exposition as that of the most popular of American actresses, and by yet another sign that President Roosevelt went behind the scenes to compliment her on her acting, yet her modesty and reserve are proverbial. She gives no thought to social life, her pronouncement being that one may not be at once a society butterfly and a working grub. Vital energy, she believes, is a fixed quantity and she who makes an overdraft upon it for social purposes must of necessity disappoint her audiences by listless performance. Firmly she refuses invitations to social functions, leading the life of her choice, that of a semi-recluse for art's sake.
Her charities are many but quiet. To the friends of her early life in the West she is loyal and kind, but for new friendships she has little time, and permits herself small opportunity. The stage, her family, her few old friends, her books, her music -- for she Is a good amateur musician, performing well upon the piano, harp, and 'cello (the last is her favorite instrument) -- constitute the circle of her interests. A secretary, Miss Louise Boynton, attends to her correspondence. She has never married, or rather she has been much married ever since she can remember to her profession. Admirers there have been, many of them, but they seldom progressed beyond a merely initial acquaintance incident to business. One young literary man formed the, to him, pleasant habit of escorting Miss Adams, before she had graduated from the Maudie period of her existence, and her mother to and from the stage door. Miss Adams was polite but gently preoccupied. Mrs. Adams was pityingly watchful,
"I may as well tell you," she said once in kindly tone, " that you are only wasting your time by these attentions. My daughter has no thought of young men and has no intention of marrying." Which may be said to summarize Miss Adams' attitude toward marriage. Her thoughts of romance, her close friends say, have always taken the direction of effective stage scenes.
"I learned the harp when I was a girl, and used to sit beside it and dream of a stage scene which Mr. Belasco and Mr. DeMille should write for me, of a young man leaning over a girl and proposing to her while her fingers idly swept the strings. But my teacher came in one day when I was dreaming thus and told me I was sitting at the wrong end of the harp and that it would be impossible for anyone but a giant to lean gracefully over the right end of an upright Instrument. I couldn't have a giant make love to me and I didn't want anyone to lean awkwardly over the harp, so away went the scene."
Her art standards are the highest. She is never satisfied with any performance of her own, yet to members of her company she is most patient. Again and again she will go over her own part of a scene that the person who plays it with her may perfect himself. Never does she complain of weariness. Invariably she rehearses her own part after the rehearsal is over. When the rest, exhausted, have gone home, she takes the stage alone and remains there often until midnight going over her principal scenes. At rehearsals she nearly always wears a long brown coat, ancient in cut, and worn as to seams and edges. That old brown coat she declares is her mascot.
Soaring as she has into the cloudland of fantasy, and delving into the depths of tragedy. It is known to her intimates that Maude Adams has had always but one stage ambition. It expresses itself in brief phrase. She desires to reign in comedy. She would be the Rejane of America.
To-day Maude Adams is one of the richest women on the stage. Her first season as a star was so profitable as to yield her the snug sum of forty thousand dollars. Proportionally she has been successful each succeeding season. And she has always invested judiciously. For example, she has caused to be set out on her farm. Sandy Garth, which she has gradually extended from an eighty-acre tract to one of two hundred acres, large groves of walnut trees, and it has been estimated that so valuable will be these trees when they reach their maturity, in about thirty years, that were all Miss Adams' other holdings swept away, and were she to leave the stage, she could live palatially upon the profits yielded by her exceedingly profitable walnut groves.
Recently Miss Adams acquired a theatre car, built at her order at a cost of thirty thousand dollars, which is part of the train that carries the Peter Pan company on its travels. It is a car of the ordinary size and appearance so far as the exterior is concerned, but it contains a stage upon which. Miss Adams and her company rehearse en route whenever It seems to her advisable. Thus she can rehearse when ever she likes, without waiting to reach the theatre at the next "stand."
We have on our stage actresses of more forceful individuality, and there are others who have more beauty, whose art is more mature and therefore more finished. But it remains incontestable that from the box-office standpoint
Maude Adams is the biggest moneymaker, and, inferentially, the most popular of all'the women stars on the American stage to-day. Certainly, no other actress has more of that indefinable quality described vaguely as charm. The young actress has succeeded in obeying to the letter Charles Frohman's advice to the players: " Please the women, for without them the theatres would have to close. If the women do not like a play, it is doomed. If they do not like a player, he or she may as well take to another profession." Maude Adams has pleased the women. She is idolized by many, and the favorite player of them all. Her popularity with women and girls was shown early by the enormous sales of her portraits, for men seldom purchase theatrical photographs.
It is no secret for those who know Miss Adams intimately that there are
in her two distinct personalities. The Maude Adams of the stage and the Maude Adams in private life are two entirely different beings, and very few know her in this latter role, for she avoids people and lives away from the world, preferring and seeking solitude. On the stage, a gossamer, spritelike quality, ephemeral, but radiant as the golden dust on the butterfly's wing, is her teasing, pre-eminent characteristic. Critics have described her as elfish, diaphanous, analysis-defying, mysterious, almost weirdly winsome. Elusiveness is, perhaps, her dominant note as an actress. Away from the footlights the woman is a recluse. Asceticism is the keynote of her life. If she had not taken to the stage early in her career and grown to look on it as second nature, it is probable that she would have taken the veil and passed her life In a convent. Yet the asceticism of Maude Adams is without austerity, it is a wholesome merriment wedded with stern simplicity, the lonely serenity of the scholar, a smile upon the brooding features of the monk, the sunlight playing upon the coif of the nun.
This voluntary withdrawal from the public gaze every second that she is not literally on the stage is certainly singular enough. Other players weary at times of the human crowd, and seek seclusion for health's and study's sake, but to Maude Adams solitude is a luxury which has become a necessity to her nature.
There is a suggestion of this isolation in the set melancholy of her face which is pensive and thoughtful In repose and haunted as by some secret sorrow even when radiant with her sweetest smile. Hers, too, is a highly nervous temperament, always tuned to the snapping point and her frequent physical collapse arises from this alone. She will get up in the morning fresh and gay as the lark and by noon her vitality is exhausted and lassitude and moodiness have seized upon her. When the evening comes she seems herself again, full of merriment and enthusiasm for her work, but it is only an artificial reaction brought about by the exertion of her tremendous will-power, and the effort gradually saps her strength until at last nature rebels and she can go on no more before she has taken another long rest.
She told the writer with a touch of anger how a party of New Yorkers drove across her farm. Sandy Garth, Long Island, and how she hid behind a tree until they had driven on, disappointed because they had caught no glimpse of their beloved, elusive Lady Babbie.
"It is because the public loves you that it wants to see and know more of you," we protested.
"If it really loved me it would leave me alone," which reply, given in a tone of finality that closed the subject, is proof of her sincerity.
Miss Adams tells of the sympathy of a conductor on the Long Island Railroad who asked her one day during i the third year of the run of " The Little Minister" if she were not tired of playing the same part so long. "It is tiresome," the star admitted. The conductor leaned upon the back of the car seat in reflection for many minutes. Then he burst out in sudden inspiration: " Miss Adams, why don't you try to get another job! "
These stories the actress tells with girlish glee. It is the merriment which tinges her asceticism, the sunlight playing in the shadows of the cloister.
The few visitors who have been admitted to the narrow four-story English basement house which Miss Adams owns at No. 11 East Forty-first street describe it as an oasis of scholastic peace amid the roar of the busy metropolis. Servants glide noiselessly about, speaking in the hushed tones of those accustomed to the enforced quiet of a sickroom, and as if watching jealously to guard a nervous and highly strung temperament from the jar of city turmoil. The furniture is scant .and simple, but every piece smacks of romance, for the mistress of the house is an ardent collector of antiques and possesses some valuable specimens enriched recently by a number of art treasures picked up during her travels in Egypt. The prevailing color is dark green, her favorite tint, and this color and also the old woods noticed in the reception room, appear again in the square central hall, where a French sedan chair forms the telephone booth. Beyond is the library, another small square room, whose four sides are lined from floor to ceiling with rare old books. Here are complete sets of all the English classics, and English and French plays of every period. Here, too, are the English philosophers, and If Miss Adams were asked to name her favorite author she would unhesitatingly answer: "Herbert Spencer." Opening from the library and extending in a straight line like a steamer gangway to the rear of the narrow court is the actress' private suite.
If the visitor expects to see here a vision of rosy light filtering through silk-and-lace draped windows, daintily upholstered furniture, and the gleam of half a hundred silver toilet articles, a rude disappointment awaits him. In these private rooms of the actress, where only the most intimate friends may enter,one comes face to face for the first time with the soul of this remarkable woman. The suite is screened from the rest of the floor by a small fernery, filled with tall, green plants, and having passed through this, one enters a small room of about ten by twelve feet. Surely not Miss Adams' room, this? Her maid's? Not at all. This is Maude Adams' bedroom, and it is an exact replica of the little cell she occupied in the convent at Tours -- the bare, white walls, the narrow iron bedstead, pathetic in its simplicity, the brown, homewoven rug, the tiny, severe white bathroom beyond, the solitude and intense quiet, all this Maude Adams has duplicated in the house , of which she is mistress and which is hardly half a block from fashionable, merry, matterof-fact Fifth avenue!
No noise from the street ever reaches this retreat. No intrusive sound from a neighboring menage penetrates the high walls of the court. Here Maude Adams finds the silence and the peace she loves. Here she can indulge to the full her fondness for introspection. Some one once said in her presence, "Self-study is unhealthful."
"Oh, no!" was the quick reply. " It is one of the best means of development."
"Genius," she said, "is the talent for seeing things straight." She repeated this earnestly, pointing a slim, level finger for emphasis. "It Is seeing things in a straight line without any bend or break or aberration of sight, seeing them as they are, without any warping of vision. Flawless mental sight! That is genius!"
There is one element missing from the cell-like bedroom in her New York house, which is ever present in its prototype at Tours. That is the religious element. In Maude Adams' room there are no rosaries, no images, no crosses, no colored prints of the Crucifixion or of the Mater Dolorosa. The actress is not a devotee. She belongs to no sect, has adopted no creed. Hers is the practical religion of altruism.
Her charities are many, but unobtrusive. A faded gentlewoman, one of the inefficients in the battle of life, came to the writer one day with a long, sad story of defeat. She must leave the small, bare room where she and her son were living unless help came quickly. Friends had helped her, but friends grow weary of helping. There was one who never wearied. If Maude Adams were only here, but she was in Europe.
"She returned this morning."
The woman's face brightened, then clouded again.
"She has helped me so often. I dread asking her again. If you would tell her that I am in distress."
That afternoon, a note reached Miss Adams as she was leaving for Ronkonkoma, her Long Island home. She placed It with a bill in the hands of her maid, and an hour later the little bare room had bloomed into a spot of sunshine.
Other instances of her goodness of heart are many. A lonely little girl who had come to New York to seek her fortune had a hall bedroom on the fourth floor of a house in which Miss Adams lived. The actress had never seen the litde girl, but in some way the fact of her existence came to her on the child's birthday. Miss Adams took two handsomely bound books from a package just arrived, wrote on the fly-leaf of each : " To a ladye on her birthday, Maude Adams," and carried them upstairs to the ballroom. A careworn, anxious young face appeared at a crack of the door.
"My name is Adams," said the actress.
"I have rooms on the second floor. Someone said this was your birthday. Will you accept this little present?" This with a sunny Lady Babbie smile.
The girl took the books and read the inscription with a grateful little sob. Thereafter the name of Maude Adams led all the rest in her calendar of saints.
Many unfortunate actresses have known her bounty, delicately given. Not a few have found in her home a sailor's snug harbor until they were strong enough again to brave the storm. One of these while seeking an engagement found a home in Miss Adams' town house for three months. Another to whom life had assumed a tragic form was sent to her farm, where she remained for a year.
Charitable as she is to her unfortunate sisters of the profession. Miss Adams seldom asks managers for engagements for them, never unless she has seen them play. This is because her standard of art is high and because she knows the cares that beset the busy manager. Her home, her purse, her womanly sympathy, are easily drawn upon, but her recommendation of a player as a player is almost as rare as her newspaper interviews, and she never gives an interview. A veteran magazine writer claims the distinction of being the first of the interviewers whose attentions Miss Adams firmly declined. He relates his experience as follows:
"It was several years ago, a day or two after Miss Adams made her first hit in 'The Masked Ball.' I met her at the stage door and asked her for an appointment. She hesitatingly gave me her address, and asked me to call the next morning. I called early and found her waiting for me, ready dressed and looking like a schoolgirl. She greeted me merrily, but said at once: 'I've changed my mind about the interview. I shall never give interviews.'
"l Why ?' I had just breath enough to gasp.
"(Duse is never interviewed. Why should I be?' said the baby.
"I thought she was an impertinent child," added the elderly interviewer, "but at least she has been consistent."
On her trips abroad she has usually traveled incognito. Her name seldom appears on the sailing list. She goes to the ship early and so escapes the newspaper men. When she arrived recently, one hardy man of the pencil and notebook penetrated her ship disguise of "Miss Alien." He lifted his hat and smiling with Sherlock Holmes satisfaction, said:
"What sort of a passage did you have. Miss Adams?"
"Miss Alien" started and looked reprovingly at the bold man. She stopped, with one foot on the carriage step, and shook her finger at him.
"Run away, bad boy," she said gravely, and the carriage rolled out upon West street.
Intelligent and intellectual as Maude Adams is, she is not without the superstitions common to stage folk. The writer has seen her step quickly back to the landing so that she might not make one of an ill-fated trio on the stairs. She has mascots without number, one of them a curious blue, heartshaped stone which she wears about her neck, and she is afraid of beggars.
An old woman one day asked her for a coin. The actress remembered that there were only bills in her purse, so walked on without replying.
"She cursed me horribly, and I have never since given anything to beggars. I am afraid of them," she said. The money she denies to beggars she spends in less open but grateful charities.
Her mild asceticism, untinged with austerity, is shown in the simplicity of her dress. She cares little for modes or fashion. For society she cares not at all. Her friends are few, but they are friends forever. It was at the request of one of these old friends that she made her only social appearance for years. That was at an informal evening at the home of the late Major Pond on Jersey Heights. A friend of many years is Mrs. Hastings, wife of the architect, and daughter of E. C. Benedict.
Accountable for many of her seeming idiosyncrasies is her singleness of aim, the fulfillment of her ambition. Those familiar with that ambition know that her career has not yet settled into the smooth-running groove of her hopes, that path of least resistance of her tastes. For Maude Adams would not be the Bernhardt of America nor yet its Duse. Her ambition is to be its ReJane. The French comedienne is the actress she admires most. This gravest of American actresses in private life would be its gayest in public.
The vestal by day would be the merriest of mummers at night. Again the sunlight is playing upon the coif of the nun.
She insisted upon leaving school forever when she was fourteen in spite of her principal, who urged her to become a teacher, but her real education began when she left school, and she has been a student ever since. She speaks and reads French fluently; she is a fine pianist and has a well-cultivated contralto voice. Her taste for architecture is shown in incessant improvements in her town house and at her country place on Long Island. She swims and rides well, and country life is a passion with her, and yet not the ruling passion.
For life to her is truly the stage, and all of her world are players, and genius, she has said, is seeing straight the things which concern us.
|Clergyman||R. J. Dillon|
|Deacon||Thos. Q. Seabrooke|
|City Lawyer||Frank Lane|
|Bank Cashier||W. J. Humphreys|
|Bank Teller||Hart Conway|
|Bank President||Eugene Canfield|
|Village Doctor||Jesse Jenkins|
|Village Fiddler||Percy Gaunt|
|Minister's Sister||Maude Adams|
|Old Maid||Annie Adams|
|Soprano of the Choir||Elvia Croix|
|Village Maiden||Beth Bedford|
|Alfred Hastings||Henry Miller|
|Tom McDow||J. C. Buckstone|
|Theo. Bender||M. A. Kennedy|
|Josephine Bender||Ida Vernon|
|Evangeline Bender||Maude Adams|
|Robert Pettibone||T. M. Hunter|
|Rosabelle Pettibone||Mercedes Malarini|
|Emily Pettibone||Marle Greenwald|
|Christopher Dabney||Tom Robinson|
|Judson Langbon||Lewis Baker|
|Fifi Oritanski||Maud Haslam|
|Augustus McSnath||T. C. Valentine|
|Victor Smythe||J. B. Hollis|
|Israel Cohen||Frederick de Belleville|
|Wm. Prescott||William Morris|
|Edwin Seabury||Orrin Johnson|
|Calvin Stedman||R. A. Roberts|
|Lyman H. Webb||Henry Talbot|
|Stephen Rodman||Frank Mordaunt|
|Zachary T. Kip||M. A. Kennedy|
|"Dick" Armstrong||T. C. Valentine|
|Sam Delafield||J. C. Buckstone|
|Arnold Kirke||Emmett Corrigan|
|Messenger||Master Louis Haines|
|Agnes Rodman||Sydney Armstrong|
|Mrs. Kate Delafield||Odette Tyler|
|Margery Knox||Etta Hawkins|
|Mrs. Jane Prescott||Annie Adams|
|Mrs. Kirke||Lillian Chantore|
|Pendleton||C. Leslie Allen|
|Reynolds||W. H. Tillard|
|Crawford||E. J. McCullough|
|Andrew Knowlton||Frank Mordaunt|
|Ralph Standish||Orrin Johnson|
|Billy Hopkins||J. C. Buckstone|
|Mrs. Knowlton||Annie Adams|
|Margaret Knowlton||Sydney Armstrong|
|Reuben Warner||W. Morris|
|Bob Appleton||Cyril Scott|
|Fletcher||C. Leslie Allen|
|Joe Barrett||H. Talbot|
|Polly Flecher||Odette Tyler|
|Paul Blondet||John Drew|
|Joseoph Poulard||Harry Harward|
|Louis Martinot||Harold Russell|
|M. Bergomat||C. Leslie Allen|
|Casimir||Frank E. Lamb|
|Suzanne Blondet||Maude Adams|
|Mme. Poulard||Virginia Buchanan|
|Mme. Bergomat||Annie Adams|
|Frederick Ossian||John Drew|
|Andrew Strong||Lewis Baker|
|Hiram Green||Harry Harwood|
|Nathaniel Bilser||Leslie Allen|
|Coddle||Frank E. Lamb|
|Mrs. Ossian||Annie Adams|
|Suzanne Elise||Olive May|
|Mrs. Beverly Stuart-Dodge||Kate Meek|
|Earl of Sarum||C. Leslie Allen|
|Chas. Teviot||Arthur Byron|
|John Stradebroke||Guido Marburg|
|Piers Bussey||Frederick Strong|
|Matthew Keber||J. E. Dodson|
|Bence||Frank E. Lamb|
|Kate Fennell||Elsie de Wolfe|
|Lady Bellenden||Kate Meek|
|Jessie Keber||Maude Adams|
|Mrs. Dunbar||Virginia Buchanan|
|John Annesley||John Drew|
|Professor Elia||Leslie Allen|
|Nicholas Goltry||Lewis Baker|
|Langdon Endicott||Herbert Ayling|
|Christopher Colt, Jr.||John Drew|
|Christopher Colt, Sr.||Harry Harwood|
|Bert Bellaby||Lewis Baker|
|Mrs. Glibb||Elsie de Wolfe|
|Mrs. Colt||Anna Belmont|
|Jog-Ram||Daniel H. Harkins|
|William Westford||Arthur Byron|
|George Menifie||Joseph Humphreys|
|Stilt Walker||Charles Gibson|
|Mrs. Cruickshank||Mrs. Annie Adams|
|Mrs. Menifie||Mrs. King|
|Gavin Dishart||Robert Edeson|
|Lord Rintoul||Eugene Jepson|
|Captain Halliwell||Guy Standing|
|Lady Babbie||Maude Adams|
|Thomas Whamond||William H. Thompson|
|Bow Dow||George Fawcett|
|Micah Dow||Jessie Mackaye|
|Snecky Hobart||Wallace Jackson|
|Andrew Mealmaker||R. Peyton Carter|
|Silva Tosh||Norman Campbell|
|Sergeant Davidson||Wilfred Buckland|
|Joe Cruickshanks||Thomas Valentine|
|Nannie Webster||Jane Ten Eyck|
|Jean||Nell Stone Fulton|