Maude Adams: An Intimate Portrait

By Phyllis Robbins | Go to book overview
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Chapter two

MISS MARY MOORE, Maude's teacher in Salt Lake, begged Mrs. Adams not to take the child from school, but to have her educated for an instructor in elocution: "I am sure," she urged, "that she eventually will reach a position in which she can command a salary of at least $ 1,800 or $2,000 a year"!

However, the suggestion was turned down. The separation proved too hard, and after a time the child was sent for and the doors of school were closed once and for all.

She was apprenticed to a theatrical company, playing the small towns of California and touring by stagecoach. It is then, in her story, that she recognizes the twelve-year-old as herself, and henceforth refers to her as "I." She had a chance then to see the gold regions she had heard about from her father: the deep canyons with rushing torrents, which were called wet diggings; and the dry diggings or ravines-the golden gulches, where the first playhouses had been mere platforms set up in the barrooms in these very places. Gulches with unbelievable names: "Hangtown,""Hell's Delight," "Shirt-Tail Camp." Some of these had grown into flourishing towns; others had faded into ghosts, with empty streets and flapping doors. Time had passed since the days when stagecoaches staggered under loads of bullion, and a flood of gold was flatboated down the Missouri River to the mint at St. Louis, a highwayman's paradise.

Her own story continues:

"'Playing' began in earnest, and the delightful sense of importance that had been mine as a child actress was taken out of me. It seemed as if anyone could do better than I did. In

-21-

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