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in soft, flowing white garments, open at the throat, her black hair loose about her face and shoulders, her beautiful dark eyes suffused with a fascinating expression of innocence, tranquillity, and tenderness. Without a moment of hesitation, on being required to take the most solemn of oaths, she, with sweetly reverential dignity, raised a bowl of burning incense and, holding it before her, spoke, in a voice of perfect music: “Before Shaka, God of life and death,—to whom my word goes up on this incense,-I swear, hanging my life on the answer, I have not seen this Kara!” Then, as the discomfited searchers withdrew, she stood for a moment, in the soft light streaming upon her from within the house, and, gazing after them, added, looking upward, “It is better to lie a little than to be unhappy much!” If she had done nothing else,—though the remainder of her professional life should be barren,—that single moment stamped her as a great actress.
“THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST.”
David Belasco's play of “The Girl of the Golden West,” which was produced at the old Belasco Theatre on November 14, 1905, and in which Blanche Bates made an auspicious success, is a fabric of situations contrived for the advantageous display of that old, familiar, everlasting, always effective theatrical personage, the Rough Diamond. The Girl was beautiful, intrepid, passionate, vivacious; the soul of innocence;
the incarnation of virtue; the blooming rose of vigorous health; and she could swear fluently, play cards, and shoot to kill. She kept a drinking shop; she was adored by all “the boys”; and the fame of her probity and her many fascinations filled the country-side of California, in the halycon days of '49. That fortunate State, according to the testimony of novelists and bards, was densely populated, at that time, by girls of this enchanting order; but this particular Girl seems to have transcended all rivals. She was beloved by a picturesque and expeditious outlaw, who had gained brilliant renown by means of highway robbery, and likewise she was beloved by the local Sheriff, a grim, obnoxious officer, self-dedicated to the wicked business of causing that outlaw's arrest and death. Both those lovers were ardent, and, between these two fires, her situation was difficult; but she always rose to the occasion, and when her outlaw was entrapped by his pursuer the ingenuity of her love and the dexterity of her stratagem delivered him from bondage, and, upon his promise of reformation and integrity, launched him upon a new and better career. The most conspicuous display of her passionate devotion and adroit skill occurred on a night when he was captured in her dwelling. The circumstances were essentially dramatic—for the Girl and her favored swain were stormbound in a mountain cabin, whither the Sheriff had tracked his prey; and the robber had been shot and wounded, so that there seemed to be no
method of escape for him,—till the Girl proposed a game of poker with his foe, staking herself against the liberty of her sweetheart, and won it by successful emulation of the Heathen Chinee,-substituting "an ace full” for an empty hand, at the decisive moment. There came a time, however, when even Love could do no more; but at that crisis Fate interposed, in the shape of Public Opinion,—that is to say, the friendship of “the boys,”—and the Girl and her lover were united.
The condition of California in 1849 was, to say the least of it, turbulent. Some parts of that State are in a turbulent condition now. Groups of “the boys” can still be discovered. They are not paragons, though, and they never were. The existence of good impulses in uncouth persons does not make them less uncouth. Fine qualities can, and do, exist in beings who are unfamiliar with soap and the tooth-brush; but it would seem that the study of human nature can be pursued, more agreeably than elsewhere, among saponaceous branches of the race. It is more pleasant to read about “the boys” than it is to see them. But, broadly speaking, in Belasco's drama the Girl is the play, and with Miss Bates as the Girl there was but little more to be desired. Shorn of all extraneous fringes-variously. impious, improper, vulgar, and offensive interjections of profanity and violent expletive—the play is the image of a lovely, impetuous woman's devotion to her lover,-a devotion that is shown in a series of actions
done by her to save him from danger and ruin and to make him happy. Feminine heroism is the theme, and the Girl selected to exemplify it is meant to be “a child of nature,” simple, direct, and true. Given that ideal to interpret, Miss Bates placed her reliance on Acting, and there were moments in her performance, -as, for example, in the First Act, as the Girl speaks of the protective instinct in the heart of woman, —when the soul that showed itself in her face was beatific. She gave, throughout, a personation of extraordinary variety and strength. In the situations devised for the heroine,—situations which, while not radically new, are ingeniously contrived and are fraught with the dominant spell of suspense,-the actress had to express the growth of love; the blissful sense of being loved; the bitter pangs of jealousy; the passionate resentment of a heart that thinks itself betrayed and wronged; the conflict of anger with affection; the apprehension of deadly peril, and the nobility of selfconquest.
The exaction of the part is tremendous, equally upon physical resource and nervous vitality, but, at every point, it was met and satisfied. The play exemplifies its author's remarkable faculty of continuation in the making of characteristic dialogue, together with ample felicity of invention, and it is overlaid (perhaps too much so) with profusion of details. The midnight tryst of the Girl and the Road Agent is not a credible device, but, once assumed and arranged, that