ELFIE ST. CLAIR.
LAURA MURDOCH, twenty-five years of age, is a type not uncommon in the theatrical life of New York, and one which has grown in importance in the profession since the business of giving public entertainments has been so reduced to a commercial basis.
At an early age she came from Australia to San Francisco. She possessed a considerable beauty and an aptitude for theatrical accomplishment which soon raised her to a position of more or less importance in a local stock company playing in that city. A woman of intense superficial emotions, her imagination was without any enduring depths, but for the passing time she could place herself in an attitude of great affection and devotion. Sensually, the woman had marked characteristics, and, with the flattery that surrounded her, she soon became a favourite in the select circles which made such places as “The Poodle Dog” and “Zinkand’s” famous. In general dissipation, she was always careful not in any way to indulge in excesses which would jeopardize her physical attractiveness, or for one moment to diminish her sense of keen worldly calculation.
In time she married. It was, of course, a failure. Her vacillating nature was such that she could not be absolutely true to the man to whom she had given her life, and, after several bitter experiences, she had the horror of seeing him kill himself in front of her. There was a momentary spasm of grief, a tidal wave of remorse, and then the peculiar recuperation of spirits, beauty and attractiveness that so marks this type of woman. She was deceived by other men in many various ways, and finally came to that stage of life that is known in theatrical circles as being “wised up.”
At nineteen, the attention of a prominent theatrical manager being called to her, she took an important part in a New York production, and immediately gained considerable reputation. The fact that, before reaching the age of womanhood, she had had more escapades than most women have in their entire lives was not generally known in New York, nor was there a mark upon her face or a single coarse mannerism to betray it. She was soft-voiced, very pretty, very girlish. Her keen sense of worldly calculation led her to believe that in order to progress in her theatrical career she must have some influence outside of her art and dramatic accomplishment; so she attempted, with no little success, to infatuate a hard-headed, blunt and supposedly invincible theatrical manager, who, in his cold, stolid way, gave her what love there was in him. This, however, not satisfying her, she played two ends against the middle, and, finding a young man of wealth and position who could give her, in his youth, the exuberance and joy utterly apart from the character of the theatrical manager, she adopted him, and for a while lived with him. Exhausting his money, she cast him aside, always spending a certain part of the time with the theatrical manager. The young man became crazed, and, at a restaurant, tried to murder all of them.