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Sagas of the Wild West
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Mature Content: Yes - Suicidal thoughts. Also: Self-indulgent post warning!

Author: Arabella Wentworth (Aged 38)

With: All Alone.
Location: Apartment of the Theatre Critic Charles A. Hanson, New York.
When: Night of 31st December 1899 – 1st January 1900
Time of Day: 13 Minutes after Midnight.




It was cold out on the balcony, but when Charles put one of her cylinders on for the amusement of the gay set, it was high time to get some fresh air. He always did that: he’d get her to play some moving Chopin piece at the piano or sing a little bit of operetta in her pure bel canto voice; then juxtapose it by playing one of her more tawdry cylinder records, this best of friends and worst of critics (for he always gave her terrible notices). It was his little joke. Inside, she heard the horn of the cylinder player hiss into life, a tinny voiced announcer sounding, as he always did: “Nuthin’ But a Coon, Cakewalk, sung by Arabella Wentworth, Edison Records!” then an umpah-ing band and a tinny version of her own voice, murdering some tin-pan alley ditty in an exaggerated version of her usual southern accent.


She looked over the edge. It was a long way down to the snowy sidewalk and her stomach lurched. She remembered something, oh, a long, long time ago: way before she was the much sought-after ingénue of the New York stage of the 1880s (Lord, those rôles were tedious!); even longer before she’d become older and plumper and been relegated to second or third billing as the gossipy maid, or the annoying aunt of the heroine (those rôles had been much more fun!). She was thinking of the couple of years, way back in the 70s, when she’d ended up in the middle of Montana in some God forsaken place called Kalispell and… hadn’t she tried to kill herself by jumping off a roof then!? She looked down now at the wind swirling on the paving stones many, many feet below. She was fat and nearly forty. Her stage career, she felt, was coming to an end; recording for Edison only paid some of the bills and, since she had fallen out with Mrs Mudd three months ago, she was alone.


Yes, once upon a time she had decided to jump off a roof and become absorbed into the crystal clear blue of the pure Montana sky; now she considered a leap into the cold black ice of a New York night. Why hadn’t she jumped, that last time? She couldn’t remember exactly, the fellow’s name, all these years later: but she vaguely recalled a sort of beautiful, almost sexless angel sweeping down from heaven and saving her. Hmph. Her fifteen year old imagination had probably invented that.


And yet, as she steeled herself for the inevitable, Jesus reached out His hand to her again.


“It is a very long way down and your skull will actually crack open like an egg when it hits the street. How very awful you will look.” Said the voice behind her.


Arabella knew. This was the one. She didn’t need to look at the woman. She already knew her, knew that she would have the same orderly mind and intellectual capacity of Clara Lutz, no that had been her married name – to Arabella she would always be Redmond, Clara Anne Redmond; and she would look a little like her first real love had looked, the first time that they had seen each other together in the mirror in the dress shop, long, long, long ago; and she would have the same sexual allure of La Mundee, she who had taught her so much, without really trying, about performance and about life.


There could have been others along the way, but the Lord had no need to surpass those three, those three great loves of her life, they had set the bar and set it too high to surpass. She had thought her life quite over and all used up, but as she turned to see Miriam, who hated these sort of affairs and had clearly come just for her, she knew that its second chapter, and its second century, had just begun.


"Hello, Mrs Mudd." she said.

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Diary of Theatre Critic Charles A. Hanson, New York, 9th July 1892.


Saturday: Took the trolley car up to Brooklyn to see about the whole Denburg business and then walking down Broadway with Milner bumped into A------ W-------- of all people. I have not seen her on the stage these two years and she is grown quite plump and looks her age. To think! Five years ago I was so in love with her that I was given to write her bad notices, in the vain hope that she would take some notice of me.


She was arm in arm with another woman, and I was astounded to notice that they were dressed exactly alike, as mothers are sometimes wont to do with twin children. She expressed great happiness to hear that I was married, but remembering my past infatuation with her, I must admit a strange lurching feeling in my stomach at it.


The name of the other woman I cannot recall, as after the initial introduction, AW invariably referred to her as 'Mrs Mudd' in that awful Southern accent of hers that she has never quite shaken. 'Mrs Mudd' is a comely enough, but rather too shy and retiring a woman, of about AW's age but unfortunately with all the features of the Jew, which rather inclined me against her. After we parted, I expressed my surprise at both the garb and behavior of the two and Milner quite laughed in my face, explaining that "Mrs Mudd" was AW's 'wife' and always had been.


Imagine my mortification, not only at such a disgraceful arrangement between two women, but that I had once almost been foolish enough to either propose to, or throw myself off Brooklyn bridge for, such a disgusting creature! I pretended that I had always suspected such a thing to Milner, but he could see how shocked I was and laughed all the way down to Avenue A, where we parted, he continuing to laugh to himself and utter 'poor old Charlie' as he went. Should I see AW again, with or without her (my stomach roils to even sully the noble word with my pen) 'wife' again I shall certainly cross the street, no matter how many cablecars I have to dodge.


Hippodrome Theatre tonight to see Justin Tobin in The Palestinian. It will be dreadful. 


Diary of Theatre Critic Charles A. Hanson, New York, 28th September 1895.


Saturday: Read an article in the New York Sun about bicycles and that , in the considered opinion of the NY Medical Board, their riding is both healthful and beneficial. However, they also report that the wearing of bloomers by lady riders is not, so I shall tell Lavinia to put hers away.


Milner's end-of-tour party in the Evening: they had taken the show to Europe as well as touring the States and were understandably 'cock-a-hoop'. Took Lavinia with me, which I instantly regretted, it was a very demi-monde affair and she hated every minute of it and, indeed, let me know it!


Wentworth there, of course, making the usual histrionic nuisance of herself, either laughing uproariously at nothing at all, or crying hysterically over very little indeed, banging out tunes on the piano (something called 'Ragg-time') and standing on her head and showing her spindly legs with a most embarrassing cry of 'not bad for thirty five, hey, Charlie'.


However, I did have some conversation with her 'wife' Miss Kaufmann, whom I found, once her initial reticence to speak is overcome (AW calls her 'The Sphinx') to be a most fascinating creature. She is Jewish, a native of this city, and speaks very cleverly upon all manner of subjects. I felt not only a great attraction to her physically (Lavinia was throwing me dirty looks all through our talk, I might add) but a sort of fellow feeling for another soul caught up in this hurly burly world of theater without being an actual part of it. It is perhaps well that she is inclined as she is, or a fear that I might have tried to make passionate love to her under the very nose of my wife!


Back at 1am, terrible row with Lavinia.



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  • 2 months later...

[Spelling and grammar corrected insofar as this does not interfere with the timbre of the original document]


Miss Arabella S. Mudd
c/o Post Office
Montana Territory
31st July 1876


Mrs John Patrick Toombs
Toombs Mill
Virginia (Unoccupied)


My Dearest, beautifulist, nicest Melis,

How are you? I am good.

I can not get used to calling you Mrs Toombs in my head, cause you will always be my nice, lovely, beautiful Melissa Cartlidge even though you is married up to such a nice man as J.P. who I can remember real good from camp meetings and when we sometime went into town to the mill his daddy run.

Also, I am so amazed that you and J.P. moved to Blacksburg, imagine my little Melis living in the big city!


Kalispell is quite big too and they say the railroad will be here soon, but my friend Jemima [says] that will bring in all sorts of bad folks and folks here is pretty bad already.


Can you believe today a man was shot dead right in front of me and also I tried to stand in front of him so as the bad man could not shoot him. My friend Caroline she saved me and says I am mad, but you can see your old scardy cat pal little Arabella is plum brave nowadays.

I am glad my last letter got thru, I though you was still up by the Clinch. 

Oh Melis you asked me who my friends are, I am also friends with Bridget what has one leg and Clara what I told you about and is all full of babies, like you will be soon I hope.


Also I made a new friend called Miriam but I call her Dolly cause she is just as pretty as a dolly just like that china faced dolly you had except she got two arms. 

Oh and Mister Flandry and Cookie and Mister Crabbe and all sorts of people I tell you more bout them next time I got to go now because someone else just got shot I think and someone got set on fire last week.

Sincerely yrs, your good old loving little friend,

                                                                            Arabella      xxx

PS No one shot just a bad man shooting at a dog called Old Smokey.

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