Monday, January 25, 2010

Jesse James, the Outlaw

"Curse you! do you carry a charmed life?" he hissed, through his gnashing teeth. "But now -- this time you are doomed!"

But again he reckoned without my lucky star. A carwindow was suddenly slid up but two or three feet away and a woman's jeweled hand was thrust out, holding a small pocket-revolver in its delicate but firm grip.

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed a silvery voice, as the timely little weapon flashed and barked in the outlaw's face. "I owe you an old score, Jesse James, on Dick's account, and here's one toward liquidation."


In reading these dime novels, I am over and over again discovering that it's a mistake to believe that women were seen only as damsels in distress.  The 1950s TV westerns may portray them so, but in these 19th century novels, women are *savior* as well as saved.

I especially love the witty remark this woman makes as she takes a shot at Jesse James.  The present day action and thriller flicks are indebted to lines like this from the Penny Dreadfuls, but typically, it seems to be the men that get to speak them.  There's a delight here in the violence about to be committed that I don't believe was normally associated with women, even if they were allowed a role in the action.

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