Tuesday, March 27, 2007

All About Maude March

Couloumbis, Audrey. 2005. The Misadventures of Maude March or Trouble Rides A Fast Horse.

Sallie March, and her soon to be infamous sister, Maude, didn't intend to become outlaws. It all started one perfectly ordinary day when their Aunt Ruthie--their only known living relative--was shot down outside the mercantile. Joe Harden, the outlaw made famous by a series of dime novels, didn't mean to shoot Aunt Ruthie...as we come to find out. But the damage had already been done. The bank forecloses on the girls' home even before Ruthie is put in the ground. Now Sallie and Maude are dependent on the town's charity. Taken in by the preacher and his wife, all seems to be going well. True, the two work all day slaving away. But there is at least a roof over their heads and food in their mouths. But when the preacher tries to force Maude, then 15, into marrying a middle-aged man...Maude does the only thing she can think of: to run as far away as possible. While it's true that Maude and Sallie take two horses--a buggy pony and a plow horse. But they left them their milk cow. I figured we're owed the buggy pony and the plow horse, I told her. The one is gassy and the other is so old it would have died soon anyway of overwork. Aunt Ruthies cow is worth more than the two of them put together. That was only too true. I'd have happily ridden our cow if she could be counted on to run when I dug my heels in. She could be counted on in every other way that mattered, but she wasn't built to run(44). Now Maude and Sallie are on the run carrying what food and supplies they can. Their goal: Independence, the last known residence of their Uncle Arlen who disappeared when the girls were still young. They can barely remember him. They can only hope he's made it out west. What the girls don't know is that trouble will follow them all the way on their journey...and by the time they reach Independence, Maude's reputation will be lost forever.

I tell you all this to make you understand that Maude was an upright young woman who never made mock of the truth or questioned the dark ways of justice until she saw how truth could be mangled to make a shape unrecognizable. To have you know her for a rightly praised person who never complained about the awful twists of fate that made her life less comfortable than it might have been. To show you how impossible it was for her to do the things everyone claimed that she did. For this is the true story of how my sister, Maude March, came to be known far and wide as a horse thief, a bank robber, and a cold-blooded killer. (6)

Couloumbis, Audrey. 2007. Maude March on the Run: Or Trouble is Her Middle Name.

They say my sixteen-year-old sister passes for a man and shoots like an outlaw, and I cannot argue it, since she has done both in her day. Maude has been called a hardened criminal, and of this I must tell you, do not believe it. People say a great many things and only some of them are true. (1)

A year after the conclusion of The Misadventures of Maude March, Sallie and Maude are about to be in danger yet again. Although their simple life blending into the town has been successful so far, their cover--or Maude's cover--is about to be blown. When Maude is arrested, it is up to Sallie and the girls' friend Marion Hardly (aka Joe Harden) to break her out of jail and make a run for it. They succeed in their mission--although they end up freeing another outlaw as well--and Maude's reputation is once more being slandered. At each stop along the way, Sallie reads more and more about the supposed adventures of Maude March. One day in Kansas. The next in Arkansas. The next in Texas. It seems she can be in four or five states at once. One town even claimed to have killed and buried her. But rumors of her death don't last long. The girls soon figure out that there are dozens of women--ranging from young to old--who are out running about the west using her name and giving HER the bad reputation. In fact, they meet a few of these pretenders along the way. Yes, life is full of adventure and danger when you're on the trail with a bunch of outlaws.

Chapter One of Maude March on the Run
Chapter One of The Misadventures of Maude March

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