Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the wildcat from oregon

In The Way We Live Now, which is now my favorite Trollope novel, a young man (Paul Montague) is trying to extricate himself from an engagement because he's heard stories about his former sweetheart's former life in the wild west -- stories that don't jive with his current image of an ideal wife (ie, the innocent, inexperienced Hetta). So when he confronts the former love interest (Mrs. Hurtle), she explains her past conduct. Yes, she shot a man in Oregon -- but he would otherwise have assaulted her. Yes, she left her husband -- but he was drunk and mean and the laws of Kansas granted her a divorce. That was all by way of set up for the best line:

"She had at any rate saved him the trouble of telling the story, but in doing so had left him without a word to say. She had owned to shooting the man. Well, it certainly may be necessary that a woman should shoot a man -- especially in Oregon." (364)


No comments: