Recently orphaned after their only known relative, their Aunt Ruthie, was shot to death, 11-year-old Sallie and her sister, 15-year-old Maude, escape a life of drudgery and servitude when the sneak away in the middle of the night on “borrowed” horses.
While trying to find their long lost uncle, they begin a new life running from the law having been accused of being horse thieves—and worse.
If you think that sounds pretty grim, you’d be 100% wrong. As a matter of fact, this is one funny book. Told from the point of view of Sallie, this is the story of usually strait-laced, no-nonsense Maude and how overnight, she underwent a transformation from school girl to horse thief and was finally branded “Mad Maude”, a dangerous desperado. Just like that. One day she was walking down the street with her Aunt Ruthie and the next, she was an orphan on the wrong side of the law.
Despite the fact that things seem to go from bad to worse, Sallie secretly thinks being a range rider dodging both lawmen and outlaws, is thrilling. She’s an avid reader of “dimers”—adventure novels filled with wild stories of daring do, improbable situations and outlaws with a heart of gold. And let me tell you, what happens to Maude and Sallie could fill a couple of dimers.
To start with, Aunt Sally was shot by Joe Harden, the hero of some of Sallie’s favorite books. Instead of being outraged, Sally is rather impressed. Then when the girls get mixed up in a botched bank robbery—also thanks to Joe Harden—Sally is happy that the horses they’ve stolen to get out of town are better than the ones they had before. And so it goes. Wherever they go, the girls find trouble—and Joe Harden. Sally is thrilled and Maude, thanks to the overactive imagination of several reporters, becomes more and more notorious. The only thing that dampens Sallie’s spirits is the fact that all the sensational newspaper articles about “Mad Maude,” girl scourge of the West, never mention Sallie, her brilliant sidekick.
Anyone looking for a rollicking page turner need look no further. Between hero worshipping Sallie, taciturn Maude and the remarkable cast of characters that both aid and thwart them, the West’s never been wilder—or more entertaining.
Posted by: Eileen