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Women and the World of Dime Novels

Catherine Vale

Example of:
The independent woman
The kidnapping victim

Featured in:
Cedar Swamp; or, Wild Nat's Brigade

Cedar Swamp

Reginald Preston, an officer in the British Army during the American Revolution, discovers that John Vale, a rebel colonist, is the legal heir to a fortune that Reginald had expected to receive from a recently deceased uncle. He immediately takes steps to secure the inheritance, both by assisting in attempts to capture John Vale and by wooing his sister, Catherine. But Catherine's political sympathies lie with the colonies. Thus, when Reginald comes courting, he meets firm and cold rejection.

"By all that's holy and unholy, she shall not triumph thus! I'll make her come down on her knees and beg—ay, beg in vain—for that which I have so freely offered her."  (42)

Driven by lust for both Catherine and the fortune she stands to inherit, Reginald makes plans to take her by force. He turns for assistance to Timothy Turner, a Tory who lives near the Vales and who had previously proved willing to turn against his fellow colonists by providing intelligence against John Vale and his fellow rebels. Reginald hires this man to kidnap Catherine.

"This Kate Vale must be abducted, but it must be done in such a manner that none of the blame can rest on me. Persons may suspect, but they must have no proof on which to hand their suspicions." (44)

The kidnapping is successful, and Catherine awakes in an unfamiliar room. When Reginald finally visits her, he is overwhelmed by anger and threatens Catherine, divulging more information about his ill intentions toward her than he had intended. Catherine, now fully exposed to Reginald's base and cruel nature, persists in her refusals.

"Whether I go from here alive or not, I tell you that I hate and defy you!"
Maddened with anger, Reginald strode forward as though about to strike her. With a quick spring Kate reached the table, and seizing a heavy pitcher, she collectedly waited for him to attempt his worst. 

Reginald, who has recently been wounded in battle, retreats rather than physically confront Catherine. During her captivity, Catherine's brother and his fellow revolutionaries have been searching for her. With this assistance of a friendly spy working for the British, they find where Catherine is being held, and Catherine is rescued by Nat Ernshaw, a patriot and childhood friend to her and her brother. Catherine is returned safely home, and John and Nat return to the war. Both men make it through alive, and when peace is settled, Nat proposes to Catherine.

"I have looked into my heart, and find that it fully and entirely responds to your own in its hopes, wishes, love, and confidence. I say then … that I love you as a woman should love the man she would claim as her husband, and that, as far as my consent goes, my hand and heart are yours. I will be your wife, Nathaniel." (96)