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Women and the World of Dime Novels

Marie de Mendez (Donna Maria)

Example of:
The indians' captive
The kidnapping victim

Featured in:
Scar-Cheek, the Wild Half Breed; or, A Chase After the Savages of the Frontier

Scar Cheek

Donna Marie de Mendez is a young Spanish woman living in the Southwestern frontier. Her wealthy father owns an estate, and she is traveling home from a convent school when she meets a young American named Frank Marston. Their encounter makes a favorable impression on both of them. They are seen, however, by Scar Cheek, a “half breed” associated with the Indians, who watches them jealously. When he has the opportunity, Scar Cheek and his Indian allies kidnap Donna Maria, and Scar Cheek proposes to her.

"I have taken a fancy fur yez, and as I've turned Ingin, yez know, I must hev a squaw, an' I can't say that I want ter take a yaller one exactly. I thought thet as how you'd suite me purty well." (45)

Donna Maria resists, to Scar Cheek’s displeasure. Even after she refuses him, Scar Cheek persists in pressing his demands on Donna Maria. He visits her multiple times, and when she continues to spurn his advances, he threatens to take her by force. Donna Maria threatens to kill herself rather than be coerced into a marriage she does not want.

"This, disgracer of the name of man, shall be my protection. This dagger shall free me from the wiles and intrigues of all my enemies." As she spoke thus, the maiden held aloft a beautiful ivory-handled dagger, which she had kept concealed in her bosom. (46)

Donna Maria does not know whether anyone is out searching for her, and like a true frontierswoman, when an opportunity to escape arises, she seizes it. During her attempt, she is cornered by Scar Cheek and one of the Indians, but she is still armed with her protective dagger. She threatens to use it on any man who approaches her. The Indian ignores her warning, with fatal results.

There was a sudden gleam in the starlight. The villain uttered a groan of agony. The hot blood spirted from his brawny throat, and his massive body reeled and sank to the earth. (59)

Unfortunately, Scar Cheek seizes Donna Maria as she tries to remove the dagger from the body of the fallen Indian. However, Maria’s father, her lover Frank, and his companions are searching for her. During the search, an incautious Frank is also captured by the Indians. One he gets free, he immediately frees Donna Maria.

”O my preserver!” exclaimed Donna Maria, as the rapid fingers of the excited lover untied the bonds that held her delicate hands, “how can I repay you?” “I’ll tell you sometime,” said Frank with a smile. “Now, you must run for your life.” (91)

Though the Indians attempt to prevent the escape of their captives, the rest of the rescue party arrives in time to save the captives and to take captives of their own, including the villainous Scar Cheek. As they ride back toward safety, Donna Maria and Frank finally confess the feelings that will lead them to their happy ending.

And thus, with rough riders about them, an unclouded sky of azure o’erhead, and the magnificent green of the vast prairie gladdening the eye on either hand, Frank Marston and Donna Maria interchanged their vows of mutual love. (97)

Marie de Mendez (Donna Maria)