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Women and the World of Dime Novels

Laura Hewson

Example of:
The sundered lover

Featured in:
The Double Hero: A Tale of Sea and Land, During the War of 1812

The double hero

Lieutenant Howard, a young man serving in the American navy during the War of 1812, is in love with a young woman named Laura Hewson. They meet while he is on leave and, though their love remains unspoken, the narrator leaves the reader no doubt that it is mutual.

It remained undeclared, but was demonstrated by those allegorical evidences in love which can not be misunderstood. In the midst of this revel of the heart, the Lieutenant was summoned to his naval duties, and they separated with that impassioned conviction of mutual affection which, in refined and congenial hearts, supplants the use of words. Since that divine hour, the Lieutenant had never faltered in his devotion. Through every difficult and trying scene, this lovely girl was the hope of his deliverance.  (30)

However, when the Lieutenant unexpectedly visits the Hewson house after this initial encounter, he interrupts Laura saying good-bye to an officer in the British army. Laura slams the door on him when he accuses her family of harboring a traitor, and he leaves with the suspicion that Laura has given her affection to another man. When the Lieutenant is back with the navy, he encounters and becomes friends with Laura’s brother, a captain in the army. Captain Hewson informs the Lieutenant that the British officer was the suitor of his other sister, and the Lieutenant tells the captain of his own attachment to Laura. When they are allowed to travel home over the winter, Captain Hewson invites the Lieutenant to join him. During this time both Laura and the Lieutenant have plenty of time to think, and when they see each other again, Laura explains the misunderstanding.

“I was not aware of the terrible penalty that might have been consequent on Sinclair’s rashness in adventuring here, until my brother so forcibly unveiled the monstrous danger to both him and ourselves, that Mary and I were horrified at the dreadful picture.” (56)

During the long winter, the Lieutenant and Laura become increasingly attached. The Lieutenant also develops an affection for Laura’s whole family. When the time comes for Lieutenant Howard and Captain Hewson to return to the war, Laura is heartbroken and fearful for the safety of both.

The perturbation of Laura was extreme. ... The navy asked her lover—the army her brother—her country demanded both, and both had responded to her imperious call, little thinking of the wounds which they inflicted as they buckled on their swords. (63-64)

The war continues on for another year, and both the Lieutenant and Captain Hewson distinguish themselves in battle. The two men travel back to the Hewson home, where the reunion between Laura and the Lieutenant confirms the happiness of their future together.

It is impossible to describe the supreme delight of the moment. A year of solicitude was well repaid by the exquisite and angelic feeling which surfeited the pure heart of the devoted Laura. It seemed to her as if he whom she had mourned so long was now restored from the dead; and the Lieutenant felt that this was the only victory that received his own acclamation. (92)