Miss Lorena Wood: Doing What She Could…

…but don’t you hold it against her!

Lorena is first introduced to us in the opening scenes of the ‘Lonesome Dove’  mini-series, when a bored Gus wanders down to the Dry Bean Saloon.  There the beautiful Lorena is fanning herself as the lovesick Dish Boggett looks on longingly.  Lorena is the only whore in the bar, but her beauty ( played by the ever gorgeous Diane Lane), has all the cowboys in the area in love with her.

Dish asks Gus to borrow two dollars for a poke, but Gus, sensing his urgency, suggests they play cards instead.  As Gus and Dish walk out to their horses close to dawn, Gus does end up loaning him the money, but they also have a brief conversation about what brought Lorena to Lonesome Dove.  She was brought there and left by her ‘pimp’, Tinkersley.

When she tried to hold out money on him, they got in a terrible fight and he bit her on the lip, leaving the little scar that they both find so appealing.  The book goes into much more detail about her young life.  Her father had been killed at Vicksburg, and her mother only made it to Baton Rouge before dying and leaving the seventeen year old alone.  She met a man named Mosby who promised to marry her, but was lying, as he only wanted to sell her favors to men.  One night he sold her to a tall ‘pretty’ man named John Tinkersley, who professed to love her too, so she went with him, but he  had the same intentions, and ended up taking her to Lonesome Dove via San Antonio.

In the series, we catch up with her being the lone love interest for all the men in the area, including young Newt, who spends a lot of time thinking about her, but can only fantasize.  Gus was her most regular customer, and the oldest, but also the most generous–and her favorite.  The chain of events that bring  Jake Spoon, another of their fellow ex-Rangers, to the area changes the lives of everyone in the little town connected to the Hat Creek Ranch and the Dry Bean Saloon.  Jake tells the men about Montana, setting in motion the cattle drive and in the meantime, Jake takes up with Lorie.  At first, just looking for a sporting woman in town, she catches his eye and he ends up making her think she is his, and promising to take her to her life’s dream destination, San Francisco.  She cuts off all the rest of her clients leaving many of the men shaking their heads and muttering.  But she is still affectionately tied to Gus and when he come in one day for a poke, he talks her into cutting the cards for one.  He wins, of course, and this makes Jake furious, however, not so much that he doesn’t use the fifty dollars Gus gave her to buy her a nice mare for the trip.

He ends up taking her with him as the whole drive heads out, but separates them from the group, preferring to camp nearby.  He eventually rides away to go gamble and leaves her.  Gus sees this and knows he must care for her, but in the meantime she gets kidnapped by the murderous Blue Duck.  Her life is then turned into living hell as she is raped and tormented by the gang of outlaws that Blue Duck sells her to.  She is ultimately saved by Gus, but not before severe mental and physical damage is done.  At this point she  gives her heart to Gus, a man that not only saved her, but cares for her affectionately in the aftermath of her horrible experience.  She had never known a man to do anything but use and abuse her.  When he takes her to Clara’s, (his old flame), and she asked what Lorie did in Lonesome Dove, Gus says, ‘doing what she could, but don’t you hold it against her.’  She stays with Clara when Gus rides back to join the drive.  When Gus is killed it leaves both women grief-stricken, but particularly Lorena.

The final book, ‘Streets of Laredo’ tells us that Clara taught the illiterate Lorena to read, and she ends up marrying PeaEye, having five children, and becoming a school teacher—and also is the heroine of the ‘Streets of Laredo’ story.

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