Mattie Ross
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Quotes for
Mattie Ross (Character)
from True Grit (2010)

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True Grit (1969)
[last lines]
Mattie Ross: Trust you to buy another tall horse.
Rooster Cogburn: Yeah. He's not as game as Beau, but Stonehill says he can jump a four rail fence.
Mattie Ross: You are too old and fat to be jumping horses.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, come see a fat old man some time!
[jumps the fence and rides away]

Rooster Cogburn: Why, by God, girl, that's a Colt's Dragoon! You're no bigger than a corn nubbin, what're you doing with all this pistol?
Mattie Ross: It belonged to my father, he carried it bravely in the war, and I intend to kill Tom Chaney with it if the law fails to do so.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, this'll sure get the job done if you can find a fence post to rest it on while you take aim.

Rooster Cogburn: Give me your cup.
Mattie Ross: I don't drink coffee, thank you.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, now, what do you drink?
Mattie Ross: I'm partial to cold buttermilk.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, we ain't got none of that. We ain't got no lemonade neither!

Mattie Ross: I hope you don't think I'm going to keep you in whiskey?
Rooster Cogburn: I don't buy that, I confiscate it. And a touch of it wouldn't do you any harm against the night air!
Mattie Ross: I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains!
Rooster Cogburn: Well, it's the real article! Genuine, double-rectified bust head. Aged in the keg.

Mattie Ross: Who's the best marshal they have?
Sheriff: Bill Waters is the best tracker. The meanest one is Rooster Cogburn, a pitiless man, double tough, fear don't enter into his thinking. I'd have to say L.T. Quinn is the straightest, he brings his prisoners in alive.
Mattie Ross: Where would I find this Rooster?
Sheriff: He'll be at the federal court this afternoon, he's bringing in a load of prisoners from the territories.

Mattie Ross: I won't rest until Tom Chaney's barking in hell.

Mattie Ross: There's an old saw that says: One white foot buy 'em, two white feet try 'em, three white feet be on the sly, four white feet pass 'em by.

Mattie Ross: [Rooster and LaBoeuf gallop away from the ferry, leaving Mattie behind] Those horses can't get away from Little Blackie - they're loaded down with fat men and iron.

[LeBoeuf is spanking Mattie]
Mattie Ross: Are you gonna let him do this?
Rooster Cogburn: I don't believe I will. Drop that switch, LaBoeuf. Put it down, I said. You're enjoying it too much.
LaBoeuf: You'll find I go ahead with what I start.
Rooster Cogburn: [Rooster draws and cocks his pistol] You do and it'll be the biggest mistake YOU ever made, you Texas brush-popper!

Mattie Ross: I'm here to take you back to Fort Smith and hang you.
Tom Chaney: And I think I will not go, now how do you like that?

[the other outlaws have left, Mattie heats water on the fire]
Tom Chaney: What are you doin'?
Mattie Ross: I'm getting some water so I can wash my hands.
Tom Chaney: A liitle smut won't hurt you.
Mattie Ross: That's true - or else you and your chums would surely be dead.
Tom Chaney: Don't provoke me. There's rattlesnakes down there in that pit and I'm gonna throw you in it.

Mattie Ross: Do you need a good lawyer?
Ned Pepper: I need a good judge!

Rooster Cogburn: They don't call him "Lucky" Ned Pepper for nothing.
Mattie Ross: That man gave his life for him and he didn't even look back.
Rooster Cogburn: Looking back is a bad habit.

Mattie Ross: Now I know you can drink whiskey and I saw you kill a rat, but all the rest has been talk. I'm not paying for talk. I can get all the talk I need at the Monarch Boarding House.
Rooster Cogburn: I ought to paddle your rump!
Mattie Ross: I don't know how you propose to do that from that hog wallow you're sunk into. If I smelled as bad as you I wouldn't live near people.

Mattie Ross: [watching Rooster load his revolver] Why do you keep that one chamber empty?
Rooster Cogburn: So I won't shoot my foot off.

[Mattie prepares to go back to the Monarch Boarding House; Rooster is too drunk to escort her]
Mattie Ross: I'll walk over there by myself.
Rooster Cogburn: You scared of the dark?
Mattie Ross: I've never been scared of the dark.
Rooster Cogburn: Well if I had a big horse pistol like that I wouldn't be scared of no "boogerman".
Mattie Ross: I'm not scared of no "boogerman".
[she leaves]

LaBoeuf: A little earlier I gave some thought to stealin' a kiss from you, although you are very young... and you're unattractive to boot. But now I'm of a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt.
Mattie Ross: Well, one would be as unpleasant as the other.

[Mattie is arguing with Col. Stonehill]
Col. G. Stonehill: I'll take it up with my attorney.
Mattie Ross: And I will take it up with mine - Lawyer Daggett. And he will make money and I will make money and your lawyer will make money... and you, Mr. Licensed Auctioneer, you will foot the bill.

Mattie Ross: Now I'm sure you'll find a buyer for those ponies very soon.
Col. G. Stonehill: I have a tentative offer of ten dollars a head from the soapworks at Little Rock.
Mattie Ross: It seems such a shame to render such spirited horseflesh into soap.
Col. G. Stonehill: I'm confident the deal will fall through.

Mattie Ross: Do you know a Marshal Rooster Cogburn?
Col. G. Stonehill: Most people around here have heard of Rooster Cogburn and some people live to regret it. I would not be surprised to learn that he's a relative of yours.

[Mattie returns later to buy a pony from Col. Stonehill]
Col. G. Stonehill: Do you entertain plans of ever leaving this city?
Mattie Ross: Yes, I'm off early tomorrow morning for the Indian nation. Marshal Rooster Cogburn and I are going after the murderer, Tom Chaney.
Col. G. Stonehill: Cogburn. How did you light on that greasy vagabond?
Mattie Ross: They say he has grit. I wanted a man with grit.
Col. G. Stonehill: Well, I suppose he has that. He's a notorious thumper. He's not a man I would care to share a bed with.
Mattie Ross: Nor would I.

[Mattie comes to get Rooster and finds him talking with LaBoeuf]
Mattie Ross: This man wants to take Chaney back to Texas. That's not what I want.
Rooster Cogburn: He wants him caught and punished - so do you.
Mattie Ross: I want Tom Chaney to hang for killing my father. It's little to me how many dogs and senators he killed in Texas.
Rooster Cogburn: You can tell him to his face, you can spit in his eye, you can make him eat sand out of the road, you can shoot him in the foot and I'll hold him for you - but first we gotta catch him.

[Mattie is frustrated with Rooster possibly throwing in with LaBoeuf]
Mattie Ross: Give me my $25 back. Hand it over!
Rooster Cogburn: I spent it.
Mattie Ross: You sorry piece of trash!
Rooster Cogburn: I'll get it for you. I'll send it to you.
Mattie Ross: Aw, that's a big story. If you think you can cheat me, you're mistaken. You've not heard the last of Mattie Ross. You may well hear from my lawyer, Daggett.
[leaves]
Rooster Cogburn: [to LaBoeuf] Lawyer Daggett? Who's lawyer Daggett?
LaBoeuf: I wouldn't worry about him. I'd worry about our business at hand.

[Rooster and LaBoeuf are on the ferry; Mattie comes over to get on board]
LaBoeuf: You're not gettin' on this ferry.
Mattie Ross: This is open to the public. I paid my ten cents for horse and rider.
LaBoeuf: Red, take this girl into town to the sheriff. She's a runaway. There's also a $50 reward.
Mattie Ross: That's a big story!
LaBoeuf: Ask the marshal.
Rooster Cogburn: Oh, she's a runaway, all right. Bound to be paper on her.
Mattie Ross: They're in this story together. Now, I've got business across the river and if you interfere with me you may land up in court which you don't want to be. I've got a good lawyer in J. Noble Daggett.
[Rooster nods to Red; Red pulls her off the ferry]
Rooster Cogburn: [to LaBoeuf] Lawyer Daggett again.
LaBoeuf: She draws him like a gun.

[at the camp, Mattie tastes the water]
Mattie Ross: That tastes like iron.
LaBoeuf: You're lucky to be where water's so handy. I've seen the time I've drank out of a filthy hoofprint - and was glad to get it.
Rooster Cogburn: If ever I meet one of you Texas waddies who ain't drunk water from a hoofprint, I think I'll... I'll shake their hand or buy 'em a Daniel Webster cigar.
[points to LaBoeuf's shaggy horse]
Rooster Cogburn: How long you boys down there been mounted on sheep?

[Rooster is caught under his horse; as Ned starts to shoot him, La Boeuf fires from the ridge and hits Ned's horse; Ned falls dead]
Mattie Ross: Hooray for the man from Texas! Some bully shot!

Mattie Ross: You never told me you had a wife.
Rooster Cogburn: Oh, well, I didn't have her long. My friends was a pack of river rats and she didn't crave their society so she up and left me and went back to her first husband who was clerkin' in a hardware store in Paducah. "Goodbye, Reuben," she says, "the love of decency does not abide in you!" That's a dee-vorced woman talkin' for you, about decency. Well, I told her. I said, "Goodbye, Nola, and I hope that nail-sellin' bastard makes you happy this time!"
Mattie Ross: Did you have any children?
Rooster Cogburn: There was a boy. Nola taken him with her. He never liked me anyway. A clumsier child you'll never see than Horace; I bet he broke 40 cup.

Ned Pepper: Now, what are you doin' here?
Mattie Ross: Tom Chaney shot my father to death in Fort Smith. I was told that Rooster Cogburn has grit. I hired him to go after the murderer. I found him myself and I shot him. If I killed him I would not be in this fix. My revolver misfired.

Ned Pepper: [laughs] They will do it. Most girls like little play pretties, but you like guns, don't you?
Mattie Ross: If I did I'd have one that worked.

Mattie Ross: I have no regard for you, but I'm sure you have enough for yourself to go around.

Mattie Ross: I will not bandy words with a drunkard.
LaBoeuf: That's real smart. You've done nothing when you've bested a fool.

Mattie Ross: [referring to the dead LaBoeuf] We cannot leave him like this.
Rooster Cogburn: I'm the one that's leaving him. If I don't get you to a doctor you're going to be deader than he is!

Talkative Woman at Hanging: [Referring to face at courthouse window watching the triple hanging] It's Judge Parker. He watches all the hangings. Says it's his sense of duty.
Mattie Ross: Who knows what's in a man's heart.

Mattie Ross: [about drinking whiskey] I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.

Mattie Ross: What is your opinion of a federal marshal called Rooster Cogburn?
Mrs. Floyd: Rooster Cogburn! Lord, I've heard some *terrible* things about him. He loves to pull a cork, I know that!


True Grit (2010)
Mattie Ross: You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free except the grace of God.

Rooster Cogburn: We'll sleep here and follow in the morning.
Mattie Ross: But we promised to bury the poor soul inside!
Rooster Cogburn: Ground's too hard. If them men wanted a decent burial, they should have gotten themselves kilt in summer.

LaBoeuf: You give out very little sugar with your pronouncements. While I sat there watchin' I gave some thought to stealin' a kiss... though you are very young, and sick... and unattractive to boot. But now I have a mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt.
Mattie Ross: One would be just as unpleasant as the other

LaBoeuf: I've just come from Yell County.
Mattie Ross: We have no rodeo clowns in Yell County.
LaBoeuf: A saucy line will not get you far with me.

Rooster Cogburn: Is that him?
Mattie Ross: I believe not.
Rooster Cogburn: Oh, cut him down.
Mattie Ross: [incredulous] Why?
Rooster Cogburn: I might know him.

Mattie Ross: I guess I have a $10 horse. Tell Col. Stonehill I said 'Thank you'.
Stableboy: No ma'am. He said he don't never want to hear your name again!

Mattie Ross: Do you need a good lawyer?
Lucky Ned Pepper: I need a good judge...

Mattie Ross: If I had killed Chaney, I would not be in this fix; but my gun misfired.
Lucky Ned Pepper: [Chuckling] They will do it. It will embarrass you every time. Most girls like to play pretties, but you like guns do you?
Mattie Ross: I do not care a thing about guns, if I did, I would have one that worked.

Rooster Cogburn: [looks up at the hanging corpse] Is it Cheney?
Mattie Ross: I would not recognize the soles of his feet.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, you'll have to clamber up and look. I'm too old and too fat.

Mattie Ross: [cutting the rope on the tree] Why did they hang him so high?
Rooster Cogburn: I do not know. Possibly in the belief it'd make him more dead.

Mattie Ross: [LaBoeuf is whipping her] Are you going to let him do this, Marshal?
Rooster Cogburn: [watches for a moment] No, I don't believe I will. Put your switch away, LaBoeuf.
LaBoeuf: I aim to finish what I started!
Rooster Cogburn: It'll be the biggest mistake you ever made, you Texas brush-popper.
[aims gun at LaBoeuf]

Mattie Ross: And "futile", Marshal Cogburn, "pursuit would be futile"? It's not spelled "f-u-d-e-l."

Rooster Cogburn: The jakes is occupied.
Mattie Ross: I know it is occupied Mr. Cogburn. As I said, I have business with you.
Rooster Cogburn: I have prior business.
Mattie Ross: You have been at it for quite some time, Mr. Cogburn.
Rooster Cogburn: There is no clock on my business! To hell with you! To hell with you! How did you stalk me here?
Mattie Ross: The sheriff told me to look in the saloon. In the saloon they referred me here. We must talk.
Rooster Cogburn: Women ain't allowed in the saloon!
Mattie Ross: I was not there as a customer. I am fourteen years old.
Rooster Cogburn: The jakes is occupied. And will be for some time.

Mattie Ross: [anxiously watching four men riding to kill Rooster Cogburn] Shoot them, Mr. Laboeuf!
LaBoeuf: [aiming his rifle] Too far. Movin' too fast.

Mattie Ross: [Discussing the price of cotton] We got most of our cotton in early. We got 12 and a half cents a pound in Little Rock.
Col. Stonehill: Then I suggest you take the rest of your crop to Little Rock to sell.
Mattie Ross: This being closer, I though I might check on the price in Ft. Smith while I was here.
Col. Stonehill: Did you come all this way to inform me of the price of cotton in Little Rock?

LaBoeuf: As I understand it, Chaney... or Chelmsford, as he called himshelf in Texas... shot the senator's dog. When the senator remonstrated, Chelmsford shot him as well. You could argue that the shooting of the dog was merely an instance of malum prohibitum, but the shooting of a senator is indubitably an instance of malum in se.
Rooster Cogburn: Malla-men what?
Mattie Ross: Malum in se. The distinction is between an act that is wrong in itself, and an act that is wrong only according to our laws and mores. It is Latin.
Rooster Cogburn: I am struck that LaBoeuf is shot, trampled, and nearly severs his tongue, and not only does not cease to talk, but spills the banks of English!

Mattie Ross: Who's the best marshal?
Sheriff: Hmm, I'd have to think on that. Bill Waters is the best tracker. He's part Comanche; it is a pure joy to watch him cut for sign. The meanest is Rooster Cogburn; a pitiless man, double tough.Fear don't enter into his thinking. I'd have to say the fairest is L.T. Quinn; he always brings in his prisoners alive. Now, he might let one slip by evry now and then, but...
Mattie Ross: Where would I find this Rooster?

Mattie Ross: Well I need a pony, and I'll pay you ten dollars for one of them.
Col. Stonehill: No, that's a lot price, no no... wait a minute... are we trading again?

Rooster Cogburn: At The Green Frog, had a billiard table. Served ladies and men both, mostly men. Tried running it myself for a while, but couldn't keep good help. And I never did learn how to buy meat. Is it him?
Mattie Ross: [Examining hanging body] I believe not.
Rooster Cogburn: Well, cut him down.
Mattie Ross: Why?
Rooster Cogburn: I might know him.
[Mattie climbs higher to reach the rope]
Rooster Cogburn: That's when I went out to the staked plains of Texas. Shoot buffalo with Vernon Shaftoe and a Flathead Indian named Olly. Well, the Mormons, well they run Shaftoe out of Great Salt Lake City, don't ask me what for. Call it a misunderstanding and leave it go at that. Well, big shaggies, about all gone now. Damned shame. Give three dollars right now for a pickled buffalo tongue.
Mattie Ross: Why did they hang him so high?
Rooster Cogburn: I do not know. Possibly in the belief it'd make him more dead.

[first lines]
40-Year-Old Mattie: People do not give it credence that a young girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood. But it did happen. I was just 14 years of age when a coward by the name of Tom Chaney shot my father down and robbed him of his life and his horse and two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band. Chaney was a hired man and Papa had taken him up to Fort Smith to help lead back a string of Mustang ponies he'd bought. In town, Chaney had fallen to drink and cards and lost all his money. He got it into his head he was being cheated and went back to the boarding house for his Henry rifle. When Papa tried to intervene, Chaney shot him. Chaney fled. He could have walked his horse, for not a soul in that city could be bothered to give chase. No doubt Chaney fancied himself scot-free. But he was wrong. You must pay for everything in this world, one way and another. There is nothing free, except the grace of God.

[last lines]
40-Year-Old Mattie: I had the body removed to our plot and I have visited it over the years. No doubt people talk about that. They say, "Well, she hardly knew the man. Isn't she a cranky old maid?" It is true, I have not married. I never had time to fool with it. I heard nothing more of the Texas officer LaBoeuf. If he is yet alive, I would be pleased to hear from him. I judge he would be in his 70s now, and nearer 80 than 70. I expect some of the starch has gone out of that cowlick. Time just gets away from us.

40-Year-Old Mattie: Keep your seat, trash.