Tall and lean like a cadaverous weeping willow, his height only increased by his highly polished black top hat.
Traits & Characteristics
A canny and miserly Scot who loves money and rubs his hands greedily at every death in Kalispell.
Runs his own Funeral Parlour, which has a very fine position, in the dead center of the Town.
Embalming, coffin construction, make up, looking suitably funereal.
Aliases / Nicknames
Mister Jolly. Old Col'
Lives above the funeral parlour.
Kith & Kin
Some cousins in Scotland whom he is no longer in contact with, lest they bother him for money.
Born near Dumfries, 1803
Boy, and then Carpenter in the Royal Navy, 1812-1830
Jumped ship in Halifax, Canada after a fight with another sailor over money that ended in the other man's death.
Heading South to the U.S to elude capture, as a skilled Carpenter he soon found work in an Undertaker's in Portland Maine, building coffins.
1849 Headed West in the Gold Rush, set up as an undertaker until he struck it rich: soon found that there was as much gold in the frequent and violent deaths of miners as in the gulches and placer mines.
1857 Opened his Funeral Parlour in Kalispell.
1858 Married a much younger woman, Elizabeth ap Evans. There are no children.
"The spirit world is it? Ran into that sort of thing when I was in New York, before moving out here. But I'd supposed that that sort of thing goes on anywhere those who practice that sort of thing might settle out here."
"Aye, well, the Spiritualist Kirk, y'ken, is a Christian one like any other and I'd nay say anything agin it, though I'm a Presbyterian m'self, y'ken?" he quickly covered himself. "But the poor wee woman spends a good wee part of her time dabbling with Ouija boards an Planchettes and the like. It doesn'ee do well to invite the departed spirits o' the dead into your own home if you ken my drift!"
In fact, young Raymond could be observed quite deliberately opening one of the windows in the room wide open - traditionally to 'let the departed soul escape' and not have it hanging around to haunt the place.
"So Mister Jolly, do you know of others practicing the 'dark arts' here in town?" He asked.
"Och no, Marshall. Ye dinnie need worry about 'Covens' and 'Sabbats' around these parts, I believe, the nearest thing I've seen to the occult in Kalispell with my own eyes would be the odd girl or two who possesses 'The Sight' -you ken what I'll be meaning by 'The Sight' Marshall?"
"Reeve is it? Don't believe I know of him, but that wouldn't be uncommon with transient folks or visitors for one reason or another." Speed began, "So yes, I'll need to speak with him, but he is not blood related, legal insofar as this Reeve is concerned. Not sure Richard Orr had anything binding with Crabbe, not that it matter, but say over Miss Monahan, highly doubt that would hold water.
"I'm sure ye know best, Marshall." nodded Jolly as he and the boy Raymond prepared to move Crabbe's body carefully onto the stretcher.
"So then, for the time being, Miss Monahan will in fact be a ward of the county, and Mister Jolly, I would be interested in in who comes forward to handle Crabbe's estate. Oh, and you're saying this Reeve fellow would be Crabbe's attorney as well? Correct?"
"Well, Mr Guyer, y'ken I used Orr m'self from time to time. Your man Reeve came to see me, said he'd be pleased to 'continue the good work' I wouldnee be surprised if the deceased's will was in his hands the noo. Well, I'll give him a chance, I dare say. Mrs Orr seems to place complete trust in the fellow, mind ya - ye ken she's been a wee bit leerie-loonie ever since her husband's horrible, horrible death." he told the lawman.
"The poor woman's been delving into the spirit world, ye ken! Delving into that which ought to be left well alone in my experience, Marshall!!"
"May I ask, Mister Jolly, do you have a signed agreement for this 'two for one' you offer?" He asked as pleasantly as possible. "Miss Monahan now has no one to advocate for her, so the county will step into that role." Speed just was not convinced any such offer had been accepted by Crabbe, and should there be a cost involved, Bridget was as good as penniless.
"Och, I ken you're a quare suspicious man, Marshall Guyer!" said Jolly, not necessarily reprovingly. "It so happens that poor Mister Crabbe there came to see me last week and paid up in full, in gold coin, y'ken, gold coin! And not just for himself, but for the poor wee brainless bairn, too!"
"That being said, for the time being, she is a ward of Flathead County, in and for the township of Kalispell, Montana." He looked to Jonah and nodded.
"Och, the poor wee addled ninny." the Scotsman nodded, but then added "Ye might well want to check with Crabbe's lawyer first, o' course. Y'ken he was thick with Mister Orr before that man's horrible, horrible death. Och, what a way to go! That was a closed casket affair, and no mistake. Well, y'ken Orr's legal work's all been taken over by a young fellow called Reeve, he's made himself mighty cosy at Mrs Orr's house the noo, if you ken m'drift Marshall. You might want to blather a wee while with him afore you start proceedings to make her a ward of court." he opined.
Jolly had a good deal of experience of the legal status of the surviving relatives of the dead, as well as the deceased: he often had to pursue them for funeral expenses! It seemed it was always up to 'someone else' to pay for the interment of loved ones.
Guyer and Danforth fllled Jolly in on who had died.
"The gentleman is dead," Jonah confirmed, "on the ground floor of his residence. I'd suggest collecting his remains before his young ward comes down and sees him."
"Och Aye, the simple girl." Jolly nodded. The old Scot had known Crabbe well, as he had run a profitable sideline in taking memento mori photographs of some of the deceased in his care for their grieving families, so he knew Bridget by extension.
The old miser fair rubbed his hands together at the thought of perhaps adding that lucrative part of the business to his own operation. Another good reason to poach Crabbe's little assistant, Miss Mudd, from the saloon: she knew how to operate the new fangled camera machine, and also did a nifty job dressing up as a double exposure ghostly angel.
He glanced at Speed, then back to Jolly. "I'm not certain about other arrangements, but I don't think you should need anything beyond a simple coffin."
"You'll no be telling me how to do my job, I hope, Doctor Danforth." frowned the undertaker. Jolly had a love hate relationship with Jonah: he hated the way the medical man presumed to lecture him, but he loved the large amount of ex-patients he sent his way.
"It so happens that Mister Crabbe has wisely invested in our two-for-one luxury funeral plan. He'll be laid to rest in our finest model 'Excelsior' model coffin, with silk inlays and brass handles. And so will that poor wee simple girl, when her time comes."
Jolly fetched the boy Raymond, who left his ailing Mother's side only with reluctance, but who was strapping enough to carry a sort of stretcher affair with which to transport the corpse back from the defunct Old Funeral Parlour, to Mr Jolly's live and kicking variety, where it would be carefully washed, redressed, embalmed and made to look as lifelike as possible for visitors at the viewings (all included in the price of the two-for-one luxury funeral plan, you may wish to note).
As they were conducting that operation, Jolly nodded to Deputy Charlie and asked Danforth and Speed: "You say the girl Bridget's nae seen the body?"
The Sign over the door, "M.C. Jolly - Undertaker", creaked a welcome to the lawman and the healer, and the meagre glow of a parsimonious flickering tallow candle indicated the signs of life - life amongst the lily-sweet stench of death - within.
Upon their knock, the door opened slowly with the slow funereal pace of a coffin lid being lifted and Mr. Jolly's bushy eyebrows danced above his beady acquisitive eyes as he poked his nose out of the door like a gopher emerging from his doghole on the prairie and sniffing the air.
"Aye, I ken ye've a customer for me, Marshall. And Doctor Danforth in attendance the noo: I ken ye've a person who's passed beyond a physician's care and into mine. Ochhh... not poor Mrs Matthews?" he queried, worried. Her boy Raymond was his main helper, and very cheap to pay: he couldn't do with the boy prostrate with grief at this busy time of the year. But his mother was ill, gravely ill, so it was a good guess.
The sounds of gunfire sent any standers-by fleeing, but the silence that reigned afterward brought them curiously back again. The Saloon, the General Store, all manner of places disgorged a number of spectators. The one who was most curious, and with good reason, was Mr. Jolly, who rushed to the scene of the action with his tape measure fluttering in the breeze like some sort of celebratory bunting.
"Och Mr. Guyer, ye've done it again and a fair wee job ye've made of it too!" he cooed, looking down delightedly at the freshly dead slab of meat that had seconds ago been a living breathing human being, if a despicable one. "Much more o' this and it's expanding ma premises I'll have to be aboot."
However, as he looked more carefully, despite all the blood, it seemed that Caleb Barnes might still be alive and just horribly wounded.
Mr Jolly could only sigh as Jonah failed to disclose any miracle cure for Jemima's frowziness. Even his sister in law, Jemima's Mother, the redoubtable Mrs Wigfall, although stout and getting on in years, had a sort of vivacious attraction for men, and her twin brother Hector, although annoying to many, was undeniably handsome: Jemima however, represented a manifestation of the family blood which somehow missed the mark.
"But for now, I'll leave you to your work, I hope you can do the man justice for his family's sake." The worst part of death was the survivors, because, well, death.
"Och, you'll no bide-a-wee for another dram? Aye, well, I dare say that we both have our work to get on with, grim as it may be!" Old Col acknowledged as he rose and took Dr Danforth's proffered grip.
"Jemima!" he called to the back rooms "Will ye no come bid farewell to the Doctor?"
"She appeared and gave Jonah a shy wave goodbye." some colour in her cheeks.
"I'm sorry to hear about your wife, Mr. Jolly," he commented, although he did have to ponder just what the man's perception of 'beauty' was.
By chance, the old man fished out a worn silver locket from his breast pocket, which he flipped open and showed to the medical man. It showed a formal portrait of a striking and beautiful woman.
"Ah, my poooorrr wee Lizzie. She could have done much, much better than me. But never was there a better wife or more lovely companion fer a man." he sighed, pulling out a handkerchief and dabbing his old eyes. Jemima, usually so rough and ready, lay a comforting hand on her Uncle's shoulder.
"I think that's the reason I've staunchly avoided a relationship...I see so much illness and death, I don't know if I could survive losing a loved one."
"Best make sure you marry someone young and healthy and strong, then." suggested Jemima, who was reputed to be able to bend an iron bar with her bare hands.
"So," he changed the focus of the conversation, "you can make Mr. Orr presentable?" Maybe reconstruct the semblance of a face, but the features of a specific face? That would be interesting to see!
"Och, it's amazing what can be done with a wee bit of backlighting and a well placed aspidistra, Doctor. It'll depend on the family's wishes, o'course. I'll be off to see Mrs Orr presently and you might well come along too, Jem', I ken you're good friends wi' the lady." the funeral director ruminated looking up at his niece.
"We go to the same Spiritualist Church." Jemima told Danforth "She's all right, but I hate that stupid Amnesia!" she spat, venom animating her usually placid face. "Och ye hate everybody, girl, run along with ya!" her uncle countered, and Jemima left the room in a strop. Jolly shook his head and turned to the Doctor.
"What am I to do with the lassie, Doctor Danforth? She hates her Brother, hates her Mother, pays scant respect to her Father, and she'd gladly shoot half the townsfolk gi'en the chance. Ahhh..." he shook his head "... what she needs is a man! But y'ken that she's nay the bonniest lass in town. Now, if only she were a corpse, why mon, I could make her look like a princess! But the living are beyond my ken. Is there nothing that medical science can do the noo, doctor?"
Yes, couldn't Doctor Danforth, with all his medical qualifications, do something to make his niece more attractive to the opposite sex?
"I'm no a rich man" the miserly Jolly lied "But I'd pay for anything you could do to help the poor lass."
"Oh, you're related?" Jonah feigned interest, although the surprise was genuine and the dismay hidden. "Seems the Wigfall clan has many a tendril in these parts."
"Aye, you ken Mrs Wigfall, yon Jemima's mither: why she was a bonny wee lass when first I came to Kalispell, two wee bairns in tow and ne'ry a Father to their name... until wee Mr. Wigfall married her and made her decent. But bonnier still was her sister Elizabeth. And despite her beauty and her youth, she agreed to be mine. Ahhhhh... two short years we had, and then she was away. Beautiful still in death."
"You'll have your work, dealing with Mr. Orr," he commented, "but at least you won't need to worry about the viewing." For there was nothing to even patch together to view, save for just covering everything in pretty cloth.
Jolly frowned "Dinnie underestimate me, Doctor Danforth, dinnie underestimate me! You'd be amazed what can be done with a false beard, some modelling clay and a pot of emulsion."
"Don't bother, Uncle Col!" Jemima's stentorian voice boomed as she returned with three glasses of whiskey, one of which she passed to Jonah, the other to Jolly. "Here's to a just God who burns sinners in Hell!" she declared with no little venom in her voice and, raising her glass in a toast, downed it one.
The Marshall was happy with his examination of the body and the scene of the fire, so the body could be moved, which was good news. Mr Jolly didn't like waiting around: time was money. To his surprise Doctor Danforth offered to help move the body. Usually he and his helper, Gilbert, would have demurred, but in this case he was happy for the extra help.
"Mr. Jolly, let me help you with that. We can wrap him in the blanket then get him to your office." Where he could sneak out the back!
"I'll nay say no to that offer Doctor, I thank you kindly. These burnt ones go sour awful quickly, especially in this sort of weather, y'ken? Aye, there'll be little or no skin t' keep the fluids in." he explained matter-of-factly, while Jemima turned her ghoulish glance toward the large 'package' on the ground. If the doctor was hoping that this would be a good way to shake the love-lorn girl, he was to be sadly mistaken.
"Jemima child, you'll take a corner too!" he instructed her, at which she gave an obedient "Yes Uncle Col." The lugubrious undertaker took Danforth's expression of disappointment as one of confusion and filled him in.
"Do y'no ken that wee Jemima's ma niece, Doctor? And a fine girl too, I might add: as strong as she's bonny! She'll be a fair catch for some young man one o' these days!" a blushing Jemima gave a sniff and a little smile, basking in the glow of being praised in the company of the dishy Doctor D. With the four of them, it was pretty easy work to get the body to the funeral parlour, hefty though it was. Once there, Jolly's assistant, the reticent, almost somnambulant Gilbert took charge of the corpse. People said that if it weren't for his vertical posture, Gilbert might be mistaken for one of the funeral director's clients.
Jolly detained Danforth from leaving immediately.
"You'll nay stop for a wee dram, Doctor?" he told, rather than asked, Jonah, and sent Jemima to fetch a bottle of fine old Scotch whiskey that he had stored amongst the coffins and shrouds at the back of the place.
When she was gone, Old Col further sang her praises. "Och aye, she's a good wee bairn, our Jemima: hard worker, religious, and can drink any man in town under the table. And you know she has the sight, too, Doctor, did you ken that? She talks with my poor, dear, dead wife her aunt on a regular basis: it is quite the comfort to me in my twilight years, you may be sure!" he ruminated, his bushy white eyebrows raising up and down with emotion.
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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