Her personality might be large but her build is petite. A bundle of energy, she seldom sits still. She has dirty blonde hair, usually put up though it is shoulder length. It takes a special occasion to get her to wear a hat, she would rather go without one. They say the eyes are a window to the soul - her deep brown ones are a perfect mirror of her moods be it charming, happy or angry and some might say murderous. She dresses well, orders her dresses from back east and likes folk to know it.
Traits & Characteristics
Single-minded in pursuit of her dreams (+-)
Care-free outgoing personality (+)
Temper and a tendency toward violence (-)
Loyalty to those she considers 'hers', ambivalence to all others (+-)
Matilda is larger than life with a vibrant outgoing personality who is a normally pleasant in her dealings with a great sense of humor. She is one of those people who is fun to be around and in the saloon, she is popular with both customers and employees all of whom she attempts to treat with respect and kindness. However, cross her and watch out. To say she has temper issues is putting it mildly. She has led a violent life and it shows, for her violence is permissible even expected as a way to deal with problems.
Matilda likes men, despite having had some very bad experiences with them in her personal life. Her saloon co-owner, Ralph Flandry, is her best friend. But the two of them are not romantically entwined, there is respect there and loyalty but that's where it stops.
Current: Stardust Saloon
Details: She fronted much of the money to buy the place, she handles the finances and most of the mundane business matters such as ordering, hiring, and such. She can bartend on occasion but mostly she just hangs around the saloon doing as little as she pleases.
She can read and write, she knows basic numbers, she can do accounting.
She can be very charming to aid in negotiations and has the acumen to make the right business deals.
Self Defense: She knows how to use a gun, as in both pistols and shotguns. She has used a revolver and derringer on occasion. While she would be unlikely to win, she would certainly be spitfire enough to fight with fists, fingernails, teeth if she had to if someone made it in close.
Hobbies & Interests: She does like fashion, nice dresses, shoes, and such. Other than that she is singleminded in her devotion to the running of her little kingdom, the Stardust Saloon.
Aliases / Nicknames
Tildy or Mattie to those she allows familiarity, anyone else don't try it.
Place of Birth
Cincinnati orphanage, other than that she has no idea.
Kith & Kin
Late Husband: Taylor Osgood. Mattie shot her husband in a violent confrontation bringing their poisoned relationship to an abrupt end.
Children: She did have one baby girl but she died after only a few months.
Parents & Family: No idea, an orphan at a very young age.
| CHILDHOOD 1851-1865 |
Matilda is an orphan, all she knows about her early years was she was in an orphanage in Cincinnati run by an order of nuns of
the Catholic Church. When she was old enough to be more aware, she did ask about her parents but was told she was found as an infant, maybe a few months old at best, on the steps of a church one morning. Nothing at all was known past that - either that or the nun had been lying.
Her years in the orphanage were not grim ones, she was clothed, fed, and given a basic education so she could at least read, write, and do arithmetic. She was a well behaved child, she remembered being content enough. The nuns were strict but they did not mistreat the children. However at age 14, she did rebuff their efforts to get her to join their order. Matilda wanted to see that huge world out there and decide for herself what she wanted to be and do.
| EARLY ADULTHOOD 1865-1870 |
At age 15, she was allowed to leave the orphanage, the place was always crowded and they needed the space, she was deemed to be old enough then to hopefully find a decent life and happy future. She was given an extra set of clothing, a Catholic Bible, and off she went. The change was overwhelming to the girl once the reality set in. She was young, naive, and pretty and that's all she had going for her. Naturally people took advantage of her. She tried to find regular work without luck and fell in with the wrong sorts. Like so many other unfortunate girls, she seemed doomed to fall into the life of a prostitute by the time she was 17.
Then she finally caught a lucky break. A saloon gal noticed how similar Matilda looked to her own now deceased younger sister and took pity on her, securing her a kitchen job in the place she worked. It was the girl's introduction to saloon life. Matilda left that job only once her mentor died of a sudden unknown illness as she suspected poisoning but had no proof. Now 19 she headed west with a vague sort of dream about maybe getting as far as California though she knew nothing about it.
| LAST FIVE YEARS 1870-1875 |
She got as far as Chicago when what little money she had ran out so she had to find some way to get some more. Going to one of the local saloons, she figured that was the sort of thing she knew best and asked about possible employment. Taylor Osgood, the owner, a dashing young man with the most impressive handlebar mustache and such manners too, took a shine to her from the very first. He gave her a job of sorts, calling her his personal assistant. She really had to do very little though but accompany him on his arm for socials and dinners. She wanted more though and pestered him for more responsibility in the saloon daily business. He reluctantly granted it - at first- until he saw how capable she was. He soon realized he could do even less and let her run things, an arrangement that pleased both.
One day he stunned her by proposing marriage, a part of her felt that might well be a mistake, but she agreed. It proved to be a very unhappy coupling. She did give birth to a baby girl, he had hoped for a boy, but sadly the infant died only a couple months later. Matilda took it hard, Osgood seemed almost relieved for the babe had taken away Matilda from spending as much time running his saloon. The couple began to squabble about almost every little thing.
It was during this time that Matilda hired on an experienced saloon man, Ralph Flandry, and, unlike her husband, he proved competent at this sort of thing and very helpful to her. His strengths were her weaknesses and besides he was a male in what was mostly a male world, the saloon trade. This time though Matilda had learned to stay away from any romantic developments, it was a business partnership instead. That seemed to be fine with Ralph too.
A few years passed and Ralph was entrenched in his position, trusted and relied upon by Matilda and at least tolerated by Taylor who often neglected the day to day humdrum anyhow. Matilda and Ralph talked one night very seriously while they split a bottle of Irish whiskey. Matilda wanted to have her own saloon but such a concept was a bit overreaching as far as society was concerned. But if Ralph would go in with her, as co-owner, they could make it work. Ralph jumped at the idea. There remained one obstacle, Taylor Osgood. Matilda decided she would ask for a divorce and work out a private deal with Taylor to get a sizeable share of the money in the current saloon. Why not, she deserved it as she did all the work.
Well, that did not turn out well at all, maybe the pair expected it would not. Osgood refused and their relationship was now poisoned beyond repair. Very soon after Osgood made his own move. He brought in a good friend of his, an off duty constable of the Chicago police known for his rough ways and attempted to throw Matilda out of the place, his life, everything.
It descended into violence quickly, as usual Matilda fought back like the spitfire she was even against two larger men and the fight spilled out into the saloon's main room itself, scattering stunned customers. Ralph now intervened. Osgood drew a pistol and fired, narrowly missing Ralph who dove for cover. The constable drew his own weapon and blazed away. Ralph withstood the quick volley then calmly popped up and shot first the constable then Osgood. The off duty policeman died instantly, Osgood remained standing and still armed. But only for seconds as Matilda had reached the bar and pulled a revolver behind the shelf then aimed it right at her despised husband. Her shot took the man right in the chest and he collapsed. He would finally expire the next day in his own bed.
This entire bloody confrontation had taken place with close to twenty customers and when the inevitable investigation opened up, even the police department could not avenge their now deceased officer as it was stated by the witnesses the dead men had drawn weapons and fired first. Ralph was never charged, Matilda was for some reason brought to an actual trial where a jury quickly found her not guilty.
Matilda had her money now, all of it even. But staying in Chicago seemed a bad bet, Osgood had other friends, a few in high places and then there was the police who never took well to one of their own dying regardless of the reasons. No, it was time to go west and start over. Soon after their search turned up an available saloon in some backwater little Montana town, Kalispell.
| The Present: 1875 |
Negotiations were done by mail and it went quite smoothly. The saloon changed hands soon after and the old sign went down, replaced by a freshly painted one. The Stardust Saloon was now open for business!
Education Details: Orphanage taught her basic skills such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. She picked up other knowledge on her own.
Animals & Pets: The saloon has a dog named Bruno and a couple of cats to tend to the mice, unnamed.
"Yes, that's the plan...it's in the works." Jonah smiled, "Especially since Whitefish is no longer habitable, some of the citizens think a hospital is a good idea, and I do as well, after all, we're a long way from anything like that."
"Oh, I think so too, it is a capital idea," Matilda nodded.
He shrugged. "I use rooms at my house as a clinic and for overnight patients, but I don't really have the proper means for that." Then he added, "There is an orphanage in the works, too, if we can get the approval and support we need."
"An orphanage? Do we really need one of those, the town is not that big?" Matilda was puzzled, big cities had orphanages in her mind.
The dance was now over so the couple joined the rest in retiring off the floor. It had been fun, refreshing even. The doctor was a better class of man than most of her saloon customers, who were more rough and tumble and certainly less educated, proper. No matter though, the saloon was her world and she loved it.
"I do suppose we have more children than normal right now who lost people in the Whitefish disaster. I have taken in a young girl of ....I think 14 or 15 though she doesn't look it. She is quite the handful and here I thought I was a firecracker at that age. She came from Whitefish," Matilda revealed.
"Of course," Jonah declared, giving her a bow, then taking her hand and lightly placing his other at her waist, keeping proper distance as he started moving them around the floor, "it's part of the doctor training, so that we appear appropriately elegant and refined."
"So you are saying he valued appearances more than competence," chuckled Matilda, liking his good natured nonchalance.
He grinned. "Our teacher told us that if we are to be incompetent, to at least look good doing it!"
"Frankly if I am sick or injured, I would hope for the competence part," she declared with a smile.
"But you have got the looking good part down perfectly. Now then," and with that he smoothly blended into the already under way dance.
Both of them knew how to dance and were good partners, equally as important as the couple deftly threaded among the rest of the dancers.
"What's this I hear about there going to be a hospital for this town? Granted, any town that wants to someday be a city will need at least one of those. I lived in Chicago you see," one nice thing about a waltz was one could chat will dancing.
Present: Matilda, Jonah Danforth, and Col. MacKenzie
Matilda stood listening as the two gentleman exchanged a few words but the music was starting up now and she had come to dance. Not to mention she had been asked by the both of them to do just that. Enough chattering.
"Excuse me, gents, but that's our cue to get out there on that floor. It is called a DANCE not a discussion after all," she smiled.
Then she threaded her arm with the doctor's and practically led the fellow out of the dance floor before turning to face him.
"You do know how to dance? You lead then," she waited with a grin.
"Ah, yes, that would make it much easier," Jonah chuckled, then took a sip of the punch, finding it overly sweet for his taste. "But then, you might run the risk of being trampled by other erstwhile revelers, and then I'd have to go to work!"
"Oh that would be awful, on all counts and me in my best dress," Matilda smiled as she sipped her own drink.
He gave her a slight nod, then added, "Of course, if you had a good partner to lead you through the fray..." He offered his hand.
"Why thank you, I believe I shall take you..." she started and then her eyes caught the approach of none other than the cavalry commander from the fort. Nice dress uniform too. It was true what they said, men look great in uniforms.
"Pardon me, Sir, but I had promised to ask Miss Devereau to dance to thank her for inviting myself and my men here to this amazing party..." MacKenzie then looked over at Matilda. "Would you care to dance, mademoiselle?"
My goodness, it was a good thing that Matilda was not one easily flustered because here suddenly she had two handsome fellows both asking for a dance. Unlike many problems, this one was a pleasant one to have to deal with at least.
"Why colonel, glad to see you and your army could make it then," she nodded acknowledgement and gave him a smile too.
"I have just been asked to dance by this fine specimen of manhood here though. However, I can promise you can have the next dance. I hope that is satisfactory?" she replied to Mackenzie.
"Oh and allow me to introduce Doctor Jonah Danforth, town physician," she presented the other.
"And this is Colonel MacKenzie, he is in charge of the soldier boys out at the fort. I'm sorry, colonel, but I never did get your Christian name?"
"Some of those fool cowboys would drink wood alcohol if you offered it to 'em," Matilda rolled her eyes, "So watering down the cheap stuff is a favor to them."
The man quipped about having to clean up bloodstains if there were gunfights in the saloon, she only smiled as she shrugged her shoulders.
"That's why I have employees for that. I have a fine cook who came with the saloon when I bought it. And I'm ward for an orphan girl from the Whitefish tragedy."
He declined her offer for an alcoholic drink, leastwise for now. That was fine as far as Matilda was concerned and she accepted the glass of punch he handed to her, "Thank you, kind sir."
Mattie took a sip and it actually was quite good.
"So, do you have the whole evening free, or will you have to take a shift at the spirits tent? I do admire that you have found a way to profit off the evening, and I hope that I get to enjoy myself and not make my own profit...I prefer to dance!"
"Well, I will spell Ralph a couple of times, but he isn't much for this sort of thing. Dancing and merrymaking and the like. But yes, I am foremost a business woman and proud of it. However, like you, tonight I also prefer to dance. Assuming anyone asks me?"
Alright not very subtle on her part, she realized then took another sip of the punch.
The man now recognized her from his visits to the saloon or at least that's what he said, he could just be trying to be polite, no matter. He was also complimentary about the place.
"Thank you. We don't water down any of the good stuff, Doctor, that's why it's the good stuff and costs more. Some of the cheap swill for drunken cowboys, well I best not say one way or the other, " which was pretty much an admission they did right there.
"Oh we have had our share of fights but my co-owner, bartender, and bouncer, Ralph Flandry, usually stops them pretty fast. I am glad we ain't had anybody shot or killed in the place - so far," she smiled.
"It looks like the evening is shaping up to be a good time," he commented, "and hopefully, with no dramas. Would you care to join me for a drink, Miss Devereau? Punch...no alcohol just yet."
"Certainly, I wouldn't mind a glass of punch. Should you have need of spirits though the tent outside is selling beer and stronger stuff. I can get you a drink for free, I have pull with the ownership," she grinned.
There was somebody who the woman knew by both face and reputation, the town doctor, but had never spoken with. She supposed that was a good thing really as it meant she (and Ralph) had not needed his services thus far and in addition, there had been no serious injuries in the saloon to have called for the fellow to be summoned. But, practical as ever, Matilda realized it was always a smart move to be in the good graces of someone like a town doctor. She decided to head his way.
"Well, hello there Doctor, hopefully you are not here for professional reasons?" she greeted him with a big smile.
"I'm not sure if you know who I am as we have not had the pleasure of meeting in person, I'm Matilda Devereau, owner of the Stardust Saloon," came the follow up introduction.
Matilda had spent a few minutes chatting with a couple of the town's businessmen mostly small talk about the warm weather, how people were pouring into the dance, that sort of thing. She didn't expect to have a whole lot of conversations with most of the womenfolk, leastwise the proper ones. Those sort of folks did not take to her line of work and would look down upon 'saloon' sorts. No matter, she didn't much care.
She was about to go check out the baked goods tables to the one side of the barn when in trooped the soldier boys, all of them looking quite fancy and dignified in their dress blues. The colonel stood out among them, his blonde hair probably. He did look quite striking. She had to wonder if he was actually serious about following thru on his talk about dancing with her. Guess she would soon find out.
A glance over toward the little stage where the makeshift band was gathering confirmed that they were almost ready to begin with some music. The young woman was quite pleased with the way how things were turning out so far, it looked like the dance was going to be a success.
Matilda entered the barn dressed in a very conservative, at least for her, cream dress, her hair up as usual, she had decided to bring a shawl for when it got cooler at night. It was still spring afterall and this was Montana, never a place considered to be one of the warm weather states by any means. She was smiling at what she saw, folks were pouring in, there were refreshments, she could smell the mouth watering aroma of beef roasting in a firepit outside, there was a stage with some local musicians, and decorations on all the walls and hanging from the rafters. As she had been on the organizing committee she had worked and hoped it would turn out like this. Anything to forget that frozen mess that had been the demise of White Fish. And to think she almost looked for a saloon to buy there instead of Kalispell.
Speaking of saloons, there was a tent just outside of the barn where Ralph was already busy serving beer and spirits to thirsty attendees, almost like a regular work day for the man not that he minded. Her cook was given the day and night off. And then there was her ward, Arabella, also given the freedom to be a young miss and hopefully not make a disaster of it. She too was just determined to enjoy the evening. Talk to folks, eat good food, and partake in a few dances. She was an excellent dancer really though seldom got a chance to prove it.
Maybe tonight then.
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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