Not exactly pretty, thin as a rake and flat as an ironin' board, gawky teeth, skin pale and ill looking. She's 14 but she's so stunted and emaciated that she looks more like 10 or 12. She describes her figure as "range-y" whatever that means.
Traits & Characteristics
A romantic daydreamer with a strong religious streak and a propensity to gossip and self dramatize.
Mostly helped out on farm, but when Pa headed up North to the Utopia of "Canadia" and then up and died on her on the way, it left her high and dry in Whitefish.
Women's work, farm work, can quote scripture and Sir Walter Scott with the best of 'em, allegedly "The best reader an' writer an adder in the whole of Virginia".
Aliases / Nicknames
Her Again (as in "Oh no, it's HER again!")
At present, residing under a pile of snow and broken planks in Whitefish.
Kith & Kin
Now just a poor orphan with no family and no home (sniff)
Born to Abeizer and Anne-Mariah Mudd at Monroe, Virginia in 1861, coincidentally on the day that the very first shot of the civil war was fired, she was soon taken to, and grew up on, her father's dirt farm up on the Clinch Mountain Ridge. After her mother up and died of the dropsy in '71 she more or less took over the management of the place, her Father being an indolent dreamer. When her brother John up and died of the typhus, Pa decided it was time to fulfill his dreams of transporting to "Canadia" where he had heard that plumcakes grew on trees and the muskrats smelt like perfume. When he up and died somewhere near Whitefish, Montana, his last words to his daughter were "Nearly there, Sump, nearly there."
"A good church going girl - will work hard for bed and bord" [sic]
After she had bidden the nice Mr. Wentworth farewell, she had positively floated on air to the blacksmiths who, fortunately, wasn’t too busy and was able to fix the skillet handle pretty darn lickety-split. She had quizzed the somewhat sickly-looking old man about Mr. Wentworth and whether he had any brothers, cousins or friends who looked similar to him and were at the Whitefish disaster, but to little profit.
The Blacksmith - who had turned out to be called Mr. Black after all (or was it Mr. Smith? She had forgotten which about two seconds after leaving the place) – was too bothered to listen to her question or answer it properly, he was all het up about a rumor that someone had been spreading about the town that his horseshoes were below par and he had been ripping off his customers. It was true that he was finding the work difficult to manage, what with his recent serious illness, and his dearly beloved wife passing away just the previous Fall, and with his 20 twenty year old son, who was supposed to help him in the work, being a little simple and only having the mind of a five year old. And now this!
“My horseshoes ain’t too thick, and they ain’t too thin!” was about all that Arabella could get out of him.
Oh well, the morning so far had been far from a bust! She had met Mr. Wentworth, and now knew someone who knew who her rescuer was, looked mighty like him … and who had a sister who lived in the same city that her rescuer hailed from! That last little nugget of information had been pure gold.
Also, this same Mr. Wentworth was going to give her an invitation to an Occasion! She wasn’t quite sure what an Occasion consisted of, or what a body did exactly when they went to one, but if it was going to take place The Most Beautiful Building in the World, it should be pretty fancy, and she’d need some fancier duds than the smock she was wearing, if she didn’t want to fish up there looking like ‘Annie from the Pickle Boat’.
In fact, the only downside to the whole thing was that, on careful reflection and taking into account Mr. Wentworth’s attempts to thwart her finding the man she sought, contrasted with his overwhelming kindness in inviting her to his Occasion, well, it led to one, undeniable conclusion: the poor feller had clearly fallen head over heels in love with her!
"Well, Miss Mudd now that you have an event on your social calendar and will have plenty of time to get ready for it. I know how important it is for a young lady to be well advised in advance of any occasion. My sister would sometimes take the whole winter to arrange her wardrobe for spring gatherings."
Arabella’s eyes brightened at the mention of the man’s sister.
“Aw, Mr. Wentworth, does your sister live local? Will she be at the Occasion?”
She shrugged. “I ain’t got a sister, or a brother now, or a Mammy or a Pappy. I think I got some kinfolk in Virginia, but I don’t know where exactly.” She stated matter-of-factly. “That’s where I’m from, proper Virginia, that is, not Occupied Virginia. I’m from the Old Dominion. That’s what we call it.”
She suddenly realized that she was holding the skillet parts and that she was running late for her errand to the blacksmith.
“O Lor’! I gotta get me to the smith! Now, Mr. Wentworth, don’t you forget me: Arabella Mudd, Miss Arabella Sumpter Mudd, care of The Kitchen, The Stardust Saloon, Kalispell, Montana Territories!” she informed him, like he didn’t know the name of the town which his own Hotel was situated in. Still, better safe than sorry.
"And as for my father, he is a wonderful man. I could ask for no better father than him," Clara thought that summarized it all.
“Ain’t they all?” Smiled Arabella, it was somehow comforting that Clara seemed to feel the same high regard for her father that she felt for her own. He wasn’t perfect, she knew that, and his pipe-dreams had, throughout thier lives, led them into a lot of trouble and care, but she loved him with all her heart, buried as he was, out there in some unknown grave on the open prairie.
"Get dressed then...in your nightshirt will do for now and then come out and you can meet him. But....Arabella....tamp down the enthusiasm a little, please? Father likes a calm reasoned conversation."
“Meet him in my nightie!” Arabella balked “That’s kinda embarrassing!” she squeaked. Odd that she didn’t seem to mind Wyatt seeing her in the altogether in the bath but was particular about meeting a grown man in the thick nightshirt donated by Clara’s brother.
“Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers” she shrugged “…and I’ll try an’ make sure he thinks I ain’t enthusiastic about meeting him, if you think that’s best!” she acquiesced.
"No, I will not bandy words with you. I will empty it. The last thing I want is for you to spill it all over the place, remember you are still early in your recovery from that travail in Whitefish,"
A physical tug of war involving a potty full of pungent piddle could not possibly end well, so Arabella acquiesced, but it did seem an odd thing to insist upon. Also, she hadn’t really traveled that much in Whitefish, just stumbled in on foot, and been carried out flat on her back a few hours later. Still, she kept her peace. Clara seemed to take exception to everything she said.
“Miss Redmond, you are right. I too should emulate you, and try to keep my emotions in check and act with more dignity and restraint.”
"Well, it would not hurt to at least give it an honest effort. I have found it to work for me," Clara nodded though she did not mention the downside, a lot of folk did not particularly like her much. So be it.
“Say, Clara, when I meet your Pappy, maybe I should try and act all serious and miserable like you, he might like that. Or do you think I should be more charmin’ and divertin’, like I usually am? "
Clara glared, "Miserable? I do NOT act miserable. The nerve!"
“Of, that’s all right, I know you ain’t actin’” smiled Arabella, she got the impression that Clara really was miserable. Still, with her Mammy dying like that, she didn’t really blame her. What was more confusing, and somewhat guilt inducing, was the fact that the death of her own beloved Father, only a month ago and in the most miserable of circumstances, wasn’t making her as grief-stricken as it rightfully should. Sure, she would burst out crying at the drop of a hat, but she was always like that. Rather than ponder that painful subject, she turned her mind to more practical matters.
"Hmmm. Oh!!! And what in the Dickens am I gonna wear? Do you still have my clothes? Why, after all them months on the wagon train, and all my a’ventures afterwards, they was just as dirty and full o’ grey-backs as you can’t imagine!”
"I will wash them when I do the laundry and also try and patch them where they need it. Just be patient, waiting on you hand and foot is hardly the only task I have to handle around here," Clara was still more than a bit flustered at being told she was ... 'miserable'. Ignorant child!
“Awwww, I thought I was getting up and dressed now, an’ I could have breakfast with you and ol’ Wyatt and meet your Pappy and all your pets! Do I have to go back to bed?” she pouted. That was no fun, she’d already been to bed, she wanted new sights and new sensations. “Clara, I’m powerful curious to meet your Pappy, what’s he like?”
"Yes I do meet an awful lot of fancy and interesting people. I can guarantee, Miss Mudd that if you ever want to stay at the hotel, there will be no divulging."
Arabella chuckled her gurgling chuckle at this. The man might be a tad over-secretive for her liking, but at least he could laugh at himself. “Oh, you can divulge all you like about me, Mr. Wentworth!” she informed him with mock bombast, tapping her chest with the skillet handle “I’m a good, church goin’ girl, an’ I ain’t got nothing to hide. I’m an open book, so I’m told, and wear my heart on m’sleeve to boot.” Now she wasn’t trying to impress the man and worm information out of him, her grammar went to pieces but her essentially good nature shone through a little brighter.
Even though she was warming to him a little now, and he seemed a bit less standoffish toward her, nothing could have prepared her for what he said next.
"Miss Mudd, I am planning to have a social occasion in late April and I would like to ask you to come. It will be during the week, so you will need permission from Miss Devereau. You will of course receive the formal invitation at the end of February."
Arabella’s mouth popped open even wider than her eyes at this news, and she audibly gasped.
“You’s havin’ a Occasion and you’s inviting ME?!!” she repeated in amazement. “At your Hotel? And I’ll get to see inside and everything?!!” she took a big gulp, and the inevitable tears started to well up in her eyes. Well, she had warned him that she wore her heart on her sleeve.
“Oh, that's just wonderful Mr. Wentworth, Sir, that’s just… just the nicest thing anybody’s ever done fer me” she sniffed back the mucus starting to come out of her nose and smiled happily through the tears of happy-sad emotion that streamed down her cheeks. “’Cept for maybe that feller who you ain’t divulgin’ on as pulled me out of the snow and nice Mr Redmond and Clara and Wyatt as nursed me through my sickness, but I guess they maybe felt obliged to do them things but you just did that for me and you didn’t have to and…” it was hard to talk, cry and breathe all at the same time.
“… and I’m gonna ask Ms Devereau, and try and get her to give me that dress that’s miles too small fer her, but don’t divulge I said so, so I can look presentable for your … ooooh! For your Occasion!!” it was all too much: she jumped up in the air waving the skillet handle and gave what could only be described as a ‘rebel yell’, which caused a number of passers by to turn their gaze upon the unlikely looking pair.
Matilda blinked, "Why certainly, child. Who am I to get between you and your God. You may go. Besides we are not even open on Sundays."
“Oh, He’s not just my God, Ms. Devereau, He’s everybody’s God.” She immediately kicked herself for saying that, she was trying her best to keep her big trap shut in these early days at the saloon, but she’d heard a preacher say that at a Camp Meeting once and it just sounded so doggone clever and important and religious that she couldn’t quite stop it from popping out. She added a quick coda of “Beggin’ your pardon, Ma’m.” to try and shore up the damage, but that somehow made it seem even more preachy.
Messalina rolled her eyes, and half turning, threw Arabella a lifeline.
“I’m just about done with that girl ‘til this evenin’, Ms. Tildy..”
Arabella grabbed the save and ran with it.
“Oh yes, if there’s anything I could be doin’ out front, I’d be surely pleased to! I could mop the floors or polish Mr. Flandry's knobs” (the barman did have an impressive array of shiny golden colored brass beer pulls and other paraphernalia about the bar) “or if I can do any sewing or ladies maid work for you Ms Devereau, oh you do wear such beautiful clothes and things, I would so dearly love to help you with those sorts of things!” Arabella gushed. To her, the owner of the Saloon was impressive not so much because she managed to run and keep order in such an establishment, but because she looked so gosh darn stylish and beautiful and fashionable and .. and… Why, she almost had as big a crush on Ms. Devereau as she did on The Mystery Stranger
After quickly bowing in response to her curtsy, Matt smiled warmly, "My apologies, Miss Mudd, if I have offended you in any way. It's just that it isn't very good manners to divulge personal information on someone without first requesting their permission.”
Arabella nodded sagely, as if in total agreement with this notion. In reality, she reckoned that if this madman’s ideas were put into motion, what in the Dickens would everybody have to talk about in the world?! Admittedly, Clara didn’t like to gossip about folk (which meant that Arabella herself had to do twice the amount of work when they were talking) but she was the exception that proved the rule: just about every woman and a good portion of the men she talked to or overheard were mainly concerned with jawin’ over the doings and, especially, the failings of their fellow human beings.
“Oh well” replied the girl, forcing a smile and shrugging as nonchalantly as she could manage with a skillet under her arm. “You must do as you see right, Mr. Wentworth.”
“What I can do is as least steer you in the right direction. If the man you are looking is the one I am thinking of, then he doesn't come into town that often. When he does, he sometimes goes to the Stardust, so your best chance of seeing him will be there."
This Mr. Wentworth feller was acting a mite overprotective, to Arabella’s mind, which made Arabella wonder if the man she was after was either in some sort of trouble, or the scenario that she had invented about the jealous wife might in fact be true! She’d only thrown that into the conversation in the hope that the man would either say “oh he ain’t married” or “oh his wife ain’t like that!” so at least she would know how doomed, or otherwise, her hopes were. But this old fox was evidently too wily to fall into that trap.
One thing she was sure of was that to try and get any more information out of Matthew would just be ‘flogging a dead horse.’ So she contented herself with a little nod, and moved onto something else that he had said, which had piqued her interest.
“Why, did you say that you owned that great big Hotel?!” she was genuinely impressed by that matter of fact. “Why, that’s just the most beautiful building I ever seen! Is it as beautiful inside as it is on the outside? I bet you get too meet an awful lot of fancy an’ interestin’ people in a place like that.” she mooned, then remembered his words about gossip, and to make sure he didn’t think she was after any information on his guests, gave him a broad wink and tapped her nose “Oh, not that you’d be divulgin’ on ‘em o’ course!”
Messalina McMahon, the Stardust Saloon’s cook, whose girth attested to the quality of her own productions, looked round quickly as the owner walked into the kitchen, and then went back to stirring the contents of the saucepan she was attending to. She had known the woman long enough not to stand on ceremony: she knew that she valued hard work more than showy sycophancy and had impressed that fact upon Arabella when she saw how prone the new pot-girl was to fantastical displays of ‘Southern Courtesy’.
Thus, when Ms Deveraux entered Arabella contented herself with quickly standing up from the table where she was peeling spuds, bobbing a quick curtsey, and standing to hear any instructions with head bowed. She imagined that’s what Cinderella would have done when the wicked stepmother visited her dungeon of a kitchen in the story. ‘Modest and hard-working’, that’s what she was going for in this performance, with a heavy dollop of ‘children should be seen and not heard’ thrown in for good measure.
“Can we do anything for you, Ms. Tildy” the Cook asked as she continued stirring: she didn’t want this to curdle.
“Oh, Arabella, didn’t you have something you wanted to ask Ms. Deveraux?” she reminded, genially.
Arabella gave another bob and still head down in due deference, squeaked “Please Ms. Deveraux, would I be permitted time off to attend church on Sunday morning?”
Looking down at the girl, he smiled again, "No, you don't talk too much but and if you haven't already want to make any man remember you, then as Robert Browning said in one of his poems, less is more."
Arabella hadn’t heard of this Bob Browning feller, Sir Walter Scott was about as sophisticated as her reading had ever gotten, but what he said tied in with the advice that her old aunt Rosie and her new bosom friend Clara Redmond had intimated: that in life, and especially in love, the wise girl kept her cards close to her chest.
"Now as to who I am, my name is Matthew Wentworth and as I said I own the St. Belle. I have an idea who your gallant rescuer is but the question is, would he like me to tell you. For all I know, he may want to remain your mysterious benefactor."
Arabella fought the urge to push the man over the balustrade and into the muddy street beyond, to jump up and down on his chest, to slap his face silly, to pull off his boots and socks and tickle his feet, in short, to commit any and every torture upon his person to make him loosen his tongue and tell her the name!
Instead, she dug her nails further into the palm of her hand and wrestled for self-control, nodding her head in comprehension to buy her time and think what her next move would be. She got it.
Narrowing her eyes, and leaning in a little toward this odiously tight-lipped critter, she nodded again.
“You know what, Mr. Wentworth, you’re right. In fact, don’t even mention my name to him, neither - he might get the wrong idea about me, think I’m all cow eyed about him, instead of just wanting to say a civilized, Christian ‘thank you.’ I mean, imagine what his wife will think if she hears that some silly little nearly-15-goin’-on-16 girl’s been running all over town askin’ after him. Marriages have broken up over less, an’ if there’s children involved, well … I don’t think I could live with myself if anything I did or said broke up their happy little home.” she expounded, looking a little misty-eyes over the imagined scene of domestic distress.
She managed to shove the skillet handle under her arm and hold out her right hand, knowing that in all politeness, he could scarcely leave her hanging.
“But may I please say a very sincere ‘thank you’ to you, Mr. Wentworth, for pointing out how powerful embarrassing it would have been for that gentleman, of whom we shall never mention again, if I had imposed my childish, if well meaning, intentions upon, er, him.” Boy, that sounded right fancy and pompous – she just had to imagine she was Clara saying it, and everything sort of magically came out that way.
She kept hold of his hand, and continued with her polite Southern Belle act that she had practiced with Melissa Cartlidge during a hundred make-believe play sessions.
“If there is anything that I can ever do to repay your kindness and sage advice, please, please do feel free to let me know, at the Stardust Saloon, where I am pleased to hold a position upon the staff.” She did yet another curtsy, just to kind of round the performance off.
Clara put Arabella straight about the vagaries of prognostication and about how far she would go in physically aiding the skinny girl to get dry. But there was still the question of the brimming potty. Arabella’s rather clever idea, she thought, of merely adding to the tepid bath water didn’t seem to go down as well as she expected.
"Not in the bathwater. I intend on using the bathwater so Wyatt can have a bath. We usually share the same bath water, many families do," Clara pointed out then added with a hint of disdain, "I will empty out your pot."
The Virginian girl decided it was best not to mention that she might have already made a little ‘contribution’ to the bathwater already, but she positively balked at the idea of Clara emptying the china.
“Oh no! You can’t do that fer me!” she gasped “I mean, that ain’t rosewater in there, it’s what you might term ‘unpleasantly fragrant in an early mornin’ sort of way!’ You just show me where it goes, and I’ll tote it there: I’m gonna have to start pulling my weight around here!” she declared, secretly hoping that, as her weight was negligible, the tasks might be equally light.
As for the fact that Clara and Wyatt shared the same bathwater, she did wonder how the two of them would fit in there together: it’d been a pretty tight fit just for her slight frame but, again, decided to ask about that when Clara might be in a more talkative mood.
The girl started drying herself off then but wanted to keep chatting - unfortunately. This time Arabella was curious about Clara's father and what was he like and how should she act around the man.
"He does not like people who are too chatty," Clara answered, her assessment not really true but it might prove helpful. If she was being optimistic.
Arabella took this to mean that the older girl thought that she was too chatty, and that brought on a crying fit and a babbling apology. Crying fits and babbling apologies came naturally to Miss Mudd, and always seemed to have a salutary effect on their audience. However, the redoubtable Miss Redmond bunted this pitch with ease.
Clara sighed, "You did not make me sad, again you were referring to something in the realm of possibility not facts. I have enough other things in my life to be concerned about. And for your information I am not sad right now, merely serious. It is how I am"
The crying girl stopped crying and looked at the other with a mixture of curiosity and admiration: she was about the funniest little body the southern girl had ever met, but she had an awesome sort of dignity about her that could not fail to impress.
"On the other hand, your Aunt Rosie has a good point, you might wish to heed it more often," Clara decided to use the ammunition provided.
Arabella, ever wiling to trim her sails to suit the direction of the breeze, wiped the snot from her nose with the back of her wrist and pulled as serious a face as she could muster, and nodded. “Miss Redmond, you are right. I too should emulate you, and try to keep my emotions in check and act with more dignity and restraint.” To her amazement, trying to act more like Clara actually improved her grammar! Then again, she always had been a good mimic, a trait that had landed her in trouble enough in times past.
An idea struck her “Say, Clara, when I meet your Pappy, maybe I should try and act all serious and miserable like you, he might like that. Or do you think I should be more charmin’ and divertin’, like I usually am? Hmmm. Oh!!! And what in the Dickens am I gonna wear? Do you still have my clothes? Why, after all them months on the wagon train, and all my a’ventures afterwards, they was just as dirty and full o’ grey-backs as you can’t imagine!”
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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