When she arrived in Whitefish in December 1875, Arabella was not exactly pretty, thin as a rake and flat as an ironin' board, gawky teeth, skin pale and ill looking. At 14 she was so stunted and emaciated that she looked more like 10 or 12.
By April 1876, and her 15th Birthday, with four months of good food and care under her belt, Arabella had grown considerable. She was a good two inches taller, hitting an upward growth spurt that effectively cancelled out any more horizontal developments. She still described her figure as "range-y", whatever that means, and many hours of posing in front of Ms Devereau's big full length mirror failed to display any signs of the voluptuous Victorian figure she desired.
Still, she was no longer a big girl, but more of a young woman, and one day told Mammy Cookie that she had, at last, been visited by the "Sin of Eve" The big chubby cook had, to her surprise, first slapped her face and then given her the biggest hug in the whole history of hugs. That's what some folks did, apparently. She was part of the sisterhood, now.
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.
Now works as a pot girl at the Stardust Saloon, Kalispell, plays the harmonium in Church on Sunday, and the piano to accompany saloon singer Caroline Mundee in the week!
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". Can dance, play the pianna and the harmonium and gossip like nodody's business.
Aliases / Nicknames
Her Again (as in "Oh no, it's HER again!")
Stardust Saloon, attic room.
Kith & Kin
Once just a poor orphan with no family and no home (sniff) she now considers Mammy Cookie, Mr Flandry and (sigh) even Ms Devereau her family. Her best and bosom friend is Clara Anne Redmond, with Bridget Monahan on the reserve bench. One day she will marry Mr Michael Wentworth.She HATES that Mike Wentworth! She is over men. Billy kissed her. She kissed Billy. Nah, men are definitely not for her.
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."
Nearly kilt in the destruction of Whitefish, she was rescued by Mike Wentworth and nursed back to health by Clara Redmond. She now works as a pot girl in the Stardust Saloon in Kalispell.
"A good church going girl - will work hard for bed and bord" [sic]
"First off, proper grammar, it is 'like a blind person' not people," Clara pointed out , "And secondly we are here in this kitchen to cook proper meals for paying customers. That is a responsibility I take most seriously. Kindly be more....adult."
"Ain't it funny, Clara, I'm always makin' mistakes like that when I talk in my regular voice, but when I do 'personations of folk, I can speak right if I needs to. Listen to this:..." the gangly, scruffy teenager suddenly stood up ramrod straight at the frying pan and repositioned the spachelor in her hand like she was holding a dainty quill, then started to speak in a refined, maybe even pretentious voice, very unlike her own, with no trace of a southern accent:
"Arabella, would you please desist from precipitating those most distastful and less that utilitarian anecdotal confabulations. I find them most distressing!" All right, the words might not make sense, but anyone who knew Clara would have recognised the rhythm and tone of her voice.
"There ain't no 'we', Ara, this is between me n' the cowpoke here. You did not knock and I did not say you could come in," Caroline now pointed out as calmly as she could.
"I know..." replied Arabella sadly "An' I know I promised to do all them things but..." she shook her head a little "when I heard all them terrible horrible rotten things what happened to you, I was just so shocked and sad and angry that some low down bastard could do that to my sweet, pretty, lovely little Caroline, I just... well my soul kinda flew out to you, and my big ol' feet foller'd right along behind it."
She reached across and hugged her again and kissed her on top of her head again. Brendan then put in his two cents' worth.
From there, he looked down at Caroline. "Hey. What I was tryin' to say...goin' to say...is that...I understand."
"Good ta know, hon. Just wait a minute and we can continue this conversation once Ara leaves the room, shuts the door, and assures me she won't be listening in anymore. Got that?" Caroline eyed the teenager.
Arabella nodded compliantly enough, but then twisted in the bed so she was face to face with Brendan, whom she stared straight in the eye.
"But before I go, Brendan Connolly, you gotta tell me that you forgive me for all them silly things I said before and all them silly things I did cause even Caroline's forgiven me and she's the one I did and said them things to and we gettin' on all right now and I found out some stuff which made me change and I'm a better person now and it just ain't fair that you're still treatin' me so mean and, and..." she gulped down a sob and a lone tear appeared in the corner of her eye.
"... I really want you to be my friend again..." she wiped away the tear "... please."
"Never mind all that, we have another breakfast order, you do the eggs, I will do the bacon," Clara got to work.
"Aw!" Arabella pouted, disappointed by the lack of gossip about the alien creature in the dining room.
"And for your information..."
Arabella gasped with excitement, dashing back to Clara clutching two eggs in her hands. "Yes???"
"... her hand felt perfectly normal," the no nonsense young Mrs. Lutz pointed out what should be the obvious.
"Hmmm, interesting!" frowned Arabella, fondling the hard smooth surfaces of the egg shells meditatively "I though they'd be sort of clammy, like she'd get the sweats 'cause she was worried about walking face first into a door or wall all the time."
"She's sorta pretty, wonder what she looks like under that eye bandage thingamajig?" Arabella wondered out loud. "Say, when you go back out there, see if'n you can peep over the top of it and see what's underneath."
"I most certainly will not, that would be extremely rude," scoffed Clara, "Get going on those eggs, you were the one who volunteered to help."
Arabella nodded and got the eggs into the fry pan. "Oh dash!" she exclaimed "I done broke one o' the yolks! Oh well, guess she ain't gonna notice!"
"Hey, Clara" she shouted over, cooking eggs was starting to bore her, "Let's both close our eyes and see if we can cook breakfast without bein' able to see, like a blind people!"
"Loudmouth! Stop before I shoot you ----- in the back."
"Uh?" grunted Grimes, spinning and seeing the old man, some distance away, levelling a pistol in his direction. Who did he think he was, sticking his nose in?
It was Hiram Priest, sitting comfortably at his table, a revolver in his hand aimed straight at the trouble maker. In the confusion caused by the former judge, Frank was able to swiftly and deftly slip a derringer from an inner pocket.
Grimes raised his hands in supplication and grinned in a friendly, if strained, grimace. "Heeyyyy fellers, come on, two against one ain't fair. I was only joshin'! Can't you city fellers take a joke?"
Ralph now spoke clearly but softly, "Grimes, if the man shoots you, it's no skin off my nose. You got yerself inta this, yer on yer own."
The unpleasant loafer was now aided by an unlikely ally: Arabella, looking around to see if anyone was admiring her piano playing, saw what was happening and, sending her piano stool flying, ran over and, overcoming her usual cowardice, threw herself in front of Grimes so that the derringer was pointing straight at her forehead.
"Oh! Don't you dare shoot Mr Grimes, you... you..." "Mr Fancy Pants" prompted Fortner's target, carefully shifting his position and crouching down a little so he was better protected by the girl's body.
"Yeah, Mr Fancy Pants - don't you know he has a little sister to support and she's blind and everything! And he's her sole means of of support, and she came into the diner one time and I cooked her eggs and bacon and she ate it all up just like a real person. And also he's..." she jerked her thumb over her shoulder to the now virtually invisible Frank Grimes "... he's still recovering from where Top-heavy Tessie stabbed him repeatedly with that letter opener, and no one can understand it because who the dickens would write her a letter and besides I have to clean these floors and have you ever tried to get blood outta plain pine planking? No I bet you ain't!"
This soliloquy was was terminated by Frank's voice, muffled by the back of Arabella's smock, sounding "You tell him, Reb!"
When Clara finally came back into the kitchen area with the order, Arabella was all over her with questions.
"What did she do? What did she say? Why's she talkin' to Mr Simons? What did Lorenz, er, Mr Crabbe say to her?!!" then she gasped out loud with the remembrance of something "Oh! And I saw when she held your hand! Did it feel funny?!!"
She peeped around Clara again, biting her lip as she observed the blindfolded girl talking to Ben.
"She's sorta pretty, wonder what she looks like under that eye bandage thingamajig?" she wondered out loud. "Say, when you go back out there, see if'n you can peep over the top of it and see what's underneath." she suggested, consumed with a curiosity as potent as her fear.
"Ara, get off of us! Yer hurtin' poor Brendan. Everything is alright. Just calm down," Caroline remarked.
Well, on the bright side at least SOMEBODY was moved by her tragic (and true) tale of woe!
"Uh?" asked Arabella dumbly as she wiped away a tear and felt underneath her, now dimly aware that she was lying on a person. "Oh, it's you!" she said to Brendan, who she loved dearly but who was still treating her mean and, unfortunately, the only way she had of dealing with that was to be mean right on back.
"Well, budge up!" she told him. "What you doin' in here anyways?" she asked, snaking herself between him and Caroline, and getting herself into the bed between them, in order to carry on comforting Caroline if needed. "Hey, hope you ain't got..." she lifted the covers and peeped under to see that Brendan was at least clad down below "... oh, that's all right, then!" she hmphed.
At this point there were more footsteps on the landing and the sound of Mammy Cookie's exasperated voice: one again her attempts to get some sleep had been interrupted by a ruckus in the bedrooms above hers. "What in the Good Lawd's name is a-goin' on up here now?! If I don't..." as she turned and looked into the bedroom, the sight that met her bulging eyes made her stop mid-complaint: there were a naked Caroline, a tearful Arabella, and a Cowboy all in bed together, as snug as three peas in a pod.
The big black cook just held up her hands and backed out of the room.
"I don't wanna know! I don't wanna know!" she repeated and disappeared, a horrified look on her face. This place was getting more like Sodom and Gomorrah every day!
"It'all right! He ain't got his diddler out or nuthin!" Arabella called after her, before sniffing back some of the snot she had produced crying over Caroline and let out a weak chuckle. "He he, I wonder what she though we was up to!"
A few minutes later Clara was back in the gallery with both hands full of dishes, marching them up to Arabella.
"Putt'm in the sink, I'll just get some fresh water!" Arabella chirruped happily in her work, humming the odd snatch of 'Carry Me Back To Old Virginny' as she went.
"Honestly, Arabella, you really need to be more circumspect with your pronouncements...and actions.
"Uh?" she queried dumbly.
"The Weavers were affronted," she sighed.
"Oh that! Oh they're just Philistines, them Weavers, and should be slewed with a jawbone of a ass. Ol' Shakespeare was always using cuss words, don't stop it bein' high toned stuff. Oh well, I don't wanna lose you customers, I'll go and say sorry before they leave!" she offered and flew out of the door to the front of the diner where she gave an audible gasp of horror and came scuttling back into the kitchen again and literally sheltered herself behind Clara, peeping back around her into the seated area.
"Oh Lawd she comin' Clara! It's that blind girl, I'm scared of her! I'm scared she'll see me! I... I..." Arabella struggled to put the source of her angst into words "I don't know what to say to her!"
"You'd better go out and see to her - I'll hide out o' sight in here and do the dishes!" she decided, pouncing on the pile of dirty dishes that she was about to wash up anyway, and looking around nervously, like the sightless young woman might glide into the kitchen at any second and put her on the spot. It certainly was a curious phobia for one who numbered the crippled and freakishly hirsute amongst her best friends.
The bell tinkled and a young woman wearing a bandage around her eyes and using a stick to feel her way walked quite confidently into the place.
The noise that they heard next door sounded suspiciously like a glass tumbler (the type of empty glass tumbler one might use, for instance, to listen through walls to hear everything that was being said in the adjoining room) being dropped in shock and landing on the bare planks of a bedroom floor. Then the sound of a door opening with a creak, the pitter patter of tiny (well quite large) bare feet and the shock of the singer's bedroom door being thrown open and Arabella standing there looking like the Wreck of Hesperus (literally, her tatty nightie looked like a cast-off canvas of the famous, fictitious sunken sailing vessel) with enormous tears welling and dribbling down her distressed face.
She made a horrible wailing sound like "OHCarolineI'msosorryI'msoreallyreallysorry!!!" as she ran to the bed and jumped on it to embrace her friend in heartfelt sympathy. Brendan might not have even been there, near-naked or not: she not only did not bother to acknowledge him, but actually landed quite heavily on his quilt-covered form in her scramble to comfort the victim of brute male abuse. In fact her knee was pressing dangerously into the sensitive area between his legs as she pulled Caroline close to her and salted her hair with tears.
"Oh God Caroline! That's so terrible!! You must feel... Oh God, I'm SO so sorry that happened to you! My poor, poor little dove!" she wailed, cuddling Mundee close and only vaguely aware that she was lying on something quite uncomfortable. She had heard Brendan's voice through the wall, that had piqued her interest enough to make her listen through the wall. He was still mad at her and she wanted to see if he said anything about her. Where was he now? Didn't matter. Caroline - Caroline and her pain, that was all that mattered at the moment.
"I stroll thru town on the boardwalk all the time, quite interestin' it can be too. Don't need a square," Caroline seemed unimpressed. Chicago was a bigger city by far than this place and she found much about that place she had not cared for.
"It's true!" Arabella backed up her friend "Caroline's one o' the most experienced street walkers I know!" she nodded in confirmation. "But I'm right interested in this square thing you're proposin' Mr Priest, cause I'm real good at square dancing. How'd we go about getting one of them contraptions?"
He took a sip of liquor and then laid his hands flat on the table. "What you need is the right kind of Mayor."
"Ya mean like one who folks actually see on occasion?" Caroline chuckled.
Arabella laughed, too. "See, that's funny cause nobody ever sees him!" she explained to Hiram, just in case he didn't get it. She figured that Caroline might want to be left with the old man to work her drink-encouraging routine on him, so she jumped up with a cry of "Hey, I'll play a tune on the pianna fer you! What's your favourite tune Mr Priest? Oh, never mind, I'll do The Bonny Blue Flag!" she yelped running over to the piano and tinkling out the tune with some gusto.
"I play this to drag the Southerners in from the street when it's quiet!" she shouted across the room "And then I do the Battle Hymn of the Republic to drag in the Northerners. And then I do Dixie and they all have a fight!" she beamed, pounding the ivories.
"Lawyer huh? We got us a few in town, one of em is a woman too," Caroline replied.
Arabella gurgled a laugh "Woman lawyer! D'you ever hear o' such a ridiculus notion, Mr. Priest? Ladies should do Ladies Jobs: like washerwomen or saloon singers or glamorous Confederate lady-spies what hide their secret messages in their petticoats!"
She then told the new old man in town all about Mr. Orr's fate.
"Arabella is right about Mr. Orr being fried alive but there is too a post office, there was some damage but not that bad.......well except to Mr. Orr. Our boss, Miss Devereau, sez 'small loss'."
"My friend Jemima really hates him." chipped in the Mudd girl, not to be outdone "You should hear her talk about him, she uses words that'd even shock you Mr. Priest, and you look like a feller what's been round the mountain a few times!"
Caroline up and fetched the drinks, which was nice of her.
"Here ya go," the saloon girl slid the tray into the middle of the circular table, "Help yerselves."
"Bottoms up!" Arabella chuckled.
"What do you girls know about the current Mayor? Is he loose virtued?"
"I only been in town a few months and I never saw the man much less met him. As fer his virtue, reckon that is none of my business," Caroline dismissed the question with a raising of her glass for a toast.
Arabella, on the other hand, never let a lack of first hand knowledge about a subject stop her presenting herself as Miss Know-it-all:
"Well I never met him neither, but Hector Wigfall growed up here and he told me all about him: He was onct a gaunt steely eyed lawman, his blue grey eyes strikin' terror in every ornery outlaw around ('cept Thomas Gage Love o' Course, he's my favourite!) Marshall Scott Cory, terror of the West! Then some Serpent of Temptation whispered in his shell-like ear... perhaps it was tricky Dicky Orr himself... and this serpent said 'say Marshall, know what would be even more splendid than bein' a lawman? Bein' a Mayor! So he stood for Mayor and it was all downhill from then on in: his teeth fell out, he went bald, and knock kneed, too! In the end he went totally insane and made his daughter ... teenage daughter mind ya... Deputy Marshall!!! And now he's on his last legs." She sat back, arms folded to assess the effect of this story on her audience. "Course, I never met the feller myself, and Hector's always playing tricks on me and tellin' tall stories: but who knows? Might be true!"
Caroline erased this whole ridiculous story with a toast.
"To lawyers, mayors, and loose virtue!" she grinned.
"And Hooray for the Old Dominion!" added Arabella, downing her drink in one.
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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