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.
Currently in a relationship with Miriam Kaufmann.
Born to Abeizer Mudd and Anne-Mariah Mudd (née Hodge) 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]
She turned to Arabella and nodded. Whatever she had to say might have relevance to Bridget, so she decided to listen to it, "All right, Arabella does it concern last night's incident?"
Arabella screwed up her face and let out a rather ungainly "Uh?!" She shook her head and got all secretive again.
"No, it's about him!" she hissed, and shuffled closer to Mrs Wentworth so that she was within conspiring-distance. They were quite clearly alone now, but as the young Virginian whispered, her eyes kept darting about, lest her words be overheard.
"Listen, see, you better watch out fer that Mr. Reeve. Me and Jemima Wigfall worked out that he's... well, let's put it this way, we all thought that he was all sweet and spoony over Anæsthesia Orr or at least sweet and spoony over her money, but she went over there the other day to 'range some spiritualist stuff with Mrs Orr and guess what? Well, I'll tell you what, she caught him and MISSUS Orr in what you might call a compromising combination, that's what the French call In Frangranty Derelicto!"
There was more.
"... and then the other day I bumped into him at the store, like the general store, and there was that there pretty new girl there what's called Anna Albrick, but he was just plain old ignorin' her and pitching woo at ol' Mrs Thingumyjig in there, the owner's wife and she's sixty if she's a day, and looks it too. You see what I'm gettin' at, Mrs Dubble-yuh? This feller likes his chicken well done! I mean, he goes fer the more experienced woman, even if she's married!!"
She had finished at last, and stood back a little. "I don't want you to think I'm just a gossip monger, Mrs Wentworth, just, well, us girls has gotta look out fer each other is all. You'd better watch yerself with that feller, pretty looking lady in her forties like yerself. I reckon he's a homewrecker!"
"Well what you sighin' like that for?!!" Arabella queried a little crossly. "My friend's been shot dead or stabbed or something, least you can do is tell me what happened!" she nagged "You ain't tellin' me all that there blood came off of a shavin' cut?!"
"I'm sorry, but I can't say much as there will probably be a Coroner's Inquest." He paused as he readjusted his grip on the stretcher. Since he was carrying the end where the top half of the body and most of the weight was, it was heavier than it looked. Maybe ol' Lorenzo was carrying a few more pounds than what could be seen.
Arabella frowned at the lack of information; she supposed it didn't matter too much in the long run. Lorenzo was dead, no coming back from that. And she had to admit one thing, the responsibility of being a Marshall's Deputy had certainly wrought a change in Charlie's disposition for the better: he was more decisive and commanding now than he had been wont to be, certainly enough so that she did not press him any further for details of the tragedy.
"However, if you find out anything from Bridget about the incident, it would be wise to go the Marshall and let him know."
"Well, it's nice to know that she's still alive!" Arabella grumped. Then, to herself as much to Charlie, she hummed "I'd better tell Brendan about this, and Caroline..."
After looking briefly up the stairs, he turned to Raymond, "I don't think Miss Monahan would be capable of understanding what's going on. Besides, Miss Mundee is still up there talking with Mr. Connelly and I'm sure that they both understand that the body will be taken to the funeral parlour. I'll help you carry him over there. I can come back if need be."
Raymond listened to Charlie carefully and saw him in a totally new light: until now he, like most of the town, had considered the youngest of the Wentworth clan something of an irresponsible scamp, but his words were wise and spoken with authority: maybe it was the magical tin badge that had wrought this miraculous change, either in Charlie's manner or the way he was perceived.
Either way, they were soon off along the short walk from the defunct old funeral parlour to the newer alive and kicking business, Jolly leading the way, like Phlegyas leading the dead across the River Styx, then Charlie at the head of the mobile bier, and, finally, Raymond following behind.
Halfway down the street, a scream pierced the dark and what looked, in the gloaming, like a little old widow lady dressed in black with bonnet and shawl came running over. It was Lorenzo's sometime 'business associate' in his photography business, Arabella Mudd. After a sad sigh of "Oh, Lorenzo!" and a kiss to his cold forehead as he lay on the stretcher, for once she stowed the histrionics and instead asked a number of reasonably sensible questions. "Was he shot?" "Who did it?" "What happened?" "Is Bridget all right?" "Do you want a hand?"
Jolly answered the final one: "Aye Lass, come along, the poor man'll need washing before we put him in his shroud." The old Scot left the rest of the questions for John Law, in the form of Deputy Wentworth to answer as they trooped along, now a throng of five, including the corpse.
"I think yer reading my mind, ma'm." He nodded to her offer.
"Well, Mr Jolly does say I have 'the sight'" young Miss Mudd agreed. Her manner was warm and friendly and, yea, even humorous to an extent, but never beyond the bounds of what was appropriate in the circumstances. She hadn't been in the job long, but was starting to find that acting completely dour and miserable was not always what the bereaved needed. They also needed to know that life went on, and that there would still be rays of sunshine peeping through the dark clouds of their mourning.
"That would be quite nice. I'll be here early to take just that seat." He had no plans on even going back home. Of even speaking to his father or Zenobia again...although he supposed it was inevitable that he would see them, but it wouldn't be because of his doing!
"Not here, at the church. About eight forty five." she reminded him. Poor feller was in shock, of course, he wouldn't know if he was coming or going. She offered him her prayers and he accepted them. To be honest, he was going to be getting them anyway.
"Thank you, ma'm. You've been overly generous today." He smiled to her just softly.
She shook her head, as if to say 'it's the least I can do.' and then, as he departed. "Oh, one last thing Mr Matthews..." she said "I'm a teetotaller and member of the Temperance League, but I reckon you could do with going at getting yourself a stiff drink right now."
Maybe she did have 'the sight' - that was where he was going next, to the saloon to meet Scrappy and his cousin Jake.
"I hope you forgive me. And I'll never do it again." she finished, looking close to tears and wringing her hands. She though that was a nice touch, wringing her hands, though she'd rather be wringing his neck.
"Just make sure you don't" he warned.
"Yes Sir, Mr. Fortner." she nodded obediently, and scuttled away: picking up some empty beer glasses as an excuse to go and wash them in the kitchen and hide away from the threatening owner of the saloon and his cronies.
It was entirely possible that Fortner was fooling her, of course, she would put nothing past that man. But she took comfort in the old adage: you can't kid a kidder.
Once she felt safe from him, busily washing up the glasses to Mr. Flandry's exacting standards, she had to face a new enemy: her own conscience. She was escaping, but leaving the other three in the lurch. Ralph and Cookie were big enough and ugly enough to look after themselves, she told herself. But Caroline? Caroline bothered her. Arabella told herself that by establishing an escape route to the outside world for the singer if she should need it, she was doing her a favour. But in reality, she knew the truth, and the truth was that she was running away and deserting her friend on the battlefield of life.
A thousand lines of conversation ran through her head "Caroline'll be all right, she's tough!" "She wouldn't wanna leave here anyway!" "Hey, I'm coming back to play the pianna for her, I'm not really desertin' her!" Who was she talking to? Jesus? Herself? Some imagined accuser in the days to come? Probably all of them. She would have to tell Caroline tonight, get it off her chest, or she would never sleep.
Arabella told Mr Fortner about Jolly's request to help with Mrs Potee's mortal remains, but her heart thumped in her chest and her palms sweated as he rounded on her.
"Look" Fortner said icily. "I don't much give a damn what you do with that hag. I've got a business to run and you've been throwing wrenches in the works all day. Now I don't know what you saw or what you THINK you saw, but that stupid sodbuster got so drunk he drove his hag to the grave and then he lost his homestead."
"Yeah, sure, I know!" she stammered, inadvertently stepping back.
He turned and bolted back the remainder of his whiskey and continued.
"I've been nothing but nice to you. I've let you have the run of the place. Hell! You did whatever you wanted; played the piano, sang, worked in the kitchen, whatever you did you didn't have anyone on your back about it. Hiram over there tells me you've been spinning tales and suppositions about what went on here today, and Mr. F don't like it."
She shot Priest a glance, he had the look of a satisfied snake on his ugly old face, one that had a big lump in its body where it had just swallowed a poor helpless prairie dog whole. She felt frightened half to death, but the inner actress in her somehow managed to pull it together and carry on in role. She plastered an apologetic smile on her face even though her legs felt wobblily below her.
"I'm sorry, Mr. F., you're right. Everyone knows what a silly pain in the you-know-where I am. I'm a awful liability to you workin' here. I bet you'll be glad to see the back of me when I move out, tomorrow. Oooh, you did remember what Mrs Devereau said about me leavin' soon didn't you?" she asked, disingenuously. "I mean, I hope she told you. I'm going to work at Mr Jolly's permanent like, Mrs Devereau just wanted me to come back and play the pianna fer Caroline in the evenings. And I can't spread no stupid rumours when I'm doin' that. Oh, I'm awful sorry for making those things up about Mr Potee, probably just trying to get attention for myself, you know what us silly little girls is like." she simpered, wondering if she was overdoing it a little.
"I hope you forgive me. And I'll never do it again." she finished, looking close to tears and wringing her hands. She though that was a nice touch, wringing her hands, though she'd rather be wringing his neck.
[OOC: It's kinda established that she leaves the next day, so I hope Fortner doesn't lock her in the cellar!]
When she asked about music he could almost hear his mother singing at the very thought of her favorite hymn. "Oh, yes m'am." The remembrance of her singing and seeing her in church made him actually smile just a touch. As much as it sounded cliché there was one song that just had to be played at her funeral and that was ... "Amazing Grace, please."
The slight, pale girl nodded "That's a beautiful choice, Mr. Matthews." She meant it, too: the hymn had a special resonance with Southern Methodists like Arabella.
He smiled again but then it faltered as he thought about if his father would find out that he suggested it. "But, please Ms. Mudd...don't let it be known that I suggested it. Might you suggest it if neither my father, Zenobia or Raymond does?" But he just knew that one of them would. They all knew that song was special to her so in turn it was to them.
"Don't worry..." she said, laying a comforting hand on his arm. Gosh, things certainly must be bad between Jess and his family if he even had to stoop to subterfuge to get his mother's favourite hymn played at her funeral service! She frowned for a second in thought.
"Listen, Mr. Matthews, if you don't want to... well, if it's difficult between you and your folks at the moment, I'll be at the church early, gettin' the flowers nice and such. Why don't you come round there about a quarter to nine and I'll get you seated near the back? I mean, if you don't want any unpleasantness with your family during the service." she offered.
She gave him another small but sympathetic smile.
"And, well it ain't none of my business, and you can tell me to keep my nose out if you like, but, tomorrow in that service, I'll be praying just as hard as I can for your dear mother and for the whole family but, well, I'm going to be saying a special prayer for you Mr. Matthews, that things... well, that things will get better for you." she glanced at the door to where his mother lay. "I guess they can't get any worse, huh?"
The clearly distressed Cowboy's "Either way is fine, ma'm." was not untypical of some of the visitors to the viewing room: it was common for them to be so upset and focused on the object of dread before them that they cared not whatever else happened around them.
"I'll be just by the door." Arabella said softly and waited there silent and still, hands clasped before her and head bowed.
She could only half hear Jess's whispered conversation with his Mother, she did not pry, but certain words and names stuck out. Raymond was a nice enough co-worker, and they talked about all sorts of subjects together, but he didn't usually talk about his family: except sometimes his mother and then he clearly struggled to keep the sorrow from his voice at her serious illness.
The father she only knew by repute (or rather disrepute) as a stern humourless man, ill-suited for the occupation of barbering: most men were happy to pay two bits for a regular shave and haircut, but the prospect of the glowering figure of Matthews hovering over your jugular with a cut-throat razor in his hand put a lot of otherwise brave fellows off. Raymond had suggested that his father teach him the trade, only to be met with a gruff "what, you trying to steal my business from me, boy?!"
She heard Zenobia mentioned and bristled. Arabella didn't like her. Not many people did have any affection for the stormy petrel. To be fair, Arabella's dislike more stemmed from Zenobia''s raven haired, pale skinned looks - she was like a beautiful version of herself, and she felt she paled miserably in comparison. Female vanity, she knew it, she was just jealous.
Of Jess, she knew little. Oftimes Raymond would start to talk with affection about his brother, only to catch himself and quickly curtail whatever he was saying with a curt 'But he went away' - as if he was scared his Father might, by some uncanny means, be listening.
That the man cried, Arabella understood and thought better of him for it, rather than less.
He used his sleeve to dry his face before he would see Miss Mudd again. He couldn't stay any longer. He wanted to remember her the way she used to be. Not like this. He turned and with his head down started to leave the room.
As he walked out of the portal, Arabella closed the door with a soft thud, the sound redolent of the sound of the final closing of a tomb.
She came up beside him. "All right?" she asked, formulaically, but not without empathy. Forms and traditions that had to be followed were not all bad, they gave a structure to the very necessary process of grief.
"The Funeral service is tomorrow morning at nine o' clock in the Church, internment at ten." she gave him the facts. "Mr. Matthews..." she started a little more personally "I'll be playing the organ at your Mother's service, were there any hymns that she particularly loved?"
It was sometimes helpful to those deep in grief to be able to add something to the planning of a dear loved one's final farewell in the eyes of the Church and the ascent of their soul to Heaven.
"So where the Hell is Arabella?" Fortner asked. "She is one pain in the ass. I need to talk to her."
Speak of the Devil, the girl from the mountains came back in right then, having been to Jolly's. She wanted to avoid Fortner and Priest if possible, but she needed to report in about Mrs Potee. She approached the pair with a disingenuous smile.
"Howdy Mr F." she said, feigning a familiar affection for the snake. "I just been over to Jolly's, him and the boy Raymond were just setting off with their little cart. He asked if I can please go over there tonight and help wash and dress poor Mrs Potee." she asked on the undertaker's behalf. "Seein' as she ain't got no kinfolks what's ladies round here." Normally a female relative would do that task.
Tomorrow, Arabella would make her escape from Fortner's clutches. She would move in with Bridget. She would start work regular for Jolly and she and Miriam could really start saving for New York. But for now, she had to act like everything was normal.
"Well Ladies, you may rely on me in support of your 'Young Women's Refuge.' I believe that it is certainly something which is needed, perhaps not all of the time, nor regularly, but often as that need presents itself." He said in praise of the idea.
Frances and Arabella both gave an appreciative "Awwww" "Won't you stay for a cup of coffee and a slice of cake, Mr. McVey?" asked Frances.
"Unfortunately I have an appointment to interview one of the men running for mayor of this fine town. But if you don't mind I shall drop by from time to time, at appropriate hours, of course."
"Well, I hope it goes all right!" yelped Arabella, before leaning in to Frances and loudly whispering "I don't reckon his talk with Mr. Pettigrew went too good!"
"Well, thanks fer carryin' mah junk here, Mr. McVey!" she said with more volume.
"So ladies, the very best of luck, and I shall see you from time to time." He said cheerfully as he stepped toward the door.
"Oh good luck with your interview!" "See you later!" "Come on in any time!" "Bye Bye!".... their various good wishes and farewells seemed to intermix as he was shown to the door by Arabella.
Once he had gone, Arabella turned to Frances and Bridget: "D'ya reckon we shoulda made a plan?!"
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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