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.
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.
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]
"Outlaws are scum," was Clara's abrupt assessment on the girl's silly affectation for such men. However the child came from the south, what could one expect from such folk.
“Hmph!” hmphed Arabella “I suppose you think Robin Hood and The Black Arrow are ‘Scum’ then, and Dick Turpentine!” She meant the folklaw hero-highwayman Dick Turpin. “Tom Love’s a gentleman, listen…” she fished out the latest newspaper clipping he had on the exploits of the man who had robbed the town’s bank last year from her apron pocket.
She read the apposite part of the clipping out in her slow, methodical, frown-browed way:
“… blah blah blah, Mr Love, in his letter, further explained that the man he shot in Kalispell last year had deserved it as he had been rude to a lady in the bank and begged one of the robbers to shoot her instead of him. Mr Love had then declared ‘For that ungentlemanly conduct, you shall die like the dog you are, you d___d coward’ and thereupon had plugged him one right between the eyes. Mr Love further el-lu-ci-date-ed” she pronounced the unfamiliar word syllable by syllable “… that the rougher element of his outlaw gang, a notorious and brutal killer identified by witnesses as ‘English Rodger’ had been expelled, as Love would not stand mere wanton murderers in his company.”
Arabella looked at Clara triumphantly “And that’s in the newspaper, so it must be true!” she crowed.
Then back to business about the dance, but Clara was being obstinate, and her reply to Arabella’s question about who the prim pie-maker was pie-eyed about at the moment just made the little Reb’s own eyes roll.
"Besides I do not have my eye on anyone. All the boys....young men I know are louts and/or ruffians. I have better things to do with my life," she declared.
“Ugghh!” Arabella grunted, waving her hand around the kitchen “What, like making pies for Ms Blakesly all day long?! That ain’t livin’ that’s just makin’ a livin’! Livin’ … why, that’s falling in love and having your heart broken and running all about the place and dancing and laughing and crying and kissing boys and praying and bein' mischievous and getting forgiven by Jesus and, oh, I don’t know … all things you can do goin’ to a dance and you can’t do sitting at home reading a book about Jonah Vark!”
She took a deep breath after that little lot.
“Besides” she added, mentioning the mysterious new friend whom Clara had yet to meet. “I can’t go with Bridget any more, we broke her leg practicing the Polka – so you see, you GOTTA come with me!”
"He was trying to get in for the past hour and now magically he got his wish. You carried him in," Clara pointed out.
“Oh, Frankie, Frankie, Frankie!” cooed Arabella, cuddling the tom, who blinked his eyes in sure indication of relaxation.
“I call him Frank, after my third favorite outlaw, Mr Frank Younger. The was another brown tabby one, Cole, but I think he’s been run over by a wagon cause I ain’t seen him lately. Anyway, Mr Cole Younger is my second favorite outlaw, but my favorite outlaw is Mr Tom Love, he’s the most romantical outlaw there is! And even though he’s a ‘Tom’ I ain’t named a pussy cat after him yet. Hey, ain’t it funny when you say a word a whole lot of times? Outlaw, outlaw, outlaw. Huh! Anyways, talking about romantical, how ‘bout this here dance?”
“What we going to wear? Who d’ya wanna dance with? We need to plan it all out and practice dancing! I ain’t been to a dance in ages, my legs is all rusty!”
"Glad to see you are all aflutter about the dance," Clara sighed, "As for me, I have no plans to attend. It is a foolish waste of time and I cannot be bothered with it."
Arabella frowned at this display of non-logic by the usually cerebral Clara.
“Sure it’s a waste of time, that’s why I wanna go! I wanna waste my time that way, being waltzed and polka’d and Schottisched about the dance floor by a whole succession o’ handsome men, an’ all the time Mr Wentworth standin’ there in the corner, in a jealous fury, an eventually he comes stompin’ across the dance floor an tears me from some handsome swain’s embrace and says ‘out the way sonny, this is MAN’S work!’, and sweeps me right off o’ my feet. An .. an … an you don’t wanna go?!!” she shook her head, uncomprehendingly.
"Besides no boy has asked me. And I am certain no one will."
Arabella looked at her supposed intellectual superior with sad, sad sympathy.
“Oh Clara, Clara, Clara. Don’t you know that the only boys as ever asks a girl to a dance are the ones who you don’t want to ask you? The one you want never does. You just gotta be there and ready to bushwack the one you DO want. Now, who’ve you got your eye on right now?” she asked, serious faced.
She needed this essential piece of information to start to plan the campaign on a grand strategic level. Individual battle tactics could be dealt with later, but in general, when dealing with romance, she followed the cast iron rule of General Nathan Bedford Forrest – ‘Git thar fustest with the most mostest.’
As Arabella started to poke her nose in the kitchen door, she felt something rub against her boots and the bottom of her skirts. Looking down she noticed a familiar man-about-town who was regularly voted the town’s second most annoying personage by those who didn't appreciate the beauty of the feline form.
“Frank'!” Arabella frowned, looking down at the fluffy cat, “You know you ain’t allowed in here!” she admonished the feline, even though it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Arabella would stop and pet just about any critter alive: cats, rabbits, turtles, hairy caterpillars, even small dogs, although anything bigger than a dachshund would usually set her running away in terror.
She decided that the best way to stop the curious tomcat getting into the kitchen was to pick the incorrigible scavenger up. So, after first giving Frankie a tickle just bellow and behind the ears, to lull her victim into a false sense of security, she hefted him up with a grunt. Fluffy didn’t necessarily mean light: it had clearly been a successful morning's scrounging for the pot bellied furry piggy.
“Hush now! If Miss Em catches us, we’ll both be chopped up and put in a pie!” she warned the mewing cat. “Clara? Clara?”
"Arabella, why are you here?" she sighed.
The girl jumped and the cat took fright too, trying to crawl over Arabella’s shoulder and down her back, with a good set of claws dug in through the material of her dress and into her skin for traction, but Arabella gave Frankie another few deft tickles behind the ear, and he calmed and even emitted a few throaty purrs.
“I come to talk to ya about the dance!” whispered Arabella excitedly “And Frank was trying to get in!” she explained about the fluffy article lolled over her shoulder, who was even now sniffing the air for signs of meaty pie fillings.
“What we going to wear? Who d’ya wanna dance with? We need to plan it all out and practice dancing! I ain’t been to a dance in ages, my legs is all rusty!”
Mr Flandry didn’t even comment on the dance! She hadn’t expected him to get that excited about the event, but still, he could have said something. What she didn’t realize was that the thing would probably just mean more work for the barman of the saloon: supplying the booze and selling out the hard stuff; and it never even occurred to her that she herself might be required to work as well: she just saw, in her mind’s eye, a night of glittering romance, heady music, and fun, and mischief, and showing off how good she was at dancing.
She scrambled to her feet and ran past Cookie, shrieking “I gotta tell Clara!!”
Pretty soon she was creaking open the back door of the Lick Skillet. It wasn’t usually locked, even if Clara and Ms Emeline were both out front for some reason. She poked a nose in. By some misunderstanding, Arabella had become convinced that Ms Em was something of an ogress and, having never spoken to the woman, had never been disabused of the notion.
So it was that she crept into the wonderful workshop where perfect pies were prepared, belly-filling buns baked, and marvelous muffins manufactured. The smell rivaled that of the kitchen of her very own, very dear Mammy Cookie. Unlike that cuddly lady, though, Ms Blakesley would probably give her a clip round the ear if she caught her here.
“Clara?” she whispered as she crept into the kitchen, virtually on tiptoe, “Clara! I got somethin’ to tell ya!”
When Arabella ran, screaming and yelling and waving her hands, through the back kitchen door of the saloon and into the barroom at the front (an extreme display, even for her) Messalina, the Stardust Saloon’s cook, could only assume that: a) the town was under Indian attack, b) Thomas Gage Love and his band of outlaws had returned to re-rob the town’s bank, or c) the whole cotton-picking town was on fire and about to go up in a puff of smoke, just like Whitefish.
With a cry of “Mercy alive, child, what is it now?!” she waddled after the girl and found her dancing around in front of Mr Flandry breathlessly singing a song, the lyrics of which seemed to consist of a monotonous recitative of “Can you do the polka? I can do the polka! Can you do the polka? Yes, I can do the polka!” and when this had been repeated enough times, along with the accompanying capering, to convince any poor onlooker that Arabella could indeed ‘do the polka’ she span round and round with a high pitched cry of “Weeeeeeeeee!!!” before collapsing on the floor in a dizzy heap and somehow catching enough breath to shout “THERE’S GONNA BE A DANCE!!” and give out a rebel yell that was probably louder, and given with more gusto, than any that Mr Flandry had heard during the late War.
Turning back to the other girl, Mike saw that she had extended her hand as she thanked him. Shaking her hand was a more safer option than the one she had presented him earlier, he took and gave it a slight shake before letting it go.
Arabella grinned like a goon when her hero shook her hand, and she deliberately tried to imprint the feeling of it on her memory, so that she would be able to moon over it later on.
He was about to say goodbye, when his brother Sam came out, "Mike, Mr. Wilson's finished putting the last of that order together."
"Thanks," he replied, feeling a bit relieved that he could now depart with a more plausible reason. Smiling, he turned to Arabella, "It's been a pleasure to make your acquaintance and once again I'm glad to see that you have recovered from your ordeal."
“Oh, it’s mutual, I’m sure!” she beamed, knocking out one last mini-curtsy, just for good measure. She actually considered standing there and waiting until they’d loaded the last of the goods onto the wagon, just so she could wave him off, but she didn’t want to make it too obvious that she was obsessed with him: that could put a feller off. Instead she walked backwards into the store, grinning at Mike and giving another little wave as she crashed into Granny Miggins who gave a yelp and aimed several words at her that weren’t to be found in Webster's Dictionary.
“Why don’t y’watch where you’re going, girl!?” the old lady complained as she exited the place “What’s so gosh darned interestin’ out here to look at anyway?” Then she clocked the two handsome Wentworth men loading the wagon up.
“Oh, I seen it! I seen it!” she shouted back to Arabella, who was now inside “No, you ignore me, child, you just carry on walkin’ backward! I was young m’self oncst, you know!” she cackled, shaking her head and muttering as she moved on: something along the lines of “Why, if I was only fifty years younger myself…he he he.”
"No, Miss Mudd, I think you have an unique way of saying things."
Oh Clara so wanted to jump in with a crack but Christian forebearance won over.
Arabella giggled and waved a hand at him “Well, fan my brow, Mr Wentworth, you’re making me blush. ‘Though it has been said I do have a way with words, some have even opined that I could one day become a novelist, after they read some of the stuff what I have wrote.” She informed him.
The man smiled graciously, "Well, I hate to cut our time short, Miss Clara and Miss Mudd, but I do have to get the rest of the supplies loaded."
“How selfish of us to hold you up, but it has been such a delight! I was only just…” but Clara cut her off. Arabella could understand why she might be in a hurry to move on, if she was late back to the diner with whatever it was she’d been sent out for, that ogress Ms Blakesley, she imagined, would probably whip her, or chide her, at least. Her Mammy Cookie, on the other hand, would just give her a big hug and tell her that she’d been worried about her coming back late.
"Oh yes, I do too, I need to get back to work soon at the diner. Nice talking to you, Mr. Wentworth. Please give my regards to those at the ranch, I do miss them. Most of them," Clara now seized on the opening to make her own strategic retreat.
“I, too, must tear myself away, I’m afraid” Arabella sighed, realizing that this first meeting was drawing to a close. “May I just say, thank you once again.” she pushed out her hand more manfully this time, like a gentleman might: surely he could not refuse to take it.
She just wanted to touch his hand again, that hand that had lifted her from the grasp of death.
Clara was turning out to be no use at all in her role as interlocutor in this historic meeting of hearts. Arabella realized that it was her own fault for not briefing the Yankee girl properly in the duties incumbent upon her, should she happen to be present at such an encounter. If the boot was on the other foot, and she and Clara met someone that the Redmond girl was interested in, Arabella would strain every fiber of her being, and every hair on her head, to make sure that the object of her affection was overwhelmed with good reasons to fall in love with the farm girl.
The foreman unknowingly came to her aid though, he simply tipped his hat again and smiled, "Mr. Michael Wentworth, at your service, Miss?"
Arabella left the safety net of Clara’s arm and stepped forward, right in front of Wentworth, and held out her hand like a dainty swan-neck, palm downward, for him to take and kiss.
“I am Arabella Sumpter Mudd, of the Tazewell County Mudds, Old Dominion.” she almost sang it.
“Are you by perchance, doing a little shopping, Mr Wentworth?” she asked, looking at his wagon full of supplies from the General Store, although if he wasn’t shopping, then he must certainly be robbing the place! “Oh, how helpful for your wife!” she added with a gay and surreptitiously probing air.
At the risk of her bosom friend selfishly taking over the conversation again, and talking endlessly about Thornton children and Pie Shops, and trying to hog all of the beautiful Mr Wentworth’s attention, Arabella turned and invited Clara to “Come and look at all of Mr Wentworth’s wonderful things.”
Looking back up at the handsome man, she tried to keep the conversation going with a inane statement along the lines of “Clara and me are shopping too.” Before adding a more personal note: “I hold a position at the Stardust Saloon, and am just picking up a few things for our cook. Have you ever been there, Mr Wentworth? I don’t imagine you make a habit of imbibing strong spirits, but there’s many an innocent chuckle to be had there over a beer and a harmless game of chance, or listening to the piano forte, which I do tinkle upon for the general merriment of the customers, when my duties allow.”
She realized that she was talking too much.
“Oh, how I do run on Mr Wentworth, you must think me a terrible chatterbox!” she cried, fishing for him to say how she wasn’t.
"The Thornton children are wonderful, I miss them every day. But I suddenly found myself in a situation where my continued presence was most uncomfortable. I felt it best for all involved if I found new employment and I am very happy at the Lick Skillet."
Arabella frowned, this was meant to be her big moment, and yet Clara insisted on making it all about herself. She regretted bringing her along, now. Time to bring the focus of the conversation back to its proper object.
“Oh, Mr Wentworth!” she cried out “Fancy you knowing Miss Redmond! Why do you know that it was Clara here who nursed me back to health, after you so very bravely carried me to safety? I’m so glad I ran into you, for I have been sewing a commemorative sampler of the event which I wanted to present to you as a small token of my great esteem and thanks, and yet imagine my embarrassment that I did not even know the name, let alone the location, of my Knight in Shining armour!” she beamed her uneven smile, hoping that the conversation wouldn’t return back to Clara, or the hideous sounding ‘Thornton children’ or Ms Emeline’s silly old pie shop.
If they were going to talk about anyone’s place of work it should be hers: after all, there was always some exciting new hairum-scarum activity going on there: bar fights, arguments, bust ups and wild bets and drunken dancing and, well, you just name it! The most exciting thing that happened at the Lick Skillet was Miss Em’s buns not rising, or a customer asking for an extra slice of tart.
Then a thought struck her and she grabbed her companion's arm.
“Oh Clara, you silly old noodle-head – you forgot to properly introduce me to Mr Wentworth, why his head must be spinning, wondering who exactly I am!” It was important that the man know her name, and it was somewhat infra dig for her to have to say it out loud herself. Clara would formally introduce them, she would hold out her hand, and Mr. Wentworth would gently and lovingly kiss it, while she herself executed the deepest curtsy a Southern Belle ever made!
"You are positively chattering away. And asking far too many questions too rapidly," Clara observed dryly.
“Oh, I’m just so tickled t’ see you, Clara Anne Redmond!” she beamed, resisting the urge to take the other girl’s arm. “Well, I’ll just go through all my important questions one by one and keep it orderly like! So, first of all, Good Day to you, Miss Redmond!”
"Good day to you too, Arabella," she then nodded.
Arabella started to enumerate her other questions and comments on the general state of the nation but just then the girl skidded to a halt and grabbed onto Clara for dear life with a hoarse cry of “It’s HIM!”
"Who? What is the problem?" now she looked down to the drama queen that was Arabella.
Arabella made a sort of moaning noise and leaned heavily on Clara with a gasp of “Hold me up, my legs has turned to jelly!”
Thus stabilized, she pointed surreptitiously at Mike Wentworth. “It’s HIM! The feller as dug me out of that House what fell on my head last Christmas!” she took three long panting breaths, as if she’d just run around the block and then made a further demand of her bosom friend: “Oh Clara! This might be my only chance to talk to him, ever… but I’m too scared: push me t’ward him!”
In the end it was more a case of Arabella dragging Clara with her, but either way, the love-sick girl wasn’t going to go into battle alone. When she got in range of the man, she gave what was meant to be a dainty “Oh!” of delighted surprise. Instead it came out as a strangulated bark of horror.
As he turned to go back in, he heard a loud cry. Looking around to see where it came from, he was perplexed as the people around him hadn't seemed to notice or if they did, they had ignored it. Shrugging his shoulders, he was about to give up when he saw Clara approaching the store with some girl clinging to her arm.
Arabella tried again, acting as if she had just noticed the tall, dark, handsome man.
“Oh!” she said, jumping a little in fictional surprise and putting on her best Southern Belle airs. “Please pardon my intrusion, kind Sir, I know that we haven’t been formally introduced…” she started, giving what would have been a textbook curtsy, if she hadn’t been entangled in Clara’s arm and her shopping basket.
“… but your face is somehow familiar to me. Could it be that you are the heroic gentleman what rescued me from certain death some months past, in that curs-ed town of Whitefish?” she concluded this well-rehearsed speech by tipping her head slightly to one side. She was hoping to render the impression of a cute and curious puppy, but she overdid it a tad and ended up looking more like she’d woken up that morning with a crick in her neck.
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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