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 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]
Priest gave a long rambling exposition on... well, what was it about? Something about living in the past and being from Montana and golden sunshine. It all sounded very fancy and uplifting, give him that. Priest was a good politician, he didn't really say much, but he said it in a crowd pleasing way.
It was near lyrical, and Hiram looked out at the slack-mouth audience. "You oughta put that to music," he said to Arabella.
"Hmm, and you oughta answer the question!" she murmered to herself.
"Oh, I'll do just that Mr. Priest!" she answered more brightly.
"So, what is he?" asked a nearby cowpoke, who was as bamboozled by the old man's speechification as the rest of them. "He's a Republican!" Arabella hissed a reply "Wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot pole!" Hmmm, if Priest wasn't a Democrat, maybe one of the other candidates would be.
"Your name, again?"
He smiled. "It's Ben Simons and I was asking about some of your plans for Kalispell and I'm sure the good voters here would like to know as well."
Then he gave a wide sweeping gesture to acknowledge the other people who were there. It seemed that there were a few who were getting more interested in their conversion as some of them responded with "yeah" and "what he said."
"They should have a whatayacallem!" yelled Sally Adams suddenly "A debate! All of them, whatayacallem, Can'idates!" she laughed. "I remember seein' Douglas and Lincoln in Freeport waaaaaay before the war. Douglas whupped his ass. Course, that's before he had that beard. Beard helped a lot, y'know. Much better with the beard."
It was a good idea, even if rather eccentrically expressed.
Arabella's head was, frankly swimming. Lorenzo dying? Brendan in love, it seemed, with Bridget? Well, he couldn't stop thinking about her, that spelled l.o.v.e. in her book. Phew!
At least he did his best to make her feel better.
"Arabella, your face looks like green cheese.”
Not that his best was that great.
"Thanks!" she said sarcastically. "And yours looks like... ah, let's face it, it looks all stupid and handsome like it always does!" she shrugged. Even she had to admit that.
He stood up.
“I’m goin’ to talk to her. I want you to come with me.”
She jumped up. She had mixed feelings about this, everything had gone topsy-turvy and was moving way too fast. The only thing more unsettling than the idea of going with the good-looking cowpoke to see her half-witted, crippled friend was the idea of him going on his own, and her not knowing what happened between the two of them.
"Wai-wai-wait! All right Mississippi, I'll come with, just hold on and let me get decent." she implored him. 'Getting decent' didn't take too long, as it involved pulling on her poke bonnet and shawl and grabbing her shopping basket. "Don't want folks thinkin' we're walkin' out together" she muttered. She swilled out her mouth with water, too, to remove the sick taste.
She found Brendan ready to go.
"Listen, she won't be at home this time of day" she told him "She'll be all gussied up and wanderin' round town lookin' through folks windows by now" Arabella calculated. The act of 'getting decent' had given her time to reflect.
Gosh, if Brendan knew 'all about' Bridget, he must also know about the surgical corset that kept her up straight during the day. And the terrible scarring on her body. He was so handsome, she reflected, he could have had the most beautiful girl in town - scratch that, he DID have the most beautiful girl in town, Caroline. She couldn't believe he was that way about Bridget, it... why, it was so noble. She was welling up inside, she could feel it. It was all so romantic, and she just felt so proud of Brendan: proud of him for him seeing the beauty, the real pure beauty, in her idiot friend.
“I can’t just forget about her!” He burst out, jerking his hand away.
"Well you just gotta!" she countered, grabbing it back again.
“Arabella, she’s like a…a little puppy you’d find on the boardwalk! I can’t forget about her.
"But there's stuff you don't know about her" Arabella said vaguely. She didn't know that Brendan already knew the horrible truth about the waiflike girl and the terrible injuries that scarred her body. She felt that if he knew, he would give up the idea of being with her... in that way. But she also felt it was not her place to reveal her secret.
"And, you don't have to be the one to look after her, she's got Mr. Crabbe and..."
"I’ve gotta do something ‘cause…well, ‘cause Crabbe said he’s dyin’!”
Now it was Arabella's turn to let go of Brendan's hand, and she did so like it was diseased.
"Lorenzo?!" she gaped.
With that spectacular piece of news spread, he balled his hands up into fists and stared at the space between his boots.
Arabella stood, dazed.
"Lorenzo?" she repeated. She took a couple of breaths. Her head span and spots danced before her eyes. "I think I'm gonna be sick!!" she cried and threw herself down on the floor, getting her head over a pail just in time for it to catch the full return of her breakfast as she made the most horrendous heaving noises. "Huuuuurrghghg!!!" [pause] "Huuuuuurrghghg!!!" [pause] "I think that's all... Hurrgghghhh!"
She eventually lifted her face from the bucket, looking a ghastly shade of pale green and the acrid smell of vomit filling the room.
"Well, thanks! Don't bother holding my hair outta the way!!" she chided Brendan. Another girl would have thought to have done that for her, she reckoned.
So, Lorenzo was dying? What would happen to Bridget? It was a poser all right: but in her heart of hearts, she couldn't see how a footloose and handsome cowboy like Brendan could look after a crippled and irreversibly simple-minded girl like Bridget for the rest of his, or her, life. With the best will in the world that adorable lost puppy would become a weight and a burden; Crabbe had said exactly that a heap of times; and a man like the handsome Mr. Connolly would attract other women, then what would become of his poor, half-form of a wife.
"Sorry, that twern't nice for you to see!" she grimaced. Good job she wasn't trying to impress the cowpoke with her charms!
Hearing the mention of plans, Ben stepped forward, "You wouldn't mind giving us a hint on these plans? I've already heard a few from the other contenders and I wouldn't want you to step on their toes by saying something they've already covered."
Arabella span on her stool.
"More to the point, Mister Priest, what are you? A nice clean living Democrat, or some God-forsaken, devil horned, dyed in the wool Republican?!" she asked, her political opinions (pointless as she didn't hold the vote due to her age and sex) set in stone by her Southern upbringing.
Then a really horrible thought crossed her mind, horrible enough to make her jump off the piano stool.
"Say, you ain't no dirty Greenbacker are ya?!" she cried. She wasn't over-sure what a Greenbacker was, but she'd read somewhere that 'Beast Butler' was one, and that was bad enough for her.
"You know, whoever runs on the Democrat Ticket'll get the votes of ever' dislocated Southerner round here I reckon: there's me, 'cept I cain't vote, obvious, urr... Mr Pettigrew, Mr Crabbe, Mr Connolly, Mr McVay... oh, there's tons!" she offered, helpfully.
Arabella slid her back down the wall of the scullery until she was seated on the hard stone floor and patted the place next to her for Brendan to sit by her side and hear her 'fairy story' or whatever it was.
“Does it have a happy endin’?” he said finally.
"That's up to you." she answered, with an air of foreboding.
"See, onct upon a time there was this here Knight, like a knight in shinin' armour: cept this knight's armour was a kinda rusty colour" she couldn't help adding, patting the material of the brown tinged trousers of the cowpoke sitting next to her.
"And he was out doing errands one time, a-ridin' through the woods and the forest, and he came upon this great big ugly old tower, as tall as anything and with thick walls and a locked portcullis. That's a type of door they had in them days. And that knight, he looked up, and do you know what he saw? He saw a window high up and he just caught a glimpse, just a little magical glimpse of the most perfect, prettiest, clever, wonderful princess you could ever imagine."
She patted his hand absently.
"Anyhow, that knight, he just fell in love with that princess right there and then, just from that little glimpse of her at the window. And he decided he would wait until that princess reappeared again or popped her head out or come on out through the portcullis and then he'd ask her to marry him and they'd live happy ever after." she continued, holding his hand now.
"Well, he waited and he waited and he waited. And that Princess, she never come out through the door, and she never poked her head out the window, he'd just hear her tinklin' laughter, real quiet, far far away, or see a glimpse of her at the widow every now and again. Well, he waited and he waited, and eventually he just died of old age sittin' right there on his horse, waiting for that princess to show herself. See, she never could get out of that tower."
She was squeezing his hand now.
She craned her neck to look at him.
"I see her, too. Now and again. Sorta out the corner of my eye: the girl that Bridget should've been, but for all them horrible things as happened to her. And she is lovely. Ever' thing you could ever want in a... in a lover. But that girl... she's like that princess. She ain't ever comin' out, she's locked inside a broken shell. You gotta leave Bridget behind you, you gotta forget her and live your life Brendan." she said, sadly.
Caroline eventually found Arabella sulking somewhere and talked her into coming back as only Caroline could. The moody teenager pulled off her bonnet and shawl and heaped them on the piano, and then sat back on the stool, but with a miserable scowl on her face: in stark contrast to the jolly tune that Mr. Fortner bade her play.
Sally Adams, on the other hand was in seventh heaven: another free drink and she hadn't had to do a stroke of work yet! She felt inspired to raise a glass.
"If Miss Mundee is too modest to acceptyour toast, Sir..." she slurred "....Here's a toast to all of you then: Mr. Fortner, the wonderful new owner of the Stardust Saloon! Mr Simons, the manager of the new theatre! Mr. Flandry, the finest barman in the world! Miss Mundee, the songbird of the stardust, and most of all... all of our wonderful customers!! All of them 'Jolly Good Fellows!'" she trilled: to be fair, many of them were as much her patrons as they were patrons of the saloon.
She started to warble in a strained mezzo-soprano.
"For they are jolly good fellows
For they are jolly good fellows..."
Never before had For He's a Jolly Good Fellow been played with such a vicious edge on the pianoforte.
He cast his eyes over the rest of the laundry equipment while he thought of an answer. At first his words didn't come out right, but as he continued, he regained control of his thoughts. "Well...uh...well...you know we wrote letters to each other. 'Course you do. You wrote those letters yourself, didn't you?"
Arabella shook her head innocently as she scrubbed. "Uh-uh, I just translated is all. Ever' little idea in that letter come out of Bridget's sweet lil' noodle." If she had known what was coming next, she might have said something different.
Well, I can't...can't stop thinkin' about her. And...I was hopin' you'd tell me about her."
Plop! The soap dropped into the water. Shlump. Followed by Mammy Cookie's unmentionables. "You can't stop thinkin' about her?!"
In the blink of an eye she was at his side and dragging this previous 'threat' into the scullery with her and hissing in his ear.
"You mean like in 'you can't stop thinkin' about her'?!!" she popped her head out of the door to make sure no one was about and then whipped it back in to continue her urgent whispering to the handsome cowboy.
"What about Caroline?!" however, she immediately waved that away "Nah, you're right, she good fer a fumble but not exactly marryin' material. But Bridget.... oh, Brendan, where do I start?"
She frowned. The obvious objections came to the surface and fizzled. The true one eventually was left there floating, like the last apple in the water in an apple bobbing competition. She looked at Brendan and his sad, lovelorn face. He was like a God damned lost puppy.
How could she ever have been scared of him? He was sensitive, he saw something in the dumb, crippled, mysterious, beautiful redhead which nobody else saw. Nobody else, she fancied, except herself. She looked at him and smiled and straightened his braces (well, he didn't have a collar or a tie).
"Listen, Mississippi... can I tell you a fairy story?"
Well, that was it. Arabella's attempt at playing 'hard to get' had lasted two minutes and... counting... 43, 44, 45 seconds exactly! She finished playing Mr. Fortner's requested tune with a crash of discordant notes and slammed down the piano lid with an enormous bang.
"Well that's nice ain't it!!" she hollered, loud enough for even the aging and deaf Sally Adams to hear loud and clear without her tin ear horn in place. Arabella was standing in front of Ben Simons now with a look of complete outrage on her little face and the tears squirting from her eyes. "I give you my best Lady MacBeth and you just thowed it in the dirt an'... an' she's just stood standin' there an you offer her a part in your plays, well... you can just... you can just go get lost, Mr. Simons...." she twisted on the spot and in her rage and and broken hearted upset shouted "You can all get lost! I'm goin' to work fer Mr. Jolly, least them dead folks treat me with some respect!!"
And with that she marched out of the swing doors with a slam.
Then she marched back in again.
"Forgot mah hat!"
She marched through to the back kitchen to get her bonnet and shawl, wiping away a driblet of snot with the back of her hand as she did so. The sound of the back door slamming made the whole saloon shake.
Old Miss Adams looked quite delighted with the scene. "Oh, those Southern Belles! Always so full of vivacity and fire!" she cooed, before removing her reading glasses and waddling up to Simons.
"So Sir, you are the scoundrel who has upset our dear little Arabella! It is outrageous, outrageous I say! You insult one of us, you insult all of us!" she reasoned incoherently "However, maybe you could buy me a drink, and I might forgive you."
If Arabella seemed completely unaware that Brendan was following her around the place for no particular reason, it was down to good acting on her part. He was up to something, or wanted something, or... well... something! Oh God! No! He wasn't going to ask her if he should ask Caroline to marry him, was he?!! In fact "Oh God! No!" would be her answer.
He followed her into the scullery and leaned against the wall, prepared to stand and watch her work.
She started getting together the hot water and the washtub and the washboard and the soap flakes and ordering what needed to be washed first. She felt sort of tense.
"Guess you like watchin' girls do the laundry, huh?" she laughed nervously. Say, he wasn't going to try anything was he?! She was sort of aware that he was blocking the entrance to the narrow scullery room. She started scrubbing. Funny, she never got nervous round a mob of men, like in the bar-room, but all alone like this... No, hold on there, partner, she knew how to handle men. That was her proud boast. What was she worried about? Why if he....
"You know Bridget pretty well, right?" he asked with no preamble.
All Arabella's tension flowed right on out of her and, presumably into the washtub.
"Oh!!!!" she sighed gratefully. Phew. Is that what this was all about? She enjoyed the relief for a second, then let the sadness flow in. Bridget. She took a deep breath and from her kneeling position turned her dark blue eyes up to Brendan's brown.
“I did study geology in school.” James told the older man with a shrug since it had not been his focus as law ultimately ended up being. “I did not however study animal husbandry so I know next to nothing about cattle.” Or horses he thought, suppressing a shudder since he wasn’t comfortable at all around the big animals.
"Oh, Sir, I rather took you for a member of the 'landed gentry' of your nation. I have a background in agriculture m'self: though the plantation went to mah older brother - not that it was a lot of use to him after the war, of course!" opined Pettigrew who, although he spent all day grovelling at women's feet, measuring their hems, never forgot that his forbearers were of the Louisiana landed 'aristocracy'.
Arabella bounced up then and asked them what they were all a jawin' on.
“Geology actually.” James told her when she bounced her way back up to them, a bright smile on her face. He smiled down at her, since there was something very appealing about the way she approached life
"Oh, I know all about that!" Arabella gasped excitedly, and started to recite what she'd learned by rote the few times she'd been able to walk down the mountain and go to the school house in Tazewell "A triangle got three sides an' three corners, a square got four corners and four sides, a hoblong got the same but it's all long on one side an' short on 'tother: and don't even get me started on palarelagrams, cause them's the most sigogglin' critters you ever did see!"
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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