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!
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]
"Oh, well certainly. If you would rather talk there. Anyplace is fine with us," Clara would have agreed to discuss it even if he had suggested the middle of a river. She just wanted to get it done!
The four of them shuffled back to the rear of the church and through the little-used back door, into the main part of the building where the pews were neatly rowed and the pulpit stood empty at the far end.
The man then offered, "I could fix something to drink? Tea perhaps?"
"No thank you, we do not wish you to have to make a fuss on our account," she gently shook her head in the negative.
“Ooh, It’s no fuss Clara! I’ll fix that, Brother.” Arabella gushed obsequiously “You three will want to talk privately.”
She would also, perhaps a little too optimistically at this point, fetch out a blank marriage certificate, for she knew where Pastor Evans stored them. In fact, she’d had a good root through most of the drawers and cupboards in his little office, off the vestry, and found some amazing and interesting stuff. Her favourites were a collection of pictures in a little book which, she assumed, the good Pastor must have confiscated off some sinful parishioner in the past.
"Well." Thomas declared, sitting upwards in his chair. "I wonder what Arabella has gotten up to. I do hope I haven't complicated anything by bringing her along. Your wife seemed... er... unenthusiastic about her presence."
As if on cue, there was a crashing noise from the distant kitchen and Arabella’s voice sounded an “Ooops!”, but nonetheless, the two women presently appeared, carrying coffee and cake.
“Now, how are you two boys getting along?” asked Arabella, as if Thomas and Gideon were two five-year olds on their first playdate. Mrs Evans attended to the domestic stuff while Arabella jumped up and down, plexing her fingertips together with excitement.
“What do you want me to play on the harmonium, fellers?!” she asked excitedly, just hoping it wasn’t that well-known mondegreen “Bringing in the Sheep” which required notes that the poor old instrument could no longer sound. Arabella always had to substitute other notes in the same chord which made her playing sound like she’d invented jazz forty years too early.
“Can I feel her?” and said in a whisper too not her usual high volume.
"There is nothing to feel yet, it is far too early," Clara softly explained, "And we cannot be certain it will be a girl either. Or is that what you are hoping for?"
Arabella didn’t answer. She just put out her hand, ever so slowly, and lightly touched Clara’s still relatively flat looking tummy. She looked up with shining eyes from the sacred spot from whence new life miraculously sprang and gave Clara a small but encouraging smile.
She looked at Jacob and then back to Clara.
“I'll take you to Brother Thomas right now, but... do you need any money?” she whispered.
"No, I mean Jacob has some but the marriage should not cost us anything other than perhaps a dinner for the minister. We just need you to help us find the man for now, Arabella. One thing at a time," Clara was really a bundle of nerves but trying very hard to keep calm and focused.
Arabella nodded and started to sneak to the door of the laundry room and looked about outside. “Come on!” she beckoned the other two to follow her. It wasn’t clear why all this cloak and dagger stuff was needed inside the Saloon, but once they had snuck though the kitchen, grabbing her bonnet and shawl on the way, and made it outside, Arabella started to act a bit more normally. Well, normal for her.
She led them a strange route to the Church which brought them to the back of the building where a peculiar sort of shanty had been constructed with no little skill, it had to be said, but peculiar all the same. At the door of this ‘Hermitage’ Arabella, who had been strangely silent and uninquisitive during their tramp, gave three stentorian knocks on the door and whispered at the crack “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” It was her own idea, the knocks and the codes, so that the tall Patriarch form the Desert would know it was his own little helpmeet who was asking for an audience.
She listened at the crack in the door, awaiting The Word to Come Forward.
Arabella looked at Clara, then at Jacob, then back at Clara and her eyes narrowed and she pointed at Clara’s stomach and mouthed the words ARE YOU PREGNANT?
Clara let out a breath, denying it now would only bring out a torrent of questions and insistent declarations she was in the right. Clara was tiring of all these denials anyhow. She nodded very slowly then added.
"And keep quiet about it. I am asking you as a friend, Arabella. Please."
Arabella’s mouth was so wide open you could see her tonsils and she went so lightheaded that she had to steady herself on the mangle. She had wondered, after that odd interlude in the vestry when she’d burst in on the two of them and instead of kissing and slobbering over each other, they’d been having a very, very serious talk indeed, but this confirmation rocked her world. It was a shock, to be sure, but she felt immensely privileged to be in on the secret – a secret which despite Clara’s misgivings, wild horses could not have dragged from her.
She turned to Jacob and gave him an eloquent look which said 'Oh, well done, you idiot!' and then tiptoed toward Clara, taking her request to keep quiet very literally, and whispered “Can I feel her?” She had already decided that the baby would be a girl.
The urgent need to find the Reverend Reed clunked into place like a jigsaw piece and begged another question. She looked at Jacob and then back to Clara. “I'll take you to Brother Thomas right now, but... do you need any money?” she whispered, biting her lip in shared angst about what clandestine ceremony needed now to be undertaken.
Turning to Arabella, he looked at her intently, "I don't know how if you will look pretty or not but one thing I do know is that I need a drink."
“You got a drink!” she replied brightly but didn’t like the look in his eyes one little bit.
He dug into his pants pocket, pulled out the money he needed and placed it on the counter, "A glass and a bottle of whiskey."
Arabella looked at Charlie long and hard. “What? Because Clara Redmond’s courtin’ Jacob Lutz?!” she asked incredulously. “Why anyone would thing that you was in lo….” She trailed off. Oh Lord, that was it! He must really have romantic feelings about her.
She scrabbled to save the situation but knew in her heart of hearts it was too late. “Well, it ain’t worth fallin’ off of the wagon for! There’s plenty more fish in the sea!” she tried. Then changed tack.
“Well, I ain’t sellin’ you no whiskey! Don’t do this Charlie, please. It’ll be … it’ll be all my fault and…” But too late, Ralph was making his way back to the bar and he’d sell Charlie as much whiskey as the feller could hold or afford. Arabella was dismissed from her temporary position at the bar, back to the kitchen. She could only make one last parting plea.
“Please Charlie, remember the pledge!” It was a pathetic attempt, and she knew it. She kicked herself all the way back to the kitchen. “Me and my big mouth!” she uttered again and again.
Crabbe slapped Charlie manfully on the back.
“Women, huh? You’re right, the situation always looks rosier through the bottom of a bottle. Make that a bottle of the best red-eye and two glasses! I got women troubles of my own.”
As Jacob and Clara entered the small and steamy laundry room Arabella was practically dangling off the legs of the pantalettes trying to pull them out of the mangle. That thing had never been the same since she’d tried to put one of Mammy Cookie’s corsets through it.
“Howdy Reb.” Proffered Jacob in greeting, relieved they’d lost the scary in-charge lady. Arabella didn’t flinch as she yelped “Gimmi a hand here, y’lunk!” But Clara’s voice made her let go of the bloomers with a yelp and spin round, positioning herself in front of the offending articles of underwear. It was odd that she didn’t mind Lutz seeing how shabby, patched and, frankly stained, her underthings were, but the thought of the wonderful Clara Anne Redmond seeing these awful exhibits? Lord no!
“Hello, Arabella,” she left it at that.
“Clara!” exclaimed Arabella, wide eyed in shock. She pointed dumbly at the tiled floor “In my laundry room!”
“Never mind her” Jacob hissed urgently “Where the heck can we get hold of that Father-Reverend-Pastor Reed feller, we need to see him!”
Arabella rolled her eyes. “Oh, Brother Thomas! is that all? That’s easy, he’s in his Love Shack Mr Ryker built him at the back of the church. It ain’t love like hearts and flowers, it’s like the love that Jesus Christ Our Saviour has for all of us, even Mrs Devereau. Course it’s only me what calls it that and…”
Suddenly the penny dropped. Arabella looked at Clara, then at Jacob, then back at Clara and her eyes narrowed and she pointed at Clara’s stomach and mouthed the words ARE YOU PREGNANT?
The reply was irrelevant. Arabella had already put one and one together and gotten three, which, in this case, was the correct answer.
"Jacob Lutz...that scrawny farmer boy related to Granny Miggins?" Charlie frowned.
Arabella nodded. “He's her grandson, and oh, he might look scrawny, but you should see him tote them big crates of produce around, like they’s light as a feather. And I felt his muscles onct…” Crabbe asked a leery question and Arabella replied “Yes, OF COURSE in his arm!!” before continuing to Charlie “… and them there bicepticles was as hard as iron!” She was enjoying rubbing this in: she was sort of jealous of the attention Clara got from the fellers, in more ways than one, and this was a nice chance to get some revenge for it.
“I wonder if he likes fighting?” murmured Lorenzo, still thinking of his much needed pugilist.
There was one thing he needed to find out. Ignoring Crabbe, he looked at Arabella, "Just how serious is this relationship between Clara and Lutz?"
Arabella smiled, she looked like the cat who got the cream “Well, let’s just say I’ve been starting to practice the Wedding March on the church harmonium.” She held a glass up to the light to inspect her polishing prowess. “Course, I don’t know how I’m gonna play the wretched thing And be chief bridesmaid at the same time. Say Charlie, don’t you think I’ll look pretty in a bridesmaid’s dress?”
Crabbe just shook his head a little at this, even he knew brides always made their bridesmaids wear hideous frocks to make themselves look better.
A slightly amused look appeared on Charlie's face, "I've probably been in couple of fights while I've been drunk but I can't remember any of them. As for any fights while I've been sober, then answer is no."
“Well, I reckon a well-built feller like you would be a natural in the ring!” said Crabbe, starting into a line of patter that would soon have the young man convinced that he was going to be a second Tom Allen or Jem Mace.
He leaned against the bar, "If this has anything to do with what Ben was talking about the other night while he was playing poker with me and Sam, the answer is still no. Even if I wanted to, my brothers and father would make sure that I didn't. Part of the problem of being the youngest in the family, there's always someone who's been there and done that already."
“Wha..? Oh! Old cousin Bent’s been talking, has he!” grumbled Crabbe, annoyed that his guns had been spiked even before he’d started, and forgetting that St Clair was gong under a new name now. At this rate the boxing match would comprise of Simons and Crabbe belting seven bells out of each other which, to be fair, some people would pay to see!
Looking over at Arabella, he smiled and asked "How's that beer coming?" before turning his attention back to Crabbe.
Arabella just had to swipe off the excess foam with a ruler-like doo-dad before she plonked it on the bar in front of Charlie with a cheery “There ya go!”
"Thanks to Arabella, I'm trying to turn over a new leaf and getting involved in any fights wouldn't be a good idea. After a few months of clean living, and most people including Clara Redmond won't recognise me."
Arabella nodded proudly but rolled her eyes at Clara’s name, friend though she was.
“Yeah, I know this Clara gal, Redmond, Clara Redmond. Sure, nice girl, stood up for my Bridget when some bullies were mean to her.” Well, that was his public description of the pie-store assistant: in his own private notation, she was:
Age: 16, legal in most States and Territories of the Contiguous United State
Looks: A little pug-nosed and heavy browed, large feet, but attractive enough for regular work
Temperament: Serious, prudish and humorless, but nevertheless might get herself into trouble, given luck, and come onto the market
He sighed, still regretting the lack of available local talent that had stopped him opening his planned bordello.
“Oh, Clara, Clara,Clara! That’s all I hear!” grumped Arabella. “Well, you’re out of luck anyway, Charlie boy, because Clara’s got a regular beau now. Yep, while you was in the beer tent at the dance, she was getting swept off her feet by Jacob Lutz!” She let that little bolt hit home, enjoying watching the reaction, but hoping it didn’t send her pet reformed drunkard back to the bottle.
As it wasn't his place to inform or correct Arabella on something where the outcome was still unsure, he decided to turn the subject back to the person he came here to find in the first place. "I reckon Ben doesn't mind being called Mr. Fancy Pants as he's probably been called a lot worse due to his line of work."
“Oh I know!” nodded the Virginian girl “I heard what them fellers calls him when he wins all their money. Not to his face, o’ course, but when they come to the bar afterwards, countin’ their coppers, tryin’ to work out if they can still afford a drink!” she laughed. “Come to think of it…” she frowned “… he’s kinda bad fer business.” Oh well, that was Matilda’s problem, not hers.
Now that he was here and the offer had been made, he decided that it would be okay to have one drink, "And as for that beer, I think I'll have just one. Maybe cousin Ben will make an appearance while I'm drinking it. They do say that if you stay in one spot long enough, you usually find what you are looking for."
Her clear blue eyes looked at him with an interest that she rarely showed in anything he said. There was something that she was looking for, maybe if she stayed here long enough she would finally find it.
Arabella was then distracted by a white handkerchief being waved above the swing doors of the saloon, and then Lorenzo Crabbe’s head poking in, risking getting blown off by Ralph Flandry’s shot gun.
“Psst! Mudd!” he hissed “You seen Ben Simons this mornin’?” The professional gambler was the quarry in many people’s hunt this morning.
“Why don’t cha come in and have a drink?” Arabella suggested “They say that if you stay in one spot a long time, why, you always find what you’re looking for. Don’t worry, Mr Flandry’s forgotten all about you trying to recruit me fer your house of ill repute!” she lied brightly. She nodded to Charlie. “This here’s Fancy Pants’z cousin, Charlie Wentworth.”
Crabbe risked it, it was worth it for the suggestion he had for Simons or whatever Bent St. Clair was calling himself these days.
Crabbe nodded a howdy to Charlie “She’s only kidding about the… er.. thing. Even I couldn’t find a customer fer that o… anyway, so, yeah, how’s it going there, Mister Wentworth!”
The Evans’ abode had a neat front door at street-level, with only the smallest of steps, so Father Thomas wouldn’t have to lug the bulky instrument up too many stairs until they were inside. Arabella rapped on the door, but didn’t really give anyone a chance to answer it before boldly opening it herself and marching in, explaining to her porter “She must be givin’ him his chill tonic!”
She held the door open for Father Thomas in order for him to enter the hallway carrying the bulky and awkward harmonium in and called out “Ooooo-eeee! Ooooo-eeee! Missus Eeeeeevans?!”
The woman in question appeared from a side door to a parlour and gave a look of horror at the sight of the girl from church and the man carrying a large boxlike object: she thought for a second that Arabella was intending to move in with them, and this was her luggage. “Howdy Mrs E.! This here’s F… er, Brother Thomas Reece, come to visit with the Pastor. And we brung the harmonium to cheer him up!” she explained brightly, as she went to mount the stairs to the second floor of the house.
“He’s in the Parlour, convalescing.” Explained the poor woman in question, trying to do three things at once: relieve the tall, distinguished looking man of his terrible burthen; stop Arabella poking about upstairs and warn her husband that she was here, the probable cause of his nervous collapse.
“Do go through, Brother Thomas. My husband will be pleased to see you, if not that which you carry. Miss Mudd, perhaps you will join me in the kitchen to prepare some refreshments for the gentlemen.”
“Right you are Missus!” agreed Arabella sadly, taking one last nosy look up those intriguing stairs, thwarted in her quest to explore the unknown and see the no-doubt amusing sight of Brother Gideon in his nightgown and night cap.
Before she followed Mrs Evans into the kitchen, she gave Thomas a reassuring slap on the back. “Good luck! And remember, don’t mention the Baptists!”
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.
Connect With Us On
If you would like to join the Sagas' Discord server or are already a member, click the image to open the Discord web application.