Slim and wiry, bears himself well. Usually fancily dressed, as befits his profession. Face is dominated by the thick spectacles he wears.
Traits & Characteristics
A pretty nice fellow, all things considered. Others may disagree, but that how he sees it.
Ex Trapper, buffalo hunter, legitimate trader, cattle drover and placer miner who saw the light and turned to pimping and sharping. Now hoping to cream off some money from Canadians coming down through Kalispell for the Black Hills Gold Rush.
Sniffing out money and human frailty.
Can shoot straight with his glasses on.
Knows about trapping, mining (shaft and placer) cattle and horse-stock, but would rather others do the work and he relieve them of the profits.
Speaks a little Crow.
Aliases / Nicknames
Looking for a suitable building to open a theater/brothel/casino/you name it, in Kalispell.
Kith & Kin
Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters may or may not still be alive and kicking in Bowling Green, he doesn't know and doesn't care.
Born and raised: Bowling Green, KY 24th August 1846 - 22nd August 1864
Ran away from being conscripted by both sides in Kentucky, 1864.
1864: To avoid conscription by both sides in the civil war, he moved to West eventually making Fort Pierre, South Dakota to work as a trapper.
1867: a trader at Fort Berthold in the Dakota Territory and, for a time, married to an Indian woman, the sister of a warrior named Limping Bear. Subsequently a cattle driver, trader, placer miner.
1873: His annus mirabilis. Finally seeing the light at Frenchman’s Ford, Montana Territory, he stopped giving his hard earned gold to dance-hall managers, pimps, card sharps and underhand traders, he joined their ranks instead.
1875: Realizing that there was more money to made in the impending Gold Rush taking money off successful miners than panning for gold himself, he came to Kalispell to bottom out the options.
Even as he began chewing, the one asked, "Hey what's goin' on up there? Big pow wow. We goin' inta action?"
“Reckon so.” answered Crabbe, taking a chew himself. “Big bunch of wagons ahead, full of gun runners armed to the teeth with the best shootin’ irons money can buy. I reckon things’re going to turn pretty ugly pretty soon.” He said seriously, before heaving a plaintive sigh.
“Only wish your Captain would let me take up a gun m’self, figured another man might make at least make a little difference, but he don’t trust me cause of these.” Lorenzo pointed to his spectacles. “Thinks I’m so short sighted I’ll shoot one of you fellers by mistake.” he mopped.
“But really, with these things on, I’ve probably got the best eyesight in the bunch.” He pointed to a distant forlorn, bird-less tree about half a mile away. “Why I can even see that jaybird in yonder tree.” He lied.
Now the officer rounded on the man, "I am heartily sick of having you butt into army business. Get further back into the column right now and if you say anything else, I will have you gagged and tied to your horse."
He glanced behind him, "Sergeant you just heard me."
"Indeed I did, sir," the big bearded man nodded, he looked more than willing to discipline the civilian.
“Jesus! You fellers are kinda touchy, ain’t ya?!” sighed Crabbe and sloped off toward the back of the column. It was a pity he wasn’t going to catch any more of the conversation between the Captain and the scouts, but he knew enough now to know it was time to plan for the denouement of this odd little expedition.
He couldn’t help but think back to his conversation with Charlie Fa, the diminutive Chinese who had shared many an adventure with him.
‘You mad go after Mercier. That feller you kill in Dodge, you catch him with pants down, no gun. Mercier have many guns, many men. You mad go after him, unless you got own army!’
Yeah, Charlie had ben right. Mercier was untouchable unless he had his own little army to protect him, right up to the point where he blew that ornery, filthy, bible quoting critter’s brains right out of his ugly bald head. But thanks to Captain Benjamin Barlow, that’s just exactly what he did have. Now all he needed was a gun.
He ambled up to a couple of tired looking, very young and green looking troopers. “Hullo fellers!” he said, bringing forth a large wad of tobacco. “Care for a chew?”
"Go slow. Wagons too heavy, ruts deep. Horses poor choice to pull." Ke-Ni-Tay answered. In his mind he could see how simple it would be to ambush them.
“One of these white men, was he round faced, bulbous nosed, as old as MacIntosh with eyes the color of the afternoon sky?” Crabbe asked urgently, punctuating his description with the sign language understood by all of the disparate, warring Indian tribes.
He looked back at Crabbe. "Moon face, big nose, drives first wagon. They not worried, believes no one sees them."
Crabbe hung on the Apache scout’s every word, nodding hopefully, then snapped his fingers, and cried with some vehemence “That sounds like the conceited bastard!”
Benjamin glared at the man, "These men are reporting to me, Mr. Crabbe. And if I want any inclusion in this conversation from you, I will ask for it."
“Sorry Captain.” Replied Crabbe soothingly “It's just that I’m as keen as you to apprehend these awful illegal traders.”
Then his eyes went back to the scouts, "Sounds like we found our prey, gentlemen. And the only way they can outrun us now if they abandon their wagons."
Crabbe, meanwhile, was deep in thought. He had to make a decision about something. Would he be satisfied merely to see Mercier dead, shot by the Captain here or the Scouts or one of the soldiers in a confused melee? Or did he really need to kill the gun-runner and rapist himself, as he looked the skunk in the eyes and told him exactly why he was dying? He decided, there and then, that he wanted to try and roll for the higher stakes. He needed to kill Mercier himself if at all humanly possible, even if he ended up dead for it himself. He owed her that much.
But now the Captain was thinking out loud about what was ahead, and Lorenzo bent an ear.
"Plus they don't necessarily know we are looking for them. After all we only found out about these fellows thanks to Mr. Crabbe here," he at least acknowledged the man's contribution to all this.
“Sure, we’ve got the jump on ‘em. Why don’t you just surround the rascals, Cap? Open fire and let ‘em have it? Ke-Ni-Tay’s identified Mercier, you’d be within your rights…” he suggested. He hoped that the fact that he had suggested it would automatically steer the company leader away for that course of action, if he’d been considering it at all.
“Mornin’ Captain, think we found ‘em. Three heavy wagons, two out riders. Five men that Ke-Na-Tay saw, might be more inside the wagons, if so, could be relief drivers, can't be sure. " MacIntosh reported.
Crabbe, still kept unarmed by the untrusting Captain’s decree, came bustling up, pulling on his grey civilian jacket, staring at Ke-Na-Tay with wide and slightly wild eyes, made even wider and wilder by the magnifying effects of his thick spectacles, and it was to the Apache, not the white scout, that he addressed his questions.
“One of these white men, was he round faced, bulbous nosed, as old as MacIntosh with eyes the color of the afternoon sky?” he asked urgently, punctuating his description with the sign language understood by all of the disparate, warring Indian tribes. He was desperate to know if Mercier was amongst the party. If he was, then it would be time for him to start to think about how to secure himself a gun, to shoot the bastard down in cold blood, whatever Captain Benjamin damn Barlow’s plans for the creature were.
"Hello Charlie, you can just call me Caroline, none of that Miss stuff," she nodded to the Chinaman.
“Thank you, Miss Caroline” he bowed again. ‘Call me Caroline’ indeed: these Western barbarians might not be civilised, Mr. Fa could never forget that he was a gentleman at home, a Mandarin, 3rd Class to boot.
"Hello Bridget, I like your dress and ....nice doll," she flashed the other young woman a very bright and genuine smile.
Bridget nodded excitedly with a big smile too, and wanted to stammer out that her doll’s name was Dolly (all her dolls were called Dolly, a fact that lead to much derision from Arabella, and who had renamed them Martha, Jenny, Lucia and Clara-Anne), but she was too overwhelmed at meeting the famous and glamorous singer from Helena, and returned to staring open mouthed at the girl who looked even more dolly-like than her dollies.
Between them, they managed to carry all of Caroline’s junk over to her new place of work.
"Oh there it is, the Stardust saloon. Looks nice enough on the outside," she announced but then listened to Lorenzo fill her in on what he apparently believed she needs know.
“As you can see, it’s already built, so there was no need to pack all these bricks!” grunted Lorenzo, dropping his end of the enormously heavy trunk with a thud and what sounded like the muffled tinkling of breaking china. “Don’t worry about that” he grinned sheepishly “There’ll be another one inside, under your bed, no doubt.” He looked at the place. “Well, I’d like to drag this ten ton weight in for ya Mundee, but what with bein’ barred from the place…”
"Honestly, you got thrown out of the joint? What, did they catch you cheatin' at cards? Will you ever learn, hon?" Caroline huffed a bemused tone.
“Oh no, they thought I was trying to steal their piana-playing pot girl and put her on the game” he explained without batting an eyelid “I’m laying off all that now anyway, for a while, I’m opening up a Pho-tography business instead, that’s where the money is!” he announced, but the songstress was more concerned with her own schtick.
"Oh good they have a piano player. You know I ain't able to play a note. So some girl huh? What? Some hooker who escaped you otherwise why you so interested in her? Don't give me the line you just are looking out for my profit percentage either," Caroline liked Lorenzo, she really did, but trust him to tell the truth. Only when it was to his benefit.
“No honest, I just wanted her to play the ivories at the time, mind you, she has modelled for me since. Nothing ornery, of course.” She might have waited for the ‘yet’ but it was not forthcoming. “Say, if you want any nice publicity plates making, I’ll give you good rates, what with you bein’ a pal. Yeah, wear one of those high cut, low cut numbers like you did in Helena and I bet I could sell them pictures by the bundle.” His magnified eyes became almost glassy at the prospect. "Or maybe some more 'artistic' poses..."
There was a noise within.
“Ooh! We’d better go! Listen, drop in and see me some time and we’ll talk about them pictures!” he said hurriedly. “We’re situated down at the old Funeral Parlour, down there” Crabbe pointed as he got ready to skedaddle.
The outgoing girl did not hesitate but took a few confident strides toward the fellow who was accompanied by his personal chinaman and some red haired tart. She ignored them for the moment as that big smile of hers, which could light up a room, preceded her greeting.
As Caroline approached, Crabbe regaled her with the words with which she had been introduced at their old place in Helena. “Here she is! The Chicago Siren! The Songthrush of the Territories! The Helena Nightingale! Miss Caroline Muuuunndeeee!” He finished it just in time to take her in his arms and give her a comradely kiss on each cheek, like French people and showbusiness folks did, then stood back to take her in and nodded appreciatively at the sight.
The Emden family from the stagecoach, passing by, looked horrified and disgusted at this open display of affection, but Crabbe just tipped his hat at them with a friendly “Sir! Madame! Sonny!” and for the peevish looking girl trailing behind them, even spared a “Hello, what’s your name?” at which she gave him a terrified stare and quite rightly ran to join her parents.
"Well, well, Lorenzo Crabbe! You're lookin' your usual self, dapper as always. So are you here to stick up the stage or just waitin' for little ol' me?" she teased with a grin.
“Oh, we just happened to be passin’” he teased back “– you remember Charlie?” he indicated the Chinaman, who gave her a little oriental bow and uttered an ingratiating “Miss Caroline.” It looked like he wasn’t even going to bother introducing the redhead but following Caroline’s gaze remembered her.
“Oh, ‘n’ that’s Bridget. She ain’t a whore.” He said matter-of-factly, just because he knew that the singer would assume she was, being with him. “ She’s more of a… erm, well, kind of a, urm…”
“Waif and stray” offered Mr. Fa, and Lorenzo seized upon the phrase gratefully.
“Yeah, that’s it, ‘waif and stray’: I ‘ve come over all charitable in my old age” he laughed “Why we even help disreputable saloon singers with their luggage” he added, taking her arm and walking her back to where Addy had unloaded the various trunks and valises onto the ground from their perch atop the stagecoach.
“Which ones are y… oh, they’re all yours, ain’t they?” Crabbe frowned, looking at the pile of stuff in dismay. There was an extremely heavy trunk, which they piled with other baggage and which Crabbe and Fa lifted with a grunt, one at either end; a few other odds and ends Caroline had to carry herself, and Bridget ‘helped out’ by lifting up a single, quite light-looking hatbox. To be fair, she was already carrying her own paraphernalia: parasol, clutch purse, and a large china-faced doll whose overwrought dress matched her own.
Still, the hat box itself made Lorenzo double take - one of Mundee's little quirks was that that she never, ever, wore a hat or bonnet of any sort and, when he had known her, hadn't even owned one. The girl was virtually allergic to the things. The hat box must contain something else, or he was a Dutchman.
As they trudged to the saloon, Crabbe, lifting his end of the trunk a little higher, (so Fa got the brunt of the weight), warned Caroline: “Listen Mundee, I can’t come in the saloon, persona non grata, but [pant] I wanted to tell ya, there’s a girl that works there that plays the … Jesus Charlie lift it will ya?! … plays the piana pretty decent, stage-struck type, y’know: if you can get her on side it’ll save ya having to pay a percentage out for an accompanist.” He panted and looked like he was going to collapse in a heap by the time they got to the swing doors of the saloon.
"She's a big girl. Bridget is quite good at taking care of herself, I reckon. She's having fun...dancing....chatting...you know. Go join her. I'm sure she wouldn't mind."
Yes, she was a big girl, that’s what he was worried about. “Nah, that kind of a bean feast is more fer respectable folks, I ain’t about to sully it with my sorry presence.” Lorenzo muttered.
"I must be on my way home now, Mr. Crabbe. Early morning tomorrow."
The shifty operator shrugged. “Oh well, have it your way. Guess we’re both a couple of pikers. But listen, come around tomorrow if you can, I got a new ‘business opportunity’ on the stove, just about to come to the bubble if ya get m’drift. Should keep us in healthy funds until the mining and theatre plans’re nicely cooked.”
Yes, if his idea to become Kalispell’s first professional photographer was to come to fruition, he’d need some technical assistance with backdrops and the like: both for portrait photographs of the living and, in a period where a lot of people didn’t shell out for a image to remember a relative by until they up and died, the dead. In fact, he was hoping Jay could help him construct some kind of an armature that would help keep both the quick and the deceased in a stiff position (no pun intended), while the exposure cap stayed off the camera.
He stood considering his plans as Jay departed.
He’d already taken a few pictures and developed them and was now hungry to make some profit on his investment of time and money on the project.
It was probably advisable to get out of the line of sight. So he joined the man in the shadows.
"Women...you know." Jay explained his miserable state.
“Ohhhh, trouble with the ladies, huh?” Lorenzo consoled “Or one particular lady?” he asked, more to the point.
"I should get going."
“Whoa! Hold on there, friend.” The slickly turned out man steadied the Englishman.
“What’s the hurry? Listen, I’m just driving myself crazy here worrying about ol' Bridget in there, what say we go back to our place for a nice sip o’ whiskey and you can tell Uncle Lorenzo all about it? They reckon a problem shared is a problem doubled, Hell, no, that don’t sound right – problem halved, that’s it.” he cajoled the stressed looking craftsman.
Crabbe had known many women in his time, some were good and some were bad; some were so beautiful it almost made you cry to look at ‘em, others were more what you might call ‘homely’; some you could rely on, some would do you wrong. One thing was for sure: no man could do without them!
Well, unless he was one of them there funny fellers.
Walking away his face became contorted with confusion.
The voice seemed to come from nowhere.
“Pssst! Ryker! Over here!!”
The well dressed, bespectacled figure of Lorenzo Crabbe peeped around a corner of a building opposite the barn and waved the Englishman over.
“Jesus Christ Ryker, what’s eatin’ you, you look like you lost a dollar and found a nickel!” queried the slick entrepreneur as he caught sight of Jay’s frowning physiognomy.
“Listen, how’s our Bridget getting’ on in there? I didn’t want to go barging in there and, you know, cramp her style, but a feller’s gotta right to be worried ain’t he? I’m the nearest thing that mutton headed gal’s got to a father, and I reckon it’s my job to fret about her every once in a while.” He leaned around Jay’s form a little, peering off into the interior of the barn.
“Shit, is that her talkin’ to an Army Officer?!” he asked, nodding his head up and down a little to increase the magnification of his glasses. Then he turned his lens-distorted eyes back on Jay.
“You look like crap, Ryker. Need a drink?” he asked in the manner of a man who actually just needs one himself.
"Gold Quarzt." Jay repeated and wrinkled his brow.
“Why sure!” Crabbe confirmed. “Look, when you’re panning for gold, you’re sifting through a mixture of ground down quartz, a few iddy-bitty flecks of gold and then also a ton of shit that’s gotten into the stream all the way along its route from the source.” He looked at Ryker to see if he was getting this.
“But gold quartz, it’s just those two, urm, elements, see, Lot less luck involved, one you find the main lead: but lots of work digging it out of the mountain or sinking a shaft to it: plus you need a machine as stamps it all to smithereens so you can get to the gold, We’re looking to get a ten stamp machine all up on it.”
"Heck, I don't know anything about that. Only gold I know is the one you steal from the bank."
Crabbe laughed, even as he said “Hey, that ain’t funny! One day that’ll be our gold in the bank.”
“Y’know, I heard Tom Love’s gang turned over Kalispell Bank last year: some English feller with ‘em shot a man in cold blood, right there in the bank. Hell, that wasn’t you was it Mr. Ryker?!” he joked.
Then he was quick to say. "750 miles. Well, that way too far for me to ride. I've just arrived here. So I'll be proving equipment and leave the rest up to you, gentlemen."
Crabbe shook his head. “It ain’t that far, we’ll just need to find someone with a wagon who’s willing to take us there, shouldn’t be hard, we’ll be paying well.
Jay took his drink and had a generous sip, enjoy the delicious taste of a decent drink. "Hm, that's nice. Much better than a lot of the moonshine they serve out here."
Crabbe slapped Jay on the back. “You like that? Listen, friend, when we hit that mother lode, we’ll be able to have that fancy grog like that on tap! Gold taps at that, by crikey!” he beamed, his spectacles glinting in the orangey-red light of the dying Sun.
“Well, first things first. Now ... how ‘bout this rocker?”
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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