A wistful, frail beauty. Due to an accident as a child, when she was run over by a wagon, her right leg is amputated above the knee, she usually wears a prosthetic wooden leg.
Traits & Characteristics
Bridget is considered simple or 'an innocent' by the people of Kalispell but she really just has a different way of looking at things.
Considered virtually unemployable until 'discovered' by Lorenzo Crabbe and brought to Kalispell to help him in his burgeoning 'entertainment' and other business ventures.
Good at walking very fast, despite her disability.
Aliases / Nicknames
Squeaky, Simple Bridget, various other names called out by nasty people.
The rooms above Mr Crabbe's store.
Kith & Kin
Not exactly an orphan, but abandoned in Helena as a child after her accident. The family, who were passing though on their way west, skipped town to avoid paying the medical bills.
Her chronology is hard to construct as she remembers nothing before the accident, but she is now around 18 or 19. Crabbe discovered her in Helena, Montana Territory a few months ago, took her to Ogallala and started trying to to pimp for her there, but found that she was singularly unfitted for the profession. When he decided that competition in that town was too hot for a single operator, brought her and his Chinese partner, Charlie Fa, along with him to Kalispell to make a killing there.
Friendly but a seemingly a little dopey and quiet, she copes extremely well, both mentally and physically, with her disability.
Hearing that Barnes was at least bound to hang eventually for his crimes, Mr. Jolly retreated, at least half-satisfied, muttering something about "Och, if I just bide a'wee the fellow will come into my hands by and by: a dram o' patience is all that's required!"
While Marshall and Deputy were coolly discussing what to do with the shot man, and onlookers idly watched as he squirmed in agony on the ground, gripping the bloody wound in his shoulder, the only person who seemed at all concerned was the girl whom Caleb has so sourly thrust out of his way. Bridget walked into the bar, a little scared as it was a forbidden place and made her way to the bar, where a big man with a big beard was stood.
"Need water" she pointed back out of the swing doors "For poorly man!" she smiled her vacant smile at Ralph, hoping that would help him understand.
"You what?" Caleb barked. "Look I got no time for this, I gotta find Frank Grimes, and fast!" He started to shove past he to enter the saloon by way of the backdoor in the alley. He had killed two people, maybe three, stolen two, no, three horses and had the law after him by now, unless the Marshal had succumbed. He had hit him pretty hard. The he looked back at the girl.
Bridget frowned. The man didn't understand, she'd found another penny. Another shiny penny! She held it up again to show him but he just shoved her aside and shouted at her. She fell away from him, her lip trembling and a tear in her eye. People sometimes shouted names at her, or laughed at her, but few were ever so outright aggressive to her.
"Look, you gonna get outta my way, or I gotta move ya!" He was getting angrier as he realized he needed to get out of town, and fast before the Marshal caught him, or that Deputy Charlie Wentworth. He'd like to put a bullet in him! But he needed to find Frank before he lit out.
Bridget's clash with the murderer could have ended up a whole lot worse than it did and, importantly, it was not insignificant in its ramifications. It had drawn the attention of people on the street, and as Barnes pushed past the girl, crippled in body and mind, and entered the saloon, Hector Wigfall was running pell-mell down the street to alert Marshal Guyer or, if he wasn't around, Deputy Wentworth.
Caleb's first stop was the Stardust Saloon in search of his partner, Frank Grimes, unaware that he was dead, and that most of Kalispell knew what he had done.
Bridget had been wandering the streets for some time, wanting to show someone the latest penny she'd found on the boardwalks. She might have gone into the saloon to show her friend Arabella, but she wasn't allowed in there. And Jemima, well, she didn't know where she lived. Sometimes she was in the store that sold the pretty ribbons and bonnets and dresses, but that was closed shut now. Well, she'd hang around outside the saloon, might hear some pretty tunes through the swing doors anyhow.
Then she saw a man coming. He looked dusty and sort of sad, or angry. He didn't smile or be happy. Bridget decided she'd show him the coin, the nice shiny coin. She'd polished it up on her nice dress. She walked right in front of Caleb Barnes and held up the tiny round piece of copper-colored metal.
"I founded a coin!" she shouted at him with a giant grin on her face and the light of excitement in her eyes.
In Some Other World, the kiss was returned, and love was sealed. In this world:
"Thanks, Bridget," he said softly, brushing one thumb over her cheek.
"Hey, I've gotta go now." He stood slowly, tucking a strand of Bridget's red hair behind her. "But I'll come back another day." He gave a little wave and took a step back from the bed.
Bridget sat back. She didn’t know why she had felt compelled to do it, kiss him. She didn’t know what she had expected to happen. She merely knew that suddenly the Sun had gone down outside and the room was illuminated only by the false half-light of the lamp. It cast a muted glow onto Brendan. He didn’t look real in this light, he was like a photograph, one of Lorenzo’s daguerreotypes: recognizable, the right size and shape but … like looking at a tintype, patently not the real person.
She felt confused, he had seemed so real to her when he held her and danced with her a few seconds ago, but now. She reached out a hand as he slipped away out of the room. She waved, looking like an animated dummy.
Maybe that world is just a figment of a poet’s imagination or a philosopher’s musings: but in this perfect other world Brendan and Bridget walked a flower bordered path in a fresh, grassy green park. These two were the perfect Brendan and the perfect Bridget: the best versions of themselves they could ever have been, physically, intellectually, morally. Perfect Brendan was not so different from real Brendan: oh he could read and write, and his skills were perhaps less disparate, his actions a little more certain: but he was just as handsome, essentially good and fun-loving.
Bridget was not only beautiful in form: her two dainty feet, peeping out from under her skirts as they walked in this never-never land, were indicative of all the perfect charms that lay above. She was bright as a button, this perfect version of herself: her conversation clever, but never pedantic, her tinkling laughter a delight to the ear, her teasing of the handsome man at her side tinged with the deep love she felt for him which covered the whole spectrum from earthy desire to intellectual harmony. They were soul mates, these two perfect ideal forms, created for one another.
In real life, Brendan had, by dint of birth and circumstance, lost maybe one or two of his ideal attributes. Bridget had lost just about all. But the soul was there, her soul, dissolved and scattered around her broken mangled earthly form, trying as best it could to regroup, reform, and scratch its way to the surface like a beautiful girl who had been prematurely buried alive in some hideous nightmare of an Edgar Allan Poe novel. Or, perhaps a more pleasant simile, she was like Michelangelo’s beautiful statue David, but trapped forever within an ugly square block of roughly quarried marble.
“We show sing-y lady!”
He looked up, startled. "Sing-y lady? Oh, Caroline. Well...uh..." He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly embarrassed. Dancing alone with Bridget was one thing, but doing it in front of Caroline would be another. "She an' Crabbe are talkin'. Important."
He pointed downstairs as Crabbe had earlier and then mimicked a moving mouth using his fingers to illustrate his words.
She smiled at his attempts to communicate with her, with the care and love it showed. All the Kings Horses and all the King's men couldn’t put Humpy Together Again. That’s what Arabella called her sometimes: if she took a tumble ‘Come on Humpty Dumpty!’ she’d call as she helped heft her up. But there was something about Brendan the Horse Whisperer that was perhaps able to do what all the King’s Horses and all the King’s men could not. Some might say ‘he can communicate with dumb brutes’ but others, more insightful, might describe him as having an affinity with simpler souls, too good for this tawdry world.
Whichever it was, Bridget did something she had never done before, she reached forward and bestowed a soft, perfect, chaste kiss upon his lips.
And in that far off non-existent world with all the Sunshine, Perfect Bridget stopped in the middle of their walk in the perfect park, turned, and gave Perfect Brendan that exact same perfect kiss.
But how could they dance like this? There wasn't any music. And Bridget was...well...practically naked and only had one leg. "Yes...but your leg." He put his hand on her left knee because she didn't really have a right knee.
“Hop!” she smiled. She spent a lot more time hopping around than using the false leg, really, and she got along fine with that, indoors. When she was in the house Fa and Crabbe encouraged her to leave off the leg: Fa because he was worried her thigh would get sore where the straps went round, Crabbe because he said the constant squeaking noise was ‘irritating’. In her previous existence she’d only had a crutch, Crabbe had paid some clever feller in Butte to put the leg together. He’d been too clever, in fact: when the leg had gone wrong during polka practice with Arabella, even Mr. Fa couldn’t put humpty-dumpty together again, and only the mechanical genius of the Englishman Ryker had saved the day.
Suddenly he had an idea. "Here. Hold on." He took her hands and guided them around his neck, then stood up, wrapped his arms around her waist - almost like they were dancing - and spun around slowly, not even bothering to do the box-like waltz step that they had enjoyed so much at the dance.
Bridget loved it, and her tinkling laughter filled the room. As they ‘danced’ she started to sing. Well, singing might not be what some might call it: it was all horribly off key and rhythm fantastically out of kilter, and the words were so misheard and mangled as to make the song almost unrecognisable.
🎼 🎶 We shouler gun an marchy marchy way,
From Back stir Stree, we marchy Aveyeeay,
We drum a five how sweely theydee play,
Wen we marchy marchy marchy dee Mulligy Garr!* 🎶
What was remarkable was that, in song, the noodle headed girl could actually string more than four words together at once. Little did the handsome cowboy realise that he had inadvertently provided a massive breakthrough in the effort to allow Bridget’s mind, which had rewired itself, best it could, after her traumatic head injuries, to break on through to the other side, to the world where everybody else lived.
'How's that for a dance?" he said, smiling at her.
“We dance real good!” she beamed. Four words! FOUR WORDS, count ‘em! It was a pity her usual speech therapists, Mr. Fa and Arabella weren’t there – they would have been dancing a jig too, at the sound of those four consecutive syllables.
“We show sing-y lady!” she suggested, meaning Caroline.
*Mulligan Guard (1873)
We shoulder'd guns, and march'd and march'd away,
From Baxter Street, we march'd to Avenue A,
With drums and fife how sweetly they did play,
We march'd march'd march'd in the Mulligan Guard
He moved his arms up to pull the edges of her robe together and felt for the tie. He wasn't sure how she would react to him touching her. "Don't want you to get cold," he mumbled. It was July. There was no way she could be cold.
All Bridget knew about Brendan’s touch was that it was different to both Lorenzo and Fa’s. Lorenzo always did things quickly, in perfunctory matter, as if he expected the Vigilance committee to burst in any second and accuse him of interfering with crippled young women, and he punctuated any dilly dallying on her part with grumbles of come on, we ain’t got all day! and well, this won’t get the baby bathed! In other words, he very consciously and deliberately treated her like a busy, overworked mother trying to get a kid ready for school.
Fa was different, he did everything with great care and at his own special pace. There seemed to be meaning in every little thing he did, no matter how trivial seeming the task. This was especially true when he used acupuncture to alleviate the phantom limb pain she experienced on occasion. At those times, he seemed to be able to see beyond the physical, like he was carefully tracing the route of the pain in the non-existent leg before slowly and carefully nailing it with the acupuncture needle placed deftly elsewhere, like the back of her hand.
As for the men before those two, she didn’t like to remember what their touch had felt like.
But Brendan’s touch… this was new. She didn’t understand why he made her feel different, just that he did. It was a funny feeling: not really relaxing, no not that at all, but all sort of excited, like something very, very nice was just about to happen, and floaty: she thought if they could carry on sitting next to each other on the bed like this, then they could float up on the mattress and fly out of the window together: like her dollies did in one of Arabella’s stories.
He did her up, but she was totally ‘undone’ by his presence. Knowing why, and what other people did in these situations, was completely beyond her ken: like somebody who was hungry but somehow didn’t know what food was or how to eat, or dreadfully thirsty, with a pitcher of ice cold water to hand but no idea how to drink it. She had experienced something similar when waltzing with him at the dance.
So she did the obvious thing. Turning her clear, bright, perfect blue eyes up to his she asked “We can dance?”
Well, Crabbe and Charlie were gone now, so he would do it himself. He reached over and draped the peignoir over Bridget's body. "Hey, sit up so's I can get this back on you." He tapped her shoulder so she would sit up.
Bridget sat up and laughed her light gossamer-soft little laugh. Brendan was so silly. She could do that herself. She was good at getting dressed. It was just that tight girdle thing she had trouble with – and once she was in that she couldn’t reach down and put her own boot on. And she couldn’t do her laces and get her dress on by herself, but nighties and things she was fine with. Silly old Brendan. But she let him help her, it was nice, him helping her.
He was so pretty and smiley. Usually. Now he looked a little sad. She wondered why.
“Why sad?” she asked him, hoping he would say the answer slow and with easy words, or act things out for her like Arabella did. Even Lorenzo and Charlie acted things out sometimes, it was funny when they did that: especially Lorenzo, because he’d get so mad when she didn’t understand what he was going on about. Yesterday he’d tried to explain something to her which seemed enormously complicated about someone called President Grant and whiskey and after half an hour of useless mummery had left the house in a huff.
Charlie was better, he only ever told her things it was actually important to know.
But nothing was more important right now than knowing what was making Brendan sad.
She reached over and threw her arms around him, hoping to cuddle him better. Modesty was an unknown concept to her: but happiness and sadness – those she lived and breathed.
"And yes, I am married. To be honest, I never thought I would be but now that it has happened I am most pleased with my situation. Jacob is a wonderful young man," Clara agreed with Bridget's declaration.
Bridget smiled inanely at Clara and it was always hard to exactly how much she actually took in of what anybody said to her. She reacted more to tone of voice and facial expressions than meanings of words and she loved the way Clara spoke to her: she somehow knew that the prim and proper young woman talked to her with as much care and attention and integrity as she did to anyone in full possession of their faculties. Arabella once said “Ol’ Bridg is like a sheet of blotting paper: kinda blank and empty lookin’ but she sort of sucks in your words. And when you look at what you just said, they look sort of funny and back to front. She don’t talk back and it kinda makes you think about what you just said.”
“Pike’s lost badge!” Bridget suddenly changed the subject which took Clara off guard for a brief instant.
"Oh no, I am confident he has not. You see he is not on duty but simply attending to celebrate the wedding with his wife. Deputies do not wear badges when they are not officially at work," Clara tried to hopefully explain for her.
Wide blue eyes drank in Clara’s lovely round face and her cherry pink lips as she kindly explained some complicated reason, involving concepts that were either high above or far below those of Bridget’s world, why the coveted metal badge was not on view today. As per usual, the redhead's attention was now chasing another butterfly thought that had flitted past her in the flower garden of her mind. She reached out a hand and laid it gently on Clara’s tummy.
“Clara make … good Mama.” she said reassuringly, wise simpleton that she was.
"Yes, yes you can. Let us dance as long as we have some music," she promptly announced then the young couple did a crazy sort of more spontaneous jig than anything else, with plenty of twirling about til Clara had to call 'stop' before she got too dizzy. Even her brother clapped loudly as the pair called a halt.
Jacob had heard that pregnancy could do odd things to a woman, the cravings for odd food (and also cravings for their husband’s attentions in the bedroom!) but this was so un-Clara he could only goggle and then laugh and join in as they danced about to Lutz & Mudd’s jolly tune. Adept dancer though he was, he could hardly keep up with her. He gave a deep bow at the end though, just as he had at the end of that first ever dance. That first dance! It seemed like both a lifetime ago and a mere seconds since that fateful night.
"Feel free, folks, to go ahead and dance. And a fine thank you to our wonderful musicians!" Clara now called out.
Arabella and Hector looked at each other and nodded in agreement and mock braggadocio. Looking at them, playing so beautifully in harmony, you might think that they would have made a good couple: But Hector preferred pretty round faced blonde girls and, frankly, so did Arabella.
A glance in one particular direction had reminded her of something she dearly wished to attend to in this reception so Clara made her way over to Bridget and sat next to her.
"I hope the food was good? And I am so happy you came for the wedding. Are you having a nice time?"
Bridget looked up from her plate, her chin and dress was covered in crumbs. Most people had piled their plates pretty high with all the good Vittles on offer, but the ginger girl had created a veritable Tower of Babel on hers, and like its Biblical counterpart, it looked non too stable.
“Clara you’re… you’re married!” she managed to say, despite a mouthful of treacle tart that Granny Miggins had supplied. Bridget wasn’t too worried about eating sweet before savoury, or both together if the mood took her. Then she frowned and looking about spotted Emeline’s new husband and pointed at him.
“Pike’s lost badge!” She had been pleased to see the lawman arrive, but the lack of shiny silver stars had taken the shine off him as far as the noodle-headed redhead was concerned.
@Wayfarer plus anyone.
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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