Caroline has lived in saloons all her life, literally. She was the only child of a saloon keeper and his common law wife. She started young doing errands, washing dishes, sweeping floors, anything her folks needed. By age 13 she was taking drinks to tables and on occasion serving beer or whiskey behind the bar to thirsty customers when her father needed a break. By age 15 she began singing and people liked it, she had a good voice. By age 16 she was dancing too as part of the act.
Since then she has worked in a few saloons and now has arrived in Kalispell to take a job at the Star Dust saloon. She knows no other life style but loves her job and she's very good at what she does.
Aliases / Nicknames
Kith & Kin
None, both parents are deceased.
1854 - Born in Chicago to Lalaine Stills. Father, Edmund Mundee.
1867 - Already working steadily at her father's saloon in the rough side of Chicago.
1870 - She was both singing and dancing by then in the same place
1870 - Her mother died of an unknown illness.
1872- Her father was killed in a saloon brawl and had left no will. A rival grabbed the joint and there was no room
for her anymore. Consumed with revenge, she stalked her father's killer and shot him down in an alley. Right
after she left the city and headed west.
1872-1876 Worked in a few saloons in various places out west.
1876 - Through a friend in the business she found out about a job opening in some burg called Kalispell and decided
to take that job. Singer/dancer - exactly her calling.
"You don't got to say it like that," he mumbled, shifting his legs uncomfortably.
"I'll say it anyway I please," she retorted but without bite.
" "But...yeah. He looked at her from the corners of his eyes. "I've wanted to since...since I saw you that night in the saloon."
"Don't you think I knew that too? You men think we women are pretty stupid sometimes," Caroline seemed amused.
"But then that's the difference between that sonofabitch back in Chicago and you - you both wanted to do the same thing but unlike him, you never tried to force yerself on me. You always have left it up to me, like a friend not just a ............whore," she explained, this whole exercise thus far did have a point behind it even if it took a long time to arrive. But there it was, whether he understood it or not, she'd made her point.
"Thank you, hon, thank you," she smiled then leaned in and planted an enthusiastic kiss right smack on his lips.
"I'm sorry Mam, er, Miss, it's just that I've only been trained to bark orders at men, they didn't cover talking to beautiful young ladies at West Point."
"Seems to me your education is missing out then? I've heard women are over half the world's population," Caroline teased.
"Er, do you have a bet on either of the fighters?" the handsome officer now asked.
"Oh no, I don't really know either of them. I don't even make a bet on poker unless I know for sure who is gonna win. Fortunately for me, SOMETIMES I do," she answered with a grin. Let him make of that statement what he will.
Caroline had just finishing acknowledging another pleasant regular customer from the saloon who also was in attendance when a voice she did not recognize spoke up. Turning it was a soldier boy - emphasis on 'boy'. He had the look of an officer, not that she recognized specific ranks but also looked awful wet behind the ears.
"Do you have one of these fancy Five Dollar tickets, too? I think the fellow running this whole shebang is pretty smart, giving them out to parties he wants to keep on the good side of."
"Nope, I bought a two dollar ticket but I am gonna stand right here cuz I want to. You ain't gonna call on one of your squadrons ta come and kick me out now, are ya, gen-rul?" Caroline flashed him a cheeky grin.
Well the handsome jasper just stood there grinning right back.
"Cat got yer tongue, hon? Come on now, a fine lookin' soldier boy like you shouldn't be shy?"
Caroline was now back in bed, trying to get back to the conversation at hand before Arabella's dramatic interruption.
"Uh...I was tryin' to...well..." Brendan risked a glance sideways at her, exhaled loudly, and shrugged.
"Well? Go on," she waited for him to actually finish a thought.
"Look. I don't know what to say. I hope that son of a bitch got...got mauled by a bear or somethin'. He don't deserve to be alive still."
"Yeah, well I'll never know one way or the other what happened to him and I haven't wasted any worry on it. It's all in the past," Caroline lied some, it was water over the dam, yes but it still bothered her whether she admitted it aloud or not. But she also believed a person had to live for the present not dwell on the past.
He worked his jaw back and forth, and finally said, "You know I ain't like him, though. Don't you?"
"I don't know for sure. But if I had to bet on it, I'd wager you are not like him, not at all. We're friends after all. But don't you go lying ta me none though now...." this time she paused, mostly for dramatic effect.
"You want to hump me, don't ya? You've wanted to for a long time. I mean besides the friendship, that's a part of it, ain't it, hon?"
Caroline chuckled at the girl collecting the money, it was Arabella's Jew friend, Mary or something like that, "Well, that's stupid. How you gonna keep track of who sits where once you take our money?"
Miriam just shrugged, "I don't know. We just collect the money." They had not been given tickets to hand back to the people flowing in and besides there were no ushers. This wasn't New York just a barn in a small town in Montana. Miriam was a bit surprised a woman would even be buying a ticket to something like this. Fighting was an event for menfolk. It had been hard enough for the girl to convince her parents just to be able to secure this pre-fight job. Her mother had strictly admonished that Miriam was not to stay and watch such viciousness.
"That's just fine, hon. I'll sit where I damn well please anyhow. And if yer boss don't like it tell Mr. Crabbe he can come and throw me out personally. Or let'em try," Caroline gave a saucy grin then entered what was already a crowded scene. She had been to a professional fight once before in Helena but everyone had just stood about the ring. Noisy affair and she recalled the two big lugs in the ring pounded the begeezus out of each other before one finally couldn't answer the bell.
Miriam just flashed a sort of intimidated glance at her money collecting partner, Jemima, but did not mouth her thoughts. That saloon whore was quite something alright.
Caroline immediately began to mingle with some of the local menfolk in attendance, they knew her from the saloon of course. None of them seemed at all taken aback she'd be in attendance.
Caroline answered the man's inquiry about saloons with a rose colored glasses reply but truth was she did like what she did and she did like the place she worked in. The people here were her family as far as she was concerned. She had found her place of comfort.
I have a lot of irons in the fire," Fortner conceded. "Maybe get me a place like this." His eyes swept the interior of the Stardust.
Oh? Caroline wasn't completely surprised, the man had to have had a reason for his saloon questions.
"If I did, I'd make you the big attraction." He raised his arms and spread then apart. "I'd have your name and face plastered on playbills all across town... even a small town like this needs an attraction."
It was a small town and everybody knew her already, she wasn't a lamp under a basket she was the shining light of the Star Dust. Playbills might work in a big city, a New York or a Philadelphia but here, a waste of time in her opinion. She said nothing though but let him continue.
He took a short sip and set the glass down.
"You would be strictly on Salary and you could keep any tips all for yourself. None of that splitting it between you and the piano player or management."
Caroline shrugged bare shoulders, "Already am on salary, hon. And it was my idea for the piano player to get one too, management agreed then. I like my piano player."
"But I'm getting ahead of myself, Doll. The person who owns this place probably has their heels dug in and wouldn't part with it until they're hauled out of here in a pine box."
Yes, he certainly was. She had no proof he could even afford a horse much less a booming business, one suit of fancy eastern clothes and an upfront confidence didn't prove a goddamn thing in her opinion.
"Well, I can't speak for Miss Devereau, she owns this here place. I would arrange to have a little talk with her if I were you. Warn ya, she is no one's fool. She comes from a saloon background too ," Caroline smiled and finished her drink.
"Ralph," Franklin called. "Two whiskey's, please."
The bartender nodded in compliance.
It worked. It almost always worked really, her routine got him to buy a couple more drinks. She smiled graciously at his response, "Thank ya, hon."
Once the two whiskeys were set on the bar in front of them the man reached for them both but Caroline was quicker and took the one on the right . She realized he was only trying to be a gentleman but there was a reason for her move. Ralph had poured colored water in her glass from a special bottle under the bar but the genuine stuff went into the customers glass. Tricks like this allowed the petite young miss to 'drink' with customers for hours and not be flat on the floor. Oh Caroline could drink the real stuff alright and on occasion she did. This wasn't one of them.
"Let's sit over here," he suggested with a nod at a vacant table near where Hiram Priest played Solitaire.
"Sounds good ta me, darlin'," she joined him then at the selected table, all warmth and smiles.
"You are a rare commodity," he said to her once they were seated across from each other.
"Oh, how so?"
"It's not often you find a lady interested in business, much less a pretty lady." He took a sip from his glass. "Tell me. Is this the only saloon in town?" He asked.
Truth was Caroline could care less about 'business' unless it had to do with the saloon but she said nothing as he went onto a question.
"Yessirree, that it is. And a dandy one it is too. Kalispell is a small town, one saloon is plenty. Except for some of those Bible thumpers folks like this place. We don't water down the liquor (that was actually true except for her drinks, the customers themselves got what they ordered) and we have the best stew in Montana, maybe even west of the Mississippi. Plus we got me. I'm the entertainment. I sing and dance. People say I got a great voice. "
"But, hey, I had asked you a couple questions first. Your turn to answer now, hon," she lifted her glass up and took a swallow then awaited his reply.
"Thanks again, Mayor," Fortner said to Priest, turning to leave but before he took a step, Caroline had stepped up to him and addressed the man.
"Mr. Fortner...was it? You said yer here in town on business. What sorta business you in?"
Frank gripped his coat lapels then glanced askance at her. "You might say I'm an investor, some say a visionary."
Caroline had no idea what that last one meant but if he had money to invest in things then......well, he was well heeled, he certainly dressed like it.
For her, he revealed a bit more. "I'm here to scout out opportunities on behalf of an Eastern consortium."
"Oh you don't say? Opportunities like what for example?" Caroline had been around plenty of con men in her life, they hung about saloons just like drunks did. Hell, she was good friends with Crabbe, who dabbled in all sorts of ....shady or near shady enterprises.
"What would a big ol' eastern consortium see in a leafy burg like Kalispell?"
She now leaned so her back was against the bar and added, "And if explainin' all this is gonna take awhile why don't you buy yerself a drink and I wouldn't be averse to one myself, hon."
She smiled, she had one of those smiles that lit up a room when she choose to use it and she was using it now. It was back to business as usual in the place even with a corpse lying on the floor. Well, she had asked the lawman about getting the undertaker and got no reply. She sure as hell wasn't going to move a stiff.
The Marshal seemed quite willing to accept his word on what had actually gone down, much to Ralph's satisfaction. Frankly he did not know these men who had shot down Grimes and he had disliked the victim as a troublemaker and blowhard. But he had told it exactly as he saw it. Frank chose to try something stupid (as always seemed to be his way) and the men were faster and more deadly. Well, plus Caroline had backed his story too.
While the men conversed, Arabella just sighed and caught Caroline's eye. "I'll go and put this in the cookie jar fer now."
"Or go give it ta Matilda, she'll put it in the safe if she thinks it's necessary," Caroline suggested though honestly she didn't give a rat's ass what become of it. Grimes was a small loss in her opinion.
Arabella departed for the kitchen then but Caroline hung around to listen.
The marshal did address the issue then turning to the bartender, "Ralph, maybe let Arabella deliver the money and the gun to the Grimes sister? I dunno unless you'd rather one of us did it?"
"Not my call, marshal. Yer the law in town. I will tell ya I think that is the first time the girl actually saw somebody die like that right in front of her eyes," Ralph answered.
"Well she better get used to it," Caroline declared, "I saw my first killing when I was twelve, a jasper got stabbed right in the lungs with Bowie knife and blood all over the place. I had to wash that floor then too. Speakin' of which, shouldn't someone get the undertaker to get..............that .........outta her." She pointed to the corpse.
Once that was settled, Caroline had a question for this latest newcomer, the city slicker looking feller.
"Mr. Fortner...was it? You said yer here in town on business. What sorta business you in?"
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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