Strengths and Weaknesses (depending on the situation)...
Can push boundaries
Likes discovering and using new things and ideas
Rational and practical
Original - likes to experiment with new ideas and solutions
Communicates clearly, with direct and factual questions and answers
Can be insensitive at times
Loves to solve problems here and now
Can be defiant
A professional gambler by trade but will do other work if he needs to raise money for a big game, venture or bet.
Can a handle a gun and rifle
Is an expert card player
Aliases / Nicknames
Bent St. Clair
Nowhere in particular
Kith & Kin
Relations in Kalispell...
Uncle: Charles Wentworth Sr.
Aunt: Rebecca Wentworth
1845 - 1865
Born in Washington D.C. on 27 February 1845 to Elizabeth (nee Martin) and Jacob Simons.
Has a good and well-rounded education with an interest in mathematics especially the laws of probability. His interest in card games and gambling in general begins in his early teens.
Sister - Eliza (Liz) is born in 1850.
His father, Jacob joins the Union Army at the start of the Civil War and is killed in battle in 1863. Ben becomes the provider for his mother and sister
Two years after his father's death, his mother remarries. Since his step-father is a man of means and able to support his mother and sister, Ben uses this opportunity to strike out on his own.
1865 - April/May 1876
Becomes an expert card player and travels around the country always looking for the next big game or at least one that will keep him solvent. He also works in various odd jobs when he needs to raise some capital.
He changes his name to Bent St. Clair as it sounds more like a professional gambler's name than Ben Simons.
Due to an unfortunate incident (and dalliance with a very wealthy man's wife), Ben is forced to go back to Washington, where he offers his services to his Aunt Rebecca (his mother's sister) and escorts her on her trip to Kalispell. He has to lay low in Kalispell for the time being.
Ben watched as Potee left the saloon followed soon after by Arabella. The sting had come quick and fast for the farmer with a little help from Caroline. Fortner was certainly getting his money's worth out of his star employee.
Knowing that there was nothing much else to do, he decided it was time head back to the White Rose to check on how the renovations had been proceeding today. Besides he didn't feel like watching Fortner and Potee looking smug and he certainly didn't want to be around if Potee decided to make good on his promise to return. He had had his fill of seeing men seeking revenge after losing badly a few years ago in Abilene, when one poor sodbuster came back with a bottle of whale oil and poured it over a saloon girl, who too, was just helping out her boss. It had happened quickly, and the sodbuster lit the girl on fire before anybody could stop him. The girl didn't survive the burns she had received, and the sodbuster ended up getting hanged for murder.
The more he thought about it, he came to the conclusion that the Star Dust was a place to be avoided. From what he had seen so far, he didn't like Fortner's way of doing business. With Priest as his accomplice, there was no knowing what they would get up to next and he didn't want to be a part of or know about it.
Staying away from the Star Dust might put a bit of curb in his poker playing but there were a few possibilities. His cousin Matt might allow him to host a few games at the hotel and if that failed there was always the White Rose. He could easily adjust the plans to add a room or two for gambling.
With that in mind, Ben said farewell to a couple of his friends who were in the saloon and made his way out.
Meanwhile, Ben watched what was going on with great interest. If he knew that instead of the usual mundane day at the saloon, a fleecing was about to happen, he would have sold tickets. Sometimes, real life was better than any play that any theatre could put on including his own, which hadn't even opened yet.
As the game progressed, he joined the crowd that was starting to gather around the table. Then suddenly, Potee's wife appeared out of nowhere screaming at her husband. Next on the woman's list was Caroline and it almost look like there would be a cat fight of some sort, but Horace Potee suddenly grew a backbone and put his foot down. After Mrs. Potee left in a huff, Fortner whisked Caroline away to the kitchen, so they could talk about what they would do next to poor Potee.
He had seen similar scenes like this played out over the years since he had taken up poker playing as a profession. He had no doubt that Horace Potee wouldn't be the last person, Fortner would take advantage of and as long as it wasn't a family member or someone who mattered to him, Ben was quite happy to stay out of the way.
There wasn't much time to ruminate as Arabella came out to play the piano and sing some song that sounded like a running commentary of what was transpiring. He had to admire the girl had talent but why did she have such a grating personality?
Abruptly, Arabella got up, went over to Potee and started a game of Old Maid. The day was getting more and more ludicrous, and he wasn't going to miss it for all the world.
From his vantage point on the other side of the room, Ben watched as the vultures began to circle Horace Potee. He couldn't hear much of what was being said due to the noise levels in the saloon, but he knew what was going on. Having frequented many saloons and other establishments he had seen this sort of thing play out a thousand times. Whatever it was that Potee had, it looked like Fortner was eager to get his hands on it. Like so many other saloon owners, Fortner was also willing to use his employees, especially the female ones to soften up the prey before they devoured it.
Having only met Potee and his wife in passing, one Sunday morning at church (when he has Aunt Rebecca had insisted on him accompanying her shortly after their arrival in Kalispell), he felt sorry for the man. Poor Potee didn't know it but he was already done for unless somebody came to his rescue. For a moment or two, Ben considered doing just that but decided against it. He needed to find out more about Fortner before tackling the man head on and it was no use causing any trouble...not yet anyway. Besides Potee probably knew or at least should have known what he was getting into the moment he walked into the Stardust.
Ben leaned backed in his chair a little, nursing his whiskey as he continued to watch.
Ben, for his part, was happy just to step back and watch the goings on. It was too bad he couldn't get more out of Priest and his plans for Kalispell but that was the way it was especially with men who had something to hide. Whatever Priest was hiding and why he wasn't forthcoming with his ideas, was a mystery. Most politicians he knew would be trying to drum up votes any time they could.
As for the three strangers, Ben was half a mind to go and get the Marshal or to at least let him know about what was going on at the saloon. However, he didn't want to cause any trouble, especially if they were only passing through.
After getting another whiskey from Ralph, he decided to follow Priest's lead and head for a table. Seeing someone he was acquainted with sitting over in one of the corners of the room, Ben headed over there to engage the man in a conversation while waiting to see what would happen next.
Ben was just surprised as everyone else in the place. They were all used to Arabella and her ramblings that they didn't pay her no mind. If Fortner wanted to be on good terms with everyone, chastising an employee, even if it was Arabella, in public wasn't the way to go about it. Arabella, despite her faults, had people who genuinely cared for her.
Hiram shook his head. "I got no problem answering the young lady's question. It's a good one." He looked across the floor to where Arabella stood waiting for an answer. "So you're asking me what political affiliation I might be, a Democrat or a Republican? And that's a good question so I'll tell you. I'm an American. More to the point, I'm a Montanan. Your head is filled with worryin' about yesterday - Republican, Democrat. But look at it this way. We're all on a journey. We're all on a train headin' for better times. So don't pack a trunk of junk filled with yesterdays because tomorrow, tomorrow'll be filled with sunshine."
Priest's answer to Arabella's questions seemed to ease the situation and now they were paying attention to what he was saying.
"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."
While Fortner and Priest were making their speeches, Ben was mentally taking notes. The two newcomers to town were obviously unaware of his relationship to one of the other mayoral candidates, his cousin Matt. Still, it was better to learn all he could now before they did find out because he seen all of this before. It was a common play to go somewhere where you weren't known, make a dramatic entrance and then set about what you really came here to do. Ben had a feeling that the mayoral race was not the main reason they were here, just something they were cooking up on the side.
It then occurred to Ben that when they finished with whatever bought them to Kalispell in the first place was done with, they would concentrate all their efforts on the mayoral race. The last thing Kalispell wanted or needed, was two hustlers like Fortner and Priest in charge of the town. He needed to learn more about them before he would leave to let Matt know about his competition.
Drinking what was left of his whiskey, Ben looked over to where Sally was and was relieved to see her caught up in the aftermath of the singing and congratulating. 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."
As he watched Arabella's dramatic exit, Ben was mildly amused but didn't show it. Arabella was on the verge of becoming a diva with her antics and he didn't want her on his payroll if that was the case. Maybe his aunt could knock some sense into her and polish her up a bit. If Rebecca could do that, then he would seriously think about hiring her.
He didn't have much time to dwell on it as Arabella stampeded back in to get her hat and before he knew it Sally Adams came up to him. Since he was a lot taller than Miss Adams, when he looked down to address her, her couldn't fail to see her considerable assets. A feeling of nervousness overcame as he remembered the few times Sally had approached him and how he managed to get away each time. Now that Grimes was gone, she would be looking for a new benefactor.
It wasn't that he didn't like women, it was just that he preferred his be sober and a bit less forthcoming. A woman who had secrets to discover was far more alluring to him, then somebody like Sally Adams who had nothing to hide and who was willing to give it all away for any price. Besides, Sally scared him for some reason and that was more than enough. Smiling graciously, he took a step back and looked over to Ralph, "A drink for the lady."
Hoping that would placate her, Ben turned to Fortner, "Before we were rudely interrupted, we were about to toast Miss Mundee, shall we proceed or we will save it for another time?"
Ben nodded, "I have to admit that are some so-called respectable people that I wouldn't be caught dead with but when it comes to money, I'm willing to overlook their faults."
Turning to Caroline, he smiled charmingly, "However, you Miss Mundee are much more than respectable, you are remarkable. The way you easily adapt to the situation and the clientele that come in here every night takes a lot of grit. You have more mettle in your little finger than a lot of women will ever have in a lifetime."
Picking up his whiskey, he continued, "If you ever tire of working here, I will be more than glad to welcome you over at The White Rose Theatre."
A grin appeared on his face as he looked over to the new owner of the Star Dust, "Don't worry Fortner, I have no plans on stealing her...unless she wants me to. So, with that in mind, I propose a toast to the delightful Miss Caroline Mundee, may she always grace Kalispell with her lovely presence wherever she goes."
Fortner slapped Priest on the shoulder. "Looks like Mr. Simons came in at the right time. Best high-tail over to City Hall and put your name in the hat. I can tell you that I'll do everything I can to rally support for you at the Star Dust."
Priest nodded in agreement. "I expect you're right." And at that, he left through the swinging doors.
Ben watched Priest high tail it out of the saloon. Well, that at least answered one of his questions. He would have to inform Cousin Matt about his new rival and his associate. This led him to another lot of questions. From what he just saw, Fortner had some influence over Priest, how much he wasn't quite sure of.
"He's a good man, Ben." he said to Simons. "Hell! He had my back yesterday when I was confronted with a drunk cowhand." He cleared his throat as if to wipe a slate clean and moved on to another subject. "What's your game? Poker?"
"Mostly," Ben answered as he turned to look at Fortner, "it depends on what's going on. Blackjack or Faro will do just as well."
Pausing, he took another sip of his whiskey, before continuing, "Kalispell isn't exactly the gambling capital of the west, so I've been dabbling in few other things as well. I found the town lacked entertainment, so I'm converting an old boarding house into a small theatre."
He grinned, "Don't worry, I'm not looking at competing against the Star Dust. I'm aiming for the more respectable and well-healed part of town. I think both of our ventures will do handsomely here if we, mind the pun, play our cards right."
"Mr. Simons," Frank said. "A pleasure, I'm sure. We hope you find the Star Dust your home away from home. I aim to keep what's good about it, and make improvements around the edges. If you like games of chance, we are planning some card rooms in the back, and away from the distractions."
"Well, the Star Dust is a nice place and it's good to know that there will be changes, especially the prospect of somewhere a bit more quieter to play a game of cards. It can be a noisy here at times considering this is the only establishment that most of the local ranch hands come to. Most of them can't afford the bar at the hotel."
"Ralph," he said to the barkeep. "Set one up for Mr. Simons, will you? On the house."
"Sure," Ralph nodded and poured a whiskey for the man, he even remembered what brand was Simon's usual order.
"Thanks," Ben replied. He didn't get much of a chance to say anything else to the bartender as Fortner grabbed his attention again.
"Wait a minute," Frank called to the older man, stopping him on his way to his reserved table. "I want you to meet someone." He nodded toward Simons. "This is Ben Simons. Ben, I'd like to introduce you to Mr. Hiram Priest, some time Judge, some time Mayor.
Some time Mayor? That introduction in itself was one to make you wonder. Did this Priest fellow have plans to run in the upcoming election?
Priest rolled a wad of tobacco from one cheek to the other. "Well, how do you do, Mr. Simons?" He asked cordially. "In town for long?"
"Long enough," Ben said with a smile. He decided to do some fishing and find out if Priest was really interested in running or it was just an off the cuff remark, "From what your friend, Mr. Fortner said you've been both a judge and a mayor. This town is pretty covered where judges are concerned with Judge Robertson looking after any civil matters and circuit Judge Bryant looking after the criminal ones, so that leaves mayor."
After taking a sip of his whiskey, that had been left on the bar by Ralph, he continued, "What I mean to say, is that you're probably already aware that we have a mayoral election happening soon. So, if you're planning to try your luck here, you best get a move on. Nominations close at five o'clock today."
@Javia @Preston @Wayfarer
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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