Jemima is a strong, hard worker and is desperate to meet a boy and find love, but she has a secret that makes her very shy around young men. She is jealous of most other girls who seem so attractive and graceful compared to herself. She hates her brother.
Jemima helps her mother out with chores at her boarding house and makes a few extra dollars for the household by 'doing' for F. Falmer Browne in his upmarket townhouse.
Cleaning, washing, mending, potato peeling, carrying, moving things, lifting, going to the stores for produce, making beds, dusting. Once caught a large toad at school and was thereafter reckoned 'a good toad-catcher'.
Aliases / Nicknames
Mrs Wigfall's Boarding House.
Kith & Kin
Father George Wigfall, Western Union Office Manager.
Mother Mary Wigfall, Boarding House Mistress.
Older Brother (by 5 minutes) Hector Mark Wigfall, Western Union Telegraph Operator
Born: Jemima Andrea Wigfall, Christmas Day 1856, Kalispell, Montana
School: 1861-1870, Bottom of the Class 3 years running 1863 thru 1865
"I have told Arabella very clearly I am not going...we are not going to name the baby after her but if it is a girl - after Emeline Pike. It is nothing against Arabella, it is a solemn promise I made to Emeline. She has been like a mother to me," Clara wanted that much to be clear.
Jemima held her council, she wasn't Mrs Pike's greatest admirer after she had failed to get a job at the diner. She believed Clara had stars in her eyes about Mrs Pike in the same way that Arabella idolised Clara.
Talking of Mrs Pike, though...
"Say, have you met Mrs Dietrich yet?" she asked Clara baldly.
"Who? No, I have not, I do not even know who that is," Clara answered.
"Widow Lady, just moved in at our's." The frowsy girl gave Clara a quick run down on Mrs Wigfall's latest lodger. "Seems all right apart from giving herself a few 'airs and graces'. I asked her if she was looking for work, and she reckoned that Mrs Pike had given her a job at the pie store."
This was all obviously news to Clara, and Jemima couldn't help adding in her sage opinion on the possible consequences.
"Now, if you and Jake're moving into the Diner and you're going to be running the place... well, I'd have thought you'd want to chose your own help and maybe not someone older than you; and maybe not someone who thinks that they're better than ordinary folks like you and me." she warned. "She might want to try and take over!"
"I hope I'm wrong , time will tell: but 'forewarned is forearmed'!" Jemima said all this with such a dry flat voice and stern and serious look that it was imbued with a gravitas that would have been lost if someone like Arabella had twittered it out. It was, after all, only gossip and opinion: even if Jemima's method of delivery was that of an Old Testament prophet, portending the doom of nations.
"Oh my god! Tried to kill herself? That is terrible. I did not know any of this," Clara was truly shocked.
Jemima nodded sagely; half because she knew lots of things that Clara Lutz didn't know, but also in confirmation of what she'd always suspected: Arabella's 'close friendship' with the daughter of the handsome Mr Aurelian Redmond was all in Arabella's head!
And the shocks continued. So Jemima tried to beat it out of her? That was nonsense. Yet somehow Arabella had enjoyed it? At least Jemima did something smarter, had her go see a doctor. Still...........
"So the doctor was no help," Clara frowned. Maybe she should see Rev. Thomas? But for now she kept this idea to herself.
"That depends on how you look at it. She isn't cured, but she's happy." Jemima shrugged. "Still, that Doctor Danforth's got a few secrets of his own, I'll be bound." she was thinking primarily of the habit his Nurse Aoife Leane had of sleeping over at the surgery with him instead of coming home to her lodgings.
The conversation now moved on to something which worried Clara, just how many people knew this terrible secret about Arabella. Only Bridget's name seemed to surprise Clara.
"Well, that is strange but then we know Bridget, the poor dear, is not quite...normal, thru no fault of her own," Clara sighed.
"Oh, she's a funny'n all right" agreed Jemima "And yet for all her missing pieces, she's got a handsome cowboy chasin' after her!" At least, that was the word Dame Rumour was spreading.
"So then, please, I beg of you .....do not tell anyone else about Arabella. For her reputation is at stake here. Her future in Kalispell even. As her friends we have to be sympathetic to her....problems as best we can," Clara now made her pitch on this matter.
"Her secret's safe with me, besides, she knows my secrets too, so..." she realised there was a contradiction here, hadn't she just spilled the beans to Clara? "I only told you because, well, I thought you had a right to know. Arabella reckons that you're thinking of naming the baby after her and making her Godmother. I told her I doubted that was true, but just in case, well, you might not want to do that with someone who's got something peculiar wrong with them." she stated plainly.
Miss Wigfall now decided they'd wasted enough time talking about Arabella Mudd and her murky ways: there were other important fish to fry.
"Say, have you met Mrs Dietrich yet?" she asked Clara baldly.
"Goodness! She even told you, admitted such a thing?" Clara thought that was pretty much the clincher then on this unraveling mystery.
Jemima nodded. There had been a reason that she had been let in on the terrible secret.
"She told me about it before she was..." Jemima didn't really know how to frame it: Arabella's new found acceptance of her 'problem'. "... well, before she was 'right' with herself about it. She said she'd tried everything to cure it: prayer, fasting, kissing boys, she even tried to kill herself. Course, you can imagine the mess she made of that." Jemima sniffed.
"Well, anyway, she wanted me to try beating it out of her. Reckoned that's what monks and nuns did in olden times to rid 'emselves of sin. Well that didn't work. I reckon she enjoyed it more than anything. So I said 'Arabella you're sick, you need to see a doctor' and she did and I don't know what he did but she's as bad as ever, but she just doesn't give a d__n about it anymore." The plain girl sort of stared into space after this little tale: considering whether, if you couldn't repair your faults, maybe all you could do was stop worrying about them, and a faint smile haunted her face.
When she explained that Arabella didn't admire Jemima in that way, unlike the pretty Clara, the new Mrs Lutz was all modesty.
"I am not that pretty....there have been only two men who called me that - my father, who we both have to admit there is reason to believe he is biased - and Jacob. Who is no doubt putting me on a pedestal because we are in love," Clara pointed out.
Jemima just shook her head at this, she would kill to be as attractive as Clara.
"And secondly, I did not save Arabella's life. I did help nurse her back to health it is true enough but I was only doing my Christian duty as I am certain you would do the same in my place."
"Probably." was about as far as Jemima would go on that one.
"Jemima, you have not told others about ...........well Arabella's ...bent...have you? I ask because if word gets out to certain folks......quite a few folks actually.........she could well have her reputation ruined in Kalispell. She could be driven out of the church, she might even lose her job. Her life has been hard enough as it is. I would hate to see it come to that."
Jemima was surprised that Clara thought the Saloon owners might fire Arabella for her 'aberration'- they who ran such a den of iniquity: she might have a point about the Church though, and that place meant a lot to the subject of their conversation. She sniffed and shook her head to assuage Clara's fears.
"Here's who knows: you, me, Doctor Danforth, I guess, and that Miriam." She had no idea about Mr. Pettigrew, Nurse Leane, Caroline Mundee and Messalina McMahon, the cook at the saloon.
"Oh, and Bridget Monahan. She's a funny one, that girl. Didn't think she'd understand that sort of stuff but I sometimes get a feeling she sorta picks up on things, you know? Even without being told." Jemima's usually frowny face managed somehow to frown some more.
Jemima seemed to feel it was a good thing as it meant less competition for boys. She also added, "I thought you'd have realised about Muddy."
"No, not at all. Say you do not think that maybe this Miriam unduly influenced Arabella in this sort of .........well.......behavior?" Clara suddenly had a theory.
Jemima merely barked out a dry "Ha!" at this notion. "More like the other way around!" she laughed somewhat humourlessly.
"Oh, I'd like to say I've been suspicious of Arabella ever since I first got to know her. You know: realised something was wrong about her from the beginning, but I was as blind as you were until she told me outright. Course, she's never liked me in that way!" Jemima said this as if it was something to be especially proud of.
"Then again, I ain't pretty like you, and I never saved her life and nursed her back to health and all those things she always does run on about you, Clara." she added, tellingly.
"Maybe this is the year for finding the right person," Jemima said, "You and Jacob, Mr and Mrs Pike, Arabella and Miriam. Maybe there's hope for me yet."
Clara blinked, "Arabella and Miriam? I thought we were talking about love not friendship?"
"They aren't just friends." said Jemima flatly.
"Wait! You mean those two are.....?" she did not finish it because she was not quite sure of the correct wording.
The Wigfall girl pulled a face like she was smelling something unpleasant and nodded. "Oh well" she shrugged philosophically "Less competition for the boys." She didn't think Arabella would have many suitors, but she had gathered that Miriam had at least one admirer already in the form of her horrible brother.
"I thought you'd have realised about Muddy." Jemima added pointedly.
Jemima listened - impassive looking, but all ears, as Clara explained quite candidly, the changes in her that the gangly young man had wrought in her. Jacob, whose attentions, platonic though they were, she had once commanded solely.
"Well, I have long...especially after my mother's death...had an aversion to human touch even signs of affection, love, call it what you will. I get uncomfortable with such things as hugs, handshakes, you know," Clara started.
Jemima nodded her understanding. She felt exactly the same way at the touch of her mother, or that unwelcome and surprisingly frequent and unnecessary visitor to their house, the odious Uncle Dick.
"Then Jacob came along and he gave me my first kiss, he held my hand...hands, he...well, suffice it to say I liked it. I even craved it and then there was Mrs. Blakesley...excuse me...Mrs. Pike. She hugged me, I liked it. I began to realize human contact was not a bad thing. Now I - on occasion - even look forward to such things. Wait til the baby comes, we shall be inseparable I feel,? Does all that make sense?"
Yes, it cut her to the quick, that the foolish young boy of 14 who had bizarrely proposed to her three years ago was now giving his love to another: a much improved model on herself, you could say. But she no longer resented Clara for it, now she had met her and worked together with her and knew her as a real person.
"It's like you were maybe just waiting for the right person to come along to... to kinda heal the wound. I think Jake... Jacob..." she used his, to her, 'new' name. He had always been Jake at school "... is the same. He's been sort of lost since his Ma died: it's like he was waiting for you to come along: the right person."
Funny, she suspected that Jacob had used his courtship of Joanna Coltrane as an excuse to dump her as soon as he had gotten over the initial shock of his mother's death and come to his senses a little. He had been very gentlemanly about it, offering to go through with his rash boyish promise to marry her. But when he had first set eyes on Clara Redmond, serving up pie in the diner, he had unceremoniously dropped poor Joanna like a sack of spuds.
"Maybe this is the year for finding the right person." she said, wistfully enough for her "You and Jacob, Mr and Mrs Pike, Arabella and Miriam. Maybe there's hope for me yet." she had added the last couple without even thinking about it.
"Somebody who can calm Arabella? Now that is good to hear," Clara had to admit, "I never had any luck with that."
Jemima frowned with interest, Clara seemed to agree with her that Arabella was a fibbertygibbet: someone who never stopped talking or asking questions or coming up with odd plans and ideas and notions. Miriam seemed to have made her a little more inclined to stop, look and listen.
Then on to Miriam, the new, quiet girl in town whom her brother seemed to have a quiet little crush on. Jemima smiled a little maliciously to herself, thinking what a wrong tree he was barking up there.
"They say still waters run the deepest," the other girl added.
"Interesting. Of course that makes Arabella pretty shallow," Clara quipped but in a deadpan fashion,
Clara was laying in to Arabella again, Jemima noted.
"You really don't like Arabella much, huh?" Jemima ventured. This was interesting, the saloon girl was always referring to Clara in conversation as 'my bosom friend' and telling her and Bridget how Clara hardly dared take a step out of the door without consulting Arabella on what to wear or how to do her hair or a myriad other things. She even reckoned that she was responsible for getting Jake and the new Mrs Lutz together in the first place.
"I am just teasing. I do like Arabella even though she thinks I do not. You see, I am not a very demonstrative person. "
Jemima nodded. If Clara was 'not very demonstrative', Miss Wigfall was virtually inert!
"Jacob is helping me with that flaw of mine though," she had to point out.
"How does he do that?" Jemima wondered out loud, with honest interest "I can't let myself go, either. Except when I'm fighting my brother." she admitted.
Jemima re-entered the shack then and spoke up to Clara, "Quiet without 'em."
"Indeed, quiet is not something one can enjoy when Arabella is about. Loquacious thing, that girl but she means well. I try not to get mad at her though I admit I do fail at times," Clara nodded.
Jemima nodded. "She seems a little calmer since she's palled up with Miriam" she offered, having to bite her tongue not to call her 'Miss Kaufmann' as that is how she referred to her when working at Pettigrew's, just as Miriam had to refer to her as 'Miss Wigfall'.
"So you work with the new girl? I am happy for Arabella to have found a new friend. What do you think of her?......Miriam that is.........not Arabella."
Jemima nodded as lugubriously as ever to indicate her understanding of the question, and gave her habitual preliminary sniff. "I didn't like her at first, and not just because she's a Jew. I thought her too meek for the front of store work, but she's startin' to show that she's tough in her own quiet way."
Jemima knew that the painfully shy little seamstress had even managed to do a little modelling work for Pettigrew when the Saloon whore, Caroline Mundee, had come in for a fitting, and she was starting to roll out the patter for the customers without going bright red and quaking in her boots these days.
"They say still waters run the deepest." she said about Miriam although, truth to tell, the same adage could be applied to the pregnant Clara.
Miriam was familiar with that machine alright, as she told her employer but she had not gotten to try it. Least not so far. And in truth, she certainly did want to try it! What seamstress wouldn't?
"That would be wonderful........we need to get Mr. Pettigrew's permission though," Miriam pointed out, never one to rock the boat.
Jemima just screwed up her face in distain. "He won't give us any trouble!" she predicted confidently. To tell the truth, Pettigrew seemed scared of the thing: it represented a new world and a new way of doing things. It was the future and Jemima thought that she and Miriam were young enough to want to grasp it.
They made their goodbyes, Arabella squealing and squeezing Jemima like she was never going to see her again; Jemima peeling her off herself with a look of mild annoyance and calling her a 'lunatic skeeter'. Once Ned and the girls had disappeared from view (Clara and Jemima had been able to watch them go until the cart had become a mere dot on the horizon), Jemima had tended to Bridget's little donkey and made sure it was tied up with grass enough to nibble nearby and water.
When she returned to the shack, which did look a little more like a home now, albeit a very temporary one, it was eerily still. She came in and saw Clara, all alone in the late afternoon shadows.
"Quiet without 'em." she said, just to fill the melancholy vacuum of sound.
"Well, the main hole anyway, the roof is still............well, thanks to you we did what we could, thank you again," Clara nodded as they studied their handiwork from the ground.
Jemima nodded and gave a sniff of agreement. It was a serviceable repair as long as they didn't have any kind of a storm over the next few days and nights.
"We shall not live here long and then we will be living above the diner," Clara looked forward to that very much, talk about a short trip to work.
The husky young woman turned her eyes to Clara. She had a question about that, but she would ask later. There was something more pressing she needed to ask.
"Ned'll be here soon. He was going to take those squirts home while I stayed the night. I know you... well, I know you didn't like the idea, but seein' as Arabella promised Jacob that I would I thought I'd... well, I thought I'd offer again. It's no trouble to me, sorta holiday in a way, and two girls can look after themselves better than one. Well, there it is."
"Very well, since you put it that way. But I absolutely forbid you to do any more work around here for me. I am just fine. Oh and while I did not say so before I am armed too. Father's Dragoon Colt and, trust me, I do know how to use it," Clara gave in.
"Good." Jemima rewarded Clara with one of her rare tight little smiles. Altogether, they were a pretty dour pair: this was not going to be a night of hilarity by any stretch of the imagination.
In stark contrast, Arabella and Miriam came back from the creek full of the joys of spring, laughing and giggling as they stumbled over the rough ground and nearly spilling the crockery. Before old Ned could whisk them away back to Kalispell, Arabella expressed great delight that Clara had relented in letting Jemima stay.
"Oh, Clara Anne, I'm just so relieved! I couldn't 'a looked Jacob in the eye if anything had happened to you after I promised him that 'Mima would stay over!" she gushed, throwing her arms awkwardly around Clara while trying not to squash her tummy as they got ready to leave.
Next to that pair, Jemima was giving Miriam a curt business-like nod "See you Wednesday." she said flatly, that was the next time both of them were working together at the same time at Pettigrews. And then... the flood of goodwill and friendship that the circumspect Wigfall daughter had been holding back like a dam until she was sure that she liked Miriam.
It poured forth like a deluge.
Sniff. "I'll show you how to work the Willcox & Gibbs."
Yes!!! The new fangled Willcox & Gibbs treadle operated sewing machine! The Holy Grail of modern, high quality, industrial level sewing technology!
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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