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
Dropping down to his knees beside the woman, he grabbed her finger. "I'll fix it!" he shouted valiantly, now that he knew this was his only option, "just be all right!" Then he started to suck!
“Suck harder, I’m dying!” Jemima groaned, rolling her eyes up and making her tongue loll grotesquely. “I think it’s working… oh, I hope I don’t lose that finger…” she said, suddenly becoming more cogent “… that’s the one I pick my nose with!” she added, a mischievous smile illuminating her normally dull features.
Weedy’s reaction was as might be expected and the girl rocked with mirth. “He he he, gotcha!” she chuckled deeply, as she scrabbled back to her feet.
“You should play that trick on someone” she informed poor Weedy as she tapped the glass tank. “Look, he was dead all the time. The Professor killed him with a special deadly gas. That’s what he likes to do, try out different ways of killing pests.” She informed the boy, her eyes lingering on the spider who was lying on his back now with his stiff legs in the air where she’d flicked him.
“Montgomery’s a pest, too, but the Professor's too kind and didn’t have the heart to kill him, so he keeps him as a pet.” The pocket gopher had run away during Jemima’s macabre histrionics but now came back and ran up Weedy’s leg.
At that point Falmer Browne and Miss Addy arrived through the greenhouse door and suddenly Jemima was the obedient and biddable house maid again.
“Jemima! Go and help Mrs O’Houlighan now, please!” the man ordered the girl and she bobbed an obedient and po-faced curtsey, but before she scuttled out of the strange plant filled hot-house she caught Weedy’s eye and gave him a conspiratorial smile.
“You don’t want no one peekin'... when you all naked.” Jemima added unsettlingly.
"Jemima." Aoife said, commanding all of the authority that her marginal height difference offered. "Could you do that now, please?"
Jemima’s dark eyes searched Aoife’s pale skinned, flawless face, chewing her bottom lip in God knows what fathomless thoughts, and finally said “Sure” in her usual slow, flat manner. As she reached the giant hole of a door-way, she turned on her big feet and, looking studiously at the Irish nurse again, intoned a dubious offer of “Gi’mme a shout if you want any help takin’ all them clothes off.”
Women, with their plethora of buttons, hooks and corset laces, sometimes did need help ‘getting undressed’, maybe it was just Jemima’s phraseology that made the offer sound a little odd.
Jemima walked back into the kitchen, out of Aoife’s line of sight, and did just as she had promised, standing like a lump, facing the inside of the kitchen door as if in a catatonic trance, her only perceptible movement being the chewing of her lip and a sort of nervous rubbing of her thumb and forefinger together as she thought about “them things” she liked to think about.
"All right, I dare you!" Then he quickly added, "Then it's my turn!"
Jemima's dark eyes burned with excitement.
"I'm scared to, but you dare'd me, so I gotta!" she said with a tremor of excitement in her usually flat voice. "But if that nasty little spider, he bites me, then you know what you gotta do? You gotta suck the poison out o' where-ever it bites me and spit it on the floor!" she warned him.
"And if some day you ever get bit by a poisonous spider or a snake on the backside and someone's gotta suck out the poison for yuh ... well Porter, that's the day you'll find out who your true friends are." This was supposed to be a joke, but the girl's slow and po-faced delivery made it sound like some kind of dire warning.
She put her finger to her lips and, glancing at the doorway to make sure they weren't being observed, opened the lid of the tank and rolled up her sleeve, and lowered her hand slowly, slowly into the tank, nearer and nearer the spider beneath his piece of bark, glancing worriedly at Weedy, then back at the arachnid, slowly, slowly...
"ARRGGHHH!!!" Jemima screamed, yanked the hand from the tank and fell onto the floor, holding the middle finger of her right hand with those of the left and squeezing the tip so it went bright red. "Quick, quick, suck the poison out before I die!!" she pleaded, holding up the offending article as she lay prostrate on the greenhouse floor.
Aoife made her way back downstairs, following the distended harmony of Jemima's bass overtones into the kitchen. Sure enough, there she stood, emanating noise at a volume that would have put a particularly skilled tuba player to shame. Aoife gave the girl another friendly look, mostly to get her to quiet down, and nodded her head towards the side door, arms all full of clothing.
"In there, then?" she asked.
“Yeah, through here” said the dowdy girl simply and led the way. The scullery was like any other scullery, basic, bare brick walled, and equipped with a sink and various cleaning utensils and buckets. A side table or platform had the towels, tallow soap and a scrubbing brush on top and Jemima had been thoughtful enough to put a rough mat by the side of the metal tub, to save Aoife’s feet from the cold stone tiled floor. The bath itself was small and about one third full of warm (some might say tepid) water. All was illuminated by a struggling oil lamp, hung from a hook on the wall.
The main problem was that there wasn’t exactly a door from the kitchen to the scullery, there was just a door-way. This kept the small antechamber reasonably warm, with heat from the kitchen, but also meant that anyone coming far enough into the kitchen would be able to see into the space and enjoy the sight of the Irish girl in all her glory.
“Don’t worry, I gonna stay in the kitchen and keep guard in case anyone tries to come in” explained Jemima in that slow flat voice, “You don’t want no one peekin’” she said. It might have been a bit less unnerving if she’d left it at that, and hadn’t flicked her eyes up and down Aoife’s body, somehow intensified her usual unswerving stare, and added quietly “... when you all naked.”
"That would be lovely, thank you." Aoife said, ignoring Hector as best she could.
Mrs Wigfall made her way to the door and shouted upstairs.
“Jemima? Jemima! When you’re done, bring some towels down and run Nurse Leane a bath in the scullery!”
There was a clomping noise as the Wigfall girl’s boots moved on the floor above.
“Uh?” Her voice sounded distant.
“I said when you’re done, bring some towels down and run Nurse Leane a bath in the scullery!” repeated the matriarch.
“Uh!” More clomping.
She straightened her posture, set the drink down, and stood, giving Mrs. Wigfall a look of gratitude. "Well, I might go see how Jemima's getting along. Up here?" she asked, crossing to the stairwell up which Jemima had disappeared.
Normally Mrs W. would have directed Hector to carry up the girl’s trunk, what with Jemima’s muscles not being immediately to hand, but she had already picked up that the waif seemed unusually protective about the thing: it probably contained all she owned in the world and she’d no doubt had to keep her eye on it all the way from the starting point of her travels, maybe even from the Emerald Isle itself, and become wary of letting it out of her sight.
“Very well. Do you want Hector to carry up your trunk?” she asked. She probably could have predicted he answer, but it was polite to ask.
By the time Aoife got upstairs, the efficient Jemima had done her work, and the room looked snug and welcoming without being twee. As she was now a paying guest, Jemima bobbed her a little curtsey, but her manner of address was as direct as ever.
“You should’a let me carry that trunk.” She informed her flatly. “I’ll go pour you a bath. Scullery’s just off the kitchen at the end of the corridor downstairs.” And with that she trudged off.
The tin bath took some filling, but as it was small, the liquid was quickly displaced by a normal sized person getting into it, so it didn’t have to be filled too high. Hector sometimes cruelly joked that Jemima was so bulky that when she got in, it only needed a couple of drops of water to fill it. ‘Not that she ever takes a bath, ha ha!’
When she was satisfied that she had heated enough water and the warm liquid had reached a satisfactory height in the metal tub, she shouted Aoife down from the kitchen, confident that her bellowing voice would be heard through the walls of her room. It also alerted a furtive Hector Wigfall that there was about to be an opportunity, if he was sneaky enough, to ‘accidentally’ catch sight of the attractive nurse in the nude. A thousand plans started to formulate in his filthy little mind.
The boy's nose was pressed against the glass as he studied the creature contained inside the transparent prison. "How did he get out?" he asked, his eyes going (very) momentarily to the woman, then back to the spider.
“I think it was the ghost. This house is haunted!” Jemima informed him, with an air of authority. “Either way, he got out. Dunno why he bothered, he’s nice and comfy in there.”
"Maybe he's lonely and needs a friend? Where do they come from? It gets mighty cold here in the winter, he might freeze or something."
“He can’t freeze in here, Professor’s got a contraption which makes it always hot as Hades in the greenhouse. I sweat like the dickens when I have to work in here, I mean like great big wet patches under my arms, I have to go outside with my arms in the air to dry em off.” she imparted this information like it was vital for the lad to know. Then she nudged him.
“Hey, do you dare me to touch him?” she asked, with a strange glow of excitement in her coal black little eyes. “I dare you to dare me!”
Aoife blinked again, brought out of her ruminations on the outlandish Wigfalls by the practicality of the present. "I... thank you... doctor. I was, I mean, I am a nurse." she managed, frowning through her fluster as she struggled to get her thoughts under control.
Mrs Wigfall put on her thinking cap. “Well, there’s Dr. Boone, that is whom I attend. He is a wise and kindly old gent, but starting to get on in years, well, aren’t we all? Perhaps he could do with a nurse to help hi…”
Jemima, unable to retrain herself, blurted out some counter advice before her mother could even finish. “Doctor Danforth is younger and handsome and has a big practice and whenever you go there he always seems too busy to cope and he’d be a much better place to try!” she gabbled before her mother could tell her off for interrupting. But it was important that Aoife know: in novels, Doctors always fell in love with their nurses and got married to them. She didn’t want the pretty Irish girl to get stuck with that old fogey, Boone.
Jemima sidled in closer to Aoife and whispered in her ear. “He’s so handsome he’ll make your toes tingle! And one time I had to go see him because I had this big boil on my back all full of pus and…”
Now it was time for the landlady to interrupt her daughter in turn. “Jemima Wigfall! What have I told you about whispering?! And if it’s about that boil-thing you had, well I’m sure Miss Leane doesn’t want to know, she probably has to deal with such disgusting things all day at work!”
"Er- yes, like doubting Thomas, I suppose." the priest confirmed. Daughter of Job and a faithless Apostle, standing meters from three dead men. Religious imagery aside, there was a sense of the macabre about this whole thing.
Jemima, too, was feeling … something. She might be dull and coarse and lumpy, but she was alive, and those others were dead as the clay. Father Thomas might be old, but he had a vital and charismatic spark to him and Jemima couldn’t but think of all those times in her beloved Old Testament where ancient Patriarchs met young women at the well and started begetting together all over the place with them. To be honest, the state of her love-life at the moment, she couldn’t afford to be too picky anyway.
“Well I won’t call you brother, cause I hate my brother. You ain’t my father, … an’ I don’t like them other two, neither. How about I just call you Thomas?”
"Very well, I can be just Thomas." he conceded, shifting his gaze over to the crowd once more. He raised the cigarette to his lips, lowered it, and blew out a light cloud of smoke.
“Good, I like you.” She said in her emotionless flat voice. “I usually go to the Spiritualist Church, but I might come and hear you preach on Sunday, you’ll be at the Methodist place, I guess.” She nodded to herself.
"Jemima. Could you tell me a bit about the fellow Arabella was holding?" he asked, eyes narrowing a bit against the sun overhead
“He’s called Billy, worked up at Evergreen like them other two. I heard a feller back there say that Quentin Cantrell and some other feller murdered ‘em all, saw e’m bring them in on a wagon” she answered, glancing back at the delicious white nakedness of the cute young man’s corpse. “Arabella reckoned ol’ Billy kissed her once but I reckon they did much worse than that and that’s why he’s dead now because the Lord punishes them as sins in the flesh. She wa’nt carryin’ on like that cause she loved him, she carryin’ on like that cause she knows she’s next. She seen how the Lord punishes those as gives in to their filthy lusts.” She turned back to the older man, interested to hear his take on the matter.
“I think she’d be better off if she got punished for it now by mortal hands, better ‘n waiting for God’s wrath. What you think, Thomas?” She was half looking at him, half remembering the girl being dragged off the body with the sinner’s blood soaking into her clothes like a red badge of shame at what Jemima, in her fevered imagination, imagined they’d done together.
Aoife opened her mouth to speak, but Jemima beat her to it.
"Uh, yes. Aoife. Leane." she said, glancing up at Jemima.
Jemima was already staring at her and so met the Irish girl’s gaze immediately with an intensity she reserved for those she either loved or hated. A tight little smile which didn’t materially affect the rest of her passive features indicated that she had decided that knowing Aoife’s name meant that, in her own slightly peculiar mind, they were bosom friends.
"I don't have work just yet, but I have money, no need to worry about that Ma'am. As for the ah, gentlemen callers, I am in complete agreement with you."
Jemima broke away from staring at Aoife to glance balefully at her mother. It wasn’t fair that she couldn’t have gentlemen calling on her either, she wasn’t a guest. Not that any gentlemen ever wanted to call on her, but you never knew what might be just around corner. Oh well, she would call on them and damn her Mother to Hell! Her stare of hatred was as intense as the one she reserved for objects of her morose affection, but she broke it off and looked at the floor when her mother stared back.
Mrs Wigfall seemed very pleased with the Irish girl and decided that she would waive the usual deposit that she usually demanded of long term boarders.
“Well, you can pay at the end of the week, that’ll be fine, you look like a good, hard working girl to me, and I pride myself on being a good judge of character. Now, what sort of work are you looking for, Miss Leane? I might be able to point you in the right direction.”
“Me too.” Echoed Jemima, not wanting to be left out of the conversation.
"That I have, Jemima Wigfall." Thomas said, matching her stare. The intensity of her look was palpable, as though she was searching for any gratification from his words, but still he maintained his gaze. With the afternoon sun in the sky, it could have been a duel; ready for either side to draw and put the other down.
This was good, perhaps this man could answer some interesting questions that she had regarding some biblical passages that she had come across.
"Though as Paul's epistle Titus tells us, I would advise you to speak evil of no one, and to show courtesy toward all people. For we all were once foolish, and led astray, until the kindness of the Lord our savior appeared."
The thick bushy eyebrows contracted, and Jemima frowned, her eyes still boring into his unfaltering gaze, which gave an otherwise mundane conversation an odd intensity. “I like the Old Testament better. The folks in it get up to more interestin’ stuff.” She told him. “When they ain’t begattin’ all over the place. Anyhow, I told you my name, what’s yours?” she asked.
“Good to meet you, Jemima. My name is Thomas. Reverend, Father, Brother, Pastor, whichever you prefer.”
“Like ‘Doubting Thomas’?” she wondered aloud. Well, there were clearly some parts of the New Testament that she was aware of. “Well I won’t call you brother, cause I hate my brother. You ain’t my father, … an’ I don’t like them other two, neither. How about I just call you Thomas?” she asked. Perhaps she was too dull witted to know that one’s elders should be addressed with a nomenclature of respect.
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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