Though short and stout, Mr. Pettigrew has the quiet but dignified bearing of a gentleman, which makes him seem taller than he really is. It is only when standing next to him, looking down on his balding pate, that one realises that he is quite a little fellow. To disguise his baldness, his bright ginger locks are pulled across in an unsuccessful 'comb-over' which rises, with comical effect, in a light breeze.
Traits & Characteristics
A lovely, kind gentleman, but can be roused to a suffused fury by unmannerly or un-gentlemanly behaviour. Very attentive and understanding with his sometimes quite hysterical lady customers. A keen student of human personality with an interest in such sciences and para-sciences that aim to explore the same. His nautical Father, The Commodore, bequeathed him an interest and expertise in Astronomy, and the ability to acquit himself well on the field of honor, with pistol, sword or walking cane. From his mother he imbibed a love of music and some small ability on the pianoforte, and he is a great encourager of musical talent in others. From his sisters, he inherited a love of fashion, fine fabrics, neat sewing and feminine beauty. From his brothers he inherited an ability to be at ease in the company of rough and tumble, manly, 'real' men, and to be at home in even spit and sawdust Saloons like the Stardust.
Mr. Pettigrew is a Confirmed Bachelor.
Manager and surviving partner of Pettigrew & Packham Corsets. He also dabbles in the arcane, to the extent of writing the weekly horoscope for the Kalispell Union under the pseudonym of Oberon.
Aliases / Nicknames
Wus to the more rough and tumble element, short for Worcester.
Lives in his Bachelor Quarters above the dress store.
Kith & Kin
His last surviving sister, Zillah, died recently at the old family plantation near Lafayette, Louisiana. His remaining close family are gone now, either through the ravages of old age or the effects of the war, both his brothers having been killed in the conflict.
Wus kept in touch with his half brother Paul Pettigrew (his slave name was 'Pompey') until he died, but continues the correspondence with Paul's daughter in New Jersey)
His Father was Captain Thomas Pettigrew, USN, known (on account of his once having to command two ships at once during the war of 1812) as The Commodore.
5th Jauary 1816: Born to retired war hero and planter, Captain Thomas Pettigrew and Fanny McAdam, nr. Lafayette Louisiana, 6th and last child.
1828: At age 12 'told on' to his father by his sister, Zillah Pettigrew, for playing with her dollies and making new outfits for them. He is summoned, terrified, to his Father, a stern and flinty man. The Commodore, however, is also a man of the world and a realist, having spent many years in the navy. He gives young Wus a disturbingly practical set of advice about how to survive as a homosexual gentleman in society, how he needs to maintain "all the marks of dignity of any gentleman of quality" be courteous to ladies, protect small children, to be a fair, but not mollycoddling, master to his slaves, and so forth. The two phrases that stick in his mind, nearly sixty on:
"Your private love affairs, Sir, you must keep discrete; but not to the point of being blackmailed. Should that happen, you must say, like the Duke of Wellington, 'Publish and be damned!' and then, at the earliest opportunity, find the man and shoot him down like a dog in the street!"
and the other, more pithy:
"Buggery, Sir, I absolutely forbid! It is injurious to both the active party and the passive, use of 'starters' notwithstanding."
Worcester later had to ask his younger, but wiser, half-brother Pompey what the Dickens Buggery meant, the both of them were stumped by 'starters'.
He and his Father never spoke of the matter again, but whereas his older brothers went into the Army and Navy, he was secured a berth at a fashionable Ladies Outfitters in New Orleans as a trainee cutter. A step down from the life of a Southern aristocrat, perhaps, but one that he loved. His brothers and sisters, after a stern talking to by their Father, accepted 'little Wus' for what he was and any insult offered to him was an insult offered to them, with perhaps the exception of his brother Farley. When he, as Captain Farley Pettigrew of the Louisiana Tigers was brought back to the plantation to die, a leg amputated above the knee and wound in his shoulder that refused to heal, Wus rushed back to Lafayette to nurse him in his final weeks, and the two men came to some sort of understanding of each other.
1832-1861: Pettigrew rises slowly but surely in the Ladies Outfitting business in New Orleans, his prestige and fortune ever growing. A number of affairs with other young men of similar sensibilities surprisingly easy to stumble into in that cosmopolitan port. He is well known and sought out by both ladies of quality and the demi-monde of actresses and courtesans to dress, corset and adorn them to best effect.
1857: Botched suicide attempt after a disastrous love affair with a well known Secessionist Fire Eater in the Louisiana Legislature whose wife objects to their liaisons.
1861-1866: The misery of the Occupation by Federal Forces. When Union governor General 'Beast' Butler makes his proclamation that any New Orlean Lady caught out after curfew will be treated as a common prostitute by Union soldiers, he is the first person to send the monster his card, calling him out. General Butler declines the offer of a duel.
1866-1871: Unhappy with the scene in post war reconstructionist New Orleans, and with no interest in taking over the now worthless and slave-less plantation, Worcester Pettigrew tries heading North for Washington and New York. However, his fashion ideas are seen as old fashioned and hopelessly Southern and parochial. He is not a success in the North.
1872-1876: He accepts an invitation to join an old Louisiana acquaintance, John Lockhart Packham out West, where the latter is opening a Ladies Outfitters in some God-Forsaken hole in the Territories called Kalispell. By the time a ruffled and dusty Pettigrew arrives, via railroad, stagecoach and at one point even mule, Packham is pushing up daisies in the local 'boot hill' leaving him to run the business alone, or rather with hired local help. However, he has never had the heart to take Packham's name off of the store front sign.
Although homosexual, he is by choice not sexually active, long ago deciding that with his balding head and chubby frame he would cut a ludicrous figure as a lothario. However, he may be extra kind and helpful to attractive young men, especially those who remind him of past loves.
"Where are the snows of yesterday?"
Worcester, pronounced "Whuster" (hence the nickname)
Worcester Pettigrew was disappointed that the Englishman didn't get his 'ore-struck' joke, but you couldn't please everyone, he guessed. But the fellow from foreign shores did at least elucidate upon his occupational calling.
“I err.. Well… I studied law at university.” James told Pettigrew, his cheeks once again slowly getting bright red. “Didn’t have much call to study geology I’m afraid.”
"Well, a lot of the law round these parts is about Geology; Geology and cattle." Pettigrew pontificated "The territories have no code of laws themselves, as of yet..." he continued "... oh, they borrow a little from here, a little from there: as a matter of fact, your English Law cases are cited as much as judgements from other parts of the States. But the book you need to hit if you want to practice law round these parts is the California Code of Statutes. And why, Mr Vaughn, why?" he asked rhetorically.
"Because it deals with Geology, Sir, Geology!"
Then Arabella skipped up "What are you all talkin' about fellers?!" she hailed them "Dresses?"
"Oh come, come Miss Kaufmann: do stop wasting time on those buttons. We need to decide what you are going to wear!!" he declared, all of a flutter.
"Oh nothing special. I certainly cannot afford to buy a new dress right now either. I do have a suitable wardrobe though, I assure you," she pointed out.
He picked up the now discarded ribbon, which was still perfectly clean, and held it up.
"Oh, but have you got something in your collection..." (perhaps 'collection' too grand a term for the items in Miriam's press, but Mr. Pettigrew was becoming slightly overwrought by the idea of dressing a lady for an occasion, he didn't get a chance to do that much these days, out here in a cow-town) "... that will both blend with and highlight this aureolin ribbon?" Pettigrew never dirtied his mouth with prosaic terms like 'yellow' or 'green' - items were always 'canary' or 'puce' or 'Prussian'.
"I believe it would be a very romantic touch to wear this ribbon in your hair" Worcester fluttered excitedly "... and I have just the dress to go with it - the white milanese with roussed skirt - we can add some aureolin ribboning and take it in so it fits perfectly. Oh! You will look so heavenly, Miss Kaufmann, and a perfect advertisment for our wares, to boot!!"
Then the door tingled open and Pettigrew started to shout "We're closed!" but then saw it was Jemima.
"Lock the door, Miss Wigfall, and put up the closed sign! Today..." he drew himself up to his full height "... we are CREATING!!"
"I assure you, sir, we are hardly courting. He asked me for permission to ask my father if he could take a short walk in public with me after Sunday services. I pointed out I do not even attend such services being that I am Jewish. Not by any stretch of the imagination can that be called courting," Miriam tried to straighten this all out.
"Can it not, indeed?" queried the large man rhetorically. "And what, pray, are these?"
Mr. Pettigrew maintained his serious mien, but he could not hide the twinkle in his eye, as he reached out for the flowers. He gave them a sniff.
"I shall take care of these, Miss Kaufmann, you may attend to your duties." he said as he marched over to a waste paper bin by some shelves behind the counter, and for a minute it seemed as if he were about to throw the beautiful wild blooms away. Instead he bent over, no doubt putting a perilous strain on the seams of his old fashioned chequered trousers, and came up proudly holding a slightly dusty vase.
"I thought we had one somewhere!" he muttered to himself, disappearing into the back room muttering something about "... put 'em in water... with a little sugar in it..."
When he reappeared, the flowers were nicely arranged in the vase, which he placed with artistic care on the counter in just the right position to show them to best advantage.
Mr. Pettigrew stood back and took in his handiwork, still muttering to himself: "Beautiful flowers. Walking after church. 'Hardly courting' indeed!" He seemed quite giddy at the romance of it all, one might have thought that the posy had been brought in for him!
He disappeared into the back again, and then came back; he seemed quite distracted.
"Oh come, come Miss Kaufmann: do stop wasting time on those buttons. We need to decide what you are going to wear!!" he declared, all of a flutter.
The way the words rolled so smoothly off his tongue had James blinking in some surprise, an errant thought crossing his mind that he must have practiced that many times in the past. “I dare say that I will have no need of your services.” The young man said with a smile, intending no insult, “Or at least not any time soon.” He amended since the services that Pettigrew provided were for ladies, not men.
"Well well, a man after my own heart! Marriage is not for everyone, that is true" Pettigrew chimed "I myself have always been and always will be a bachelor gay: ne'er tied down by the ball and chain of so called wedded bliss." He chuckled as he handed James his card.
“I… Thank you.” James accepted the card, his hand twitching towards his pocket before he stilled it since what cards he still had were tucked away in one of his trucks, rather useless since they bore a title that he didn’t use here. It didn’t help him stay clothed and fed so he’d stopped using it while he’d been in Boston, well before making his way out to the wilds of the frontier.
The rotund man with the fiery red hair and the deep Southern accent now brought the conversation round to James.
"And what line of business would you be in yourself, Mr. Vaughn? A medical man perhaps? Or a writer? No, don't tell me, you are a geological engineer! If so, you will be in good company, half the men who come to Kalispell are interested in geology, in their own ore-struck way." he quipped, rather cleverly, he fancied.
James managed, barely, not stammer how he’d no intention of courting the young lady. Instead he nodded somberly, “Thank you my good man for the warning.” He looked over at the young lady in question, a hint of affection in his eye. “She has a good heart.”
Pettigrew nodded. "Many around here do, despite appearances, Kalispell is scattered with many a diamond in the rough. I might further add, it is some of the more polished stones that you have to be wary of!"
He held out his hand.
"Permit me to introduce myself, young man, Worcester Pettigrew, I run the local dress shop, Worcester & Peckham Ladies Outfitter and Corset Emporium, streetwear and ball gowns off the peg or made to measure, specialists in bespoke foundation garments." with that he whipped out a rare item in these rough and tumble regions, a calling card.
"My card" he gurgled unctuously, as he handed over the small rectangle bearing his name and business details. He didn't particularly expect one back, his expert eye had run over the fellow's clothes and he had a shrewd idea that this was a once prosperous young fellow who had now fallen on harder times.
"Hmmm, Miss Lutz. Was she trying to get you to go to Church?"
"She mentioned how active my friend, Arabella...you know...Miss Mudd...the one who came with Miss Mundee...........is in their church and encouraged me to come sometime to hear and see for myself'" Miriam dutifully answered.
Pettigrew gave a visible shudder "Oh, if such things are not to your taste I should avoid them at all possible costs!" he warned "For once a body starts to go along, it is often quite impossible to extract oneself again!" He felt like that about the Freemasonry he was involved in: oh there were advantages to be sure, especially in a business way, but it was rather a call on his time these days, and the mysteries he had hoped it would reveal had so far eluded him.
"I told her Papa would not approve." And to her that settled the matter then and there.
"Very good, Miss Kaufmann, very good!" he beamed, patting her on the head "You are a very sensible girl. I only wish I could still say 'My Father would not approve" to get out of such conundrums. And, believe me, there was very little that The Commodore did approve of!" he remembered, fondly. Sometimes Pettigrew had these little little wistful, nostalgic moments when they were talking. Suddenly his eyes looked tearful, and he pulled out his watch and looked at it.
"You have done very well today. Take the rest of the day off, Miss Kaufmann, go and spend some time with your Father. He will not be here forever!" he said, taking out a large hanky and blowing his nose upon it.
With the customers gone, Mr. Pettigrew entered the cloth that he had sold to Ella in the ledger and, while he was there, made Miriam's entry for her.
"What was it, Miss Kaufmann? A pair of kid gloves?" he carefully scribbled in the details, including the detail that she had made the sale. "Hmm, here's a tip..." he motioned a finger in the air, as he often did when he was a about to impart some pearl of wisdom to her.
"Whenever you sell kid gloves, ask the customer if they'd like to buy some special cleaning spirit of turpentine, special offer 50 cents!" He rummaged on a shelf and brought down a fancy bottle of blue glass. "It' just ordinary turps, 10 cents a bucket from the general store, but some ladies'll buy anything as long as it comes in a pretty container." he explained.
"Hmmm, Miss Lutz. Was she trying to get you to go to Church?" Either he had heard them talking or she was a known Evangelist.
"All right, I can give her this one," she picked the most stylish shawl she could out of the three she had bought in, "however, I will reserve the right to ask for the item back if this doesn't work. Even used a good shawl like this can still sell."
Ah, an 'Indian giver!' Pettigrew could not but help chuckle out loud at this reticence on Ella's part to invest in advertising, even if it was of a most unusual variety.
"I can see, Miss, that you are unconvinced at the efficacy of my suggestion. Well, you may call me vain, but I am willing to put my hand in my pocket to prove myself right!" he said good humouredly, holding up a telling finger. "I myself will buy the sample piece, as well as the rest of the order, and present Miss Orr with the piece, for I have as much faith in my business methods as I have in the quality of your wares!"
In Pettigrew's world-view, you definitely had to speculate to accumulate!
"Ahh...we get our wool from a number of suppliers. You know people back east who we've meet over the years," Ella said in a matter-of-fact way.
"That so, that so?" muttered Pettigrew, sounding utterly convinced by Ella's lies. But he had to wonder: there was that slight, not unpleasant, air of lanolin about the finely made products which indicated the wool might have been shorn, cleaned and spun more locally: and they were clearly all of the same type of wool from the same type of sheep.
Still, that was no concern of his, as long as the young lady could supply what she promised.
Turning back to the point of all this, she continued, "I'm glad you like them. It takes a while to make things so we like to get an early start in order to have things ready to sell by late fall when people are starting to need them."
"Well, sure, I'll take a dozen of each and see how they go." he decided. It was a gamble, but only a minor one. Then he had an idea.
"You know, Miss Albrecht, a little town like this doesn't have much idea of fashion. Oh, I do my best in my own little way to introduce the more modish patterns and cuts, you know. But there are a few Ladies around here who rather set the trends. I can't see Miss Steelgrave wearing wool, but if you were to give, say, Miss Orr a gift of something from your range and she wore it out and about, you can bet I'd have every little girl with any pocket money to her name banging my door down to try and buy the very same thing."
The canny Worchester Pettigrew knew that Anaesthesia Orr might be a difficult customer, and an unbearable small-town snob, but she made an excellent shop-window dummy!
"Miss Ella Albrecht," she answered as she stepped forward and placed her parcel on the counter. "I do wish to buy some cloth but I was also wondering if you were interested in purchasing some items I have."
"Oh, I never discuss business front of house, Miss Albrecht" Pettigrew informed the woman "Please to come through to the back and we can have a little talk." he opened the velvet curtains to indicate that she might come around the counter and through.
"Miss Kaufmann, please attend to Miss Lutz, if you please." he instructed the short assistant. His manner was business-like, but never brusque, toward his star seamstress when they were 'on' in front of the customers.
The big cutting table in back of the Millner's was free at the moment so Pettigrew invited the delicate featured woman to use that to show off her wares.
As she opened the parcel, she smiled at Pettigrew, "I hope you don't mind me approaching you in this way. My family are new to the area, and we've been looking for somewhere to sell some of the goods we make."
"Oh I am always open to new suppliers and new types of stock, if they are items I can sell at a profit, Miss Albrecht: 'never stand still', that's my motto. Has to be in this trade, I assure you." he said seriously. The young woman was no longer a customer, to be fawned over and persuaded: she was a fellow businessman, or rather businesswoman, to be spoken to straight and dealt with fairly.
After opening the parcel, she picked up crochet shawl to the show the owner. She then pointed to the other items, "There's a scarf and some mittens as well. We make a variety of woollen garments. This is just an example of some of them."
Pettigrew picked up the items one by one and, humming and hawing as he did so, examined them minutely,: not only looking at them, but feeling them carefully, noting the lustre of the nap, tugging at them, even, as if he wished to rip the woollen items apart at the seems. Finally he seemed satisfied with his examination.
"Fine work, Miss Albrecht, very fine work indeed. Of course, June-time isn't really the time to be selling winter woollens, but still there are those that feel the cold even in this weather: older folks, you know. Hmmm, I guess I can take a dozen of each and see how they go, if we can agree a wholesale price. Do you have a stock of these or would you need time to supply that many?"
Pettigrew was doing a fine balancing act in his mind between profit and loss and overheads: an infinitesimally fine series of calculations which included such odd factors as possible advertising drives to 'buy your winter woollies early!' and the possibilities of moths getting in amongst the stock if he had to store it too long.
He was looking at the mittens again. "Hmm, yes, very fine work." his watery old eyes looked up at her sparking young hazel orbs. "Where do you get your supply of wool from?" he asked with professional interest.
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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