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WHITEWASH




EL WAI PS MUMFORD



WHITEWASH



UNIT. OF CALIF. LIBRARY. LOS ANGELES




" HE S AX ENGLISHMAN, I LL WAGER A FRANC. "

(See page 20)



WHITEWASH


BY ETHEL WATTS MUMFORD


Auth


o r of Dupes," Partners,"


etc.


1 llu 3 t r a t e d by

A. G. LEARNED




BOSTON


DANA ESTES & COMPANY


PUBLISHERS



Copyright,
BY DANA ESTES & COMPANY



All rights reserved



Published August, 1903

WHITEWASH



Colonial

Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. SImonds & Co.
Boston, Mass., U. S. A,



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



PACE

"HE S AN ENGLISHMAN, I LL WAGER A FRANC "

(See page 20) ..... Frontispiece
"REALLY? I THOUGHT YOU WERE MERE AC
QUAINTANCES " 71

" PHILIPPA GAZED AT IT IN DELIGHT, THEN . . .

HASTILY HID THE JEWEL IN HER BOSOM" . 96
"SUDDENLY HIS EYES MET VICTORIA S" . . 115
" THE GIRL TURNED ABRUPTLY " . . . . 260
" THE LIGHT BURNED BRIGHTLY IN THE WOMAN S
ROOM AND SHOWED HER DARK FORM

SHARPLY " . 282



2131433



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PROLOGUE

A HE July sun blazed unrelentingly upon the
wide, hard-baked road that led, straight as a
giant ruler, across the forlorn level country.
Gorse and stubble, ground-pine and intensely
green, wiry broom covered the moors, from which
a quivering radiance of heat mounted to the
molten sky, the horizon shook with it, and the
distant dome of the Basilica of St. Anne of Auray,
with its golden statue, wavered upward like a
white flame.

It was St. Anne s Eve, and the incoming human
tide was near its flood. The following day would
bring the great feast, when the cure-working
statue would be carried in procession. The throng

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pushed forward in anticipation. Here were an
cient and dilapidated diligences, called into ser
vice by the influx of visitors, carts, drays, car
riages of all ages and previous conditions of
servitude, heavy, high swinging landaus, with
emblazoned panels, bringing the chatelaines of
the neighborhood, even the pumping, banging
automobiles that all fashionable France had
gone mad over. Mixed in and about the carriage
pilgrims came the rank and file of foot farers:
men from Beltz, with white trousers and coats
of peacock blue; women of Lorient, in the dress
made famous by the " chocolatiere " of Dresden ;
peasants of Pont-Aven in their pleated collars and
wide-winged head-dresses ; deputations from Mor-
laix, wearing the fifteenth century " henin " in
all its glory; women of Point lAbbe, broad-shoul
dered and square-hipped, marching through the
heat in multitudinous black cloth skirts and
yellow embroidered jackets. And in all alike,
men, women, and children, the deep, contained
fire of fanatic faith.

An ancient and dilapidated vehicle of the period
of the first Empire, driven by a pompous peasant

12



of Auray, in full regalia, swung from side to
side in the jostling mass, like a distressed ship
in a human sea. Reclining on the threadbare
velvet cushions, four girls, of obviously foreign
extraction, volleyed with assorted cameras on the
crowd about them. Many shrank from the black
boxes in fear of witchcraft, others, more expe
rienced in the ways of strangers, grinned broadly
or became suddenly petrified into awkwardness.
From their coign of vantage the cameras con
tinued to snap with regardless vehemence.

"Hold on, stop the driver! I want to take
that ditch full of horrors," exclaimed the smallest
of the quartette, a slim, blonde girl of eighteen
or twenty, who answered cheerfully to the nick
name of " Shorty."

A red-haired young woman rose from her seat.

" Oh, gorgeous person on the box-seat, have the
obligeance to restrain Bucephalus."

The peasant grinned, and obeying her gesture,
which was the only thing he understood, caused
so sudden a halt, that the occupants of the Empire
coach fell violently into each other s arms. Upon
the stopping of the carriage, an immediate con-

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gestion of pedestrians and horses took place in
the rear, and the pilgrimage was profaned by
remarks not intended for the ears of St. Anne.

With true American independence the four girls
calmly proceeded to focus their kodaks at the line
of writhing wretches, who, seeing the attention
they were attracting, dragged themselves nearer,
whining dolorously.

" For goodness sake, move on ! the smell is
positively fetid ! " exclaimed a brown young
woman of about thirty.

" Boston, you are a born obstructionist. Get
out of my picture, will you? There are horrors
enough in it without you."

Of the four, Victoria Claudel was, perhaps, the
most noticeable. As she often said of herself,
" she was made up of odds and ends." Her small,
well-shaped head was set on a full, strong throat.
She had very wide shoulders, a tremendous depth
of chest, suggestive of great vitality, feet un
usually small, and well-formed hands, unexpect
edly large. The face that shone out from the
shade of a battered campaign hat showed the
same irregularity a short, straight nose, large,
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oblique gray eyes, and a small, dainty mouth in
a strong jaw. The forehead was somewhat high,
and from it sprung, variously " cowlicked " and
very unruly, a great mass of red-black hair, part of
which crowning glory was at that moment at
tempting a descent upon her shoulders, and hung
in a loop besprinkled with helpless hairpins. She
was not beautiful, but far more than pretty. Vital
ity, power, vigorous impatience, and ingrained
humor seemed to surround her as an atmosphere
rings its planet.

Victoria put down her camera and distributed
a handful of coppers among the pilgrim subjects.

" Give me change for a franc ? " the red-haired
Sonia Palintzka begged.

" Can t do it," Victoria returned. " Change it
when you get to the hotel. I believe you are a
reincarnation of Judas I never knew you when
you weren t trying to change your thirty pieces
of silver."

Shorty fell over her companions in her haste.
" Oh, look ! See those peasants with the apple-
green sleeves and the blue bodices. Heavens!



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he s going to run them down, and they are so
beautiful ! "

The older woman disengaged herself from the
tangle of Shorty s skirts. " You are perfectly
insane, child ; do sit still ! You ve taken at least
four pictures without winding one off."

The girl gasped, " Oh, I believe you re right !
Oh, dear! my beggars will be spoiled."

" They seemed pretty far gone already," Boston
ejaculated.

Their carriage halted for a moment. A balky
horse somewhere in the crowd ahead was deter
minedly holding back the procession. The crush
had moved the Empire chaise alongside a well-
appointed, green-bodied brougham, from whose
window a slim woman, dressed in mourning, was
anxiously leaning.

" It must be horribly dark inside the lady,"
murmured Victoria, in an undertone : " see how it
pours out of her."

Sonia nodded, the description was so apt. Great
troubled, black eyes lit up the woman s haggard
face ; bushy brows almost met over the thin, high
bred nose ; hair so intensely black that the widow s
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cap surmounting it seemed lighter by comparison ;
even her skin was seared as if by fire, yellow
brown as it met the raven locks, like burned parch
ment. All this darkness seemed to emanate from
the eyes two tunnels of Erebus that led inward
to depths incalculable.

Conscious of scrutiny, the lady raised her head.
The anxiety of her face froze to haughty an
noyance, and she withdrew from the window
abruptly.

" Snapping turtle! " Shorty remarked.

Victoria smiled. " Did look that way. See
the child with her she s ill. I suppose they are
bringing her to St. Anne."

A fair-haired girl, dressed in black and thin
to emaciation, lay in the other corner of the car
riage. Her little feet rested on the lap of a
maid who sat opposite, holding a smelling-bottle
in one hand. As if in obedience to a command,
the servant leaned forward and sharply drew
down the green silk window-shade, darting, as
she did so, a look of unconcealed scorn at Sonia s
unaffectedly interested face.

" End of Act I. curtain ! " said Victoria.

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A sway and jar in the packed roadway an
nounced that at last progress was possible. The
interrupted tramp of the march again began.
Somewhere in the front a chorus of men s voices
intoned the ancient Breton chant of St. Anne.
It spread from rank to rank, as fire whips across
a prairie, till the whole throng rocked with it
an immense emotional swell.

Vic s face paled a little, and she shook her
shoulders as if to throw off the hysterical con
tagion of the crowd.

Sonia looked sympathy. " Grips one right by
the throat, doesn t it?"

There was no more stopping now. The pro
cession in its compact thousands advanced as if
lifted bodily. The weary straightened themselves,
the sick lifted their heads, the eyes of the dying
lit once more.

" Makes one understand the crusades," Shorty
murmured, tearfully.

The resistless stream poured on to its destina
tion, spreading out as it reached the vast paved
square in front of the church, and the green acres
before the Scala Santa.
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The three great doors of the Basilica, opened
wide, could hardly accommodate the crowd that
surged toward them. The square reeked with
the smell of wax candles and the perfume of in
cense. Up and down every converging street,
and bordering the square itself, hung a deep
fringe of booths literally a fringe, for from
every roof depended bunches of blessed tapers
of every size and quality, from the simple one-
sou candle, a foot in length, to the great decorated
" cierge," four feet high and as big around as
a hand could grasp. Black and yellow festoons
of prayer-beads swung to and fro, rattling as the
heads of purchasers displaced them. At every
booth brilliantly dressed peasants bargained can-
nily for medals and " pocket saints."

The Empire chaise with its modern occupants
drew up before the door of the largest inn, facing
directly on the place. It was preceded by the
green-bodied brougham, from which the maid,
assisted by the landlord, was lifting the invalid.
The deference with which the party was treated
marked them as people of importance, and Vic-



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toria wisely concealed her impatience till the
illustrious wants should be ministered to.

" We engaged our rooms weeks ago, so we re
all right, you know," she said, " and they ll treat
us better if we don t fluster them in handling their
grandees. Suppose we sit out here at one of the
little tables till the coast is clear."

Settling themselves, they eagerly watched the
crowd that wove its brilliant patterns before them.

"Jolly, isn t it?" Shorty commented. "We
are the only rank outsiders. Evidently the great
American tourist hasn t found this out yet."

" Give them time they will sooner or
later," Miss Bently announced, sadly; "to-mor
row there will be more that man over there,
for instance; he s an Englishman, I ll wager a
franc."

" Done," and Victoria held out her hand. " No
Englishman would be so fearfully and wonder
fully British."

" I don t see how we re to find out," said
Shorty, wistfully.

" He s going into the hotel, we ll ask the



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chambermaid what room he has, and look it up
on the register."

" But," objected the Russian, " there won t be
what you call a register here, only those mis
erable little slips you have to make out and hand
to the landlord how old you are and where
you were born, and what for, and who filled your
teeth and where you think you ll go to when
you die, and all sorts of little personalities that
might interest the police."

" That s so," Shorty nodded, gravely. " Never
mind, though, we ll find out; there is always
somebody who makes it his business to know
everybody else s."

" Very handsome sentence. Did you make it
all yourself? " Victoria grinned. " Come in, it s
safe now to tackle the hotel, they have disposed
of the the what s feminine for hidalgo?"

Their entrance into the inn in their turn brought
sorrow. The landlord remembered perfectly the
correspondence with the young ladies, but what
was he to do? Madame de Vernon-Chateau-
Lamion had just arrived, bringing her little
daughter to the good St. Anne. She had re-

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quired the best rooms as he said before, what
could he do ? It was vexatious ; but the child was
ill, very ill.

Sonia flushed and drew herself up. It was at
such moments that she gave ground for the
suspicion current in the artistic circles she fre
quented, that concealed under her simple incog
nito was a name as illustrious as the Orloffs
own. " My good man," she articulated, as she
quenched the fire of his eloquence by an icy
glance, " you are under contract to accommodate
us. If the child is ill, we will not insist on our
rights; but accommodate us you must, some
where. You know perfectly well the conditions
here during the feast. We have no intention of
sleeping in the square with the peasants, or doing
the Stations of the Cross on our knees all night
in the church. Now, what are you going to do ? "

The landlord looked up at her stately height,
at the gold glory of her hair, at the violet fire
of her eyes and wilted.

" Madame mademoiselle must pardon. It is
unfortunate, but perhaps, if the ladies would be
graciously lenient there were rooms oh,

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not the kind he wished he might provide but
rooms one in the wing, where Itwo of ces
dames could stay and one " he hesitated, and
fairly gasped " over the the stable."

Sonia s manner was magnificent. As a queen
might condescend to accept a lowly state that
humbler subjects cavilled at, because, being queen,
she dignified whatever lodging she deigned to
honor, she inclined her head. " Take us there,"
she said, " and let Madame Vernon-Chateau-
Lamion know that because of the illness of her
child we will permit her to occupy our apart
ments."

The fat little landlord gulped, and humbly led
the way to the dingy hospitality he offered.

" Too bad we can t be together," Shorty wailed,
as she inspected the cubby-hole in the wing.

Once more the host, by this time reduced to
positive pathos, clamored his excuses.

Sonia silenced him. " This lady," indicating
Victoria, " and I will occupy the stable." Again
they journeyed through a labyrinth of passages
to the much-scorned chamber, which proved to
be better than its promise. It was, at least, clean

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and roomy, and the two little hospital cots looked
comfortable enough. Its simple dormer-window
commanded an uninspiring view of courtyard and
barn, the slope of the roof being not so great
but one might step out on it with safety, or, in
case of necessity, slip across to the iron ladder
that posed as fire-escape for the part of the hotel
buildings adjoining the lofts. This much, the
American girl s hasty inspection took in as she
put down her simple baggage. Sonia, glancing
through the dim window-glass, commented on
the ease with which one might cross from one
part of the house to another by judicious use
of water-pipes and roofs. "It is to be hoped,"
she concluded, " that pilgrims are uniformly
pious, otherwise a burglar would have what you
call a picnic of this house."

Victoria, deep in tepid ablutions, sputtered
something about willingly parting with every
thing but her kodak films ; but Sonia persisted :

" These are servants quarters, or hostlers . I

don t think it is right to put such people in a

room like this that has window communication

with every back room in the house yes, and

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probably every front one, too, for one would have
only to cross the roof and use the balconies."

"Oh, come, trust the Breton hostlers; they
haven t imagination enough to think of anything
so complicated, and unless, Sonia, you are con
templating a little burglarious expedition, we re
safe enough."

Victoria wiped her hands on the diminutive
towel, twisted her short skirt straight, stuffed in
a handful of strong hairpins, and announced her
intention of going out. Her companion slowly
left the window, went through the same feminine
recipe for " straightening up," and patted her
friend s shoulder with impulsive irrelevance.

" Vic, you are a nice girl. I wish you would
come to Russia with me this winter instead of
going back to America."

Her friend smiled. " Wish I could, Sonia,
but I ve got to go, there s no getting out of it.
It s business, you see. There will be a settling
of the estate Bob comes of age."

Sonia locked the door as they went out into
the cheerless corridor that smelt not unpleasantly
of hay and fodder. " Well, perhaps I ll come to

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America instead. I ve always wanted to see
what it is like."

" If you do, Sonia, I ll give you the best time
you ever had in all your life. As a country, well,
I don t like to be unpatriotic you ll be disap
pointed ; but the people make up for it they are
the whitest in the world." The gray eyes looked
unutterable admiration into space.

They reached the staircase after much wander
ing, and descended to the floor below, turned
toward the main entrance, and came face to face
with the plaided, knickerbockered young man,
whose back had attracted their comment. Vic
toria, because of her bet, favored the stranger with
a long comprehensive stare as he passed. He was
undeniably handsome, with fine, regular features,
yellow hair concealed by a gray cap, very black
eyes and eyebrows that contrasted strangely with
his light mustache. He walked gracefully in
spite of a slight limp.

" He is English," Sonia asserted, when well
out of earshot.

Victoria shook her head. " I don t think so.
I m sure I don t know why, but I don t."
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The Lorient-coifed chambermaid appeared bur
dened with towels and full of business. The girl
confronted her. " Do you know who the young
man is who just went up-stairs? He looks like
some one I know, but I can t be sure."

" Oh, yes fifty seven." The woman patted
the towels gently, as if struggling to remember
among the press of patrons. " Fifty-seven
fifty-seven came yesterday had a headache
and his dinner in his room. I think he went out
awhile ago, but he didn t stay long. Seems to
be expecting somebody from the way he sits
by the window. English ? of course. You
should hear him speak French." She laughed.
"His name? I don t know oh, yes, his bag
has J. O Farrell marked on it; it s a cheap bag,"
and with this information she proceeded on her
way.

" That settles it you ve lost," said Sonia.

" I suppose I have." Victoria s voice was puz
zled and unconvinced.

As they emerged into the street, Shorty
pounced upon them. " Come quick ! There s a
whole band of women from Faoue t going to have

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their sickles blessed. Oh, it s too bad the light
is going, I can t get a picture. It s fine, it s
wonderful ! "

Miss Bently s flat brown figure frantically beck
oned them to hasten, and the three ran forward
to the stone wall on which she stood, commanding
a view of the church doors over the swaying
heads of the crowd. A band of thirty or more
women were forming in line, their black skirts
kilted high, showing heavy ribbed stockings and
wooden shoes. Their hard, weather-worn faces
framed in the black triangular shawls that hung
from under round black caps, similar to those
worn by the priests of the Greek Church. In
their hands they held new sickles, some naked
and gleaming, some wrapped in wisps of wheat
straw. Some argument of precedence was evi
dently in progress, which, being at last compro
mised, the strange procession disappeared under
the sculptured arches of the portico.

" Where is the miraculous fountain, Shorty? "
Sonia inquired, as the thinning crowd permitted
them to descend from their perch.



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" Over here. Follow me; it s a sight; Boston
and I have been prospecting."

Elbowing their way across the " place," by the
medal-sellers, and the mushroom villages of can-
dlemongers, they became involved in a temporary
street of cider tents, wherein, bronzed and be
decked, the men of Brittany, like men the world
over, comforted first the body before grappling
with that illusive and unsatisfactory thing the
soul. Under the brown sail awnings they sat,
on long oak benches, drinking gravely and with
out noise, as is the fashion of that strange race,
that takes all its pleasures, even dancing, as if
Weltschmerz were the impulse. They regarded
the foreigners with amiable curiosity, commenting
aloud and unabashed in their rough, guttural Cel
tic, which is identical with the ancient and fast-
disappearing language of Cornwall. To the right
of the Scala Santa, the four came upon the foun
tain, a large and inartistic stone monument, pre
senting to the public a huge sign, " Beware of
pickpockets," and four granite shells, from which
the water flowed through sunken cisterns, resemb
ling the tanks of a natatorium. Wide stone steps

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led down, and every available inch of the ap
proaches was crowded by the faithful, old and
young, high and low, bonnet and coif together.
The sightless washed their eyes in the healing
waters, diseased skins were laved in it, open sores
and wounds were soothed and cleansed, the idiotic
were baptized, those sick of internal troubles lifted
it to their lips and drank. The relatives of those
too ill to come filled bottles from the pools, corked
them, and preciously carried them away in their
arms. The crowd of worshippers constantly re
newed itself, as those satisfied rose to their feet
and departed with hope in their hearts and mi
crobes in their systems. For the most part, the
throng was earnest and silent. Once only a
woman shrieked, casting the bandages from her
wounded head. Her eyes, burning with fever,
stared like two mad stars in her haggard, drawn
face, as she struggled with her stalwart sons,
who at last led her away, muttering and calling.
A momentary hush fell upon the crowd at the
fountain, a shade of doubt crept from face to
face as the sound of the woman s ravings grew



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fainter, then, with renewed vigor, they washed
and bottled and drank.

" And the miracle is," Victoria said, slowly,
" that they won t all die before morning."

Miss Bently turned from the scene a trifle
pale. " It is rather sickening, but I suppose if
you get a good new microbe to fight your own
bacilli, they have a chance of killing each other.
I don t doubt there are any number of cures from
that cause."

" I m coming down to-morrow morning early,"
Shorty announced, " to photograph that. No one
would believe us if we told about it it s too
unspeakably awful."

" Look at this, girls," Sonia interrupted, point
ing to a billboard, on which, amidst the usual
notice to " Beware of pickpockets," were the an
nouncements of special indulgences " For each
step of the Scala Santa on the knees with two
Aves and * a Pater, one hundred years of pur
gatory remitted ; for the entire Scala, ten thou
sand years ; Stations of the Cross, with Paters,
and Aves, one thousand years."

" Haven t you seen those before? " Shorty ex-



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claimed, with superiority. " There s a beautiful
framed announcement at the foot of the holy
stairs, which are just jammed full of people taking
advantage of the indulgences. It makes one s
knees sore to see them. Heavens ! there s a whole
covey of Englishwomen over there."

" Oh, that reminds me," Victoria spoke up,
" I lost my bet, Boston, my love. We asked the
chambermaid about the man you thought was
English. It seems his name is O Farrell, and he
speaks very bad French, so I suppose that settles
it but," and she shook her head, " somehow it
doesn t go ; maybe he s half-and-half, perhaps his
mother was French or Italian, or something. I
flatter myself I m a good guesser, and certainly
he does not spell English to me."

" Oh ! you re too sharp," Shorty laughed, as
they returned to the hotel entrance.

They had hardly crossed the threshold when
they became aware of the advancing presence of
the swarthy Madame Vernon-Chateau-Lamion.
With a well-bred haughtiness she inclined her
dark head, and addressed herself directly to Sonia,
including Victoria in the same glance. Boston
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and Shorty she ignored magnificently, turning
by instinct to her social equals.

" I am informed that I am indebted to you
ladies for the suite I now occupy. I assure you
that were it not for my daughter s critical condi
tion I should at once seek lodgings elsewhere.
As it is, I must, most unwillingly, impose upon
your kindness."

" Madame," returned Victoria, " we are glad


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