Albert Paine.

The Mystery of Evelin Delorme: A Hypnotic Story



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"I know I put it in that pocket – I recollect it distinctly," he said, aloud; "perhaps it fell out when I took off my coat."

He looked hastily about the floor, then hurried out into the studio, searching rapidly and carefully. His face grew more and more troubled. Could anyone have come in during his absence and picked it up? Perhaps Harry had been here; if so, it was safe. As he stood there reflecting, trying to solve the mystery, he was looking directly at the weapons upon the wall. All at once he noticed that there was something different about their arrangement. Something was missing. It was the dagger! Then it all came to him. "Evelin!" he shouted. "Good God!"

He had wasted valuable time searching for the letter. He could hardly reach the place of appointment by six unless he could catch some kind of a vehicle.

"My God – my God! she will kill her – she will kill her! and all through my treachery."

He had fled from the house and was now speeding wildly westward. No cab was in sight and he could not wait to find one.

"She will kill her – she will kill her!" he groaned, over and over. "Oh, my God – my God!"

VIII

At a quarter before six, a woman ascended the marble steps of the old mansion at No. 74 West L – Street, east side. She wore a plain dress of silver-gray material, a rich Persian shawl, a neat walking hat, her face thickly veiled. Reaching the door, she laid her gloved hand on the knob, then hesitated, as if undecided whether to enter at once or ring.

The heavy clouds hung oppressively low, and it was already dusk. A few flakes of snow were falling, but it was not cold.

All at once the woman removed her hand from the door, slipped off her shawl and threw it across her arm. As she did so some thing glittered bright, which she hastily concealed beneath the shawl. As she stood now she was the exact counterpart of Eva Delorme. Then without further hesitation she laid hold of and turned the heavy knob of the massive black door. It yielded noiselessly, and she entered, closing it as noiselessly behind her.

Within all was dark. A faint ray of light crept in through the transom, penetrating a few feet into the blackness. She stood almost against the door, listening and hardly breathing. All was silent. She had expected the other to be there before her, waiting for his coming. She put out her hand and felt about her. She touched a chair at her left and softly laid her shawl upon it, keeping firm hold upon the keen weapon she had carried beneath it. She listened again; still no sound. She was growing impatient. She took a few steps forward, keeping one hand extended in front of her to avoid collision. Then she turned and retraced her steps.

She had been very cool, thus far, but she was losing control of herself. Why did she not come? She had said in her letter that she was ill – pshaw! it was but a trick to arouse his sympathy. She must come —she must come!

She paced back and forth in the small space which she had explored and found free from obstruction.

Three steps forward and turn – three steps back and turn; pausing each time to hold her breath and listen, while the fingers of her left hand involuntarily crept down and pressed against the keen point of the dagger until it pierced through her glove and entered the tender flesh.

Suddenly a white ray of light shot through the transom above her, falling at an angle against a projection in the wall at her left, and dimly illuminating the entire place. It was six o'clock, and the large arc light just outside was turned on. Then, as she reached the door and whirled quickly in her march, she saw her for whom she waited standing at the extreme farther end of the long hall. Between them was what appeared to be a narrow and ornamented archway.

She could dimly distinguish the figure clad in gray. The face, like her own, was veiled. She noticed with quick satisfaction that her disguise was perfect – the counterpart was exact even to the smallest detail.

Without hesitation, and concealing the dagger in the folds of her dress, she advanced quickly and silently toward her rival, who, somewhat to her surprise, instead of fleeing or crying out, also advanced. She was going to try strength with her.

"I will kill her with a blow," she muttered.

They were now within a few feet of each other – the ornamented arch exactly between them. Suddenly Evelin March snatched the dagger from its concealment and raised it aloft to strike. As she did so her rival made precisely the same movement, and something glittered in her hand also. Both took a quick, forward step, and each, at the same instant, struck fiercely with a swinging, downward blow.

A hissing metallic report, a low moan and the sound of a falling body – then silence.

A moment later the hall door burst open for a second time, and in the flood of electric light that poured in, Julian Paul Goetze saw a gray, veiled figure, stretched upon the floor, the gloved hand clasping a jeweled hilt, the blade of which was buried in her bosom. A stream of crimson was discoloring the fabric of her dress, and spreading in a dark pool on the rich carpet.

Rushing forward he caught up the prostrate form and tore away the veil.

Then, as if by magic, a revelation swept over him in one mighty wave of horror. The strange, piteous look he had once seen on the face of Evelin March was again before him, and while he gazed he saw it melting – melting, almost insensibly, like the blending outlines of a dissolving view – into the saintly loveliness of Eva Delorme.

The mists of doubt, the shadows of suspicion, and the fever of curiosity that had troubled him during those feverish months, were suddenly swept away. Eva Delorme – Evelin March – one and the same. One body, one soul, one heart; by some strange freak of nature – some wild mental vagary or devilish witchery of which he could not know – made two in life, but only one in death.

Above her was a heavy French-plate mirror, in an ornamented frame, cracked entirely across. From its polished surface the self-aimed, glancing dagger had found its way to the one troubled heart of those two strange lives, and brought to it silence and restfulness forever.

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