fervid grip; then dropped them and faced the others.
"I did not kill the Italian," he said. "He attacked me with my knife which he had stolen. In the struggle his hand was cut, but I took the weapon away from him. He quitted me alive and unhurt. I never saw him again. You don't believe it? Mary does, and that is more than all else."
"The circumstances don't favor you," the detective retorted, "they convict you. You killed Ravelli because you and he were both in love with this young lady."
"Isn't it the rejected suitor who kills the other one for spite?" This was in Mary Warriner's voice, weak, but still steady. "Ravelli loved me, I knew, and I drove him away. Mr. Heath loved me, I believed, and I had not repulsed him. If I were the cause of a murder between them, it should be Ravelli who killed Gerald."
"You detested Ravelli?" O'Reagan asked, with a strange bitterness.
"And you love Heath?"
The answer was no more hesitant than before; "Yes."
"Send the rest of my message," and the detective was boisterous. "Send the name. Gerald Heath is the murderer."
He roughly seized her hand and clapped it on the key. She drew it away, leaving his there. A blinding flash of lightning illumined the place, and what looked like a missile of fire flew down the wire to the instrument, where it exploded. O'Reagan fell insensible from the powerful electrical shock. The rest did not altogether escape, and for a minute all were dazed. The first thing that they fully comprehended was that O'Reagan was getting unsteadily to his feet. He was bewildered. Staggering and reeling, he began to talk.
Mary was first to perceive the import of his utterance. He was merely going on with what he had been saying, but the manner, not the matter, was astounding.
He spoke with an Italian accent, and made Italian gestures.
"You-a send ze mes-sage," he said; "Heath ees ze murder-are. Send-a ze mes-sage, I say."
Tonio Ravelli had unwittingly resumed his Italian style of English.
His plenitude of hair and whiskers was gone; and in the face, thereby uncovered, nobody could have recognized him in Detective O'Reagan but for his lapse into the foreign accent; and he said so much before discovering his blunder that his identification, as indeed Ravelli, was complete.
Who, then, was the dead man? Why, he was Eph.
Nothing but the fear of being himself condemned as a murderer of the maniac, as a part of the scheme of revenge against Gerald, induced Ravelli to explain. He had found Eph lying dead in the path, after both had parted from Gerald. The plot to exchange clothes with the corpse, drag it to the furnace, burn away all possibility of recognition, and thus make it seem to be his murdered self, was carried out with all the hot haste of a jealous vengeance. Ravelli was not an Italian, although very familiar with the language of Italy, and able, by a natural gift of mimicry, to hide himself from pursuit for a previous crime. Overlook had been a refuge until his passion for Mary Warriner led him to abandon his disguise. Thereupon, he had turned himself into Terence O'Reagan, a detective, whose malicious work wrought happiness for Gerald Heath and Mary Warriner.