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The Evil Eye
by [?]

“You don’t know the woman who is causing the trouble. You haven’t seen her eyes. But–Madre de Dios!–my father is a changed man. Sometimes I think he is–what you call–mad!”

Our visitor spoke in a hurried, nervous tone, with a marked foreign accent which was not at all unpleasing. She was a young woman, unmistakably beautiful, of the dark Spanish type and apparently a South American.

“I am Senorita Inez de Mendoza of Lima, Peru,” she introduced herself, as she leaned forward in her chair in a high state of overwrought excitement. “We have been in this country only a short time–my father and I, with his partner in a mining venture, Mr. Lockwood. Since the hot weather came we have been staying at the Beach Inn at Atlantic Beach.”

She paused a moment and hesitated, as though in this strange land of the north she had no idea of which way to turn for help.

“Perhaps I should have gone to see a doctor about him,” she considered, doubtfully; then her emotions got the better of her and she went on passionately, “but, Mr. Kennedy it is not a case for a doctor. It is a case for a detective–for someone who is more than a detective.”

She spoke pleadingly now, in a soft musical voice that was far more pleasing to the ear than that of the usual Spanish-American. I had heard that the women of Lima were famed for their beauty and melodious voices. Senorita Mendoza surely upheld their reputation.

There was an appealing look in her soft brown eyes and her thin, delicate lips trembled as she hurried on with her strange story.

“I never saw my father in such a state before,” she murmured. “All he talks about is the ‘big fish’–whatever that may mean–and the curse of Mansiche. At times his eyes are staring wide open. Sometimes I think he has a violent fever. He is excited–and seems to be wasting away. He seems to see strange visions and hear voices. Yet I think he is worse when he is quiet in a dark room alone than when he is down in the lobby of the hotel in the midst of the crowd.”

A sudden flash of fire seemed to light up her dark eyes. “There is a woman at the hotel, too,” she went on, “a woman from Truxillo, Senora de Moche. Ever since she has been there my father has been growing worse and worse.”

“Who is this Senora de Moche?” asked Kennedy, studying the Senorita as if she were under a lens.

“A Peruvian of an old Indian family,” she replied. “She has come to New York with her son, Alfonso, who is studying at the University here. I knew him in Peru,” she added, as if by way of confession, “when he was a student at the University of Lima.”

There was something in both her tone and her manner that would lead one to believe that she bore no enmity toward the son–indeed quite the contrary–whatever might be her feelings toward the mother of de Moche.

Kennedy reached for our university catalogue and found the name, Alfonso de Moche, a post-graduate student in the School of Engineering, and therefore not in any of Kennedy’s own courses. I could see that Craig was growing more and more interested.

“And you think,” he queried, “that in some way this woman is connected with the strange change that has taken place in your father?”

“I don’t know,” she temporized, but the tone of her answer was sufficient to convey the impression that in her heart she did suspect something, she knew not what.

“It’s not a long run to Atlantic Beach,” considered Kennedy. “I have one or two things that I must finish up first, however.”

“Then you will come down tonight?” she asked, as Kennedy rose and took the little white silk gloved hand which she extended.