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The time mirror, p.1
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       The Time Mirror, p.1

           Clark South
 
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The Time Mirror


  Produced by Greg Weeks, Mary Meehan and the OnlineDistributed Proofreading Team at https://www.pgdp.net

  The TIME MIRROR

  By CLARK SOUTH

  [Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Amazing Stories December1942. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S.copyright on this publication was renewed.]

  [Sidenote: Here was a strange mirror indeed! It reflected an image allright, but not an image from the same era in history!]

  Pale moonlight spilled through the window and over the wedding giftsthat crowded the little room.

  "And this mirror, darling?" Mark Carter asked. "Who sent it?"

  A sudden flicker of worry flashed across Elaine Duchard's lovely face.She bit her lower lip nervously. Pretended to inspect a great silverpunchbowl that stood on a nearby table.

  "Who did you say sent the mirror?" her sweetheart repeated.

  Still another moment of taut hesitation. At last:

  "It's from Adrian Vance, Mark."

  "Adrian Vance!"

  Mark spat the name as if it were an epithet.

  "Sshhh! Not so loud!" A pause. "He's an old friend, dear. I can't forbidhim to send us a present. After all he's just trying to be polite."

  The man's brown eyes were smouldering. "Those were fine company mannershe showed off the night you told him you were going to marry me insteadof him!"

  Then, savagely:

  "I should have knocked out a mouthful of that damned antique dealer'steeth right then! Of all the gall--threatening you; saying you'd regretturning him down--"

  Again the girl silenced him.

  "Adrian always expected to marry me," she reminded. "My refusal brokehim up terribly. He was disappointed. Angry. So he said a lot of thingshe didn't really mean. Now he's trying to make up for it."

  "I still don't like that damned Vance! He's just the kind of snake who'dfigure out a way to get revenge. Something hideous--"

  Elaine laid her hand gently across her fiance's mouth.

  "You're acting jealous, Mark, and there's no need to," she said softly."You won. Remember? I'm marrying you tomorrow!"

  Mark's hands stole around her slim, supple waist and drew her to him.Her thinly-clad body was warm and fragrant in his arms.

  "I guess I keep forgetting," he said huskily. "Part of me still can'tquite seem to believe it's true. That we're going to be togetheralways."

  The girl's ripe lips curved in a little smile. Slender fingers caressedher sweetheart's tanned cheek.

  "You can believe it now, Mark," she whispered. "I'm yours. All yours.Forever."

  And then, ever so gently, she drew his head down. Their lips met. Clungwith young love's ardor.

  At last Mark straightened. He drew a deep breath.

  "You'd better go to bed now, dear," he advised. "Tomorrow's going to bea hard day."

  Another pause. Then a wry smile crossed his lips.

  "Besides, your father might not understand why you're wandering aroundthe house with me in the middle of the night, even though we are goingto be married tomorrow. That outfit you're wearing is subject to a lotof misinterpretation."

  * * * * *

  Elaine matched his smile with one of her own. She smoothed thediaphanous, curve-revealing negligee that displayed her charms to suchadvantage.

  "Oh, he'd understand, all right," she retorted. "Only I'm afraid he'dunderstand a lot of things that aren't true." She gave vent to adolorous sigh that the merriment sparkling in her blue eyes denied."Father's all French, you know. He's quick to understand situationswhere young ladies appear _en deshabille_."

  They turned to go. But again the Vance mirror caught Mark's eye.

  "Strange-looking affair, isn't it?" he commented.

  Elaine nodded. Drawing a comb from some place of concealment about her,she seated herself on a bench before the glass.

  A unique creation, that mirror. Circular and fully three feet indiameter, it now stood propped on top of a boudoir table. At firstglance its surface somehow gave an impression of queer, concentric wavesrippling through it. Yet the reflections it threw back were true;perfect.

  The frame was just as paradoxical. It looked as if it once had beengarishly ornate. Now, however, age had transmuted gaudiness to anindefinable antique charm.

  "Isn't it lovely?" breathed Elaine. She drew the comb through her hair.Watched the mirror and the moonlight transform its golden beauty to arippling cascade of silver. Mark stared, fascinated, over her shoulder.

  "The moonlight's beautiful tonight, Mark!" the girl murmured. "It makesmy hair dance in the glass like the waves of the sea." Her voice fadedto nothingness. Her eyes were half-closed.

  "Your hair is always beautiful, Elaine," her lover whispered, "and it'sno lovelier than all the rest of you, every inch." A moment'shesitation. "But we've got to get to bed, darling. There'll be so muchrunning around tomorrow--"

  "_Mark!_"

  Shock was in that sudden exclamation. Shock, and a little lilt of panic.It burst from Elaine's half-parted lips like the _thunk_ of a bulletslamming into a hardwood board.

  The man jerked to attention. Caught the girl's smooth shoulders in hisbig hands.

  "Elaine! What is it?"

  "Look! The mirror!"

  "The mirror?" Mark Carter's puzzled brown eyes sought the gleamingsurface of the glass. "What--?"

  "The reflection! Look!"

  Mark stared. Went suddenly tense in stark amazement, eyes wide.

  * * * * *

  For there, gazing back at him out of the mirror, was a new Elaine. AnElaine who stood beside a great black coach, the like of which had neverrolled American highways.

  There in the mirror was an image that was NOT areflection!]

  This woman's face was Elaine's. Yet there the resemblance ended. Thefilmy negligee of his own fiancee was replaced by the rich warmth of ascarlet satin gown and endless yards of white lace ruffles. The creamyskin of his own Elaine's bare arms came back as covered with long whitegloves to above the elbows. A perky little hat, of scarlet satin tomatch the dress, and topped with a huge aigrette plume, rode proudlyupon the elaborate coiffure of golden hair.

  Nor was it only in superficials that the reflection differed.

  The other woman had a character all her own, too. It showed in the tiltof her head, the way she stood, the expression on her lovely face.

  But most of all it showed in her eyes.

  Proud eyes, they were, and intelligent. They looked into Mark's ownbrown orbs calmly and without flinching. And they were not the eyes ofhis sweetheart. No. There was an indefinable _something_ lurking deep intheir cool blue depths that differentiated the reflection from Elaine.That made the woman in the glass another personality. Similar in manyways, yes. Fundamentally the same kind of person, yes.

  But not Elaine.

  Still Mark stared, mouth agape.

  A feeling was growing within him. A strange conviction that herecognized this other Elaine.

  "I've seen her before, some place!" he muttered half-aloud.

  And then Elaine was speaking again.

  "What is it, Mark? What's happened? Why does that mirror reflect backanother woman?" The girl's voice carried a little quaver ofbewilderment; of fear, almost. Her whole body trembled as if a chillwere running through her.

  Her voice jerked Mark from his paralysis. He turned sharply. His eyesprobed into every corner of the moonlit room, seeking vainly for someclue to account for this impossible phenomenon--

  "Mark, I'm afraid!"

  Even in the dim light of the little chamber the man could see the colordrain from his sweetheart's face as she spoke.

  "I've got the most aw
ful feeling down inside of me, Mark. As if thatwoman was in another world, and as if she was pulling me away from youand into it. My thoughts--they're not mine; they're hers! My mind'sdraining out of me. Don't let me go, Mark. Don't let me! I love you,Mark--"

  "Light! That's what we need!" Mark exploded into action. Sprang towardthe wall switch. "Hold on, Elaine. Three hundred watts will drive thatdamned ghost away--"

  "... I'm falling! I'm falling! Oh, Mark, I love you so! Mark, help me!_Help!_"

  * * * * *

  The girl's voice rose in a scream of wild terror. It tore at
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