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Table of Contents
Table of Contents List of stories in the Cthulhu Mythos Additional Stories Related to the Cthulhu Mythos I. II. I. The Shadow on the Chimney II. A Passer in the Storm III. What the Red Glare Meant IV. The Horror in the Eyes I. II. III. IV. V. I. The Horror in Clay. II. The Tale of Inspector Legrasse. III. The Madness from the Sea. The Curse of Yig Part I. Part II. Part III. Part IV. Part V. Part VI. Part VII. Part VIII. Part IX. Part X. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. IX. X. XI. XII. I. II. III. IV. V. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. I. II. I. II. III. IV. V. I. II. III. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. Chronology I. A Result and a Prologue II. An Antecedent and a Horror III. A Search and an Evocation IV. A Mutation and a Madness V. A Nightmare and a Cataclysm THE DIARY April 17, 1908 April 18 April 19 April 20 April 21 April 22 April 23 April 24 April 25 April 26 April 27 April 28 April 29 Walpurgis-Eve—April 30 I. II. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. List of stories in the Dreamlands Cycle Primary Works in the Dreamlands Cycle Additional Stories Related to the Dream Cycle I. II. III. IV. V. VI. VII. VIII. List of stories in the Extended Lovecraft Mythos The Alchemist (1908) I. II. I. II. III. IV. V. VI. The Book (1933) C.L. Moore A. Merritt H. P. Lovecraft Robert E. Howard Frank Belknap Long I. From the Dark II. The Plague-Daemon III. Six Shots by Midnight IV. The Scream of the Dead V. The Horror from the Shadows VI. The Tomb-Legions Expedition start–VI, 9 Later—Afternoon, VI, 13 Night—VI, 13 Night—VI, 14 Late Afternoon—VI, 15 Toward Night—VI, 15 I. II. I. II. Pre-human Era Ancient Civilizations Human Era Historical and Modern Era Future and Beyond Elder Gods Great Old Ones Elder Things Other Notable Entities Notable Races and Servitors Notable Cults and Groups FAQs

The Lovecraft Mythos

Stijn Dejongh

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Table of Contents

      • About: H.P. Lovecraft
      • The Loveable Lovecraft Mythos
    • The Cthulhu Mythos
      • Dagon
      • The Nameless City
      • Nyarlathotep
      • Azathoth
      • The Hound
      • The Festival
      • The Lurking Fear
      • The Unnamable
      • The Outsider
      • The Shunned House
      • The Call of Cthulhu
      • The Colour out of Space
      • The Dunwich Horror
      • At the Mountains of Madness
      • The Dreams in the Witch House
      • The Shadow over Innsmouth
      • The Shadow out of Time
      • The Haunter of the Dark
      • The Thing on the Doorstep
      • The Evil Clergyman
      • The Man of Stone
      • The Horror in the Museum
      • Out of the Aeons
      • The Tree on the Hill
      • The Mound
      • History of the Necronomicon
      • The Case of Charles Dexter Ward
      • The Diary of Alonzo Typer
      • Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family
      • The Horror at Red Hook
    • The Dreamlands Cycles
      • Polaris
      • The Doom That Came to Sarnath
      • The White Ship
      • The Cats of Ulthar
      • Celephaîs
      • Ex Oblivione
      • The Quest of Iranon
      • The Other Gods
      • Hypnos
      • The Strange High House in the Mist
      • The Silver Key
      • The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath
      • Through the Gates of the Silver Key
      • Beyond the Wall of Sleep
      • The Statement of Randolph Carter
      • The Transition of Juan Romero
      • The Crawling Chaos
      • The Green Meadow
      • The Descendant
    • The Extended Mythos
      • Memory
      • The Very Old Folk
      • Poetry and the Gods
      • The Tree
      • The Moon-Bog
      • The Street
      • The Terrible Old Man
      • The Tomb
      • The Picture in the House
      • The Music of Erich Zann
      • The Thing in the Moonlight
      • Pickman’s Model
      • The Temple
      • Under the Pyramids
      • Medusa’s Coil
      • The Challenge from Beyond
      • The Electric Executioner
      • Herbert West–Reanimator
      • The Hoard of the Wizard-Beast
      • The Night Ocean
      • In the Walls of Eryx
      • What the Moon Brings
      • Winged Death
      • Till A’ the Seas
    • Background information
      • Thematic and stylistic groupings
      • The Lovecraft Universe: Timeline and Key Events
      • Eldritch Horrors: A Guide to Lovecraftian Entities
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    Howard Phillips Lovecraft (August 20, 1890 – March 15, 1937) was an American writer of weird, science, fantasy,and horror fiction. He is best known for his creation of the Cthulhu Mythos.

    Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Lovecraft spent most of his life in New England. After his father’s institutionalization in 1893, he livedaffluently until his family’s wealth dissipated after the death of his grandfather. Lovecraft then lived with his mother, in reduced financialsecurity, until her institutionalization in 1919. He began to write essays for the United Amateur Press Association, and in 1913 wrote a criticalletter to a pulp magazine that ultimately led to his involvement in pulp fiction. He became active in the speculative fiction community and waspublished in several pulp magazines. Lovecraft moved to New York City, marrying Sonia Greene in 1924, and later became the center of a wider groupof authors known as the “Lovecraft Circle”. They introduced him to Weird Tales, which became his most prominent publisher. Lovecraft’s time in NewYork took a toll on his mental state and financial conditions. He returned to Providence in 1926 and produced some of his most popular works,including “The Call of Cthulhu”, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow over Innsmouth, and The Shadow Out of Time. He remained active as a writerfor 11 years until his death from intestinal cancer at the age of 46.

    H.P. Lovecraft’s political and racial opinions, which are evident in some of his writings and personal correspondence, reflect the prejudicedattitudes of his time. His xenophobic and racist views, though not uncommon in the early 20th century, are starkly at odds with contemporary valuesof equality and inclusivity. These aspects of Lovecraft’s worldview can be jarring and uncomfortable for modern readers, highlighting the evolutionof societal norms and the ongoing struggle against bigotry. Despite this, the editors of “The Lovecraft Mythos” have chosen to preserve the originaltexts in their entirety, recognizing their historical significance and the importance of presenting Lovecraft’s work unaltered. This decision allowsreaders to engage with his stories authentically, while also acknowledging the dated and problematic elements within his body of work.

    As H.P. Lovecraft was a prolific writer, the sheer volume of his works can be overwhelming for readers new to his universe.To help navigate the depth of his mythos, we have organized his stories into distinct categories based on their thematic content and connections.This book is divided into the following sections:

    • The Cthulhu Mythos

      • Primary Cthulhu Mythos Stories: These are the core stories that form the foundation of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos, featuring iconicentities and cosmic horror themes.

      • Stories Related to the Cthulhu Mythos: These tales, while not always directly connected to the primary mythos, share thematic andstylistic elements that enrich Lovecraft’s universe.

    • The Dreamlands Cycle

      • Primary Dreamlands Stories: These are the central stories set in the fantastical and dreamlike realms of the Dreamlands, exploringthemes of wonder, beauty, and cosmic adventure.

      • Stories Related to the Dreamlands Cycle: These stories touch upon the themes and elements of the Dreamlands, offering additionalinsights and expanding the dreamlike quality of Lovecraft’s narrative.

    • The Extended Mythos: Stories that are not part of the aforementioned categories but are related to the overarching cosmic horror and eldritchthemes of Lovecraft’s work. These tales further enrich the mythos with their exploration of forbidden knowledge, ancient curses, and otherworldlyhorrors.

    • Stand alone work: Not included in this book. Stories that do not share a thematic or content-wise connection to the main Lovecraft Mythos.These works highlight Lovecraft’s versatility and skill in creating psychological and macabre horror outside his established mythologies.

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    H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos” is a cornerstone of modern horror literature, weaving a complex tapestry of cosmic terror that has captivatedreaders for generations. Central to the Mythos is the pantheon of ancient, powerful deities known as the Great Old Ones, with Cthulhu being the mosticonic among them. These entities are depicted as vast, malevolent forces that exist beyond the comprehension of humanity, often lying dormant butcapable of causing untold destruction and madness when awakened. The Mythos is characterized by its themes of existential dread, the insignificanceof humanity in the face of an indifferent cosmos, and the fragility of sanity when confronted with the true nature of the universe.

    The stories within the Cthulhu Mythos span a wide range of settings and characters, from the decaying New England towns rife with dark secrets tothe remote corners of the Earth where ancient horrors lurk. Key tales like “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Dunwich Horror,” and “At the Mountains ofMadness” illustrate Lovecraft’s unique blend of science fiction, horror, and mythology. The Mythos also includes a vast array of forbidden texts,such as the infamous Necronomicon, which serve as grim repositories of eldritch knowledge. Lovecraft’s influence extends beyond his own writings,inspiring a myriad of authors who have expanded upon his universe, creating a shared mythos that continues to evolve. Through these interconnectednarratives, Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos explores the limits of human understanding and the chilling reality that some mysteries are better leftundiscovered.

    List of stories in the Cthulhu Mythos

    The stories in the Cthulhu Mythos are not typically ordered by their internal chronology, as Lovecraft’s works do not form a single continuousnarrative. Instead, they are usually listed by their publication date or grouped by thematic relevance.For your reading convenience, the stories in this book are ordered in a way that is more-or-less consistent with the main events in the LovecraftMythos. This ordering places the stories in a sequence that emphasizes their mythos connections and development of key themes and elements withinLovecraft’s universe.

    TitlePublishedDescription
    Dagon1919A war veteran encounters a monstrous sea deity after drifting to an uncharted island.
    The Nameless City1921An explorer discovers a forgotten, ancient city in the Arabian desert with a horrifying secret.
    Nyarlathotep1920The enigmatic Nyarlathotep roams the Earth, spreading madness and chaos.
    Azathoth1922A brief, poetic depiction of the mindless, chaos entity Azathoth at the center of the universe.
    The Hound1922Grave robbers unleash a vengeful, supernatural hound after stealing a cursed artifact.
    The Festival1923A man attends a grotesque, ancient festival in a decaying New England town.
    The Lurking Fear1923An investigation into mysterious deaths in the Catskill Mountains reveals a monstrous family secret.
    The Rats in the Walls1924A man uncovers the horrifying secret of his ancestral home, linking it to ancient and malevolent beings.
    The Unnamable1925Two friends encounter a horrifying creature in an old cemetery.
    The Outsider1926A solitary individual escapes from an underground dwelling only to discover a shocking truth about himself.
    The Shunned House1937A man investigates an old house with a history of mysterious deaths and encounters a vampiric entity.
    The Call of Cthulhu1928A man uncovers evidence of the terrifying, dormant sea god Cthulhu and its cult.
    The Colour out of Space1927A meteorite crashes on a farm, releasing a color that drains life and sanity.
    The Curse of Yig1928A pioneer encounters the snake god Yig and faces a dreadful curse.
    The Dunwich Horror1928A rural community is terrorized by an otherworldly being summoned by a degenerate family.
    The Whisperer in Darkness1930A scholar investigates reports of extraterrestrial creatures in rural Vermont.
    At the Mountains of Madness1931Antarctic explorers discover an ancient, alien city and its horrifying secrets.
    The Dreams in the Witch House1933A student rents a room in a witch-haunted house, leading to nightmarish experiences.
    The Shadow over Innsmouth1936A man learns of his disturbing heritage linked to the aquatic Deep Ones in a decaying town.
    The Shadow out of Time1936A professor experiences a strange amnesia and uncovers his mind’s journey through time and space.
    The Haunter of the Dark1936An artist becomes obsessed with an abandoned church and the dark entity within.
    The Thing on the Doorstep1937A man confronts his best friend’s disturbing possession by a sorceress.
    The Evil Clergyman1939A man experiences a terrifying encounter with an otherworldly being after inspecting a haunted room.
    The Man of Stone1932(with Hazel Heald) Two men discover petrified human figures and uncover a supernatural cause.
    The Horror in the Museum1933(with Hazel Heald) A curator’s sinister exhibits in a wax museum come to terrifying life.
    Out of the Aeons1935(with Hazel Heald) An ancient mummy in a museum holds a dark and otherworldly secret.
    The Tree on the Hill1934(with Duane W. Rimel) Two friends explore a hill with a mysterious, otherworldly tree linked to cosmic horror.
    The Mound1940(with Zealia Bishop) Explorers uncover a subterranean civilization linked to a cursed Native American mound.
    History of the Necronomicon1927A fictional history of the infamous, cursed book of forbidden knowledge.

    Additional Stories Related to the Cthulhu Mythos

    While the primary works form the core of the Cthulhu Mythos, many other tales also delve into the cosmic horrors and eldritch beings that inhabitLovecraft’s universe. These additional stories, though not always directly connected to the central mythos, share a thematic and stylistic kinshipwith Lovecraft’s major works. They explore the same sense of cosmic dread, the insignificance of humanity, and the perilous pursuit of forbiddenknowledge. By expanding the mythos, these tales enrich the tapestry of Lovecraft’s universe, offering further glimpses into the haunted locations,ancient curses, and otherworldly entities that define his unique brand of horror.

    TitlePublishedDescription
    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward1941A young man from Providence, Rhode Island, becomes obsessed with his ancestor, Joseph Curwen, an alleged wizard and necromancer.
    The diary of Alonzo Typer1938(with William Lumley) Diary entries of Alonzo Typer, an antiquarian investigating an old, abandoned mansion in the remote countryside.
    Facts concerning the Late Arthur Jermyn and His Family1920The tragic tale of Arthur Jermyn, an English nobleman whose family history is intertwined with dark secrets.
    The Horror at Red Hook1925A detective investigates a series of mysterious disappearances.

    I am writing this under an appreciable mental strain, since by tonight I shall be no more. Penniless,and at the end of my supply of the drug which alone makes life endurable, I can bear the tortureno longer; and shall cast myself from this garret window into the squalid street below. Do notthink from my slavery to morphine that I am a weakling or a degenerate. When you have read thesehastily scrawled pages you may guess, though never fully realise, why it is that I must haveforgetfulness or death.

    It was in one of the most open and least frequented parts of the broad Pacificthat the packet of which I was supercargo fell a victim to the German sea-raider. The greatwar was then at its very beginning, and the ocean forces of the Hun had not completely sunkto their later degradation; so that our vessel was made a legitimate prize, whilst we of hercrew were treated with all the fairness and consideration due us as naval prisoners. So liberal,indeed, was the discipline of our captors, that five days after we were taken I managed to escapealone in a small boat with water and provisions for a good length of time.

    When I finally found myself adrift and free, I had but little idea of my surroundings.Never a competent navigator, I could only guess vaguely by the sun and stars that I was somewhatsouth of the equator. Of the longitude I knew nothing, and no island or coast-line was in sight.The weather kept fair, and for uncounted days I drifted aimlessly beneath the scorching sun;waiting either for some passing ship, or to be cast on the shores of some habitable land. Butneither ship nor land appeared, and I began to despair in my solitude upon the heaving vastnessesof unbroken blue.

    The change happened whilst I slept. Its details I shall never know; for myslumber, though troubled and dream-infested, was continuous. When at last I awaked, it was todiscover myself half sucked into a slimy expanse of hellish black mire which extended aboutme in monotonous undulations as far as I could see, and in which my boat lay grounded some distanceaway.

    Though one might well imagine that my first sensation would be of wonder atso prodigious and unexpected a transformation of scenery, I was in reality more horrified thanastonished; for there was in the air and in the rotting soil a sinister quality which chilledme to the very core. The region was putrid with the carcasses of decaying fish, and of otherless describable things which I saw protruding from the nasty mud of the unending plain. PerhapsI should not hope to convey in mere words the unutterable hideousness that can dwell in absolutesilence and barren immensity. There was nothing within hearing, and nothing in sight save avast reach of black slime; yet the very completeness of the stillness and the hom*ogeneity ofthe landscape oppressed me with a nauseating fear.

    The sun was blazing down from a sky which seemed to me almost black in itscloudless cruelty; as though reflecting the inky marsh beneath my feet. As I crawled into thestranded boat I realised that only one theory could explain my position. Through some unprecedentedvolcanic upheaval, a portion of the ocean floor must have been thrown to the surface, exposingregions which for innumerable millions of years had lain hidden under unfathomable watery depths.So great was the extent of the new land which had risen beneath me, that I could not detectthe faintest noise of the surging ocean, strain my ears as I might. Nor were there any sea-fowlto prey upon the dead things.

    For several hours I sat thinking or brooding in the boat, which lay upon itsside and afforded a slight shade as the sun moved across the heavens. As the day progressed,the ground lost some of its stickiness, and seemed likely to dry sufficiently for travellingpurposes in a short time. That night I slept but little, and the next day I made for myselfa pack containing food and water, preparatory to an overland journey in search of the vanishedsea and possible rescue.

    On the third morning I found the soil dry enough to walk upon with ease. Theodour of the fish was maddening; but I was too much concerned with graver things to mind soslight an evil, and set out boldly for an unknown goal. All day I forged steadily westward,guided by a far-away hummock which rose higher than any other elevation on the rolling desert.That night I encamped, and on the following day still travelled toward the hummock, though thatobject seemed scarcely nearer than when I had first espied it. By the fourth evening I attainedthe base of the mound, which turned out to be much higher than it had appeared from a distance;an intervening valley setting it out in sharper relief from the general surface. Too weary toascend, I slept in the shadow of the hill.

    I know not why my dreams were so wild that night; but ere the waning and fantasticallygibbous moon had risen far above the eastern plain, I was awake in a cold perspiration, determinedto sleep no more. Such visions as I had experienced were too much for me to endure again. Andin the glow of the moon I saw how unwise I had been to travel by day. Without the glare of theparching sun, my journey would have cost me less energy; indeed, I now felt quite able to performthe ascent which had deterred me at sunset. Picking up my pack, I started for the crest of theeminence.

    I have said that the unbroken monotony of the rolling plain was a source ofvague horror to me; but I think my horror was greater when I gained the summit of the moundand looked down the other side into an immeasurable pit or canyon, whose black recesses themoon had not yet soared high enough to illumine. I felt myself on the edge of the world; peeringover the rim into a fathomless chaos of eternal night. Through my terror ran curious reminiscencesof Paradise Lost, and of Satan’s hideous climb through the unfashioned realms ofdarkness.

    As the moon climbed higher in the sky, I began to see that the slopes of thevalley were not quite so perpendicular as I had imagined. Ledges and outcroppings of rock affordedfairly easy foot-holds for a descent, whilst after a drop of a few hundred feet, the declivitybecame very gradual. Urged on by an impulse which I cannot definitely analyse, I scrambled withdifficulty down the rocks and stood on the gentler slope beneath, gazing into the Stygian deepswhere no light had yet penetrated.

    All at once my attention was captured by a vast and singular object on theopposite slope, which rose steeply about an hundred yards ahead of me; an object that gleamedwhitely in the newly bestowed rays of the ascending moon. That it was merely a gigantic pieceof stone, I soon assured myself; but I was conscious of a distinct impression that its contourand position were not altogether the work of Nature. A closer scrutiny filled me with sensationsI cannot express; for despite its enormous magnitude, and its position in an abyss which hadyawned at the bottom of the sea since the world was young, I perceived beyond a doubt that thestrange object was a well-shaped monolith whose massive bulk had known the workmanship and perhapsthe worship of living and thinking creatures.

    Dazed and frightened, yet not without a certain thrill of the scientist’sor archaeologist’s delight, I examined my surroundings more closely. The moon, now nearthe zenith, shone weirdly and vividly above the towering steeps that hemmed in the chasm, andrevealed the fact that a far-flung body of water flowed at the bottom, winding out of sightin both directions, and almost lapping my feet as I stood on the slope. Across the chasm, thewavelets washed the base of the Cyclopean monolith; on whose surface I could now trace bothinscriptions and crude sculptures. The writing was in a system of hieroglyphics unknown to me,and unlike anything I had ever seen in books; consisting for the most part of conventionalisedaquatic symbols such as fishes, eels, octopi, crustaceans, molluscs, whales, and the like. Severalcharacters obviously represented marine things which are unknown to the modern world, but whosedecomposing forms I had observed on the ocean-risen plain.

    It was the pictorial carving, however, that did most to hold me spellbound.Plainly visible across the intervening water on account of their enormous size, were an arrayof bas-reliefs whose subjects would have excited the envy of a Doré. I think that thesethings were supposed to depict men—at least, a certain sort of men; though the creatureswere shewn disporting like fishes in the waters of some marine grotto, or paying homage at somemonolithic shrine which appeared to be under the waves as well. Of their faces and forms I darenot speak in detail; for the mere remembrance makes me grow faint. Grotesque beyond the imaginationof a Poe or a Bulwer, they were damnably human in general outline despite webbed hands and feet,shockingly wide and flabby lips, glassy, bulging eyes, and other features less pleasant to recall.Curiously enough, they seemed to have been chiselled badly out of proportion with their scenicbackground; for one of the creatures was shewn in the act of killing a whale represented asbut little larger than himself. I remarked, as I say, their grotesqueness and strange size;but in a moment decided that they were merely the imaginary gods of some primitive fishing orseafaring tribe; some tribe whose last descendant had perished eras before the first ancestorof the Piltdown or Neanderthal Man was born. Awestruck at this unexpected glimpse into a pastbeyond the conception of the most daring anthropologist, I stood musing whilst the moon castqueer reflections on the silent channel before me.

    Then suddenly I saw it. With only a slight churning to mark its rise to thesurface, the thing slid into view above the dark waters. Vast, Polyphemus-like, and loathsome,it darted like a stupendous monster of nightmares to the monolith, about which it flung itsgigantic scaly arms, the while it bowed its hideous head and gave vent to certain measured sounds.I think I went mad then.

    Of my frantic ascent of the slope and cliff, and of my delirious journey backto the stranded boat, I remember little. I believe I sang a great deal, and laughed oddly whenI was unable to sing. I have indistinct recollections of a great storm some time after I reachedthe boat; at any rate, I know that I heard peals of thunder and other tones which Nature uttersonly in her wildest moods.

    When I came out of the shadows I was in a San Francisco hospital; brought thitherby the captain of the American ship which had picked up my boat in mid-ocean. In my deliriumI had said much, but found that my words had been given scant attention. Of any land upheavalin the Pacific, my rescuers knew nothing; nor did I deem it necessary to insist upon a thingwhich I knew they could not believe. Once I sought out a celebrated ethnologist, and amusedhim with peculiar questions regarding the ancient Philistine legend of Dagon, the Fish-God;but soon perceiving that he was hopelessly conventional, I did not press my inquiries.

    It is at night, especially when the moon is gibbous and waning, that I seethe thing. I tried morphine; but the drug has given only transient surcease, and has drawn meinto its clutches as a hopeless slave. So now I am to end it all, having written a full accountfor the information or the contemptuous amusem*nt of my fellow-men. Often I ask myself if itcould not all have been a pure phantasm–a mere freak of fever as I lay sun-stricken andraving in the open boat after my escape from the German man-of-war. This I ask myself, but everdoes there come before me a hideously vivid vision in reply. I cannot think of the deep seawithout shuddering at the nameless things that may at this very moment be crawling and flounderingon its slimy bed, worshipping their ancient stone idols and carving their own detestable likenesseson submarine obelisks of water-soaked granite. I dream of a day when they may rise above thebillows to drag down in their reeking talons the remnants of puny, war-exhausted mankind–ofa day when the land shall sink, and the dark ocean floor shall ascend amidst universal pandemonium.

    The end is near. I hear a noise at the door, as of some immense slippery bodylumbering against it. It shall not find me. God, that hand! The window! The window!

    When I drew nigh the nameless city I knew it was accursed. I was travellingin a parched and terrible valley under the moon, and afar I saw it protruding uncannily abovethe sands as parts of a corpse may protrude from an ill-made grave. Fear spoke from the age-wornstones of this hoary survivor of the deluge, this great-grandmother of the eldest pyramid; anda viewless aura repelled me and bade me retreat from antique and sinister secrets that no manshould see, and no man else had ever dared to see.

    Remote in the desert of Araby lies the nameless city, crumbling and inarticulate,its low walls nearly hidden by the sands of uncounted ages. It must have been thus before thefirst stones of Memphis were laid, and while the bricks of Babylon were yet unbaked. There isno legend so old as to give it a name, or to recall that it was ever alive; but it is told ofin whispers around campfires and muttered about by grandams in the tents of sheiks, so thatall the tribes shun it without wholly knowing why. It was of this place that Abdul Alhazredthe mad poet dreamed on the night before he sang his unexplainable couplet:

    That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

    I should have known that the Arabs had good reason for shunning the namelesscity, the city told of in strange tales but seen by no living man, yet I defied them and wentinto the untrodden waste with my camel. I alone have seen it, and that is why no other facebears such hideous lines of fear as mine; why no other man shivers so horribly when the night-windrattles the windows. When I came upon it in the ghastly stillness of unending sleep it lookedat me, chilly from the rays of a cold moon amidst the desert’s heat. And as I returnedits look I forgot my triumph at finding it, and stopped still with my camel to wait for thedawn.

    For hours I waited, till the east grew grey and the stars faded, and the greyturned to roseal light edged with gold. I heard a moaning and saw a storm of sand stirring amongthe antique stones though the sky was clear and the vast reaches of the desert still. Then suddenlyabove the desert’s far rim came the blazing edge of the sun, seen through the tiny sandstormwhich was passing away, and in my fevered state I fancied that from some remote depth therecame a crash of musical metal to hail the fiery disc as Memnon hails it from the banks of theNile. My ears rang and my imagination seethed as I led my camel slowly across the sand to thatunvocal stone place; that place too old for Egypt and Meroë to remember; that place whichI alone of living men had seen.

    In and out amongst the shapeless foundations of houses and palaces I wandered,finding never a carving or inscription to tell of those men, if men they were, who built thecity and dwelt therein so long ago. The antiquity of the spot was unwholesome, and I longedto encounter some sign or device to prove that the city was indeed fashioned by mankind. Therewere certain proportions and dimensions in the ruins which I did not like. I hadwith me many tools, and dug much within the walls of the obliterated edifices; but progresswas slow, and nothing significant was revealed. When night and the moon returned I felt a chillwind which brought new fear, so that I did not dare to remain in the city. And as I went outsidethe antique walls to sleep, a small sighing sandstorm gathered behind me, blowing over the greystones though the moon was bright and most of the desert still.

    I awaked just at dawn from a pageant of horrible dreams, my ears ringing asfrom some metallic peal. I saw the sun peering redly through the last gusts of a little sandstormthat hovered over the nameless city, and marked the quietness of the rest of the landscape.Once more I ventured within those brooding ruins that swelled beneath the sand like an ogreunder a coverlet, and again dug vainly for relics of the forgotten race. At noon I rested, andin the afternoon I spent much time tracing the walls, and the bygone streets, and the outlinesof the nearly vanished buildings. I saw that the city had been mighty indeed, and wondered atthe sources of its greatness. To myself I pictured all the splendours of an age so distant thatChaldaea could not recall it, and thought of Sarnath the Doomed, that stood in the land of Mnarwhen mankind was young, and of Ib, that was carven of grey stone before mankind existed.

    All at once I came upon a place where the bed-rock rose stark through the sandand formed a low cliff; and here I saw with joy what seemed to promise further traces of theantediluvian people. Hewn rudely on the face of the cliff were the unmistakable facades of severalsmall, squat rock houses or temples; whose interiors might preserve many secrets of ages tooremote for calculation, though sandstorms had long since effaced any carvings which may havebeen outside.

    Very low and sand-choked were all of the dark apertures near me, but I clearedone with my spade and crawled through it, carrying a torch to reveal whatever mysteries it mighthold. When I was inside I saw that the cavern was indeed a temple, and beheld plain signs ofthe race that had lived and worshipped before the desert was a desert. Primitive altars, pillars,and niches, all curiously low, were not absent; and though I saw no sculptures nor frescoes,there were many singular stones clearly shaped into symbols by artificial means. The lownessof the chiselled chamber was very strange, for I could hardly more than kneel upright; but thearea was so great that my torch shewed only part at a time. I shuddered oddly in some of thefar corners; for certain altars and stones suggested forgotten rites of terrible, revolting,and inexplicable nature, and made me wonder what manner of men could have made and frequentedsuch a temple. When I had seen all that the place contained, I crawled out again, avid to findwhat the other temples might yield.

    Night had now approached, yet the tangible things I had seen made curiositystronger than fear, so that I did not flee from the long moon-cast shadows that had dauntedme when first I saw the nameless city. In the twilight I cleared another aperture and with anew torch crawled into it, finding more vague stones and symbols, though nothing more definitethan the other temple had contained. The room was just as low, but much less broad, ending ina very narrow passage crowded with obscure and cryptical shrines. About these shrines I wasprying when the noise of a wind and of my camel outside broke through the stillness and drewme forth to see what could have frightened the beast.

    The moon was gleaming vividly over the primeval ruins, lighting a dense cloudof sand that seemed blown by a strong but decreasing wind from some point along the cliff aheadof me. I knew it was this chilly, sandy wind which had disturbed the camel, and was about tolead him to a place of better shelter when I chanced to glance up and saw that there was nowind atop the cliff. This astonished me and made me fearful again, but I immediately recalledthe sudden local winds I had seen and heard before at sunrise and sunset, and judged it wasa normal thing. I decided that it came from some rock fissure leading to a cave, and watchedthe troubled sand to trace it to its source; soon perceiving that it came from the black orificeof a temple a long distance south of me, almost out of sight. Against the choking sand-cloudI plodded toward this temple, which as I neared it loomed larger than the rest, and shewed adoorway far less clogged with caked sand. I would have entered had not the terrific force ofthe icy wind almost quenched my torch. It poured madly out of the dark door, sighing uncannilyas it ruffled the sand and spread about the weird ruins. Soon it grew fainter and the sand grewmore and more still, till finally all was at rest again; but a presence seemed stalking amongthe spectral stones of the city, and when I glanced at the moon it seemed to quiver as thoughmirrored in unquiet waters. I was more afraid than I could explain, but not enough to dull mythirst for wonder; so as soon as the wind was quite gone I crossed into the dark chamber fromwhich it had come.

    This temple, as I had fancied from the outside, was larger than either of thoseI had visited before; and was presumably a natural cavern, since it bore winds from some regionbeyond. Here I could stand quite upright, but saw that the stones and altars were as low asthose in the other temples. On the walls and roof I beheld for the first time some traces ofthe pictorial art of the ancient race, curious curling streaks of paint that had almost fadedor crumbled away; and on two of the altars I saw with rising excitement a maze of well-fashionedcurvilinear carvings. As I held my torch aloft it seemed to me that the shape of the roof wastoo regular to be natural, and I wondered what the prehistoric cutters of stone had first workedupon. Their engineering skill must have been vast.

    Then a brighter flare of the fantastic flame shewed me that for which I hadbeen seeking, the opening to those remoter abysses whence the sudden wind had blown; and I grewfaint when I saw that it was a small and plainly artificial door chiselled in the solidrock. I thrust my torch within, beholding a black tunnel with the roof arching low over a roughflight of very small, numerous, and steeply descending steps. I shall always see those stepsin my dreams, for I came to learn what they meant. At the time I hardly knew whether to callthem steps or mere foot-holds in a precipitous descent. My mind was whirling with mad thoughts,and the words and warnings of Arab prophets seemed to float across the desert from the landsthat men know to the nameless city that men dare not know. Yet I hesitated only a moment beforeadvancing through the portal and commencing to climb cautiously down the steep passage, feetfirst, as though on a ladder.

    It is only in the terrible phantasms of drugs or delirium that any other mancan have had such a descent as mine. The narrow passage led infinitely down like some hideoushaunted well, and the torch I held above my head could not light the unknown depths toward whichI was crawling. I lost track of the hours and forgot to consult my watch, though I was frightenedwhen I thought of the distance I must be traversing. There were changes of direction and ofsteepness, and once I came to a long, low, level passage where I had to wriggle feet first alongthe rocky floor, holding my torch at arm’s length beyond my head. The place was not highenough for kneeling. After that were more of the steep steps, and I was still scrambling downinterminably when my failing torch died out. I do not think I noticed it at the time, for whenI did notice it I was still holding it high above me as if it were ablaze. I was quite unbalancedwith that instinct for the strange and the unknown which has made me a wanderer upon earth anda haunter of far, ancient, and forbidden places.

    In the darkness there flashed before my mind fragments of my cherished treasuryof daemoniac lore; sentences from Alhazred the mad Arab, paragraphs from the apocryphal nightmaresof Damascius, and infamous lines from the delirious Image du Monde of Gauthier de Metz.I repeated queer extracts, and muttered of Afrasiab and the daemons that floated with him downthe Oxus; later chanting over and over again a phrase from one of Lord Dunsany’s tales— “theunreverberate blackness of the abyss “. Once when the descent grew amazingly steep I recitedsomething in sing-song from Thomas Moore until I feared to recite more:

    “A reservoir of darkness, blackAs witches’ cauldrons are, when fill’dWith moon-drugs in th’ eclipse distill’d.Leaning to look if foot might passDown thro’ that chasm, I saw, beneath,As far as vision could explore,The jetty sides as smooth as glass,Looking as if just varnish’d o’erWith that dark pitch the Sea of DeathThrows out upon its slimy shore. “

    Time had quite ceased to exist when my feet again felt a level floor, and Ifound myself in a place slightly higher than the rooms in the two smaller temples now so incalculablyfar above my head. I could not quite stand, but could kneel upright, and in the dark I shuffledand crept hither and thither at random. I soon knew that I was in a narrow passage whose wallswere lined with cases of wood having glass fronts. As in that Palaeozoic and abysmal place Ifelt of such things as polished wood and glass I shuddered at the possible implications. Thecases were apparently ranged along each side of the passage at regular intervals, and were oblongand horizontal, hideously like coffins in shape and size. When I tried to move two or threefor further examination, I found they were firmly fastened.

    I saw that the passage was a long one, so floundered ahead rapidly in a creepingrun that would have seemed horrible had any eye watched me in the blackness; crossing from sideto side occasionally to feel of my surroundings and be sure the walls and rows of cases stillstretched on. Man is so used to thinking visually that I almost forgot the darkness and picturedthe endless corridor of wood and glass in its low-studded monotony as though I saw it. And thenin a moment of indescribable emotion I did see it.

    Just when my fancy merged into real sight I cannot tell; but there came a gradualglow ahead, and all at once I knew that I saw the dim outlines of the corridor and the cases,revealed by some unknown subterranean phosphorescence. For a little while all was exactly asI had imagined it, since the glow was very faint; but as I mechanically kept on stumbling aheadinto the stronger light I realised that my fancy had been but feeble. This hall was no relicof crudity like the temples in the city above, but a monument of the most magnificent and exoticart. Rich, vivid, and daringly fantastic designs and pictures formed a continuous scheme ofmural painting whose lines and colours were beyond description. The cases were of a strangegolden wood, with fronts of exquisite glass, and contained the mummified forms of creaturesoutreaching in grotesqueness the most chaotic dreams of man.

    To convey any idea of these monstrosities is impossible. They were of the reptilekind, with body lines suggesting sometimes the crocodile, sometimes the seal, but more oftennothing of which either the naturalist or the palaeontologist ever heard. In size they approximateda small man, and their fore legs bore delicate and evidently flexible feet curiously like humanhands and fingers. But strangest of all were their heads, which presented a contour violatingall known biological principles. To nothing can such things be well compared—in one flashI thought of comparisons as varied as the cat, the bulldog, the mythic Satyr, and the humanbeing. Not Jove himself had so colossal and protuberant a forehead, yet the horns and the noselessnessand the alligator-like jaw placed the things outside all established categories. I debated fora time on the reality of the mummies, half suspecting they were artificial idols; but soon decidedthey were indeed some palaeogean species which had lived when the nameless city was alive. Tocrown their grotesqueness, most of them were gorgeously enrobed in the costliest of fabrics,and lavishly laden with ornaments of gold, jewels, and unknown shining metals.

    The importance of these crawling creatures must have been vast, for they heldfirst place among the wild designs on the frescoed walls and ceiling. With matchless skill hadthe artist drawn them in a world of their own, wherein they had cities and gardens fashionedto suit their dimensions; and I could not but think that their pictured history was allegorical,perhaps shewing the progress of the race that worshipped them. These creatures, I said to myself,were to the men of the nameless city what the she-wolf was to Rome, or some totem-beast is toa tribe of Indians.

    Holding this view, I thought I could trace roughly a wonderful epic of thenameless city; the tale of a mighty sea-coast metropolis that ruled the world before Africarose out of the waves, and of its struggles as the sea shrank away, and the desert crept intothe fertile valley that held it. I saw its wars and triumphs, its troubles and defeats, andafterward its terrible fight against the desert when thousands of its people—here representedin allegory by the grotesque reptiles—were driven to chisel their way down through therocks in some marvellous manner to another world whereof their prophets had told them. It wasall vividly weird and realistic, and its connexion with the awesome descent I had made was unmistakable.I even recognised the passages.

    As I crept along the corridor toward the brighter light I saw later stagesof the painted epic—the leave-taking of the race that had dwelt in the nameless city andthe valley around for ten million years; the race whose souls shrank from quitting scenes theirbodies had known so long, where they had settled as nomads in the earth’s youth, hewingin the virgin rock those primal shrines at which they never ceased to worship. Now that thelight was better I studied the pictures more closely, and, remembering that the strange reptilesmust represent the unknown men, pondered upon the customs of the nameless city. Many thingswere peculiar and inexplicable. The civilisation, which included a written alphabet, had seeminglyrisen to a higher order than those immeasurably later civilisations of Egypt and Chaldaea, yetthere were curious omissions. I could, for example, find no pictures to represent deaths orfuneral customs, save such as were related to wars, violence, and plagues; and I wondered atthe reticence shewn concerning natural death. It was as though an ideal of earthly immortalityhad been fostered as a cheering illusion.

    Still nearer the end of the passage were painted scenes of the utmost picturesquenessand extravagance; contrasted views of the nameless city in its desertion and growing ruin, andof the strange new realm or paradise to which the race had hewed its way through the stone.In these views the city and the desert valley were shewn always by moonlight, a golden nimbushovering over the fallen walls and half revealing the splendid perfection of former times, shewnspectrally and elusively by the artist. The paradisal scenes were almost too extravagant tobe believed; portraying a hidden world of eternal day filled with glorious cities and etherealhills and valleys. At the very last I thought I saw signs of an artistic anti-climax. The paintingswere less skilful, and much more bizarre than even the wildest of the earlier scenes. They seemedto record a slow decadence of the ancient stock, coupled with a growing ferocity toward theoutside world from which it was driven by the desert. The forms of the people—always representedby the sacred reptiles—appeared to be gradually wasting away, though their spirit as shewnhovering about the ruins by moonlight gained in proportion. Emaciated priests, displayed asreptiles in ornate robes, cursed the upper air and all who breathed it; and one terrible finalscene shewed a primitive-looking man, perhaps a pioneer of ancient Irem, the City of Pillars,torn to pieces by members of the elder race. I remembered how the Arabs fear the nameless city,and was glad that beyond this place the grey walls and ceiling were bare.

    As I viewed the pageant of mural history I had approached very closely theend of the low-ceiled hall, and was aware of a great gate through which came all of the illuminatingphosphorescence. Creeping up to it, I cried aloud in transcendent amazement at what lay beyond;for instead of other and brighter chambers there was only an illimitable void of uniform radiance,such as one might fancy when gazing down from the peak of Mount Everest upon a sea of sunlitmist. Behind me was a passage so cramped that I could not stand upright in it; before me wasan infinity of subterranean effulgence.

    Reaching down from the passage into the abyss was the head of a steep flightof steps—small numerous steps like those of the black passages I had traversed—butafter a few feet the glowing vapours concealed everything. Swung back open against the left-handwall of the passage was a massive door of brass, incredibly thick and decorated with fantasticbas-reliefs, which could if closed shut the whole inner world of light away from the vaultsand passages of rock. I looked at the steps, and for the nonce dared not try them. I touchedthe open brass door, and could not move it. Then I sank prone to the stone floor, my mind aflamewith prodigious reflections which not even a death-like exhaustion could banish.

    As I lay still with closed eyes, free to ponder, many things I had lightlynoted in the frescoes came back to me with new and terrible significance—scenes representingthe nameless city in its heyday, the vegetation of the valley around it, and the distant landswith which its merchants traded. The allegory of the crawling creatures puzzled me by its universalprominence, and I wondered that it should be so closely followed in a pictured history of suchimportance. In the frescoes the nameless city had been shewn in proportions fitted to the reptiles.I wondered what its real proportions and magnificence had been, and reflected a moment on certainoddities I had noticed in the ruins. I thought curiously of the lowness of the primal templesand of the underground corridor, which were doubtless hewn thus out of deference to the reptiledeities there honoured; though it perforce reduced the worshippers to crawling. Perhaps thevery rites had involved a crawling in imitation of the creatures. No religious theory, however,could easily explain why the level passage in that awesome descent should be as low as the temples—orlower, since one could not even kneel in it. As I thought of the crawling creatures, whose hideousmummified forms were so close to me, I felt a new throb of fear. Mental associations are curious,and I shrank from the idea that except for the poor primitive man torn to pieces in the lastpainting, mine was the only human form amidst the many relics and symbols of primordial life.

    But as always in my strange and roving existence, wonder soon drove out fear;for the luminous abyss and what it might contain presented a problem worthy of the greatestexplorer. That a weird world of mystery lay far down that flight of peculiarly small steps Icould not doubt, and I hoped to find there those human memorials which the painted corridorhad failed to give. The frescoes had pictured unbelievable cities, hills, and valleys in thislower realm, and my fancy dwelt on the rich and colossal ruins that awaited me.

    My fears, indeed, concerned the past rather than the future. Not even the physicalhorror of my position in that cramped corridor of dead reptiles and antediluvian frescoes, milesbelow the world I knew and faced by another world of eerie light and mist, could match the lethaldread I felt at the abysmal antiquity of the scene and its soul. An ancientness so vast thatmeasurement is feeble seemed to leer down from the primal stones and rock-hewn temples in thenameless city, while the very latest of the astounding maps in the frescoes shewed oceans andcontinents that man has forgotten, with only here and there some vaguely familiar outline. Ofwhat could have happened in the geological aeons since the paintings ceased and the death-hatingrace resentfully succumbed to decay, no man might say. Life had once teemed in these cavernsand in the luminous realm beyond; now I was alone with vivid relics, and I trembled to thinkof the countless ages through which these relics had kept a silent and deserted vigil.

    Suddenly there came another burst of that acute fear which had intermittentlyseized me ever since I first saw the terrible valley and the nameless city under a cold moon,and despite my exhaustion I found myself starting frantically to a sitting posture and gazingback along the black corridor toward the tunnels that rose to the outer world. My sensationswere much like those which had made me shun the nameless city at night, and were as inexplicableas they were poignant. In another moment, however, I received a still greater shock in the formof a definite sound—the first which had broken the utter silence of these tomb-like depths.It was a deep, low moaning, as of a distant throng of condemned spirits, and came from the directionin which I was staring. Its volume rapidly grew, till soon it reverberated frightfully throughthe low passage, and at the same time I became conscious of an increasing draught of cold air,likewise flowing from the tunnels and the city above. The touch of this air seemed to restoremy balance, for I instantly recalled the sudden gusts which had risen around the mouth of theabyss each sunset and sunrise, one of which had indeed served to reveal the hidden tunnels tome. I looked at my watch and saw that sunrise was near, so braced myself to resist the galewhich was sweeping down to its cavern home as it had swept forth at evening. My fear again wanedlow, since a natural phenomenon tends to dispel broodings over the unknown.

    More and more madly poured the shrieking, moaning night-wind into that gulfof the inner earth. I dropped prone again and clutched vainly at the floor for fear of beingswept bodily through the open gate into the phosphorescent abyss. Such fury I had not expected,and as I grew aware of an actual slipping of my form toward the abyss I was beset by a thousandnew terrors of apprehension and imagination. The malignancy of the blast awakened incrediblefancies; once more I compared myself shudderingly to the only other human image in that frightfulcorridor, the man who was torn to pieces by the nameless race, for in the fiendish clawing ofthe swirling currents there seemed to abide a vindictive rage all the stronger because it waslargely impotent. I think I screamed frantically near the last—I was almost mad—butif I did so my cries were lost in the hell-born babel of the howling wind-wraiths. I tried tocrawl against the murderous invisible torrent, but I could not even hold my own as I was pushedslowly and inexorably toward the unknown world. Finally reason must have wholly snapped, forI fell to babbling over and over that unexplainable couplet of the mad Arab Alhazred, who dreamedof the nameless city:

    That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

    Only the grim brooding desert gods know what really took place—what indescribablestruggles and scrambles in the dark I endured or what Abaddon guided me back to life, whereI must always remember and shiver in the night-wind till oblivion—or worse—claimsme. Monstrous, unnatural, colossal, was the thing—too far beyond all the ideas of manto be believed except in the silent damnable small hours when one cannot sleep.

    I have said that the fury of the rushing blast was infernal—cacodaemoniacal—andthat its voices were hideous with the pent-up viciousness of desolate eternities. Presentlythose voices, while still chaotic before me, seemed to my beating brain to take articulate formbehind me; and down there in the grave of unnumbered aeon-dead antiquities, leagues below thedawn-lit world of men, I heard the ghastly cursing and snarling of strange-tongued fiends. Turning,I saw outlined against the luminous aether of the abyss what could not be seen against the duskof the corridor—a nightmare horde of rushing devils; hate-distorted, grotesquely panoplied,half-transparent; devils of a race no man might mistake—the crawling reptiles of the namelesscity.

    And as the wind died away I was plunged into the ghoul-peopled blackness ofearth’s bowels; for behind the last of the creatures the great brazen door clanged shutwith a deafening peal of metallic music whose reverberations swelled out to the distant worldto hail the rising sun as Memnon hails it from the banks of the Nile.

    Nyarlathotep . . . the crawling chaos . . . I am the last . . . I will tell the audient void. . . .

    I do not recall distinctly when it began, but it was months ago. The generaltension was horrible. To a season of political and social upheaval was added a strange and broodingapprehension of hideous physical danger; a danger widespread and all-embracing, such a dangeras may be imagined only in the most terrible phantasms of the night. I recall that the peoplewent about with pale and worried faces, and whispered warnings and prophecies which no one daredconsciously repeat or acknowledge to himself that he had heard. A sense of monstrous guilt wasupon the land, and out of the abysses between the stars swept chill currents that made men shiverin dark and lonely places. There was a daemoniac alteration in the sequence of the seasons—theautumn heat lingered fearsomely, and everyone felt that the world and perhaps the universe hadpassed from the control of known gods or forces to that of gods or forces which were unknown.

    And it was then that Nyarlathotep came out of Egypt. Who he was, none couldtell, but he was of the old native blood and looked like a Pharaoh. The fellahin knelt whenthey saw him, yet could not say why. He said he had risen up out of the blackness of twenty-sevencenturies, and that he had heard messages from places not on this planet. Into the lands ofcivilisation came Nyarlathotep, swarthy, slender, and sinister, always buying strange instrumentsof glass and metal and combining them into instruments yet stranger. He spoke much of the sciences—ofelectricity and psychology—and gave exhibitions of power which sent his spectators awayspeechless, yet which swelled his fame to exceeding magnitude. Men advised one another to seeNyarlathotep, and shuddered. And where Nyarlathotep went, rest vanished; for the small hourswere rent with the screams of nightmare. Never before had the screams of nightmare been sucha public problem; now the wise men almost wished they could forbid sleep in the small hours,that the shrieks of cities might less horribly disturb the pale, pitying moon as it glimmeredon green waters gliding under bridges, and old steeples crumbling against a sickly sky.

    I remember when Nyarlathotep came to my city—the great, the old, theterrible city of unnumbered crimes. My friend had told me of him, and of the impelling fascinationand allurement of his revelations, and I burned with eagerness to explore his uttermost mysteries.My friend said they were horrible and impressive beyond my most fevered imaginings; that whatwas thrown on a screen in the darkened room prophesied things none but Nyarlathotep dared prophesy,and that in the sputter of his sparks there was taken from men that which had never been takenbefore yet which shewed only in the eyes. And I heard it hinted abroad that those who knew Nyarlathoteplooked on sights which others saw not.

    It was in the hot autumn that I went through the night with the restless crowdsto see Nyarlathotep; through the stifling night and up the endless stairs into the choking room.And shadowed on a screen, I saw hooded forms amidst ruins, and yellow evil faces peering frombehind fallen monuments. And I saw the world battling against blackness; against the waves ofdestruction from ultimate space; whirling, churning; struggling around the dimming, coolingsun. Then the sparks played amazingly around the heads of the spectators, and hair stood upon end whilst shadows more grotesque than I can tell came out and squatted on the heads. Andwhen I, who was colder and more scientific than the rest, mumbled a trembling protest about“imposture “ and “static electricity”, Nyarlathotep drave us all out,down the dizzy stairs into the damp, hot, deserted midnight streets. I screamed aloud that Iwas not afraid; that I never could be afraid; and others screamed with me for solace.We sware to one another that the city was exactly the same, and still alive; and whenthe electric lights began to fade we cursed the company over and over again, and laughed atthe queer faces we made.

    I believe we felt something coming down from the greenish moon, for when webegan to depend on its light we drifted into curious involuntary formations and seemed to knowour destinations though we dared not think of them. Once we looked at the pavement and foundthe blocks loose and displaced by grass, with scarce a line of rusted metal to shew where thetramways had run. And again we saw a tram-car, lone, windowless, dilapidated, and almost onits side. When we gazed around the horizon, we could not find the third tower by the river,and noticed that the silhouette of the second tower was ragged at the top. Then we split upinto narrow columns, each of which seemed drawn in a different direction. One disappeared ina narrow alley to the left, leaving only the echo of a shocking moan. Another filed down a weed-chokedsubway entrance, howling with a laughter that was mad. My own column was sucked toward the opencountry, and presently felt a chill which was not of the hot autumn; for as we stalked out onthe dark moor, we beheld around us the hellish moon-glitter of evil snows. Trackless, inexplicablesnows, swept asunder in one direction only, where lay a gulf all the blacker for its glitteringwalls. The column seemed very thin indeed as it plodded dreamily into the gulf. I lingered behind,for the black rift in the green-litten snow was frightful, and I thought I had heard the reverberationsof a disquieting wail as my companions vanished; but my power to linger was slight. As if beckonedby those who had gone before, I half floated between the titanic snowdrifts, quivering and afraid,into the sightless vortex of the unimaginable.

    Screamingly sentient, dumbly delirious, only the gods that were can tell. Asickened, sensitive shadow writhing in hands that are not hands, and whirled blindly past ghastlymidnights of rotting creation, corpses of dead worlds with sores that were cities, charnel windsthat brush the pallid stars and make them flicker low. Beyond the worlds vague ghosts of monstrousthings; half-seen columns of unsanctified temples that rest on nameless rocks beneath spaceand reach up to dizzy vacua above the spheres of light and darkness. And through this revoltinggraveyard of the universe the muffled, maddening beating of drums, and thin, monotonous whineof blasphemous flutes from inconceivable, unlighted chambers beyond Time; the detestable poundingand piping whereunto dance slowly, awkwardly, and absurdly the gigantic, tenebrous ultimategods—the blind, voiceless, mindless gargoyles whose soul is Nyarlathotep.

    When age fell upon the world, and wonder went out of the minds of men; when grey cities rearedto smoky skies tall towers grim and ugly, in whose shadow none might dream of the sun or ofspring’s flowering meads; when learning stripped earth of her mantle of beauty, and poetssang no more save of twisted phantoms seen with bleared and inward-looking eyes; when thesethings had come to pass, and childish hopes had gone away forever, there was a man who travelledout of life on a quest into the spaces whither the world’s dreams had fled.

    Of the name and abode of this man but little is written, for they were of thewaking world only; yet it is said that both were obscure. It is enough to know that he dweltin a city of high walls where sterile twilight reigned, and that he toiled all day among shadowand turmoil, coming home at evening to a room whose one window opened not on the fields andgroves but on a dim court where other windows stared in dull despair. From that casem*nt onemight see only walls and windows, except sometimes when one leaned far out and peered aloftat the small stars that passed. And because mere walls and windows must soon drive to madnessa man who dreams and reads much, the dweller in that room used night after night to lean outand peer aloft to glimpse some fragment of things beyond the waking world and the greyness oftall cities. After years he began to call the slow-sailing stars by name, and to follow themin fancy when they glided regretfully out of sight; till at length his vision opened to manysecret vistas whose existence no common eye suspects. And one night a mighty gulf was bridged,and the dream-haunted skies swelled down to the lonely watcher’s window to merge withthe close air of his room and make him a part of their fabulous wonder.

    There came to that room wild streams of violet midnight glittering with dustof gold; vortices of dust and fire, swirling out of the ultimate spaces and heavy with perfumesfrom beyond the worlds. Opiate oceans poured there, litten by suns that the eye may never beholdand having in their whirlpools strange dolphins and sea-nymphs of unrememberable deeps. Noiselessinfinity eddied around the dreamer and wafted him away without even touching the body that leanedstiffly from the lonely window; and for days not counted in men’s calendars the tidesof far spheres bare him gently to join the dreams for which he longed; the dreams that men havelost. And in the course of many cycles they tenderly left him sleeping on a green sunrise shore;a green shore fragrant with lotus-blossoms and starred by red camalotes.

    I.

    In my tortured ears there sounds unceasingly a nightmare whirring and flapping, and a faint,distant baying as of some gigantic hound. It is not dream—it is not, I fear, even madness—fortoo much has already happened to give me these merciful doubts. St. John is a mangled corpse;I alone know why, and such is my knowledge that I am about to blow out my brains for fear Ishall be mangled in the same way. Down unlit and illimitable corridors of eldritch phantasysweeps the black, shapeless Nemesis that drives me to self-annihilation.

    May heaven forgive the folly and morbidity which led us both to so monstrousa fate! Wearied with the commonplaces of a prosaic world, where even the joys of romance andadventure soon grow stale, St. John and I had followed enthusiastically every aesthetic andintellectual movement which promised respite from our devastating ennui. The enigmas of theSymbolists and the ecstasies of the pre-Raphaelites all were ours in their time, but each newmood was drained too soon of its diverting novelty and appeal. Only the sombre philosophy ofthe Decadents could hold us, and this we found potent only by increasing gradually the depthand diabolism of our penetrations. Baudelaire and Huysmans were soon exhausted of thrills, tillfinally there remained for us only the more direct stimuli of unnatural personal experiencesand adventures. It was this frightful emotional need which led us eventually to that detestablecourse which even in my present fear I mention with shame and timidity—that hideous extremityof human outrage, the abhorred practice of grave-robbing.

    I cannot reveal the details of our shocking expeditions, or catalogue evenpartly the worst of the trophies adorning the nameless museum we prepared in the great stonehouse where we jointly dwelt, alone and servantless. Our museum was a blasphemous, unthinkableplace, where with the satanic taste of neurotic virtuosi we had assembled an universe of terrorand decay to excite our jaded sensibilities. It was a secret room, far, far underground; wherehuge winged daemons carven of basalt and onyx vomited from wide grinning mouths weird greenand orange light, and hidden pneumatic pipes ruffled into kaleidoscopic dances of death thelines of red charnel things hand in hand woven in voluminous black hangings. Through these pipescame at will the odours our moods most craved; sometimes the scent of pale funeral lilies, sometimesthe narcotic incense of imagined Eastern shrines of the kingly dead, and sometimes—howI shudder to recall it!—the frightful, soul-upheaving stenches of the uncovered grave.

    Around the walls of this repellent chamber were cases of antique mummies alternatingwith comely, life-like bodies perfectly stuffed and cured by the taxidermist’s art, andwith headstones snatched from the oldest churchyards of the world. Niches here and there containedskulls of all shapes, and heads preserved in various stages of dissolution. There one mightfind the rotting, bald pates of famous noblemen, and the fresh and radiantly golden heads ofnew-buried children. Statues and paintings there were, all of fiendish subjects and some executedby St. John and myself. A locked portfolio, bound in tanned human skin, held certain unknownand unnamable drawings which it was rumoured Goya had perpetrated but dared not acknowledge.There were nauseous musical instruments, stringed, brass, and wood-wind, on which St. John andI sometimes produced dissonances of exquisite morbidity and cacodaemoniacal ghastliness; whilstin a multitude of inlaid ebony cabinets reposed the most incredible and unimaginable varietyof tomb-loot ever assembled by human madness and perversity. It is of this loot in particularthat I must not speak—thank God I had the courage to destroy it long before I thoughtof destroying myself.

    The predatory excursions on which we collected our unmentionable treasureswere always artistically memorable events. We were no vulgar ghouls, but worked only under certainconditions of mood, landscape, environment, weather, season, and moonlight. These pastimes wereto us the most exquisite form of aesthetic expression, and we gave their details a fastidioustechnical care. An inappropriate hour, a jarring lighting effect, or a clumsy manipulation ofthe damp sod, would almost totally destroy for us that ecstatic titillation which followed theexhumation of some ominous, grinning secret of the earth. Our quest for novel scenes and piquantconditions was feverish and insatiate—St. John was always the leader, and he it was wholed the way at last to that mocking, that accursed spot which brought us our hideous and inevitabledoom.

    By what malign fatality were we lured to that terrible Holland churchyard?I think it was the dark rumour and legendry, the tales of one buried for five centuries, whohad himself been a ghoul in his time and had stolen a potent thing from a mighty sepulchre.I can recall the scene in these final moments—the pale autumnal moon over the graves,casting long horrible shadows; the grotesque trees, drooping sullenly to meet the neglectedgrass and the crumbling slabs; the vast legions of strangely colossal bats that flew againstthe moon; the antique ivied church pointing a huge spectral finger at the livid sky; the phosphorescentinsects that danced like death-fires under the yews in a distant corner; the odours of mould,vegetation, and less explicable things that mingled feebly with the night-wind from over farswamps and seas; and worst of all, the faint deep-toned baying of some gigantic hound whichwe could neither see nor definitely place. As we heard this suggestion of baying we shuddered,remembering the tales of the peasantry; for he whom we sought had centuries before been foundin this selfsame spot, torn and mangled by the claws and teeth of some unspeakable beast.

    I remembered how we delved in this ghoul’s grave with our spades, andhow we thrilled at the picture of ourselves, the grave, the pale watching moon, the horribleshadows, the grotesque trees, the titanic bats, the antique church, the dancing death-fires,the sickening odours, the gently moaning night-wind, and the strange, half-heard, directionlessbaying, of whose objective existence we could scarcely be sure. Then we struck a substance harderthan the damp mould, and beheld a rotting oblong box crusted with mineral deposits from thelong undisturbed ground. It was incredibly tough and thick, but so old that we finally priedit open and feasted our eyes on what it held.

    Much—amazingly much—was left of the object despite the lapse offive hundred years. The skeleton, though crushed in places by the jaws of the thing that hadkilled it, held together with surprising firmness, and we gloated over the clean white skulland its long, firm teeth and its eyeless sockets that once had glowed with a charnel fever likeour own. In the coffin lay an amulet of curious and exotic design, which had apparently beenworn around the sleeper’s neck. It was the oddly conventionalised figure of a crouchingwinged hound, or sphinx with a semi-canine face, and was exquisitely carved in antique Orientalfashion from a small piece of green jade. The expression on its features was repellent in theextreme, savouring at once of death, bestial*ty, and malevolence. Around the base was an inscriptionin characters which neither St. John nor I could identify; and on the bottom, like a maker’sseal, was graven a grotesque and formidable skull.

    Immediately upon beholding this amulet we knew that we must possess it; thatthis treasure alone was our logical pelf from the centuried grave. Even had its outlines beenunfamiliar we would have desired it, but as we looked more closely we saw that it was not whollyunfamiliar. Alien it indeed was to all art and literature which sane and balanced readers know,but we recognised it as the thing hinted of in the forbidden Necronomicon of the madArab Abdul Alhazred; the ghastly soul-symbol of the corpse-eating cult of inaccessible Leng,in Central Asia. All too well did we trace the sinister lineaments described by the old Arabdaemonologist; lineaments, he wrote, drawn from some obscure supernatural manifestation of thesouls of those who vexed and gnawed at the dead.

    Seizing the green jade object, we gave a last glance at the bleached and cavern-eyedface of its owner and closed up the grave as we found it. As we hastened from that abhorrentspot, the stolen amulet in St. John’s pocket, we thought we saw the bats descend in abody to the earth we had so lately rifled, as if seeking for some cursed and unholy nourishment.But the autumn moon shone weak and pale, and we could not be sure. So, too, as we sailed thenext day away from Holland to our home, we thought we heard the faint distant baying of somegigantic hound in the background. But the autumn wind moaned sad and wan, and we could not besure.

    II.

    Less than a week after our return to England, strange things began to happen.We lived as recluses; devoid of friends, alone, and without servants in a few rooms of an ancientmanor-house on a bleak and unfrequented moor; so that our doors were seldom disturbed by theknock of the visitor. Now, however, we were troubled by what seemed to be frequent fumblingsin the night, not only around the doors but around the windows also, upper as well as lower.Once we fancied that a large, opaque body darkened the library window when the moon was shiningagainst it, and another time we thought we heard a whirring or flapping sound not far off. Oneach occasion investigation revealed nothing, and we began to ascribe the occurrences to imaginationalone—that same curiously disturbed imagination which still prolonged in our ears thefaint far baying we thought we had heard in the Holland churchyard. The jade amulet now reposedin a niche in our museum, and sometimes we burned strangely scented candles before it. We readmuch in Alhazred’s Necronomicon about its properties, and about the relation ofghouls’ souls to the objects it symbolised; and were disturbed by what we read. Then terrorcame.

    On the night of September 24, 19—, I heard a knock at my chamberdoor. Fancying it St. John’s, I bade the knocker enter, but was answered only by a shrilllaugh. There was no one in the corridor. When I aroused St. John from his sleep, he professedentire ignorance of the event, and became as worried as I. It was that night that the faint,distant baying over the moor became to us a certain and dreaded reality. Four days later, whilstwe were both in the hidden museum, there came a low, cautious scratching at the single doorwhich led to the secret library staircase. Our alarm was now divided, for besides our fear ofthe unknown, we had always entertained a dread that our grisly collection might be discovered.Extinguishing all lights, we proceeded to the door and threw it suddenly open; whereupon wefelt an unaccountable rush of air, and heard as if receding far away a queer combination ofrustling, tittering, and articulate chatter. Whether we were mad, dreaming, or in our senses,we did not try to determine. We only realised, with the blackest of apprehensions, that theapparently disembodied chatter was beyond a doubt in the Dutch language.

    After that we lived in growing horror and fascination. Mostly we held to thetheory that we were jointly going mad from our life of unnatural excitements, but sometimesit pleased us more to dramatise ourselves as the victims of some creeping and appalling doom.Bizarre manifestations were now too frequent to count. Our lonely house was seemingly alivewith the presence of some malign being whose nature we could not guess, and every night thatdaemoniac baying rolled over the windswept moor, always louder and louder. On October 29 wefound in the soft earth underneath the library window a series of footprints utterly impossibleto describe. They were as baffling as the hordes of great bats which haunted the old manor-housein unprecedented and increasing numbers.

    The horror reached a culmination on November 18, when St. John, walking homeafter dark from the distant railway station, was seized by some frightful carnivorous thingand torn to ribbons. His screams had reached the house, and I had hastened to the terrible scenein time to hear a whir of wings and see a vague black cloudy thing silhouetted against the risingmoon. My friend was dying when I spoke to him, and he could not answer coherently. All he coulddo was to whisper, “The amulet—that damned thing—. “ Then he collapsed,an inert mass of mangled flesh.

    I buried him the next midnight in one of our neglected gardens, and mumbledover his body one of the devilish rituals he had loved in life. And as I pronounced the lastdaemoniac sentence I heard afar on the moor the faint baying of some gigantic hound. The moonwas up, but I dared not look at it. And when I saw on the dim-litten moor a wide nebulous shadowsweeping from mound to mound, I shut my eyes and threw myself face down upon the ground. WhenI arose trembling, I know not how much later, I staggered into the house and made shocking obeisancesbefore the enshrined amulet of green jade.

    Being now afraid to live alone in the ancient house on the moor, I departedon the following day for London, taking with me the amulet after destroying by fire and burialthe rest of the impious collection in the museum. But after three nights I heard the bayingagain, and before a week was over felt strange eyes upon me whenever it was dark. One eveningas I strolled on Victoria Embankment for some needed air, I saw a black shape obscure one ofthe reflections of the lamps in the water. A wind stronger than the night-wind rushed by, andI knew that what had befallen St. John must soon befall me.

    The next day I carefully wrapped the green jade amulet and sailed for Holland.What mercy I might gain by returning the thing to its silent, sleeping owner I knew not; butI felt that I must at least try any step conceivably logical. What the hound was, and why itpursued me, were questions still vague; but I had first heard the baying in that ancient churchyard,and every subsequent event including St. John’s dying whisper had served to connect thecurse with the stealing of the amulet. Accordingly I sank into the nethermost abysses of despairwhen, at an inn in Rotterdam, I discovered that thieves had despoiled me of this sole meansof salvation.

    The baying was loud that evening, and in the morning I read of a nameless deedin the vilest quarter of the city. The rabble were in terror, for upon an evil tenement hadfallen a red death beyond the foulest previous crime of the neighbourhood. In a squalid thieves’den an entire family had been torn to shreds by an unknown thing which left no trace, and thosearound had heard all night above the usual clamour of drunken voices a faint, deep, insistentnote as of a gigantic hound.

    So at last I stood again in that unwholesome churchyard where a pale wintermoon cast hideous shadows, and leafless trees drooped sullenly to meet the withered, frostygrass and cracking slabs, and the ivied church pointed a jeering finger at the unfriendly sky,and the night-wind howled maniacally from over frozen swamps and frigid seas. The baying wasvery faint now, and it ceased altogether as I approached the ancient grave I had once violated,and frightened away an abnormally large horde of bats which had been hovering curiously aroundit.

    I know not why I went thither unless to pray, or gibber out insane pleas andapologies to the calm white thing that lay within; but, whatever my reason, I attacked the half-frozensod with a desperation partly mine and partly that of a dominating will outside myself. Excavationwas much easier than I expected, though at one point I encountered a queer interruption; whena lean vulture darted down out of the cold sky and pecked frantically at the grave-earth untilI killed him with a blow of my spade. Finally I reached the rotting oblong box and removed thedamp nitrous cover. This is the last rational act I ever performed.

    For crouched within that centuried coffin, embraced by a close-packed nightmareretinue of huge, sinewy, sleeping bats, was the bony thing my friend and I had robbed; not cleanand placid as we had seen it then, but covered with caked blood and shreds of alien flesh andhair, and leering sentiently at me with phosphorescent sockets and sharp ensanguined fangs yawningtwistedly in mockery of my inevitable doom. And when it gave from those grinning jaws a deep,sardonic bay as of some gigantic hound, and I saw that it held in its gory, filthy claw thelost and fateful amulet of green jade, I merely screamed and ran away idiotically, my screamssoon dissolving into peals of hysterical laughter.

    Madness rides the star-wind . . . claws and teeth sharpenedon centuries of corpses . . . dripping death astride a Bacchanale of bats fromnight-black ruins of buried temples of Belial. . . . Now, as the baying of thatdead, fleshless monstrosity grows louder and louder, and the stealthy whirring and flappingof those accursed web-wings circles closer and closer, I shall seek with my revolver the oblivionwhich is my only refuge from the unnamed and unnamable.

    “Efficiunt Daemones, ut quae non sunt, sic tamen quasi sint, conspicienda hominibus exhibeant.”

    —Lactantius.

    I was far from home, and the spell of the eastern sea was upon me. In the twilight I heard itpounding on the rocks, and I knew it lay just over the hill where the twisting willows writhedagainst the clearing sky and the first stars of evening. And because my fathers had called meto the old town beyond, I pushed on through the shallow, new-fallen snow along the road thatsoared lonely up to where Aldebaran twinkled among the trees; on toward the very ancient townI had never seen but often dreamed of.

    It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their heartsit is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind. It was the Yuletide,and I had come at last to the ancient sea town where my people had dwelt and kept festival inthe elder time when festival was forbidden; where also they had commanded their sons to keepfestival once every century, that the memory of primal secrets might not be forgotten. Minewere an old people, and were old even when this land was settled three hundred years before.And they were strange, because they had come as dark furtive folk from opiate southern gardensof orchids, and spoken another tongue before they learnt the tongue of the blue-eyed fishers.And now they were scattered, and shared only the rituals of mysteries that none living couldunderstand. I was the only one who came back that night to the old fishing town as legend bade,for only the poor and the lonely remember.

    Then beyond the hill’s crest I saw Kingsport outspread frostily in thegloaming; snowy Kingsport with its ancient vanes and steeples, ridgepoles and chimney-pots,wharves and small bridges, willow-trees and graveyards; endless labyrinths of steep, narrow,crooked streets, and dizzy church-crowned central peak that time durst not touch; ceaselessmazes of colonial houses piled and scattered at all angles and levels like a child’s disorderedblocks; antiquity hovering on grey wings over winter-whitened gables and gambrel roofs; fanlightsand small-paned windows one by one gleaming out in the cold dusk to join Orion and the archaicstars. And against the rotting wharves the sea pounded; the secretive, immemorial sea out ofwhich the people had come in the elder time.

    Beside the road at its crest a still higher summit rose, bleak and windswept,and I saw that it was a burying-ground where black gravestones stuck ghoulishly through thesnow like the decayed fingernails of a gigantic corpse. The printless road was very lonely,and sometimes I thought I heard a distant horrible creaking as of a gibbet in the wind. Theyhad hanged four kinsmen of mine for witchcraft in 1692, but I did not know just where.

    As the road wound down the seaward slope I listened for the merry sounds ofa village at evening, but did not hear them. Then I thought of the season, and felt that theseold Puritan folk might well have Christmas customs strange to me, and full of silent hearthsideprayer. So after that I did not listen for merriment or look for wayfarers, but kept on downpast the hushed lighted farmhouses and shadowy stone walls to where the signs of ancient shopsand sea-taverns creaked in the salt breeze, and the grotesque knockers of pillared doorwaysglistened along deserted, unpaved lanes in the light of little, curtained windows.

    I had seen maps of the town, and knew where to find the home of my people.It was told that I should be known and welcomed, for village legend lives long; so I hastenedthrough Back Street to Circle Court, and across the fresh snow on the one full flagstone pavementin the town, to where Green Lane leads off behind the Market house. The old maps still heldgood, and I had no trouble; though at Arkham they must have lied when they said the trolleysran to this place, since I saw not a wire overhead. Snow would have hid the rails in any case.I was glad I had chosen to walk, for the white village had seemed very beautiful from the hill;and now I was eager to knock at the door of my people, the seventh house on the left in GreenLane, with an ancient peaked roof and jutting second story, all built before 1650.

    There were lights inside the house when I came upon it, and I saw from thediamond window-panes that it must have been kept very close to its antique state. The upperpart overhung the narrow grass-grown street and nearly met the overhanging part of the houseopposite, so that I was almost in a tunnel, with the low stone doorstep wholly free from snow.There was no sidewalk, but many houses had high doors reached by double flights of steps withiron railings. It was an odd scene, and because I was strange to New England I had never knownits like before. Though it pleased me, I would have relished it better if there had been footprintsin the snow, and people in the streets, and a few windows without drawn curtains.

    When I sounded the archaic iron knocker I was half afraid. Some fear had beengathering in me, perhaps because of the strangeness of my heritage, and the bleakness of theevening, and the queerness of the silence in that aged town of curious customs. And when myknock was answered I was fully afraid, because I had not heard any footsteps before the doorcreaked open. But I was not afraid long, for the gowned, slippered old man in the doorway hada bland face that reassured me; and though he made signs that he was dumb, he wrote a quaintand ancient welcome with the stylus and wax tablet he carried.

    He beckoned me into a low, candle-lit room with massive exposed rafters anddark, stiff, sparse furniture of the seventeenth century. The past was vivid there, for notan attribute was missing. There was a cavernous fireplace and a spinning-wheel at which a bentold woman in loose wrapper and deep poke-bonnet sat back toward me, silently spinning despitethe festive season. An indefinite dampness seemed upon the place, and I marvelled that no fireshould be blazing. The high-backed settle faced the row of curtained windows at the left, andseemed to be occupied, though I was not sure. I did not like everything about what I saw, andfelt again the fear I had had. This fear grew stronger from what had before lessened it, forthe more I looked at the old man’s bland face the more its very blandness terrified me.The eyes never moved, and the skin was too like wax. Finally I was sure it was not a face atall, but a fiendishly cunning mask. But the flabby hands, curiously gloved, wrote genially onthe tablet and told me I must wait a while before I could be led to the place of festival.

    Pointing to a chair, table, and pile of books, the old man now left the room;and when I sat down to read I saw that the books were hoary and mouldy, and that they includedold Morryster’s wild Marvells of Science, the terrible Saducismus Triumphatusof Joseph Glanvill, published in 1681, the shocking Daemonolatreia of Remigius, printedin 1595 at Lyons, and worst of all, the unmentionable Necronomicon of the mad Arab AbdulAlhazred, in Olaus Wormius’ forbidden Latin translation; a book which I had never seen,but of which I had heard monstrous things whispered. No one spoke to me, but I could hear thecreaking of signs in the wind outside, and the whir of the wheel as the bonneted old woman continuedher silent spinning, spinning. I thought the room and the books and the people very morbid anddisquieting, but because an old tradition of my fathers had summoned me to strange feastings,I resolved to expect queer things. So I tried to read, and soon became tremblingly absorbedby something I found in that accursed Necronomicon; a thought and a legend too hideousfor sanity or consciousness. But I disliked it when I fancied I heard the closing of one ofthe windows that the settle faced, as if it had been stealthily opened. It had seemed to followa whirring that was not of the old woman’s spinning-wheel. This was not much, though,for the old woman was spinning very hard, and the aged clock had been striking. After that Ilost the feeling that there were persons on the settle, and was reading intently and shudderinglywhen the old man came back booted and dressed in a loose antique costume, and sat down on thatvery bench, so that I could not see him. It was certainly nervous waiting, and the blasphemousbook in my hands made it doubly so. When eleven struck, however, the old man stood up, glidedto a massive carved chest in a corner, and got two hooded cloaks; one of which he donned, andthe other of which he draped round the old woman, who was ceasing her monotonous spinning. Thenthey both started for the outer door; the woman lamely creeping, and the old man, after pickingup the very book I had been reading, beckoning me as he drew his hood over that unmoving faceor mask.

    We went out into the moonless and tortuous network of that incredibly ancienttown; went out as the lights in the curtained windows disappeared one by one, and the Dog Starleered at the throng of cowled, cloaked figures that poured silently from every doorway andformed monstrous processions up this street and that, past the creaking signs and antediluviangables, the thatched roofs and diamond-paned windows; threading precipitous lanes where decayinghouses overlapped and crumbled together, gliding across open courts and churchyards where thebobbing lanthorns made eldritch drunken constellations.

    Amid these hushed throngs I followed my voiceless guides; jostled by elbowsthat seemed preternaturally soft, and pressed by chests and stomachs that seemed abnormallypulpy; but seeing never a face and hearing never a word. Up, up, up the eerie columns slithered,and I saw that all the travellers were converging as they flowed near a sort of focus of crazyalleys at the top of a high hill in the centre of the town, where perched a great white church.I had seen it from the road’s crest when I looked at Kingsport in the new dusk, and ithad made me shiver because Aldebaran had seemed to balance itself a moment on the ghostly spire.

    There was an open space around the church; partly a churchyard with spectralshafts, and partly a half-paved square swept nearly bare of snow by the wind, and lined withunwholesomely archaic houses having peaked roofs and overhanging gables. Death-fires dancedover the tombs, revealing gruesome vistas, though queerly failing to cast any shadows. Pastthe churchyard, where there were no houses, I could see over the hill’s summit and watchthe glimmer of stars on the harbour, though the town was invisible in the dark. Only once ina while a lanthorn bobbed horribly through serpentine alleys on its way to overtake the throngthat was now slipping speechlessly into the church. I waited till the crowd had oozed into theblack doorway, and till all the stragglers had followed. The old man was pulling at my sleeve,but I was determined to be the last. Then I finally went, the sinister man and the old spinningwoman before me. Crossing the threshold into that swarming temple of unknown darkness, I turnedonce to look at the outside world as the churchyard phosphorescence cast a sickly glow on thehill-top pavement. And as I did so I shuddered. For though the wind had not left much snow,a few patches did remain on the path near the door; and in that fleeting backward look it seemedto my troubled eyes that they bore no mark of passing feet, not even mine.

    The church was scarce lighted by all the lanthorns that had entered it, formost of the throng had already vanished. They had streamed up the aisle between the high whitepews to the trap-door of the vaults which yawned loathsomely open just before the pulpit, andwere now squirming noiselessly in. I followed dumbly down the footworn steps and into the dank,suffocating crypt. The tail of that sinuous line of night-marchers seemed very horrible, andas I saw them wriggling into a venerable tomb they seemed more horrible still. Then I noticedthat the tomb’s floor had an aperture down which the throng was sliding, and in a momentwe were all descending an ominous staircase of rough-hewn stone; a narrow spiral staircase dampand peculiarly odorous, that wound endlessly down into the bowels of the hill past monotonouswalls of dripping stone blocks and crumbling mortar. It was a silent, shocking descent, andI observed after a horrible interval that the walls and steps were changing in nature, as ifchiselled out of the solid rock. What mainly troubled me was that the myriad footfalls madeno sound and set up no echoes. After more aeons of descent I saw some side passages or burrowsleading from unknown recesses of blackness to this shaft of nighted mystery. Soon they becameexcessively numerous, like impious catacombs of nameless menace; and their pungent odour ofdecay grew quite unbearable. I knew we must have passed down through the mountain and beneaththe earth of Kingsport itself, and I shivered that a town should be so aged and maggoty withsubterraneous evil.

    Then I saw the lurid shimmering of pale light, and heard the insidious lappingof sunless waters. Again I shivered, for I did not like the things that the night had brought,and wished bitterly that no forefather had summoned me to this primal rite. As the steps andthe passage grew broader, I heard another sound, the thin, whining mockery of a feeble flute;and suddenly there spread out before me the boundless vista of an inner world—a vast fungousshore litten by a belching column of sick greenish flame and washed by a wide oily river thatflowed from abysses frightful and unsuspected to join the blackest gulfs of immemorial ocean.

    Fainting and gasping, I looked at that unhallowed Erebus of titan toadstools,leprous fire, and slimy water, and saw the cloaked throngs forming a semicircle around the blazingpillar. It was the Yule-rite, older than man and fated to survive him; the primal rite of thesolstice and of spring’s promise beyond the snows; the rite of fire and evergreen, lightand music. And in the Stygian grotto I saw them do the rite, and adore the sick pillar of flame,and throw into the water handfuls gouged out of the viscous vegetation which glittered greenin the chlorotic glare. I saw this, and I saw something amorphously squatted far away from thelight, piping noisomely on a flute; and as the thing piped I thought I heard noxious muffledflutterings in the foetid darkness where I could not see. But what frightened me most was thatflaming column; spouting volcanically from depths profound and inconceivable, casting no shadowsas healthy flame should, and coating the nitrous stone above with a nasty, venomous verdigris.For in all that seething combustion no warmth lay, but only the clamminess of death and corruption.

    The man who had brought me now squirmed to a point directly beside the hideousflame, and made stiff ceremonial motions to the semicircle he faced. At certain stages of theritual they did grovelling obeisance, especially when he held above his head that abhorrentNecronomicon he had taken with him; and I shared all the obeisances because I had beensummoned to this festival by the writings of my forefathers. Then the old man made a signalto the half-seen flute-player in the darkness, which player thereupon changed its feeble droneto a scarce louder drone in another key; precipitating as it did so a horror unthinkable andunexpected. At this horror I sank nearly to the lichened earth, transfixed with a dread notof this nor any world, but only of the mad spaces between the stars.

    Out of the unimaginable blackness beyond the gangrenous glare of that coldflame, out of the Tartarean leagues through which that oily river rolled uncanny, unheard, andunsuspected, there flopped rhythmically a horde of tame, trained, hybrid winged things thatno sound eye could ever wholly grasp, or sound brain ever wholly remember. They were not altogethercrows, nor moles, nor buzzards, nor ants, nor vampire bats, nor decomposed human beings; butsomething I cannot and must not recall. They flopped limply along, half with their webbed feetand half with their membraneous wings; and as they reached the throng of celebrants the cowledfigures seized and mounted them, and rode off one by one along the reaches of that unlightedriver, into pits and galleries of panic where poison springs feed frightful and undiscoverablecataracts.

    The old spinning woman had gone with the throng, and the old man remained onlybecause I had refused when he motioned me to seize an animal and ride like the rest. I saw whenI staggered to my feet that the amorphous flute-player had rolled out of sight, but that twoof the beasts were patiently standing by. As I hung back, the old man produced his stylus andtablet and wrote that he was the true deputy of my fathers who had founded the Yule worshipin this ancient place; that it had been decreed I should come back, and that the most secretmysteries were yet to be performed. He wrote this in a very ancient hand, and when I still hesitatedhe pulled from his loose robe a seal ring and a watch, both with my family arms, to prove thathe was what he said. But it was a hideous proof, because I knew from old papers that that watchhad been buried with my great-great-great-great-grandfather in 1698.

    Presently the old man drew back his hood and pointed to the family resemblancein his face, but I only shuddered, because I was sure that the face was merely a devilish waxenmask. The flopping animals were now scratching restlessly at the lichens, and I saw that theold man was nearly as restless himself. When one of the things began to waddle and edge away,he turned quickly to stop it; so that the suddenness of his motion dislodged the waxen maskfrom what should have been his head. And then, because that nightmare’s position barredme from the stone staircase down which we had come, I flung myself into the oily undergroundriver that bubbled somewhere to the caves of the sea; flung myself into that putrescent juiceof earth’s inner horrors before the madness of my screams could bring down upon me allthe charnel legions these pest-gulfs might conceal.

    At the hospital they told me I had been found half frozen in Kingsport Harbourat dawn, clinging to the drifting spar that accident sent to save me. They told me I had takenthe wrong fork of the hill road the night before, and fallen over the cliffs at Orange Point;a thing they deduced from prints found in the snow. There was nothing I could say, because everythingwas wrong. Everything was wrong, with the broad window shewing a sea of roofs in which onlyabout one in five was ancient, and the sound of trolleys and motors in the streets below. Theyinsisted that this was Kingsport, and I could not deny it. When I went delirious at hearingthat the hospital stood near the old churchyard on Central Hill, they sent me to St. Mary’sHospital in Arkham, where I could have better care. I liked it there, for the doctors were broad-minded,and even lent me their influence in obtaining the carefully sheltered copy of Alhazred’sobjectionable Necronomicon from the library of Miskatonic University. They said somethingabout a “psychosis”, and agreed I had better get any harassing obsessions off mymind.

    So I read again that hideous chapter, and shuddered doubly because it was indeednot new to me. I had seen it before, let footprints tell what they might; and where it was Ihad seen it were best forgotten. There was no one—in waking hours—who could remindme of it; but my dreams are filled with terror, because of phrases I dare not quote. I darequote only one paragraph, put into such English as I can make from the awkward Low Latin.

    “The nethermost caverns, “ wrote the mad Arab, “are not for the fathoming ofeyes that see; for their marvels are strange and terrific. Cursed the ground where dead thoughtslive new and oddly bodied, and evil the mind that is held by no head. Wisely did Ibn Schacabaosay, that happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizardsare all ashes. For it is of old rumour that the soul of the devil-bought hastes not from hischarnel clay, but fats and instructs the very worm that gnaws; till out of corruptionhorrid life springs, and the dull scavengers of earth wax crafty to vex it and swell monstrousto plague it. Great holes secretly are digged where earth’s pores ought to suffice, andthings have learnt to walk that ought to crawl. “

    I. The Shadow on the Chimney

    There was thunder in the air on the night I went to the deserted mansion atop Tempest Mountainto find the lurking fear. I was not alone, for foolhardiness was not then mixed with that loveof the grotesque and the terrible which has made my career a series of quests for strange horrorsin literature and in life. With me were two faithful and muscular men for whom I had sent whenthe time came; men long associated with me in my ghastly explorations because of their peculiarfitness.

    We had started quietly from the village because of the reporters who stilllingered about after the eldritch panic of a month before—the nightmare creeping death.Later, I thought, they might aid me; but I did not want them then. Would to God I had let themshare the search, that I might not have had to bear the secret alone so long; to bear it alonefor fear the world would call me mad or go mad itself at the daemon implications of the thing.Now that I am telling it anyway, lest the brooding make me a maniac, I wish I had never concealedit. For I, and I only, know what manner of fear lurked on that spectral and desolate mountain.

    In a small motor-car we covered the miles of primeval forest and hill untilthe wooded ascent checked it. The country bore an aspect more than usually sinister as we viewedit by night and without the accustomed crowds of investigators, so that we were often temptedto use the acetylene headlight despite the attention it might attract. It was not a wholesomelandscape after dark, and I believe I would have noticed its morbidity even had I been ignorantof the terror that stalked there. Of wild creatures there were none—they are wise whendeath leers close. The ancient lightning-scarred trees seemed unnaturally large and twisted,and the other vegetation unnaturally thick and feverish, while curious mounds and hummocks inthe weedy, fulgurite-pitted earth reminded me of snakes and dead men’s skulls swelledto gigantic proportions.

    Fear had lurked on Tempest Mountain for more than a century. This I learnedat once from newspaper accounts of the catastrophe which first brought the region to the world’snotice. The place is a remote, lonely elevation in that part of the Catskills where Dutch civilisationonce feebly and transiently penetrated, leaving behind as it receded only a few ruined mansionsand a degenerate squatter population inhabiting pitiful hamlets on isolated slopes. Normal beingsseldom visited the locality till the state police were formed, and even now only infrequenttroopers patrol it. The fear, however, is an old tradition throughout the neighbouring villages;since it is a prime topic in the simple discourse of the poor mongrels who sometimes leave theirvalleys to trade hand-woven baskets for such primitive necessities as they cannot shoot, raise,or make.

    The lurking fear dwelt in the shunned and deserted Martense mansion, whichcrowned the high but gradual eminence whose liability to frequent thunderstorms gave it thename of Tempest Mountain. For over a hundred years the antique, grove-circled stone house hadbeen the subject of stories incredibly wild and monstrously hideous; stories of a silent colossalcreeping death which stalked abroad in summer. With whimpering insistence the squatters toldtales of a daemon which seized lone wayfarers after dark, either carrying them off or leavingthem in a frightful state of gnawed dismemberment; while sometimes they whispered of blood-trailstoward the distant mansion. Some said the thunder called the lurking fear out of its habitation,while others said the thunder was its voice.

    No one outside the backwoods had believed these varying and conflicting stories,with their incoherent, extravagant descriptions of the half-glimpsed fiend; yet not a farmeror villager doubted that the Martense mansion was ghoulishly haunted. Local history forbadesuch a doubt, although no ghostly evidence was ever found by such investigators as had visitedthe building after some especially vivid tale of the squatters. Grandmothers told strange mythsof the Martense spectre; myths concerning the Martense family itself, its queer hereditary dissimilarityof eyes, its long, unnatural annals, and the murder which had cursed it.

    The terror which brought me to the scene was a sudden and portentous confirmationof the mountaineers’ wildest legends. One summer night, after a thunderstorm of unprecedentedviolence, the countryside was aroused by a squatter stampede which no mere delusion could create.The pitiful throngs of natives shrieked and whined of the unnamable horror which had descendedupon them, and they were not doubted. They had not seen it, but had heard such cries from oneof their hamlets that they knew a creeping death had come.

    In the morning citizens and state troopers followed the shuddering mountaineersto the place where they said the death had come. Death was indeed there. The ground under oneof the squatters’ villages had caved in after a lightning stroke, destroying several ofthe malodorous shanties; but upon this property damage was superimposed an organic devastationwhich paled it to insignificance. Of a possible 75 natives who had inhabited this spot, notone living specimen was visible. The disordered earth was covered with blood and human debrisbespeaking too vividly the ravages of daemon teeth and talons; yet no visible trail led awayfrom the carnage. That some hideous animal must be the cause, everyone quickly agreed; nor didany tongue now revive the charge that such cryptic deaths formed merely the sordid murders commonin decadent communities. That charge was revived only when about 25 of the estimated populationwere found missing from the dead; and even then it was hard to explain the murder of fifty byhalf that number. But the fact remained that on a summer night a bolt had come out of the heavensand left a dead village whose corpses were horribly mangled, chewed, and clawed.

    The excited countryside immediately connected the horror with the haunted Martensemansion, though the localities were over three miles apart. The troopers were more sceptical;including the mansion only casually in their investigations, and dropping it altogether whenthey found it thoroughly deserted. Country and village people, however, canvassed the placewith infinite care; overturning everything in the house, sounding ponds and brooks, beatingdown bushes, and ransacking the nearby forests. All was in vain; the death that had come hadleft no trace save destruction itself.

    By the second day of the search the affair was fully treated by the newspapers,whose reporters overran Tempest Mountain. They described it in much detail, and with many interviewsto elucidate the horror’s history as told by local grandams. I followed the accounts languidlyat first, for I am a connoisseur in horrors; but after a week I detected an atmosphere whichstirred me oddly, so that on August 5th, 1921, I registered among the reporters who crowdedthe hotel at Lefferts Corners, nearest village to Tempest Mountain and acknowledged headquartersof the searchers. Three weeks more, and the dispersal of the reporters left me free to begina terrible exploration based on the minute inquiries and surveying with which I had meanwhilebusied myself.

    So on this summer night, while distant thunder rumbled, I left a silent motor-carand tramped with two armed companions up the last mound-covered reaches of Tempest Mountain,casting the beams of an electric torch on the spectral grey walls that began to appear throughgiant oaks ahead. In this morbid night solitude and feeble shifting illumination, the vast box-likepile displayed obscure hints of terror which day could not uncover; yet I did not hesitate,since I had come with fierce resolution to test an idea. I believed that the thunder calledthe death-daemon out of some fearsome secret place; and be that daemon solid entity or vaporouspestilence, I meant to see it.

    I had thoroughly searched the ruin before, hence knew my plan well; choosingas the seat of my vigil the old room of Jan Martense, whose murder looms so great in the rurallegends. I felt subtly that the apartment of this ancient victim was best for my purposes. Thechamber, measuring about twenty feet square, contained like the other rooms some rubbish whichhad once been furniture. It lay on the second story, on the southeast corner of the house, andhad an immense east window and narrow south window, both devoid of panes or shutters. Oppositethe large window was an enormous Dutch fireplace with scriptural tiles representing the prodigalson, and opposite the narrow window was a spacious bed built into the wall.

    As the tree-muffled thunder grew louder, I arranged my plan’s details.First I fastened side by side to the ledge of the large window three rope ladders which I hadbrought with me. I knew they reached a suitable spot on the grass outside, for I had testedthem. Then the three of us dragged from another room a wide four-poster bedstead, crowding itlaterally against the window. Having strown it with fir boughs, all now rested on it with drawnautomatics, two relaxing while the third watched. From whatever direction the daemon might come,our potential escape was provided. If it came from within the house, we had the window ladders;if from outside, the door and the stairs. We did not think, judging from precedent, that itwould pursue us far even at worst.

    I watched from midnight to one o’clock, when in spite of the sinisterhouse, the unprotected window, and the approaching thunder and lightning, I felt singularlydrowsy. I was between my two companions, George Bennett being toward the window and WilliamTobey toward the fireplace. Bennett was asleep, having apparently felt the same anomalous drowsinesswhich affected me, so I designated Tobey for the next watch although even he was nodding. Itis curious how intently I had been watching that fireplace.

    The increasing thunder must have affected my dreams, for in the brief timeI slept there came to me apocalyptic visions. Once I partly awaked, probably because the sleepertoward the window had restlessly flung an arm across my chest. I was not sufficiently awaketo see whether Tobey was attending to his duties as sentinel, but felt a distinct anxiety onthat score. Never before had the presence of evil so poignantly oppressed me. Later I must havedropped asleep again, for it was out of a phantasmal chaos that my mind leaped when the nightgrew hideous with shrieks beyond anything in my former experience or imagination.

    In that shrieking the inmost soul of human fear and agony clawed hopelesslyand insanely at the ebony gates of oblivion. I awoke to red madness and the mockery of diabolism,as farther and farther down inconceivable vistas that phobic and crystalline anguish retreatedand reverberated. There was no light, but I knew from the empty space at my right that Tobeywas gone, God alone knew whither. Across my chest still lay the heavy arm of the sleeper atmy left.

    Then came the devastating stroke of lightning which shook the whole mountain,lit the darkest crypts of the hoary grove, and splintered the patriarch of the twisted trees.In the daemon flash of a monstrous fireball the sleeper started up suddenly while the glarefrom beyond the window threw his shadow vividly upon the chimney above the fireplace from whichmy eyes had never strayed. That I am still alive and sane, is a marvel I cannot fathom. I cannotfathom it, for the shadow on that chimney was not that of George Bennett or of any other humancreature, but a blasphemous abnormality from hell’s nethermost craters; a nameless, shapelessabomination which no mind could fully grasp and no pen even partly describe. In another secondI was alone in the accursed mansion, shivering and gibbering. George Bennett and William Tobeyhad left no trace, not even of a struggle. They were never heard of again.

    II. A Passer in the Storm

    For days after that hideous experience in the forest-swathed mansion I lay nervously exhaustedin my hotel room at Lefferts Corners. I do not remember exactly how I managed to reach the motor-car,start it, and slip unobserved back to the village; for I retain no distinct impression saveof wild-armed titan trees, daemoniac mutterings of thunder, and Charonian shadows athwart thelow mounds that dotted and streaked the region.

    As I shivered and brooded on the casting of that brain-blasting shadow, I knewthat I had at last pried out one of earth’s supreme horrors—one of those namelessblights of outer voids whose faint daemon scratchings we sometimes hear on the farthest rimof space, yet from which our own finite vision has given us a merciful immunity. The shadowI had seen, I hardly dared to analyse or identify. Something had lain between me and the windowthat night, but I shuddered whenever I could not cast off the instinct to classify it. If ithad only snarled, or bayed, or laughed titteringly—even that would have relieved the abysmalhideousness. But it was so silent. It had rested a heavy arm or fore leg on my chest. . . .Obviously it was organic, or had once been organic. . . . Jan Martense, whoseroom I had invaded, was buried in the graveyard near the mansion. . . . I mustfind Bennett and Tobey, if they lived . . . why had it picked them, and leftme for the last? . . . Drowsiness is so stifling, and dreams are so horrible. . . .

    In a short time I realised that I must tell my story to someone or break downcompletely. I had already decided not to abandon the quest for the lurking fear, for in my rashignorance it seemed to me that uncertainty was worse than enlightenment, however terrible thelatter might prove to be. Accordingly I resolved in my mind the best course to pursue; whomto select for my confidences, and how to track down the thing which had obliterated two menand cast a nightmare shadow.

    My chief acquaintances at Lefferts Corners had been the affable reporters,of whom several still remained to collect final echoes of the tragedy. It was from these thatI determined to choose a colleague, and the more I reflected the more my preference inclinedtoward one Arthur Munroe, a dark, lean man of about thirty-five, whose education, taste, intelligence,and temperament all seemed to mark him as one not bound to conventional ideas and experiences.

    On an afternoon in early September Arthur Munroe listened to my story. I sawfrom the beginning that he was both interested and sympathetic, and when I had finished he analysedand discussed the thing with the greatest shrewdness and judgment. His advice, moreover, waseminently practical; for he recommended a postponement of operations at the Martense mansionuntil we might become fortified with more detailed historical and geographical data. On hisinitiative we combed the countryside for information regarding the terrible Martense family,and discovered a man who possessed a marvellously illuminating ancestral diary. We also talkedat length with such of the mountain mongrels as had not fled from the terror and confusion toremoter slopes, and arranged to precede our culminating task—the exhaustive and definitiveexamination of the mansion in the light of its detailed history—with an equally exhaustiveand definitive examination of spots associated with the various tragedies of squatter legend.

    The results of this examination were not at first very enlightening, thoughour tabulation of them seemed to reveal a fairly significant trend; namely, that the numberof reported horrors was by far the greatest in areas either comparatively near the avoided houseor connected with it by stretches of the morbidly overnourished forest. There were, it is true,exceptions; indeed, the horror which had caught the world’s ear had happened in a treelessspace remote alike from the mansion and from any connecting woods.

    As to the nature and appearance of the lurking fear, nothing could be gainedfrom the scared and witless shanty-dwellers. In the same breath they called it a snake and agiant, a thunder-devil and a bat, a vulture and a walking tree. We did, however, deem ourselvesjustified in assuming that it was a living organism highly susceptible to electrical storms;and although certain of the stories suggested wings, we believed that its aversion for openspaces made land locomotion a more probable theory. The only thing really incompatible withthe latter view was the rapidity with which the creature must have travelled in order to performall the deeds attributed to it.

    When we came to know the squatters better, we found them curiously likeablein many ways. Simple animals they were, gently descending the evolutionary scale because oftheir unfortunate ancestry and stultifying isolation. They feared outsiders, but slowly grewaccustomed to us; finally helping vastly when we beat down all the thickets and tore out allthe partitions of the mansion in our search for the lurking fear. When we asked them to helpus find Bennett and Tobey they were truly distressed; for they wanted to help us, yet knew thatthese victims had gone as wholly out of the world as their own missing people. That great numbersof them had actually been killed and removed, just as the wild animals had long been exterminated,we were of course thoroughly convinced; and we waited apprehensively for further tragedies tooccur.

    By the middle of October we were puzzled by our lack of progress. Owing tothe clear nights no daemoniac aggressions had taken place, and the completeness of our vainsearches of house and country almost drove us to regard the lurking fear as a non-material agency.We feared that the cold weather would come on and halt our explorations, for all agreed thatthe daemon was generally quiet in winter. Thus there was a kind of haste and desperation inour last daylight canvass of the horror-visited hamlet; a hamlet now deserted because of thesquatters’ fears.

    The ill-fated squatter hamlet had borne no name, but had long stood in a shelteredthough treeless cleft between two elevations called respectively Cone Mountain and Maple Hill.It was closer to Maple Hill than to Cone Mountain, some of the crude abodes indeed being dugoutson the side of the former eminence. Geographically it lay about two miles northwest of the baseof Tempest Mountain, and three miles from the oak-girt mansion. Of the distance between thehamlet and the mansion, fully two miles and a quarter on the hamlet’s side was entirelyopen country; the plain being of fairly level character save for some of the low snake-likemounds, and having as vegetation only grass and scattered weeds. Considering this topography,we had finally concluded that the daemon must have come by way of Cone Mountain, a wooded southernprolongation of which ran to within a short distance of the westernmost spur of Tempest Mountain.The upheaval of ground we traced conclusively to a landslide from Maple Hill, a tall lone splinteredtree on whose side had been the striking point of the thunderbolt which summoned the fiend.

    As for the twentieth time or more Arthur Munroe and I went minutely over everyinch of the violated village, we were filled with a certain discouragement coupled with vagueand novel fears. It was acutely uncanny, even when frightful and uncanny things were common,to encounter so blankly clueless a scene after such overwhelming occurrences; and we moved aboutbeneath the leaden, darkening sky with that tragic directionless zeal which results from a combinedsense of futility and necessity of action. Our care was gravely minute; every cottage was againentered, every hillside dugout again searched for bodies, every thorny foot of adjacent slopeagain scanned for dens and caves, but all without result. And yet, as I have said, vague newfears hovered menacingly over us; as if giant bat-winged gryphons squatted invisibly on themountain-tops and leered with Abaddon-eyes that had looked on trans-cosmic gulfs.

    As the afternoon advanced, it became increasingly difficult to see; and weheard the rumble of a thunderstorm gathering over Tempest Mountain. This sound in such a localitynaturally stirred us, though less than it would have done at night. As it was, we hoped desperatelythat the storm would last until well after dark; and with that hope turned from our aimlesshillside searching toward the nearest inhabited hamlet to gather a body of squatters as helpersin the investigation. Timid as they were, a few of the younger men were sufficiently inspiredby our protective leadership to promise such help.

    We had hardly more than turned, however, when there descended such a blindingsheet of torrential rain that shelter became imperative. The extreme, almost nocturnal darknessof the sky caused us to stumble sadly, but guided by the frequent flashes of lightning and byour minute knowledge of the hamlet we soon reached the least porous cabin of the lot; an heterogeneouscombination of logs and boards whose still existing door and single tiny window both faced MapleHill. Barring the door after us against the fury of the wind and rain, we put in place the crudewindow shutter which our frequent searches had taught us where to find. It was dismal sittingthere on rickety boxes in the pitchy darkness, but we smoked pipes and occasionally flashedour pocket lamps about. Now and then we could see the lightning through the cracks in the wall;the afternoon was so incredibly dark that each flash was extremely vivid.

    The stormy vigil reminded me shudderingly of my ghastly night on Tempest Mountain.My mind turned to that odd question which had kept recurring ever since the nightmare thinghad happened; and again I wondered why the daemon, approaching the three watchers either fromthe window or the interior, had begun with the men on each side and left the middle man tillthe last, when the titan fireball had scared it away. Why had it not taken its victims in naturalorder, with myself second, from whichever direction it had approached? With what manner of far-reachingtentacles did it prey? Or did it know that I was the leader, and save me for a fate worse thanthat of my companions?

    In the midst of these reflections, as if dramatically arranged to intensifythem, there fell near by a terrific bolt of lightning followed by the sound of sliding earth.At the same time the wolfish wind rose to daemoniac crescendoes of ululation. We were sure thatthe lone tree on Maple Hill had been struck again, and Munroe rose from his box and went tothe tiny window to ascertain the damage. When he took down the shutter the wind and rain howleddeafeningly in, so that I could not hear what he said; but I waited while he leaned out andtried to fathom Nature’s pandemonium.

    Gradually a calming of the wind and dispersal of the unusual darkness toldof the storm’s passing. I had hoped it would last into the night to help our quest, buta furtive sunbeam from a knothole behind me removed the likelihood of such a thing. Suggestingto Munroe that we had better get some light even if more showers came, I unbarred and openedthe crude door. The ground outside was a singular mass of mud and pools, with fresh heaps ofearth from the slight landslide; but I saw nothing to justify the interest which kept my companionsilently leaning out the window. Crossing to where he leaned, I touched his shoulder; but hedid not move. Then, as I playfully shook him and turned him around, I felt the strangling tendrilsof a cancerous horror whose roots reached into illimitable pasts and fathomless abysms of thenight that broods beyond time.

    For Arthur Munroe was dead. And on what remained of his chewed and gouged headthere was no longer a face.

    III. What the Red Glare Meant

    On the tempest-racked night of November 8, 1921, with a lantern which cast charnel shadows,I stood digging alone and idiotically in the grave of Jan Martense. I had begun to dig in theafternoon, because a thunderstorm was brewing, and now that it was dark and the storm had burstabove the maniacally thick foliage I was glad.

    I believe that my mind was partly unhinged by events since August 5th; thedaemon shadow in the mansion, the general strain and disappointment, and the thing that occurredat the hamlet in an October storm. After that thing I had dug a grave for one whose death Icould not understand. I knew that others could not understand either, so let them think ArthurMunroe had wandered away. They searched, but found nothing. The squatters might have understood,but I dared not frighten them more. I myself seemed strangely callous. That shock at the mansionhad done something to my brain, and I could think only of the quest for a horror now grown tocataclysmic stature in my imagination; a quest which the fate of Arthur Munroe made me vow tokeep silent and solitary.

    The scene of my excavations would alone have been enough to unnerve any ordinaryman. Baleful primal trees of unholy size, age, and grotesqueness leered above me like the pillarsof some hellish Druidic temple; muffling the thunder, hushing the clawing wind, and admittingbut little rain. Beyond the scarred trunks in the background, illumined by faint flashes offiltered lightning, rose the damp ivied stones of the deserted mansion, while somewhat nearerwas the abandoned Dutch garden whose walks and beds were polluted by a white, fungous, foetid,overnourished vegetation that never saw full daylight. And nearest of all was the graveyard,where deformed trees tossed insane branches as their roots displaced unhallowed slabs and suckedvenom from what lay below. Now and then, beneath the brown pall of leaves that rotted and festeredin the antediluvian forest darkness, I could trace the sinister outlines of some of those lowmounds which characterised the lightning-pierced region.

    History had led me to this archaic grave. History, indeed, was all I had aftereverything else ended in mocking Satanism. I now believed that the lurking fear was no materialthing, but a wolf-fanged ghost that rode the midnight lightning. And I believed, because ofthe masses of local tradition I had unearthed in my search with Arthur Munroe, that the ghostwas that of Jan Martense, who died in 1762. That is why I was digging idiotically in his grave.

    The Martense mansion was built in 1670 by Gerrit Martense, a wealthy New-Amsterdammerchant who disliked the changing order under British rule, and had constructed this magnificentdomicile on a remote woodland summit whose untrodden solitude and unusual scenery pleased him.The only substantial disappointment encountered in this site was that which concerned the prevalenceof violent thunderstorms in summer. When selecting the hill and building his mansion, MynheerMartense had laid these frequent natural outbursts to some peculiarity of the year; but in timehe perceived that the locality was especially liable to such phenomena. At length, having foundthese storms injurious to his health, he fitted up a cellar into which he could retreat fromtheir wildest pandemonium.

    Of Gerrit Martense’s descendants less is known than of himself; sincethey were all reared in hatred of the English civilisation, and trained to shun such of thecolonists as accepted it. Their life was exceedingly secluded, and people declared that theirisolation had made them heavy of speech and comprehension. In appearance all were marked bya peculiar inherited dissimilarity of eyes; one generally being blue and the other brown. Theirsocial contacts grew fewer and fewer, till at last they took to intermarrying with the numerousmenial class about the estate. Many of the crowded family degenerated, moved across the valley,and merged with the mongrel population which was later to produce the pitiful squatters. Therest had stuck sullenly to their ancestral mansion, becoming more and more clannish and taciturn,yet developing a nervous responsiveness to the frequent thunderstorms.

    Most of this information reached the outside world through young Jan Martense,who from some kind of restlessness joined the colonial army when news of the Albany Conventionreached Tempest Mountain. He was the first of Gerrit’s descendants to see much of theworld; and when he returned in 1760 after six years of campaigning, he was hated as an outsiderby his father, uncles, and brothers, in spite of his dissimilar Martense eyes. No longer couldhe share the peculiarities and prejudices of the Martenses, while the very mountain thunderstormsfailed to intoxicate him as they had before. Instead, his surroundings depressed him; and hefrequently wrote to a friend in Albany of plans to leave the paternal roof.

    In the spring of 1763 Jonathan Gifford, the Albany friend of Jan Martense,became worried by his correspondent’s silence; especially in view of the conditions andquarrels at the Martense mansion. Determined to visit Jan in person, he went into the mountainson horseback. His diary states that he reached Tempest Mountain on September 20, finding themansion in great decrepitude. The sullen, odd-eyed Martenses, whose unclean animal aspect shockedhim, told him in broken gutturals that Jan was dead. He had, they insisted, been struck by lightningthe autumn before; and now lay buried behind the neglected sunken gardens. They shewed the visitorthe grave, barren and devoid of markers. Something in the Martenses’ manner gave Gifforda feeling of repulsion and suspicion, and a week later he returned with spade and mattock toexplore the sepulchral spot. He found what he expected—a skull crushed cruelly as if bysavage blows—so returning to Albany he openly charged the Martenses with the murder oftheir kinsman.

    Legal evidence was lacking, but the story spread rapidly round the countryside;and from that time the Martenses were ostracised by the world. No one would deal with them,and their distant manor was shunned as an accursed place. Somehow they managed to live on independentlyby the products of their estate, for occasional lights glimpsed from far-away hills attestedtheir continued presence. These lights were seen as late as 1810, but toward the last they becamevery infrequent.

    Meanwhile there grew up about the mansion and the mountain a body of diaboliclegendry. The place was avoided with doubled assiduousness, and invested with every whisperedmyth tradition could supply. It remained unvisited till 1816, when the continued absence oflights was noticed by the squatters. At that time a party made investigations, finding the housedeserted and partly in ruins.

    There were no skeletons about, so that departure rather than death was inferred.The clan seemed to have left several years before, and improvised penthouses shewed how numerousit had grown prior to its migration. Its cultural level had fallen very low, as proved by decayingfurniture and scattered silverware which must have been long abandoned when its owners left.But though the dreaded Martenses were gone, the fear of the haunted house continued; and grewvery acute when new and strange stories arose among the mountain decadents. There it stood;deserted, feared, and linked with the vengeful ghost of Jan Martense. There it still stood onthe night I dug in Jan Martense’s grave.

    I have described my protracted digging as idiotic, and such it indeed was inobject and method. The coffin of Jan Martense had soon been unearthed—it now held onlydust and nitre—but in my fury to exhume his ghost I delved irrationally and clumsily downbeneath where he had lain. God knows what I expected to find—I only felt that I was diggingin the grave of a man whose ghost stalked by night.

    It is impossible to say what monstrous depth I had attained when my spade,and soon my feet, broke through the ground beneath. The event, under the circ*mstances, wastremendous; for in the existence of a subterranean space here, my mad theories had terribleconfirmation. My slight fall had extinguished the lantern, but I produced an electric pocketlamp and viewed the small horizontal tunnel which led away indefinitely in both directions.It was amply large enough for a man to wriggle through; and though no sane person would havetried it at that time, I forgot danger, reason, and cleanliness in my single-minded fever tounearth the lurking fear. Choosing the direction toward the house, I scrambled recklessly intothe narrow burrow; squirming ahead blindly and rapidly, and flashing but seldom the lamp I keptbefore me.

    What language can describe the spectacle of a man lost in infinitely abysmalearth; pawing, twisting, wheezing; scrambling madly through sunken convolutions of immemorialblackness without an idea of time, safety, direction, or definite object? There is somethinghideous in it, but that is what I did. I did it for so long that life faded to a far memory,and I became one with the moles and grubs of nighted depths. Indeed, it was only by accidentthat after interminable writhings I jarred my forgotten electric lamp alight, so that it shoneeerily along the burrow of caked loam that stretched and curved ahead.

    I had been scrambling in this way for some time, so that my battery had burnedvery low, when the passage suddenly inclined sharply upward, altering my mode of progress. Andas I raised my glance it was without preparation that I saw glistening in the distance two daemoniacreflections of my expiring lamp; two reflections glowing with a baneful and unmistakable effulgence,and provoking maddeningly nebulous memories. I stopped automatically, though lacking the brainto retreat. The eyes approached, yet of the thing that bore them I could distinguish only aclaw. But what a claw! Then far overhead I heard a faint crashing which I recognised. It wasthe wild thunder of the mountain, raised to hysteric fury—I must have been crawling upwardfor some time, so that the surface was now quite near. And as the muffled thunder clattered,those eyes still stared with vacuous viciousness.

    Thank God I did not then know what it was, else I should have died. But I wassaved by the very thunder that had summoned it, for after a hideous wait there burst from theunseen outside sky one of those frequent mountainward bolts whose aftermath I had noticed hereand there as gashes of disturbed earth and fulgurites of various sizes. With Cyclopean rageit tore through the soil above that damnable pit, blinding and deafening me, yet not whollyreducing me to a coma.

    In the chaos of sliding, shifting earth I clawed and floundered helplesslytill the rain on my head steadied me and I saw that I had come to the surface in a familiarspot; a steep unforested place on the southwest slope of the mountain. Recurrent sheet lightningsillumed the tumbled ground and the remains of the curious low hummock which had stretched downfrom the wooded higher slope, but there was nothing in the chaos to shew my place of egressfrom the lethal catacomb. My brain was as great a chaos as the earth, and as a distant red glareburst on the landscape from the south I hardly realised the horror I had been through.

    But when two days later the squatters told me what the red glare meant, I feltmore horror than that which the mould-burrow and the claw and eyes had given; more horror becauseof the overwhelming implications. In a hamlet twenty miles away an orgy of fear had followedthe bolt which brought me above ground, and a nameless thing had dropped from an overhangingtree into a weak-roofed cabin. It had done a deed, but the squatters had fired the cabin infrenzy before it could escape. It had been doing that deed at the very moment the earth cavedin on the thing with the claw and eyes.

    IV. The Horror in the Eyes

    There can be nothing normal in the mind of one who, knowing what I knew of the horrors of TempestMountain, would seek alone for the fear that lurked there. That at least two of the fear’sembodiments were destroyed, formed but a slight guarantee of mental and physical safety in thisAcheron of multiform diabolism; yet I continued my quest with even greater zeal as events andrevelations became more monstrous.

    When, two days after my frightful crawl through that crypt of the eyes andclaw, I learned that a thing had malignly hovered twenty miles away at the same instant theeyes were glaring at me, I experienced virtual convulsions of fright. But that fright was somixed with wonder and alluring grotesqueness, that it was almost a pleasant sensation. Sometimes,in the throes of a nightmare when unseen powers whirl one over the roofs of strange dead citiestoward the grinning chasm of Nis, it is a relief and even a delight to shriek wildly and throwoneself voluntarily along with the hideous vortex of dream-doom into whatever bottomless gulfmay yawn. And so it was with the waking nightmare of Tempest Mountain; the discovery that twomonsters had haunted the spot gave me ultimately a mad craving to plunge into the very earthof the accursed region, and with bare hands dig out the death that leered from every inch ofthe poisonous soil.

    As soon as possible I visited the grave of Jan Martense and dug vainly whereI had dug before. Some extensive cave-in had obliterated all trace of the underground passage,while the rain had washed so much earth back into the excavation that I could not tell how deeplyI had dug that other day. I likewise made a difficult trip to the distant hamlet where the death-creaturehad been burnt, and was little repaid for my trouble. In the ashes of the fateful cabin I foundseveral bones, but apparently none of the monster’s. The squatters said the thing hadhad only one victim; but in this I judged them inaccurate, since besides the complete skullof a human being, there was another bony fragment which seemed certainly to have belonged toa human skull at some time. Though the rapid drop of the monster had been seen, no one couldsay just what the creature was like; those who had glimpsed it called it simply a devil. Examiningthe great tree where it had lurked, I could discern no distinctive marks. I tried to find sometrail into the black forest, but on this occasion could not stand the sight of those morbidlylarge boles, or of those vast serpent-like roots that twisted so malevolently before they sankinto the earth.

    My next step was to re-examine with microscopic care the deserted hamlet wheredeath had come most abundantly, and where Arthur Munroe had seen something he never lived todescribe. Though my vain previous searches had been exceedingly minute, I now had new data totest; for my horrible grave-crawl convinced me that at least one of the phases of the monstrosityhad been an underground creature. This time, on the fourteenth of November, my quest concerneditself mostly with the slopes of Cone Mountain and Maple Hill where they overlook the unfortunatehamlet, and I gave particular attention to the loose earth of the landslide region on the lattereminence.

    The afternoon of my search brought nothing to light, and dusk came as I stoodon Maple Hill looking down at the hamlet and across the valley to Tempest Mountain. There hadbeen a gorgeous sunset, and now the moon came up, nearly full and shedding a silver flood overthe plain, the distant mountainside, and the curious low mounds that rose here and there. Itwas a peaceful Arcadian scene, but knowing what it hid I hated it. I hated the mocking moon,the hypocritical plain, the festering mountain, and those sinister mounds. Everything seemedto me tainted with a loathsome contagion, and inspired by a noxious alliance with distortedhidden powers.

    Presently, as I gazed abstractedly at the moonlit panorama, my eye became attractedby something singular in the nature and arrangement of a certain topographical element. Withouthaving any exact knowledge of geology, I had from the first been interested in the odd moundsand hummocks of the region. I had noticed that they were pretty widely distributed around TempestMountain, though less numerous on the plain than near the hill-top itself, where prehistoricglaciation had doubtless found feebler opposition to its striking and fantastic caprices. Now,in the light of that low moon which cast long weird shadows, it struck me forcibly that thevarious points and lines of the mound system had a peculiar relation to the summit of TempestMountain. That summit was undeniably a centre from which the lines or rows of points radiatedindefinitely and irregularly, as if the unwholesome Martense mansion had thrown visible tentaclesof terror. The idea of such tentacles gave me an unexplained thrill, and I stopped to analysemy reason for believing these mounds glacial phenomena.

    The more I analysed the less I believed, and against my newly opened mind therebegan to beat grotesque and horrible analogies based on superficial aspects and upon my experiencebeneath the earth. Before I knew it I was uttering frenzied and disjointed words to myself:“My God! . . . Molehills . . . the damned place must be honeycombed . . . how many . . . that night at the mansion . . . they took Bennett andTobey first . . . on each side of us. . . .”.Then I was digging frantically into the mound which had stretched nearest me; digging desperately,shiveringly, but almost jubilantly; digging and at last shrieking aloud with some unplaced emotionas I came upon a tunnel or burrow just like the one through which I had crawled on that otherdaemoniac night.

    After that I recall running, spade in hand; a hideous run across moon-litten,mound-marked meadows and through diseased, precipitous abysses of haunted hillside forest; leaping,screaming, panting, bounding toward the terrible Martense mansion. I recall digging unreasoninglyin all parts of the brier-choked cellar; digging to find the core and centre of that malignantuniverse of mounds. And then I recall how I laughed when I stumbled on the passageway; the holeat the base of the old chimney, where the thick weeds grew and cast queer shadows in the lightof the lone candle I had happened to have with me. What still remained down in that hell-hive,lurking and waiting for the thunder to arouse it, I did not know. Two had been killed; perhapsthat had finished it. But still there remained that burning determination to reach the innermostsecret of the fear, which I had once more come to deem definite, material, and organic.

    My indecisive speculation whether to explore the passage alone and immediatelywith my pocket-light or to try to assemble a band of squatters for the quest, was interruptedafter a time by a sudden rush of wind from outside which blew out the candle and left me instark blackness. The moon no longer shone through the chinks and apertures above me, and witha sense of fateful alarm I heard the sinister and significant rumble of approaching thunder.A confusion of associated ideas possessed my brain, leading me to grope back toward the farthestcorner of the cellar. My eyes, however, never turned away from the horrible opening at the baseof the chimney; and I began to get glimpses of the crumbling bricks and unhealthy weeds as faintglows of lightning penetrated the woods outside and illumined the chinks in the upper wall.Every second I was consumed with a mixture of fear and curiosity. What would the storm callforth—or was there anything left for it to call? Guided by a lightning flash I settledmyself down behind a dense clump of vegetation, through which I could see the opening withoutbeing seen.

    If heaven is merciful, it will some day efface from my consciousness the sightthat I saw, and let me live my last years in peace. I cannot sleep at night now, and have totake opiates when it thunders. The thing came abruptly and unannounced; a daemon, rat-like scurryingfrom pits remote and unimaginable, a hellish panting and stifled grunting, and then from thatopening beneath the chimney a burst of multitudinous and leprous life—a loathsome night-spawnedflood of organic corruption more devastatingly hideous than the blackest conjurations of mortalmadness and morbidity. Seething, stewing, surging, bubbling like serpents’ slime it rolledup and out of that yawning hole, spreading like a septic contagion and streaming from the cellarat every point of egress—streaming out to scatter through the accursed midnight forestsand strew fear, madness, and death.

    God knows how many there were—there must have been thousands. To seethe stream of them in that faint, intermittent lightning was shocking. When they had thinnedout enough to be glimpsed as separate organisms, I saw that they were dwarfed, deformed hairydevils or apes—monstrous and diabolic caricatures of the monkey tribe. They were so hideouslysilent; there was hardly a squeal when one of the last stragglers turned with the skill of longpractice to make a meal in accustomed fashion on a weaker companion. Others snapped up whatit left and ate with slavering relish. Then, in spite of my daze of fright and disgust, my morbidcuriosity triumphed; and as the last of the monstrosities oozed up alone from that nether worldof unknown nightmare, I drew my automatic pistol and shot it under cover of the thunder.

    Shrieking, slithering, torrential shadows of red viscous madness chasing oneanother through endless, ensanguined corridors of purple fulgurous sky . . .formless phantasms and kaleidoscopic mutations of a ghoulish, remembered scene; forests of monstrousovernourished oaks with serpent roots twisting and sucking unnamable juices from an earth verminouswith millions of cannibal devils; mound-like tentacles groping from underground nuclei of polypousperversion . . . insane lightning over malignant ivied walls and daemon arcadeschoked with fungous vegetation. . . . Heaven be thanked for the instinct whichled me unconscious to places where men dwell; to the peaceful village that slept under the calmstars of clearing skies.

    I had recovered enough in a week to send to Albany for a gang of men to blowup the Martense mansion and the entire top of Tempest Mountain with dynamite, stop up all thediscoverable mound-burrows, and destroy certain overnourished trees whose very existence seemedan insult to sanity. I could sleep a little after they had done this, but true rest will nevercome as long as I remember that nameless secret of the lurking fear. The thing will haunt me,for who can say the extermination is complete, and that analogous phenomena do not exist allover the world? Who can, with my knowledge, think of the earth’s unknown caverns withouta nightmare dread of future possibilities? I cannot see a well or a subway entrance withoutshuddering . . . why cannot the doctors give me something to make me sleep, ortruly calm my brain when it thunders?

    What I saw in the glow of my flashlight after I shot the unspeakable stragglingobject was so simple that almost a minute elapsed before I understood and went delirious. Theobject was nauseous; a filthy whitish gorilla thing with sharp yellow fangs and matted fur.It was the ultimate product of mammalian degeneration; the frightful outcome of isolated spawning,multiplication, and cannibal nutrition above and below the ground; the embodiment of all thesnarling chaos and grinning fear that lurk behind life. It had looked at me as it died, andits eyes had the same odd quality that marked those other eyes which had stared at me undergroundand excited cloudy recollections. One eye was blue, the other brown. They were the dissimilarMartense eyes of the old legends, and I knew in one inundating cataclysm of voiceless horrorwhat had become of that vanished family; the terrible and thunder-crazed house of Martense.

    We were sitting on a dilapidated seventeenth-century tomb in the late afternoon of an autumnday at the old burying-ground in Arkham, and speculating about the unnamable. Looking towardthe giant willow in the centre of the cemetery, whose trunk has nearly engulfed an ancient,illegible slab, I had made a fantastic remark about the spectral and unmentionable nourishmentwhich the colossal roots must be sucking in from that hoary, charnel earth; when my friend chidedme for such nonsense and told me that since no interments had occurred there for over a century,nothing could possibly exist to nourish the tree in other than an ordinary manner. Besides,he added, my constant talk about “unnamable” and “unmentionable” thingswas a very puerile device, quite in keeping with my lowly standing as an author. I was too fondof ending my stories with sights or sounds which paralysed my heroes’ faculties and leftthem without courage, words, or associations to tell what they had experienced. We know things,he said, only through our five senses or our religious intuitions; wherefore it is quite impossibleto refer to any object or spectacle which cannot be clearly depicted by the solid definitionsof fact or the correct doctrines of theology—preferably those of the Congregationalists,with whatever modifications tradition and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle may supply.

    With this friend, Joel Manton, I had often languidly disputed. He was principalof the East High School, born and bred in Boston and sharing New England’s self-satisfieddeafness to the delicate overtones of life. It was his view that only our normal, objectiveexperiences possess any aesthetic significance, and that it is the province of the artist notso much to rouse strong emotion by action, ecstasy, and astonishment, as to maintain a placidinterest and appreciation by accurate, detailed transcripts of every-day affairs. Especiallydid he object to my preoccupation with the mystical and the unexplained; for although believingin the supernatural much more fully than I, he would not admit that it is sufficiently commonplacefor literary treatment. That a mind can find its greatest pleasure in escapes from the dailytreadmill, and in original and dramatic recombinations of images usually thrown by habit andfatigue into the hackneyed patterns of actual existence, was something virtually incredibleto his clear, practical, and logical intellect. With him all things and feelings had fixed dimensions,properties, causes, and effects; and although he vaguely knew that the mind sometimes holdsvisions and sensations of far less geometrical, classifiable, and workable nature, he believedhimself justified in drawing an arbitrary line and ruling out of court all that cannot be experiencedand understood by the average citizen. Besides, he was almost sure that nothing can be really“unnamable”. It didn’t sound sensible to him.

    Though I well realised the futility of imaginative and metaphysical argumentsagainst the complacency of an orthodox sun-dweller, something in the scene of this afternooncolloquy moved me to more than usual contentiousness. The crumbling slate slabs, the patriarchaltrees, and the centuried gambrel roofs of the witch-haunted old town that stretched around,all combined to rouse my spirit in defence of my work; and I was soon carrying my thrusts intothe enemy’s own country. It was not, indeed, difficult to begin a counter-attack, forI knew that Joel Manton actually half clung to many old-wives’ superstitions which sophisticatedpeople had long outgrown; beliefs in the appearance of dying persons at distant places, andin the impressions left by old faces on the windows through which they had gazed all their lives.To credit these whisperings of rural grandmothers, I now insisted, argued a faith in the existenceof spectral substances on the earth apart from and subsequent to their material counterparts.It argued a capability of believing in phenomena beyond all normal notions; for if a dead mancan transmit his visible or tangible image half across the world, or down the stretch of thecenturies, how can it be absurd to suppose that deserted houses are full of queer sentient things,or that old graveyards teem with the terrible, unbodied intelligence of generations? And sincespirit, in order to cause all the manifestations attributed to it, cannot be limited by anyof the laws of matter; why is it extravagant to imagine psychically living dead things in shapes—orabsences of shapes—which must for human spectators be utterly and appallingly “unnamable”?“Common sense” in reflecting on these subjects, I assured my friend with some warmth,is merely a stupid absence of imagination and mental flexibility.

    Twilight had now approached, but neither of us felt any wish to cease speaking.Manton seemed unimpressed by my arguments, and eager to refute them, having that confidencein his own opinions which had doubtless caused his success as a teacher; whilst I was too sureof my ground to fear defeat. The dusk fell, and lights faintly gleamed in some of the distantwindows, but we did not move. Our seat on the tomb was very comfortable, and I knew that myprosaic friend would not mind the cavernous rift in the ancient, root-disturbed brickwork closebehind us, or the utter blackness of the spot brought by the intervention of a tottering, desertedseventeenth-century house between us and the nearest lighted road. There in the dark, upon thatriven tomb by the deserted house, we talked on about the “unnamable”, and aftermy friend had finished his scoffing I told him of the awful evidence behind the story at whichhe had scoffed the most.

    My tale had been called “The Attic Window”, and appeared in theJanuary, 1922, issue of Whispers. In a good many places, especially the South and thePacific coast, they took the magazines off the stands at the complaints of silly milksops; butNew England didn’t get the thrill and merely shrugged its shoulders at my extravagance.The thing, it was averred, was biologically impossible to start with; merely another of thosecrazy country mutterings which Cotton Mather had been gullible enough to dump into his chaoticMagnalia Christi Americana, and so poorly authenticated that even he had not venturedto name the locality where the horror occurred. And as to the way I amplified the bare jottingof the old mystic—that was quite impossible, and characteristic of a flighty and notionalscribbler! Mather had indeed told of the thing as being born, but nobody but a cheap sensationalistwould think of having it grow up, look into people’s windows at night, and be hidden inthe attic of a house, in flesh and in spirit, till someone saw it at the window centuries laterand couldn’t describe what it was that turned his hair grey. All this was flagrant trashiness,and my friend Manton was not slow to insist on that fact. Then I told him what I had found inan old diary kept between 1706 and 1723, unearthed among family papers not a mile from wherewe were sitting; that, and the certain reality of the scars on my ancestor’s chest andback which the diary described. I told him, too, of the fears of others in that region, andhow they were whispered down for generations; and how no mythical madness came to the boy whoin 1793 entered an abandoned house to examine certain traces suspected to be there.

    It had been an eldritch thing—no wonder sensitive students shudder atthe Puritan age in Massachusetts. So little is known of what went on beneath the surface—solittle, yet such a ghastly festering as it bubbles up putrescently in occasional ghoulish glimpses.The witchcraft terror is a horrible ray of light on what was stewing in men’s crushedbrains, but even that is a trifle. There was no beauty; no freedom—we can see that fromthe architectural and household remains, and the poisonous sermons of the cramped divines. Andinside that rusted iron strait-jacket lurked gibbering hideousness, perversion, and diabolism.Here, truly, was the apotheosis of the unnamable.

    Cotton Mather, in that daemoniac sixth book which no one should read afterdark, minced no words as he flung forth his anathema. Stern as a Jewish prophet, and laconicallyunamazed as none since his day could be, he told of the beast that had brought forth what wasmore than beast but less than man—the thing with the blemished eye—and of the screamingdrunken wretch that they hanged for having such an eye. This much he baldly told, yet withouta hint of what came after. Perhaps he did not know, or perhaps he knew and did not dare to tell.Others knew, but did not dare to tell—there is no public hint of why they whispered aboutthe lock on the door to the attic stairs in the house of a childless, broken, embittered oldman who had put up a blank slate slab by an avoided grave, although one may trace enough evasivelegends to curdle the thinnest blood.

    It is all in that ancestral diary I found; all the hushed innuendoes and furtivetales of things with a blemished eye seen at windows in the night or in deserted meadows nearthe woods. Something had caught my ancestor on a dark valley road, leaving him with marks ofhorns on his chest and of ape-like claws on his back; and when they looked for prints in thetrampled dust they found the mixed marks of split hooves and vaguely anthropoid paws. Once apost-rider said he saw an old man chasing and calling to a frightful loping, nameless thingon Meadow Hill in the thinly moonlit hours before dawn, and many believed him. Certainly, therewas strange talk one night in 1710 when the childless, broken old man was buried in the cryptbehind his own house in sight of the blank slate slab. They never unlocked that attic door,but left the whole house as it was, dreaded and deserted. When noises came from it, they whisperedand shivered; and hoped that the lock on that attic door was strong. Then they stopped hopingwhen the horror occurred at the parsonage, leaving not a soul alive or in one piece. With theyears the legends take on a spectral character—I suppose the thing, if it was a livingthing, must have died. The memory had lingered hideously—all the more hideous becauseit was so secret.

    During this narration my friend Manton had become very silent, and I saw thatmy words had impressed him. He did not laugh as I paused, but asked quite seriously about theboy who went mad in 1793, and who had presumably been the hero of my fiction. I told him whythe boy had gone to that shunned, deserted house, and remarked that he ought to be interested,since he believed that windows retained latent images of those who had sat at them. The boyhad gone to look at the windows of that horrible attic, because of tales of things seen behindthem, and had come back screaming maniacally.

    Manton remained thoughtful as I said this, but gradually reverted to his analyticalmood. He granted for the sake of argument that some unnatural monster had really existed, butreminded me that even the most morbid perversion of Nature need not be unnamable or scientificallyindescribable. I admired his clearness and persistence, and added some further revelations Ihad collected among the old people. Those later spectral legends, I made plain, related to monstrousapparitions more frightful than anything organic could be; apparitions of gigantic bestial formssometimes visible and sometimes only tangible, which floated about on moonless nights and hauntedthe old house, the crypt behind it, and the grave where a sapling had sprouted beside an illegibleslab. Whether or not such apparitions had ever gored or smothered people to death, as told inuncorroborated traditions, they had produced a strong and consistent impression; and were yetdarkly feared by very aged natives, though largely forgotten by the last two generations—perhapsdying for lack of being thought about. Moreover, so far as aesthetic theory was involved, ifthe psychic emanations of human creatures be grotesque distortions, what coherent representationcould express or portray so gibbous and infamous a nebulosity as the spectre of a malign, chaoticperversion, itself a morbid blasphemy against Nature? Moulded by the dead brain of a hybridnightmare, would not such a vaporous terror constitute in all loathsome truth the exquisitely,the shriekingly unnamable?

    The hour must now have grown very late. A singularly noiseless bat brushedby me, and I believe it touched Manton also, for although I could not see him I felt him raisehis arm. Presently he spoke.

    “But is that house with the attic window still standing and deserted?”

    “Yes”, I answered. “I have seen it.”

    “And did you find anything there—in the attic or anywhere else?”

    “There were some bones up under the eaves. They may have been what thatboy saw—if he was sensitive he wouldn’t have needed anything in the window-glassto unhinge him. If they all came from the same object it must have been an hysterical, deliriousmonstrosity. It would have been blasphemous to leave such bones in the world, so I went backwith a sack and took them to the tomb behind the house. There was an opening where I could dumpthem in. Don’t think I was a fool—you ought to have seen that skull. It had four-inchhorns, but a face and jaw something like yours and mine.”

    At last I could feel a real shiver run through Manton, who had moved very near.But his curiosity was undeterred.

    “And what about the window-panes?”

    “They were all gone. One window had lost its entire frame, and in theother there was not a trace of glass in the little diamond apertures. They were that kind—theold lattice windows that went out of use before 1700. I don’t believe they’ve hadany glass for an hundred years or more—maybe the boy broke ’em if he got that far;the legend doesn’t say.”

    Manton was reflecting again.

    “I’d like to see that house, Carter. Where is it? Glass or no glass,I must explore it a little. And the tomb where you put those bones, and the other grave withoutan inscription—the whole thing must be a bit terrible.”

    “You did see it—until it got dark.”

    My friend was more wrought upon than I had suspected, for at this touch ofharmless theatricalism he started neurotically away from me and actually cried out with a sortof gulping gasp which released a strain of previous repression. It was an odd cry, and all themore terrible because it was answered. For as it was still echoing, I heard a creaking soundthrough the pitchy blackness, and knew that a lattice window was opening in that accursed oldhouse beside us. And because all the other frames were long since fallen, I knew that it wasthe grisly glassless frame of that daemoniac attic window.

    Then came a noxious rush of noisome, frigid air from that same dreaded direction,followed by a piercing shriek just beside me on that shocking rifted tomb of man and monster.In another instant I was knocked from my gruesome bench by the devilish threshing of some unseenentity of titanic size but undetermined nature; knocked sprawling on the root-clutched mouldof that abhorrent graveyard, while from the tomb came such a stifled uproar of gasping and whirringthat my fancy peopled the rayless gloom with Miltonic legions of the misshapen damned. Therewas a vortex of withering, ice-cold wind, and then the rattle of loose bricks and plaster; butI had mercifully fainted before I could learn what it meant.

    Manton, though smaller than I, is more resilient; for we opened our eyes atalmost the same instant, despite his greater injuries. Our couches were side by side, and weknew in a few seconds that we were in St. Mary’s Hospital. Attendants were grouped aboutin tense curiosity, eager to aid our memory by telling us how we came there, and we soon heardof the farmer who had found us at noon in a lonely field beyond Meadow Hill, a mile from theold burying-ground, on a spot where an ancient slaughterhouse is reputed to have stood. Mantonhad two malignant wounds in the chest, and some less severe cuts or gougings in the back. Iwas not so seriously hurt, but was covered with welts and contusions of the most bewilderingcharacter, including the print of a split hoof. It was plain that Manton knew more than I, buthe told nothing to the puzzled and interested physicians till he had learned what our injurieswere. Then he said we were the victims of a vicious bull—though the animal was a difficultthing to place and account for.

    After the doctors and nurses had left, I whispered an awestruck question:

    “Good God, Manton, but what was it? Those scars— was it like that?”

    And I was too dazed to exult when he whispered back a thing I had half expected—

    “No—it wasn’t that way at all. It was everywhere—agelatin—a slime—yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory.There were eyes—and a blemish. It was the pit—the maelstrom—the ultimate abomination.Carter, it was the unnamable!”

    That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe;And all his warrior-guests, with shade and formOf witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,Were long be-nightmared.—Keats.

    Unhappy is he to whom the memories of childhood bring only fear and sadness. Wretched is hewho looks back upon lone hours in vast and dismal chambers with brown hangings and maddeningrows of antique books, or upon awed watches in twilight groves of grotesque, gigantic, and vine-encumberedtrees that silently wave twisted branches far aloft. Such a lot the gods gave to me—tome, the dazed, the disappointed; the barren, the broken. And yet I am strangely content, andcling desperately to those sere memories, when my mind momentarily threatens to reach beyondto the other.

    I know not where I was born, save that the castle was infinitely old and infinitely horrible;full of dark passages and having high ceilings where the eye could find only cobwebs and shadows.The stones in the crumbling corridors seemed always hideously damp, and there was an accursedsmell everywhere, as of the piled-up corpses of dead generations. It was never light, so thatI used sometimes to light candles and gaze steadily at them for relief; nor was there any sunoutdoors, since the terrible trees grew high above the topmost accessible tower. There was oneblack tower which reached above the trees into the unknown outer sky, but that was partly ruinedand could not be ascended save by a well-nigh impossible climb up the sheer wall, stone by stone.

    I must have lived years in this place, but I cannot measure the time. Beings must have caredfor my needs, yet I cannot recall any person except myself; or anything alive but the noiselessrats and bats and spiders. I think that whoever nursed me must have been shockingly aged, sincemy first conception of a living person was that of something mockingly like myself, yet distorted,shrivelled, and decaying like the castle. To me there was nothing grotesque in the bones andskeletons that strowed some of the stone crypts deep down among the foundations. I fantasticallyassociated these things with every-day events, and thought them more natural than the colouredpictures of living beings which I found in many of the mouldy books. From such books I learnedall that I know. No teacher urged or guided me, and I do not recall hearing any human voicein all those years—not even my own; for although I had read of speech, I had never thoughtto try to speak aloud. My aspect was a matter equally unthought of, for there were no mirrorsin the castle, and I merely regarded myself by instinct as akin to the youthful figures I sawdrawn and painted in the books. I felt conscious of youth because I remembered so little.

    Outside, across the putrid moat and under the dark mute trees, I would often lie and dream forhours about what I read in the books; and would longingly picture myself amidst gay crowds inthe sunny world beyond the endless forest. Once I tried to escape from the forest, but as Iwent farther from the castle the shade grew denser and the air more filled with brooding fear;so that I ran frantically back lest I lose my way in a labyrinth of nighted silence.

    So through endless twilights I dreamed and waited, though I knew not what I waited for. Thenin the shadowy solitude my longing for light grew so frantic that I could rest no more, andI lifted entreating hands to the single black ruined tower that reached above the forest intothe unknown outer sky. And at last I resolved to scale that tower, fall though I might; sinceit were better to glimpse the sky and perish, than to live without ever beholding day.

    In the dank twilight I climbed the worn and aged stone stairs till I reached the level wherethey ceased, and thereafter clung perilously to small footholds leading upward. Ghastly andterrible was that dead, stairless cylinder of rock; black, ruined, and deserted, and sinisterwith startled bats whose wings made no noise. But more ghastly and terrible still was the slownessof my progress; for climb as I might, the darkness overhead grew no thinner, and a new chillas of haunted and venerable mould assailed me. I shivered as I wondered why I did not reachthe light, and would have looked down had I dared. I fancied that night had come suddenly uponme, and vainly groped with one free hand for a window embrasure, that I might peer out and above,and try to judge the height I had attained.

    All at once, after an infinity of awesome, sightless crawling up that concave and desperateprecipice, I felt my head touch a solid thing, and I knew I must have gained the roof, or atleast some kind of floor. In the darkness I raised my free hand and tested the barrier, findingit stone and immovable. Then came a deadly circuit of the tower, clinging to whatever holdsthe slimy wall could give; till finally my testing hand found the barrier yielding, and I turnedupward again, pushing the slab or door with my head as I used both hands in my fearful ascent.There was no light revealed above, and as my hands went higher I knew that my climb was forthe nonce ended; since the slab was the trap-door of an aperture leading to a level stone surfaceof greater circumference than the lower tower, no doubt the floor of some lofty and capaciousobservation chamber. I crawled through carefully, and tried to prevent the heavy slab from fallingback into place; but failed in the latter attempt. As I lay exhausted on the stone floor I heardthe eerie echoes of its fall, but hoped when necessary to pry it open again.

    Believing I was now at a prodigious height, far above the accursed branches of the wood, I draggedmyself up from the floor and fumbled about for windows, that I might look for the first timeupon the sky, and the moon and stars of which I had read. But on every hand I was disappointed;since all that I found were vast shelves of marble, bearing odious oblong boxes of disturbingsize. More and more I reflected, and wondered what hoary secrets might abide in this high apartmentso many aeons cut off from the castle below. Then unexpectedly my hands came upon a doorway,where hung a portal of stone, rough with strange chiselling. Trying it, I found it locked; butwith a supreme burst of strength I overcame all obstacles and dragged it open inward. As I didso there came to me the purest ecstasy I have ever known; for shining tranquilly through anornate grating of iron, and down a short stone passageway of steps that ascended from the newlyfound doorway, was the radiant full moon, which I had never before seen save in dreams and invague visions I dared not call memories.

    Fancying now that I had attained the very pinnacle of the castle, I commenced to rush up thefew steps beyond the door; but the sudden veiling of the moon by a cloud caused me to stumble,and I felt my way more slowly in the dark. It was still very dark when I reached the grating—whichI tried carefully and found unlocked, but which I did not open for fear of falling from theamazing height to which I had climbed. Then the moon came out.

    Most daemoniacal of all shocks is that of the abysmally unexpected and grotesquely unbelievable.Nothing I had before undergone could compare in terror with what I now saw; with the bizarremarvels that sight implied. The sight itself was as simple as it was stupefying, for it wasmerely this: instead of a dizzying prospect of treetops seen from a lofty eminence, there stretchedaround me on a level through the grating nothing less than the solid ground, decked anddiversified by marble slabs and columns, and overshadowed by an ancient stone church, whoseruined spire gleamed spectrally in the moonlight.

    Half unconscious, I opened the grating and staggered out upon the white gravel path that stretchedaway in two directions. My mind, stunned and chaotic as it was, still held the frantic cravingfor light; and not even the fantastic wonder which had happened could stay my course. I neitherknew nor cared whether my experience was insanity, dreaming, or magic; but was determined togaze on brilliance and gaiety at any cost. I knew not who I was or what I was, or what my surroundingsmight be; though as I continued to stumble along I became conscious of a kind of fearsome latentmemory that made my progress not wholly fortuitous. I passed under an arch out of that regionof slabs and columns, and wandered through the open country; sometimes following the visibleroad, but sometimes leaving it curiously to tread across meadows where only occasional ruinsbespoke the ancient presence of a forgotten road. Once I swam across a swift river where crumbling,mossy masonry told of a bridge long vanished.

    Over two hours must have passed before I reached what seemed to be my goal, a venerable iviedcastle in a thickly wooded park; maddeningly familiar, yet full of perplexing strangeness tome. I saw that the moat was filled in, and that some of the well-known towers were demolished;whilst new wings existed to confuse the beholder. But what I observed with chief interest anddelight were the open windows—gorgeously ablaze with light and sending forth sound ofthe gayest revelry. Advancing to one of these I looked in and saw an oddly dressed company,indeed; making merry, and speaking brightly to one another. I had never, seemingly, heard humanspeech before; and could guess only vaguely what was said. Some of the faces seemed to holdexpressions that brought up incredibly remote recollections; others were utterly alien.

    I now stepped through the low window into the brilliantly lighted room, stepping as I did sofrom my single bright moment of hope to my blackest convulsion of despair and realisation. Thenightmare was quick to come; for as I entered, there occurred immediately one of the most terrifyingdemonstrations I had ever conceived. Scarcely had I crossed the sill when there descended uponthe whole company a sudden and unheralded fear of hideous intensity, distorting every face andevoking the most horrible screams from nearly every throat. Flight was universal, and in theclamour and panic several fell in a swoon and were dragged away by their madly fleeing companions.Many covered their eyes with their hands, and plunged blindly and awkwardly in their race toescape; overturning furniture and stumbling against the walls before they managed to reach oneof the many doors.

    The cries were shocking; and as I stood in the brilliant apartment alone and dazed, listeningto their vanishing echoes, I trembled at the thought of what might be lurking near me unseen.At a casual inspection the room seemed deserted, but when I moved toward one of the alcovesI thought I detected a presence there—a hint of motion beyond the golden-arched doorwayleading to another and somewhat similar room. As I approached the arch I began to perceive thepresence more clearly; and then, with the first and last sound I ever uttered—a ghastlyululation that revolted me almost as poignantly as its noxious cause—I beheld in full,frightful vividness the inconceivable, indescribable, and unmentionable monstrosity which hadby its simple appearance changed a merry company to a herd of delirious fugitives.

    I cannot even hint what it was like, for it was a compound of all that is unclean, uncanny,unwelcome, abnormal, and detestable. It was the ghoulish shade of decay, antiquity, and desolation;the putrid, dripping eidolon of unwholesome revelation; the awful baring of that which the mercifulearth should always hide. God knows it was not of this world—or no longer of this world—yetto my horror I saw in its eaten-away and bone-revealing outlines a leering, abhorrent travestyon the human shape; and in its mouldy, disintegrating apparel an unspeakable quality that chilledme even more.

    I was almost paralysed, but not too much so to make a feeble effort toward flight; a backwardstumble which failed to break the spell in which the nameless, voiceless monster held me. Myeyes, bewitched by the glassy orbs which stared loathsomely into them, refused to close; thoughthey were mercifully blurred, and shewed the terrible object but indistinctly after the firstshock. I tried to raise my hand to shut out the sight, yet so stunned were my nerves that myarm could not fully obey my will. The attempt, however, was enough to disturb my balance; sothat I had to stagger forward several steps to avoid falling. As I did so I became suddenlyand agonisingly aware of the nearness of the carrion thing, whose hideous hollow breathingI half fancied I could hear. Nearly mad, I found myself yet able to throw out a hand to wardoff the foetid apparition which pressed so close; when in one cataclysmic second of cosmic nightmarishnessand hellish accident my fingers touched the rotting outstretched paw of the monster beneaththe golden arch.

    I did not shriek, but all the fiendish ghouls that ride the night-wind shrieked for me as inthat same second there crashed down upon my mind a single and fleeting avalanche of soul-annihilatingmemory. I knew in that second all that had been; I remembered beyond the frightful castle andthe trees, and recognised the altered edifice in which I now stood; I recognised, most terribleof all, the unholy abomination that stood leering before me as I withdrew my sullied fingersfrom its own.

    But in the cosmos there is balm as well as bitterness, and that balm is nepenthe. In the supremehorror of that second I forgot what had horrified me, and the burst of black memory vanishedin a chaos of echoing images. In a dream I fled from that haunted and accursed pile, and ranswiftly and silently in the moonlight. When I returned to the churchyard place of marble andwent down the steps I found the stone trap-door immovable; but I was not sorry, for I had hatedthe antique castle and the trees. Now I ride with the mocking and friendly ghouls on the night-wind,and play by day amongst the catacombs of Nephren-Ka in the sealed and unknown valley of Hadothby the Nile. I know that light is not for me, save that of the moon over the rock tombs of Neb,nor any gaiety save the unnamed feasts of Nitokris beneath the Great Pyramid; yet in my newwildness and freedom I almost welcome the bitterness of alienage.

    For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in thiscentury and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingersto the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched acold and unyielding surface of polished glass.

    I.

    From even the greatest of horrors irony is seldom absent. Sometimes it enters directly intothe composition of the events, while sometimes it relates only to their fortuitous positionamong persons and places. The latter sort is splendidly exemplified by a case in the ancientcity of Providence, where in the late forties Edgar Allan Poe used to sojourn often during hisunsuccessful wooing of the gifted poetess, Mrs. Whitman. Poe generally stopped at the MansionHouse in Benefit Street—the renamed Golden Ball Inn whose roof has sheltered Washington,Jefferson, and Lafayette—and his favourite walk led northward along the same street toMrs. Whitman’s home and the neighbouring hillside churchyard of St. John’s, whosehidden expanse of eighteenth-century gravestones had for him a peculiar fascination.

    Now the irony is this. In this walk, so many times repeated, the world’sgreatest master of the terrible and the bizarre was obliged to pass a particular house on theeastern side of the street; a dingy, antiquated structure perched on the abruptly rising side-hill,with a great unkempt yard dating from a time when the region was partly open country. It doesnot appear that he ever wrote or spoke of it, nor is there any evidence that he even noticedit. And yet that house, to the two persons in possession of certain information, equals or outranksin horror the wildest phantasy of the genius who so often passed it unknowingly, and standsstarkly leering as a symbol of all that is unutterably hideous.

    The house was—and for that matter still is—of a kind to attractthe attention of the curious. Originally a farm or semi-farm building, it followed the averageNew England colonial lines of the middle eighteenth century—the prosperous peaked-roofsort, with two stories and dormerless attic, and with the Georgian doorway and interior panellingdictated by the progress of taste at that time. It faced south, with one gable end buried tothe lower windows in the eastward rising hill, and the other exposed to the foundations towardthe street. Its construction, over a century and a half ago, had followed the grading and straighteningof the road in that especial vicinity; for Benefit Street—at first called Back Street—waslaid out as a lane winding amongst the graveyards of the first settlers, and straightened onlywhen the removal of the bodies to the North Burial Ground made it decently possible to cut throughthe old family plots.

    At the start, the western wall had lain some twenty feet up a precipitous lawnfrom the roadway; but a widening of the street at about the time of the Revolution sheared offmost of the intervening space, exposing the foundations so that a brick basem*nt wall had tobe made, giving the deep cellar a street frontage with door and two windows above ground, closeto the new line of public travel. When the sidewalk was laid out a century ago the last of theintervening space was removed; and Poe in his walks must have seen only a sheer ascent of dullgrey brick flush with the sidewalk and surmounted at a height of ten feet by the antique shingledbulk of the house proper.

    The farm-like grounds extended back very deeply up the hill, almost to WheatonStreet. The space south of the house, abutting on Benefit Street, was of course greatly abovethe existing sidewalk level, forming a terrace bounded by a high bank wall of damp, mossy stonepierced by a steep flight of narrow steps which led inward between canyon-like surfaces to theupper region of mangy lawn, rheumy brick walls, and neglected gardens whose dismantled cementurns, rusted kettles fallen from tripods of knotty sticks, and similar paraphernalia set offthe weather-beaten front door with its broken fanlight, rotting Ionic pilasters, and wormy triangularpediment.

    What I heard in my youth about the shunned house was merely that people diedthere in alarmingly great numbers. That, I was told, was why the original owners had moved outsome twenty years after building the place. It was plainly unhealthy, perhaps because of thedampness and fungous growth in the cellar, the general sickish smell, the draughts of the hallways,or the quality of the well and pump water. These things were bad enough, and these were allthat gained belief among the persons whom I knew. Only the notebooks of my antiquarian uncle,Dr. Elihu Whipple, revealed to me at length the darker, vaguer surmises which formed an undercurrentof folklore among old-time servants and humble folk; surmises which never travelled far, andwhich were largely forgotten when Providence grew to be a metropolis with a shifting modernpopulation.

    The general fact is, that the house was never regarded by the solid part ofthe community as in any real sense “haunted”. There were no widespread tales ofrattling chains, cold currents of air, extinguished lights, or faces at the window. Extremistssometimes said the house was “unlucky”, but that is as far as even they went. Whatwas really beyond dispute is that a frightful proportion of persons died there; or more accurately,had died there, since after some peculiar happenings over sixty years ago the buildinghad become deserted through the sheer impossibility of renting it. These persons were not allcut off suddenly by any one cause; rather did it seem that their vitality was insidiously sapped,so that each one died the sooner from whatever tendency to weakness he may have naturally had.And those who did not die displayed in varying degree a type of anaemia or consumption, andsometimes a decline of the mental faculties, which spoke ill for the salubriousness of the building.Neighbouring houses, it must be added, seemed entirely free from the noxious quality.

    This much I knew before my insistent questioning led my uncle to shew me thenotes which finally embarked us both on our hideous investigation. In my childhood the shunnedhouse was vacant, with barren, gnarled, and terrible old trees, long, queerly pale grass, andnightmarishly misshapen weeds in the high terraced yard where birds never lingered. We boysused to overrun the place, and I can still recall my youthful terror not only at the morbidstrangeness of this sinister vegetation, but at the eldritch atmosphere and odour of the dilapidatedhouse, whose unlocked front door was often entered in quest of shudders. The small-paned windowswere largely broken, and a nameless air of desolation hung round the precarious panelling, shakyinterior shutters, peeling wall-paper, falling plaster, rickety staircases, and such fragmentsof battered furniture as still remained. The dust and cobwebs added their touch of the fearful;and brave indeed was the boy who would voluntarily ascend the ladder to the attic, a vast rafteredlength lighted only by small blinking windows in the gable ends, and filled with a massed wreckageof chests, chairs, and spinning-wheels which infinite years of deposit had shrouded and festoonedinto monstrous and hellish shapes.

    But after all, the attic was not the most terrible part of the house. It wasthe dank, humid cellar which somehow exerted the strongest repulsion on us, even though it waswholly above ground on the street side, with only a thin door and window-pierced brick wallto separate it from the busy sidewalk. We scarcely knew whether to haunt it in spectral fascination,or to shun it for the sake of our souls and our sanity. For one thing, the bad odour of thehouse was strongest there; and for another thing, we did not like the white fungous growthswhich occasionally sprang up in rainy summer weather from the hard earth floor. Those fungi,grotesquely like the vegetation in the yard outside, were truly horrible in their outlines;detestable parodies of toadstools and Indian pipes, whose like we had never seen in any othersituation. They rotted quickly, and at one stage became slightly phosphorescent; so that nocturnalpassers-by sometimes spoke of witch-fires glowing behind the broken panes of the foetor-spreadingwindows.

    We never—even in our wildest Hallowe’en moods—visited thiscellar by night, but in some of our daytime visits could detect the phosphorescence, especiallywhen the day was dark and wet. There was also a subtler thing we often thought we detected—avery strange thing which was, however, merely suggestive at most. I refer to a sort of cloudywhitish pattern on the dirt floor—a vague, shifting deposit of mould or nitre which wesometimes thought we could trace amidst the sparse fungous growths near the huge fireplace ofthe basem*nt kitchen. Once in a while it struck us that this patch bore an uncanny resemblanceto a doubled-up human figure, though generally no such kinship existed, and often there wasno whitish deposit whatever. On a certain rainy afternoon when this illusion seemed phenomenallystrong, and when, in addition, I had fancied I glimpsed a kind of thin, yellowish, shimmeringexhalation rising from the nitrous pattern toward the yawning fireplace, I spoke to my uncleabout the matter. He smiled at this odd conceit, but it seemed that his smile was tinged withreminiscence. Later I heard that a similar notion entered into some of the wild ancient talesof the common folk—a notion likewise alluding to ghoulish, wolfish shapes taken by smokefrom the great chimney, and queer contours assumed by certain of the sinuous tree-roots thatthrust their way into the cellar through the loose foundation-stones.

    II.

    Not till my adult years did my uncle set before me the notes and data which he had collectedconcerning the shunned house. Dr. Whipple was a sane, conservative physician of the old school,and for all his interest in the place was not eager to encourage young thoughts toward the abnormal.His own view, postulating simply a building and location of markedly unsanitary qualities, hadnothing to do with abnormality; but he realised that the very picturesqueness which arousedhis own interest would in a boy’s fanciful mind take on all manner of gruesome imaginativeassociations.

    The doctor was a bachelor; a white-haired, clean-shaven, old-fashioned gentleman,and a local historian of note, who had often broken a lance with such controversial guardiansof tradition as Sidney S. Rider and Thomas W. Bicknell. He lived with one manservant in a Georgianhomestead with knocker and iron-railed steps, balanced eerily on a steep ascent of North CourtStreet beside the ancient brick court and colony house where his grandfather—a cousinof that celebrated privateersman, Capt. Whipple, who burnt His Majesty’s armed schoonerGaspee in 1772—had voted in the legislature on May 4, 1776, for the independenceof the Rhode Island Colony. Around him in the damp, low-ceiled library with the musty whitepanelling, heavy carved overmantel, and small-paned, vine-shaded windows, were the relics andrecords of his ancient family, among which were many dubious allusions to the shunned housein Benefit Street. That pest spot lies not far distant—for Benefit runs ledgewise justabove the court-house along the precipitous hill up which the first settlement climbed.

    When, in the end, my insistent pestering and maturing years evoked from myuncle the hoarded lore I sought, there lay before me a strange enough chronicle. Long-winded,statistical, and drearily genealogical as some of the matter was, there ran through it a continuousthread of brooding, tenacious horror and preternatural malevolence which impressed me even morethan it had impressed the good doctor. Separate events fitted together uncannily, and seeminglyirrelevant details held mines of hideous possibilities. A new and burning curiosity grew inme, compared to which my boyish curiosity was feeble and inchoate. The first revelation ledto an exhaustive research, and finally to that shuddering quest which proved so disastrous tomyself and mine. For at last my uncle insisted on joining the search I had commenced, and aftera certain night in that house he did not come away with me. I am lonely without that gentlesoul whose long years were filled only with honour, virtue, good taste, benevolence, and learning.I have reared a marble urn to his memory in St. John’s churchyard—the place thatPoe loved—the hidden grove of giant willows on the hill, where tombs and headstones huddlequietly between the hoary bulk of the church and the houses and bank walls of Benefit Street.

    The history of the house, opening amidst a maze of dates, revealed no traceof the sinister either about its construction or about the prosperous and honourable familywho built it. Yet from the first a taint of calamity, soon increased to boding significance,was apparent. My uncle’s carefully compiled record began with the building of the structurein 1763, and followed the theme with an unusual amount of detail. The shunned house, it seems,was first inhabited by William Harris and his wife Rhoby Dexter, with their children, Elkanah,born in 1755, Abigail, born in 1757, William, Jr., born in 1759, and Ruth, born in 1761. Harriswas a substantial merchant and seaman in the West India trade, connected with the firm of ObadiahBrown and his nephews. After Brown’s death in 1761, the new firm of Nicholas Brown &Co. made him master of the brig Prudence, Providence-built, of 120 tons, thus enablinghim to erect the new homestead he had desired ever since his marriage.

    The site he had chosen—a recently straightened part of the new and fashionableBack Street, which ran along the side of the hill above crowded Cheapside—was all thatcould be wished, and the building did justice to the location. It was the best that moderatemeans could afford, and Harris hastened to move in before the birth of a fifth child which thefamily expected. That child, a boy, came in December; but was still-born. Nor was any childto be born alive in that house for a century and a half.

    The next April sickness occurred among the children, and Abigail and Ruth diedbefore the month was over. Dr. Job Ives diagnosed the trouble as some infantile fever, thoughothers declared it was more of a mere wasting-away or decline. It seemed, in any event, to becontagious; for Hannah Bowen, one of the two servants, died of it in the following June. EliLiddeason, the other servant, constantly complained of weakness; and would have returned tohis father’s farm in Rehoboth but for a sudden attachment for Mehitabel Pierce, who washired to succeed Hannah. He died the next year—a sad year indeed, since it marked thedeath of William Harris himself, enfeebled as he was by the climate of Martinique, where hisoccupation had kept him for considerable periods during the preceding decade.

    The widowed Rhoby Harris never recovered from the shock of her husband’sdeath, and the passing of her first-born Elkanah two years later was the final blow to her reason.In 1768 she fell victim to a mild form of insanity, and was thereafter confined to the upperpart of the house; her elder maiden sister, Mercy Dexter, having moved in to take charge ofthe family. Mercy was a plain, raw-boned woman of great strength; but her health visibly declinedfrom the time of her advent. She was greatly devoted to her unfortunate sister, and had an especialaffection for her only surviving nephew William, who from a sturdy infant had become a sickly,spindling lad. In this year the servant Mehitabel died, and the other servant, Preserved Smith,left without coherent explanation—or at least, with only some wild tales and a complaintthat he disliked the smell of the place. For a time Mercy could secure no more help, since theseven deaths and case of madness, all occurring within five years’ space, had begun toset in motion the body of fireside rumour which later became so bizarre. Ultimately, however,she obtained new servants from out of town; Ann White, a morose woman from that part of NorthKingstown now set off as the township of Exeter, and a capable Boston man named Zenas Low.

    It was Ann White who first gave definite shape to the sinister idle talk. Mercyshould have known better than to hire anyone from the Nooseneck Hill country, for that remotebit of backwoods was then, as now, a seat of the most uncomfortable superstitions. As latelyas 1892 an Exeter community exhumed a dead body and ceremoniously burnt its heart in order toprevent certain alleged visitations injurious to the public health and peace, and one may imaginethe point of view of the same section in 1768. Ann’s tongue was perniciously active, andwithin a few months Mercy discharged her, filling her place with a faithful and amiable Amazonfrom Newport, Maria Robbins.

    Meanwhile poor Rhoby Harris, in her madness, gave voice to dreams and imaginingsof the most hideous sort. At times her screams became insupportable, and for long periods shewould utter shrieking horrors which necessitated her son’s temporary residence with hiscousin, Peleg Harris, in Presbyterian-Lane near the new college building. The boy would seemto improve after these visits, and had Mercy been as wise as she was well-meaning, she wouldhave let him live permanently with Peleg. Just what Mrs. Harris cried out in her fits of violence,tradition hesitates to say; or rather, presents such extravagant accounts that they nullifythemselves through sheer absurdity. Certainly it sounds absurd to hear that a woman educatedonly in the rudiments of French often shouted for hours in a coarse and idiomatic form of thatlanguage, or that the same person, alone and guarded, complained wildly of a staring thing whichbit and chewed at her. In 1772 the servant Zenas died, and when Mrs. Harris heard of it shelaughed with a shocking delight utterly foreign to her. The next year she herself died, andwas laid to rest in the North Burial Ground beside her husband.

    Upon the outbreak of trouble with Great Britain in 1775, William Harris, despitehis scant sixteen years and feeble constitution, managed to enlist in the Army of Observationunder General Greene; and from that time on enjoyed a steady rise in health and prestige. In1780, as a Captain in Rhode Island forces in New Jersey under Colonel Angell, he met and marriedPhebe Hetfield of Elizabethtown, whom he brought to Providence upon his honourable dischargein the following year.

    The young soldier’s return was not a thing of unmitigated happiness.The house, it is true, was still in good condition; and the street had been widened and changedin name from Back Street to Benefit Street. But Mercy Dexter’s once robust frame had undergonea sad and curious decay, so that she was now a stooped and pathetic figure with hollow voiceand disconcerting pallor—qualities shared to a singular degree by the one remaining servantMaria. In the autumn of 1782 Phebe Harris gave birth to a still-born daughter, and on the fifteenthof the next May Mercy Dexter took leave of a useful, austere, and virtuous life.

    William Harris, at last thoroughly convinced of the radically unhealthful natureof his abode, now took steps toward quitting it and closing it forever. Securing temporary quartersfor himself and his wife at the newly opened Golden Ball Inn, he arranged for the building ofa new and finer house in Westminster Street, in the growing part of the town across the GreatBridge. There, in 1785, his son Dutee was born; and there the family dwelt till the encroachmentsof commerce drove them back across the river and over the hill to Angell Street, in the newerEast Side residence district, where the late Archer Harris built his sumptuous but hideous French-roofedmansion in 1876. William and Phebe both succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic of 1797, butDutee was brought up by his cousin Rathbone Harris, Peleg’s son.

    Rathbone was a practical man, and rented the Benefit Street house despite William’swish to keep it vacant. He considered it an obligation to his ward to make the most of all theboy’s property, nor did he concern himself with the deaths and illnesses which causedso many changes of tenants, or the steadily growing aversion with which the house was generallyregarded. It is likely that he felt only vexation when, in 1804, the town council ordered himto fumigate the place with sulphur, tar, and gum camphor on account of the much-discussed deathsof four persons, presumably caused by the then diminishing fever epidemic. They said the placehad a febrile smell.

    Dutee himself thought little of the house, for he grew up to be a privateersman,and served with distinction on the Vigilant under Capt. Cahoone in the War of 1812. Hereturned unharmed, married in 1814, and became a father on that memorable night of September23, 1815, when a great gale drove the waters of the bay over half the town, and floated a tallsloop well up Westminster Street so that its masts almost tapped the Harris windows in symbolicaffirmation that the new boy, Welcome, was a seaman’s son.

    Welcome did not survive his father, but lived to perish gloriously at Fredericksburgin 1862. Neither he nor his son Archer knew of the shunned house as other than a nuisance almostimpossible to rent—perhaps on account of the mustiness and sickly odour of unkempt oldage. Indeed, it never was rented after a series of deaths culminating in 1861, which the excitementof the war tended to throw into obscurity. Carrington Harris, last of the male line, knew itonly as a deserted and somewhat picturesque centre of legend until I told him my experience.He had meant to tear it down and build an apartment house on the site, but after my accountdecided to let it stand, install plumbing, and rent it. Nor has he yet had any difficulty inobtaining tenants. The horror has gone.

    III.

    It may well be imagined how powerfully I was affected by the annals of the Harrises. In thiscontinuous record there seemed to me to brood a persistent evil beyond anything in Nature asI had known it; an evil clearly connected with the house and not with the family. This impressionwas confirmed by my uncle’s less systematic array of miscellaneous data—legendstranscribed from servant gossip, cuttings from the papers, copies of death-certificates by fellow-physicians,and the like. All of this material I cannot hope to give, for my uncle was a tireless antiquarianand very deeply interested in the shunned house; but I may refer to several dominant pointswhich earn notice by their recurrence through many reports from diverse sources. For example,the servant gossip was practically unanimous in attributing to the fungous and malodorous
    cellar of the house a vast supremacy in evil influence. There had been servants—AnnWhite especially—who would not use the cellar kitchen, and at least three well-definedlegends bore upon the queer quasi-human or diabolic outlines assumed by tree-roots and patchesof mould in that region. These latter narratives interested me profoundly, on account of whatI had seen in my boyhood, but I felt that most of the significance had in each case been largelyobscured by additions from the common stock of local ghost lore.

    Ann White, with her Exeter superstition, had promulgated the most extravagantand at the same time most consistent tale; alleging that there must lie buried beneath the houseone of those vampires—the dead who retain their bodily form and live on the blood or breathof the living—whose hideous legions send their preying shapes or spirits abroad by night.To destroy a vampire one must, the grandmothers say, exhume it and burn its heart, or at leastdrive a stake through that organ; and Ann’s dogged insistence on a search under the cellarhad been prominent in bringing about her discharge.

    Her tales, however, commanded a wide audience, and were the more readily acceptedbecause the house indeed stood on land once used for burial purposes. To me their interest dependedless on this circ*mstance than on the peculiarly appropriate way in which they dovetailed withcertain other things—the complaint of the departing servant Preserved Smith, who had precededAnn and never heard of her, that something “sucked his breath” at night; the death-certificatesof fever victims of 1804, issued by Dr. Chad Hopkins, and shewing the four deceased personsall unaccountably lacking in blood; and the obscure passages of poor Rhoby Harris’s ravings,where she complained of the sharp teeth of a glassy-eyed, half-visible presence.

    Free from unwarranted superstition though I am, these things produced in mean odd sensation, which was intensified by a pair of widely separated newspaper cuttings relatingto deaths in the shunned house—one from the Providence Gazette and Country-Journalof April 12, 1815, and the other from the Daily Transcript and Chronicle of October 27,1845—each of which detailed an appallingly grisly circ*mstance whose duplication was remarkable.It seems that in both instances the dying person, in 1815 a gentle old lady named Stafford andin 1845 a school-teacher of middle age named Eleazar Durfee, became transfigured in a horribleway; glaring glassily and attempting to bite the throat of the attending physician. Even morepuzzling, though, was the final case which put an end to the renting of the house—a seriesof anaemia deaths preceded by progressive madnesses wherein the patient would craftily attemptthe lives of his relatives by incisions in the neck or wrist.

    This was in 1860 and 1861, when my uncle had just begun his medical practice;and before leaving for the front he heard much of it from his elder professional colleagues.The really inexplicable thing was the way in which the victims—ignorant people, for theill-smelling and widely shunned house could now be rented to no others—would babble maledictionsin French, a language they could not possibly have studied to any extent. It made one thinkof poor Rhoby Harris nearly a century before, and so moved my uncle that he commenced collectinghistorical data on the house after listening, some time subsequent to his return from the war,to the first-hand account of Drs. Chase and Whitmarsh. Indeed, I could see that my uncle hadthought deeply on the subject, and that he was glad of my own interest—an open-mindedand sympathetic interest which enabled him to discuss with me matters at which others wouldmerely have laughed. His fancy had not gone so far as mine, but he felt that the place was rarein its imaginative potentialities, and worthy of note as an inspiration in the field of thegrotesque and macabre.

    For my part, I was disposed to take the whole subject with profound seriousness,and began at once not only to review the evidence, but to accumulate as much more as I could.I talked with the elderly Archer Harris, then owner of the house, many times before his deathin 1916; and obtained from him and his still surviving maiden sister Alice an authentic corroborationof all the family data my uncle had collected. When, however, I asked them what connexion withFrance or its language the house could have, they confessed themselves as frankly baffled andignorant as I. Archer knew nothing, and all that Miss Harris could say was that an old allusionher grandfather, Dutee Harris, had heard of might have shed a little light. The old seaman,who had survived his son Welcome’s death in battle by two years, had not himself knownthe legend; but recalled that his earliest nurse, the ancient Maria Robbins, seemed darkly awareof something that might have lent a weird significance to the French ravings of Rhoby Harris,which she had so often heard during the last days of that hapless woman. Maria had been at theshunned house from 1769 till the removal of the family in 1783, and had seen Mercy Dexter die.Once she hinted to the child Dutee of a somewhat peculiar circ*mstance in Mercy’s lastmoments, but he had soon forgotten all about it save that it was something peculiar. The granddaughter,moreover, recalled even this much with difficulty. She and her brother were not so much interestedin the house as was Archer’s son Carrington, the present owner, with whom I talked aftermy experience.

    Having exhausted the Harris family of all the information it could furnish,I turned my attention to early town records and deeds with a zeal more penetrating than thatwhich my uncle had occasionally shewn in the same work. What I wished was a comprehensive historyof the site from its very settlement in 1636—or even before, if any Narragansett Indianlegend could be unearthed to supply the data. I found, at the start, that the land had beenpart of the long strip of home lot granted originally to John Throckmorton; one of many similarstrips beginning at the Town Street beside the river and extending up over the hill to a lineroughly corresponding with the modern Hope Street. The Throckmorton lot had later, of course,been much subdivided; and I became very assiduous in tracing that section through which Backor Benefit Street was later run. It had, a rumour indeed said, been the Throckmorton graveyard;but as I examined the records more carefully, I found that the graves had all been transferredat an early date to the North Burial Ground on the Pawtucket West Road.

    Then suddenly I came—by a rare piece of chance, since it was not in themain body of records and might easily have been missed—upon something which aroused mykeenest eagerness, fitting in as it did with several of the queerest phases of the affair. Itwas the record of a lease, in 1697, of a small tract of ground to an Etienne Roulet and wife.At last the French element had appeared—that, and another deeper element of horror whichthe name conjured up from the darkest recesses of my weird and heterogeneous reading—andI feverishly studied the platting of the locality as it had been before the cutting throughand partial straightening of Back Street between 1747 and 1758. I found what I had half expected,that where the shunned house now stood the Roulets had laid out their graveyard behind a one-storyand attic cottage, and that no record of any transfer of graves existed. The document, indeed,ended in much confusion; and I was forced to ransack both the Rhode Island Historical Societyand Shepley Library before I could find a local door which the name Etienne Roulet would unlock.In the end I did find something; something of such vague but monstrous import that I set aboutat once to examine the cellar of the shunned house itself with a new and excited minuteness.

    The Roulets, it seemed, had come in 1696 from East Greenwich, down the westshore of Narragansett Bay. They were Huguenots from Caude, and had encountered much oppositionbefore the Providence selectmen allowed them to settle in the town. Unpopularity had doggedthem in East Greenwich, whither they had come in 1686, after the revocation of the Edict ofNantes, and rumour said that the cause of dislike extended beyond mere racial and national prejudice,or the land disputes which involved other French settlers with the English in rivalries whichnot even Governor Andros could quell. But their ardent Protestantism—too ardent, somewhispered—and their evident distress when virtually driven from the village down the bay,had moved the sympathy of the town fathers. Here the strangers had been granted a haven; andthe swarthy Etienne Roulet, less apt at agriculture than at reading queer books and drawingqueer diagrams, was given a clerical post in the warehouse at Pardon Tillinghast’s wharf,far south in Town Street. There had, however, been a riot of some sort later on—perhapsforty years later, after old Roulet’s death—and no one seemed to hear of the familyafter that.

    For a century and more, it appeared, the Roulets had been well remembered andfrequently discussed as vivid incidents in the quiet life of a New England seaport. Etienne’sson Paul, a surly fellow whose erratic conduct had probably provoked the riot which wiped outthe family, was particularly a source of speculation; and though Providence never shared thewitchcraft panics of her Puritan neighbours, it was freely intimated by old wives that his prayerswere neither uttered at the proper time nor directed toward the proper object. All this hadundoubtedly formed the basis of the legend known by old Maria Robbins. What relation it hadto the French ravings of Rhoby Harris and other inhabitants of the shunned house, imaginationor future discovery alone could determine. I wondered how many of those who had known the legendsrealised that additional link with the terrible which my wide reading had given me; that ominousitem in the annals of morbid horror which tells of the creature Jacques Roulet, of Caude,who in 1598 was condemned to death as a daemoniac but afterward saved from the stake by theParis parliament and shut in a madhouse. He had been found covered with blood and shreds offlesh in a wood, shortly after the killing and rending of a boy by a pair of wolves. One wolfwas seen to lope away unhurt. Surely a pretty hearthside tale, with a queer significance asto name and place; but I decided that the Providence gossips could not have generally knownof it. Had they known, the coincidence of names would have brought some drastic and frightenedaction—indeed, might not its limited whispering have precipitated the final riot whicherased the Roulets from the town?

    I now visited the accursed place with increased frequency; studying the unwholesomevegetation of the garden, examining all the walls of the building, and poring over every inchof the earthen cellar floor. Finally, with Carrington Harris’s permission, I fitted akey to the disused door opening from the cellar directly upon Benefit Street, preferring tohave a more immediate access to the outside world than the dark stairs, ground floor hall, andfront door could give. There, where morbidity lurked most thickly, I searched and poked duringlong afternoons when the sunlight filtered in through the cobwebbed above-ground windows, anda sense of security glowed from the unlocked door which placed me only a few feet from the placidsidewalk outside. Nothing new rewarded my efforts—only the same depressing mustiness andfaint suggestions of noxious odours and nitrous outlines on the floor—and I fancy thatmany pedestrians must have watched me curiously through the broken panes.

    At length, upon a suggestion of my uncle’s, I decided to try the spotnocturnally; and one stormy midnight ran the beams of an electric torch over the mouldy floorwith its uncanny shapes and distorted, half-phosphorescent fungi. The place had dispirited mecuriously that evening, and I was almost prepared when I saw—or thought I saw—amidstthe whitish deposits a particularly sharp definition of the “huddled form” I hadsuspected from boyhood. Its clearness was astonishing and unprecedented—and as I watchedI seemed to see again the thin, yellowish, shimmering exhalation which had startled me on thatrainy afternoon so many years before.

    Above the anthropomorphic patch of mould by the fireplace it rose; a subtle,sickish, almost luminous vapour which as it hung trembling in the dampness seemed to developvague and shocking suggestions of form, gradually trailing off into nebulous decay and passingup into the blackness of the great chimney with a foetor in its wake. It was truly horrible,and the more so to me because of what I knew of the spot. Refusing to flee, I watched it fade—andas I watched I felt that it was in turn watching me greedily with eyes more imaginable thanvisible. When I told my uncle about it he was greatly aroused; and after a tense hour of reflection,arrived at a definite and drastic decision. Weighing in his mind the importance of the matter,and the significance of our relation to it, he insisted that we both test—and if possibledestroy—the horror of the house by a joint night or nights of aggressive vigil in thatmusty and fungus-cursed cellar.

    IV.

    On Wednesday, June 25, 1919, after a proper notification of Carrington Harris which did notinclude surmises as to what we expected to find, my uncle and I conveyed to the shunned housetwo camp chairs and a folding camp cot, together with some scientific mechanism of greater weightand intricacy. These we placed in the cellar during the day, screening the windows with paperand planning to return in the evening for our first vigil. We had locked the door from the cellarto the ground floor; and having a key to the outside cellar door, we were prepared to leaveour expensive and delicate apparatus—which we had obtained secretly and at great cost—asmany days as our vigils might need to be protracted. It was our design to sit up together tillvery late, and then watch singly till dawn in two-hour stretches, myself first and then my companion;the inactive member resting on the cot.

    The natural leadership with which my uncle procured the instruments from thelaboratories of Brown University and the Cranston Street Armoury, and instinctively assumeddirection of our venture, was a marvellous commentary on the potential vitality and resilienceof a man of eighty-one. Elihu Whipple had lived according to the hygienic laws he had preachedas a physician, and but for what happened later would be here in full vigour today. Only twopersons suspect what did happen—Carrington Harris and myself. I had to tell Harris becausehe owned the house and deserved to know what had gone out of it. Then too, we had spoken tohim in advance of our quest; and I felt after my uncle’s going that he would understandand assist me in some vitally necessary public explanations. He turned very pale, but agreedto help me, and decided that it would now be safe to rent the house.

    To declare that we were not nervous on that rainy night of watching would bean exaggeration both gross and ridiculous. We were not, as I have said, in any sense childishlysuperstitious, but scientific study and reflection had taught us that the known universe ofthree dimensions embraces the merest fraction of the whole cosmos of substance and energy. Inthis case an overwhelming preponderance of evidence from numerous authentic sources pointedto the tenacious existence of certain forces of great power and, so far as the human point ofview is concerned, exceptional malignancy. To say that we actually believed in vampires or werewolveswould be a carelessly inclusive statement. Rather must it be said that we were not preparedto deny the possibility of certain unfamiliar and unclassified modifications of vital forceand attenuated matter; existing very infrequently in three-dimensional space because of itsmore intimate connexion with other spatial units, yet close enough to the boundary of our ownto furnish us occasional manifestations which we, for lack of a proper vantage-point, may neverhope to understand.

    In short, it seemed to my uncle and me that an incontrovertible array of factspointed to some lingering influence in the shunned house; traceable to one or another of theill-favoured French settlers of two centuries before, and still operative through rare and unknownlaws of atomic and electronic motion. That the family of Roulet had possessed an abnormal affinityfor outer circles of entity—dark spheres which for normal folk hold only repulsion andterror—their recorded history seemed to prove. Had not, then, the riots of those bygoneseventeen-thirties set moving certain kinetic patterns in the morbid brain of one or more ofthem—notably the sinister Paul Roulet—which obscurely survived the bodies murderedand buried by the mob, and continued to function in some multiple-dimensioned space along theoriginal lines of force determined by a frantic hatred of the encroaching community?

    Such a thing was surely not a physical or biochemical impossibility in thelight of a newer science which includes the theories of relativity and intra-atomic action.One might easily imagine an alien nucleus of substance or energy, formless or otherwise, keptalive by imperceptible or immaterial subtractions from the life-force or bodily tissues andfluids of other and more palpably living things into which it penetrates and with whose fabricit sometimes completely merges itself. It might be actively hostile, or it might be dictatedmerely by blind motives of self-preservation. In any case such a monster must of necessity bein our scheme of things an anomaly and an intruder, whose extirpation forms a primary duty withevery man not an enemy to the world’s life, health, and sanity.

    What baffled us was our utter ignorance of the aspect in which we might encounterthe thing. No sane person had even seen it, and few had ever felt it definitely. It might bepure energy—a form ethereal and outside the realm of substance—or it might be partlymaterial; some unknown and equivocal mass of plasticity, capable of changing at will to nebulousapproximations of the solid, liquid, gaseous, or tenuously unparticled states. The anthropomorphicpatch of mould on the floor, the form of the yellowish vapour, and the curvature of the tree-rootsin some of the old tales, all argued at least a remote and reminiscent connexion with the humanshape; but how representative or permanent that similarity might be, none could say with anykind of certainty.

    We had devised two weapons to fight it; a large and specially fitted Crookestube operated by powerful storage batteries and provided with peculiar screens and reflectors,in case it proved intangible and opposable only by vigorously destructive ether radiations,and a pair of military flame-throwers of the sort used in the world-war, in case it proved partlymaterial and susceptible of mechanical destruction—for like the superstitious Exeter rustics,we were prepared to burn the thing’s heart out if heart existed to burn. All this aggressivemechanism we set in the cellar in positions carefully arranged with reference to the cot andchairs, and to the spot before the fireplace where the mould had taken strange shapes. Thatsuggestive patch, by the way, was only faintly visible when we placed our furniture and instruments,and when we returned that evening for the actual vigil. For a moment I half doubted that I hadever seen it in the more definitely limned form—but then I thought of the legends.

    Our cellar vigil began at 10 p.m., daylight saving time, and as it continuedwe found no promise of pertinent developments. A weak, filtered glow from the rain-harassedstreet-lamps outside, and a feeble phosphorescence from the detestable fungi within, shewedthe dripping stone of the walls, from which all traces of whitewash had vanished; the dank,foetid, and mildew-tainted hard earth floor with its obscene fungi; the rotting remains of whathad been stools, chairs, and tables, and other more shapeless furniture; the heavy planks andmassive beams of the ground floor overhead; the decrepit plank door leading to bins and chambersbeneath other parts of the house; the crumbling stone staircase with ruined wooden hand-rail;and the crude and cavernous fireplace of blackened brick where rusted iron fragments revealedthe past presence of hooks, andirons, spit, crane, and a door to the Dutch oven—thesethings, and our austere cot and camp chairs, and the heavy and intricate destructive machinerywe had brought.

    We had, as in my own former explorations, left the door to the street unlocked;so that a direct and practical path of escape might lie open in case of manifestations beyondour power to deal with. It was our idea that our continued nocturnal presence would call forthwhatever malign entity lurked there; and that being prepared, we could dispose of the thingwith one or the other of our provided means as soon as we had recognised and observed it sufficiently.How long it might require to evoke and extinguish the thing, we had no notion. It occurred tous, too, that our venture was far from safe; for in what strength the thing might appear noone could tell. But we deemed the game worth the hazard, and embarked on it alone and unhesitatingly;conscious that the seeking of outside aid would only expose us to ridicule and perhaps defeatour entire purpose. Such was our frame of mind as we talked—far into the night, till myuncle’s growing drowsiness made me remind him to lie down for his two-hour sleep.

    Something like fear chilled me as I sat there in the small hours alone—Isay alone, for one who sits by a sleeper is indeed alone; perhaps more alone than he can realise.My uncle breathed heavily, his deep inhalations and exhalations accompanied by the rain outside,and punctuated by another nerve-racking sound of distant dripping water within—for thehouse was repulsively damp even in dry weather, and in this storm positively swamp-like. I studiedthe loose, antique masonry of the walls in the fungus-light and the feeble rays which stolein from the street through the screened windows; and once, when the noisome atmosphere of theplace seemed about to sicken me, I opened the door and looked up and down the street, feastingmy eyes on familiar sights and my nostrils on the wholesome air. Still nothing occurred to rewardmy watching; and I yawned repeatedly, fatigue getting the better of apprehension.

    Then the stirring of my uncle in his sleep attracted my notice. He had turnedrestlessly on the cot several times during the latter half of the first hour, but now he wasbreathing with unusual irregularity, occasionally heaving a sigh which held more than a fewof the qualities of a choking moan. I turned my electric flashlight on him and found his faceaverted, so rising and crossing to the other side of the cot, I again flashed the light to seeif he seemed in any pain. What I saw unnerved me most surprisingly, considering its relativetriviality. It must have been merely the association of any odd circ*mstance with the sinisternature of our location and mission, for surely the circ*mstance was not in itself frightfulor unnatural. It was merely that my uncle’s facial expression, disturbed no doubt by thestrange dreams which our situation prompted, betrayed considerable agitation, and seemed notat all characteristic of him. His habitual expression was one of kindly and well-bred calm,whereas now a variety of emotions seemed struggling within him. I think, on the whole, thatit was this variety which chiefly disturbed me. My uncle, as he gasped and tossed inincreasing perturbation and with eyes that had now started open, seemed not one but many men,and suggested a curious quality of alienage from himself.

    All at once he commenced to mutter, and I did not like the look of his mouthand teeth as he spoke. The words were at first indistinguishable, and then—with a tremendousstart—I recognised something about them which filled me with icy fear till I recalledthe breadth of my uncle’s education and the interminable translations he had made fromanthropological and antiquarian articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes. For the venerableElihu Whipple was muttering in French, and the few phrases I could distinguish seemedconnected with the darkest myths he had ever adapted from the famous Paris magazine.

    Suddenly a perspiration broke out on the sleeper’s forehead, and he leapedabruptly up, half awake. The jumble of French changed to a cry in English, and the hoarse voiceshouted excitedly, “My breath, my breath!” Then the awakening became complete, andwith a subsidence of facial expression to the normal state my uncle seized my hand and beganto relate a dream whose nucleus of significance I could only surmise with a kind of awe.

    He had, he said, floated off from a very ordinary series of dream-picturesinto a scene whose strangeness was related to nothing he had ever read. It was of this world,and yet not of it—a shadowy geometrical confusion in which could be seen elements of familiarthings in most unfamiliar and perturbing combinations. There was a suggestion of queerly disorderedpictures superimposed one upon another; an arrangement in which the essentials of time as wellas of space seemed dissolved and mixed in the most illogical fashion. In this kaleidoscopicvortex of phantasmal images were occasional snapshots, if one might use the term, of singularclearness but unaccountable heterogeneity.

    Once my uncle thought he lay in a carelessly dug open pit, with a crowd ofangry faces framed by straggling locks and three-cornered hats frowning down on him. Again heseemed to be in the interior of a house—an old house, apparently—but the detailsand inhabitants were constantly changing, and he could never be certain of the faces or thefurniture, or even of the room itself, since doors and windows seemed in just as great a stateof flux as the more presumably mobile objects. It was queer—damnably queer—and myuncle spoke almost sheepishly, as if half expecting not to be believed, when he declared thatof the strange faces many had unmistakably borne the features of the Harris family. And allthe while there was a personal sensation of choking, as if some pervasive presence had spreaditself through his body and sought to possess itself of his vital processes. I shuddered atthe thought of those vital processes, worn as they were by eighty-one years of continuous functioning,in conflict with unknown forces of which the youngest and strongest system might well be afraid;but in another moment reflected that dreams are only dreams, and that these uncomfortable visionscould be, at most, no more than my uncle’s reaction to the investigations and expectationswhich had lately filled our minds to the exclusion of all else.

    Conversation, also, soon tended to dispel my sense of strangeness; and in timeI yielded to my yawns and took my turn at slumber. My uncle seemed now very wakeful, and welcomedhis period of watching even though the nightmare had aroused him far ahead of his allotted twohours. Sleep seized me quickly, and I was at once haunted with dreams of the most disturbingkind. I felt, in my visions, a cosmic and abysmal loneness; with hostility surging from allsides upon some prison where I lay confined. I seemed bound and gagged, and taunted by the echoingyells of distant multitudes who thirsted for my blood. My uncle’s face came to me withless pleasant associations than in waking hours, and I recall many futile struggles and attemptsto scream. It was not a pleasant sleep, and for a second I was not sorry for the echoing shriekwhich clove through the barriers of dream and flung me to a sharp and startled awakeness inwhich every actual object before my eyes stood out with more than natural clearness and reality.

    V.

    I had been lying with my face away from my uncle’s chair, so that in this sudden flashof awakening I saw only the door to the street, the more northerly window, and the wall andfloor and ceiling toward the north of the room, all photographed with morbid vividness on mybrain in a light brighter than the glow of the fungi or the rays from the street outside. Itwas not a strong or even a fairly strong light; certainly not nearly strong enough to read anaverage book by. But it cast a shadow of myself and the cot on the floor, and had a yellowish,penetrating force that hinted at things more potent than luminosity. This I perceived with unhealthysharpness despite the fact that two of my other senses were violently assailed. For on my earsrang the reverberations of that shocking scream, while my nostrils revolted at the stench whichfilled the place. My mind, as alert as my senses, recognised the gravely unusual; and almostautomatically I leaped up and turned about to grasp the destructive instruments which we hadleft trained on the mouldy spot before the fireplace. As I turned, I dreaded what I was to see;for the scream had been in my uncle’s voice, and I knew not against what menace I shouldhave to defend him and myself.

    Yet after all, the sight was worse than I had dreaded. There are horrors beyondhorrors, and this was one of those nuclei of all dreamable hideousness which the cosmos savesto blast an accursed and unhappy few. Out of the fungus-ridden earth steamed up a vaporous corpse-light,yellow and diseased, which bubbled and lapped to a gigantic height in vague outlines half-humanand half-monstrous, through which I could see the chimney and fireplace beyond. It was all eyes—wolfishand mocking—and the rugose insect-like head dissolved at the top to a thin stream of mistwhich curled putridly about and finally vanished up the chimney. I say that I saw this thing,but it is only in conscious retrospection that I ever definitely traced its damnable approachto form. At the time it was to me only a seething, dimly phosphorescent cloud of fungous loathsomeness,enveloping and dissolving to an abhorrent plasticity the one object to which all my attentionwas focussed. That object was my uncle—the venerable Elihu Whipple—who with blackeningand decaying features leered and gibbered at me, and reached out dripping claws to rend me inthe fury which this horror had brought.

    It was a sense of routine which kept me from going mad. I had drilled myselfin preparation for the crucial moment, and blind training saved me. Recognising the bubblingevil as no substance reachable by matter or material chemistry, and therefore ignoring the flame-throwerwhich loomed on my left, I threw on the current of the Crookes tube apparatus, and focussedtoward that scene of immortal blasphemousness the strongest ether radiations which man’sart can arouse from the spaces and fluids of Nature. There was a bluish haze and a frenziedsputtering, and the yellowish phosphorescence grew dimmer to my eyes. But I saw the dimnesswas only that of contrast, and that the waves from the machine had no effect whatever.

    Then, in the midst of that daemoniac spectacle, I saw a fresh horror whichbrought cries to my lips and sent me fumbling and staggering toward that unlocked door to thequiet street, careless of what abnormal terrors I loosed upon the world, or what thoughts orjudgments of men I brought down upon my head. In that dim blend of blue and yellow the formof my uncle had commenced a nauseous liquefaction whose essence eludes all description, andin which there played across his vanishing face such changes of identity as only madness canconceive. He was at once a devil and a multitude, a charnel-house and a pageant. Lit by themixed and uncertain beams, that gelatinous face assumed a dozen—a score—a hundred—aspects;grinning, as it sank to the ground on a body that melted like tallow, in the caricatured likenessof legions strange and yet not strange.

    I saw the features of the Harris line, masculine and feminine, adult and infantile,and other features old and young, coarse and refined, familiar and unfamiliar. For a secondthere flashed a degraded counterfeit of a miniature of poor mad Rhoby Harris that I had seenin the School of Design Museum, and another time I thought I caught the raw-boned image of MercyDexter as I recalled her from a painting in Carrington Harris’s house. It was frightfulbeyond conception; toward the last, when a curious blend of servant and baby visages flickeredclose to the fungous floor where a pool of greenish grease was spreading, it seemed as thoughthe shifting features fought against themselves, and strove to form contours like those of myuncle’s kindly face. I like to think that he existed at that moment, and that he triedto bid me farewell. It seems to me I hiccoughed a farewell from my own parched throat as I lurchedout into the street; a thin stream of grease following me through the door to the rain-drenchedsidewalk.

    The rest is shadowy and monstrous. There was no one in the soaking street,and in all the world there was no one I dared tell. I walked aimlessly south past College Hilland the Athenaeum, down Hopkins Street, and over the bridge to the business section where tallbuildings seemed to guard me as modern material things guard the world from ancient and unwholesomewonder. Then grey dawn unfolded wetly from the east, silhouetting the archaic hill and its venerablesteeples, and beckoning me to the place where my terrible work was still unfinished. And inthe end I went, wet, hatless, and dazed in the morning light, and entered that awful door inBenefit Street which I had left ajar, and which still swung cryptically in full sight of theearly householders to whom I dared not speak.

    The grease was gone, for the mouldy floor was porous. And in front of the fireplacewas no vestige of the giant doubled-up form in nitre. I looked at the cot, the chairs, the instruments,my neglected hat, and the yellowed straw hat of my uncle. Dazedness was uppermost, and I couldscarcely recall what was dream and what was reality. Then thought trickled back, and I knewthat I had witnessed things more horrible than I had dreamed. Sitting down, I tried to conjectureas nearly as sanity would let me just what had happened, and how I might end the horror, ifindeed it had been real. Matter it seemed not to be, nor ether, nor anything else conceivableby mortal mind. What, then, but some exotic emanation; some vampirish vapour such asExeter rustics tell of as lurking over certain churchyards? This I felt was the clue, and againI looked at the floor before the fireplace where the mould and nitre had taken strange forms.In ten minutes my mind was made up, and taking my hat I set out for home, where I bathed, ate,and gave by telephone an order for a pickaxe, a spade, a military gas-mask, and six carboysof sulphuric acid, all to be delivered the next morning at the cellar door of the shunned housein Benefit Street. After that I tried to sleep; and failing, passed the hours in reading andin the composition of inane verses to counteract my mood.

    At 11 a.m. the next day I commenced digging. It was sunny weather, and I wasglad of that. I was still alone, for as much as I feared the unknown horror I sought, therewas more fear in the thought of telling anybody. Later I told Harris only through sheer necessity,and because he had heard odd tales from old people which disposed him ever so little towardbelief. As I turned up the stinking black earth in front of the fireplace, my spade causinga viscous yellow ichor to ooze from the white fungi which it severed, I trembled at the dubiousthoughts of what I might uncover. Some secrets of inner earth are not good for mankind, andthis seemed to me one of them.

    My hand shook perceptibly, but still I delved; after a while standing in thelarge hole I had made. With the deepening of the hole, which was about six feet square, theevil smell increased; and I lost all doubt of my imminent contact with the hellish thing whoseemanations had cursed the house for over a century and a half. I wondered what it would looklike—what its form and substance would be, and how big it might have waxed through longages of life-sucking. At length I climbed out of the hole and dispersed the heaped-up dirt,then arranging the great carboys of acid around and near two sides, so that when necessary Imight empty them all down the aperture in quick succession. After that I dumped earth only alongthe other two sides; working more slowly and donning my gas-mask as the smell grew. I was nearlyunnerved at my proximity to a nameless thing at the bottom of a pit.

    Suddenly my spade struck something softer than earth. I shuddered, and madea motion as if to climb out of the hole, which was now as deep as my neck. Then courage returned,and I scraped away more dirt in the light of the electric torch I had provided. The surfaceI uncovered was fishy and glassy—a kind of semi-putrid congealed jelly with suggestionsof translucency. I scraped further, and saw that it had form. There was a rift where a partof the substance was folded over. The exposed area was huge and roughly cylindrical; like amammoth soft blue-white stovepipe doubled in two, its largest part some two feet in diameter.Still more I scraped, and then abruptly I leaped out of the hole and away from the filthy thing;frantically unstopping and tilting the heavy carboys, and precipitating their corrosive contentsone after another down that charnel gulf and upon the unthinkable abnormality whose titan
    elbow I had seen.

    The blinding maelstrom of greenish-yellow vapour which surged tempestuouslyup from that hole as the floods of acid descended, will never leave my memory. All along thehill people tell of the yellow day, when virulent and horrible fumes arose from the factorywaste dumped in the Providence River, but I know how mistaken they are as to the source. Theytell, too, of the hideous roar which at the same time came from some disordered water-pipe orgas main underground—but again I could correct them if I dared. It was unspeakably shocking,and I do not see how I lived through it. I did faint after emptying the fourth carboy, whichI had to handle after the fumes had begun to penetrate my mask; but when I recovered I saw thatthe hole was emitting no fresh vapours.

    The two remaining carboys I emptied down without particular result, and aftera time I felt it safe to shovel the earth back into the pit. It was twilight before I was done,but fear had gone out of the place. The dampness was less foetid, and all the strange fungihad withered to a kind of harmless greyish powder which blew ash-like along the floor. One ofearth’s nethermost terrors had perished forever; and if there be a hell, it had receivedat last the daemon soul of an unhallowed thing. And as I patted down the last spadeful of mould,I shed the first of the many tears with which I have paid unaffected tribute to my beloved uncle’smemory.

    The next spring no more pale grass and strange weeds came up in the shunnedhouse’s terraced garden, and shortly afterward Carrington Harris rented the place. Itis still spectral, but its strangeness fascinates me, and I shall find mixed with my reliefa queer regret when it is torn down to make way for a tawdry shop or vulgar apartment building.The barren old trees in the yard have begun to bear small, sweet apples, and last year the birdsnested in their gnarled boughs.

    (Found Among the Papers of the Late Francis Wayland Thurston, of Boston)

    “Of such great powers or beings there may be conceivably a survival . . .a survival of a hugely remote period when . . . consciousness was manifested,perhaps, in shapes and forms long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity . . .forms of which poetry and legend alone have caught a flying memory and called them gods, monsters,mythical beings of all sorts and kinds. . . . “

    —Algernon Blackwood.

    I. The Horror in Clay.

    The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlateall its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity,and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction,have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge willopen up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shalleither go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety ofa new dark age.

    Theosophists have guessed at the awesome grandeur of the cosmic cycle whereinour world and human race form transient incidents. They have hinted at strange survivals interms which would freeze the blood if not masked by a bland optimism. But it is not from themthat there came the single glimpse of forbidden aeons which chills me when I think of it andmaddens me when I dream of it. That glimpse, like all dread glimpses of truth, flashed out froman accidental piecing together of separated things—in this case an old newspaper itemand the notes of a dead professor. I hope that no one else will accomplish this piecing out;certainly, if I live, I shall never knowingly supply a link in so hideous a chain. I think thatthe professor, too, intended to keep silent regarding the part he knew, and that he would havedestroyed his notes had not sudden death seized him.

    My knowledge of the thing began in the winter of 1926-27 with the deathof my grand-uncle George Gammell Angell, Professor Emeritus of Semitic Languages in Brown University,Providence, Rhode Island. Professor Angell was widely known as an authority on ancient inscriptions,and had frequently been resorted to by the heads of prominent museums; so that his passing atthe age of ninety-two may be recalled by many. Locally, interest was intensified by the obscurityof the cause of death. The professor had been stricken whilst returning from the Newport boat;falling suddenly, as witnesses said, after having been jostled by a nautical-looking negro whohad come from one of the queer dark courts on the precipitous hillside which formed a shortcut from the waterfront to the deceased’s home in Williams Street. Physicians were unableto find any visible disorder, but concluded after perplexed debate that some obscure lesionof the heart, induced by the brisk ascent of so steep a hill by so elderly a man, was responsiblefor the end. At the time I saw no reason to dissent from this dictum, but latterly I am inclinedto wonder—and more than wonder.

    As my grand-uncle’s heir and executor, for he died a childless widower,I was expected to go over his papers with some thoroughness; and for that purpose moved hisentire set of files and boxes to my quarters in Boston. Much of the material which I correlatedwill be later published by the American Archaeological Society, but there was one box whichI found exceedingly puzzling, and which I felt much averse from shewing to other eyes. It hadbeen locked, and I did not find the key till it occurred to me to examine the personal ringwhich the professor carried always in his pocket. Then indeed I succeeded in opening it, butwhen I did so seemed only to be confronted by a greater and more closely locked barrier. Forwhat could be the meaning of the queer clay bas-relief and the disjointed jottings, ramblings,and cuttings which I found? Had my uncle, in his latter years, become credulous of the mostsuperficial impostures? I resolved to search out the eccentric sculptor responsible for thisapparent disturbance of an old man’s peace of mind.

    The bas-relief was a rough rectangle less than an inch thick and about fiveby six inches in area; obviously of modern origin. Its designs, however, were far from modernin atmosphere and suggestion; for although the vagaries of cubism and futurism are many andwild, they do not often reproduce that cryptic regularity which lurks in prehistoric writing.And writing of some kind the bulk of these designs seemed certainly to be; though my memory,despite much familiarity with the papers and collections of my uncle, failed in any way to identifythis particular species, or even to hint at its remotest affiliations.

    Above these apparent hieroglyphics was a figure of evidently pictorial intent,though its impressionistic execution forbade a very clear idea of its nature. It seemed to bea sort of monster, or symbol representing a monster, of a form which only a diseased fancy couldconceive. If I say that my somewhat extravagant imagination yielded simultaneous pictures ofan octopus, a dragon, and a human caricature, I shall not be unfaithful to the spirit of thething. A pulpy, tentacled head surmounted a grotesque and scaly body with rudimentary wings;but it was the general outline of the whole which made it most shockingly frightful.Behind the figure was a vague suggestion of a Cyclopean architectural background.

    The writing accompanying this oddity was, aside from a stack of press cuttings,in Professor Angell’s most recent hand; and made no pretence to literary style. What seemedto be the main document was headed “CTHULHU CULT “ in characters painstakingly printedto avoid the erroneous reading of a word so unheard-of. The manuscript was divided into twosections, the first of which was headed “1925—Dream and Dream Work of H. A. Wilcox,7 Thomas St., Providence, R.I.”, and the second, “Narrative of Inspector John R.Legrasse, 121 Bienville St., New Orleans, La., at 1908 A. A. S. Mtg.—Notes on Same, &Prof. Webb’s Acct. “ The other manuscript papers were all brief notes, some of themaccounts of the queer dreams of different persons, some of them citations from theosophicalbooks and magazines (notably W. Scott-Elliot’s Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria ),and the rest comments on long-surviving secret societies and hidden cults, with references topassages in such mythological and anthropological source-books as Frazer’s Golden Boughand Miss Murray’s Witch-Cult in Western Europe. The cuttings largely alluded tooutré mental illnesses and outbreaks of group folly or mania in the spring of 1925.

    The first half of the principal manuscript told a very peculiar tale. It appearsthat on March 1st, 1925, a thin, dark young man of neurotic and excited aspect had called uponProfessor Angell bearing the singular clay bas-relief, which was then exceedingly damp and fresh.His card bore the name of Henry Anthony Wilcox, and my uncle had recognised him as the youngestson of an excellent family slightly known to him, who had latterly been studying sculpture atthe Rhode Island School of Design and living alone at the Fleur-de-Lys Building near that institution.Wilcox was a precocious youth of known genius but great eccentricity, and had from childhoodexcited attention through the strange stories and odd dreams he was in the habit of relating.He called himself “psychically hypersensitive”, but the staid folk of the ancientcommercial city dismissed him as merely “queer “. Never mingling much with his kind,he had dropped gradually from social visibility, and was now known only to a small group ofaesthetes from other towns. Even the Providence Art Club, anxious to preserve its conservatism,had found him quite hopeless.

    On the occasion of the visit, ran the professor’s manuscript, the sculptorabruptly asked for the benefit of his host’s archaeological knowledge in identifying thehieroglyphics on the bas-relief. He spoke in a dreamy, stilted manner which suggested pose andalienated sympathy; and my uncle shewed some sharpness in replying, for the conspicuous freshnessof the tablet implied kinship with anything but archaeology. Young Wilcox’s rejoinder,which impressed my uncle enough to make him recall and record it verbatim, was of a fantasticallypoetic cast which must have typified his whole conversation, and which I have since found highlycharacteristic of him. He said, “It is new, indeed, for I made it last night in a dreamof strange cities; and dreams are older than brooding Tyre, or the contemplative Sphinx, orgarden-girdled Babylon. “

    It was then that he began that rambling tale which suddenly played upon a sleepingmemory and won the fevered interest of my uncle. There had been a slight earthquake tremor thenight before, the most considerable felt in New England for some years; and Wilcox’s imaginationhad been keenly affected. Upon retiring, he had had an unprecedented dream of great Cyclopeancities of titan blocks and sky-flung monoliths, all dripping with green ooze and sinister withlatent horror. Hieroglyphics had covered the walls and pillars, and from some undetermined pointbelow had come a voice that was not a voice; a chaotic sensation which only fancy could transmuteinto sound, but which he attempted to render by the almost unpronounceable jumble of letters,“ Cthulhu fhtagn “.

    This verbal jumble was the key to the recollection which excited and disturbedProfessor Angell. He questioned the sculptor with scientific minuteness; and studied with almostfrantic intensity the bas-relief on which the youth had found himself working, chilled and cladonly in his night-clothes, when waking had stolen bewilderingly over him. My uncle blamed hisold age, Wilcox afterward said, for his slowness in recognising both hieroglyphics and pictorialdesign. Many of his questions seemed highly out-of-place to his visitor, especially those whichtried to connect the latter with strange cults or societies; and Wilcox could not understandthe repeated promises of silence which he was offered in exchange for an admission of membershipin some widespread mystical or paganly religious body. When Professor Angell became convincedthat the sculptor was indeed ignorant of any cult or system of cryptic lore, he besieged hisvisitor with demands for future reports of dreams. This bore regular fruit, for after the firstinterview the manuscript records daily calls of the young man, during which he related startlingfragments of nocturnal imagery whose burden was always some terrible Cyclopean vista of darkand dripping stone, with a subterrene voice or intelligence shouting monotonously in enigmaticalsense-impacts uninscribable save as gibberish. The two sounds most frequently repeated are thoserendered by the letters“ Cthulhu “and “ R’lyeh “.

    On March 23d, the manuscript continued, Wilcox failed to appear; and inquiriesat his quarters revealed that he had been stricken with an obscure sort of fever and taken tothe home of his family in Waterman Street. He had cried out in the night, arousing several otherartists in the building, and had manifested since then only alternations of unconsciousnessand delirium. My uncle at once telephoned the family, and from that time forward kept closewatch of the case; calling often at the Thayer Street office of Dr. Tobey, whom he learned tobe in charge. The youth’s febrile mind, apparently, was dwelling on strange things; andthe doctor shuddered now and then as he spoke of them. They included not only a repetition ofwhat he had formerly dreamed, but touched wildly on a gigantic thing “miles high “which walked or lumbered about. He at no time fully described this object, but occasional franticwords, as repeated by Dr. Tobey, convinced the professor that it must be identical with thenameless monstrosity he had sought to depict in his dream-sculpture. Reference to this object,the doctor added, was invariably a prelude to the young man’s subsidence into lethargy.His temperature, oddly enough, was not greatly above normal; but his whole condition was otherwisesuch as to suggest true fever rather than mental disorder.

    On April 2nd at about 3 p.m. every trace of Wilcox’s malady suddenlyceased. He sat upright in bed, astonished to find himself at home and completely ignorant ofwhat had happened in dream or reality since the night of March 22nd. Pronounced well by hisphysician, he returned to his quarters in three days; but to Professor Angell he was of no furtherassistance. All traces of strange dreaming had vanished with his recovery, and my uncle keptno record of his night-thoughts after a week of pointless and irrelevant accounts of thoroughlyusual visions.

    Here the first part of the manuscript ended, but references to certain of thescattered notes gave me much material for thought—so much, in fact, that only the ingrainedscepticism then forming my philosophy can account for my continued distrust of the artist. Thenotes in question were those descriptive of the dreams of various persons covering the sameperiod as that in which young Wilcox had had his strange visitations. My uncle, it seems, hadquickly instituted a prodigiously far-flung body of inquiries amongst nearly all the friendswhom he could question without impertinence, asking for nightly reports of their dreams, andthe dates of any notable visions for some time past. The reception of his request seems to havebeen varied; but he must, at the very least, have received more responses than any ordinaryman could have handled without a secretary. This original correspondence was not preserved,but his notes formed a thorough and really significant digest. Average people in society andbusiness—New England’s traditional “salt of the earth “—gave analmost completely negative result, though scattered cases of uneasy but formless nocturnal impressionsappear here and there, always between March 23d and April 2nd—the period of young Wilcox’sdelirium. Scientific men were little more affected, though four cases of vague description suggestfugitive glimpses of strange landscapes, and in one case there is mentioned a dread of somethingabnormal.

    It was from the artists and poets that the pertinent answers came, and I knowthat panic would have broken loose had they been able to compare notes. As it was, lacking theiroriginal letters, I half suspected the compiler of having asked leading questions, or of havingedited the correspondence in corroboration of what he had latently resolved to see. That iswhy I continued to feel that Wilcox, somehow cognisant of the old data which my uncle had possessed,had been imposing on the veteran scientist. These responses from aesthetes told a disturbingtale. From February 28th to April 2nd a large proportion of them had dreamed very bizarre things,the intensity of the dreams being immeasurably the stronger during the period of the sculptor’sdelirium. Over a fourth of those who reported anything, reported scenes and half-sounds notunlike those which Wilcox had described; and some of the dreamers confessed acute fear of thegigantic nameless thing visible toward the last. One case, which the note describes with emphasis,was very sad. The subject, a widely known architect with leanings toward theosophy and occultism,went violently insane on the date of young Wilcox’s seizure, and expired several monthslater after incessant screamings to be saved from some escaped denizen of hell. Had my unclereferred to these cases by name instead of merely by number, I should have attempted some corroborationand personal investigation; but as it was, I succeeded in tracing down only a few. All of these,however, bore out the notes in full. I have often wondered if all the objects of the professor’squestioning felt as puzzled as did this fraction. It is well that no explanation shall everreach them.

    The press cuttings, as I have intimated, touched on cases of panic, mania,and eccentricity during the given period. Professor Angell must have employed a cutting bureau,for the number of extracts was tremendous and the sources scattered throughout the globe. Herewas a nocturnal suicide in London, where a lone sleeper had leaped from a window after a shockingcry. Here likewise a rambling letter to the editor of a paper in South America, where a fanaticdeduces a dire future from visions he has seen. A despatch from California describes a theosophistcolony as donning white robes en masse for some “glorious fulfilment “ which neverarrives, whilst items from India speak guardedly of serious native unrest toward the end ofMarch. Voodoo orgies multiply in Hayti, and African outposts report ominous mutterings. Americanofficers in the Philippines find certain tribes bothersome about this time, and New York policemenare mobbed by hysterical Levantines on the night of March 22-23. The west of Ireland,too, is full of wild rumour and legendry, and a fantastic painter named Ardois-Bonnot hangsa blasphemous “Dream Landscape “ in the Paris spring salon of 1926. And so numerousare the recorded troubles in insane asylums, that only a miracle can have stopped the medicalfraternity from noting strange parallelisms and drawing mystified conclusions. A weird bunchof cuttings, all told; and I can at this date scarcely envisage the callous rationalism withwhich I set them aside. But I was then convinced that young Wilcox had known of the older mattersmentioned by the professor.

    II. The Tale of Inspector Legrasse.

    The older matters which had made the sculptor’s dream and bas-relief so significant tomy uncle formed the subject of the second half of his long manuscript. Once before, it appears,Professor Angell had seen the hellish outlines of the nameless monstrosity, puzzled over theunknown hieroglyphics, and heard the ominous syllables which can be rendered only as “ Cthulhu “;and all this in so stirring and horrible a connexion that it is small wonder he pursued youngWilcox with queries and demands for data.

    The earlier experience had come in 1908, seventeen years before, when the AmericanArchaeological Society held its annual meeting in St. Louis. Professor Angell, as befitted oneof his authority and attainments, had had a prominent part in all the deliberations; and wasone of the first to be approached by the several outsiders who took advantage of the convocationto offer questions for correct answering and problems for expert solution.

    The chief of these outsiders, and in a short time the focus of interest forthe entire meeting, was a commonplace-looking middle-aged man who had travelled all the wayfrom New Orleans for certain special information unobtainable from any local source. His namewas John Raymond Legrasse, and he was by profession an Inspector of Police. With him he borethe subject of his visit, a grotesque, repulsive, and apparently very ancient stone statuettewhose origin he was at a loss to determine. It must not be fancied that Inspector Legrasse hadthe least interest in archaeology. On the contrary, his wish for enlightenment was promptedby purely professional considerations. The statuette, idol, fetish, or whatever it was, hadbeen captured some months before in the wooded swamps south of New Orleans during a raid ona supposed voodoo meeting; and so singular and hideous were the rites connected with it, thatthe police could not but realise that they had stumbled on a dark cult totally unknown to them,and infinitely more diabolic than even the blackest of the African voodoo circles. Of its origin,apart from the erratic and unbelievable tales extorted from the captured members, absolutelynothing was to be discovered; hence the anxiety of the police for any antiquarian lore whichmight help them to place the frightful symbol, and through it track down the cult to its fountain-head.

    Inspector Legrasse was scarcely prepared for the sensation which his offeringcreated. One sight of the thing had been enough to throw the assembled men of science into astate of tense excitement, and they lost no time in crowding around him to gaze at the diminutivefigure whose utter strangeness and air of genuinely abysmal antiquity hinted so potently atunopened and archaic vistas. No recognised school of sculpture had animated this terrible object,yet centuries and even thousands of years seemed recorded in its dim and greenish surface ofunplaceable stone.

    The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and carefulstudy, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship.It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whoseface was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and forefeet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnaturalmalignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular blockor pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edgeof the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up,crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward thebottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facialfeelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees.The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its sourcewas so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not onelink did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation’s youth—orindeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for thesoapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothingfamiliar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; andno member present, despite a representation of half the world’s expert learning in thisfield, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like thesubject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as weknow it; something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which ourworld and our conceptions have no part.

    And yet, as the members severally shook their heads and confessed defeat atthe Inspector’s problem, there was one man in that gathering who suspected a touch ofbizarre familiarity in the monstrous shape and writing, and who presently told with some diffidenceof the odd trifle he knew. This person was the late William Channing Webb, Professor of Anthropologyin Princeton University, and an explorer of no slight note. Professor Webb had been engaged,forty-eight years before, in a tour of Greenland and Iceland in search of some Runic inscriptionswhich he failed to unearth; and whilst high up on the West Greenland coast had encountered asingular tribe or cult of degenerate Esquimaux whose religion, a curious form of devil-worship,chilled him with its deliberate bloodthirstiness and repulsiveness. It was a faith of whichother Esquimaux knew little, and which they mentioned only with shudders, saying that it hadcome down from horribly ancient aeons before ever the world was made. Besides nameless ritesand human sacrifices there were certain queer hereditary rituals addressed to a supreme elderdevil or tornasuk; and of this Professor Webb had taken a careful phonetic copy froman aged angekok or wizard-priest, expressing the sounds in Roman letters as best he knewhow. But just now of prime significance was the fetish which this cult had cherished, and aroundwhich they danced when the aurora leaped high over the ice cliffs. It was, the professor stated,a very crude bas-relief of stone, comprising a hideous picture and some cryptic writing. Andso far as he could tell, it was a rough parallel in all essential features of the bestial thingnow lying before the meeting.This data, received with suspense and astonishment by the assembled members,proved doubly exciting to Inspector Legrasse; and he began at once to ply his informant withquestions. Having noted and copied an oral ritual among the swamp cult-worshippers his men hadarrested, he besought the professor to remember as best he might the syllables taken down amongstthe diabolist Esquimaux. There then followed an exhaustive comparison of details, and a momentof really awed silence when both detective and scientist agreed on the virtual identity of thephrase common to two hellish rituals so many worlds of distance apart. What, in substance, boththe Esquimau wizards and the Louisiana swamp-priests had chanted to their kindred idols wassomething very like this—the word-divisions being guessed at from traditional breaks inthe phrase as chanted aloud:

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. “

    Legrasse had one point in advance of Professor Webb, for several among hismongrel prisoners had repeated to him what older celebrants had told them the words meant. Thistext, as given, ran something like this:

    “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”

    And now, in response to a general and urgent demand, Inspector Legrasse relatedas fully as possible his experience with the swamp worshippers; telling a story to which I couldsee my uncle attached profound significance. It savoured of the wildest dreams of myth-makerand theosophist, and disclosed an astonishing degree of cosmic imagination among such half-castesand pariahs as might be least expected to possess it.

    On November 1st, 1907, there had come to the New Orleans police a frantic summonsfrom the swamp and lagoon country to the south. The squatters there, mostly primitive but good-natureddescendants of Lafitte’s men, were in the grip of stark terror from an unknown thing whichhad stolen upon them in the night. It was voodoo, apparently, but voodoo of a more terriblesort than they had ever known; and some of their women and children had disappeared since themalevolent tom-tom had begun its incessant beating far within the black haunted woods whereno dweller ventured. There were insane shouts and harrowing screams, soul-chilling chants anddancing devil-flames; and, the frightened messenger added, the people could stand it no more.

    So a body of twenty police, filling two carriages and an automobile, had setout in the late afternoon with the shivering squatter as a guide. At the end of the passableroad they alighted, and for miles splashed on in silence through the terrible cypress woodswhere day never came. Ugly roots and malignant hanging nooses of Spanish moss beset them, andnow and then a pile of dank stones or fragment of a rotting wall intensified by its hint ofmorbid habitation a depression which every malformed tree and every fungous islet combined tocreate. At length the squatter settlement, a miserable huddle of huts, hove in sight; and hystericaldwellers ran out to cluster around the group of bobbing lanterns. The muffled beat of tom-tomswas now faintly audible far, far ahead; and a curdling shriek came at infrequent intervals whenthe wind shifted. A reddish glare, too, seemed to filter through the pale undergrowth beyondendless avenues of forest night. Reluctant even to be left alone again, each one of the cowedsquatters refused point-blank to advance another inch toward the scene of unholy worship, soInspector Legrasse and his nineteen colleagues plunged on unguided into black arcades of horrorthat none of them had ever trod before.

    The region now entered by the police was one of traditionally evil repute,substantially unknown and untraversed by white men. There were legends of a hidden lake unglimpsedby mortal sight, in which dwelt a huge, formless white polypous thing with luminous eyes; andsquatters whispered that bat-winged devils flew up out of caverns in inner earth to worshipit at midnight. They said it had been there before D’Iberville, before La Salle, beforethe Indians, and before even the wholesome beasts and birds of the woods. It was nightmare itself,and to see it was to die. But it made men dream, and so they knew enough to keep away. The presentvoodoo orgy was, indeed, on the merest fringe of this abhorred area, but that location was badenough; hence perhaps the very place of the worship had terrified the squatters more than theshocking sounds and incidents.

    Only poetry or madness could do justice to the noises heard by Legrasse’smen as they ploughed on through the black morass toward the red glare and the muffled tom-toms.There are vocal qualities peculiar to men, and vocal qualities peculiar to beasts; and it isterrible to hear the one when the source should yield the other. Animal fury and orgiastic licencehere whipped themselves to daemoniac heights by howls and squawking ecstasies that tore andreverberated through those nighted woods like pestilential tempests from the gulfs of hell.Now and then the less organised ululation would cease, and from what seemed a well-drilled chorusof hoarse voices would rise in sing-song chant that hideous phrase or ritual:

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. “

    Then the men, having reached a spot where the trees were thinner, came suddenly in sight ofthe spectacle itself. Four of them reeled, one fainted, and two were shaken into a frantic crywhich the mad cacophony of the orgy fortunately deadened. Legrasse dashed swamp water on theface of the fainting man, and all stood trembling and nearly hypnotised with horror.

    In a natural glade of the swamp stood a grassy island of perhaps an acre’sextent, clear of trees and tolerably dry. On this now leaped and twisted a more indescribablehorde of human abnormality than any but a Sime or an Angarola could paint. Void of clothing,this hybrid spawn were braying, bellowing, and writhing about a monstrous ring-shaped bonfire;in the centre of which, revealed by occasional rifts in the curtain of flame, stood a greatgranite monolith some eight feet in height; on top of which, incongruous with its diminutiveness,rested the noxious carven statuette. From a wide circle of ten scaffolds set up at regular intervalswith the flame-girt monolith as a centre hung, head downward, the oddly marred bodies of thehelpless squatters who had disappeared. It was inside this circle that the ring of worshippersjumped and roared, the general direction of the mass motion being from left to right in endlessBacchanal between the ring of bodies and the ring of fire.

    It may have been only imagination and it may have been only echoes which inducedone of the men, an excitable Spaniard, to fancy he heard antiphonal responses to the ritualfrom some far and unillumined spot deeper within the wood of ancient legendry and horror. Thisman, Joseph D. Galvez, I later met and questioned; and he proved distractingly imaginative.He indeed went so far as to hint of the faint beating of great wings, and of a glimpse of shiningeyes and a mountainous white bulk beyond the remotest trees—but I suppose he had beenhearing too much native superstition.

    Actually, the horrified pause of the men was of comparatively brief duration.Duty came first; and although there must have been nearly a hundred mongrel celebrants in thethrong, the police relied on their firearms and plunged determinedly into the nauseous rout.For five minutes the resultant din and chaos were beyond description. Wild blows were struck,shots were fired, and escapes were made; but in the end Legrasse was able to count some forty-sevensullen prisoners, whom he forced to dress in haste and fall into line between two rows of policemen.Five of the worshippers lay dead, and two severely wounded ones were carried away on improvisedstretchers by their fellow-prisoners. The image on the monolith, of course, was carefully removedand carried back by Legrasse.

    Examined at headquarters after a trip of intense strain and weariness, theprisoners all proved to be men of a very low, mixed-blooded, and mentally aberrant type. Mostwere seamen, and a sprinkling of negroes and mulattoes, largely West Indians or Brava Portuguesefrom the Cape Verde Islands, gave a colouring of voodooism to the heterogeneous cult. But beforemany questions were asked, it became manifest that something far deeper and older than negrofetichism was involved. Degraded and ignorant as they were, the creatures held with surprisingconsistency to the central idea of their loathsome faith.

    They worshipped, so they said, the Great Old Ones who lived ages before therewere any men, and who came to the young world out of the sky. Those Old Ones were gone now,inside the earth and under the sea; but their dead bodies had told their secrets in dreams tothe first men, who formed a cult which had never died. This was that cult, and the prisonerssaid it had always existed and always would exist, hidden in distant wastes and dark placesall over the world until the time when the great priest Cthulhu, from his dark house in themighty city of R’lyeh under the waters, should rise and bring the earth again beneathhis sway. Some day he would call, when the stars were ready, and the secret cult would alwaysbe waiting to liberate him.

    Meanwhile no more must be told. There was a secret which even torture couldnot extract. Mankind was not absolutely alone among the conscious things of earth, for shapescame out of the dark to visit the faithful few. But these were not the Great Old Ones. No manhad ever seen the Old Ones. The carven idol was great Cthulhu, but none might say whether ornot the others were precisely like him. No one could read the old writing now, but things weretold by word of mouth. The chanted ritual was not the secret—that was never spoken aloud,only whispered. The chant meant only this: “In his house at R’lyeh dead Cthulhuwaits dreaming. “

    Only two of the prisoners were found sane enough to be hanged, and the restwere committed to various institutions. All denied a part in the ritual murders, and averredthat the killing had been done by Black Winged Ones which had come to them from their immemorialmeeting-place in the haunted wood. But of those mysterious allies no coherent account couldever be gained. What the police did extract, came mainly from an immensely aged mestizo namedCastro, who claimed to have sailed to strange ports and talked with undying leaders of the cultin the mountains of China.

    Old Castro remembered bits of hideous legend that paled the speculations oftheosophists and made man and the world seem recent and transient indeed. There had been aeonswhen other Things ruled on the earth, and They had had great cities. Remains of Them, he saidthe deathless Chinamen had told him, were still to be found as Cyclopean stones on islands inthe Pacific. They all died vast epochs of time before men came, but there were arts which couldrevive Them when the stars had come round again to the right positions in the cycle of eternity.They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with Them.

    These Great Old Ones, Castro continued, were not composed altogether of fleshand blood. They had shape—for did not this star-fashioned image prove it?—but thatshape was not made of matter. When the stars were right, They could plunge from world to worldthrough the sky; but when the stars were wrong, They could not live. But although They no longerlived, They would never really die. They all lay in stone houses in Their great city of R’lyeh,preserved by the spells of mighty Cthulhu for a glorious resurrection when the stars and theearth might once more be ready for Them. But at that time some force from outside must serveto liberate Their bodies. The spells that preserved Them intact likewise prevented Them frommaking an initial move, and They could only lie awake in the dark and think whilst uncountedmillions of years rolled by. They knew all that was occurring in the universe, but Their modeof speech was transmitted thought. Even now They talked in Their tombs. When, after infinitiesof chaos, the first men came, the Great Old Ones spoke to the sensitive among them by mouldingtheir dreams; for only thus could Their language reach the fleshly minds of mammals.

    Then, whispered Castro, those first men formed the cult around small idolswhich the Great Ones shewed them; idols brought in dim aeras from dark stars. That cult wouldnever die till the stars came right again, and the secret priests would take great Cthulhu fromHis tomb to revive His subjects and resume His rule of earth. The time would be easy to know,for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good andevil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy.Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoythemselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom. Meanwhilethe cult, by appropriate rites, must keep alive the memory of those ancient ways and shadowforth the prophecy of their return.

    In the elder time chosen men had talked with the entombed Old Ones in dreams,but then something had happened. The great stone city R’lyeh, with its monoliths and sepulchres,had sunk beneath the waves; and the deep waters, full of the one primal mystery through whichnot even thought can pass, had cut off the spectral intercourse. But memory never died, andhigh-priests said that the city would rise again when the stars were right. Then came out ofthe earth the black spirits of earth, mouldy and shadowy, and full of dim rumours picked upin caverns beneath forgotten sea-bottoms. But of them old Castro dared not speak much. He cuthimself off hurriedly, and no amount of persuasion or subtlety could elicit more in this direction.The size of the Old Ones, too, he curiously declined to mention. Of the cult, he saidthat he thought the centre lay amid the pathless deserts of Arabia, where Irem, the City ofPillars, dreams hidden and untouched. It was not allied to the European witch-cult, and wasvirtually unknown beyond its members. No book had ever really hinted of it, though the deathlessChinamen said that there were double meanings in the Necronomicon of the mad Arab AbdulAlhazred which the initiated might read as they chose, especially the much-discussed couplet:

    That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die.

    Legrasse, deeply impressed and not a little bewildered, had inquired in vainconcerning the historic affiliations of the cult. Castro, apparently, had told the truth whenhe said that it was wholly secret. The authorities at Tulane University could shed no lightupon either cult or image, and now the detective had come to the highest authorities in thecountry and met with no more than the Greenland tale of Professor Webb.

    The feverish interest aroused at the meeting by Legrasse’s tale, corroboratedas it was by the statuette, is echoed in the subsequent correspondence of those who attended;although scant mention occurs in the formal publications of the society. Caution is the firstcare of those accustomed to face occasional charlatanry and imposture. Legrasse for some timelent the image to Professor Webb, but at the latter’s death it was returned to him andremains in his possession, where I viewed it not long ago. It is truly a terrible thing, andunmistakably akin to the dream-sculpture of young Wilcox.

    That my uncle was excited by the tale of the sculptor I did not wonder, forwhat thoughts must arise upon hearing, after a knowledge of what Legrasse had learned of thecult, of a sensitive young man who had dreamed not only the figure and exact hieroglyphicsof the swamp-found image and the Greenland devil tablet, but had come in his dreams uponat least three of the precise words of the formula uttered alike by Esquimau diabolists andmongrel Louisianans? Professor Angell’s instant start on an investigation of the utmostthoroughness was eminently natural; though privately I suspected young Wilcox of having heardof the cult in some indirect way, and of having invented a series of dreams to heighten andcontinue the mystery at my uncle’s expense. The dream-narratives and cuttings collectedby the professor were, of course, strong corroboration; but the rationalism of my mind and theextravagance of the whole subject led me to adopt what I thought the most sensible conclusions.So, after thoroughly studying the manuscript again and correlating the theosophical and anthropologicalnotes with the cult narrative of Legrasse, I made a trip to Providence to see the sculptor andgive him the rebuke I thought proper for so boldly imposing upon a learned and aged man.

    Wilcox still lived alone in the Fleur-de-Lys Building in Thomas Street, a hideousVictorian imitation of seventeenth-century Breton architecture which flaunts its stuccoed frontamidst the lovely colonial houses on the ancient hill, and under the very shadow of the finestGeorgian steeple in America. I found him at work in his rooms, and at once conceded from thespecimens scattered about that his genius is indeed profound and authentic. He will, I believe,some time be heard from as one of the great decadents; for he has crystallised in clay and willone day mirror in marble those nightmares and phantasies which Arthur Machen evokes in prose,and Clark Ashton Smith makes visible in verse and in painting.

    Dark, frail, and somewhat unkempt in aspect, he turned languidly at my knockand asked me my business without rising. When I told him who I was, he displayed some interest;for my uncle had excited his curiosity in probing his strange dreams, yet had never explainedthe reason for the study. I did not enlarge his knowledge in this regard, but sought with somesubtlety to draw him out. In a short time I became convinced of his absolute sincerity, forhe spoke of the dreams in a manner none could mistake. They and their subconscious residuumhad influenced his art profoundly, and he shewed me a morbid statue whose contours almost mademe shake with the potency of its black suggestion. He could not recall having seen the originalof this thing except in his own dream bas-relief, but the outlines had formed themselves insensiblyunder his hands. It was, no doubt, the giant shape he had raved of in delirium. That he reallyknew nothing of the hidden cult, save from what my uncle’s relentless catechism had letfall, he soon made clear; and again I strove to think of some way in which he could possiblyhave received the weird impressions.

    He talked of his dreams in a strangely poetic fashion; making me see with terriblevividness the damp Cyclopean city of slimy green stone—whose geometry, he oddlysaid, was all wrong —and hear with frightened expectancy the ceaseless, half-mentalcalling from underground: “ Cthulhu fhtagn “, “ Cthulhu fhtagn “.These words had formed part of that dread ritual which told of dead Cthulhu’s dream-vigilin his stone vault at R’lyeh, and I felt deeply moved despite my rational beliefs. Wilcox,I was sure, had heard of the cult in some casual way, and had soon forgotten it amidst the massof his equally weird reading and imagining. Later, by virtue of its sheer impressiveness, ithad found subconscious expression in dreams, in the bas-relief, and in the terrible statue Inow beheld; so that his imposture upon my uncle had been a very innocent one. The youth wasof a type, at once slightly affected and slightly ill-mannered, which I could never like; butI was willing enough now to admit both his genius and his honesty. I took leave of him amicably,and wish him all the success his talent promises.

    The matter of the cult still remained to fascinate me, and at times I had visionsof personal fame from researches into its origin and connexions. I visited New Orleans, talkedwith Legrasse and others of that old-time raiding-party, saw the frightful image, and even questionedsuch of the mongrel prisoners as still survived. Old Castro, unfortunately, had been dead forsome years. What I now heard so graphically at first-hand, though it was really no more thana detailed confirmation of what my uncle had written, excited me afresh; for I felt sure thatI was on the track of a very real, very secret, and very ancient religion whose discovery wouldmake me an anthropologist of note. My attitude was still one of absolute materialism, asI wish it still were, and I discounted with almost inexplicable perversity the coincidenceof the dream notes and odd cuttings collected by Professor Angell.

    One thing I began to suspect, and which I now fear I know, is that myuncle’s death was far from natural. He fell on a narrow hill street leading up from anancient waterfront swarming with foreign mongrels, after a careless push from a negro sailor.I did not forget the mixed blood and marine pursuits of the cult-members in Louisiana, and wouldnot be surprised to learn of secret methods and poison needles as ruthless and as ancientlyknown as the cryptic rites and beliefs. Legrasse and his men, it is true, have been let alone;but in Norway a certain seaman who saw things is dead. Might not the deeper inquiries of myuncle after encountering the sculptor’s data have come to sinister ears? I think ProfessorAngell died because he knew too much, or because he was likely to learn too much. Whether Ishall go as he did remains to be seen, for I have learned much now.

    III. The Madness from the Sea.

    If heaven ever wishes to grant me a boon, it will be a total effacing of the results of a merechance which fixed my eye on a certain stray piece of shelf-paper. It was nothing on which Iwould naturally have stumbled in the course of my daily round, for it was an old number of anAustralian journal, the Sydney Bulletin for April 18, 1925. It had escaped even the cuttingbureau which had at the time of its issuance been avidly collecting material for my uncle’sresearch.

    I had largely given over my inquiries into what Professor Angell called the“Cthulhu Cult”, and was visiting a learned friend in Paterson, New Jersey; the curatorof a local museum and a mineralogist of note. Examining one day the reserve specimens roughlyset on the storage shelves in a rear room of the museum, my eye was caught by an odd picturein one of the old papers spread beneath the stones. It was the Sydney Bulletin I havementioned, for my friend has wide affiliations in all conceivable foreign parts; and the picturewas a half-tone cut of a hideous stone image almost identical with that which Legrasse had foundin the swamp.

    Eagerly clearing the sheet of its precious contents, I scanned the item indetail; and was disappointed to find it of only moderate length. What it suggested, however,was of portentous significance to my flagging quest; and I carefully tore it out for immediateaction. It read as follows:

    MYSTERY DERELICT FOUND AT SEA

    Vigilant Arrives With Helpless Armed New Zealand Yacht in Tow.One Survivor and Dead Man Found Aboard. Tale ofDesperate Battle and Deaths at Sea.Rescued Seaman RefusesParticulars of Strange Experience.Odd Idol Found in His Possession.Inquiry to Follow.

    The Morrison Co.‘s freighter Vigilant, bound from Valparaiso, arrived this morningat its wharf in Darling Harbour, having in tow the battled and disabled but heavily armed steamyacht Alert of Dunedin, N. Z., which was sighted April 12th in S. Latitude 34° 21’,W. Longitude 152° 17’ with one living and one dead man aboard.

    The Vigilant left Valparaiso March 25th, and on April 2nd was drivenconsiderably south of her course by exceptionally heavy storms and monster waves. On April 12ththe derelict was sighted; and though apparently deserted, was found upon boarding to containone survivor in a half-delirious condition and one man who had evidently been dead for morethan a week. The living man was clutching a horrible stone idol of unknown origin, about a footin height, regarding whose nature authorities at Sydney University, the Royal Society, and theMuseum in College Street all profess complete bafflement, and which the survivor says he foundin the cabin of the yacht, in a small carved shrine of common pattern.

    This man, after recovering his senses, told an exceedingly strange story ofpiracy and slaughter. He is Gustaf Johansen, a Norwegian of some intelligence, and had beensecond mate of the two-masted schooner Emma of Auckland, which sailed for Callao February20th with a complement of eleven men. The Emma, he says, was delayed and thrown widelysouth of her course by the great storm of March 1st, and on March 22nd, in S. Latitude 49°51’, W. Longitude 128° 34’, encountered the Alert, manned by a queer and evil-lookingcrew of Kanakas and half-castes. Being ordered peremptorily to turn back, Capt. Collins refused;whereupon the strange crew began to fire savagely and without warning upon the schooner witha peculiarly heavy battery of brass cannon forming part of the yacht’s equipment. TheEmma’s men shewed fight, says the survivor, and though the schooner began to sinkfrom shots beneath the waterline they managed to heave alongside their enemy and board her,grappling with the savage crew on the yacht’s deck, and being forced to kill them all,the number being slightly superior, because of their particularly abhorrent and desperate thoughrather clumsy mode of fighting.

    Three of the Emma’s men, including Capt. Collins and First MateGreen, were killed; and the remaining eight under Second Mate Johansen proceeded to navigatethe captured yacht, going ahead in their original direction to see if any reason for their orderingback had existed. The next day, it appears, they raised and landed on a small island, althoughnone is known to exist in that part of the ocean; and six of the men somehow died ashore, thoughJohansen is queerly reticent about this part of his story, and speaks only of their fallinginto a rock chasm. Later, it seems, he and one companion boarded the yacht and tried to manageher, but were beaten about by the storm of April 2nd. From that time till his rescue on the12th the man remembers little, and he does not even recall when William Briden, his companion,died. Briden’s death reveals no apparent cause, and was probably due to excitement orexposure. Cable advices from Dunedin report that the Alert was well known there as anisland trader, and bore an evil reputation along the waterfront. It was owned by a curious groupof half-castes whose frequent meetings and night trips to the woods attracted no little curiosity;and it had set sail in great haste just after the storm and earth tremors of March 1st. OurAuckland correspondent gives the Emma and her crew an excellent reputation, and Johansenis described as a sober and worthy man. The admiralty will institute an inquiry on the wholematter beginning tomorrow, at which every effort will be made to induce Johansen to speak morefreely than he has done hitherto.

    This was all, together with the picture of the hellish image; but what a trainof ideas it started in my mind! Here were new treasuries of data on the Cthulhu Cult, and evidencethat it had strange interests at sea as well as on land. What motive prompted the hybrid crewto order back the Emma as they sailed about with their hideous idol? What was the unknownisland on which six of the Emma’s crew had died, and about which the mate Johansenwas so secretive? What had the vice-admiralty’s investigation brought out, and what wasknown of the noxious cult in Dunedin? And most marvellous of all, what deep and more than naturallinkage of dates was this which gave a malign and now undeniable significance to the variousturns of events so carefully noted by my uncle?

    March 1st—our February 28th according to the International Date Line—theearthquake and storm had come. From Dunedin the Alert and her noisome crew had dartedeagerly forth as if imperiously summoned, and on the other side of the earth poets and artistshad begun to dream of a strange, dank Cyclopean city whilst a young sculptor had moulded inhis sleep the form of the dreaded Cthulhu. March 23d the crew of the Emma landed on anunknown island and left six men dead; and on that date the dreams of sensitive men assumed aheightened vividness and darkened with dread of a giant monster’s malign pursuit, whilstan architect had gone mad and a sculptor had lapsed suddenly into delirium! And what of thisstorm of April 2nd—the date on which all dreams of the dank city ceased, and Wilcox emergedunharmed from the bondage of strange fever? What of all this—and of those hints of oldCastro about the sunken, star-born Old Ones and their coming reign; their faithful cult andtheir mastery of dreams? Was I tottering on the brink of cosmic horrors beyond man’spower to bear? If so, they must be horrors of the mind alone, for in some way the second ofApril had put a stop to whatever monstrous menace had begun its siege of mankind’s soul.

    That evening, after a day of hurried cabling and arranging, I bade my hostadieu and took a train for San Francisco. In less than a month I was in Dunedin; where, however,I found that little was known of the strange cult-members who had lingered in the old sea-taverns.Waterfront scum was far too common for special mention; though there was vague talk about oneinland trip these mongrels had made, during which faint drumming and red flame were noted onthe distant hills. In Auckland I learned that Johansen had returned with yellow hair turnedwhite after a perfunctory and inconclusive questioning at Sydney, and had thereafter soldhis cottage in West Street and sailed with his wife to his old home in Oslo. Of his stirringexperience he would tell his friends no more than he had told the admiralty officials, and allthey could do was to give me his Oslo address.

    After that I went to Sydney and talked profitlessly with seamen and membersof the vice-admiralty court. I saw the Alert, now sold and in commercial use, at CircularQuay in Sydney Cove, but gained nothing from its non-committal bulk. The crouching image withits cuttlefish head, dragon body, scaly wings, and hieroglyphed pedestal, was preserved in theMuseum at Hyde Park; and I studied it long and well, finding it a thing of balefully exquisiteworkmanship, and with the same utter mystery, terrible antiquity, and unearthly strangenessof material which I had noted in Legrasse’s smaller specimen. Geologists, the curatortold me, had found it a monstrous puzzle; for they vowed that the world held no rock like it.Then I thought with a shudder of what old Castro had told Legrasse about the primal Great Ones:“They had come from the stars, and had brought Their images with Them. “

    Shaken with such a mental revolution as I had never before known, I now resolvedto visit Mate Johansen in Oslo. Sailing for London, I reëmbarked at once for the Norwegiancapital; and one autumn day landed at the trim wharves in the shadow of the Egeberg. Johansen’saddress, I discovered, lay in the Old Town of King Harold Haardrada, which kept alive the nameof Oslo during all the centuries that the greater city masqueraded as “Christiana “.I made the brief trip by taxicab, and knocked with palpitant heart at the door of a neat andancient building with plastered front. A sad-faced woman in black answered my summons, and Iwas stung with disappointment when she told me in halting English that Gustaf Johansen was nomore.

    He had not survived his return, said his wife, for the doings at sea in 1925had broken him. He had told her no more than he had told the public, but had left a long manuscript—of“technical matters “ as he said—written in English, evidently in order to safeguardher from the peril of casual perusal. During a walk through a narrow lane near the Gothenburgdock, a bundle of papers falling from an attic window had knocked him down. Two Lascar sailorsat once helped him to his feet, but before the ambulance could reach him he was dead. Physiciansfound no adequate cause for the end, and laid it to heart trouble and a weakened constitution.

    I now felt gnawing at my vitals that dark terror which will never leave metill I, too, am at rest; “accidentally “ or otherwise. Persuading the widow thatmy connexion with her husband’s “technical matters “ was sufficient to entitleme to his manuscript, I bore the document away and began to read it on the London boat. It wasa simple, rambling thing—a naive sailor’s effort at a post-facto diary—andstrove to recall day by day that last awful voyage. I cannot attempt to transcribe it verbatimin all its cloudiness and redundance, but I will tell its gist enough to shew why the soundof the water against the vessel’s sides became so unendurable to me that I stopped myears with cotton.

    Johansen, thank God, did not know quite all, even though he saw the city andthe Thing, but I shall never sleep calmly again when I think of the horrors that lurk ceaselesslybehind life in time and in space, and of those unhallowed blasphemies from elder stars whichdream beneath the sea, known and favoured by a nightmare cult ready and eager to loose themon the world whenever another earthquake shall heave their monstrous stone city again to thesun and air.

    Johansen’s voyage had begun just as he told it to the vice-admiralty.The Emma, in ballast, had cleared Auckland on February 20th, and had felt the full forceof that earthquake-born tempest which must have heaved up from the sea-bottom the horrors thatfilled men’s dreams. Once more under control, the ship was making good progress when heldup by the Alert on March 22nd, and I could feel the mate’s regret as he wrote ofher bombardment and sinking. Of the swarthy cult-fiends on the Alert he speaks with significanthorror. There was some peculiarly abominable quality about them which made their destructionseem almost a duty, and Johansen shews ingenuous wonder at the charge of ruthlessness broughtagainst his party during the proceedings of the court of inquiry. Then, driven ahead by curiosityin their captured yacht under Johansen’s command, the men sight a great stone pillar stickingout of the sea, and in S. Latitude 47° 9’, W. Longitude 126° 43’ come upon a coast-lineof mingled mud, ooze, and weedy Cyclopean masonry which can be nothing less than the tangiblesubstance of earth’s supreme terror—the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh, thatwas built in measureless aeons behind history by the vast, loathsome shapes that seeped downfrom the dark stars. There lay great Cthulhu and his hordes, hidden in green slimy vaults andsending out at last, after cycles incalculable, the thoughts that spread fear to the dreamsof the sensitive and called imperiously to the faithful to come on a pilgrimage of liberationand restoration. All this Johansen did not suspect, but God knows he soon saw enough!

    I suppose that only a single mountain-top, the hideous monolith-crowned citadelwhereon great Cthulhu was buried, actually emerged from the waters. When I think of the extentof all that may be brooding down there I almost wish to kill myself forthwith. Johansen andhis men were awed by the cosmic majesty of this dripping Babylon of elder daemons, and musthave guessed without guidance that it was nothing of this or of any sane planet. Awe at theunbelievable size of the greenish stone blocks, at the dizzying height of the great carven monolith,and at the stupefying identity of the colossal statues and bas-reliefs with the queer imagefound in the shrine on the Alert, is poignantly visible in every line of the mate’sfrightened description.

    Without knowing what futurism is like, Johansen achieved something very closeto it when he spoke of the city; for instead of describing any definite structure or building,he dwells only on broad impressions of vast angles and stone surfaces—surfaces too greatto belong to any thing right or proper for this earth, and impious with horrible images andhieroglyphs. I mention his talk about angles because it suggests something Wilcox hadtold me of his awful dreams. He had said that the geometry of the dream-place he sawwas abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours.Now an unlettered seaman felt the same thing whilst gazing at the terrible reality.

    Johansen and his men landed at a sloping mud-bank on this monstrous Acropolis,and clambered slipperily up over titan oozy blocks which could have been no mortal staircase.The very sun of heaven seemed distorted when viewed through the polarising miasma welling outfrom this sea-soaked perversion, and twisted menace and suspense lurked leeringly in those crazilyelusive angles of carven rock where a second glance shewed concavity after the first shewedconvexity.

    Something very like fright had come over all the explorers before anythingmore definite than rock and ooze and weed was seen. Each would have fled had he not feared thescorn of the others, and it was only half-heartedly that they searched—vainly, as it proved—forsome portable souvenir to bear away.

    It was Rodriguez the Portuguese who climbed up the foot of the monolith andshouted of what he had found. The rest followed him, and looked curiously at the immense carveddoor with the now familiar squid-dragon bas-relief. It was, Johansen said, like a great barn-door;and they all felt that it was a door because of the ornate lintel, threshold, and jambs aroundit, though they could not decide whether it lay flat like a trap-door or slantwise like an outsidecellar-door. As Wilcox would have said, the geometry of the place was all wrong. One could notbe sure that the sea and the ground were horizontal, hence the relative position of everythingelse seemed phantasmally variable.

    Briden pushed at the stone in several places without result. Then Donovan feltover it delicately around the edge, pressing each point separately as he went. He climbed interminablyalong the grotesque stone moulding—that is, one would call it climbing if the thing wasnot after all horizontal—and the men wondered how any door in the universe could be sovast. Then, very softly and slowly, the acre-great panel began to give inward at the top; andthey saw that it was balanced. Donovan slid or somehow propelled himself down or along the jamband rejoined his fellows, and everyone watched the queer recession of the monstrously carvenportal. In this phantasy of prismatic distortion it moved anomalously in a diagonal way, sothat all the rules of matter and perspective seemed upset.

    The aperture was black with a darkness almost material. That tenebrousnesswas indeed a positive quality; for it obscured such parts of the inner walls as oughtto have been revealed, and actually burst forth like smoke from its aeon-long imprisonment,visibly darkening the sun as it slunk away into the shrunken and gibbous sky on flapping membraneouswings. The odour arising from the newly opened depths was intolerable, and at length the quick-earedHawkins thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there. Everyone listened, and everyonewas listening still when It lumbered slobberingly into sight and gropingly squeezed Its gelatinousgreen immensity through the black doorway into the tainted outside air of that poison city ofmadness.

    Poor Johansen’s handwriting almost gave out when he wrote of this. Ofthe six men who never reached the ship, he thinks two perished of pure fright in that accursedinstant. The Thing cannot be described—there is no language for such abysms of shriekingand immemorial lunacy, such eldritch contradictions of all matter, force, and cosmic order.A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect wentmad, and poor Wilcox raved with fever in that telepathic instant? The Thing of the idols, thegreen, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again, andwhat an age-old cult had failed to do by design, a band of innocent sailors had done by accident.After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.

    Three men were swept up by the flabby claws before anybody turned. God restthem, if there be any rest in the universe. They were Donovan, Guerrera, and Ångstrom.Parker slipped as the other three were plunging frenziedly over endless vistas of green-crustedrock to the boat, and Johansen swears he was swallowed up by an angle of masonry which shouldn’thave been there; an angle which was acute, but behaved as if it were obtuse. So only Bridenand Johansen reached the boat, and pulled desperately for the Alert as the mountainousmonstrosity flopped down the slimy stones and hesitated floundering at the edge of the water.

    Steam had not been suffered to go down entirely, despite the departure of allhands for the shore; and it was the work of only a few moments of feverish rushing up and downbetween wheel and engines to get the Alert under way. Slowly, amidst the distorted horrorsof that indescribable scene, she began to churn the lethal waters; whilst on the masonry ofthat charnel shore that was not of earth the titan Thing from the stars slavered and gibberedlike Polypheme cursing the fleeing ship of Odysseus. Then, bolder than the storied Cyclops,great Cthulhu slid greasily into the water and began to pursue with vast wave-raising strokesof cosmic potency. Briden looked back and went mad, laughing shrilly as he kept on laughingat intervals till death found him one night in the cabin whilst Johansen was wandering deliriously.

    But Johansen had not given out yet. Knowing that the Thing could surely overtakethe Alert until steam was fully up, he resolved on a desperate chance; and, setting theengine for full speed, ran lightning-like on deck and reversed the wheel. There was a mightyeddying and foaming in the noisome brine, and as the steam mounted higher and higher the braveNorwegian drove his vessel head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean frothlike the stern of a daemon galleon. The awful squid-head with writhing feelers came nearly upto the bowsprit of the sturdy yacht, but Johansen drove on relentlessly. There was a burstingas of an exploding bladder, a slushy nastiness as of a cloven sunfish, a stench as of a thousandopened graves, and a sound that the chronicler would not put on paper. For an instant the shipwas befouled by an acrid and blinding green cloud, and then there was only a venomous seethingastern; where—God in heaven!—the scattered plasticity of that nameless sky-spawnwas nebulously recombining in its hateful original form, whilst its distance widenedevery second as the Alert gained impetus from its mounting steam.

    That was all. After that Johansen only brooded over the idol in the cabin andattended to a few matters of food for himself and the laughing maniac by his side. He did nottry to navigate after the first bold flight, for the reaction had taken something out of hissoul. Then came the storm of April 2nd, and a gathering of the clouds about his consciousness.There is a sense of spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides throughreeling universes on a comet’s tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moonand from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by a cachinnating chorus of the distorted,hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps of Tartarus.

    Out of that dream came rescue—the Vigilant, the vice-admiraltycourt, the streets of Dunedin, and the long voyage back home to the old house by the Egeberg.He could not tell—they would think him mad. He would write of what he knew before deathcame, but his wife must not guess. Death would be a boon if only it could blot out the memories.

    That was the document I read, and now I have placed it in the tin box besidethe bas-relief and the papers of Professor Angell. With it shall go this record of mine—thistest of my own sanity, wherein is pieced together that which I hope may never be pieced togetheragain. I have looked upon all that the universe has to hold of horror, and even the skies ofspring and the flowers of summer must ever afterward be poison to me. But I do not think mylife will be long. As my uncle went, as poor Johansen went, so I shall go. I know too much,and the cult still lives.Cthulhu still lives, too, I suppose, again in that chasm of stone which hasshielded him since the sun was young. His accursed city is sunken once more, for the Vigilantsailed over the spot after the April storm; but his ministers on earth still bellow and pranceand slay around idol-capped monoliths in lonely places. He must have been trapped by the sinkingwhilst within his black abyss, or else the world would by now be screaming with fright and frenzy.Who knows the end? What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waitsand dreams in the deep, and decay spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come—butI must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this manuscript, my executorsmay put caution before audacity and see that it meets no other eye.

    West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has evercut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brookletstrickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms,ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New Englandsecrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumblingand the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.

    The old folk have gone away, and foreigners do not like to live there. French-Canadianshave tried it, Italians have tried it, and the Poles have come and departed. It is not becauseof anything that can be seen or heard or handled, but because of something that is imagined.The place is not good for the imagination, and does not bring restful dreams at night. It mustbe this which keeps the foreigners away, for old Ammi Pierce has never told them of anythinghe recalls from the strange days. Ammi, whose head has been a little queer for years, is theonly one who still remains, or who ever talks of the strange days; and he dares to do this becausehis house is so near the open fields and the travelled roads around Arkham.

    There was once a road over the hills and through the valleys, that ran straightwhere the blasted heath is now; but people ceased to use it and a new road was laid curvingfar toward the south. Traces of the old one can still be found amidst the weeds of a returningwilderness, and some of them will doubtless linger even when half the hollows are flooded forthe new reservoir. Then the dark woods will be cut down and the blasted heath will slumber farbelow blue waters whose surface will mirror the sky and ripple in the sun. And the secrets ofthe strange days will be one with the deep’s secrets; one with the hidden lore of oldocean, and all the mystery of primal earth.

    When I went into the hills and vales to survey for the new reservoir they toldme the place was evil. They told me this in Arkham, and because that is a very old town fullof witch legends I thought the evil must be something which grandams had whispered to childrenthrough centuries. The name “blasted heath” seemed to me very odd and theatrical,and I wondered how it had come into the folklore of a Puritan people. Then I saw that dark westwardtangle of glens and slopes for myself, and ceased to wonder at anything besides its own eldermystery. It was morning when I saw it, but shadow lurked always there. The trees grew too thickly,and their trunks were too big for any healthy New England wood. There was too much silence inthe dim alleys between them, and the floor was too soft with the dank moss and mattings of infiniteyears of decay.

    In the open spaces, mostly along the line of the old road, there were littlehillside farms; sometimes with all the buildings standing, sometimes with only one or two, andsometimes with only a lone chimney or fast-filling cellar. Weeds and briers reigned, and furtivewild things rustled in the undergrowth. Upon everything was a haze of restlessness and oppression;a touch of the unreal and the grotesque, as if some vital element of perspective or chiaroscurowere awry. I did not wonder that the foreigners would not stay, for this was no region to sleepin. It was too much like a landscape of Salvator Rosa; too much like some forbidden woodcutin a tale of terror.

    But even all this was not so bad as the blasted heath. I knew it the momentI came upon it at the bottom of a spacious valley; for no other name could fit such a thing,or any other thing fit such a name. It was as if the poet had coined the phrase from havingseen this one particular region. It must, I thought as I viewed it, be the outcome of a fire;but why had nothing new ever grown over those five acres of grey desolation that sprawled opento the sky like a great spot eaten by acid in the woods and fields? It lay largely to the northof the ancient road line, but encroached a little on the other side. I felt an odd reluctanceabout approaching, and did so at last only because my business took me through and past it.There was no vegetation of any kind on that broad expanse, but only a fine grey dust or ashwhich no wind seemed ever to blow about. The trees near it were sickly and stunted, and manydead trunks stood or lay rotting at the rim. As I walked hurriedly by I saw the tumbled bricksand stones of an old chimney and cellar on my right, and the yawning black maw of an abandonedwell whose stagnant vapours played strange tricks with the hues of the sunlight. Even the long,dark woodland climb beyond seemed welcome in contrast, and I marvelled no more at the frightenedwhispers of Arkham people. There had been no house or ruin near; even in the old days the placemust have been lonely and remote. And at twilight, dreading to repass that ominous spot, I walkedcircuitously back to the town by the curving road on the south. I vaguely wished some cloudswould gather, for an odd timidity about the deep skyey voids above had crept into my soul.

    In the evening I asked old people in Arkham about the blasted heath, and whatwas meant by that phrase “strange days” which so many evasively muttered. I couldnot, however, get any good answers, except that all the mystery was much more recent than Ihad dreamed. It was not a matter of old legendry at all, but something within the lifetime ofthose who spoke. It had happened in the ’eighties, and a family had disappeared or waskilled. Speakers would not be exact; and because they all told me to pay no attention to oldAmmi Pierce’s crazy tales, I sought him out the next morning, having heard that he livedalone in the ancient tottering cottage where the trees first begin to get very thick. It wasa fearsomely archaic place, and had begun to exude the faint miasmal odour which clings abouthouses that have stood too long. Only with persistent knocking could I rouse the aged man, andwhen he shuffled timidly to the door I could tell he was not glad to see me. He was not so feebleas I had expected; but his eyes drooped in a curious way, and his unkempt clothing and whitebeard made him seem very worn and dismal. Not knowing just how he could best be launched onhis tales, I feigned a matter of business; told him of my surveying, and asked vague questionsabout the district. He was far brighter and more educated than I had been led to think, andbefore I knew it had grasped quite as much of the subject as any man I had talked with in Arkham.He was not like other rustics I had known in the sections where reservoirs were to be. Fromhim there were no protests at the miles of old wood and farmland to be blotted out, though perhapsthere would have been had not his home lain outside the bounds of the future lake. Relief wasall that he shewed; relief at the doom of the dark ancient valleys through which he had roamedall his life. They were better under water now—better under water since the strange days.And with this opening his husky voice sank low, while his body leaned forward and his rightforefinger began to point shakily and impressively.

    It was then that I heard the story, and as the rambling voice scraped and whisperedon I shivered again and again despite the summer day. Often I had to recall the speaker fromramblings, piece out scientific points which he knew only by a fading parrot memory of professors’talk, or bridge over gaps where his sense of logic and continuity broke down. When he was doneI did not wonder that his mind had snapped a trifle, or that the folk of Arkham would not speakmuch of the blasted heath. I hurried back before sunset to my hotel, unwilling to have the starscome out above me in the open; and the next day returned to Boston to give up my position. Icould not go into that dim chaos of old forest and slope again, or face another time that greyblasted heath where the black well yawned deep beside the tumbled bricks and stones. The reservoirwill soon be built now, and all those elder secrets will be safe forever under watery fathoms.But even then I do not believe I would like to visit that country by night—at least, notwhen the sinister stars are out; and nothing could bribe me to drink the new city water of Arkham.

    It all began, old Ammi said, with the meteorite. Before that time there hadbeen no wild legends at all since the witch trials, and even then these western woods were notfeared half so much as the small island in the Miskatonic where the devil held court besidea curious stone altar older than the Indians. These were not haunted woods, and their fantasticdusk was never terrible till the strange days. Then there had come that white noontide cloud,that string of explosions in the air, and that pillar of smoke from the valley far in the wood.And by night all Arkham had heard of the great rock that fell out of the sky and bedded itselfin the ground beside the well at the Nahum Gardner place. That was the house which had stoodwhere the blasted heath was to come—the trim white Nahum Gardner house amidst its fertilegardens and orchards.

    Nahum had come to town to tell people about the stone, and had dropped in atAmmi Pierce’s on the way. Ammi was forty then, and all the queer things were fixed verystrongly in his mind. He and his wife had gone with the three professors from Miskatonic Universitywho hastened out the next morning to see the weird visitor from unknown stellar space, and hadwondered why Nahum had called it so large the day before. It had shrunk, Nahum said as he pointedout the big brownish mound above the ripped earth and charred grass near the archaic well-sweepin his front yard; but the wise men answered that stones do not shrink. Its heat lingered persistently,and Nahum declared it had glowed faintly in the night. The professors tried it with a geologist’shammer and found it was oddly soft. It was, in truth, so soft as to be almost plastic; and theygouged rather than chipped a specimen to take back to the college for testing. They took itin an old pail borrowed from Nahum’s kitchen, for even the small piece refused to growcool. On the trip back they stopped at Ammi’s to rest, and seemed thoughtful when Mrs.Pierce remarked that the fragment was growing smaller and burning the bottom of the pail. Truly,it was not large, but perhaps they had taken less than they thought.

    The day after that—all this was in June of ’82—the professorshad trooped out again in a great excitement. As they passed Ammi’s they told him whatqueer things the specimen had done, and how it had faded wholly away when they put it in a glassbeaker. The beaker had gone, too, and the wise men talked of the strange stone’s affinityfor silicon. It had acted quite unbelievably in that well-ordered laboratory; doing nothingat all and shewing no occluded gases when heated on charcoal, being wholly negative in the boraxbead, and soon proving itself absolutely non-volatile at any producible temperature, includingthat of the oxy-hydrogen blowpipe. On an anvil it appeared highly malleable, and in the darkits luminosity was very marked. Stubbornly refusing to grow cool, it soon had the college ina state of real excitement; and when upon heating before the spectroscope it displayed shiningbands unlike any known colours of the normal spectrum there was much breathless talk of newelements, bizarre optical properties, and other things which puzzled men of science are wontto say when faced by the unknown.

    Hot as it was, they tested it in a crucible with all the proper reagents. Waterdid nothing. Hydrochloric acid was the same. Nitric acid and even aqua regia merely hissed andspattered against its torrid invulnerability. Ammi had difficulty in recalling all these things,but recognised some solvents as I mentioned them in the usual order of use. There were ammoniaand caustic soda, alcohol and ether, nauseous carbon disulphide and a dozen others; but althoughthe weight grew steadily less as time passed, and the fragment seemed to be slightly cooling,there was no change in the solvents to shew that they had attacked the substance at all. Itwas a metal, though, beyond a doubt. It was magnetic, for one thing; and after its immersionin the acid solvents there seemed to be faint traces of the Widmannstätten figures foundon meteoric iron. When the cooling had grown very considerable, the testing was carried on inglass; and it was in a glass beaker that they left all the chips made of the original fragmentduring the work. The next morning both chips and beaker were gone without trace, and only acharred spot marked the place on the wooden shelf where they had been.

    All this the professors told Ammi as they paused at his door, and once morehe went with them to see the stony messenger from the stars, though this time his wife did notaccompany him. It had now most certainly shrunk, and even the sober professors could not doubtthe truth of what they saw. All around the dwindling brown lump near the well was a vacant space,except where the earth had caved in; and whereas it had been a good seven feet across the daybefore, it was now scarcely five. It was still hot, and the sages studied its surface curiouslyas they detached another and larger piece with hammer and chisel. They gouged deeply this time,and as they pried away the smaller mass they saw that the core of the thing was not quite hom*ogeneous.

    They had uncovered what seemed to be the side of a large coloured globule imbeddedin the substance. The colour, which resembled some of the bands in the meteor’s strangespectrum, was almost impossible to describe; and it was only by analogy that they called itcolour at all. Its texture was glossy, and upon tapping it appeared to promise both brittlenessand hollowness. One of the professors gave it a smart blow with a hammer, and it burst witha nervous little pop. Nothing was emitted, and all trace of the thing vanished with the puncturing.It left behind a hollow spherical space about three inches across, and all thought it probablethat others would be discovered as the enclosing substance wasted away.

    Conjecture was vain; so after a futile attempt to find additional globulesby drilling, the seekers left again with their new specimen—which proved, however, asbaffling in the laboratory as its predecessor had been. Aside from being almost plastic, havingheat, magnetism, and slight luminosity, cooling slightly in powerful acids, possessing an unknownspectrum, wasting away in air, and attacking silicon compounds with mutual destruction as aresult, it presented no identifying features whatsoever; and at the end of the tests the collegescientists were forced to own that they could not place it. It was nothing of this earth, buta piece of the great outside; and as such dowered with outside properties and obedient to outsidelaws.

    That night there was a thunderstorm, and when the professors went out to Nahum’sthe next day they met with a bitter disappointment. The stone, magnetic as it had been, musthave had some peculiar electrical property; for it had “drawn the lightning”, asNahum said, with a singular persistence. Six times within an hour the farmer saw the lightningstrike the furrow in the front yard, and when the storm was over nothing remained but a raggedpit by the ancient well-sweep, half-choked with caved-in earth. Digging had borne no fruit,and the scientists verified the fact of the utter vanishment. The failure was total; so thatnothing was left to do but go back to the laboratory and test again the disappearing fragmentleft carefully cased in lead. That fragment lasted a week, at the end of which nothing ofvalue had been learned of it. When it had gone, no residue was left behind, and in time theprofessors felt scarcely sure they had indeed seen with waking eyes that cryptic vestige ofthe fathomless gulfs outside; that lone, weird message from other universes and other realmsof matter, force, and entity.

    As was natural, the Arkham papers made much of the incident with its collegiatesponsoring, and sent reporters to talk with Nahum Gardner and his family. At least one Bostondaily also sent a scribe, and Nahum quickly became a kind of local celebrity. He was a lean,genial person of about fifty, living with his wife and three sons on the pleasant farmsteadin the valley. He and Ammi exchanged visits frequently, as did their wives; and Ammi had nothingbut praise for him after all these years. He seemed slightly proud of the notice his place hadattracted, and talked often of the meteorite in the succeeding weeks. That July and August werehot, and Nahum worked hard at his haying in the ten-acre pasture across Chapman’s Brook;his rattling wain wearing deep ruts in the shadowy lanes between. The labour tired him morethan it had in other years, and he felt that age was beginning to tell on him.

    Then fell the time of fruit and harvest. The pears and apples slowly ripened,and Nahum vowed that his orchards were prospering as never before. The fruit was growing tophenomenal size and unwonted gloss, and in such abundance that extra barrels were ordered tohandle the future crop. But with the ripening came sore disappointment; for of all that gorgeousarray of specious lusciousness not one single jot was fit to eat. Into the fine flavour of thepears and apples had crept a stealthy bitterness and sickishness, so that even the smallestof bites induced a lasting disgust. It was the same with the melons and tomatoes, and Nahumsadly saw that his entire crop was lost. Quick to connect events, he declared that the meteoritehad poisoned the soil, and thanked heaven that most of the other crops were in the upland lotalong the road.

    Winter came early, and was very cold. Ammi saw Nahum less often than usual,and observed that he had begun to look worried. The rest of his family, too, seemed to havegrown taciturn; and were far from steady in their churchgoing or their attendance at the varioussocial events of the countryside. For this reserve or melancholy no cause could be found, thoughall the household confessed now and then to poorer health and a feeling of vague disquiet. Nahumhimself gave the most definite statement of anyone when he said he was disturbed about certainfootprints in the snow. They were the usual winter prints of red squirrels, white rabbits, andfoxes, but the brooding farmer professed to see something not quite right about their natureand arrangement. He was never specific, but appeared to think that they were not as characteristicof the anatomy and habits of squirrels and rabbits and foxes as they ought to be. Ammi listenedwithout interest to this talk until one night when he drove past Nahum’s house in hissleigh on the way back from Clark’s Corners. There had been a moon, and a rabbit had runacross the road, and the leaps of that rabbit were longer than either Ammi or his horse liked.The latter, indeed, had almost run away when brought up by a firm rein. Thereafter Ammi gaveNahum’s tales more respect, and wondered why the Gardner dogs seemed so cowed and quiveringevery morning. They had, it developed, nearly lost the spirit to bark.

    In February the McGregor boys from Meadow Hill were out shooting woodchucks,and not far from the Gardner place bagged a very peculiar specimen. The proportions of its bodyseemed slightly altered in a queer way impossible to describe, while its face had taken on anexpression which no one ever saw in a woodchuck before. The boys were genuinely frightened,and threw the thing away at once, so that only their grotesque tales of it ever reached thepeople of the countryside. But the shying of the horses near Nahum’s house had nowbecome an acknowledged thing, and all the basis for a cycle of whispered legend was fast takingform.

    People vowed that the snow melted faster around Nahum’s than it did anywhereelse, and early in March there was an awed discussion in Potter’s general store at Clark’sCorners. Stephen Rice had driven past Gardner’s in the morning, and had noticed the skunk-cabbagescoming up through the mud by the woods across the road. Never were things of such size seenbefore, and they held strange colours that could not be put into any words. Their shapes weremonstrous, and the horse had snorted at an odour which struck Stephen as wholly unprecedented.That afternoon several persons drove past to see the abnormal growth, and all agreed that plantsof that kind ought never to sprout in a healthy world. The bad fruit of the fall before wasfreely mentioned, and it went from mouth to mouth that there was poison in Nahum’s ground.Of course it was the meteorite; and remembering how strange the men from the college had foundthat stone to be, several farmers spoke about the matter to them.

    One day they paid Nahum a visit; but having no love of wild tales and folklorewere very conservative in what they inferred. The plants were certainly odd, but all skunk-cabbagesare more or less odd in shape and odour and hue. Perhaps some mineral element from the stonehad entered the soil, but it would soon be washed away. And as for the footprints and frightenedhorses—of course this was mere country talk which such a phenomenon as the aërolitewould be certain to start. There was really nothing for serious men to do in cases of wild gossip,for superstitious rustics will say and believe anything. And so all through the strange daysthe professors stayed away in contempt. Only one of them, when given two phials of dust foranalysis in a police job over a year and a half later, recalled that the queer colour of thatskunk-cabbage had been very like one of the anomalous bands of light shewn by the meteor fragmentin the college spectroscope, and like the brittle globule found imbedded in the stone from theabyss. The samples in this analysis case gave the same odd bands at first, though later theylost the property.

    The trees budded prematurely around Nahum’s, and at night they swayedominously in the wind. Nahum’s second son Thaddeus, a lad of fifteen, swore that theyswayed also when there was no wind; but even the gossips would not credit this. Certainly, however,restlessness was in the air. The entire Gardner family developed the habit of stealthy listening,though not for any sound which they could consciously name. The listening was, indeed, rathera product of moments when consciousness seemed half to slip away. Unfortunately such momentsincreased week by week, till it became common speech that “something was wrong with allNahum’s folks “. When the early saxifrage came out it had another strange colour;not quite like that of the skunk-cabbage, but plainly related and equally unknown to anyonewho saw it. Nahum took some blossoms to Arkham and shewed them to the editor of the Gazette,but that dignitary did no more than write a humorous article about them, in which the dark fearsof rustics were held up to polite ridicule. It was a mistake of Nahum’s to tell a stolidcity man about the way the great, overgrown mourning-cloak butterflies behaved in connexionwith these saxifrages.

    April brought a kind of madness to the country folk, and began that disuseof the road past Nahum’s which led to its ultimate abandonment. It was the vegetation.All the orchard trees blossomed forth in strange colours, and through the stony soil of theyard and adjacent pasturage there sprang up a bizarre growth which only a botanist could connectwith the proper flora of the region. No sane wholesome colours were anywhere to be seen exceptin the green grass and leafa*ge; but everywhere those hectic and prismatic variants of some diseased,underlying primary tone without a place among the known tints of earth. The Dutchman’sbreeches became a thing of sinister menace, and the bloodroots grew insolent in their chromaticperversion. Ammi and the Gardners thought that most of the colours had a sort of haunting familiarity,and decided that they reminded one of the brittle globule in the meteor. Nahum ploughed andsowed the ten-acre pasture and the upland lot, but did nothing with the land around the house.He knew it would be of no use, and hoped that the summer’s strange growths would drawall the poison from the soil. He was prepared for almost anything now, and had grown used tothe sense of something near him waiting to be heard. The shunning of his house by neighbourstold on him, of course; but it told on his wife more. The boys were better off, being at schooleach day; but they could not help being frightened by the gossip. Thaddeus, an especially sensitiveyouth, suffered the most.

    In May the insects came, and Nahum’s place became a nightmare of buzzingand crawling. Most of the creatures seemed not quite usual in their aspects and motions, andtheir nocturnal habits contradicted all former experience. The Gardners took to watching atnight—watching in all directions at random for something . . . they couldnot tell what. It was then that they all owned that Thaddeus had been right about the trees.Mrs. Gardner was the next to see it from the window as she watched the swollen boughs of a mapleagainst a moonlit sky. The boughs surely moved, and there was no wind. It must be the sap. Strangenesshad come into everything growing now. Yet it was none of Nahum’s family at all who madethe next discovery. Familiarity had dulled them, and what they could not see was glimpsed bya timid windmill salesman from Bolton who drove by one night in ignorance of the country legends.What he told in Arkham was given a short paragraph in the Gazette; and it was there thatall the farmers, Nahum included, saw it first. The night had been dark and the buggy-lamps faint,but around a farm in the valley which everyone knew from the account must be Nahum’s thedarkness had been less thick. A dim though distinct luminosity seemed to inhere in all the vegetation,grass, leaves, and blossoms alike, while at one moment a detached piece of the phosphorescenceappeared to stir furtively in the yard near the barn.

    The grass had so far seemed untouched, and the cows were freely pastured inthe lot near the house, but toward the end of May the milk began to be bad. Then Nahum had thecows driven to the uplands, after which the trouble ceased. Not long after this the change ingrass and leaves became apparent to the eye. All the verdure was going grey, and was developinga highly singular quality of brittleness. Ammi was now the only person who ever visited theplace, and his visits were becoming fewer and fewer. When school closed the Gardners were virtuallycut off from the world, and sometimes let Ammi do their errands in town. They were failing curiouslyboth physically and mentally, and no one was surprised when the news of Mrs. Gardner’smadness stole around.

    It happened in June, about the anniversary of the meteor’s fall, andthe poor woman screamed about things in the air which she could not describe. In her ravingthere was not a single specific noun, but only verbs and pronouns. Things moved and changedand fluttered, and ears tingled to impulses which were not wholly sounds. Something was takenaway—she was being drained of something—something was fastening itself on her thatought not to be—someone must make it keep off—nothing was ever still in the night—thewalls and windows shifted. Nahum did not send her to the county asylum, but let her wander aboutthe house as long as she was harmless to herself and others. Even when her expression changedhe did nothing. But when the boys grew afraid of her, and Thaddeus nearly fainted at the wayshe made faces at him, he decided to keep her locked in the attic. By July she had ceased tospeak and crawled on all fours, and before that month was over Nahum got the mad notion thatshe was slightly luminous in the dark, as he now clearly saw was the case with the nearby vegetation.

    It was a little before this that the horses had stampeded. Something had arousedthem in the night, and their neighing and kicking in their stalls had been terrible. There seemedvirtually nothing to do to calm them, and when Nahum opened the stable door they all boltedout like frightened woodland deer. It took a week to track all four, and when found they wereseen to be quite useless and unmanageable. Something had snapped in their brains, and each onehad to be shot for its own good. Nahum borrowed a horse from Ammi for his haying, but foundit would not approach the barn. It shied, balked, and whinnied, and in the end he could do nothingbut drive it into the yard while the men used their own strength to get the heavy wagon nearenough the hayloft for convenient pitching. And all the while the vegetation was turning greyand brittle. Even the flowers whose hues had been so strange were greying now, and the fruitwas coming out grey and dwarfed and tasteless. The asters and goldenrod bloomed grey and distorted,and the roses and zinneas and hollyhocks in the front yard were such blasphemous-looking thingsthat Nahum’s oldest boy Zenas cut them down. The strangely puffed insects died about thattime, even the bees that had left their hives and taken to the woods.

    By September all the vegetation was fast crumbling to a greyish powder, andNahum feared that the trees would die before the poison was out of the soil. His wife now hadspells of terrific screaming, and he and the boys were in a constant state of nervous tension.They shunned people now, and when school opened the boys did not go. But it was Ammi, on oneof his rare visits, who first realised that the well water was no longer good. It had an eviltaste that was not exactly foetid nor exactly salty, and Ammi advised his friend to dig anotherwell on higher ground to use till the soil was good again. Nahum, however, ignored the warning,for he had by that time become calloused to strange and unpleasant things. He and the boys continuedto use the tainted supply, drinking it as listlessly and mechanically as they ate their meagreand ill-cooked meals and did their thankless and monotonous chores through the aimless days.There was something of stolid resignation about them all, as if they walked half in anotherworld between lines of nameless guards to a certain and familiar doom.

    Thaddeus went mad in September after a visit to the well. He had gone witha pail and had come back empty-handed, shrieking and waving his arms, and sometimes lapsinginto an inane titter or a whisper about “the moving colours down there “. Two inone family was pretty bad, but Nahum was very brave about it. He let the boy run about for aweek until he began stumbling and hurting himself, and then he shut him in an attic room acrossthe hall from his mother’s. The way they screamed at each other from behind their lockeddoors was very terrible, especially to little Merwin, who fancied they talked in some terriblelanguage that was not of earth. Merwin was getting frightfully imaginative, and his restlessnesswas worse after the shutting away of the brother who had been his greatest playmate.

    Almost at the same time the mortality among the livestock commenced. Poultryturned greyish and died very quickly, their meat being found dry and noisome upon cutting. Hogsgrew inordinately fat, then suddenly began to undergo loathsome changes which no one could explain.Their meat was of course useless, and Nahum was at his wit’s end. No rural veterinarywould approach his place, and the city veterinary from Arkham was openly baffled. The swinebegan growing grey and brittle and falling to pieces before they died, and their eyes and muzzlesdeveloped singular alterations. It was very inexplicable, for they had never been fed from thetainted vegetation. Then something struck the cows. Certain areas or sometimes the whole bodywould be uncannily shrivelled or compressed, and atrocious collapses or disintegrations werecommon. In the last stages—and death was always the result—there would be a greyingand turning brittle like that which beset the hogs. There could be no question of poison, forall the cases occurred in a locked and undisturbed barn. No bites of prowling things could havebrought the virus, for what live beast of earth can pass through solid obstacles? It must beonly natural disease—yet what disease could wreak such results was beyond any mind’sguessing. When the harvest came there was not an animal surviving on the place, for the stockand poultry were dead and the dogs had run away. These dogs, three in number, had all vanishedone night and were never heard of again. The five cats had left some time before, but theirgoing was scarcely noticed since there now seemed to be no mice, and only Mrs. Gardner had madepets of the graceful felines.

    On the nineteenth of October Nahum staggered into Ammi’s house with hideousnews. The death had come to poor Thaddeus in his attic room, and it had come in a way whichcould not be told. Nahum had dug a grave in the railed family plot behind the farm, and hadput therein what he found. There could have been nothing from outside, for the small barredwindow and locked door were intact; but it was much as it had been in the barn. Ammi and hiswife consoled the stricken man as best they could, but shuddered as they did so. Stark terrorseemed to cling round the Gardners and all they touched, and the very presence of one in thehouse was a breath from regions unnamed and unnamable. Ammi accompanied Nahum home with thegreatest reluctance, and did what he might to calm the hysterical sobbing of little Merwin.Zenas needed no calming. He had come of late to do nothing but stare into space and obey whathis father told him; and Ammi thought that his fate was very merciful. Now and then Merwin’sscreams were answered faintly from the attic, and in response to an inquiring look Nahum saidthat his wife was getting very feeble. When night approached, Ammi managed to get away; fornot even friendship could make him stay in that spot when the faint glow of the vegetation beganand the trees may or may not have swayed without wind. It was really lucky for Ammi that hewas not more imaginative. Even as things were, his mind was bent ever so slightly; but had hebeen able to connect and reflect upon all the portents around him he must inevitably have turneda total maniac. In the twilight he hastened home, the screams of the mad woman and the nervouschild ringing horribly in his ears.

    Three days later Nahum lurched into Ammi’s kitchen in the early morning,and in the absence of his host stammered out a desperate tale once more, while Mrs. Pierce listenedin a clutching fright. It was little Merwin this time. He was gone. He had gone out late atnight with a lantern and pail for water, and had never come back. He’d been going to piecesfor days, and hardly knew what he was about. Screamed at everything. There had been a franticshriek from the yard then, but before the father could get to the door, the boy was gone. Therewas no glow from the lantern he had taken, and of the child himself no trace. At the time Nahumthought the lantern and pail were gone too; but when dawn came, and the man had plodded backfrom his all-night search of the woods and fields, he had found some very curious things nearthe well. There was a crushed and apparently somewhat melted mass of iron which had certainlybeen the lantern; while a bent bail and twisted iron hoops beside it, both half-fused, seemedto hint at the remnants of the pail. That was all. Nahum was past imagining, Mrs. Pierce wasblank, and Ammi, when he had reached home and heard the tale, could give no guess. Merwin wasgone, and there would be no use in telling the people around, who shunned all Gardners now.No use, either, in telling the city people at Arkham who laughed at everything. Thad was gone,and now Merwin was gone. Something was creeping and creeping and waiting to be seen and feltand heard. Nahum would go soon, and he wanted Ammi to look after his wife and Zenas if theysurvived him. It must all be a judgment of some sort; though he could not fancy what for, sincehe had always walked uprightly in the Lord’s ways so far as he knew.

    For over two weeks Ammi saw nothing of Nahum; and then, worried about whatmight have happened, he overcame his fears and paid the Gardner place a visit. There was nosmoke from the great chimney, and for a moment the visitor was apprehensive of the worst. Theaspect of the whole farm was shocking—greyish withered grass and leaves on the ground,vines falling in brittle wreckage from archaic walls and gables, and great bare trees clawingup at the grey November sky with a studied malevolence which Ammi could not but feel had comefrom some subtle change in the tilt of the branches. But Nahum was alive, after all. He wasweak, and lying on a couch in the low-ceiled kitchen, but perfectly conscious and able to givesimple orders to Zenas. The room was deadly cold; and as Ammi visibly shivered, the host shoutedhuskily to Zenas for more wood. Wood, indeed, was sorely needed; since the cavernous fireplacewas unlit and empty, with a cloud of soot blowing about in the chill wind that came down thechimney. Presently Nahum asked him if the extra wood had made him any more comfortable, andthen Ammi saw what had happened. The stoutest cord had broken at last, and the hapless farmer’smind was proof against more sorrow.

    Questioning tactfully, Ammi could get no clear data at all about the missingZenas. “In the well—he lives in the well— “ was all that the cloudedfather would say. Then there flashed across the visitor’s mind a sudden thought of themad wife, and he changed his line of inquiry. “Nabby? Why, here she is! “ was thesurprised response of poor Nahum, and Ammi soon saw that he must search for himself. Leavingthe harmless babbler on the couch, he took the keys from their nail beside the door and climbedthe creaking stairs to the attic. It was very close and noisome up there, and no sound couldbe heard from any direction. Of the four doors in sight, only one was locked, and on this hetried various keys on the ring he had taken. The third key proved the right one, and after somefumbling Ammi threw open the low white door.

    It was quite dark inside, for the window was small and half-obscured by thecrude wooden bars; and Ammi could see nothing at all on the wide-planked floor. The stench wasbeyond enduring, and before proceeding further he had to retreat to another room and returnwith his lungs filled with breathable air. When he did enter he saw something dark in the corner,and upon seeing it more clearly he screamed outright. While he screamed he thought a momentarycloud eclipsed the window, and a second later he felt himself brushed as if by some hatefulcurrent of vapour. Strange colours danced before his eyes; and had not a present horror numbedhim he would have thought of the globule in the meteor that the geologist’s hammer hadshattered, and of the morbid vegetation that had sprouted in the spring. As it was he thoughtonly of the blasphemous monstrosity which confronted him, and which all too clearly had sharedthe nameless fate of young Thaddeus and the livestock. But the terrible thing about this horrorwas that it very slowly and perceptibly moved as it continued to crumble.

    Ammi would give me no added particulars to this scene, but the shape in thecorner does not reappear in his tale as a moving object. There are things which cannot be mentioned,and what is done in common humanity is sometimes cruelly judged by the law. I gathered thatno moving thing was left in that attic room, and that to leave anything capable of motion therewould have been a deed so monstrous as to damn any accountable being to eternal torment. Anyonebut a stolid farmer would have fainted or gone mad, but Ammi walked conscious through that lowdoorway and locked the accursed secret behind him. There would be Nahum to deal with now; hemust be fed and tended, and removed to some place where he could be cared for.

    Commencing his descent of the dark stairs, Ammi heard a thud below him. Heeven thought a scream had been suddenly choked off, and recalled nervously the clammy vapourwhich had brushed by him in that frightful room above. What presence had his cry and entry startedup? Halted by some vague fear, he heard still further sounds below. Indubitably there was asort of heavy dragging, and a most detestably sticky noise as of some fiendish and unclean speciesof suction. With an associative sense goaded to feverish heights, he thought unaccountably ofwhat he had seen upstairs. Good God! What eldritch dream-world was this into which he had blundered?He dared move neither backward nor forward, but stood there trembling at the black curve ofthe boxed-in staircase. Every trifle of the scene burned itself into his brain. The sounds,the sense of dread expectancy, the darkness, the steepness of the narrow steps—and mercifulheaven! . . . the faint but unmistakable luminosity of all the woodwork in sight;steps, sides, exposed laths, and beams alike!

    Then there burst forth a frantic whinny from Ammi’s horse outside, followedat once by a clatter which told of a frenzied runaway. In another moment horse and buggy hadgone beyond earshot, leaving the frightened man on the dark stairs to guess what had sent them.But that was not all. There had been another sound out there. A sort of liquid splash—water—itmust have been the well. He had left Hero untied near it, and a buggy-wheel must have brushedthe coping and knocked in a stone. And still the pale phosphorescence glowed in that detestablyancient woodwork. God! how old the house was! Most of it built before 1670, and the gambrelroof not later than 1730.

    A feeble scratching on the floor downstairs now sounded distinctly, and Ammi’sgrip tightened on a heavy stick he had picked up in the attic for some purpose. Slowly nervinghimself, he finished his descent and walked boldly toward the kitchen. But he did not completethe walk, because what he sought was no longer there. It had come to meet him, and it was stillalive after a fashion. Whether it had crawled or whether it had been dragged by any externalforce, Ammi could not say; but the death had been at it. Everything had happened in the lasthalf-hour, but collapse, greying, and disintegration were already far advanced. There was ahorrible brittleness, and dry fragments were scaling off. Ammi could not touch it, but lookedhorrifiedly into the distorted parody that had been a face. “What was it, Nahum—whatwas it? “ he whispered, and the cleft, bulging lips were just able to crackle out a finalanswer.

    “Nothin’ . . . nothin’ . . . thecolour . . . it burns . . . cold an’ wet . . .but it burns . . . it lived in the well . . . I seen it . . .a kind o’ smoke . . . jest like the flowers last spring . . .the well shone at night . . . Thad an’ Mernie an’ Zenas . . .everything alive . . . suckin’ the life out of everything . . .in that stone . . . it must a’ come in that stone . . .pizened the whole place . . . dun’t know what it wants . . .that round thing them men from the college dug outen the stone . . . they smashedit . . . it was that same colour . . . jest the same, like theflowers an’ plants . . . must a’ ben more of ‘em . . .seeds . . . seeds . . . they growed . . . I seenit the fust time this week . . . must a’ got strong on Zenas . . .he was a big boy, full o’ life . . . it beats down your mind an’then gits ye . . . burns ye up . . . in the well water . . .you was right about that . . . evil water . . . Zenas never comeback from the well . . . can’t git away . . . draws ye . . .ye know summ’at’s comin’, but ‘tain’t no use . . . Iseen it time an’ agin senct Zenas was took . . . whar’s Nabby,Ammi? . . . my head’s no good . . . dun’t know how long senctI fed her . . . it’ll git her ef we ain’t keerful . . .jest a colour . . . her face is gettin’ to hev that colour sometimes towardsnight . . . an’ it burns an’ sucks . . . it come fromsome place whar things ain’t as they is here . . . one o’ them professorssaid so . . . he was right . . . look out, Ammi, it’ll dosuthin’ more . . . sucks the life out. . . . “

    But that was all. That which spoke could speak no more because it had completelycaved in. Ammi laid a red checked tablecloth over what was left and reeled out the back doorinto the fields. He climbed the slope to the ten-acre pasture and stumbled home by the northroad and the woods. He could not pass that well from which his horse had run away. He had lookedat it through the window, and had seen that no stone was missing from the rim. Then the lurchingbuggy had not dislodged anything after all—the splash had been something else—somethingwhich went into the well after it had done with poor Nahum. . . .

    When Ammi reached his house the horse and buggy had arrived before him andthrown his wife into fits of anxiety. Reassuring her without explanations, he set out at oncefor Arkham and notified the authorities that the Gardner family was no more. He indulged inno details, but merely told of the deaths of Nahum and Nabby, that of Thaddeus being alreadyknown, and mentioned that the cause seemed to be the same strange ailment which had killed thelivestock. He also stated that Merwin and Zenas had disappeared. There was considerable questioningat the police station, and in the end Ammi was compelled to take three officers to the Gardnerfarm, together with the coroner, the medical examiner, and the veterinary who had treated thediseased animals. He went much against his will, for the afternoon was advancing and he fearedthe fall of night over that accursed place, but it was some comfort to have so many people withhim.

    The six men drove out in a democrat-wagon, following Ammi’s buggy, andarrived at the pest-ridden farmhouse about four o’clock. Used as the officers were togruesome experiences, not one remained unmoved at what was found in the attic and under thered checked tablecloth on the floor below. The whole aspect of the farm with its grey desolationwas terrible enough, but those two crumbling objects were beyond all bounds. No one could looklong at them, and even the medical examiner admitted that there was very little to examine.Specimens could be analysed, of course, so he busied himself in obtaining them—and hereit develops that a very puzzling aftermath occurred at the college laboratory where the twophials of dust were finally taken. Under the spectroscope both samples gave off an unknown spectrum,in which many of the baffling bands were precisely like those which the strange meteor had yieldedin the previous year. The property of emitting this spectrum vanished in a month, the dust thereafterconsisting mainly of alkaline phosphates and carbonates.

    Ammi would not have told the men about the well if he had thought they meantto do anything then and there. It was getting toward sunset, and he was anxious to be away.But he could not help glancing nervously at the stony curb by the great sweep, and when a detectivequestioned him he admitted that Nahum had feared something down there—so much so thathe had never even thought of searching it for Merwin or Zenas. After that nothing would do butthat they empty and explore the well immediately, so Ammi had to wait trembling while pail afterpail of rank water was hauled up and splashed on the soaking ground outside. The men sniffedin disgust at the fluid, and toward the last held their noses against the foetor they were uncovering.It was not so long a job as they had feared it would be, since the water was phenomenally low.There is no need to speak too exactly of what they found. Merwin and Zenas were both there,in part, though the vestiges were mainly skeletal. There were also a small deer and a largedog in about the same state, and a number of bones of smaller animals. The ooze and slime atthe bottom seemed inexplicably porous and bubbling, and a man who descended on hand-holds witha long pole found that he could sink the wooden shaft to any depth in the mud of the floor withoutmeeting any solid obstruction.

    Twilight had now fallen, and lanterns were brought from the house. Then, whenit was seen that nothing further could be gained from the well, everyone went indoors and conferredin the ancient sitting-room while the intermittent light of a spectral half-moon played wanlyon the grey desolation outside. The men were frankly nonplussed by the entire case, and couldfind no convincing common element to link the strange vegetable conditions, the unknown diseaseof livestock and humans, and the unaccountable deaths of Merwin and Zenas in the tainted well.They had heard the common country talk, it is true; but could not believe that anything contraryto natural law had occurred. No doubt the meteor had poisoned the soil, but the illness of personsand animals who had eaten nothing grown in that soil was another matter. Was it the well water?Very possibly. It might be a good idea to analyse it. But what peculiar madness could have madeboth boys jump into the well? Their deeds were so similar—and the fragments shewed thatthey had both suffered from the grey brittle death. Why was everything so grey and brittle?

    It was the coroner, seated near a window overlooking the yard, who first noticedthe glow about the well. Night had fully set in, and all the abhorrent grounds seemed faintlyluminous with more than the fitful moonbeams; but this new glow was something definite and distinct,and appeared to shoot up from the black pit like a softened ray from a searchlight, giving dullreflections in the little ground pools where the water had been emptied. It had a very queercolour, and as all the men clustered round the window Ammi gave a violent start. For this strangebeam of ghastly miasma was to him of no unfamiliar hue. He had seen that colour before, andfeared to think what it might mean. He had seen it in the nasty brittle globule in that aërolitetwo summers ago, had seen it in the crazy vegetation of the springtime, and had thought he hadseen it for an instant that very morning against the small barred window of that terrible atticroom where nameless things had happened. It had flashed there a second, and a clammy and hatefulcurrent of vapour had brushed past him—and then poor Nahum had been taken by somethingof that colour. He had said so at the last—said it was the globule and the plants. Afterthat had come the runaway in the yard and the splash in the well—and now that well wasbelching forth to the night a pale insidious beam of the same daemoniac tint.

    It does credit to the alertness of Ammi’s mind that he puzzled even atthat tense moment over a point which was essentially scientific. He could not but wonder athis gleaning of the same impression from a vapour glimpsed in the daytime, against a windowopening on the morning sky, and from a nocturnal exhalation seen as a phosphorescent mist againstthe black and blasted landscape. It wasn’t right—it was against Nature—andhe thought of those terrible last words of his stricken friend, “It come from some placewhar things ain’t as they is here . . . one o’ them professors saidso. . . . “

    All three horses outside, tied to a pair of shrivelled saplings by the road,were now neighing and pawing frantically. The wagon driver started for the door to do something,but Ammi laid a shaky hand on his shoulder. “Dun’t go out thar, “ he whispered.“They’s more to this nor what we know. Nahum said somethin’ lived in the wellthat sucks your life out. He said it must be some’at growed from a round ball like onewe all seen in the meteor stone that fell a year ago June. Sucks an’ burns, he said, an’is jest a cloud of colour like that light out thar now, that ye can hardly see an’ can’ttell what it is. Nahum thought it feeds on everything livin’ an’ gits stronger allthe time. He said he seen it this last week. It must be somethin’ from away off in thesky like the men from the college last year says the meteor stone was. The way it’s madean’ the way it works ain’t like no way o’ God’s world. It’s some’atfrom beyond.”

    So the men paused indecisively as the light from the well grew stronger andthe hitched horses pawed and whinnied in increasing frenzy. It was truly an awful moment; withterror in that ancient and accursed house itself, four monstrous sets of fragments—twofrom the house and two from the well—in the woodshed behind, and that shaft of unknownand unholy iridescence from the slimy depths in front. Ammi had restrained the driver on impulse,forgetting how uninjured he himself was after the clammy brushing of that coloured vapour inthe attic room, but perhaps it is just as well that he acted as he did. No one will ever knowwhat was abroad that night; and though the blasphemy from beyond had not so far hurt any humanof unweakened mind, there is no telling what it might not have done at that last moment, andwith its seemingly increased strength and the special signs of purpose it was soon to displaybeneath the half-clouded moonlit sky.

    All at once one of the detectives at the window gave a short, sharp gasp. Theothers looked at him, and then quickly followed his own gaze upward to the point at which itsidle straying had been suddenly arrested. There was no need for words. What had been disputedin country gossip was disputable no longer, and it is because of the thing which every man ofthat party agreed in whispering later on that the strange days are never talked about in Arkham.It is necessary to premise that there was no wind at that hour of the evening. One did arisenot long afterward, but there was absolutely none then. Even the dry tips of the lingering hedge-mustard,grey and blighted, and the fringe on the roof of the standing democrat-wagon were unstirred.And yet amid that tense, godless calm the high bare boughs of all the trees in the yard weremoving. They were twitching morbidly and spasmodically, clawing in convulsive and epilepticmadness at the moonlit clouds; scratching impotently in the noxious air as if jerked by somealien and bodiless line of linkage with subterrene horrors writhing and struggling below theblack roots.

    Not a man breathed for several seconds. Then a cloud of darker depth passedover the moon, and the silhouette of clutching branches faded out momentarily. At this therewas a general cry; muffled with awe, but husky and almost identical from every throat. For theterror had not faded with the silhouette, and in a fearsome instant of deeper darkness the watcherssaw wriggling at that treetop height a thousand tiny points of faint and unhallowed radiance,tipping each bough like the fire of St. Elmo or the flames that came down on the apostles’heads at Pentecost. It was a monstrous constellation of unnatural light, like a glutted swarmof corpse-fed fireflies dancing hellish sarabands over an accursed marsh; and its colour wasthat same nameless intrusion which Ammi had come to recognise and dread. All the while the shaftof phosphorescence from the well was getting brighter and brighter, bringing to the minds ofthe huddled men a sense of doom and abnormality which far outraced any image their consciousminds could form. It was no longer shining out, it was pouring out; and as theshapeless stream of unplaceable colour left the well it seemed to flow directly into the sky.

    The veterinary shivered, and walked to the front door to drop the heavy extrabar across it. Ammi shook no less, and had to tug and point for lack of a controllable voicewhen he wished to draw notice to the growing luminosity of the trees. The neighing and stampingof the horses had become utterly frightful, but not a soul of that group in the old house wouldhave ventured forth for any earthly reward. With the moments the shining of the trees increased,while their restless branches seemed to strain more and more toward verticality. The wood ofthe well-sweep was shining now, and presently a policeman dumbly pointed to some wooden shedsand bee-hives near the stone wall on the west. They were commencing to shine, too, though thetethered vehicles of the visitors seemed so far unaffected. Then there was a wild commotionand clopping in the road, and as Ammi quenched the lamp for better seeing they realised thatthe span of frantic greys had broke their sapling and run off with the democrat-wagon.

    The shock served to loosen several tongues, and embarrassed whispers were exchanged.“It spreads on everything organic that’s been around here, “ muttered the medicalexaminer. No one replied, but the man who had been in the well gave a hint that his long polemust have stirred up something intangible. “It was awful, “ he added. “Therewas no bottom at all. Just ooze and bubbles and the feeling of something lurking under there.”Ammi’s horse still pawed and screamed deafeningly in the road outside, and nearly drownedits owner’s faint quaver as he mumbled his formless reflections. “It come from thatstone . . . it growed down thar . . . it got everything livin’ . . . it fed itself on ‘em, mind and body . . . Thad an’Mernie, Zenas an’ Nabby . . . Nahum was the last . . . they all drunk the water . . . it got strong on ‘em . . . it come from beyond, whar thingsain’t like they be here . . . now it’s goin’ home. . . . “

    At this point, as the column of unknown colour flared suddenly stronger andbegan to weave itself into fantastic suggestions of shape which each spectator later describeddifferently, there came from poor tethered Hero such a sound as no man before or since everheard from a horse. Every person in that low-pitched sitting room stopped his ears, and Ammiturned away from the window in horror and nausea. Words could not convey it—when Ammilooked out again the hapless beast lay huddled inert on the moonlit ground between the splinteredshafts of the buggy. That was the last of Hero till they buried him next day. But the presentwas no time to mourn, for almost at this instant a detective silently called attention to somethingterrible in the very room with them. In the absence of the lamplight it was clear that a faintphosphorescence had begun to pervade the entire apartment. It glowed on the broad-planked floorand the fragment of rag carpet, and shimmered over the sashes of the small-paned windows. Itran up and down the exposed corner-posts, coruscated about the shelf and mantel, and infectedthe very doors and furniture. Each minute saw it strengthen, and at last it was very plain thathealthy living things must leave that house.

    Ammi shewed them the back door and the path up through the fields to the ten-acrepasture. They walked and stumbled as in a dream, and did not dare look back till they were faraway on the high ground. They were glad of the path, for they could not have gone the frontway, by that well. It was bad enough passing the glowing barn and sheds, and those shining orchardtrees with their gnarled, fiendish contours; but thank heaven the branches did their worst twistinghigh up. The moon went under some very black clouds as they crossed the rustic bridge over Chapman’sBrook, and it was blind groping from there to the open meadows.

    When they looked back toward the valley and the distant Gardner place at thebottom they saw a fearsome sight. All the farm was shining with the hideous unknown blend ofcolour; trees, buildings, and even such grass and herbage as had not been wholly changed tolethal grey brittleness. The boughs were all straining skyward, tipped with tongues of foulflame, and lambent tricklings of the same monstrous fire were creeping about the ridgepolesof the house, barn, and sheds. It was a scene from a vision of Fuseli, and over all the restreigned that riot of luminous amorphousness, that alien and undimensioned rainbow of crypticpoison from the well—seething, feeling, lapping, reaching, scintillating, straining, andmalignly bubbling in its cosmic and unrecognisable chromaticism.

    Then without warning the hideous thing shot vertically up toward the sky likea rocket or meteor, leaving behind no trail and disappearing through a round and curiously regularhole in the clouds before any man could gasp or cry out. No watcher can ever forget that sight,and Ammi stared blankly at the stars of Cygnus, Deneb twinkling above the others, where theunknown colour had melted into the Milky Way. But his gaze was the next moment called swiftlyto earth by the crackling in the valley. It was just that. Only a wooden ripping and crackling,and not an explosion, as so many others of the party vowed. Yet the outcome was the same, forin one feverish, kaleidoscopic instant there burst up from that doomed and accursed farm a gleaminglyeruptive cataclysm of unnatural sparks and substance; blurring the glance of the few who sawit, and sending forth to the zenith a bombarding cloudburst of such coloured and fantastic fragmentsas our universe must needs disown. Through quickly re-closing vapours they followed the greatmorbidity that had vanished, and in another second they had vanished too. Behind and below wasonly a darkness to which the men dared not return, and all about was a mounting wind which seemedto sweep down in black, frore gusts from interstellar space. It shrieked and howled, and lashedthe fields and distorted woods in a mad cosmic frenzy, till soon the trembling party realisedit would be no use waiting for the moon to shew what was left down there at Nahum’s.

    Too awed even to hint theories, the seven shaking men trudged back toward Arkhamby the north road. Ammi was worse than his fellows, and begged them to see him inside his ownkitchen, instead of keeping straight on to town. He did not wish to cross the nighted, wind-whippedwoods alone to his home on the main road. For he had had an added shock that the others werespared, and was crushed forever with a brooding fear he dared not even mention for many yearsto come. As the rest of the watchers on that tempestuous hill had stolidly set their faces towardthe road, Ammi had looked back an instant at the shadowed valley of desolation so lately shelteringhis ill-starred friend. And from that stricken, far-away spot he had seen something feebly rise,only to sink down again upon the place from which the great shapeless horror had shot into thesky. It was just a colour—but not any colour of our earth or heavens. And because Ammirecognised that colour, and knew that this last faint remnant must still lurk down there inthe well, he has never been quite right since.

    Ammi would never go near the place again. It is over half a century now sincethe horror happened, but he has never been there, and will be glad when the new reservoir blotsit out. I shall be glad, too, for I do not like the way the sunlight changed colour around themouth of that abandoned well I passed. I hope the water will always be very deep—but evenso, I shall never drink it. I do not think I shall visit the Arkham country hereafter. Threeof the men who had been with Ammi returned the next morning to see the ruins by daylight, butthere were not any real ruins. Only the bricks of the chimney, the stones of the cellar, somemineral and metallic litter here and there, and the rim of that nefandous well. Save for Ammi’sdead horse, which they towed away and buried, and the buggy which they shortly returned to him,everything that had ever been living had gone. Five eldritch acres of dusty grey desert remained,nor has anything ever grown there since. To this day it sprawls open to the sky like a greatspot eaten by acid in the woods and fields, and the few who have ever dared glimpse it in spiteof the rural tales have named it “the blasted heath”.

    The rural tales are queer. They might be even queerer if city men and collegechemists could be interested enough to analyse the water from that disused well, or the greydust that no wind seems ever to disperse. Botanists, too, ought to study the stunted flora onthe borders of that spot, for they might shed light on the country notion that the blight isspreading—little by little, perhaps an inch a year. People say the colour of the neighbouringherbage is not quite right in the spring, and that wild things leave queer prints in the lightwinter snow. Snow never seems quite so heavy on the blasted heath as it is elsewhere. Horses—thefew that are left in this motor age—grow skittish in the silent valley; and hunters cannotdepend on their dogs too near the splotch of greyish dust.

    They say the mental influences are very bad, too. Numbers went queer in theyears after Nahum’s taking, and always they lacked the power to get away. Then the stronger-mindedfolk all left the region, and only the foreigners tried to live in the crumbling old homesteads.They could not stay, though; and one sometimes wonders what insight beyond ours their wild,weird stores of whispered magic have given them. Their dreams at night, they protest, are veryhorrible in that grotesque country; and surely the very look of the dark realm is enough tostir a morbid fancy. No traveller has ever escaped a sense of strangeness in those deep ravines,and artists shiver as they paint thick woods whose mystery is as much of the spirit as of theeye. I myself am curious about the sensation I derived from my one lone walk before Ammi toldme his tale. When twilight came I had vaguely wished some clouds would gather, for an odd timidityabout the deep skyey voids above had crept into my soul.

    Do not ask me for my opinion. I do not know—that is all. There was noone but Ammi to question; for Arkham people will not talk about the strange days, and all threeprofessors who saw the aërolite and its coloured globule are dead. There were other globules—dependupon that. One must have fed itself and escaped, and probably there was another which was toolate. No doubt it is still down the well—I know there was something wrong with the sunlightI saw above that miasmal brink. The rustics say the blight creeps an inch a year, so perhapsthere is a kind of growth or nourishment even now. But whatever daemon hatchling is there, itmust be tethered to something or else it would quickly spread. Is it fastened to the roots ofthose trees that claw the air? One of the current Arkham tales is about fat oaks that shineand move as they ought not to do at night.

    What it is, only God knows. In terms of matter I suppose the thing Ammi describedwould be called a gas, but this gas obeyed laws that are not of our cosmos. This was no fruitof such worlds and suns as shine on the telescopes and photographic plates of our observatories.This was no breath from the skies whose motions and dimensions our astronomers measure or deemtoo vast to measure. It was just a colour out of space—a frightful messenger from unformedrealms of infinity beyond all Nature as we know it; from realms whose mere existence stuns thebrain and numbs us with the black extra-cosmic gulfs it throws open before our frenzied eyes.

    I doubt very much if Ammi consciously lied to me, and I do not think his talewas all a freak of madness as the townfolk had forewarned. Something terrible came to the hillsand valleys on that meteor, and something terrible—though I know not in what proportion—stillremains. I shall be glad to see the water come. Meanwhile I hope nothing will happen to Ammi.He saw so much of the thing—and its influence was so insidious. Why has he never beenable to move away? How clearly he recalled those dying words of Nahum’s— “can’t git away . . . draws ye . . . ye know summ’at’s comin’, but ’tain’t no use. . . . “ Ammi is such a good old man—when the reservoir gang gets to work I must write the chief engineer to keep a sharp watch onhim. I would hate to think of him as the grey, twisted, brittle monstrosity which persists more andmore in troubling my sleep.

    The Curse of Yig

    In 1925 I went into Oklahoma looking for snake lore, and I came out with a fear of snakes thatwill last me the rest of my life. I admit it is foolish, since there are natural explanationsfor everything I saw and heard, but it masters me none the less. If the old story had been allthere was to it, I would not have been so badly shaken. My work as an American Indian ethnologisthas hardened me to all kinds of extravagant legendry, and I know that simple white people canbeat the redskins at their own game when it comes to fanciful inventions. But I can’t forgetwhat I saw with my own eyes at the insane asylum in Guthrie.

    I called at that asylum because a few of the oldest settlers told me I wouldfind something important there. Neither Indians nor white men would discuss the snake-god legendsI had come to trace. The oil-boom newcomers, of course, knew nothing of such matters, and thered men and old pioneers were plainly frightened when I spoke of them. Not more than six orseven people mentioned the asylum, and those who did were careful to talk in whispers. But thewhisperers said that Dr. McNeill could shew me a very terrible relic and tell me all I wantedto know. He could explain why Yig, the half-human father of serpents, is a shunned and fearedobject in central Oklahoma, and why old settlers shiver at the secret Indian orgies which makethe autumn days and nights hideous with the ceaseless beating of tom-toms in lonely places.

    It was with the scent of a hound on the trail that I went to Guthrie, for Ihad spent many years collecting data on the evolution of serpent-worship among the Indians.I had always felt, from well-defined undertones of legend and archaeology, that great Quetzalcoatl—benignsnake-god of the Mexicans—had had an older and darker prototype; and during recent monthsI had well-nigh proved it in a series of researches stretching from Guatemala to the Oklahomaplains. But everything was tantalising and incomplete, for above the border the cult of thesnake was hedged about by fear and furtiveness.

    Now it appeared that a new and copious source of data was about to dawn, andI sought the head of the asylum with an eagerness I did not try to cloak. Dr. McNeill was asmall, clean-shaven man of somewhat advanced years, and I saw at once from his speech and mannerthat he was a scholar of no mean attainments in many branches outside his profession. Graveand doubtful when I first made known my errand, his face grew thoughtful as he carefully scannedmy credentials and the letter of introduction which a kindly old ex-Indian agent had givenme.

    “So you’ve been studying the Yig legend, eh?” he reflected sententiously.“I know that many of our Oklahoma ethnologists have tried to connect it with Quetzalcoatl,but I don’t think any of them have traced the intermediate steps so well. You’ve doneremarkable work for a man as young as you seem to be, and you certainly deserve all the datawe can give.”

    “I don’t suppose old Major Moore or any of the others told you whatit is I have here. They don’t like to talk about it, and neither do I. It is very tragicand very horrible, but that is all. I refuse to consider it anything supernatural. There’sa story about it that I’ll tell you after you see it—a devilish sad story, but onethat I won’t call magic. It merely shews the potency that belief has over some people.I’ll admit there are times when I feel a shiver that’s more than physical, but indaylight I set all that down to nerves. I’m not a young fellow any more, alas!”

    “To come to the point, the thing I have is what you might call a victimof Yig’s curse—a physically living victim. We don’t let the bulk of the nursessee it, although most of them know it’s here. There are just two steady old chaps whomI let feed it and clean out its quarters—used to be three, but good old Stevens passedon a few years ago. I suppose I’ll have to break in a new group pretty soon; for the thingdoesn’t seem to age or change much, and we old boys can’t last forever. Maybe theethics of the near future will let us give it a merciful release, but it’s hard to tell.”

    “Did you see that single ground-glass basem*nt window over in the eastwing when you came up the drive? That’s where it is. I’ll take you there myself now.You needn’t make any comment. Just look through the moveable panel in the door and thankGod the light isn’t any stronger. Then I’ll tell you the story—or as much asI’ve been able to piece together.”

    We walked downstairs very quietly, and did not talk as we threaded the corridorsof the seemingly deserted basem*nt. Dr. McNeill unlocked a grey-painted steel door, but it wasonly a bulkhead leading to a further stretch of hallway. At length he paused before a door markedB 116, opened a small observation panel which he could use only by standing on tiptoe, and poundedseveral times upon the painted metal, as if to arouse the occupant, whatever it might be.

    A faint stench came from the aperture as the doctor unclosed it, and I fanciedhis pounding elicited a kind of low, hissing response. Finally he motioned me to replace himat the peep-hole, and I did so with a causeless and increasing tremor. The barred, ground-glasswindow, close to the earth outside, admitted only a feeble and uncertain pallor; and I had tolook into the malodorous den for several seconds before I could see what was crawling and wrigglingabout on the straw-covered floor, emitting every now and then a weak and vacuous hiss. Thenthe shadowed outlines began to take shape, and I perceived that the squirming entity bore someremote resemblance to a human form laid flat on its belly. I clutched at the door-handle forsupport as I tried to keep from fainting.

    The moving object was almost of human size, and entirely devoid of clothing.It was absolutely hairless, and its tawny-looking back seemed subtly squamous in the dim, ghoulishlight. Around the shoulders it was rather speckled and brownish, and the head was very curiouslyflat. As it looked up to hiss at me I saw that the beady little black eyes were damnably anthropoid,but I could not bear to study them long. They fastened themselves on me with a horrible persistence,so that I closed the panel gaspingly and left the creature to wriggle about unseen in its mattedstraw and spectral twilight. I must have reeled a bit, for I saw that the doctor was gentlyholding my arm as he guided me away. I was stuttering over and over again: “B-but for God’s sake, what is it?”

    Dr. McNeill told me the story in his private office as I sprawled oppositehim in an easy-chair. The gold and crimson of late afternoon changed to the violet of earlydusk, but still I sat awed and motionless. I resented every ring of the telephone and everywhir of the buzzer, and I could have cursed the nurses and internes whose knocks now and thensummoned the doctor briefly to the outer office. Night came, and I was glad my host switchedon all the lights. Scientist though I was, my zeal for research was half forgotten amidst suchbreathless ecstasies of fright as a small boy might feel when whispered witch-tales go the roundsof the chimney-corner.

    It seems that Yig, the snake-god of the central plains tribes—presumablythe primal source of the more southerly Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan—was an odd, half-anthropomorphicdevil of highly arbitrary and capricious nature. He was not wholly evil, and was usually quitewell-disposed toward those who gave proper respect to him and his children, the serpents; butin the autumn he became abnormally ravenous, and had to be driven away by means of suitablerites. That was why the tom-toms in the Pawnee, Wichita, and Caddo country pounded ceaselesslyweek in and week out in August, September, and October; and why the medicine-men made strangenoises with rattles and whistles curiously like those of the Aztecs and Mayas.

    Yig’s chief trait was a relentless devotion to his children—a devotionso great that the redskins almost feared to protect themselves from the venomous rattlesnakeswhich thronged the region. Frightful clandestine tales hinted of his vengeance upon mortalswho flouted him or wreaked harm upon his wriggling progeny; his chosen method being to turnhis victim, after suitable tortures, to a spotted snake.

    In the old days of the Indian Territory, the doctor went on, there was notquite so much secrecy about Yig. The plains tribes, less cautious than the desert nomads andPueblos, talked quite freely of their legends and autumn ceremonies with the first Indian agents,and let considerable of the lore spread out through the neighbouring regions of white settlement.The great fear came in the land-rush days of ’89, when some extraordinary incidents hadbeen rumoured, and the rumours sustained, by what seemed to be hideously tangible proofs. Indianssaid that the new white men did not know how to get on with Yig, and afterward the settlerscame to take that theory at face value. Now no old-timer in middle Oklahoma, white or red, couldbe induced to breathe a word about the snake-god except in vague hints. Yet after all, the doctoradded with almost needless emphasis, the only truly authenticated horror had been a thing ofpitiful tragedy rather than of bewitchment. It was all very material and cruel—even thatlast phase which had caused so much dispute.

    Dr. McNeill paused and cleared his throat before getting down to his specialstory, and I felt a tingling sensation as when a theatre curtain rises. The thing had begunwhen Walker Davis and his wife Audrey left Arkansas to settle in the newly opened public landsin the spring of 1889, and the end had come in the country of the Wichitas—north of theWichita River, in what is at present Caddo County. There is a small village called Binger therenow, and the railway goes through; but otherwise the place is less changed than other partsof Oklahoma. It is still a section of farms and ranches—quite productive in these days—sincethe great oil-fields do not come very close.

    Walker and Audrey had come from Franklin County in the Ozarks with a canvas-toppedwagon, two mules, an ancient and useless dog called “Wolf”, and all their householdgoods. They were typical hill-folk, youngish and perhaps a little more ambitious than most,and looked forward to a life of better returns for their hard work than they had had in Arkansas.Both were lean, raw-boned specimens; the man tall, sandy, and grey-eyed, and the woman shortand rather dark, with a black straightness of hair suggesting a slight Indian admixture.

    In general, there was very little of distinction about them, and but for onething their annals might not have differed from those of thousands of other pioneers who flockedinto the new country at that time. That thing was Walker’s almost epileptic fear of snakes,which some laid to prenatal causes, and some said came from a dark prophecy about his end withwhich an old Indian squaw had tried to scare him when he was small. Whatever the cause, theeffect was marked indeed; for despite his strong general courage the very mention of a snakewould cause him to grow faint and pale, while the sight of even a tiny specimen would producea shock sometimes bordering on a convulsion seizure.

    The Davises started out early in the year, in the hope of being on their newland for the spring ploughing. Travel was slow; for the roads were bad in Arkansas, while inthe Territory there were great stretches of rolling hills and red, sandy barrens without anyroads whatever. As the terrain grew flatter, the change from their native mountains depressedthem more, perhaps, than they realised; but they found the people at the Indian agencies veryaffable, while most of the settled Indians seemed friendly and civil. Now and then they encountereda fellow-pioneer, with whom crude pleasantries and expressions of amiable rivalry were generallyexchanged.

    Owing to the season, there were not many snakes in evidence, so Walker didnot suffer from his special temperamental weakness. In the earlier stages of the journey, too,there were no Indian snake-legends to trouble him; for the transplanted tribes from the southeastdo not share the wilder beliefs of their western neighbours. As fate would have it, it was awhite man at Okmulgee in the Creek country who gave the Davises the first hint of Yig beliefs;a hint which had a curiously fascinating effect on Walker, and caused him to ask questions veryfreely after that.

    Before long Walker’s fascination had developed into a bad case of fright.He took the most extraordinary precautions at each of the nightly camps, always clearing awaywhatever vegetation he found, and avoiding stony places whenever he could. Every clump of stuntedbushes and every cleft in the great, slab-like rocks seemed to him now to hide malevolent serpents,while every human figure not obviously part of a settlement or emigrant train seemed to hima potential snake-god till nearness had proved the contrary. Fortunately no troublesome encounterscame at this stage to shake his nerves still further.

    As they approached the Kickapoo country they found it harder and harder toavoid camping near rocks. Finally it was no longer possible, and poor Walker was reduced tothe puerile expedient of droning some of the rustic anti-snake charms he had learned in hisboyhood. Two or three times a snake was really glimpsed, and these sights did not help the suffererin his efforts to preserve composure.

    On the twenty-second evening of the journey a savage wind made it imperative,for the sake of the mules, to camp in as sheltered a spot as possible; and Audrey persuadedher husband to take advantage of a cliff which rose uncommonly high above the dried bed of aformer tributary of the Canadian River. He did not like the rocky cast of the place, but allowedhimself to be overruled this once; leading the animals sullenly toward the protecting slope,which the nature of the ground would not allow the wagon to approach.

    Audrey, examining the rocks near the wagon, meanwhile noticed a singular sniffingon the part of the feeble old dog. Seizing a rifle, she followed his lead, and presently thankedher stars that she had forestalled Walker in her discovery. For there, snugly nested in thegap between two boulders, was a sight it would have done him no good to see. Visible only asone convoluted expanse, but perhaps comprising as many as three or four separate units, wasa mass of lazy wriggling which could not be other than a brood of new-born rattlesnakes.

    Anxious to save Walker from a trying shock, Audrey did not hesitate to act,but took the gun firmly by the barrel and brought the butt down again and again upon the writhingobjects. Her own sense of loathing was great, but it did not amount to a real fear. Finallyshe saw that her task was done, and turned to cleanse the improvised bludgeon in the red sandand dry, dead grass near by. She must, she reflected, cover the nest up before Walker got backfrom tethering the mules. Old Wolf, tottering relic of mixed shepherd and coyote ancestry thathe was, had vanished, and she feared he had gone to fetch his master.

    Footsteps at that instant proved her fear well founded. A second more, andWalker had seen everything. Audrey made a move to catch him if he should faint, but he did nomore than sway. Then the look of pure fright on his bloodless face turned slowly to somethinglike mingled awe and anger, and he began to upbraid his wife in trembling tones.

    “Gawd’s sake, Aud, but why’d ye go for to do that? Hain’tye heerd all the things they’ve been tellin’ about this snake-devil Yig? Ye’dought to a told me, and we’d a moved on. Don’t ye know they’s a devil-god whatgets even if ye hurts his children? What for d’ye think the Injuns all dances and beatstheir drums in the fall about? This land’s under a curse, I tell ye—nigh every soulwe’ve a-talked to sence we come in’s said the same. Yig rules here, an’ he comesout every fall for to git his victims and turn ’em into snakes. Why, Aud, they won’tnone of them Injuns acrost the Canayjin kill a snake for love nor money!”

    “Gawd knows what ye done to yourself, gal, a-stompin’ out a hullbrood o’ Yig’s chillen. He’ll git ye, sure, sooner or later, unlessen I kin buya charm offen some o’ the Injun medicine-men. He’ll git ye, Aud, as sure’s they’sa Gawd in heaven—he’ll come outa the night and turn ye into a crawlin’ spottedsnake!”

    All the rest of the journey Walker kept up the frightened reproofs and prophecies.They crossed the Canadian near Newcastle, and soon afterward met with the first of the realplains Indians they had seen—a party of blanketed Wichitas, whose leader talked freelyunder the spell of the whiskey offered him, and taught poor Walker a long-winded protectivecharm against Yig in exchange for a quart bottle of the same inspiring fluid. By the end ofthe week the chosen site in the Wichita country was reached, and the Davises made haste to tracetheir boundaries and perform the spring ploughing before even beginning the construction ofa cabin.

    The region was flat, drearily windy, and sparse of natural vegetation, butpromised great fertility under cultivation. Occasional outcroppings of granite diversified asoil of decomposed red sandstone, and here and there a great flat rock would stretch along thesurface of the ground like a man-made floor. There seemed to be a very few snakes, or possibledens for them; so Audrey at last persuaded Walker to build the one-room cabin over a vast, smoothslab of exposed stone. With such a flooring and with a good-sized fireplace the wettest weathermight be defied—though it soon became evident that dampness was no salient quality of thedistrict. Logs were hauled in the wagon from the nearest belt of woods, many miles toward theWichita Mountains.

    Walker built his wide-chimneyed cabin and crude barn with the aid of some ofthe other settlers, though the nearest one was over a mile away. In turn, he helped his helpersat similar house-raisings, so that many ties of friendship sprang up between the new neighbours.There was no town worthy the name nearer than El Reno, on the railway thirty miles or more tothe northeast; and before many weeks had passed, the people of the section had become very cohesivedespite the wideness of their scattering. The Indians, a few of whom had begun to settle downon ranches, were for the most part harmless, though somewhat quarrelsome when fired by the liquidstimulation which found its way to them despite all government bans.

    Of all the neighbours the Davises found Joe and Sally Compton, who likewisehailed from Arkansas, the most helpful and congenial. Sally is still alive, known now as GrandmaCompton; and her son Clyde, then an infant in arms, has become one of the leading men of thestate. Sally and Audrey used to visit each other often, for their cabins were only two milesapart; and in the long spring and summer afternoons they exchanged many a tale of old Arkansasand many a rumour about the new country.

    Sally was very sympathetic about Walker’s weakness regarding snakes, butperhaps did more to aggravate than cure the parallel nervousness which Audrey was acquiringthrough his incessant praying and prophesying about the curse of Yig. She was uncommonly fullof gruesome snake stories, and produced a direfully strong impression with her acknowledgedmasterpiece—the tale of a man in Scott County who had been bitten by a whole horde of rattlersat once, and had swelled so monstrously from poison that his body had finally burst with a pop.Needless to say, Audrey did not repeat this anecdote to her husband, and she implored the Comptonsto beware of starting it on the rounds of the countryside. It is to Joe’s and Sally’scredit that they heeded this plea with the utmost fidelity.

    Walker did his corn-planting early, and in midsummer improved his time by harvestinga fair crop of the native grass of the region. With the help of Joe Compton he dug a well whichgave a moderate supply of very good water, though he planned to sink an artesian later on. Hedid not run into many serious snake scares, and made his land as inhospitable as possible forwriggling visitors. Every now and then he rode over to the cluster of thatched, conical hutswhich formed the main village of the Wichitas, and talked long with the old men and shamansabout the snake-god and how to nullify his wrath. Charms were always ready in exchange for whiskey,but much of the information he got was far from reassuring.

    Yig was a great god. He was bad medicine. He did not forget things. In theautumn his children were hungry and wild, and Yig was hungry and wild, too. All the tribes mademedicine against Yig when the corn harvest came. They gave him some corn, and danced in properregalia to the sound of whistle, rattle, and drum. They kept the drums pounding to drive Yigaway, and called down the aid of Tiráwa, whose children men are, even as the snakes areYig’s children. It was bad that the squaw of Davis killed the children of Yig. Let Davissay the charms many times when the corn harvest comes. Yig is Yig. Yig is a great god.

    By the time the corn harvest did come, Walker had succeeded in getting hiswife into a deplorably jumpy state. His prayers and borrowed incantations came to be a nuisance;and when the autumn rites of the Indians began, there was always a distant wind-borne poundingof tom-toms to lend an added background of the sinister. It was maddening to have the muffledclatter always stealing over the wide red plains. Why would it never stop? Day and night, weekon week, it was always going in exhaustless relays, as persistently as the red dusty winds thatcarried it. Audrey loathed it more than her husband did, for he saw in it a compensating elementof protection. It was with this sense of a mighty, intangible bulwark against evil that he gotin his corn crop and prepared cabin and stable for the coming winter.

    The autumn was abnormally warm, and except for their primitive cookery theDavises found scant use for the stone fireplace Walker had built with such care. Something inthe unnaturalness of the hot dust-clouds preyed on the nerves of all the settlers, but mostof all on Audrey’s and Walker’s. The notions of a hovering snake-curse and the weird,endless rhythm of the distant Indian drums formed a bad combination which any added elementof the bizarre went far to render utterly unendurable.

    Notwithstanding this strain, several festive gatherings were held at one oranother of the cabins after the crops were reaped; keeping naively alive in modernity thosecurious rites of the harvest-home which are as old as human agriculture itself. Lafayette Smith,who came from southern Missouri and had a cabin about three miles east of Walker’s, wasa very passable fiddler; and his tunes did much to make the celebrants forget the monotonousbeating of the distant tom-toms. Then Hallowe’en drew near, and the settlers planned anotherfrolic—this time, had they but known it, of a lineage older than even agriculture; thedread Witch-Sabbath of the primal pre-Aryans, kept alive through ages in the midnight blacknessof secret woods, and still hinting at vague terrors under its latter-day mask of comedy andlightness. Hallowe’en was to fall on a Thursday, and the neighbours agreed to gather fortheir first revel at the Davis cabin.

    It was on that thirty-first of October that the warm spell broke. The morningwas grey and leaden, and by noon the incessant winds had changed from searingness to rawness.People shivered all the more because they were not prepared for the chill, and Walker Davis’old dog Wolf dragged himself wearily indoors to a place beside the hearth. But the distant drumsstill thumped on, nor were the white citizenry less inclined to pursue their chosen rites. Asearly as four in the afternoon the wagons began to arrive at Walker’s cabin; and in theevening, after a memorable barbecue, Lafayette Smith’s fiddle inspired a very fair-sizedcompany to great feats of saltatory grotesqueness in the one good-sized but crowded room. Theyounger folk indulged in the amiable inanities proper to the season, and now and then old Wolfwould howl with doleful and spine-tickling ominousness at some especially spectral strain fromLafayette’s squeaky violin—a device he had never heard before. Mostly, though, thisbattered veteran slept through the merriment; for he was past the age of active interests andlived largely in his dreams. Tom and Jennie Rigby had brought their collie Zeke along, but thecanines did not fraternise. Zeke seemed strangely uneasy over something, and nosed around curiouslyall the evening.

    Audrey and Walker made a fine couple on the floor, and Grandma Compton stilllikes to recall her impression of their dancing that night. Their worries seemed forgotten forthe nonce, and Walker was shaved and trimmed into a surprising degree of spruceness. By teno’clock all hands were healthily tired, and the guests began to depart family by familywith many handshakings and bluff assurances of what a fine time everybody had had. Tom and Jenniethought Zeke’s eerie howls as he followed them to their wagon were marks of regret at havingto go home; though Audrey said it must be the far-away tom-toms which annoyed him, for the distantthumping was surely ghastly enough after the merriment within.

    The night was bitterly cold, and for the first time Walker put a great login the fireplace and banked it with ashes to keep it smouldering till morning. Old Wolf draggedhimself within the ruddy glow and lapsed into his customary coma. Audrey and Walker, too tiredto think of charms or curses, tumbled into the rough pine bed and were asleep before the cheapalarm-clock on the mantel had ticked out three minutes. And from far away, the rhythmic poundingof those hellish tom-toms still pulsed on the chill night-wind.

    Dr. McNeill paused here and removed his glasses, as if a blurring of the objectiveworld might make the reminiscent vision clearer.

    “You’ll soon appreciate,” he said, “that I had a greatdeal of difficulty in piecing out all that happened after the guests left. There were times,though—at first—when I was able to make a try at it.” After a moment of silencehe went on with the tale.

    Audrey had terrible dreams of Yig, who appeared to her in the guise of Satanas depicted in cheap engravings she had seen. It was, indeed, from an absolute ecstasy of nightmarethat she started suddenly awake to find Walker already conscious and sitting up in bed. He seemedto be listening intently to something, and silenced her with a whisper when she began to askwhat had roused him.

    “Hark, Aud!” he breathed. “Don’t ye hear somethin’a-singin’ and buzzin’ and rustlin’? D’ye reckon it’s the fall crickets?”

    Certainly, there was distinctly audible within the cabin such a sound as hehad described. Audrey tried to analyse it, and was impressed with some element at once horribleand familiar, which hovered just outside the rim of her memory. And beyond it all, waking ahideous thought, the monotonous beating of the distant tom-toms came incessantly across theblack plains on which a cloudy half-moon had set.

    “Walker—s’pose it’s—the—the—curse o’ Yig? “

    She could feel him tremble.

    “No, gal, I don’t reckon he comes that away. He’s shapen likea man, except ye look at him clost. That’s what Chief Grey Eagle says. This here’ssome varmints come in outen the cold—not crickets, I calc’late, but summat like ’em.I’d orter git up and stomp ’em out afore they make much headway or git at the cupboard.”

    He rose, felt for the lantern that hung within easy reach, and rattled thetin match-box nailed to the wall beside it. Audrey sat up in bed and watched the flare of thematch grow into the steady glow of the lantern. Then, as their eyes began to take in the wholeof the room, the crude rafters shook with the frenzy of their simultaneous shriek. For the flat,rocky floor, revealed in the new-born illumination, was one seething, brown-speckled mass ofwriggling rattlesnakes, slithering toward the fire, and even now turning their loathsome headsto menace the fright-blasted lantern-bearer.

    It was only for an instant that Audrey saw the things. The reptiles were ofevery size, of uncountable numbers, and apparently of several varieties; and even as she looked,two or three of them reared their heads as if to strike at Walker. She did not faint—itwas Walker’s crash to the floor that extinguished the lantern and plunged her into blackness.He had not screamed a second time—fright had paralysed him, and he fell as if shot bya silent arrow from no mortal’s bow. To Audrey the entire world seemed to whirl about fantastically,mingling with the nightmare from which she had started.

    Voluntary motion of any sort was impossible, for will and the sense of realityhad left her. She fell back inertly on her pillow, hoping that she would wake soon. No actualsense of what had happened penetrated her mind for some time. Then, little by little, the suspicionthat she was really awake began to dawn on her; and she was convulsed with a mounting blendof panic and grief which made her long to shriek out despite the inhibiting spell which kepther mute.

    Walker was gone, and she had not been able to help him. He had died of snakes,just as the old witch-woman had predicted when he was a little boy. Poor Wolf had not been ableto help, either—probably he had not even awaked from his senile stupor. And now the crawlingthings must be coming for her, writhing closer and closer every moment in the dark, perhapseven now twining slipperily about the bedposts and oozing up over the coarse woollen blankets.Unconsciously she crept under the clothes and trembled.

    It must be the curse of Yig. He had sent his monstrous children on All-Hallows’Night, and they had taken Walker first. Why was that—wasn’t he innocent enough? Whynot come straight for her—hadn’t she killed those little rattlers alone? Then shethought of the curse’s form as told by the Indians. She wouldn’t be killed—justturned to a spotted snake. Ugh! So she would be like those things she had glimpsed on the floor—thosethings which Yig had sent to get her and enroll her among their number! She tried to mumblea charm that Walker had taught her, but found she could not utter a single sound.

    The noisy ticking of the alarm-clock sounded above the maddening beat of thedistant tom-toms. The snakes were taking a long time—did they mean to delay on purposeto play on her nerves? Every now and then she thought she felt a steady, insidious pressureon the bedclothes, but each time it turned out to be only the automatic twitchings of her overwroughtnerves. The clock ticked on in the dark, and a change came slowly over her thoughts.

    Those snakes couldn’t have taken so long! They couldn’t beYig’s messengers after all, but just natural rattlers that were nested below the rock andhad been drawn there by the fire. They weren’t coming for her, perhaps—perhaps theyhad sated themselves on poor Walker. Where were they now? Gone? Coiled by the fire? Still crawlingover the prone corpse of their victim? The clock ticked, and the distant drums throbbed on.

    At the thought of her husband’s body lying there in the pitch blacknessa thrill of purely physical horror passed over Audrey. That story of Sally Compton’s aboutthe man back in Scott County! He, too, had been bitten by a whole bunch of rattlesnakes, andwhat had happened to him? The poison had rotted the flesh and swelled the whole corpse, andin the end the bloated thing had burst horribly—burst horribly with a detestablepopping noise. Was that what was happening to Walker down there on the rock floor? Instinctivelyshe felt she had begun to listen for something too terrible even to name to herself.

    The clock ticked on, keeping a kind of mocking, sardonic time with the far-offdrumming that the night-wind brought. She wished it were a striking clock, so that she couldknow how long this eldritch vigil must last. She cursed the toughness of fibre that kept herfrom fainting, and wondered what sort of relief the dawn could bring, after all. Probably neighbourswould pass—no doubt somebody would call—would they find her still sane? Was she stillsane now?

    Morbidly listening, Audrey all at once became aware of something which shehad to verify with every effort of her will before she could believe it; and which, once verified,she did not know whether to welcome or dread. The distant beating of the Indian tom-tomshad ceased. They had always maddened her—but had not Walker regarded them as a bulwarkagainst nameless evil from outside the universe? What were some of those things he had repeatedto her in whispers after talking with Grey Eagle and the Wichita medicine-men?

    She did not relish this new and sudden silence, after all! There was somethingsinister about it. The loud-ticking clock seemed abnormal in its new loneliness. Capable atlast of conscious motion, she shook the covers from her face and looked into the darkness towardthe window. It must have cleared after the moon set, for she saw the square aperture distinctlyagainst the background of stars.

    Then without warning came that shocking, unutterable sound—ugh!—thatdull, putrid pop of cleft skin and escaping poison in the dark. God!—Sally’sstory—that obscene stench, and this gnawing, clawing silence! It was too much. The bondsof muteness snapped, and the black night waxed reverberant with Audrey’s screams of stark,unbridled frenzy.

    Consciousness did not pass away with the shock. How merciful if only it had!Amidst the echoes of her shrieking Audrey still saw the star-sprinkled square of window ahead,and heard the doom-boding ticking of that frightful clock. Did she hear another sound? Was thatsquare window still a perfect square? She was in no condition to weigh the evidence of her sensesor distinguish between fact and hallucination.

    No—that window was not a perfect square. Something had encroached onthe lower edge. Nor was the ticking of the clock the only sound in the room. There was,beyond dispute, a heavy breathing neither her own nor poor Wolf’s. Wolf slept very silently,and his wakeful wheezing was unmistakable. Then Audrey saw against the stars the black, daemoniacsilhouette of something anthropoid—the undulant bulk of a gigantic head and shoulders fumblingslowly toward her.

    “Y’aaaah! Y’aaaah! Go away! Go away! Go away, snake-devil! Go’way, Yig! I didn’t mean to kill ’em—I was feared he’d be scairt of’em. Don’t, Yig, don’t! I didn’t go for to hurt yore chillen—don’tcome nigh me—don’t change me into no spotted snake!”

    But the half-formless head and shoulders only lurched onward toward the bed,very silently.

    Everything snapped at once inside Audrey’s head, and in a second she hadturned from a cowering child to a raging madwoman. She knew where the axe was—hung againstthe wall on those pegs near the lantern. It was within easy reach, and she could find it inthe dark. Before she was conscious of anything further it was in her hands, and she was creepingtoward the foot of the bed—toward the monstrous head and shoulders that every moment gropedtheir way nearer. Had there been any light, the look on her face would not have been pleasantto see.

    “Take that, you! And that, and that, and that!”

    She was laughing shrilly now, and her cackles mounted higher as she saw thatthe starlight beyond the window was yielding to the dim prophetic pallor of coming dawn.

    Dr. McNeill wiped the perspiration from his forehead and put on his glassesagain. I waited for him to resume, and as he kept silent I spoke softly.

    “She lived? She was found? Was it ever explained?”

    The doctor cleared his throat.

    “Yes—she lived, in a way. And it was explained. I told you therewas no bewitchment—only cruel, pitiful, material horror.”

    It was Sally Compton who had made the discovery. She had ridden over to theDavis cabin the next afternoon to talk over the party with Audrey, and had seen no smoke fromthe chimney. That was queer. It had turned very warm again, yet Audrey was usually cooking somethingat that hour. The mules were making hungry-sounding noises in the barn, and there was no signof old Wolf sunning himself in the accustomed spot by the door.

    Altogether, Sally did not like the look of the place, so was very timid andhesitant as she dismounted and knocked. She got no answer but waited some time before tryingthe crude door of split logs. The lock, it appeared, was unfastened; and she slowly pushed herway in. Then, perceiving what was there, she reeled back, gasped, and clung to the jamb to preserveher balance.

    A terrible odour had welled out as she opened the door, but that was not whathad stunned her. It was what she had seen. For within that shadowy cabin monstrous things hadhappened and three shocking objects remained on the floor to awe and baffle the beholder.

    Near the burned-out fireplace was the great dog—purple decay on the skinleft bare by mange and old age, and the whole carcass burst by the puffing effect of rattlesnakepoison. It must have been bitten by a veritable legion of the reptiles.

    To the right of the door was the axe-hacked remnant of what had been a man—cladin a nightshirt, and with the shattered bulk of a lantern clenched in one hand. He was totallyfree from any sign of snake-bite. Near him lay the ensanguined axe, carelessly discarded.

    And wriggling flat on the floor was a loathsome, vacant-eyed thing that hadbeen a woman, but was now only a mute mad caricature. All that this thing could do was to hiss,and hiss, and hiss.

    Both the doctor and I were brushing cold drops from our foreheads by this time.He poured something from a flask on his desk, took a nip, and handed another glass to me. Icould only suggest tremulously and stupidly:

    “So Walker had only fainted that first time—the screams roused him,and the axe did the rest?”

    “Yes.” Dr. McNeill’s voice was low. “But he met his deathfrom snakes just the same. It was his fear working in two ways—it made him faint, and itmade him fill his wife with the wild stories that caused her to strike out when she thoughtshe saw the snake-devil.”

    I thought for a moment.

    “And Audrey—wasn’t it queer how the curse of Yig seemed to workitself out on her? I suppose the impression of hissing snakes had been fairly ground into her.”

    “Yes. There were lucid spells at first, but they got to be fewer and fewer.Her hair came white at the roots as it grew, and later began to fall out. The skin grew blotchy,and when she died— “

    I interrupted with a start.

    “Died? Then what was that—that thing downstairs?”

    McNeill spoke gravely.

    “That is what was born to her three-quarters of a year afterward.There were three more of them—two were even worse—but this is the only one that lived.”

    Part I.

    When a traveller in north central Massachusetts takes the wrong fork at the junction of theAylesbury pike just beyond Dean’s Corners he comes upon a lonely and curious country.The ground gets higher, and the brier-bordered stone walls press closer and closer against theruts of the dusty, curving road. The trees of the frequent forest belts seem too large, andthe wild weeds, brambles, and grasses attain a luxuriance not often found in settled regions.At the same time the planted fields appear singularly few and barren; while the sparsely scatteredhouses wear a surprisingly uniform aspect of age, squalor, and dilapidation. Without knowingwhy, one hesitates to ask directions from the gnarled, solitary figures spied now and then oncrumbling doorsteps or on the sloping, rock-strown meadows. Those figures are so silent andfurtive that one feels somehow confronted by forbidden things, with which it would be betterto have nothing to do. When a rise in the road brings the mountains in view above the deep woods,the feeling of strange uneasiness is increased. The summits are too rounded and symmetricalto give a sense of comfort and naturalness, and sometimes the sky silhouettes with especialclearness the queer circles of tall stone pillars with which most of them are crowned.

    Gorges and ravines of problematical depth intersect the way, and the crudewooden bridges always seem of dubious safety. When the road dips again there are stretches ofmarshland that one instinctively dislikes, and indeed almost fears at evening when unseen whippoorwillschatter and the fireflies come out in abnormal profusion to dance to the raucous, creepily insistentrhythms of stridently piping bull-frogs. The thin, shining line of the Miskatonic’s upperreaches has an oddly serpent-like suggestion as it winds close to the feet of the domed hillsamong which it rises.

    As the hills draw nearer, one heeds their wooded sides more than their stone-crownedtops. Those sides loom up so darkly and precipitously that one wishes they would keep theirdistance, but there is no road by which to escape them. Across a covered bridge one sees a smallvillage huddled between the stream and the vertical slope of Round Mountain, and wonders atthe cluster of rotting gambrel roofs bespeaking an earlier architectural period than that ofthe neighbouring region. It is not reassuring to see, on a closer glance, that most of the housesare deserted and falling to ruin, and that the broken-steepled church now harbours the one slovenlymercantile establishment of the hamlet. One dreads to trust the tenebrous tunnel of the bridge,yet there is no way to avoid it. Once across, it is hard to prevent the impression of a faint,malign odour about the village street, as of the massed mould and decay of centuries. It isalways a relief to get clear of the place, and to follow the narrow road around the base ofthe hills and across the level country beyond till it rejoins the Aylesbury pike. Afterwardone sometimes learns that one has been through Dunwich.

    Outsiders visit Dunwich as seldom as possible, and since a certain season ofhorror all the signboards pointing toward it have been taken down. The scenery, judged by anyordinary aesthetic canon, is more than commonly beautiful; yet there is no influx of artistsor summer tourists. Two centuries ago, when talk of witch-blood, Satan-worship, and strangeforest presences was not laughed at, it was the custom to give reasons for avoiding the locality.In our sensible age—since the Dunwich horror of 1928 was hushed up by those who had thetown’s and the world’s welfare at heart—people shun it without knowing exactlywhy. Perhaps one reason—though it cannot apply to uninformed strangers—is that thenatives are now repellently decadent, having gone far along that path of retrogression so commonin many New England backwaters. They have come to form a race by themselves, with the well-definedmental and physical stigmata of degeneracy and inbreeding. The average of their intelligenceis woefully low, whilst their annals reek of overt viciousness and of half-hidden murders, incests,and deeds of almost unnamable violence and perversity. The old gentry, representing the twoor three armigerous families which came from Salem in 1692, have kept somewhat above the generallevel of decay; though many branches are sunk into the sordid populace so deeply that only theirnames remain as a key to the origin they disgrace. Some of the Whateleys and Bishops still sendtheir eldest sons to Harvard and Miskatonic, though those sons seldom return to the moulderinggambrel roofs under which they and their ancestors were born.

    No one, even those who have the facts concerning the recent horror, can sayjust what is the matter with Dunwich; though old legends speak of unhallowed rites and conclavesof the Indians, amidst which they called forbidden shapes of shadow out of the great roundedhills, and made wild orgiastic prayers that were answered by loud crackings and rumblings fromthe ground below. In 1747 the Reverend Abijah Hoadley, newly come to the Congregational Churchat Dunwich Village, preached a memorable sermon on the close presence of Satan and his imps;in which he said:

    “It must be allow’d, that these Blasphemies of an infernall Trainof Daemons are Matters of too common Knowledge to be deny’d; the cursed Voices of Azazel and Buzrael, of Beelzebub and Belial, being heard now fromunder Ground by above a Score of credible Witnesses now living. I my self did not more than a Fortnight agocatch a very plain Discourse of evill Powers in the Hill behind my House; wherein there werea Rattling and Rolling, Groaning, Screeching, and Hissing, such as no Things of this Earth cou’draise up, and which must needs have come from those Caves that only black Magick can discover,and only the Divell unlock.”

    Mr. Hoadley disappeared soon after delivering this sermon; but the text, printedin Springfield, is still extant. Noises in the hills continued to be reported from year to year,and still form a puzzle to geologists and physiographers.

    Other traditions tell of foul odours near the hill-crowning circles of stonepillars, and of rushing airy presences to be heard faintly at certain hours from stated pointsat the bottom of the great ravines; while still others try to explain the Devil’s HopYard—a bleak, blasted hillside where no tree, shrub, or grass-blade will grow. Then too,the natives are mortally afraid of the numerous whippoorwills which grow vocal on warm nights.It is vowed that the birds are psychopomps lying in wait for the souls of the dying, and thatthey time their eerie cries in unison with the sufferer’s struggling breath. If they cancatch the fleeing soul when it leaves the body, they instantly flutter away chittering in daemoniaclaughter; but if they fail, they subside gradually into a disappointed silence.

    These tales, of course, are obsolete and ridiculous; because they come downfrom very old times. Dunwich is indeed ridiculously old—older by far than any of the communitieswithin thirty miles of it. South of the village one may still spy the cellar walls and chimneyof the ancient Bishop house, which was built before 1700; whilst the ruins of the mill at thefalls, built in 1806, form the most modern piece of architecture to be seen. Industry did notflourish here, and the nineteenth-century factory movement proved short-lived. Oldest of allare the great rings of rough-hewn stone columns on the hill-tops, but these are more generallyattributed to the Indians than to the settlers. Deposits of skulls and bones, found within thesecircles and around the sizeable table-like rock on Sentinel Hill, sustain the popular beliefthat such spots were once the burial-places of the Pocumtucks; even though many ethnologists,disregarding the absurd improbability of such a theory, persist in believing the remains Caucasian.

    Part II.

    It was in the township of Dunwich, in a large and partly inhabited farmhouse set against a hillsidefour miles from the village and a mile and a half from any other dwelling, that Wilbur Whateleywas born at 5 A.M. on Sunday, the second of February, 1913. This date was recalled because itwas Candlemas, which people in Dunwich curiously observe under another name; and because thenoises in the hills had sounded, and all the dogs of the countryside had barked persistently,throughout the night before. Less worthy of notice was the fact that the mother was one of thedecadent Whateleys, a somewhat deformed, unattractive albino woman of thirty-five, living withan aged and half-insane father about whom the most frightful tales of wizardry had been whisperedin his youth. Lavinia Whateley had no known husband, but according to the custom of the regionmade no attempt to disavow the child; concerning the other side of whose ancestry the countryfolk might—and did—speculate as widely as they chose. On the contrary, she seemedstrangely proud of the dark, goatish-looking infant who formed such a contrast to her own sicklyand pink-eyed albinism, and was heard to mutter many curious prophecies about its unusual powersand tremendous future.

    Lavinia was one who would be apt to mutter such things, for she was a lonecreature given to wandering amidst thunderstorms in the hills and trying to read the great odorousbooks which her father had inherited through two centuries of Whateleys, and which were fastfalling to pieces with age and worm-holes. She had never been to school, but was filled withdisjointed scraps of ancient lore that Old Whateley had taught her. The remote farmhouse hadalways been feared because of Old Whateley’s reputation for black magic, and the unexplaineddeath by violence of Mrs. Whateley when Lavinia was twelve years old had not helped to makethe place popular. Isolated among strange influences, Lavinia was fond of wild and grandioseday-dreams and singular occupations; nor was her leisure much taken up by household cares ina home from which all standards of order and cleanliness had long since disappeared.

    There was a hideous screaming which echoed above even the hill noises and thedogs’ barking on the night Wilbur was born, but no known doctor or midwife presided athis coming. Neighbours knew nothing of him till a week afterward, when Old Whateley drove hissleigh through the snow into Dunwich Village and discoursed incoherently to the group of loungersat Osborn’s general store. There seemed to be a change in the old man—an added elementof furtiveness in the clouded brain which subtly transformed him from an object to a subjectof fear—though he was not one to be perturbed by any common family event. Amidst it allhe shewed some trace of the pride later noticed in his daughter, and what he said of the child’spaternity was remembered by many of his hearers years afterward.

    “I dun’t keer what folks think—ef Lavinny’s boy lookedlike his pa, he wouldn’t look like nothin’ ye expeck. Ye needn’t think theonly folks is the folks hereabaouts. Lavinny’s read some, an’ has seed some thingsthe most o’ ye only tell abaout. I calc’late her man is as good a husban’as ye kin find this side of Aylesbury; an’ ef ye knowed as much abaout the hills as Idew, ye wouldn’t ast no better church weddin’ nor her’n. Let me tell ye suthin’— someday yew folks’ll hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’ its father’sname on the top o’ Sentinel Hill! “

    The only persons who saw Wilbur during the first month of his life were oldZechariah Whateley, of the undecayed Whateleys, and Earl Sawyer’s common-law wife, MamieBishop. Mamie’s visit was frankly one of curiosity, and her subsequent tales did justiceto her observations; but Zechariah came to lead a pair of Alderney cows which Old Whateley hadbought of his son Curtis. This marked the beginning of a course of cattle-buying on the partof small Wilbur’s family which ended only in 1928, when the Dunwich horror came and went;yet at no time did the ramshackle Whateley barn seem overcrowded with livestock. There camea period when people were curious enough to steal up and count the herd that grazed precariouslyon the steep hillside above the old farmhouse, and they could never find more than ten or twelveanaemic, bloodless-looking specimens. Evidently some blight or distemper, perhaps sprung fromthe unwholesome pasturage or the diseased fungi and timbers of the filthy barn, caused a heavymortality amongst the Whateley animals. Odd wounds or sores, having something of the aspectof incisions, seemed to afflict the visible cattle; and once or twice during the earlier monthscertain callers fancied they could discern similar sores about the throats of the grey, unshavenold man and his slatternly, crinkly-haired albino daughter.

    In the spring after Wilbur’s birth Lavinia resumed her customary ramblesin the hills, bearing in her misproportioned arms the swarthy child. Public interest in theWhateleys subsided after most of the country folk had seen the baby, and no one bothered tocomment on the swift development which that newcomer seemed every day to exhibit. Wilbur’sgrowth was indeed phenomenal, for within three months of his birth he had attained a size andmuscular power not usually found in infants under a full year of age. His motions and even hisvocal sounds shewed a restraint and deliberateness highly peculiar in an infant, and no onewas really unprepared when, at seven months, he began to walk unassisted, with falterings whichanother month was sufficient to remove.

    It was somewhat after this time—on Hallowe’en—that a greatblaze was seen at midnight on the top of Sentinel Hill where the old table-like stone standsamidst its tumulus of ancient bones. Considerable talk was started when Silas Bishop—ofthe undecayed Bishops—mentioned having seen the boy running sturdily up that hill aheadof his mother about an hour before the blaze was remarked. Silas was rounding up a stray heifer,but he nearly forgot his mission when he fleetingly spied the two figures in the dim light ofhis lantern. They darted almost noiselessly through the underbrush, and the astonished watcherseemed to think they were entirely unclothed. Afterward he could not be sure about the boy,who may have had some kind of a fringed belt and a pair of dark trunks or trousers on. Wilburwas never subsequently seen alive and conscious without complete and tightly buttoned attire,the disarrangement or threatened disarrangement of which always seemed to fill him with angerand alarm. His contrast with his squalid mother and grandfather in this respect was thoughtvery notable until the horror of 1928 suggested the most valid of reasons.

    The next January gossips were mildly interested in the fact that “Lavinny’sblack brat “ had commenced to talk, and at the age of only eleven months. His speech wassomewhat remarkable both because of its difference from the ordinary accents of the region,and because it displayed a freedom from infantile lisping of which many children of three orfour might well be proud. The boy was not talkative, yet when he spoke he seemed to reflectsome elusive element wholly unpossessed by Dunwich and its denizens. The strangeness did notreside in what he said, or even in the simple idioms he used; but seemed vaguely linked withhis intonation or with the internal organs that produced the spoken sounds. His facial aspect,too, was remarkable for its maturity; for though he shared his mother’s and grandfather’schinlessness, his firm and precociously shaped nose united with the expression of his large,dark, almost Latin eyes to give him an air of quasi-adulthood and well-nigh preternatural intelligence.He was, however, exceedingly ugly despite his appearance of brilliancy; there being somethingalmost goatish or animalistic about his thick lips, large-pored, yellowish skin, coarse crinklyhair, and oddly elongated ears. He was soon disliked even more decidedly than his mother andgrandsire, and all conjectures about him were spiced with references to the bygone magic ofOld Whateley, and how the hills once shook when he shrieked the dreadful name of Yog-Sothothin the midst of a circle of stones with a great book open in his arms before him. Dogs abhorredthe boy, and he was always obliged to take various defensive measures against their barkingmenace.

    Part III.

    Meanwhile Old Whateley continued to buy cattle without measurably increasing the size of hisherd. He also cut timber and began to repair the unused parts of his house—a spacious,peaked-roofed affair whose rear end was buried entirely in the rocky hillside, and whose threeleast-ruined ground-floor rooms had always been sufficient for himself and his daughter. Theremust have been prodigious reserves of strength in the old man to enable him to accomplish somuch hard labour; and though he still babbled dementedly at times, his carpentry seemed to shewthe effects of sound calculation. It had already begun as soon as Wilbur was born, when oneof the many tool-sheds had been put suddenly in order, clapboarded, and fitted with a stoutfresh lock. Now, in restoring the abandoned upper story of the house, he was a no less thoroughcraftsman. His mania shewed itself only in his tight boarding-up of all the windows in the reclaimedsection—though many declared that it was a crazy thing to bother with the reclamationat all. Less inexplicable was his fitting up of another downstairs room for his new grandson—aroom which several callers saw, though no one was ever admitted to the closely boarded upperstory. This chamber he lined with tall, firm shelving; along which he began gradually to arrange,in apparently careful order, all the rotting ancient books and parts of books which during hisown day had been heaped promiscuously in odd corners of the various rooms.

    “I made some use of ’em, “ he would say as he tried to menda torn black-letter page with paste prepared on the rusty kitchen stove, “but the boy’sfitten to make better use of ‘em. He’d orter hev ‘em as well sot as he kin,for they’re goin’ to be all of his larnin’. “

    When Wilbur was a year and seven months old—in September of 1914—hissize and accomplishments were almost alarming. He had grown as large as a child of four, andwas a fluent and incredibly intelligent talker. He ran freely about the fields and hills, andaccompanied his mother on all her wanderings. At home he would pore diligently over the queerpictures and charts in his grandfather’s books, while Old Whateley would instruct andcatechise him through long, hushed afternoons. By this time the restoration of the house wasfinished, and those who watched it wondered why one of the upper windows had been made intoa solid plank door. It was a window in the rear of the east gable end, close against the hill;and no one could imagine why a cleated wooden runway was built up to it from the ground. Aboutthe period of this work’s completion people noticed that the old tool-house, tightly lockedand windowlessly clapboarded since Wilbur’s birth, had been abandoned again. The doorswung listlessly open, and when Earl Sawyer once stepped within after a cattle-selling callon Old Whateley he was quite discomposed by the singular odour he encountered—such a stench,he averred, as he had never before smelt in all his life except near the Indian circles on thehills, and which could not come from anything sane or of this earth. But then, the homes andsheds of Dunwich folk have never been remarkable for olfactory immaculateness.

    The following months were void of visible events, save that everyone sworeto a slow but steady increase in the mysterious hill noises. On May-Eve of 1915 there were tremorswhich even the Aylesbury people felt, whilst the following Hallowe’en produced an undergroundrumbling queerly synchronised with bursts of flame— “them witch Whateleys’doin’s “—from the summit of Sentinel Hill. Wilbur was growing up uncannily,so that he looked like a boy of ten as he entered his fourth year. He read avidly by himselfnow; but talked much less than formerly. A settled taciturnity was absorbing him, and for thefirst time people began to speak specifically of the dawning look of evil in his goatish face.He would sometimes mutter an unfamiliar jargon, and chant in bizarre rhythms which chilled thelistener with a sense of unexplainable terror. The aversion displayed toward him by dogs hadnow become a matter of wide remark, and he was obliged to carry a pistol in order to traversethe countryside in safety. His occasional use of the weapon did not enhance his popularity amongstthe owners of canine guardians.

    The few callers at the house would often find Lavinia alone on the ground floor,while odd cries and footsteps resounded in the boarded-up second story. She would never tellwhat her father and the boy were doing up there, though once she turned pale and displayed anabnormal degree of fear when a jocose fish-peddler tried the locked door leading to the stairway.That peddler told the store loungers at Dunwich Village that he thought he heard a horse stampingon that floor above. The loungers reflected, thinking of the door and runway, and of the cattlethat so swiftly disappeared. Then they shuddered as they recalled tales of Old Whateley’syouth, and of the strange things that are called out of the earth when a bullock is sacrificedat the proper time to certain heathen gods. It had for some time been noticed that dogs hadbegun to hate and fear the whole Whateley place as violently as they hated and feared youngWilbur personally.

    In 1917 the war came, and Squire Sawyer Whateley, as chairman of the localdraft board, had hard work finding a quota of young Dunwich men fit even to be sent to a developmentcamp. The government, alarmed at such signs of wholesale regional decadence, sent several officersand medical experts to investigate; conducting a survey which New England newspaper readersmay still recall. It was the publicity attending this investigation which set reporters on thetrack of the Whateleys, and caused the Boston Globe and Arkham Advertiser to printflamboyant Sunday stories of young Wilbur’s precociousness, Old Whateley’s blackmagic, the shelves of strange books, the sealed second story of the ancient farmhouse, and theweirdness of the whole region and its hill noises. Wilbur was four and a half then, and lookedlike a lad of fifteen. His lips and cheeks were fuzzy with a coarse dark down, and his voicehad begun to break.

    Earl Sawyer went out to the Whateley place with both sets of reporters andcamera men, and called their attention to the queer stench which now seemed to trickle downfrom the sealed upper spaces. It was, he said, exactly like a smell he had found in the tool-shedabandoned when the house was finally repaired; and like the faint odours which he sometimesthought he caught near the stone circles on the mountains. Dunwich folk read the stories whenthey appeared, and grinned over the obvious mistakes. They wondered, too, why the writers madeso much of the fact that Old Whateley always paid for his cattle in gold pieces of extremelyancient date. The Whateleys had received their visitors with ill-concealed distaste, thoughthey did not dare court further publicity by a violent resistance or refusal to talk.

    Part IV.

    For a decade the annals of the Whateleys sink indistinguishably into the general life of a morbidcommunity used to their queer ways and hardened to their May-Eve and All-Hallows orgies. Twicea year they would light fires on the top of Sentinel Hill, at which times the mountain rumblingswould recur with greater and greater violence; while at all seasons there were strange and portentousdoings at the lonely farmhouse. In the course of time callers professed to hear sounds in thesealed upper story even when all the family were downstairs, and they wondered how swiftly orhow lingeringly a cow or bullock was usually sacrificed. There was talk of a complaint to theSociety for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; but nothing ever came of it, since Dunwichfolk are never anxious to call the outside world’s attention to themselves.

    About 1923, when Wilbur was a boy of ten whose mind, voice, stature, and beardedface gave all the impressions of maturity, a second great siege of carpentry went on at theold house. It was all inside the sealed upper part, and from bits of discarded lumber peopleconcluded that the youth and his grandfather had knocked out all the partitions and even removedthe attic floor, leaving only one vast open void between the ground story and the peaked roof.They had torn down the great central chimney, too, and fitted the rusty range with a flimsyoutside tin stovepipe.

    In the spring after this event Old Whateley noticed the growing number of whippoorwillsthat would come out of Cold Spring Glen to chirp under his window at night. He seemed to regardthe circ*mstance as one of great significance, and told the loungers at Osborn’s thathe thought his time had almost come.

    “They whistle jest in tune with my breathin’ naow, “ he said,“an’ I guess they’re gittin’ ready to ketch my soul. They know it’sa-goin’ aout, an’ dun’t calc’late to miss it. Yew’ll know, boys,arter I’m gone, whether they git me er not. Ef they dew, they’ll keep up a-singin’an’ laffin’ till break o’ day. Ef they dun’t they’ll kinder quietdaown like. I expeck them an’ the souls they hunts fer hev some pretty tough tussles sometimes. “

    On Lammas Night, 1924, Dr. Houghton of Aylesbury was hastily summoned by WilburWhateley, who had lashed his one remaining horse through the darkness and telephoned from Osborn’sin the village. He found Old Whateley in a very grave state, with a cardiac action and stertorousbreathing that told of an end not far off. The shapeless albino daughter and oddly bearded grandsonstood by the bedside, whilst from the vacant abyss overhead there came a disquieting suggestionof rhythmical surging or lapping, as of the waves on some level beach. The doctor, though, waschiefly disturbed by the chattering night birds outside; a seemingly limitless legion of whippoorwillsthat cried their endless message in repetitions timed diabolically to the wheezing gasps ofthe dying man. It was uncanny and unnatural—too much, thought Dr. Houghton, like the wholeof the region he had entered so reluctantly in response to the urgent call.

    Toward one o’clock Old Whateley gained consciousness, and interruptedhis wheezing to choke out a few words to his grandson.

    “More space, Willy, more space soon. Yew grows—an’ thatgrows faster. It’ll be ready to sarve ye soon, boy. Open up the gates to Yog-Sothoth withthe long chant that ye’ll find on page 751 of the complete edition, an’
    then put a match to the prison. Fire from airth can’t burn it nohaow. “

    He was obviously quite mad. After a pause, during which the flock of whippoorwillsoutside adjusted their cries to the altered tempo while some indications of the strange hillnoises came from afar off, he added another sentence or two.

    “Feed it reg’lar, Willy, an’ mind the quantity; but dun’tlet it grow too fast fer the place, fer ef it busts quarters or gits aout afore ye opens toYog-Sothoth, it’s all over an’ no use. Only them from beyont kin make it multiplyan’ work. . . . Only them, the old uns as wants to come back. . . . “

    But speech gave place to gasps again, and Lavinia screamed at the way the whippoorwillsfollowed the change. It was the same for more than an hour, when the final throaty rattle came.Dr. Houghton drew shrunken lids over the glazing grey eyes as the tumult of birds faded imperceptiblyto silence. Lavinia sobbed, but Wilbur only chuckled whilst the hill noises rumbled faintly.

    “They didn’t git him, “ he muttered in his heavy bass voice.

    Wilbur was by this time a scholar of really tremendous erudition in his one-sidedway, and was quietly known by correspondence to many librarians in distant places where rareand forbidden books of old days are kept. He was more and more hated and dreaded around Dunwichbecause of certain youthful disappearances which suspicion laid vaguely at his door; but wasalways able to silence inquiry through fear or through use of that fund of old-time gold whichstill, as in his grandfather’s time, went forth regularly and increasingly for cattle-buying.He was now tremendously mature of aspect, and his height, having reached the normal adult limit,seemed inclined to wax beyond that figure. In 1925, when a scholarly correspondent from MiskatonicUniversity called upon him one day and departed pale and puzzled, he was fully six and three-quartersfeet tall.

    Through all the years Wilbur had treated his half-deformed albino mother witha growing contempt, finally forbidding her to go to the hills with him on May-Eve and Hallowmass;and in 1926 the poor creature complained to Mamie Bishop of being afraid of him.

    “They’s more abaout him as I knows than I kin tell ye, Mamie, “she said, “an’ naowadays they’s more nor what I know myself. I vaow afur Gawd,I dun’t know what he wants nor what he’s a-tryin’ to dew. “

    That Hallowe’en the hill noises sounded louder than ever, and fire burnedon Sentinel Hill as usual; but people paid more attention to the rhythmical screaming of vastflocks of unnaturally belated whippoorwills which seemed to be assembled near the unlightedWhateley farmhouse. After midnight their shrill notes burst into a kind of pandaemoniac cachinnationwhich filled all the countryside, and not until dawn did they finally quiet down. Then theyvanished, hurrying southward where they were fully a month overdue. What this meant, no onecould quite be certain till later. None of the country folk seemed to have died—but poorLavinia Whateley, the twisted albino, was never seen again.

    In the summer of 1927 Wilbur repaired two sheds in the farmyard and began movinghis books and effects out to them. Soon afterward Earl Sawyer told the loungers at Osborn’sthat more carpentry was going on in the Whateley farmhouse. Wilbur was closing all the doorsand windows on the ground floor, and seemed to be taking out partitions as he and his grandfatherhad done upstairs four years before. He was living in one of the sheds, and Sawyer thought heseemed unusually worried and tremulous. People generally suspected him of knowing somethingabout his mother’s disappearance, and very few ever approached his neighbourhood now.His height had increased to more than seven feet, and shewed no signs of ceasing its development.

    Part V.

    The following winter brought an event no less strange than Wilbur’s first trip outsidethe Dunwich region. Correspondence with the Widener Library at Harvard, the Bibliothèque Nationalein Paris, the British Museum, the University of Buenos Ayres, and the Library of MiskatonicUniversity of Arkham had failed to get him the loan of a book he desperately wanted; so at lengthhe set out in person, shabby, dirty, bearded, and uncouth of dialect, to consult the copy atMiskatonic, which was the nearest to him geographically. Almost eight feet tall, and carryinga cheap new valise from Osborn’s general store, this dark and goatish gargoyle appearedone day in Arkham in quest of the dreaded volume kept under lock and key at the college library—thehideous Necronomicon of the mad Arab Abdul Alhazred in Olaus Wormius’ Latin version,as printed in Spain in the seventeenth century. He had never seen a city before, but had nothought save to find his way to the university grounds; where, indeed, he passed heedlesslyby the great white-fanged watchdog that barked with unnatural fury and enmity, and tugged franticallyat its stout chain.

    Wilbur had with him the priceless but imperfect copy of Dr. Dee’s Englishversion which his grandfather had bequeathed him, and upon receiving access to the Latin copyhe at once began to collate the two texts with the aim of discovering a certain passage whichwould have come on the 751st page of his own defective volume. This much he could not civillyrefrain from telling the librarian—the same erudite Henry Armitage (A.M. Miskatonic, Ph.D. Princeton, Litt. D. Johns Hopkins) who had once called at the farm, and who now politelyplied him with questions. He was looking, he had to admit, for a kind of formula or incantationcontaining the frightful name Yog-Sothoth, and it puzzled him to find discrepancies,duplications, and ambiguities which made the matter of determination far from easy. As he copiedthe formula he finally chose, Dr. Armitage looked involuntarily over his shoulder at the openpages; the left-hand one of which, in the Latin version, contained such monstrous threats tothe peace and sanity of the world.

    “Nor is it to be thought”, ran the text as Armitage mentally translatedit, “that man is either the oldest or the last of earth’s masters, or that the commonbulk of life and substance walks alone. The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Onesshall be. Not in the spaces we know, but between them, They walk serene and primal, undimensionedand to us unseen. Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothothis the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again.He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and whyno one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes know Them near, but ofTheir semblance can no man know, saving only in the features of those They have begottenon mankind; and of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man’s truesteidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is Them. They walk unseen andfoul in lonely places where the Words have been spoken and the Rites howled through at theirSeasons. The wind gibbers with Their voices, and the earth mutters with Their consciousness.They bend the forest and crush the city, yet may not forest or city behold the hand that smites.Kadath in the cold waste hath known Them, and what man knows Kadath? The ice desert of the Southand the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones whereon Their seal is engraven, but who hath seenthe deep frozen city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles? Great Cthulhuis Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. Iä! Shub-Niggurath! As a foulnessshall ye know Them. Their hand is at your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitationis even one with your guarded threshold. Yog-Sothoth is the key to the gate, wherebythe spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They shall soon rule where man rulesnow. After summer is winter, and after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for hereshall They reign again.”

    Dr. Armitage, associating what he was reading with what he had heard of Dunwichand its brooding presences, and of Wilbur Whateley and his dim, hideous aura that stretchedfrom a dubious birth to a cloud of probable matricide, felt a wave of fright as tangible asa draught of the tomb’s cold clamminess. The bent, goatish giant before him seemed likethe spawn of another planet or dimension; like something only partly of mankind, and linkedto black gulfs of essence and entity that stretch like titan phantasms beyond all spheres offorce and matter, space and time. Presently Wilbur raised his head and began speaking in thatstrange, resonant fashion which hinted at sound-producing organs unlike the run of mankind’s.

    “Mr. Armitage”, he said, “I calc’late I’ve gotto take that book home. They’s things in it I’ve got to try under sarten conditionsthat I can’t git here, an’ it ‘ud be a mortal sin to let a red-tape rule holdme up. Let me take it along, Sir, an’ I’ll swar they wun’t nobody know thedifference. I dun’t need to tell ye I’ll take good keer of it. It wa’n’tme that put this Dee copy in the shape it is. . . .”

    He stopped as he saw firm denial on the librarian’s face, and his owngoatish features grew crafty. Armitage, half-ready to tell him he might make a copy of whatparts he needed, thought suddenly of the possible consequences and checked himself. There wastoo much responsiblity in giving such a being the key to such blasphemous outer spheres. Whateleysaw how things stood, and tried to answer lightly.

    “Wal, all right, ef ye feel that way abaout it. Maybe Harvard wun’tbe so fussy as yew be.” And without saying more he rose and strode out of the building,stooping at each doorway.

    Armitage heard the savage yelping of the great watchdog, and studied Whateley’sgorilla-like lope as he crossed the bit of campus visible from the window. He thought of thewild tales he had heard, and recalled the old Sunday stories in the Advertiser; thesethings, and the lore he had picked up from Dunwich rustics and villagers during his one visitthere. Unseen things not of earth—or at least not of tri-dimensional earth—rushedfoetid and horrible through New England’s glens, and brooded obscenely on the mountain-tops.Of this he had long felt certain. Now he seemed to sense the close presence of some terriblepart of the intruding horror, and to glimpse a hellish advance in the black dominion of theancient and once passive nightmare. He locked away the Necronomicon with a shudder ofdisgust, but the room still reeked with an unholy and unidentifiable stench. “As a foulnessshall ye know them, “ he quoted. Yes—the odour was the same as that which had sickenedhim at the Whateley farmhouse less than three years before. He thought of Wilbur, goatish andominous, once again, and laughed mockingly at the village rumours of his parentage.

    “Inbreeding?” Armitage muttered half-aloud to himself. “GreatGod, what simpletons! Shew them Arthur Machen’s Great God Pan and they’ll thinkit a common Dunwich scandal! But what thing—what cursed shapeless influence on or offthis three-dimensioned earth—was Wilbur Whateley’s father? Born on Candlemas—ninemonths after May-Eve of 1912, when the talk about the queer earth noises reached clear to Arkham—What walked on the mountains that May-Night? What Roodmas horror fastened itself on the worldin half-human flesh and blood?”

    During the ensuing weeks Dr. Armitage set about to collect all possible dataon Wilbur Whateley and the formless presences around Dunwich. He got in communication with Dr.Houghton of Aylesbury, who had attended Old Whateley in his last illness, and found much toponder over in the grandfather’s last words as quoted by the physician. A visit to DunwichVillage failed to bring out much that was new; but a close survey of the Necronomicon,in those parts which Wilbur had sought so avidly, seemed to supply new and terrible clues tothe nature, methods, and desires of the strange evil so vaguely threatening this planet. Talkswith several students of archaic lore in Boston, and letters to many others elsewhere, gavehim a growing amazement which passed slowly through varied degrees of alarm to a state of reallyacute spiritual fear. As the summer drew on he felt dimly that something ought to be done aboutthe lurking terrors of the upper Miskatonic valley, and about the monstrous being known to thehuman world as Wilbur Whateley.

    Part VI.

    The Dunwich horror itself came between Lammas and the equinox in 1928, and Dr. Armitage wasamong those who witnessed its monstrous prologue. He had heard, meanwhile, of Whateley’sgrotesque trip to Cambridge, and of his frantic efforts to borrow or copy from the Necronomiconat the Widener Library. Those efforts had been in vain, since Armitage had issued warnings ofthe keenest intensity to all librarians having charge of the dreaded volume. Wilbur had beenshockingly nervous at Cambridge; anxious for the book, yet almost equally anxious to get homeagain, as if he feared the results of being away long.

    Early in August the half-expected outcome developed, and in the small hoursof the 3d Dr. Armitage was awakened suddenly by the wild, fierce cries of the savage watchdogon the college campus. Deep and terrible, the snarling, half-mad growls and barks continued;always in mounting volume, but with hideously significant pauses. Then there rang out a screamfrom a wholly different throat—such a scream as roused half the sleepers of Arkham andhaunted their dreams ever afterward—such a scream as could come from no being born ofearth, or wholly of earth.

    Armitage, hastening into some clothing and rushing across the street and lawnto the college buildings, saw that others were ahead of him; and heard the echoes of a burglar-alarmstill shrilling from the library. An open window shewed black and gaping in the moonlight. Whathad come had indeed completed its entrance; for the barking and the screaming, now fast fadinginto a mixed low growling and moaning, proceeded unmistakably from within. Some instinct warnedArmitage that what was taking place was not a thing for unfortified eyes to see, so he brushedback the crowd with authority as he unlocked the vestibule door. Among the others he saw ProfessorWarren Rice and Dr. Francis Morgan, men to whom he had told some of his conjectures and misgivings;and these two he motioned to accompany him inside. The inward sounds, except for a watchful,droning whine from the dog, had by this time quite subsided; but Armitage now perceived witha sudden start that a loud chorus of whippoorwills among the shrubbery had commenced a damnablyrhythmical piping, as if in unison with the last breaths of a dying man.

    The building was full of a frightful stench which Dr. Armitage knew too well,and the three men rushed across the hall to the small genealogical reading-room whence the lowwhining came. For a second nobody dared to turn on the light, then Armitage summoned up hiscourage and snapped the switch. One of the three—it is not certain which—shriekedaloud at what sprawled before them among disordered tables and overturned chairs. ProfessorRice declares that he wholly lost consciousness for an instant, though he did not stumble orfall.

    The thing that lay half-bent on its side in a foetid pool of greenish-yellowichor and tarry stickiness was almost nine feet tall, and the dog had torn off all the clothingand some of the skin. It was not quite dead, but twitched silently and spasmodically while itschest heaved in monstrous unison with the mad piping of the expectant whippoorwills outside.Bits of shoe-leather and fragments of apparel were scattered about the room, and just insidethe window an empty canvas sack lay where it had evidently been thrown. Near the central deska revolver had fallen, a dented but undischarged cartridge later explaining why it had not beenfired. The thing itself, however, crowded out all other images at the time. It would be triteand not wholly accurate to say that no human pen could describe it, but one may properly saythat it could not be vividly visualised by anyone whose ideas of aspect and contour are tooclosely bound up with the common life-forms of this planet and of the three known dimensions.It was partly human, beyond a doubt, with very man-like hands and head, and the goatish, chinlessface had the stamp of the Whateleys upon it. But the torso and lower parts of the body wereteratologically fabulous, so that only generous clothing could ever have enabled it to walkon earth unchallenged or uneradicated.

    Above the waist it was semi-anthropomorphic; though its chest, where the dog’srending paws still rested watchfully, had the leathery, reticulated hide of a crocodile or alligator.The back was piebald with yellow and black, and dimly suggested the squamous covering of certainsnakes. Below the waist, though, it was the worst; for here all human resemblance left off andsheer phantasy began. The skin was thickly covered with coarse black fur, and from the abdomena score of long greenish-grey tentacles with red sucking mouths protruded limply. Their arrangementwas odd, and seemed to follow the symmetries of some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or thesolar system. On each of the hips, deep set in a kind of pinkish, ciliated orbit, was what seemedto be a rudimentary eye; whilst in lieu of a tail there depended a kind of trunk or feeler withpurple annular markings, and with many evidences of being an undeveloped mouth or throat. Thelimbs, save for their black fur, roughly resembled the hind legs of prehistoric earth’sgiant saurians; and terminated in ridgy-veined pads that were neither hooves nor claws. Whenthe thing breathed, its tail and tentacles rhythmically changed colour, as if from some circulatorycause normal to the non-human side of its ancestry. In the tentacles this was observable asa deepening of the greenish tinge, whilst in the tail it was manifest as a yellowish appearancewhich alternated with a sickly greyish-white in the spaces between the purple rings. Of genuineblood there was none; only the foetid greenish-yellow ichor which trickled along the paintedfloor beyond the radius of the stickiness, and left a curious discolouration behind it.

    As the presence of the three men seemed to rouse the dying thing, it beganto mumble without turning or raising its head. Dr. Armitage made no written record of its mouthings,but asserts confidently that nothing in English was uttered. At first the syllables defied allcorrelation with any speech of earth, but toward the last there came some disjointed fragmentsevidently taken from the Necronomicon, that monstrous blasphemy in quest of which thething had perished. These fragments, as Armitage recalls them, ran something like “N’gai,n’gha’ghaa, bugg-shoggog, y’hah; Yog-Sothoth, Yog-Sothoth. . . . “They trailed off into nothingness as the whippoorwills shrieked in rhythmical crescendoes ofunholy anticipation.

    Then came a halt in the gasping, and the dog raised its head in a long, lugubrioushowl. A change came over the yellow, goatish face of the prostrate thing, and the great blackeyes fell in appallingly. Outside the window the shrilling of the whippoorwills had suddenlyceased, and above the murmurs of the gathering crowd there came the sound of a panic-struckwhirring and fluttering. Against the moon vast clouds of feathery watchers rose and raced fromsight, frantic at that which they had sought for prey.

    All at once the dog started up abruptly, gave a frightened bark, and leapednervously out of the window by which it had entered. A cry rose from the crowd, and Dr. Armitageshouted to the men outside that no one must be admitted till the police or medical examinercame. He was thankful that the windows were just too high to permit of peering in, and drewthe dark curtains carefully down over each one. By this time two policemen had arrived; andDr. Morgan, meeting them in the vestibule, was urging them for their own sakes to postpone entranceto the stench-filled reading-room till the examiner came and the prostrate thing could be coveredup.

    Meanwhile frightful changes were taking place on the floor. One need not describethe kind and rate of shrinkage and disintegration that occurred before the eyesof Dr. Armitage and Professor Rice; but it is permissible to say that, aside from the externalappearance of face and hands, the really human element in Wilbur Whateley must have been verysmall. When the medical examiner came, there was only a sticky whitish mass on the painted boards,and the monstrous odour had nearly disappeared. Apparently Whateley had had no skull or bonyskeleton; at least, in any true or stable sense. He had taken somewhat after his unknown father.

    Part VII.

    Yet all this was only the prologue of the actual Dunwich horror. Formalities were gone throughby bewildered officials, abnormal details were duly kept from press and public, and men weresent to Dunwich and Aylesbury to look up property and notify any who might be heirs of the lateWilbur Whateley. They found the countryside in great agitation, both because of the growingrumblings beneath the domed hills, and because of the unwonted stench and the surging, lappingsounds which came increasingly from the great empty shell formed by Whateley’s boarded-upfarmhouse. Earl Sawyer, who tended the horse and cattle during Wilbur’s absence, had developeda woefully acute case of nerves. The officials devised excuses not to enter the noisome boardedplace; and were glad to confine their survey of the deceased’s living quarters, the newlymended sheds, to a single visit. They filed a ponderous report at the court-house in Aylesbury,and litigations concerning heirship are said to be still in progress amongst the innumerableWhateleys, decayed and undecayed, of the upper Miskatonic valley.

    An almost interminable manuscript in strange characters, written in a hugeledger and adjudged a sort of diary because of the spacing and the variations in ink and penmanship,presented a baffling puzzle to those who found it on the old bureau which served as its owner’sdesk. After a week of debate it was sent to Miskatonic University, together with the deceased’scollection of strange books, for study and possible translation; but even the best linguistssoon saw that it was not likely to be unriddled with ease. No trace of the ancient gold withwhich Wilbur and Old Whateley always paid their debts has yet been discovered.

    It was in the dark of September 9th that the horror broke loose. The hill noiseshad been very pronounced during the evening, and dogs barked frantically all night. Early riserson the 10th noticed a peculiar stench in the air. About seven o’clock Luther Brown, thehired boy at George Corey’s, between Cold Spring Glen and the village, rushed frenziedlyback from his morning trip to Ten-Acre Meadow with the cows. He was almost convulsed with frightas he stumbled into the kitchen; and in the yard outside the no less frightened herd were pawingand lowing pitifully, having followed the boy back in the panic they shared with him. Betweengasps Luther tried to stammer out his tale to Mrs. Corey.

    “Up thar in the rud beyont the glen, Mis’ Corey—they’ssuthin’ ben thar! It smells like thunder, an’ all the bushes an’ little treesis pushed back from the rud like they’d a haouse ben moved along of it. An’ thatain’t the wust, nuther. They’s prints in the rud, Mis’ Corey—greatraound prints as big as barrel-heads, all sunk daown deep like a elephant had ben along,
    only they’s a sight more nor four feet could make! I looked at one or two afore Irun, an’ I see every one was covered with lines spreadin’ aout from one place, likeas if big palm-leaf fans—twict or three times as big as any they is—hed of ben paoundeddaown into the rud. An’ the smell was awful, like what it is araound Wizard Whateley’sol’ haouse. . . . “

    Here he faltered, and seemed to shiver afresh with the fright that had senthim flying home. Mrs. Corey, unable to extract more information, began telephoning the neighbours;thus starting on its rounds the overture of panic that heralded the major terrors. When she gotSally Sawyer, housekeeper at Seth Bishop’s, the nearest place to Whateley’s, itbecame her turn to listen instead of transmit; for Sally’s boy Chauncey, who slept poorly,had been up on the hill toward Whateley’s, and had dashed back in terror after one lookat the place, and at the pasturage where Mr. Bishop’s cows had been left out all night.

    “Yes, Mis’ Corey”*, came Sally’s tremulous voice overthe party wire, “Cha’ncey he just come back a-postin’, and couldn’thaff talk fer bein’ scairt! He says Ol’ Whateley’s haouse is all blowed up,with the timbers scattered raound like they’d ben dynamite inside; only the bottom floorain’t through, but is all covered with a kind o’ tar-like stuff that smells awfulan’ drips daown offen the aidges onto the graoun’ whar the side timbers is blownaway. An’ they’s awful kinder marks in the yard, tew—great raound marks biggerraound than a hogshead, an’ all sticky with stuff like is on the blowed-up haouse. Cha’nceyhe says they leads off into the medders, whar a great swath wider’n a barn is matted daown,an’ all the stun walls tumbled every whichway wherever it goes.”

    “An’ he says, says he, Mis’ Corey, as haow he sot to lookfer Seth’s caows, frighted ez he was; an’ faound ‘em in the upper pasturenigh the Devil’s Hop Yard in an awful shape. Haff on ‘em’s clean gone, an’nigh haff o’ them that’s left is sucked most dry o’ blood, with sores on ’emlike they’s ben on Whateley’s cattle ever senct Lavinny’s black brat was born.Seth he’s gone aout naow to look at ’em, though I’ll vaow he wun’t keerter git very nigh Wizard Whateley’s! Cha’ncey didn’t look keerful ter seewhar the big matted-daown swath led arter it leff the pasturage, but he says he thinks it p’intedtowards the glen rud to the village.”

    “I tell ye, Mis’ Corey, they’s suthin’ abroad as hadn’torter be abroad, an’ I for one think that black Wilbur Whateley, as come to the bad eendhe desarved, is at the bottom of the breedin’ of it. He wa’n’t all human hisself,I allus says to everybody; an’ I think he an’ Ol’ Whateley must a raised suthin’in that there nailed-up haouse as ain’t even so human as he was. They’s allus benunseen things araound Dunwich—livin’ things—as ain’t human an’ain’t good fer human folks.”

    “The graoun’ was a-talkin’ lass night, an’ towardsmornin’ Cha’ncey he heerd the whippoorwills so laoud in Col’ Spring Glen hecouldn’t sleep nun. Then he thought he heerd another faint-like saound over towards WizardWhateley’s—a kinder rippin’ or tearin’ o’ wood, like some bigbox er crate was bein’ opened fur off. What with this an’ that, he didn’tgit to sleep at all till sunup, an’ no sooner was he up this mornin’, but he’sgot to go over to Whateley’s an’ see what’s the matter. He see enough, I tellye, Mis’ Corey! This dun’t mean no good, an’ I think as all the men-folksought to git up a party an’ do suthin’. I know suthin’ awful’s abaout,an’ feel my time is nigh, though only Gawd knows jest what it is.”

    “Did your Luther take accaount o’ whar them big tracks led tew?No? Wal, Mis’ Corey, ef they was on the glen rud this side o’ the glen, an’ain’t got to your haouse yet, I calc’late they must go into the glen itself. Theywould do that. I allus says Col’ Spring Glen ain’t no healthy nor decent place.The whippoorwills an’ fireflies there never did act like they was creaters o’ Gawd,an’ they’s them as says ye kin hear strange things a-rushin’ an’ a-talkin’in the air daown thar ef ye stand in the right place, atween the rock falls an’ Bear’sDen.”

    By that noon fully three-quarters of the men and boys of Dunwich were troopingover the roads and meadows between the new-made Whateley ruins and Cold Spring Glen, examiningin horror the vast, monstrous prints, the maimed Bishop cattle, the strange, noisome wreck ofthe farmhouse, and the bruised, matted vegetation of the fields and roadsides. Whatever hadburst loose upon the world had assuredly gone down into the great sinister ravine; for all thetrees on the banks were bent and broken, and a great avenue had been gouged in the precipice-hangingunderbrush. It was as though a house, launched by an avalanche, had slid down through the tangledgrowths of the almost vertical slope. From below no sound came, but only a distant, undefinablefoetor; and it is not to be wondered at that the men preferred to stay on the edge and argue,rather than descend and beard the unknown Cyclopean horror in its lair. Three dogs that werewith the party had barked furiously at first, but seemed cowed and reluctant when near the glen.Someone telephoned the news to the Aylesbury Transcript; but the editor, accustomed towild tales from Dunwich, did no more than concoct a humorous paragraph about it; an item soonafterward reproduced by the Associated Press.

    That night everyone went home, and every house and barn was barricaded as stoutlyas possible. Needless to say, no cattle were allowed to remain in open pasturage. About twoin the morning a frightful stench and the savage barking of the dogs awakened the householdat Elmer Frye’s, on the eastern edge of Cold Spring Glen, and all agreed that they couldhear a sort of muffled swishing or lapping sound from somewhere outside. Mrs. Frye proposedtelephoning the neighbours, and Elmer was about to agree when the noise of splintering woodburst in upon their deliberations. It came, apparently, from the barn; and was quickly followedby a hideous screaming and stamping amongst the cattle. The dogs slavered and crouched closeto the feet of the fear-numbed family. Frye lit a lantern through force of habit, but knew itwould be death to go out into that black farmyard. The children and the womenfolk whimpered,kept from screaming by some obscure, vestigial instinct of defence which told them their livesdepended on silence. At last the noise of the cattle subsided to a pitiful moaning, and a greatsnapping, crashing, and crackling ensued. The Fryes, huddled together in the sitting-room, didnot dare to move until the last echoes died away far down in Cold Spring Glen. Then, amidstthe dismal moans from the stable and the daemoniac piping of late whippoorwills in the glen,Selina Frye tottered to the telephone and spread what news she could of the second phase ofthe horror.

    The next day all the countryside was in a panic; and cowed, uncommunicativegroups came and went where the fiendish thing had occurred. Two titan swaths of destructionstretched from the glen to the Frye farmyard, monstrous prints covered the bare patches of ground,and one side of the old red barn had completely caved in. Of the cattle, only a quarter couldbe found and identified. Some of these were in curious fragments, and all that survived hadto be shot. Earl Sawyer suggested that help be asked from Aylesbury or Arkham, but others maintainedit would be of no use. Old Zebulon Whateley, of a branch that hovered about half way betweensoundness and decadence, made darkly wild suggestions about rites that ought to be practicedon the hill-tops. He came of a line where tradition ran strong, and his memories of chantingsin the great stone circles were not altogether connected with Wilbur and his grandfather.

    Darkness fell upon a stricken countryside too passive to organise for realdefence. In a few cases closely related families would band together and watch in the gloomunder one roof; but in general there was only a repetition of the barricading of the night before,and a futile, ineffective gesture of loading muskets and setting pitchforks handily about. Nothing,however, occurred except some hill noises; and when the day came there were many who hoped thatthe new horror had gone as swiftly as it had come. There were even bold souls who proposed anoffensive expedition down in the glen, though they did not venture to set an actual exampleto the still reluctant majority.

    When night came again the barricading was repeated, though there was less huddlingtogether of families. In the morning both the Frye and the Seth Bishop households reported excitementamong the dogs and vague sounds and stenches from afar, while early explorers noted with horrora fresh set of the monstrous tracks in the road skirting Sentinel Hill. As before, the sidesof the road shewed a bruising indicative of the blasphemously stupendous bulk of the horror;whilst the conformation of the tracks seemed to argue a passage in two directions, as if themoving mountain had come from Cold Spring Glen and returned to it along the same path. At thebase of the hill a thirty-foot swath of crushed shrubbery saplings led steeply upward, and theseekers gasped when they saw that even the most perpendicular places did not deflect the inexorabletrail. Whatever the horror was, it could scale a sheer stony cliff of almost complete verticality;and as the investigators climbed around to the hill’s summit by safer routes they sawthat the trail ended—or rather, reversed—there.

    It was here that the Whateleys used to build their hellish fires and chanttheir hellish rituals by the table-like stone on May-Eve and Hallowmass. Now that very stoneformed the centre of a vast space thrashed around by the mountainous horror, whilst upon itsslightly concave surface was a thick and foetid deposit of the same tarry stickiness observedon the floor of the ruined Whateley farmhouse when the horror escaped. Men looked at one anotherand muttered. Then they looked down the hill. Apparently the horror had descended by a routemuch the same as that of its ascent. To speculate was futile. Reason, logic, and normal ideasof motivation stood confounded. Only old Zebulon, who was not with the group, could have donejustice to the situation or suggested a plausible explanation.

    Thursday night began much like the others, but it ended less happily. The whippoorwillsin the glen had screamed with such unusual persistence that many could not sleep, and about3 A.M. all the party telephones rang tremulously. Those who took down their receivers hearda fright-mad voice shriek out, “Help, oh, my Gawd! . . .” and some thoughta crashing sound followed the breaking off of the exclamation. There was nothing more. No onedared do anything, and no one knew till morning whence the call came. Then those who had heardit called everyone on the line, and found that only the Fryes did not reply. The truth appearedan hour later, when a hastily assembled group of armed men trudged out to the Frye place atthe head of the glen. It was horrible, yet hardly a surprise. There were more swaths and monstrousprints, but there was no longer any house. It had caved in like an egg-shell, and amongst theruins nothing living or dead could be discovered. Only a stench and a tarry stickiness. TheElmer Fryes had been erased from Dunwich.

    Part VIII.

    In the meantime a quieter yet even more spiritually poignant phase of the horror had been blacklyunwinding itself behind the closed door of a shelf-lined room in Arkham. The curious manuscriptrecord or diary of Wilbur Whateley, delivered to Miskatonic University for translation, hadcaused much worry and bafflement among the experts in languages both ancient and modern; itsvery alphabet, notwithstanding a general resemblance to the heavily shaded Arabic used in Mesopotamia,being absolutely unknown to any available authority. The final conclusion of the linguists wasthat the text represented an artificial alphabet, giving the effect of a cipher; though noneof the usual methods of cryptographic solution seemed to furnish any clue, even when appliedon the basis of every tongue the writer might conceivably have used. The ancient books takenfrom Whateley’s quarters, while absorbingly interesting and in several cases promisingto open up new and terrible lines of research among philosophers and men of science, were ofno assistance whatever in this matter. One of them, a heavy tome with an iron clasp, was inanother unknown alphabet—this one of a very different cast, and resembling Sanscrit morethan anything else. The old ledger was at length given wholly into the charge of Dr. Armitage,both because of his peculiar interest in the Whateley matter, and because of his wide linguisticlearning and skill in the mystical formulae of antiquity and the Middle Ages.

    Armitage had an idea that the alphabet might be something esoterically usedby certain forbidden cults which have come down from old times, and which have inherited manyforms and traditions from the wizards of the Saracenic world. That question, however, he didnot deem vital; since it would be unnecessary to know the origin of the symbols if, as he suspected,they were used as a cipher in a modern language. It was his belief that, considering the greatamount of text involved, the writer would scarcely have wished the trouble of using anotherspeech than his own, save perhaps in certain special formulae and incantations. Accordinglyhe attacked the manuscript with the preliminary assumption that the bulk of it was in English.

    Dr. Armitage knew, from the repeated failures of his colleagues, that the riddlewas a deep and complex one; and that no simple mode of solution could merit even a trial. Allthrough late August he fortified himself with the massed lore of cryptography; drawing uponthe fullest resources of his own library, and wading night after night amidst the arcana ofTrithemius’ Poligraphia, Giambattista Porta’s De Furtivis Literarum Notis,De Vigenère’s Traité des Chiffres, Falconer’s CryptomenysisPatefacta, Davys’ and Thicknesse’s eighteenth-century treatises, and such fairlymodern authorities as Blair, von Marten, and Klüber’s Kryptographik. He interspersedhis study of the books with attacks on the manuscript itself, and in time became convinced thathe had to deal with one of those subtlest and most ingenious of cryptograms, in which many separatelists of corresponding letters are arranged like the multiplication table, and the message builtup with arbitrary key-words known only to the initiated. The older authorities seemed rathermore helpful than the newer ones, and Armitage concluded that the code of the manuscript wasone of great antiquity, no doubt handed down through a long line of mystical experimenters.Several times he seemed near daylight, only to be set back by some unforeseen obstacle. Then,as September approached, the clouds began to clear. Certain letters, as used in certain partsof the manuscript, emerged definitely and unmistakably; and it became obvious that the textwas indeed in English.

    On the evening of September 2nd the last major barrier gave way, and Dr. Armitageread for the first time a continuous passage of Wilbur Whateley’s annals. It was in trutha diary, as all had thought; and it was couched in a style clearly shewing the mixed occulterudition and general illiteracy of the strange being who wrote it. Almost the first long passagethat Armitage deciphered, an entry dated November 26, 1916, proved highly startling and disquieting.It was written, he remembered, by a child of three and a half who looked like a lad of twelveor thirteen.

    “Today learned the Aklo for the Sabaoth” it ran, “whichdid not like, it being answerable from the hill and not from the air. That upstairs more aheadof me than I had thought it would be, and is not like to have much earth brain. Shot Elam Hutchins’collie Jack when he went to bite me, and Elam says he would kill me if he dast. I guess he won’t.Grandfather kept me saying the Dho formula last night, and I think I saw the inner city at the2 magnetic poles. I shall go to those poles when the earth is cleared off, if I can’tbreak through with the Dho-Hna formula when I commit it. They from the air told me at Sabbatthat it will be years before I can clear off the earth, and I guess grandfather will be deadthen, so I shall have to learn all the angles of the planes and all the formulas between theYr and the Nhhngr. They from outside will help, but they cannot take body without human blood.That upstairs looks it will have the right cast. I can see it a little when I make the Voorishsign or blow the powder of Ibn Ghazi at it, and it is near like them at May-Eve on the Hill.The other face may wear off some. I wonder how I shall look when the earth is cleared and thereare no earth beings on it. He that came with the Aklo Sabaoth said I may be transfigured, therebeing much of outside to work on.”

    Morning found Dr. Armitage in a cold sweat of terror and a frenzy of wakefulconcentration. He had not left the manuscript all night, but sat at his table under the electriclight turning page after page with shaking hands as fast as he could decipher the cryptic text.He had nervously telephoned his wife he would not be home, and when she brought him a breakfastfrom the house he could scarcely dispose of a mouthful. All that day he read on, now and thenhalted maddeningly as a reapplication of the complex key became necessary. Lunch and dinnerwere brought him, but he ate only the smallest fraction of either. Toward the middle of thenext night he drowsed off in his chair, but soon woke out of a tangle of nightmares almost ashideous as the truths and menaces to man’s existence that he had uncovered.

    On the morning of September 4th Professor Rice and Dr. Morgan insisted on seeinghim for a while, and departed trembling and ashen-grey. That evening he went to bed, but sleptonly fitfully. Wednesday—the next day—he was back at the manuscript, and began totake copious notes both from the current sections and from those he had already deciphered.In the small hours of that night he slept a little in an easy-chair in his office, but was atthe manuscript again before dawn. Some time before noon his physician, Dr. Hartwell, calledto see him and insisted that he cease work. He refused; intimating that it was of the most vitalimportance for him to complete the reading of the diary, and promising an explanation in duecourse of time.

    That evening, just as twilight fell, he finished his terrible perusal and sankback exhausted. His wife, bringing his dinner, found him in a half-comatose state; but he wasconscious enough to warn her off with a sharp cry when he saw her eyes wander toward the noteshe had taken. Weakly rising, he gathered up the scribbled papers and sealed them all in a greatenvelope, which he immediately placed in his inside coat pocket. He had sufficient strengthto get home, but was so clearly in need of medical aid that Dr. Hartwell was summoned at once.As the doctor put him to bed he could only mutter over and over again, “But what, inGod’s name, can we do?”

    Dr. Armitage slept, but was partly delirious the next day. He made no explanationsto Hartwell, but in his calmer moments spoke of the imperative need of a long conference withRice and Morgan. His wilder wanderings were very startling indeed, including frantic appealsthat something in a boarded-up farmhouse be destroyed, and fantastic references to some planfor the extirpation of the entire human race and all animal and vegetable life from the earthby some terrible elder race of beings from another dimension. He would shout that the worldwas in danger, since the Elder Things wished to strip it and drag it away from the solar systemand cosmos of matter into some other plane or phase of entity from which it had once fallen,vigintillions of aeons ago. At other times he would call for the dreaded Necronomiconand the Daemonolatreia of Remigius, in which he seemed hopeful of finding some formulato check the peril he conjured up.

    “Stop them, stop them! “ he would shout. “Those Whateleysmeant to let them in, and the worst of all is left! Tell Rice and Morgan we must do something—it’sa blind business, but I know how to make the powder. . . . It hasn’t beenfed since the second of August, when Wilbur came here to his death, and at that rate. . . . “

    But Armitage had a sound physique despite his seventy-three years, and sleptoff his disorder that night without developing any real fever. He woke late Friday, clear ofhead, though sober with a gnawing fear and tremendous sense of responsibility. Saturday afternoonhe felt able to go over to the library and summon Rice and Morgan for a conference, and therest of that day and evening the three men tortured their brains in the wildest speculationand the most desperate debate. Strange and terrible books were drawn voluminously from the stackshelves and from secure places of storage; and diagrams and formulae were copied with feverishhaste and in bewildering abundance. Of scepticism there was none. All three had seen the bodyof Wilbur Whateley as it lay on the floor in a room of that very building, and after that notone of them could feel even slightly inclined to treat the diary as a madman’s raving.

    Opinions were divided as to notifying the Massachusetts State Police, and thenegative finally won. There were things involved which simply could not be believed by thosewho had not seen a sample, as indeed was made clear during certain subsequent investigations.Late at night the conference disbanded without having developed a definite plan, but all daySunday Armitage was busy comparing formulae and mixing chemicals obtained from the college laboratory.The more he reflected on the hellish diary, the more he was inclined to doubt the efficacy ofany material agent in stamping out the entity which Wilbur Whateley had left behind him—theearth-threatening entity which, unknown to him, was to burst forth in a few hours and becomethe memorable Dunwich horror.

    Monday was a repetition of Sunday with Dr. Armitage, for the task in hand requiredan infinity of research and experiment. Further consultations of the monstrous diary broughtabout various changes of plan, and he knew that even in the end a large amount of uncertaintymust remain. By Tuesday he had a definite line of action mapped out, and believed he would trya trip to Dunwich within a week. Then, on Wednesday, the great shock came. Tucked obscurelyaway in a corner of the Arkham Advertiser was a facetious little item from the AssociatedPress, telling what a record-breaking monster the bootleg whiskey of Dunwich had raised up.Armitage, half stunned, could only telephone for Rice and Morgan. Far into the night they discussed,and the next day was a whirlwind of preparation on the part of them all. Armitage knew he wouldbe meddling with terrible powers, yet saw that there was no other way to annul the deeper andmore malign meddling which others had done before him.

    Part IX.

    Friday morning Armitage, Rice, and Morgan set out by motor for Dunwich, arriving at the villageabout one in the afternoon. The day was pleasant, but even in the brightest sunlight a kindof quiet dread and portent seemed to hover about the strangely domed hills and the deep, shadowyravines of the stricken region. Now and then on some mountain-top a gaunt circle of stones couldbe glimpsed against the sky. From the air of hushed fright at Osborn’s store they knewsomething hideous had happened, and soon learned of the annihilation of the Elmer Frye houseand family. Throughout that afternoon they rode around Dunwich; questioning the natives concerningall that had occurred, and seeing for themselves with rising pangs of horror the drear Fryeruins with their lingering traces of the tarry stickiness, the blasphemous tracks in the Fryeyard, the wounded Seth Bishop cattle, and the enormous swaths of disturbed vegetation in variousplaces. The trail up and down Sentinel Hill seemed to Armitage of almost cataclysmic significance,and he looked long at the sinister altar-like stone on the summit.

    At length the visitors, apprised of a party of State Police which had comefrom Aylesbury that morning in response to the first telephone reports of the Frye tragedy,decided to seek out the officers and compare notes as far as practicable. This, however, theyfound more easily planned than performed; since no sign of the party could be found in any direction.There had been five of them in a car, but now the car stood empty near the ruins in the Fryeyard. The natives, all of whom had talked with the policemen, seemed at first as perplexed asArmitage and his companions. Then old Sam Hutchins thought of something and turned pale, nudgingFred Farr and pointing to the dank, deep hollow that yawned close by.

    “Gawd”, he gasped, “I telled ‘em not ter go daown intothe glen, an’ I never thought nobody’d dew it with them tracks an’ that smellan’ the whippoorwills a-screechin’ daown thar in the dark o’ noonday. . . . “

    A cold shudder ran through natives and visitors alike, and every ear seemedstrained in a kind of instinctive, unconscious listening. Armitage, now that he had actuallycome upon the horror and its monstrous work, trembled with the responsibility he felt to behis. Night would soon fall, and it was then that the mountainous blasphemy lumbered upon itseldritch course. Negotium perambulans in tenebris. . . . The old librarianrehearsed the formulae he had memorised, and clutched the paper containing the alternative onehe had not memorised. He saw that his electric flashlight was in working order. Rice, besidehim, took from a valise a metal sprayer of the sort used in combating insects; whilst Morganuncased the big-game rifle on which he relied despite his colleague’s warnings that nomaterial weapon would be of help.

    Armitage, having read the hideous diary, knew painfully well what kind of amanifestation to expect; but he did not add to the fright of the Dunwich people by giving anyhints or clues. He hoped that it might be conquered without any revelation to the world of themonstrous thing it had escaped. As the shadows gathered, the natives commenced to disperse homeward,anxious to bar themselves indoors despite the present evidence that all human locks and boltswere useless before a force that could bend trees and crush houses when it chose. They shooktheir heads at the visitors’ plan to stand guard at the Frye ruins near the glen; andas they left, had little expectancy of ever seeing the watchers again.

    There were rumblings under the hills that night, and the whippoorwills pipedthreateningly. Once in a while a wind, sweeping up out of Cold Spring Glen, would bring a touchof ineffable foetor to the heavy night air; such a foetor as all three of the watchers had smelledonce before, when they stood above a dying thing that had passed for fifteen years and a halfas a human being. But the looked-for terror did not appear. Whatever was down there in the glenwas biding its time, and Armitage told his colleagues it would be suicidal to try to attackit in the dark.

    Morning came wanly, and the night-sounds ceased. It was a grey, bleak day,with now and then a drizzle of rain; and heavier and heavier clouds seemed to be piling themselvesup beyond the hills to the northwest. The men from Arkham were undecided what to do. Seekingshelter from the increasing rainfall beneath one of the few undestroyed Frye outbuildings, theydebated the wisdom of waiting, or of taking the aggressive and going down into the glen in questof their nameless, monstrous quarry. The downpour waxed in heaviness, and distant peals of thundersounded from far horizons. Sheet lightning shimmered, and then a forky bolt flashed near at hand,as if descending into the accursed glen itself. The sky grew very dark, and the watchers hopedthat the storm would prove a short, sharp one followed by clear weather.

    It was still gruesomely dark when, not much over an hour later, a confusedbabel of voices sounded down the road. Another moment brought to view a frightened group ofmore than a dozen men, running, shouting, and even whimpering hysterically. Someone in the leadbegan sobbing out words, and the Arkham men started violently when those words developed a coherentform.

    “Oh, my Gawd, my Gawd”, the voice choked out. “It’sa-goin’ agin, an’ this time by day! It’s aout—it’s aoutan’ a-movin’ this very minute, an’ only the Lord knows when it’ll beon us all!”

    The speaker panted into silence, but another took up his message.

    “Nigh on a haour ago Zeb Whateley here heerd the ‘phone a-ringin’,an’ it was Mis’ Corey, George’s wife, that lives daown by the junction. Shesays the hired boy Luther was aout drivin’ in the caows from the storm arter the big bolt,when he see all the trees a-bendin’ at the maouth o’ the glen—opposite sideter this—an’ smelt the same awful smell like he smelt when he faound the big trackslas’ Monday mornin’. An’ she says he says they was a swishin’, lappin’saound, more nor what the bendin’ trees an’ bushes could make, an’ all ona suddent the trees along the rud begun ter git pushed one side, an’ they was a awfulstompin’ an’ splashin’ in the mud. But mind ye, Luther he didn’t seenothin’ at all, only just the bendin’ trees an’ underbrush.

    “Then fur ahead where Bishop’s Brook goes under the rud he heerda awful creakin’ an’ strainin’ on the bridge, an’ says he could tellthe saound o’ wood a-startin’ to crack an’ split. An’ all the whileshe never see a thing, only them trees an’ bushes a-bendin’. An’ when the swishin’saound got very fur off—on the rud towards Wizard Whateley’s an’ SentinelHill—Luther he had the guts ter step up whar he’d heerd it furst an’ lookat the graound. It was all mud an’ water, an’ the sky was dark, an’ the rainwas wipin’ aout all tracks abaout as fast as could be; but beginnin’ at the glenmaouth, whar the trees had moved, they was still some o’ them awful prints big as bar’lslike he seen Monday. “

    At this point the first excited speaker interrupted.

    “But that ain’t the trouble naow—that was only thestart. Zeb here was callin’ folks up an’ everybody was a-listenin’ in whena call from Seth Bishop’s cut in. His haousekeeper Sally was carryin’ on fit terkill—she’d jest seed the trees a-bendin’ beside the rud, an’ says theywas a kind o’ mushy saound, like a elephant puffin’ an’ treadin’, a-headin’fer the haouse. Then she up an’ spoke suddent of a fearful smell, an’ says her boyCha’ncey was a-screamin’ as haow it was jest like what he smelt up to the Whateleyrewins Monday mornin’. An’ the dogs was all barkin’ an’ whinin’awful.

    “An’ then she let aout a turrible yell, an’ says the sheddaown the rud had jest caved in like the storm hed blowed it over, only the wind wa’n’tstrong enough to dew that. Everybody was a-listenin’, an’ we could hear lots o’folks on the wire a-gaspin’. All to onct Sally she yelled agin, an’ says the frontyard picket fence hed just crumbled up, though they wa’n’t no sign o’ whatdone it. Then everybody on the line could hear Cha’ncey an’ ol’ Seth Bishopa-yellin’ tew, an’ Sally was shriekin’ aout that suthin’ heavy hed struckthe haouse—not lightnin’ nor nothin’, but suthin’ heavy agin the front,that kep’ a-launchin’ itself agin an’ agin, though ye couldn’t see nothin’aout the front winders. An’ then . . . an’ then . . . “

    Lines of fright deepened on every face; and Armitage, shaken as he was, hadbarely poise enough to prompt the speaker.

    “An’ then . . . Sally she yelled aout, O help, the haouse is a-cavin’ in’ . . . an’ on the wire we couldhear a turrible crashin’, an’ a hull flock o’ screamin’ . . .jest like when Elmer Frye’s place was took, only wuss. . . . “

    The man paused, and another of the crowd spoke.

    “That’s all—not a saound nor squeak over the ‘phonearter that. Jest still-like. We that heerd it got aout Fords an’ wagons an’ raoundedup as many able-bodied menfolks as we could git, at Corey’s place, an’ come up hereter see what yew thought best ter dew. Not but what I think it’s the Lord’s jedgmentfer our iniquities, that no mortal kin ever set aside.”

    Armitage saw that the time for positive action had come, and spoke decisivelyto the faltering group of frightened rustics.

    “We must follow it, boys.” He made his voice as reassuring as possible.“I believe there’s a chance of putting it out of business. You men know that thoseWhateleys were wizards—well, this thing is a thing of wizardry, and must be put down bythe same means. I’ve seen Wilbur Whateley’s diary and read some of the strange oldbooks he used to read; and I think I know the right kind of spell to recite to make the thingfade away. Of course, one can’t be sure, but we can always take a chance. It’s invisible—Iknew it would be—but there’s a powder in this long-distance sprayer that might makeit shew up for a second. Later on we’ll try it. It’s a frightful thing to have alive,but it isn’t as bad as what Wilbur would have let in if he’d lived longer. You’llnever know what the world has escaped. Now we’ve only this one thing to fight, and itcan’t multiply. It can, though, do a lot of harm; so we mustn’t hesitate to ridthe community of it.”

    “We must follow it—and the way to begin is to go to the place thathas just been wrecked. Let somebody lead the way—I don’t know your roads very well,but I’ve an idea there might be a shorter cut across lots. How about it?”

    The men shuffled about a moment, and then Earl Sawyer spoke softly, pointingwith a grimy finger through the steadily lessening rain.

    “I guess ye kin git to Seth Bishop’s quickest by cuttin’acrost the lower medder here, wadin’ the brook at the low place, an’ climbin’through Carrier’s mowin’ and the timber-lot beyont. That comes aout on the upperrud mighty nigh Seth’s—a leetle t’other side.”

    Armitage, with Rice and Morgan, started to walk in the direction indicated;and most of the natives followed slowly. The sky was growing lighter, and there were signs thatthe storm had worn itself away. When Armitage inadvertently took a wrong direction, Joe Osbornwarned him and walked ahead to shew the right one. Courage and confidence were mounting; thoughthe twilight of the almost perpendicular wooded hill which lay toward the end of their shortcut, and among whose fantastic ancient trees they had to scramble as if up a ladder, put thesequalities to a severe test.

    At length they emerged on a muddy road to find the sun coming out. They werea little beyond the Seth Bishop place, but bent trees and hideously unmistakable tracks shewedwhat had passed by. Only a few moments were consumed in surveying the ruins just around thebend. It was the Frye incident all over again, and nothing dead or living was found in eitherof the collapsed shells which had been the Bishop house and barn. No one cared to remain thereamidst the stench and tarry stickiness, but all turned instinctively to the line of horribleprints leading on toward the wrecked Whateley farmhouse and the altar-crowned slopes of SentinelHill.

    As the men passed the site of Wilbur Whateley’s abode they shudderedvisibly, and seemed again to mix hesitancy with their zeal. It was no joke tracking down somethingas big as a house that one could not see, but that had all the vicious malevolence of a daemon.Opposite the base of Sentinel Hill the tracks left the road, and there was a fresh bending andmatting visible along the broad swath marking the monster’s former route to and from thesummit.

    Armitage produced a pocket telescope of considerable power and scanned thesteep green side of the hill. Then he handed the instrument to Morgan, whose sight was keener.After a moment of gazing Morgan cried out sharply, passing the glass to Earl Sawyer and indicatinga certain spot on the slope with his finger. Sawyer, as clumsy as most non-users of opticaldevices are, fumbled a while; but eventually focussed the lenses with Armitage’s aid.When he did so his cry was less restrained than Morgan’s had been.

    “Gawd almighty, the grass an’ bushes is a-movin’! It’sa-goin’ up—slow-like—creepin’ up ter the top this minute, heaven onlyknows what fur!”

    Then the germ of panic seemed to spread among the seekers. It was one thingto chase the nameless entity, but quite another to find it. Spells might be all right—butsuppose they weren’t? Voices began questioning Armitage about what he knew of the thing,and no reply seemed quite to satisfy. Everyone seemed to feel himself in close proximity tophases of Nature and of being utterly forbidden, and wholly outside the sane experience of mankind.

    Part X.

    In the end the three men from Arkham—old, white-bearded Dr. Armitage, stocky, iron-greyProfessor Rice, and lean, youngish Dr. Morgan—ascended the mountain alone. After muchpatient instruction regarding its focussing and use, they left the telescope with the frightenedgroup that remained in the road; and as they climbed they were watched closely by those amongwhom the glass was passed around. It was hard going, and Armitage had to be helped more thanonce. High above the toiling group the great swath trembled as its hellish maker re-passed withsnail-like deliberateness. Then it was obvious that the pursuers were gaining.

    Curtis Whateley—of the undecayed branch—was holding the telescopewhen the Arkham party detoured radically from the swath. He told the crowd that the men wereevidently trying to get to a subordinate peak which overlooked the swath at a point considerablyahead of where the shrubbery was now bending. This, indeed, proved to be true; and the partywere seen to gain the minor elevation only a short time after the invisible blasphemy had passedit.

    Then Wesley Corey, who had taken the glass, cried out that Armitage was adjustingthe sprayer which Rice held, and that something must be about to happen. The crowd stirred uneasily,recalling that this sprayer was expected to give the unseen horror a moment of visibility. Twoor three men shut their eyes, but Curtis Whateley snatched back the telescope and strained hisvision to the utmost. He saw that Rice, from the party’s point of vantage above and behindthe entity, had an excellent chance of spreading the potent powder with marvellous effect.

    Those without the telescope saw only an instant’s flash of grey cloud—acloud about the size of a moderately large building—near the top of the mountain. Curtis,who had held the instrument, dropped it with a piercing shriek into the ankle-deep mud of theroad. He reeled, and would have crumpled to the ground had not two or three others seized andsteadied him. All he could do was moan half-inaudibly,

    “Oh, oh, great Gawd . . . that . . . that . . . “

    There was a pandemonium of questioning, and only Henry Wheeler thought to rescuethe fallen telescope and wipe it clean of mud. Curtis was past all coherence, and even isolatedreplies were almost too much for him.

    “Bigger’n a barn . . . all made o’ squirmin’ropes . . . hull thing sort o’ shaped like a hen’s egg bigger’nanything, with dozens o’ legs like hogsheads that haff shut up when they step . . .nothin’ solid abaout it—all like jelly, an’ made o’ sep’rit wrigglin’ropes pushed clost together . . . great bulgin’ eyes all over it . . .ten or twenty maouths or trunks a-stickin’ aout all along the sides, big as stovepipes,an’ all a-tossin’ an’ openin’ an’ shuttin’ . . .all grey, with kinder blue or purple rings . . . an’ Gawd in heaven—thathaff face on top! . . . “

    This final memory, whatever it was, proved too much for poor Curtis; and hecollapsed completely before he could say more. Fred Farr and Will Hutchins carried him to theroadside and laid him on the damp grass. Henry Wheeler, trembling, turned the rescued telescopeon the mountain to see what he might. Through the lenses were discernible three tiny figures,apparently running toward the summit as fast as the steep incline allowed. Only these—nothingmore. Then everyone noticed a strangely unseasonable noise in the deep valley behind, and evenin the underbrush of Sentinel Hill itself. It was the piping of unnumbered whippoorwills, andin their shrill chorus there seemed to lurk a note of tense and evil expectancy.

    Earl Sawyer now took the telescope and reported the three figures as standingon the topmost ridge, virtually level with the altar-stone but at a considerable distance fromit. One figure, he said, seemed to be raising its hands above its head at rhythmic intervals;and as Sawyer mentioned the circ*mstance the crowd seemed to hear a faint, half-musical soundfrom the distance, as if a loud chant were accompanying the gestures. The weird silhouette onthat remote peak must have been a spectacle of infinite grotesqueness and impressiveness, butno observer was in a mood for aesthetic appreciation. “I guess he’s sayin’the spell, “ whispered Wheeler as he snatched back the telescope. The whippoorwills werepiping wildly, and in a singularly curious irregular rhythm quite unlike that of the visibleritual.

    Suddenly the sunshine seemed to lessen without the intervention of any discerniblecloud. It was a very peculiar phenomenon, and was plainly marked by all. A rumbling sound seemedbrewing beneath the hills, mixed strangely with a concordant rumbling which clearly came fromthe sky. Lightning flashed aloft, and the wondering crowd looked in vain for the portents ofstorm. The chanting of the men from Arkham now became unmistakable, and Wheeler saw throughthe glass that they were all raising their arms in the rhythmic incantation. From some farmhousefar away came the frantic barking of dogs.

    The change in the quality of the daylight increased, and the crowd gazed aboutthe horizon in wonder. A purplish darkness, born of nothing more than a spectral deepening ofthe sky’s blue, pressed down upon the rumbling hills. Then the lightning flashed again,somewhat brighter than before, and the crowd fancied that it had shewed a certain mistinessaround the altar-stone on the distant height. No one, however, had been using the telescopeat that instant. The whippoorwills continued their irregular pulsation, and the men of Dunwichbraced themselves tensely against some imponderable menace with which the atmosphere seemedsurcharged.

    Without warning came those deep, cracked, raucous vocal sounds which will neverleave the memory of the stricken group who heard them. Not from any human throat were they born,for the organs of man can yield no such acoustic perversions. Rather would one have said theycame from the pit itself, had not their source been so unmistakably the altar-stone on the peak.It is almost erroneous to call them sounds at all, since so much of their ghastly, infra-basstimbre spoke to dim seats of consciousness and terror far subtler than the ear; yet one mustdo so, since their form was indisputably though vaguely that of half-articulate words.They were loud—loud as the rumblings and the thunder above which they echoed—yetdid they come from no visible being. And because imagination might suggest a conjectural sourcein the world of non-visible beings, the huddled crowd at the mountain’s base huddled stillcloser, and winced as if in expectation of a blow.

    “Ygnaiih . . . ygnaiih . . . thflthkh’ngha . . .Yog-Sothoth . . . “ rang the hideous croaking out of space. “Y’bthnk . . .h’ehye—n’grkdl’lh. . . . “

    The speaking impulse seemed to falter here, as if some frightful psychic strugglewere going on. Henry Wheeler strained his eye at the telescope, but saw only the three grotesquelysilhouetted human figures on the peak, all moving their arms furiously in strange gestures astheir incantation drew near its culmination. From what black wells of Acherontic fear or feeling,from what unplumbed gulfs of extra-cosmic consciousness or obscure, long-latent heredity, werethose half-articulate thunder-croakings drawn? Presently they began to gather renewed forceand coherence as they grew in stark, utter, ultimate frenzy.

    “Eh-ya-ya-ya-yahaah—e’yayayayaaaa . . . ngh’aaaaa . . . ngh’aaaa . . . h’yuh . . .h’yuh . . . HELP! HELP! . . . ff—ff—ff —FATHER!FATHER! YOG-SOTHOTH! . . . “

    But that was all. The pallid group in the road, still reeling at the indisputablyEnglish syllables that had poured thickly and thunderously down from the frantic vacancybeside that shocking altar-stone, were never to hear such syllables again. Instead, they jumpedviolently at the terrific report which seemed to rend the hills; the deafening, cataclysmicpeal whose source, be it inner earth or sky, no hearer was ever able to place. A single lightning-boltshot from the purple zenith to the altar-stone, and a great tidal wave of viewless force andindescribable stench swept down from the hill to all the countryside. Trees, grass, and underbrushwere whipped into a fury; and the frightened crowd at the mountain’s base, weakened bythe lethal foetor that seemed about to asphyxiate them, were almost hurled off their feet. Dogshowled from the distance, green grass and foliage wilted to a curious, sickly yellow-grey, andover field and forest were scattered the bodies of dead whippoorwills.

    The stench left quickly, but the vegetation never came right again. To thisday there is something queer and unholy about the growths on and around that fearsome hill.Curtis Whateley was only just regaining consciousness when the Arkham men came slowly down themountain in the beams of a sunlight once more brilliant and untainted. They were grave and quiet,and seemed shaken by memories and reflections even more terrible than those which had reducedthe group of natives to a state of cowed quivering. In reply to a jumble of questions they onlyshook their heads and reaffirmed one vital fact.

    “The thing has gone forever, “ Armitage said. “It has beensplit up into what it was originally made of, and can never exist again. It was an impossibilityin a normal world. Only the least fraction was really matter in any sense we know. It was likeits father—and most of it has gone back to him in some vague realm or dimension outsideour material universe; some vague abyss out of which only the most accursed rites of human blasphemycould ever have called him for a moment on the hills. “

    There was a brief silence, and in that pause the scattered senses of poor CurtisWhateley began to knit back into a sort of continuity; so that he put his hands to his headwith a moan. Memory seemed to pick itself up where it had left off, and the horror of the sightthat had prostrated him burst in upon him again.

    “Oh, oh, my Gawd, that haff face—that haff face on top of it . . .that face with the red eyes an’ crinkly albino hair, an’ no chin, like the Whateleys . . .It was a octopus, centipede, spider kind o’ thing, but they was a haff-shaped man’sface on top of it, an’ it looked like Wizard Whateley’s, only it was yards an’yards acrost. . . .”

    He paused exhausted, as the whole group of natives stared in a bewildermentnot quite crystallised into fresh terror. Only old Zebulon Whateley, who wanderingly rememberedancient things but who had been silent heretofore, spoke aloud.

    “Fifteen year’ gone,” he rambled, “I heerd Ol’Whateley say as haow some day we’d hear a child o’ Lavinny’s a-callin’its father’s name on the top o’ Sentinel Hill. . . . “

    But Joe Osborn interrupted him to question the Arkham men anew.

    “What was it anyhaow, an’ haowever did young Wizard Whateley call it aout o’ the air it come from?”

    Armitage chose his words very carefully.

    “It was—well, it was mostly a kind of force that doesn’tbelong in our part of space; a kind of force that acts and grows and shapes itself by otherlaws than those of our sort of Nature. We have no business calling in such things from outside,and only very wicked people and very wicked cults ever try to. There was some of it in WilburWhateley himself—enough to make a devil and a precocious monster of him, and to make hispassing out a pretty terrible sight. I’m going to burn his accursed diary, and if youmen are wise you’ll dynamite that altar-stone up there, and pull down all the rings ofstanding stones on the other hills. Things like that brought down the beings those Whateleyswere so fond of—the beings they were going to let in tangibly to wipe out the human raceand drag the earth off to some nameless place for some nameless purpose.”

    “But as to this thing we’ve just sent back—the Whateleysraised it for a terrible part in the doings that were to come. It grew fast and big from thesame reason that Wilbur grew fast and big—but it beat him because it had a greater shareof the outsideness in it. You needn’t ask how Wilbur called it out of the air.He didn’t call it out. It was his twin brother, but it looked more like the fatherthan he did.”

    I.

    I am forced into speech because men of science have refused to follow my advice without knowingwhy. It is altogether against my will that I tell my reasons for opposing this contemplatedinvasion of the antarctic—with its vast fossil-hunt and its wholesale boring and meltingof the ancient ice-cap—and I am the more reluctant because my warning may be in vain.Doubt of the real facts, as I must reveal them, is inevitable; yet if I suppressed what willseem extravagant and incredible there would be nothing left. The hitherto withheld photographs,both ordinary and aërial, will count in my favour; for they are damnably vivid and graphic.Still, they will be doubted because of the great lengths to which clever fakery can be carried.The ink drawings, of course, will be jeered at as obvious impostures; notwithstanding a strangenessof technique which art experts ought to remark and puzzle over.

    In the end I must rely on the judgment and standing of the few scientific leaderswho have, on the one hand, sufficient independence of thought to weigh my data on its own hideouslyconvincing merits or in the light of certain primordial and highly baffling myth-cycles; andon the other hand, sufficient influence to deter the exploring world in general from any rashand overambitious programme in the region of those mountains of madness. It is an unfortunatefact that relatively obscure men like myself and my associates, connected only with a smalluniversity, have little chance of making an impression where matters of a wildly bizarre orhighly controversial nature are concerned.

    It is further against us that we are not, in the strictest sense, specialistsin the fields which came primarily to be concerned. As a geologist my object in leading theMiskatonic University Expedition was wholly that of securing deep-level specimens of rock andsoil from various parts of the antarctic continent, aided by the remarkable drill devised byProf. Frank H. Pabodie of our engineering department. I had no wish to be a pioneer in any otherfield than this; but I did hope that the use of this new mechanical appliance at different pointsalong previously explored paths would bring to light materials of a sort hitherto unreachedby the ordinary methods of collection. Pabodie’s drilling apparatus, as the public alreadyknows from our reports, was unique and radical in its lightness, portability, and capacity tocombine the ordinary artesian drill principle with the principle of the small circular rockdrill in such a way as to cope quickly with strata of varying hardness. Steel head, jointedrods, gasoline motor, collapsible wooden derrick, dynamiting paraphernalia, cording, rubbish-removalauger, and sectional piping for bores five inches wide and up to 1000 feet deep all formed,with needed accessories, no greater load than three seven-dog sledges could carry; this beingmade possible by the clever aluminum alloy of which most of the metal objects were fashioned.Four large Dornier aëroplanes, designed especially for the tremendous altitude flying necessaryon the antarctic plateau and with added fuel-warming and quick-starting devices worked out byPabodie, could transport our entire expedition from a base at the edge of the great ice barrierto various suitable inland points, and from these points a sufficient quota of dogs would serveus.

    We planned to cover as great an area as one antarctic season—or longer,if absolutely necessary—would permit, operating mostly in the mountain-ranges and on theplateau south of Ross Sea; regions explored in varying degree by Shackleton, Amundsen, Scott,and Byrd. With frequent changes of camp, made by aëroplane and involving distances greatenough to be of geological significance, we expected to unearth a quite unprecedented amountof material; especially in the pre-Cambrian strata of which so narrow a range of antarctic specimenshad previously been secured. We wished also to obtain as great as possible a variety of theupper fossiliferous rocks, since the primal life-history of this bleak realm of ice and deathis of the highest importance to our knowledge of the earth’s past. That the antarcticcontinent was once temperate and even tropical, with a teeming vegetable and animal life ofwhich the lichens, marine fauna, arachnida, and penguins of the northern edge are the only survivals,is a matter of common information; and we hoped to expand that information in variety, accuracy,and detail. When a simple boring revealed fossiliferous signs, we would enlarge the apertureby blasting in order to get specimens of suitable size and condition.

    Our borings, of varying depth according to the promise held out by the uppersoil or rock, were to be confined to exposed or nearly exposed land surfaces—these inevitablybeing slopes and ridges because of the mile or two-mile thickness of solid ice overlying thelower levels. We could not afford to waste drilling depth on any considerable amount of mereglaciation, though Pabodie had worked out a plan for sinking copper electrodes in thick clustersof borings and melting off limited areas of ice with current from a gasoline-driven dynamo.It is this plan—which we could not put into effect except experimentally on an expeditionsuch as ours—that the coming Starkweather-Moore Expedition proposes to follow despitethe warnings I have issued since our return from the antarctic.

    The public knows of the Miskatonic Expedition through our frequent wirelessreports to the Arkham Advertiser and Associated Press, and through the later articlesof Pabodie and myself. We consisted of four men from the University—Pabodie, Lake of thebiology department, Atwood of the physics department (also a meteorologist), and I representinggeology and having nominal command—besides sixteen assistants; seven graduate studentsfrom Miskatonic and nine skilled mechanics. Of these sixteen, twelve were qualified aëroplanepilots, all but two of whom were competent wireless operators. Eight of them understood navigationwith compass and sextant, as did Pabodie, Atwood, and I. In addition, of course, our two ships—woodenex-whalers, reinforced for ice conditions and having auxiliary steam—were fully manned.The Nathaniel Derby Pickman Foundation, aided by a few special contributions, financed the expedition;hence our preparations were extremely thorough despite the absence of great publicity. The dogs,sledges, machines, camp materials, and unassembled parts of our five planes were delivered inBoston, and there our ships were loaded. We were marvellously well-equipped for our specificpurposes, and in all matters pertaining to supplies, regimen, transportation, and camp constructionwe profited by the excellent example of our many recent and exceptionally brilliant predecessors.It was the unusual number and fame of these predecessors which made our own expedition—amplethough it was—so little noticed by the world at large.

    As the newspapers told, we sailed from Boston Harbour on September 2, 1930;taking a leisurely course down the coast and through the Panama Canal, and stopping at Samoaand Hobart, Tasmania, at which latter place we took on final supplies. None of our exploringparty had ever been in the polar regions before, hence we all relied greatly on our ship captains—J.B. Douglas, commanding the brig Arkham, and serving as commander of the sea party, andGeorg Thorfinnssen, commanding the barque Miskatonic —both veteran whalers in antarcticwaters. As we left the inhabited world behind the sun sank lower and lower in the north, andstayed longer and longer above the horizon each day. At about 62° South Latitude we sightedour first icebergs—table-like objects with vertical sides—and just before reachingthe Antarctic Circle, which we crossed on October 20 with appropriately quaint ceremonies, wewere considerably troubled with field ice. The falling temperature bothered me considerablyafter our long voyage through the tropics, but I tried to brace up for the worse rigours tocome. On many occasions the curious atmospheric effects enchanted me vastly; these includinga strikingly vivid mirage—the first I had ever seen—in which distant bergs becamethe battlements of unimaginable cosmic castles.

    Pushing through the ice, which was fortunately neither extensive nor thicklypacked, we regained open water at South Latitude 67°, East Longitude 175°. On the morningof October 26 a strong “land blink” appeared on the south, and before noon we allfelt a thrill of excitement at beholding a vast, lofty, and snow-clad mountain chain which openedout and covered the whole vista ahead. At last we had encountered an outpost of the great unknowncontinent and its cryptic world of frozen death. These peaks were obviously the Admiralty Rangediscovered by Ross, and it would now be our task to round Cape Adare and sail down the eastcoast of Victoria Land to our contemplated base on the shore of McMurdo Sound at the foot ofthe volcano Erebus in South Latitude 77° 9’.

    The last lap of the voyage was vivid and fancy-stirring, great barren peaksof mystery looming up constantly against the west as the low northern sun of noon or the stilllower horizon-grazing southern sun of midnight poured its hazy reddish rays over the white snow,bluish ice and water lanes, and black bits of exposed granite slope. Through the desolate summitsswept raging intermittent gusts of the terrible antarctic wind; whose cadences sometimes heldvague suggestions of a wild and half-sentient musical piping, with notes extending over a widerange, and which for some subconscious mnemonic reason seemed to me disquieting and even dimlyterrible. Something about the scene reminded me of the strange and disturbing Asian paintingsof Nicholas Roerich, and of the still stranger and more disturbing descriptions of the evillyfabled plateau of Leng which occur in the dreaded Necronomicon of the mad Arab AbdulAlhazred. I was rather sorry, later on, that I had ever looked into that monstrous book at thecollege library.

    On the seventh of November, sight of the westward range having been temporarilylost, we passed Franklin Island; and the next day descried the cones of Mts. Erebus and Terroron Ross Island ahead, with the long line of the Parry Mountains beyond. There now stretchedoff to the east the low, white line of the great ice barrier; rising perpendicularly to a heightof 200 feet like the rocky cliffs of Quebec, and marking the end of southward navigation. Inthe afternoon we entered McMurdo Sound and stood off the coast in the lee of smoking Mt. Erebus.The scoriac peak towered up some 12,700 feet against the eastern sky, like a Japanese printof the sacred Fujiyama; while beyond it rose the white, ghost-like height of Mt. Terror, 10,900feet in altitude, and now extinct as a volcano. Puffs of smoke from Erebus came intermittently,and one of the graduate assistants—a brilliant young fellow named Danforth—pointedout what looked like lava on the snowy slope; remarking that this mountain, discovered in 1840,had undoubtedly been the source of Poe’s image when he wrote seven years later of

    “—the lavas that restlessly rollTheir sulphurous currents down YaanekIn the ultimate climes of the pole—That groan as they roll down Mount YaanekIn the realms of the boreal pole. “

    Danforth was a great reader of bizarre material, and had talked a good deal of Poe. I was interestedmyself because of the antarctic scene of Poe’s only long story—the disturbing andenigmatical Arthur Gordon Pym. On the barren shore, and on the lofty ice barrier in thebackground, myriads of grotesque penguins squawked and flapped their fins; while many fat sealswere visible on the water, swimming or sprawling across large cakes of slowly drifting ice.

    Using small boats, we effected a difficult landing on Ross Island shortly aftermidnight on the morning of the 9th, carrying a line of cable from each of the ships and preparingto unload supplies by means of a breeches-buoy arrangement. Our sensations on first treadingantarctic soil were poignant and complex, even though at this particular point the Scott andShackleton expeditions had preceded us. Our camp on the frozen shore below the volcano’sslope was only a provisional one; headquarters being kept aboard the Arkham. We landedall our drilling apparatus, dogs, sledges, tents, provisions, gasoline tanks, experimental ice-meltingoutfit, cameras both ordinary and aërial, aëroplane parts, and other accessories,including three small portable wireless outfits (besides those in the planes) capable of communicatingwith the Arkham’s large outfit from any part of the antarctic continent that wewould be likely to visit. The ship’s outfit, communicating with the outside world, wasto convey press reports to the Arkham Advertiser’s powerful wireless station onKingsport Head, Mass. We hoped to complete our work during a single antarctic summer; but ifthis proved impossible we would winter on the Arkham, sending the Miskatonic northbefore the freezing of the ice for another summer’s supplies.

    I need not repeat what the newspapers have already published about our earlywork: of our ascent of Mt. Erebus; our successful mineral borings at several points on RossIsland and the singular speed with which Pabodie’s apparatus accomplished them, even throughsolid rock layers; our provisional test of the small ice-melting equipment; our perilous ascentof the great barrier with sledges and supplies; and our final assembling of five huge aëroplanesat the camp atop the barrier. The health of our land party—twenty men and 55 Alaskan sledgedogs—was remarkable, though of course we had so far encountered no really destructivetemperatures or windstorms. For the most part, the thermometer varied between zero and 20°or 25° above, and our experience with New England winters had accustomed us to rigours ofthis sort. The barrier camp was semi-permanent, and destined to be a storage cache for gasoline,provisions, dynamite, and other supplies. Only four of our planes were needed to carry the actualexploring material, the fifth being left with a pilot and two men from the ships at the storagecache to form a means of reaching us from the Arkham in case all our exploring planeswere lost. Later, when not using all the other planes for moving apparatus, we would employone or two in a shuttle transportation service between this cache and another permanent baseon the great plateau from 600 to 700 miles southward, beyond Beardmore Glacier. Despite thealmost unanimous accounts of appalling winds and tempests that pour down from the plateau, wedetermined to dispense with intermediate bases; taking our chances in the interest of economyand probable efficiency.

    Wireless reports have spoken of the breath-taking four-hour non-stop flightof our squadron on November 21 over the lofty shelf ice, with vast peaks rising on the west,and the unfathomed silences echoing to the sound of our engines. Wind troubled us only moderately,and our radio compasses helped us through the one opaque fog we encountered. When the vast riseloomed ahead, between Latitudes 83° and 84°, we knew we had reached Beardmore Glacier,the largest valley glacier in the world, and that the frozen sea was now giving place to a frowningand mountainous coastline. At last we were truly entering the white, aeon-dead world of theultimate south, and even as we realised it we saw the peak of Mt. Nansen in the eastern distance,towering up to its height of almost 15,000 feet.

    The successful establishment of the southern base above the glacier in Latitude86° 7’, East Longitude 174° 23’, and the phenomenally rapid and effective borings andblastings made at various points reached by our sledge trips and short aëroplane flights,are matters of history; as is the arduous and triumphant ascent of Mt. Nansen by Pabodie andtwo of the graduate students—Gedney and Carroll—on December 13-15. We weresome 8500 feet above sea-level, and when experimental drillings revealed solid ground only twelvefeet down through the snow and ice at certain points, we made considerable use of the smallmelting apparatus and sunk bores and performed dynamiting at many places where no previous explorerhad ever thought of securing mineral specimens. The pre-Cambrian granites and beacon sandstonesthus obtained confirmed our belief that this plateau was hom*ogeneous with the great bulk ofthe continent to the west, but somewhat different from the parts lying eastward below SouthAmerica—which we then thought to form a separate and smaller continent divided from thelarger one by a frozen junction of Ross and Weddell Seas, though Byrd has since disproved thehypothesis.

    In certain of the sandstones, dynamited and chiselled after boring revealedtheir nature, we found some highly interesting fossil markings and fragments—notably ferns,seaweeds, trilobites, crinoids, and such molluscs as lingulae and gasteropods—all of whichseemed of real significance in connexion with the region’s primordial history. There wasalso a queer triangular, striated marking about a foot in greatest diameter which Lake piecedtogether from three fragments of slate brought up from a deep-blasted aperture. These fragmentscame from a point to the westward, near the Queen Alexandra Range; and Lake, as a biologist,seemed to find their curious marking unusually puzzling and provocative, though to my geologicaleye it looked not unlike some of the ripple effects reasonably common in the sedimentary rocks.Since slate is no more than a metamorphic formation into which a sedimentary stratum is pressed,and since the pressure itself produces odd distorting effects on any markings which may exist,I saw no reason for extreme wonder over the striated depression.

    On January 6, 1931, Lake, Pabodie, Danforth, all six of the students, four mechanics,and I flew directly over the south pole in two of the great planes, being forced down once bya sudden high wind which fortunately did not develop into a typical storm. This was, as thepapers have stated, one of several observation flights; during others of which we tried to discernnew topographical features in areas unreached by previous explorers. Our early flights weredisappointing in this latter respect; though they afforded us some magnificent examples of therichly fantastic and deceptive mirages of the polar regions, of which our sea voyage had givenus some brief foretastes. Distant mountains floated in the sky as enchanted cities, and oftenthe whole white world would dissolve into a gold, silver, and scarlet land of Dunsanian dreamsand adventurous expectancy under the magic of the low midnight sun. On cloudy days we had considerabletrouble in flying, owing to the tendency of snowy earth and sky to merge into one mystical opalescentvoid with no visible horizon to mark the junction of the two.

    At length we resolved to carry out our original plan of flying 500 miles eastwardwith all four exploring planes and establishing a fresh sub-base at a point which would probablybe on the smaller continental division, as we mistakenly conceived it. Geological specimensobtained there would be desirable for purposes of comparison. Our health so far had remainedexcellent; lime-juice well offsetting the steady diet of tinned and salted food, and temperaturesgenerally above zero enabling us to do without our thickest furs. It was now midsummer, andwith haste and care we might be able to conclude work by March and avoid a tedious winteringthrough the long antarctic night. Several savage windstorms had burst upon us from the west,but we had escaped damage through the skill of Atwood in devising rudimentary aëroplaneshelters and windbreaks of heavy snow blocks, and reinforcing the principal camp buildings withsnow. Our good luck and efficiency had indeed been almost uncanny.

    The outside world knew, of course, of our programme, and was told also of Lake’sstrange and dogged insistence on a westward—or rather, northwestward—prospectingtrip before our radical shift to the new base. It seems he had pondered a great deal, and withalarmingly radical daring, over that triangular striated marking in the slate; reading intoit certain contradictions in Nature and geological period which whetted his curiosity to theutmost, and made him avid to sink more borings and blastings in the west-stretching formationto which the exhumed fragments evidently belonged. He was strangely convinced that the markingwas the print of some bulky, unknown, and radically unclassifiable organism of considerablyadvanced evolution, notwithstanding that the rock which bore it was of so vastly ancient a date—Cambrianif not actually pre-Cambrian—as to preclude the probable existence not only of all highlyevolved life, but of any life at all above the unicellular or at most the trilobite stage. Thesefragments, with their odd marking, must have been 500 million to a thousand million years old.

    II.

    Popular imagination, I judge, responded actively to our wireless bulletins of Lake’s startnorthwestward into regions never trodden by human foot or penetrated by human imagination; thoughwe did not mention his wild hopes of revolutionising the entire sciences of biology and geology.His preliminary sledging and boring journey of January 11-18 with Pabodie and five others—marredby the loss of two dogs in an upset when crossing one of the great pressure-ridges in the ice—hadbrought up more and more of the Archaean slate; and even I was interested by the singular profusionof evident fossil markings in that unbelievably ancient stratum. These markings, however, wereof very primitive life-forms involving no great paradox except that any life-forms should occurin rock as definitely pre-Cambrian as this seemed to be; hence I still failed to see the goodsense of Lake’s demand for an interlude in our time-saving programme—an interluderequiring the use of all four planes, many men, and the whole of the expedition’s mechanicalapparatus. I did not, in the end, veto the plan; though I decided not to accompany the northwestwardparty despite Lake’s plea for my geological advice. While they were gone, I would remainat the base with Pabodie and five men and work out final plans for the eastward shift. In preparationfor this transfer one of the planes had begun to move up a good gasoline supply from McMurdoSound; but this could wait temporarily. I kept with me one sledge and nine dogs, since it isunwise to be at any time without possible transportation in an utterly tenantless world of aeon-longdeath.

    Lake’s sub-expedition into the unknown, as everyone will recall, sentout its own reports from the short-wave transmitters on the planes; these being simultaneouslypicked up by our apparatus at the southern base and by the Arkham at McMurdo Sound, whencethey were relayed to the outside world on wave-lengths up to fifty metres. The start was madeJanuary 22 at 4 A.M.; and the first wireless message we received came only two hours later,when Lake spoke of descending and starting a small-scale ice-melting and bore at a point some300 miles away from us. Six hours after that a second and very excited message told of the frantic,beaver-like work whereby a shallow shaft had been sunk and blasted; culminating in the discoveryof slate fragments with several markings approximately like the one which had caused the originalpuzzlement.

    Three hours later a brief bulletin announced the resumption of the flight inthe teeth of a raw and piercing gale; and when I despatched a message of protest against furtherhazards, Lake replied curtly that his new specimens made any hazard worth taking. I saw thathis excitement had reached the point of mutiny, and that I could do nothing to check this headlongrisk of the whole expedition’s success; but it was appalling to think of his plungingdeeper and deeper into that treacherous and sinister white immensity of tempests and unfathomedmysteries which stretched off for some 1500 miles to the half-known, half-suspected coast-lineof Queen Mary and Knox Lands.

    Then, in about an hour and a half more, came that doubly excited message fromLake’s moving plane which almost reversed my sentiments and made me wish I had accompaniedthe party.

    “10:05 P.M. On the wing. After snowstorm, have spied mountain-range aheadhigher than any hitherto seen. May equal Himalayas allowing for height of plateau. ProbableLatitude 76° 15’, Longitude 113° 10’ E. Reaches far as can see to right and left. Suspicionof two smoking cones. All peaks black and bare of snow. Gale blowing off them impedes navigation.”

    After that Pabodie, the men, and I hung breathlessly over the receiver. Thoughtof this titanic mountain rampart 700 miles away inflamed our deepest sense of adventure; andwe rejoiced that our expedition, if not ourselves personally, had been its discoverers. In halfan hour Lake called us again.

    “Moulton’s plane forced down on plateau in foothills, but nobodyhurt and perhaps can repair. Shall transfer essentials to other three for return or furthermoves if necessary, but no more heavy plane travel needed just now. Mountains surpass anythingin imagination. Am going up scouting in Carroll’s plane, with all weight out. You can’timagine anything like this. Highest peaks must go over 35,000 feet. Everest out of the running.Atwood to work out height with theodolite while Carroll and I go up. Probably wrong about cones,for formations look stratified. Possibly pre-Cambrian slate with other strata mixed in. Queerskyline effects—regular sections of cubes clinging to highest peaks. Whole thing marvellousin red-gold light of low sun. Like land of mystery in a dream or gateway to forbidden worldof untrodden wonder. Wish you were here to study.”

    Though it was technically sleeping-time, not one of us listeners thought fora moment of retiring. It must have been a good deal the same at McMurdo Sound, where the supplycache and the Arkham were also getting the messages; for Capt. Douglas gave out a callcongratulating everybody on the important find, and Sherman, the cache operator, seconded hissentiments. We were sorry, of course, about the damaged aëroplane; but hoped it could beeasily mended. Then, at 11 P.M., came another call from Lake.

    “Up with Carroll over highest foothills. Don’t dare try reallytall peaks in present weather, but shall later. Frightful work climbing, and hard going at thisaltitude, but worth it. Great range fairly solid, hence can’t get any glimpses beyond.Main summits exceed Himalayas, and very queer. Range looks like pre-Cambrian slate, with plainsigns of many other upheaved strata. Was wrong about volcanism. Goes farther in either directionthan we can see. Swept clear of snow above about 21,000 feet. Odd formations on slopes of highestmountains. Great low square blocks with exactly vertical sides, and rectangular lines of lowvertical ramparts, like the old Asian castles clinging to steep mountains in Roerich’spaintings. Impressive from distance. Flew close to some, and Carroll thought they were formedof smaller separate pieces, but that is probably weathering. Most edges crumbled and roundedoff as if exposed to storms and climate changes for millions of years. Parts, especially upperparts, seem to be of lighter-coloured rock than any visible strata on slopes proper, hence anevidently crystalline origin. Close flying shews many cave-mouths, some unusually regular inoutline, square or semicircular. You must come and investigate. Think I saw rampart squarelyon top of one peak. Height seems about 30,000 to 35,000 feet. Am up 21,500 myself, in devilishgnawing cold. Wind whistles and pipes through passes and in and out of caves, but no flyingdanger so far.”

    From then on for another half-hour Lake kept up a running fire of comment,and expressed his intention of climbing some of the peaks on foot. I replied that I would joinhim as soon as he could send a plane, and that Pabodie and I would work out the best gasolineplan—just where and how to concentrate our supply in view of the expedition’s alteredcharacter. Obviously, Lake’s boring operations, as well as his aëroplane activities,would need a great deal delivered for the new base which he was to establish at the foot ofthe mountains; and it was possible that the eastward flight might not be made after all thisseason. In connexion with this business I called Capt. Douglas and asked him to get as muchas possible out of the ships and up the barrier with the single dog-team we had left there.A direct route across the unknown region between Lake and McMurdo Sound was what we really oughtto establish.

    Lake called me later to say that he had decided to let the camp stay whereMoulton’s plane had been forced down, and where repairs had already progressed somewhat.The ice-sheet was very thin, with dark ground here and there visible, and he would sink someborings and blasts at that very point before making any sledge trips or climbing expeditions.He spoke of the ineffable majesty of the whole scene, and the queer state of his sensationsat being in the lee of vast silent pinnacles whose ranks shot up like a wall reaching the skyat the world’s rim. Atwood’s theodolite observations had placed the height of thefive tallest peaks at from 30,000 to 34,000 feet. The windswept nature of the terrain clearlydisturbed Lake, for it argued the occasional existence of prodigious gales violent beyond anythingwe had so far encountered. His camp lay a little more than five miles from where the higherfoothills abruptly rose. I could almost trace a note of subconscious alarm in his words—flashedacross a glacial void of 700 miles—as he urged that we all hasten with the matter andget the strange new region disposed of as soon as possible. He was about to rest now, aftera continuous day’s work of almost unparalleled speed, strenuousness, and results.

    In the morning I had a three-cornered wireless talk with Lake and Capt. Douglasat their widely separated bases; and it was agreed that one of Lake’s planes would cometo my base for Pabodie, the five men, and myself, as well as for all the fuel it could carry.The rest of the fuel question, depending on our decision about an easterly trip, could waitfor a few days; since Lake had enough for immediate camp heat and borings. Eventually the oldsouthern base ought to be restocked; but if we postponed the easterly trip we would not useit till the next summer, and meanwhile Lake must send a plane to explore a direct route betweenhis new mountains and McMurdo Sound.

    Pabodie and I prepared to close our base for a short or long period, as thecase might be. If we wintered in the antarctic we would probably fly straight from Lake’sbase to the Arkham without returning to this spot. Some of our conical tents had alreadybeen reinforced by blocks of hard snow, and now we decided to complete the job of making a permanentEsquimau village. Owing to a very liberal tent supply, Lake had with him all that his base wouldneed even after our arrival. I wirelessed that Pabodie and I would be ready for the northwestwardmove after one day’s work and one night’s rest.

    Our labours, however, were not very steady after 4 P.M.; for about that timeLake began sending in the most extraordinary and excited messages. His working day had startedunpropitiously; since an aëroplane survey of the nearly exposed rock surfaces shewed anentire absence of those Archaean and primordial strata for which he was looking, and which formedso great a part of the colossal peaks that loomed up at a tantalising distance from the camp.Most of the rocks glimpsed were apparently Jurassic and Comanchian sandstones and Permian andTriassic schists, with now and then a glossy black outcropping suggesting a hard and slaty coal.This rather discouraged Lake, whose plans all hinged on unearthing specimens more than 500 millionyears older. It was clear to him that in order to recover the Archaean slate vein in which hehad found the odd markings, he would have to make a long sledge trip from these foothills tothe steep slopes of the gigantic mountains themselves.

    He had resolved, nevertheless, to do some local boring as part of the expedition’sgeneral programme; hence set up the drill and put five men to work with it while the rest finishedsettling the camp and repairing the damaged aëroplane. The softest visible rock—asandstone about a quarter of a mile from the camp—had been chosen for the first sampling;and the drill made excellent progress without much supplementary blasting. It was about threehours afterward, following the first really heavy blast of the operation, that the shoutingof the drill crew was heard; and that young Gedney—the acting foreman—rushed intothe camp with the startling news.

    They had struck a cave. Early in the boring the sandstone had given place toa vein of Comanchian limestone full of minute fossil cephalopods, corals, echini, and spirifera,and with occasional suggestions of siliceous sponges and marine vertebrate bones—the latterprobably of teliosts, sharks, and ganoids. This in itself was important enough, as affordingthe first vertebrate fossils the expedition had yet secured; but when shortly afterward thedrill-head dropped through the stratum into apparent vacancy, a wholly new and doubly intensewave of excitement spread among the excavators. A good-sized blast had laid open the subterrenesecret; and now, through a jagged aperture perhaps five feet across and three feet thick, thereyawned before the avid searchers a section of shallow limestone hollowing worn more than fiftymillion years ago by the trickling ground waters of a bygone tropic world.

    The hollowed layer was not more than seven or eight feet deep, but extendedoff indefinitely in all directions and had a fresh, slightly moving air which suggested itsmembership in an extensive subterranean system. Its roof and floor were abundantly equippedwith large stalactites and stalagmites, some of which met in columnar form; but important aboveall else was the vast deposit of shells and bones which in places nearly choked the passage.Washed down from unknown jungles of Mesozoic tree-ferns and fungi, and forests of Tertiary cycads,fan-palms, and primitive angiosperms, this osseous medley contained representatives of moreCretaceous, Eocene, and other animal species than the greatest palaeontologist could have countedor classified in a year. Molluscs, crustacean armour, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, andearly mammals—great and small, known and unknown. No wonder Gedney ran back to the campshouting, and no wonder everyone else dropped work and rushed headlong through the biting coldto where the tall derrick marked a new-found gateway to secrets of inner earth and vanishedaeons.

    When Lake had satisfied the first keen edge of his curiosity he scribbled amessage in his notebook and had young Moulton run back to the camp to despatch it by wireless.This was my first word of the discovery, and it told of the identification of early shells,bones of ganoids and placoderms, remnants of labyrinthodonts and thecodonts, great mososaurskull fragments, dinosaur vertebrae and armour-plates, pterodactyl teeth and wing-bones, archaeopteryxdebris, Miocene sharks’ teeth, primitive bird-skulls, and skulls, vertebrae, and otherbones of archaic mammals such as palaeotheres, xiphodons, dinocerases, eohippi, oreodons, andtitanotheres. There was nothing as recent as a mastodon, elephant, true camel, deer, or bovineanimal; hence Lake concluded that the last deposits had occurred during the Oligocene age, andthat the hollowed stratum had lain in its present dried, dead, and inaccessible state for atleast thirty million years.

    On the other hand, the prevalence of very early life-forms was singular inthe highest degree. Though the limestone formation was, on the evidence of such typical imbeddedfossils as ventriculites, positively and unmistakably Comanchian and not a particle earlier;the free fragments in the hollow space included a surprising proportion from organisms hithertoconsidered as peculiar to far older periods—even rudimentary fishes, molluscs, and coralsas remote as the Silurian or Ordovician. The inevitable inference was that in this part of theworld there had been a remarkable and unique degree of continuity between the life of over 300million years ago and that of only thirty million years ago. How far this continuity had extendedbeyond the Oligocene age when the cavern was closed, was of course past all speculation. Inany event, the coming of the frightful ice in the Pleistocene some 500,000 years ago—amere yesterday as compared with the age of this cavity—must have put an end to any ofthe primal forms which had locally managed to outlive their common terms.

    Lake was not content to let his first message stand, but had another bulletinwritten and despatched across the snow to the camp before Moulton could get back. After thatMoulton stayed at the wireless in one of the planes; transmitting to me—and to theArkham for relaying to the outside world—the frequent postscripts which Lake senthim by a succession of messengers. Those who followed the newspapers will remember the excitementcreated among men of science by that afternoon’s reports—reports which have finallyled, after all these years, to the organisation of that very Starkweather-Moore Expedition whichI am so anxious to dissuade from its purposes. I had better give the messages literally as Lakesent them, and as our base operator McTighe translated them from his pencil shorthand.

    “Fowler makes discovery of highest importance in sandstone and limestonefragments from blasts. Several distinct triangular striated prints like those in Archaean slate,proving that source survived from over 600 million years ago to Comanchian times without morethan moderate morphological changes and decrease in average size. Comanchian prints apparentlymore primitive or decadent, if anything, than older ones. Emphasise importance of discoveryin press. Will mean to biology what Einstein has meant to mathematics and physics. Joins upwith my previous work and amplifies conclusions. Appears to indicate, as I suspected, that earthhas seen whole cycle or cycles of organic life before known one that begins with Archaeozoiccells. Was evolved and specialised not later than thousand million years ago, when planet wasyoung and recently uninhabitable for any life-forms or normal protoplasmic structure. Questionarises when, where, and how development took place.”

    . . .

    “Later. Examining certain skeletal fragments of large land and marinesaurians and primitive mammals, find singular local wounds or injuries to bony structure notattributable to any known predatory or carnivorous animal of any period. Of two sorts—straight,penetrant bores, and apparently hacking incisions. One or two cases of cleanly severed bone.Not many specimens affected. Am sending to camp for electric torches. Will extend search areaunderground by hacking away stalactites.”

    . . .

    “Still later. Have found peculiar soapstone fragment about six inchesacross and an inch and a half thick, wholly unlike any visible local formation. Greenish, butno evidences to place its period. Has curious smoothness and regularity. Shaped like five-pointedstar with tips broken off, and signs of other cleavage at inward angles and in centre of surface.Small, smooth depression in centre of unbroken surface. Arouses much curiosity as to sourceand weathering. Probably some freak of water action. Carroll, with magnifier, thinks he canmake out additional markings of geologic significance. Groups of tiny dots in regular patterns.Dogs growing uneasy as we work, and seem to hate this soapstone. Must see if it has any peculiarodour. Will report again when Mills gets back with light and we start on underground area.”

    . . .

    “10:15 P.M. Important discovery. Orrendorf and Watkins, working undergroundat 9:45 with light, found monstrous barrel-shaped fossil of wholly unknown nature; probablyvegetable unless overgrown specimen of unknown marine radiata. Tissue evidently preserved bymineral salts. Tough as leather, but astonishing flexibility retained in places. Marks of broken-offparts at ends and around sides. Six feet end to end, 3.5 feet central diameter, tapering to1 foot at each end. Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves. Lateral breakages,as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these ridges. In furrows between ridges arecurious growths. Combs or wings that fold up and spread out like fans. All greatly damaged butone, which gives almost seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one of certain monstersof primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in Necronomicon. These wings seem to bemembraneous, stretched on framework of glandular tubing. Apparent minute orifices in frame tubingat wing tips. Ends of body shrivelled, giving no clue to interior or to what has been brokenoff there. Must dissect when we get back to camp. Can’t decide whether vegetable or animal.Many features obviously of almost incredible primitiveness. Have set all hands cutting stalactitesand looking for further specimens. Additional scarred bones found, but these must wait. Havingtrouble with dogs. They can’t endure the new specimen, and would probably tear it to piecesif we didn’t keep it at a distance from them.”

    . . .

    “11:30 P.M. Attention, Dyer, Pabodie, Douglas. Matter of highest—Imight say transcendent—importance. Arkham must relay to Kingsport Head Stationat once. Strange barrel growth is the Archaean thing that left prints in rocks. Mills, Boudreau,and Fowler discover cluster of thirteen more at underground point forty feet from aperture.Mixed with curiously rounded and configured soapstone fragments smaller than one previouslyfound—star-shaped but no marks of breakage except at some of the points. Of organic specimens,eight apparently perfect, with all appendages. Have brought all to surface, leading off dogsto distance. They cannot stand the things. Give close attention to description and repeat backfor accuracy. Papers must get this right.

    “Objects are eight feet long all over. Six-foot five-ridged barrel torso3.5 feet central diameter, 1 foot end diameters. Dark grey, flexible, and infinitely tough.Seven-foot membraneous wings of same colour, found folded, spread out of furrows between ridges.Wing framework tubular or glandular, of lighter grey, with orifices at wing tips. Spread wingshave serrated edge. Around equator, one at central apex of each of the five vertical, stave-likeridges, are five systems of light grey flexible arms or tentacles found tightly folded to torsobut expansible to maximum length of over 3 feet. Like arms of primitive crinoid. Single stalks3 inches diameter branch after 6 inches into five sub-stalks, each of which branches after 8inches into five small, tapering tentacles or tendrils, giving each stalk a total of 25 tentacles.

    “At top of torso blunt bulbous neck of lighter grey with gill-like suggestionsholds yellowish five-pointed starfish-shaped apparent head covered with three-inch wiry ciliaof various prismatic colours. Head thick and puffy, about 2 feet point to point, with three-inchflexible yellowish tubes projecting from each point. Slit in exact centre of top probably breathingaperture. At end of each tube is spherical expansion where yellowish membrane rolls back onhandling to reveal glassy, red-irised globe, evidently an eye. Five slightly longer reddishtubes start from inner angles of starfish-shaped head and end in sac-like swellings of samecolour which upon pressure open to bell-shaped orifices 2 inches maximum diameter and linedwith sharp white tooth-like projections. Probable mouths. All these tubes, cilia, and pointsof starfish-head found folded tightly down; tubes and points clinging to bulbous neck and torso.Flexibility surprising despite vast toughness.

    “At bottom of torso rough but dissimilarly functioning counterparts ofhead arrangements exist. Bulbous light-grey pseudo-neck, without gill suggestions, holds greenishfive-pointed starfish-arrangement. Tough, muscular arms 4 feet long and tapering from 7 inchesdiameter at base to about 2.5 at point. To each point is attached small end of a greenish five-veinedmembraneous triangle 8 inches long and 6 wide at farther end. This is the paddle, fin, or pseudo-footwhich has made prints in rocks from a thousand million to fifty or sixty million years old.From inner angles of starfish-arrangement project two-foot reddish tubes tapering from 3 inchesdiameter at base to 1 at tip. Orifices at tips. All these parts infinitely tough and leathery,but extremely flexible. Four-foot arms with paddles undoubtedly used for locomotion of somesort, marine or otherwise. When moved, display suggestions of exaggerated muscularity. As found,all these projections tightly folded over pseudo-neck and end of torso, corresponding to projectionsat other end.

    “Cannot yet assign positively to animal or vegetable kingdom, but oddsnow favour animal. Probably represents incredibly advanced evolution of radiata without lossof certain primitive features. Echinoderm resemblances unmistakable despite local contradictoryevidences. Wing structure puzzles in view of probable marine habitat, but may have use in waternavigation. Symmetry is curiously vegetable-like, suggesting vegetable’s essentially up-and-downstructure rather than animal’s fore-and-aft structure. Fabulously early date of evolution,preceding even simplest Archaean protozoa hitherto known, baffles all conjecture as to origin.

    “Complete specimens have such uncanny resemblance to certain creaturesof primal myth that suggestion of ancient existence outside antarctic becomes inevitable. Dyerand Pabodie have read Necronomicon and seen Clark Ashton Smith’s nightmare paintingsbased on text, and will understand when I speak of Elder Things supposed to have created allearth-life as jest or mistake. Students have always thought conception formed from morbid imaginativetreatment of very ancient tropical radiata. Also like prehistoric folklore things Wilmarth hasspoken of—Cthulhu cult appendages, etc.

    “Vast field of study opened. Deposits probably of late Cretaceous orearly Eocene period, judging from associated specimens. Massive stalagmites deposited abovethem. Hard work hewing out, but toughness prevented damage. State of preservation miraculous,evidently owing to limestone action. No more found so far, but will resume search later. Jobnow to get fourteen huge specimens to camp without dogs, which bark furiously and can’tbe trusted near them. With nine men—three left to guard the dogs—we ought to managethe three sledges fairly well, though wind is bad. Must establish plane communication with McMurdoSound and begin shipping material. But I’ve got to dissect one of these things beforewe take any rest. Wish I had a real laboratory here. Dyer better kick himself for having triedto stop my westward trip. First the world’s greatest mountains, and then this. If thislast isn’t the high spot of the expedition, I don’t know what is. We’re madescientifically. Congrats, Pabodie, on the drill that opened up the cave. Now will Arkhamplease repeat description?”

    The sensations of Pabodie and myself at receipt of this report were almostbeyond description, nor were our companions much behind us in enthusiasm. McTighe, who had hastilytranslated a few high spots as they came from the droning receiving set, wrote out the entiremessage from his shorthand version as soon as Lake’s operator signed off. All appreciatedthe epoch-making significance of the discovery, and I sent Lake congratulations as soon as the Arkham’s operator had repeated back thedescriptive parts as requested; and myexample was followed by Sherman from his station at the McMurdo Sound supply cache, as wellas by Capt. Douglas of the Arkham. Later, as head of the expedition, I added some remarksto be relayed through the Arkham to the outside world. Of course, rest was an absurdthought amidst this excitement; and my only wish was to get to Lake’s camp as quicklyas I could. It disappointed me when he sent word that a rising mountain gale made early aërialtravel impossible.

    But within an hour and a half interest again rose to banish disappointment.Lake was sending more messages, and told of the completely successful transportation of thefourteen great specimens to the camp. It had been a hard pull, for the things were surprisinglyheavy; but nine men had accomplished it very neatly. Now some of the party were hurriedly buildinga snow corral at a safe distance from the camp, to which the dogs could be brought for greaterconvenience in feeding. The specimens were laid out on the hard snow near the camp, save forone on which Lake was making crude attempts at dissection.

    This dissection seemed to be a greater task than had been expected; for despitethe heat of a gasoline stove in the newly raised laboratory tent, the deceptively flexible tissuesof the chosen specimen—a powerful and intact one—lost nothing of their more thanleathery toughness. Lake was puzzled as to how he might make the requisite incisions withoutviolence destructive enough to upset all the structural niceties he was looking for. He had,it is true, seven more perfect specimens; but these were too few to use up recklessly unlessthe cave might later yield an unlimited supply. Accordingly he removed the specimen and draggedin one which, though having remnants of the starfish-arrangements at both ends, was badly crushedand partly disrupted along one of the great torso furrows.

    Results, quickly reported over the wireless, were baffling and provocativeindeed. Nothing like delicacy or accuracy was possible with instruments hardly able to cut theanomalous tissue, but the little that was achieved left us all awed and bewildered. Existingbiology would have to be wholly revised, for this thing was no product of any cell-growth scienceknows about. There had been scarcely any mineral replacement, and despite an age of perhapsforty million years the internal organs were wholly intact. The leathery, undeteriorative, andalmost indestructible quality was an inherent attribute of the thing’s form of organisation;and pertained to some palaeogean cycle of invertebrate evolution utterly beyond our powers ofspeculation. At first all that Lake found was dry, but as the heated tent produced its thawingeffect, organic moisture of pungent and offensive odour was encountered toward the thing’suninjured side. It was not blood, but a thick, dark-green fluid apparently answering the samepurpose. By the time Lake reached this stage all 37 dogs had been brought to the still uncompletedcorral near the camp; and even at that distance set up a savage barking and show of restlessnessat the acrid, diffusive smell.

    Far from helping to place the strange entity, this provisional dissection merelydeepened its mystery. All guesses about its external members had been correct, and on the evidenceof these one could hardly hesitate to call the thing animal; but internal inspection broughtup so many vegetable evidences that Lake was left hopelessly at sea. It had digestion and circulation,and eliminated waste matter through the reddish tubes of its starfish-shaped base. Cursorily,one would say that its respiratory apparatus handled oxygen rather than carbon dioxide; andthere were odd evidences of air-storage chambers and methods of shifting respiration from theexternal orifice to at least two other fully developed breathing-systems—gills and pores.Clearly, it was amphibian and probably adapted to long airless hibernation-periods as well.Vocal organs seemed present in connexion with the main respiratory system, but they presentedanomalies beyond immediate solution. Articulate speech, in the sense of syllable-utterance,seemed barely conceivable; but musical piping notes covering a wide range were highly probable.The muscular system was almost preternaturally developed.

    The nervous system was so complex and highly developed as to leave Lake aghast.Though excessively primitive and archaic in some respects, the thing had a set of ganglial centresand connectives arguing the very extremes of specialised development. Its five-lobed brain wassurprisingly advanced; and there were signs of a sensory equipment, served in part through thewiry cilia of the head, involving factors alien to any other terrestrial organism. Probablyit had more than five senses, so that its habits could not be predicted from any existing analogy.It must, Lake thought, have been a creature of keen sensitiveness and delicately differentiatedfunctions in its primal world; much like the ants and bees of today. It reproduced like thevegetable cryptogams, especially the pteridophytes; having spore-cases at the tips of the wingsand evidently developing from a thallus or prothallus.

    But to give it a name at this stage was mere folly. It looked like a radiate,but was clearly something more. It was partly vegetable, but had three-fourths of the essentialsof animal structure. That it was marine in origin, its symmetrical contour and certain otherattributes clearly indicated; yet one could not be exact as to the limit of its later adaptations.The wings, after all, held a persistent suggestion of the aërial. How it could have undergoneits tremendously complex evolution on a new-born earth in time to leave prints in Archaean rockswas so far beyond conception as to make Lake whimsically recall the primal myths about GreatOld Ones who filtered down from the stars and concocted earth-life as a joke or mistake; andthe wild tales of cosmic hill things from Outside told by a folklorist colleague in Miskatonic’sEnglish department.

    Naturally, he considered the possibility of the pre-Cambrian prints’having been made by a less evolved ancestor of the present specimens; but quickly rejected thistoo facile theory upon considering the advanced structural qualities of the older fossils. Ifanything, the later contours shewed decadence rather than higher evolution. The size of thepseudo-feet had decreased, and the whole morphology seemed coarsened and simplified. Moreover,the nerves and organs just examined held singular suggestions of retrogression from forms stillmore complex. Atrophied and vestigial parts were surprisingly prevalent. Altogether, littlecould be said to have been solved; and Lake fell back on mythology for a provisional name—jocoselydubbing his finds “The Elder Ones”.

    At about 2:30 A.M., having decided to postpone further work and get a littlerest, he covered the dissected organism with a tarpaulin, emerged from the laboratory tent,and studied the intact specimens with renewed interest. The ceaseless antarctic sun had begunto limber up their tissues a trifle, so that the head-points and tubes of two or three shewedsigns of unfolding; but Lake did not believe there was any danger of immediate decompositionin the almost sub-zero air. He did, however, move all the undissected specimens closer togetherand throw a spare tent over them in order to keep off the direct solar rays. That would alsohelp to keep their possible scent away from the dogs, whose hostile unrest was really becominga problem even at their substantial distance and behind the higher and higher snow walls whichan increased quota of the men were hastening to raise around their quarters. He had to weightdown the corners of the tent-cloth with heavy blocks of snow to hold it in place amidst therising gale, for the titan mountains seemed about to deliver some gravely severe blasts. Earlyapprehensions about sudden antarctic winds were revived, and under Atwood’s supervisionprecautions were taken to bank the tents, new dog-corral, and crude aëroplane shelterswith snow on the mountainward side. These latter shelters, begun with hard snow blocks duringodd moments, were by no means as high as they should have been; and Lake finally detached allhands from other tasks to work on them.

    It was after four when Lake at last prepared to sign off and advised us allto share the rest period his outfit would take when the shelter walls were a little higher.He held some friendly chat with Pabodie over the ether, and repeated his praise of the reallymarvellous drills that had helped him make his discovery. Atwood also sent greetings and praises.I gave Lake a warm word of congratulation, owning up that he was right about the western trip;and we all agreed to get in touch by wireless at ten in the morning. If the gale was then over,Lake would send a plane for the party at my base. Just before retiring I despatched a finalmessage to the Arkham with instructions about toning down the day’s news for theoutside world, since the full details seemed radical enough to rouse a wave of incredulity untilfurther substantiated.

    III.

    None of us, I imagine, slept very heavily or continuously that morning; for both the excitementof Lake’s discovery and the mounting fury of the wind were against such a thing. So savagewas the blast, even where we were, that we could not help wondering how much worse it was atLake’s camp, directly under the vast unknown peaks that bred and delivered it. McTighewas awake at ten o’clock and tried to get Lake on the wireless, as agreed, but some electricalcondition in the disturbed air to the westward seemed to prevent communication. We did, however,get the Arkham, and Douglas told me that he had likewise been vainly trying to reachLake. He had not known about the wind, for very little was blowing at McMurdo Sound despiteits persistent rage where we were.

    Throughout the day we all listened anxiously and tried to get Lake at intervals,but invariably without results. About noon a positive frenzy of wind stampeded out of the west,causing us to fear for the safety of our camp; but it eventually died down, with only a moderaterelapse at 2 P.M. After three o’clock it was very quiet, and we redoubled our effortsto get Lake. Reflecting that he had four planes, each provided with an excellent short-waveoutfit, we could not imagine any ordinary accident capable of crippling all his wireless equipmentat once. Nevertheless the stony silence continued; and when we thought of the delirious forcethe wind must have had in his locality we could not help making the most direful conjectures.

    By six o’clock our fears had become intense and definite, and after awireless consultation with Douglas and Thorfinnssen I resolved to take steps toward investigation.The fifth aëroplane, which we had left at the McMurdo Sound supply cache with Sherman andtwo sailors, was in good shape and ready for instant use; and it seemed that the very emergencyfor which it had been saved was now upon us. I got Sherman by wireless and ordered him to joinme with the plane and the two sailors at the southern base as quickly as possible; the air conditionsbeing apparently highly favourable. We then talked over the personnel of the coming investigationparty; and decided that we would include all hands, together with the sledge and dogs whichI had kept with me. Even so great a load would not be too much for one of the huge planes builtto our especial orders for heavy machinery transportation. At intervals I still tried to reachLake with the wireless, but all to no purpose.

    Sherman, with the sailors Gunnarsson and Larsen, took off at 7:30; and reporteda quiet flight from several points on the wing. They arrived at our base at midnight, and allhands at once discussed the next move. It was risky business sailing over the antarctic in asingle aëroplane without any line of bases, but no one drew back from what seemed likethe plainest necessity. We turned in at two o’clock for a brief rest after some preliminaryloading of the plane, but were up again in four hours to finish the loading and packing.

    At 7:15 A.M., January 25th, we started flying northwestward under McTighe’spilotage with ten men, seven dogs, a sledge, a fuel and food supply, and other items includingthe plane’s wireless outfit. The atmosphere was clear, fairly quiet, and relatively mildin temperature; and we anticipated very little trouble in reaching the latitude and longitudedesignated by Lake as the site of his camp. Our apprehensions were over what we might find,or fail to find, at the end of our journey; for silence continued to answer all calls despatchedto the camp.

    Every incident of that four-and-a-half-hour flight is burned into my recollectionbecause of its crucial position in my life. It marked my loss, at the age of fifty-four, ofall that peace and balance which the normal mind possesses through its accustomed conceptionof external Nature and Nature’s laws. Thenceforward the ten of us—but the studentDanforth and myself above all others—were to face a hideously amplified world of lurkinghorrors which nothing can erase from our emotions, and which we would refrain from sharing withmankind in general if we could. The newspapers have printed the bulletins we sent from the movingplane; telling of our non-stop course, our two battles with treacherous upper-air gales, ourglimpse of the broken surface where Lake had sunk his mid-journey shaft three days before, andour sight of a group of those strange fluffy snow-cylinders noted by Amundsen and Byrd as rollingin the wind across the endless leagues of frozen plateau. There came a point, though, when oursensations could not be conveyed in any words the press would understand; and a later pointwhen we had to adopt an actual rule of strict censorship.

    The sailor Larsen was first to spy the jagged line of witch-like cones andpinnacles ahead, and his shouts sent everyone to the windows of the great cabined plane. Despiteour speed, they were very slow in gaining prominence; hence we knew that they must be infinitelyfar off, and visible only because of their abnormal height. Little by little, however, theyrose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits,and to catch the curious sense of phantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarcticlight against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectaclethere was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation; as ifthese stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheresof dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not helpfeeling that they were evil things—mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked outover some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud-background held ineffablesuggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial; andgave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long deathof this untrodden and unfathomed austral world.

    It was young Danforth who drew our notice to the curious regularities of thehigher mountain skyline—regularities like clinging fragments of perfect cubes, which Lakehad mentioned in his messages, and which indeed justified his comparison with the dream-likesuggestions of primordial temple-ruins on cloudy Asian mountain-tops so subtly and strangelypainted by Roerich. There was indeed something hauntingly Roerich-like about this whole unearthlycontinent of mountainous mystery. I had felt it in October when we first caught sight of VictoriaLand, and I felt it afresh now. I felt, too, another wave of uneasy consciousness of Archaeanmythical resemblances; of how disturbingly this lethal realm corresponded to the evilly famedplateau of Leng in the primal writings. Mythologists have placed Leng in Central Asia; but theracial memory of man—or of his predecessors—is long, and it may well be that certaintales have come down from lands and mountains and temples of horror earlier than Asia and earlierthan any human world we know. A few daring mystics have hinted at a pre-Pleistocene origin forthe fragmentary Pnakotic Manuscripts, and have suggested that the devotees of Tsathoggua wereas alien to mankind as Tsathoggua itself. Leng, wherever in space or time it might brood, wasnot a region I would care to be in or near; nor did I relish the proximity of a world that hadever bred such ambiguous and Archaean monstrosities as those Lake had just mentioned. At themoment I felt sorry that I had ever read the abhorred Necronomicon, or talked so muchwith that unpleasantly erudite folklorist Wilmarth at the university.

    This mood undoubtedly served to aggravate my reaction to the bizarre miragewhich burst upon us from the increasingly opalescent zenith as we drew near the mountains andbegan to make out the cumulative undulations of the foothills. I had seen dozens of polar miragesduring the preceding weeks, some of them quite as uncanny and fantastically vivid as the presentsample; but this one had a wholly novel and obscure quality of menacing symbolism, and I shudderedas the seething labyrinth of fabulous walls and towers and minarets loomed out of the troubledice-vapours above our heads.

    The effect was that of a Cyclopean city of no architecture known to man orto human imagination, with vast aggregations of night-black masonry embodying monstrous perversionsof geometrical laws and attaining the most grotesque extremes of sinister bizarrerie. Therewere truncated cones, sometimes terraced or fluted, surmounted by tall cylindrical shafts hereand there bulbously enlarged and often capped with tiers of thinnish scalloped discs; and strange,beetling, table-like constructions suggesting piles of multitudinous rectangular slabs or circularplates or five-pointed stars with each one overlapping the one beneath. There were compositecones and pyramids either alone or surmounting cylinders or cubes or flatter truncated conesand pyramids, and occasional needle-like spires in curious clusters of five. All of these febrilestructures seemed knit together by tubular bridges crossing from one to the other at variousdizzy heights, and the implied scale of the whole was terrifying and oppressive in its sheergiganticism. The general type of mirage was not unlike some of the wilder forms observed anddrawn by the Arctic whaler Scoresby in 1820; but at this time and place, with those dark, unknownmountain peaks soaring stupendously ahead, that anomalous elder-world discovery in our minds,and the pall of probable disaster enveloping the greater part of our expedition, we all seemedto find in it a taint of latent malignity and infinitely evil portent.

    I was glad when the mirage began to break up, though in the process the variousnightmare turrets and cones assumed distorted temporary forms of even vaster hideousness. Asthe whole illusion dissolved to churning opalescence we began to look earthward again, and sawthat our journey’s end was not far off. The unknown mountains ahead rose dizzyingly uplike a fearsome rampart of giants, their curious regularities shewing with startling clearnesseven without a field-glass. We were over the lowest foothills now, and could see amidst thesnow, ice, and bare patches of their main plateau a couple of darkish spots which we took tobe Lake’s camp and boring. The higher foothills shot up between five and six miles away,forming a range almost distinct from the terrifying line of more than Himalayan peaks beyondthem. At length Ropes—the student who had relieved McTighe at the controls—beganto head downward toward the left-hand dark spot whose size marked it as the camp. As he didso, McTighe sent out the last uncensored wireless message the world was to receive from ourexpedition.

    Everyone, of course, has read the brief and unsatisfying bulletins of the restof our antarctic sojourn. Some hours after our landing we sent a guarded report of the tragedywe found, and reluctantly announced the wiping out of the whole Lake party by the frightfulwind of the preceding day, or of the night before that. Eleven known dead, young Gedney missing.People pardoned our hazy lack of details through realisation of the shock the sad event musthave caused us, and believed us when we explained that the mangling action of the wind had renderedall eleven bodies unsuitable for transportation outside. Indeed, I flatter myself that evenin the midst of our distress, utter bewilderment, and soul-clutching horror, we scarcely wentbeyond the truth in any specific instance. The tremendous significance lies in what we darednot tell—what I would not tell now but for the need of warning others off from namelessterrors.

    It is a fact that the wind had wrought dreadful havoc. Whether all could havelived through it, even without the other thing, is gravely open to doubt. The storm, with itsfury of madly driven ice-particles, must have been beyond anything our expedition had encounteredbefore. One aëroplane shelter—all, it seems, had been left in a far too flimsy andinadequate state—was nearly pulverised; and the derrick at the distant boring was entirelyshaken to pieces. The exposed metal of the grounded planes and drilling machinery was bruisedinto a high polish, and two of the small tents were flattened despite their snow banking. Woodensurfaces left out in the blast were pitted and denuded of paint, and all signs of tracks inthe snow were completely obliterated. It is also true that we found none of the Archaean biologicalobjects in a condition to take outside as a whole. We did gather some minerals from a vast tumbledpile, including several of the greenish soapstone fragments whose odd five-pointed roundingand faint patterns of grouped dots caused so many doubtful comparisons; and some fossil bones,among which were the most typical of the curiously injured specimens.

    None of the dogs survived, their hurriedly built snow enclosure near the campbeing almost wholly destroyed. The wind may have done that, though the greater breakage on theside next the camp, which was not the windward one, suggests an outward leap or break of thefrantic beasts themselves. All three sledges were gone, and we have tried to explain that thewind may have blown them off into the unknown. The drill and ice-melting machinery at the boringwere too badly damaged to warrant salvage, so we used them to choke up that subtly disturbinggateway to the past which Lake had blasted. We likewise left at the camp the two most shaken-upof the planes; since our surviving party had only four real pilots—Sherman, Danforth,McTighe, and Ropes—in all, with Danforth in a poor nervous shape to navigate. We broughtback all the books, scientific equipment, and other incidentals we could find, though much wasrather unaccountably blown away. Spare tents and furs were either missing or badly out of condition.

    It was approximately 4 P.M., after wide plane cruising had forced us to giveGedney up for lost, that we sent our guarded message to the Arkham for relaying; andI think we did well to keep it as calm and non-committal as we succeeded in doing. The mostwe said about agitation concerned our dogs, whose frantic uneasiness near the biological specimenswas to be expected from poor Lake’s accounts. We did not mention, I think, their displayof the same uneasiness when sniffing around the queer greenish soapstones and certain otherobjects in the disordered region; objects including scientific instruments, aëroplanes,and machinery both at the camp and at the boring, whose parts had been loosened, moved, or otherwisetampered with by winds that must have harboured singular curiosity and investigativeness.

    About the fourteen biological specimens we were pardonably indefinite. We saidthat the only ones we discovered were damaged, but that enough was left of them to prove Lake’sdescription wholly and impressively accurate. It was hard work keeping our personal emotionsout of this matter—and we did not mention numbers or say exactly how we had found thosewhich we did find. We had by that time agreed not to transmit anything suggesting madness onthe part of Lake’s men, and it surely looked like madness to find six imperfect monstrositiescarefully buried upright in nine-foot snow graves under five-pointed mounds punched over withgroups of dots in patterns exactly like those on the queer greenish soapstones dug up from Mesozoicor Tertiary times. The eight perfect specimens mentioned by Lake seemed to have been completelyblown away.

    We were careful, too, about the public’s general peace of mind; henceDanforth and I said little about that frightful trip over the mountains the next day. It wasthe fact that only a radically lightened plane could possibly cross a range of such height whichmercifully limited that scouting tour to the two of us. On our return at 1 A.M. Danforth wasclose to hysterics, but kept an admirably stiff upper lip. It took no persuasion to make himpromise not to shew our sketches and the other things we brought away in our pockets, not tosay anything more to the others than what we had agreed to relay outside, and to hide our camerafilms for private development later on; so that part of my present story will be as new to Pabodie,McTighe, Ropes, Sherman, and the rest as it will be to the world in general. Indeed—Danforthis closer mouthed than I; for he saw—or thinks he saw—one thing he will not telleven me.

    As all know, our report included a tale of a hard ascent; a confirmation ofLake’s opinion that the great peaks are of Archaean slate and other very primal crumpledstrata unchanged since at least middle Comanchian times; a conventional comment on the regularityof the clinging cube and rampart formations; a decision that the cave-mouths indicate dissolvedcalcareous veins; a conjecture that certain slopes and passes would permit of the scaling andcrossing of the entire range by seasoned mountaineers; and a remark that the mysterious otherside holds a lofty and immense super-plateau as ancient and unchanging as the mountains themselves—20,000feet in elevation, with grotesque rock formations protruding through a thin glacial layer andwith low gradual foothills between the general plateau surface and the sheer precipices of thehighest peaks.

    This body of data is in every respect true so far as it goes, and it completelysatisfied the men at the camp. We laid our absence of sixteen hours—a longer time thanour announced flying, landing, reconnoitring, and rock-collecting programme called for—toa long mythical spell of adverse wind conditions; and told truly of our landing on the fartherfoothills. Fortunately our tale sounded realistic and prosaic enough not to tempt any of theothers into emulating our flight. Had any tried to do that, I would have used every ounce ofmy persuasion to stop them—and I do not know what Danforth would have done. While we weregone, Pabodie, Sherman, Ropes, McTighe, and Williamson had worked like beavers over Lake’stwo best planes; fitting them again for use despite the altogether unaccountable juggling oftheir operative mechanism.

    We decided to load all the planes the next morning and start back for our oldbase as soon as possible. Even though indirect, that was the safest way to work toward McMurdoSound; for a straight-line flight across the most utterly unknown stretches of the aeon-deadcontinent would involve many additional hazards. Further exploration was hardly feasible inview of our tragic decimation and the ruin of our drilling machinery; and the doubts and horrorsaround us—which we did not reveal—made us wish only to escape from this australworld of desolation and brooding madness as swiftly as we could.

    As the public knows, our return to the world was accomplished without furtherdisasters. All planes reached the old base on the evening of the next day—January 27th—aftera swift non-stop flight; and on the 28th we made McMurdo Sound in two laps, the one pause beingvery brief, and occasioned by a faulty rudder in the furious wind over the ice-shelf after wehad cleared the great plateau. In five days more the Arkham and Miskatonic, withall hands and equipment on board, were shaking clear of the thickening field ice and workingup Ross Sea with the mocking mountains of Victoria Land looming westward against a troubledantarctic sky and twisting the wind’s wails into a wide-ranged musical piping which chilledmy soul to the quick. Less than a fortnight later we left the last hint of polar land behindus, and thanked heaven that we were clear of a haunted, accursed realm where life and death,space and time, have made black and blasphemous alliances in the unknown epochs since matterfirst writhed and swam on the planet’s scarce-cooled crust.

    Since our return we have all constantly worked to discourage antarctic exploration,and have kept certain doubts and guesses to ourselves with splendid unity and faithfulness.Even young Danforth, with his nervous breakdown, has not flinched or babbled to his doctors—indeed,as I have said, there is one thing he thinks he alone saw which he will not tell even me, thoughI think it would help his psychological state if he would consent to do so. It might explainand relieve much, though perhaps the thing was no more than the delusive aftermath of an earliershock. That is the impression I gather after those rare irresponsible moments when he whispersdisjointed things to me—things which he repudiates vehemently as soon as he gets a gripon himself again.

    It will be hard work deterring others from the great white south, and someof our efforts may directly harm our cause by drawing inquiring notice. We might have knownfrom the first that human curiosity is undying, and that the results we announced would be enoughto spur others ahead on the same age-long pursuit of the unknown. Lake’s reports of thosebiological monstrosities had aroused naturalists and palaeontologists to the highest pitch;though we were sensible enough not to shew the detached parts we had taken from the actual buriedspecimens, or our photographs of those specimens as they were found. We also refrained fromshewing the more puzzling of the scarred bones and greenish soapstones; while Danforth and Ihave closely guarded the pictures we took or drew on the super-plateau across the range, andthe crumpled things we smoothed, studied in terror, and brought away in our pockets. But nowthat Starkweather-Moore party is organising, and with a thoroughness far beyond anything ouroutfit attempted. If not dissuaded, they will get to the innermost nucleus of the antarcticand melt and bore till they bring up that which may end the world we know. So I must break throughall reticences at last—even about that ultimate nameless thing beyond the mountains ofmadness.

    IV.

    It is only with vast hesitancy and repugnance that I let my mind go back to Lake’s campand what we really found there—and to that other thing beyond the frightful mountain wall.I am constantly tempted to shirk the details, and to let hints stand for actual facts and ineluctabledeductions. I hope I have said enough already to let me glide briefly over the rest; the rest,that is, of the horror at the camp. I have told of the wind-ravaged terrain, the damaged shelters,the disarranged machinery, the varied uneasinesses of our dogs, the missing sledges and otheritems, the deaths of men and dogs, the absence of Gedney, and the six insanely buried biologicalspecimens, strangely sound in texture for all their structural injuries, from a world fortymillion years dead. I do not recall whether I mentioned that upon checking up the canine bodieswe found one dog missing. We did not think much about that till later—indeed, only Danforthand I have thought of it at all.

    The principal things I have been keeping back relate to the bodies, and tocertain subtle points which may or may not lend a hideous and incredible kind of rationale tothe apparent chaos. At the time I tried to keep the men’s minds off those points; forit was so much simpler—so much more normal—to lay everything to an outbreak of madnesson the part of some of Lake’s party. From the look of things, that daemon mountain windmust have been enough to drive any man mad in the midst of this centre of all earthly mysteryand desolation.

    The crowning abnormality, of course, was the condition of the bodies—menand dogs alike. They had all been in some terrible kind of conflict, and were torn and mangledin fiendish and altogether inexplicable ways. Death, so far as we could judge, had in each casecome from strangulation or laceration. The dogs had evidently started the trouble, for thestate of their ill-built corral bore witness to its forcible breakage from within. It had beenset some distance from the camp because of the hatred of the animals for those hellish Archaeanorganisms, but the precaution seemed to have been taken in vain. When left alone in that monstrouswind behind flimsy walls of insufficient height they must have stampeded—whether fromthe wind itself, or from some subtle, increasing odour emitted by the nightmare specimens, onecould not say. Those specimens, of course, had been covered with a tent-cloth; yet the low antarcticsun had beat steadily upon that cloth, and Lake had mentioned that solar heat tended to makethe strangely sound and tough tissues of the things relax and expand. Perhaps the wind had whippedthe cloth from over them, and jostled them about in such a way that their more pungent olfactoryqualities became manifest despite their unbelievable antiquity.

    But whatever had happened, it was hideous and revolting enough. Perhaps I hadbetter put squeamishness aside and tell the worst at last—though with a categorical statementof opinion, based on the first-hand observations and most rigid deductions of both Danforthand myself, that the then missing Gedney was in no way responsible for the loathsome horrorswe found. I have said that the bodies were frightfully mangled. Now I must add that some wereincised and subtracted from in the most curious, cold-blooded, and inhuman fashion. It was thesame with dogs and men. All the healthier, fatter bodies, quadrupedal or bipedal, had had theirmost solid masses of tissue cut out and removed, as by a careful butcher; and around them wasa strange sprinkling of salt—taken from the ravaged provision-chests on the planes—whichconjured up the most horrible associations. The thing had occurred in one of the crude aëroplaneshelters from which the plane had been dragged out, and subsequent winds had effaced all trackswhich could have supplied any plausible theory. Scattered bits of clothing, roughly slashedfrom the human incision-subjects, hinted no clues. It is useless to bring up the half-impressionof certain faint snow-prints in one shielded corner of the ruined enclosure—because thatimpression did not concern human prints at all, but was clearly mixed up with all the talk offossil prints which poor Lake had been giving throughout the preceding weeks. One had to becareful of one’s imagination in the lee of those overshadowing mountains of madness.

    As I have indicated, Gedney and one dog turned out to be missing in the end.When we came on that terrible shelter we had missed two dogs and two men; but the fairly unharmeddissecting tent, which we entered after investigating the monstrous graves, had something toreveal. It was not as Lake had left it, for the covered parts of the primal monstrosity hadbeen removed from the improvised table. Indeed, we had already realised that one of the siximperfect and insanely buried things we had found—the one with the trace of a peculiarlyhateful odour—must represent the collected sections of the entity which Lake had triedto analyse. On and around that laboratory table were strown other things, and it did not takelong for us to guess that those things were the carefully though oddly and inexpertly dissectedparts of one man and one dog. I shall spare the feelings of survivors by omitting mention ofthe man’s identity. Lake’s anatomical instruments were missing, but there were evidencesof their careful cleansing. The gasoline stove was also gone, though around it we found a curiouslitter of matches. We buried the human parts beside the other ten men, and the canine partswith the other 35 dogs. Concerning the bizarre smudges on the laboratory table, and on the jumbleof roughly handled illustrated books scattered near it, we were much too bewildered to speculate.

    This formed the worst of the camp horror, but other things were equally perplexing.The disappearance of Gedney, the one dog, the eight uninjured biological specimens, the threesledges, and certain instruments, illustrated technical and scientific books, writing materials,electric torches and batteries, food and fuel, heating apparatus, spare tents, fur suits, andthe like, was utterly beyond sane conjecture; as were likewise the spatter-fringed ink-blotson certain pieces of paper, and the evidences of curious alien fumbling and experimentationaround the planes and all other mechanical devices both at the camp and at the boring. The dogsseemed to abhor this oddly disordered machinery. Then, too, there was the upsetting of the larder,the disappearance of certain staples, and the jarringly comical heap of tin cans pried openin the most unlikely ways and at the most unlikely places. The profusion of scattered matches,intact, broken, or spent, formed another minor enigma; as did the two or three tent-cloths andfur suits which we found lying about with peculiar and unorthodox slashings conceivably dueto clumsy efforts at unimaginable adaptations. The maltreatment of the human and canine bodies,and the crazy burial of the damaged Archaean specimens, were all of a piece with this apparentdisintegrative madness. In view of just such an eventuality as the present one, we carefullyphotographed all the main evidences of insane disorder at the camp; and shall use the printsto buttress our pleas against the departure of the proposed Starkweather-Moore Expedition.

    Our first act after finding the bodies in the shelter was to photograph andopen the row of insane graves with the five-pointed snow mounds. We could not help noticingthe resemblance of these monstrous mounds, with their clusters of grouped dots, to poor Lake’sdescriptions of the strange greenish soapstones; and when we came on some of the soapstonesthemselves in the great mineral pile we found the likeness very close indeed. The whole generalformation, it must be made clear, seemed abominably suggestive of the starfish-head of the Archaeanentities; and we agreed that the suggestion must have worked potently upon the sensitised mindsof Lake’s overwrought party. Our own first sight of the actual buried entities formeda horrible moment, and sent the imaginations of Pabodie and myself back to some of the shockingprimal myths we had read and heard. We all agreed that the mere sight and continued presenceof the things must have coöperated with the oppressive polar solitude and daemon mountainwind in driving Lake’s party mad.

    For madness—centring in Gedney as the only possible surviving agent—wasthe explanation spontaneously adopted by everybody so far as spoken utterance was concerned;though I will not be so naive as to deny that each of us may have harboured wild guesses whichsanity forbade him to formulate completely. Sherman, Pabodie, and McTighe made an exhaustiveaëroplane cruise over all the surrounding territory in the afternoon, sweeping the horizonwith field-glasses in quest of Gedney and of the various missing things; but nothing came tolight. The party reported that the titan barrier range extended endlessly to right and leftalike, without any diminution in height or essential structure. On some of the peaks, though,the regular cube and rampart formations were bolder and plainer; having doubly fantastic similitudesto Roerich-painted Asian hill ruins. The distribution of cryptical cave-mouths on the blacksnow-denuded summits seemed roughly even as far as the range could be traced.

    In spite of all the prevailing horrors we were left with enough sheer scientificzeal and adventurousness to wonder about the unknown realm beyond those mysterious mountains.As our guarded messages stated, we rested at midnight after our day of terror and bafflement;but not without a tentative plan for one or more range-crossing altitude flights in a lightenedplane with aërial camera and geologist’s outfit, beginning the following morning.It was decided that Danforth and I try it first, and we awaked at 7 A.M. intending an earlytrip; though heavy winds—mentioned in our brief bulletin to the outside world—delayedour start till nearly nine o’clock.

    I have already repeated the non-committal story we told the men at camp—andrelayed outside—after our return sixteen hours later. It is now my terrible duty to amplifythis account by filling in the merciful blanks with hints of what we really saw in the hiddentrans-montane world—hints of the revelations which have finally driven Danforth to a nervouscollapse. I wish he would add a really frank word about the thing which he thinks he alone saw—eventhough it was probably a nervous delusion—and which was perhaps the last straw that puthim where he is; but he is firm against that. All I can do is to repeat his later disjointedwhispers about what set him shrieking as the plane soared back through the wind-tortured mountainpass after that real and tangible shock which I shared. This will form my last word. If theplain signs of surviving elder horrors in what I disclose be not enough to keep others frommeddling with the inner antarctic—or at least from prying too deeply beneath the surfaceof that ultimate waste of forbidden secrets and unhuman, aeon-cursed desolation—the responsibilityfor unnamable and perhaps immensurable evils will not be mine.

    Danforth and I, studying the notes made by Pabodie in his afternoon flightand checking up with a sextant, had calculated that the lowest available pass in the range laysomewhat to the right of us, within sight of camp, and about 23,000 or 24,000 feet above sea-level.For this point, then, we first headed in the lightened plane as we embarked on our flight ofdiscovery. The camp itself, on foothills which sprang from a high continental plateau, was some12,000 feet in altitude; hence the actual height increase necessary was not so vast as it mightseem. Nevertheless we were acutely conscious of the rarefied air and intense cold as we rose;for on account of visibility conditions we had to leave the cabin windows open. We were dressed,of course, in our heaviest furs.

    As we drew near the forbidding peaks, dark and sinister above the line of crevasse-rivensnow and interstitial glaciers, we noticed more and more the curiously regular formations clingingto the slopes; and thought again of the strange Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich. The ancientand wind-weathered rock strata fully verified all of Lake’s bulletins, and proved thatthese hoary pinnacles had been towering up in exactly the same way since a surprisingly earlytime in earth’s history—perhaps over fifty million years. How much higher they hadonce been, it was futile to guess; but everything about this strange region pointed to obscureatmospheric influences unfavourable to change, and calculated to retard the usual climatic processesof rock disintegration.

    But it was the mountainside tangle of regular cubes, ramparts, and cave-mouthswhich fascinated and disturbed us most. I studied them with a field-glass and took aërialphotographs whilst Danforth drove; and at times relieved him at the controls—though myaviation knowledge was purely an amateur’s—in order to let him use the binoculars.We could easily see that much of the material of the things was a lightish Archaean quartzite,unlike any formation visible over broad areas of the general surface; and that their regularitywas extreme and uncanny to an extent which poor Lake had scarcely hinted.

    As he had said, their edges were crumbled and rounded from untold aeons ofsavage weathering; but their preternatural solidity and tough material had saved them from obliteration.Many parts, especially those closest to the slopes, seemed identical in substance with the surroundingrock surface. The whole arrangement looked like the ruins of Machu Picchu in the Andes, or theprimal foundation-walls of Kish as dug up by the Oxford-Field Museum Expedition in 1929;and both Danforth and I obtained that occasional impression of separate Cyclopean blockswhich Lake had attributed to his flight-companion Carroll. How to account for such things inthis place was frankly beyond me, and I felt queerly humbled as a geologist. Igneous formationsoften have strange regularities—like the famous Giants’ Causeway in Ireland—butthis stupendous range, despite Lake’s original suspicion of smoking cones, was above allelse non-volcanic in evident structure.

    The curious cave-mouths, near which the odd formations seemed most abundant,presented another albeit a lesser puzzle because of their regularity of outline. They were,as Lake’s bulletin had said, often approximately square or semicircular; as if the naturalorifices had been shaped to greater symmetry by some magic hand. Their numerousness and widedistribution were remarkable, and suggested that the whole region was honeycombed with tunnelsdissolved out of limestone strata. Such glimpses as we secured did not extend far within thecaverns, but we saw that they were apparently clear of stalactites and stalagmites. Outside,those parts of the mountain slopes adjoining the apertures seemed invariably smooth and regular;and Danforth thought that the slight cracks and pittings of the weathering tended toward unusualpatterns. Filled as he was with the horrors and strangenesses discovered at the camp, he hintedthat the pittings vaguely resembled those baffling groups of dots sprinkled over the primevalgreenish soapstones, so hideously duplicated on the madly conceived snow mounds above thosesix buried monstrosities.

    We had risen gradually in flying over the higher foothills and along towardthe relatively low pass we had selected. As we advanced we occasionally looked down at the snowand ice of the land route, wondering whether we could have attempted the trip with the simplerequipment of earlier days. Somewhat to our surprise we saw that the terrain was far from difficultas such things go; and that despite the crevasses and other bad spots it would not have beenlikely to deter the sledges of a Scott, a Shackleton, or an Amundsen. Some of the glaciers appearedto lead up to wind-bared passes with unusual continuity, and upon reaching our chosen pass wefound that its case formed no exception.

    Our sensations of tense expectancy as we prepared to round the crest and peerout over an untrodden world can hardly be described on paper; even though we had no cause tothink the regions beyond the range essentially different from those already seen and traversed.The touch of evil mystery in these barrier mountains, and in the beckoning sea of opalescentsky glimpsed betwixt their summits, was a highly subtle and attenuated matter not to be explainedin literal words. Rather was it an affair of vague psychological symbolism and aesthetic association—athing mixed up with exotic poetry and paintings, and with archaic myths lurking in shunned andforbidden volumes. Even the wind’s burden held a peculiar strain of conscious malignity;and for a second it seemed that the composite sound included a bizarre musical whistling orpiping over a wide range as the blast swept in and out of the omnipresent and resonant cave-mouths.There was a cloudy note of reminiscent repulsion in this sound, as complex and unplaceable asany of the other dark impressions.

    We were now, after a slow ascent, at a height of 23,570 feet according to theaneroid; and had left the region of clinging snow definitely below us. Up here were only dark,bare rock slopes and the start of rough-ribbed glaciers—but with those provocative cubes,ramparts, and echoing cave-mouths to add a portent of the unnatural, the fantastic, and thedream-like. Looking along the line of high peaks, I thought I could see the one mentioned bypoor Lake, with a rampart exactly on top. It seemed to be half-lost in a queer antarctic haze;such a haze, perhaps, as had been responsible for Lake’s early notion of volcanism. Thepass loomed directly before us, smooth and windswept between its jagged and malignly frowningpylons. Beyond it was a sky fretted with swirling vapours and lighted by the low polar sun—thesky of that mysterious farther realm upon which we felt no human eye had ever gazed.

    A few more feet of altitude and we would behold that realm. Danforth and I,unable to speak except in shouts amidst the howling, piping wind that raced through the passand added to the noise of the unmuffled engines, exchanged eloquent glances. And then, havinggained those last few feet, we did indeed stare across the momentous divide and over the unsampledsecrets of an elder and utterly alien earth.

    V.

    I think that both of us simultaneously cried out in mixed awe, wonder, terror, and disbeliefin our own senses as we finally cleared the pass and saw what lay beyond. Of course we musthave had some natural theory in the back of our heads to steady our faculties for the moment.Probably we thought of such things as the grotesquely weathered stones of the Garden of theGods in Colorado, or the fantastically symmetrical wind-carved rocks of the Arizona desert.Perhaps we even half thought the sight a mirage like that we had seen the morning before onfirst approaching those mountains of madness. We must have had some such normal notions to fallback upon as our eyes swept that limitless, tempest-scarred plateau and grasped the almost endlesslabyrinth of colossal, regular, and geometrically eurhythmic stone masses which reared theircrumbled and pitted crests above a glacial sheet not more than forty or fifty feet deep at itsthickest, and in places obviously thinner.

    The effect of the monstrous sight was indescribable, for some fiendish violationof known natural law seemed certain at the outset. Here, on a hellishly ancient table-land fully20,000 feet high, and in a climate deadly to habitation since a pre-human age not less than500,000 years ago, there stretched nearly to the vision’s limit a tangle of orderly stonewhich only the desperation of mental self-defence could possibly attribute to any but a consciousand artificial cause. We had previously dismissed, so far as serious thought was concerned,any theory that the cubes and ramparts of the mountainsides were other than natural in origin.How could they be otherwise, when man himself could scarcely have been differentiated from thegreat apes at the time when this region succumbed to the present unbroken reign of glacial death?

    Yet now the sway of reason seemed irrefutably shaken, for this Cyclopean mazeof squared, curved, and angled blocks had features which cut off all comfortable refuge. Itwas, very clearly, the blasphemous city of the mirage in stark, objective, and ineluctable reality.That damnable portent had had a material basis after all—there had been some horizontalstratum of ice-dust in the upper air, and this shocking stone survival had projected its imageacross the mountains according to the simple laws of reflection. Of course the phantom had beentwisted and exaggerated, and had contained things which the real source did not contain; yetnow, as we saw that real source, we thought it even more hideous and menacing than its distantimage.

    Only the incredible, unhuman massiveness of these vast stone towers and rampartshad saved the frightful thing from utter annihilation in the hundreds of thousands—perhapsmillions—of years it had brooded there amidst the blasts of a bleak upland. “CoronaMundi . . . Roof of the World . . .” All sorts of fantasticphrases sprang to our lips as we looked dizzily down at the unbelievable spectacle. I thoughtagain of the eldritch primal myths that had so persistently haunted me since my first sightof this dead antarctic world—of the daemoniac plateau of Leng, of the Mi-Go, or AbominableSnow-Men of the Himalayas, of the Pnakotic Manuscripts with their pre-human implications, ofthe Cthulhu cult, of the Necronomicon, and of the Hyperborean legends of formless Tsathogguaand the worse than formless star-spawn associated with that semi-entity.

    For boundless miles in every direction the thing stretched off with very littlethinning; indeed, as our eyes followed it to the right and left along the base of the low, gradualfoothills which separated it from the actual mountain rim, we decided that we could see no thinningat all except for an interruption at the left of the pass through which we had come. We hadmerely struck, at random, a limited part of something of incalculable extent. The foothillswere more sparsely sprinkled with grotesque stone structures, linking the terrible city to thealready familiar cubes and ramparts which evidently formed its mountain outposts. These latter,as well as the queer cave-mouths, were as thick on the inner as on the outer sides of the mountains.

    The nameless stone labyrinth consisted, for the most part, of walls from 10to 150 feet in ice-clear height, and of a thickness varying from five to ten feet. It was composedmostly of prodigious blocks of dark primordial slate, schist, and sandstone—blocks inmany cases as large as 4 x 6 x 8 feet—though in several places it seemed tobe carved out of a solid, uneven bed-rock of pre-Cambrian slate. The buildings were far fromequal in size; there being innumerable honeycomb-arrangements of enormous extent as well assmaller separate structures. The general shape of these things tended to be conical, pyramidal,or terraced; though there were many perfect cylinders, perfect cubes, clusters of cubes, andother rectangular forms, and a peculiar sprinkling of angled edifices whose five-pointed groundplan roughly suggested modern fortifications. The builders had made constant and expert useof the principle of the arch, and domes had probably existed in the city’s heyday.

    The whole tangle was monstrously weathered, and the glacial surface from whichthe towers projected was strewn with fallen blocks and immemorial debris. Where the glaciationwas transparent we could see the lower parts of the gigantic piles, and noticed the ice-preservedstone bridges which connected the different towers at varying distances above the ground. Onthe exposed walls we could detect the scarred places where other and higher bridges of the samesort had existed. Closer inspection revealed countless largish windows; some of which were closedwith shutters of a petrified material originally wood, though most gaped open in a sinisterand menacing fashion. Many of the ruins, of course, were roofless, and with uneven though wind-roundedupper edges; whilst others, of a more sharply conical or pyramidal model or else protected byhigher surrounding structures, preserved intact outlines despite the omnipresent crumbling andpitting. With the field-glass we could barely make out what seemed to be sculptural decorationsin horizontal bands—decorations including those curious groups of dots whose presenceon the ancient soapstones now assumed a vastly larger significance.

    In many places the buildings were totally ruined and the ice-sheet deeply rivenfrom various geologic causes. In other places the stonework was worn down to the very levelof the glaciation. One broad swath, extending from the plateau’s interior to a cleft inthe foothills about a mile to the left of the pass we had traversed, was wholly free from buildings;and probably represented, we concluded, the course of some great river which in Tertiary times—millionsof years ago—had poured through the city and into some prodigious subterranean abyss ofthe great barrier range. Certainly, this was above all a region of caves, gulfs, and undergroundsecrets beyond human penetration.

    Looking back to our sensations, and recalling our dazedness at viewing thismonstrous survival from aeons we had thought pre-human, I can only wonder that we preservedthe semblance of equilibrium which we did. Of course we knew that something—chronology,scientific theory, or our own consciousness—was woefully awry; yet we kept enough poiseto guide the plane, observe many things quite minutely, and take a careful series of photographswhich may yet serve both us and the world in good stead. In my case, ingrained scientific habitmay have helped; for above all my bewilderment and sense of menace there burned a dominant curiosityto fathom more of this age-old secret—to know what sort of beings had built and livedin this incalculably gigantic place, and what relation to the general world of its time or ofother times so unique a concentration of life could have had.

    For this place could be no ordinary city. It must have formed the primary nucleusand centre of some archaic and unbelievable chapter of earth’s history whose outward ramifications,recalled only dimly in the most obscure and distorted myths, had vanished utterly amidst thechaos of terrene convulsions long before any human race we know had shambled out of apedom.Here sprawled a palaeogean megalopolis compared with which the fabled Atlantis and Lemuria,Commoriom and Uzuldaroum, and Olathoë in the land of Lomar are recent things of today—noteven of yesterday; a megalopolis ranking with such whispered pre-human blasphemies as Valusia,R’lyeh, Ib in the land of Mnar, and the Nameless City of Arabia Deserta. As we flew abovethat tangle of stark titan towers my imagination sometimes escaped all bounds and roved aimlesslyin realms of fantastic associations—even weaving links betwixt this lost world and someof my own wildest dreams concerning the mad horror at the camp.

    The plane’s fuel-tank, in the interest of greater lightness, had beenonly partly filled; hence we now had to exert caution in our explorations. Even so, however,we covered an enormous extent of ground—or rather, air—after swooping down to alevel where the wind became virtually negligible. There seemed to be no limit to the mountain-range,or to the length of the frightful stone city which bordered its inner foothills. Fifty milesof flight in each direction shewed no major change in the labyrinth of rock and masonry thatclawed up corpse-like through the eternal ice. There were, though, some highly absorbing diversifications;such as the carvings on the canyon where that broad river had once pierced the foothills andapproached its sinking-place in the great range. The headlands at the stream’s entrancehad been boldly carved into Cyclopean pylons; and something about the ridgy, barrel-shaped designsstirred up oddly vague, hateful, and confusing semi-remembrances in both Danforth and me.

    We also came upon several star-shaped open spaces, evidently public squares;and noted various undulations in the terrain. Where a sharp hill rose, it was generally hollowedout into some sort of rambling stone edifice; but there were at least two exceptions. Of theselatter, one was too badly weathered to disclose what had been on the jutting eminence, whilethe other still bore a fantastic conical monument carved out of the solid rock and roughly resemblingsuch things as the well-known Snake Tomb in the ancient valley of Petra.

    Flying inland from the mountains, we discovered that the city was not of infinitewidth, even though its length along the foothills seemed endless. After about thirty miles thegrotesque stone buildings began to thin out, and in ten more miles we came to an unbroken wastevirtually without signs of sentient artifice. The course of the river beyond the city seemedmarked by a broad depressed line; while the land assumed a somewhat greater ruggedness, seemingto slope slightly upward as it receded in the mist-hazed west.

    So far we had made no landing, yet to leave the plateau without an attemptat entering some of the monstrous structures would have been inconceivable. Accordingly we decidedto find a smooth place on the foothills near our navigable pass, there grounding the plane andpreparing to do some exploration on foot. Though these gradual slopes were partly covered witha scattering of ruins, low flying soon disclosed an ample number of possible landing-places.Selecting that nearest to the pass, since our next flight would be across the great range andback to camp, we succeeded about 12:30 P.M. in coming down on a smooth, hard snowfield whollydevoid of obstacles and well adapted to a swift and favourable takeoff later on.

    It did not seem necessary to protect the plane with a snow banking for so briefa time and in so comfortable an absence of high winds at this level; hence we merely saw thatthe landing skis were safely lodged, and that the vital parts of the mechanism were guardedagainst the cold. For our foot journey we discarded the heaviest of our flying furs, and tookwith us a small outfit consisting of pocket compass, hand camera, light provisions, voluminousnotebooks and paper, geologist’s hammer and chisel, specimen-bags, coil of climbing rope,and powerful electric torches with extra batteries; this equipment having been carried in theplane on the chance that we might be able to effect a landing, take ground pictures, make drawingsand topographical sketches, and obtain rock specimens from some bare slope, outcropping, ormountain cave. Fortunately we had a supply of extra paper to tear up, place in a spare specimen-bag,and use on the ancient principle of hare-and-hounds for marking our course in any interior mazeswe might be able to penetrate. This had been brought in case we found some cave system withair quiet enough to allow such a rapid and easy method in place of the usual rock-chipping methodof trail-blazing.

    Walking cautiously downhill over the crusted snow toward the stupendous stonelabyrinth that loomed against the opalescent west, we felt almost as keen a sense of imminentmarvels as we had felt on approaching the unfathomed mountain pass four hours previously. True,we had become visually familiar with the incredible secret concealed by the barrier peaks; yetthe prospect of actually entering primordial walls reared by conscious beings perhaps millionsof years ago—before any known race of men could have existed—was none the less awesomeand potentially terrible in its implications of cosmic abnormality. Though the thinness of theair at this prodigious altitude made exertion somewhat more difficult than usual; both Danforthand I found ourselves bearing up very well, and felt equal to almost any task which might fallto our lot. It took only a few steps to bring us to a shapeless ruin worn level with the snow,while ten or fifteen rods farther on there was a huge roofless rampart still complete in itsgigantic five-pointed outline and rising to an irregular height of ten or eleven feet. For thislatter we headed; and when at last we were able actually to touch its weathered Cyclopean blocks,we felt that we had established an unprecedented and almost blasphemous link with forgottenaeons normally closed to our species.

    This rampart, shaped like a star and perhaps 300 feet from point to point,was built of Jurassic sandstone blocks of irregular size, averaging 6 x 8 feet in surface.There was a row of arched loopholes or windows about four feet wide and five feet high; spacedquite symmetrically along the points of the star and at its inner angles, and with the bottomsabout four feet from the glaciated surface. Looking through these, we could see that the masonrywas fully five feet thick, that there were no partitions remaining within, and that there weretraces of banded carvings or bas-reliefs on the interior walls; facts we had indeed guessedbefore, when flying low over this rampart and others like it. Though lower parts must have originallyexisted, all traces of such things were now wholly obscured by the deep layer of ice and snowat this point.

    We crawled through one of the windows and vainly tried to decipher the nearlyeffaced mural designs, but did not attempt to disturb the glaciated floor. Our orientation flightshad indicated that many buildings in the city proper were less ice-choked, and that we mightperhaps find wholly clear interiors leading down to the true ground level if we entered thosestructures still roofed at the top. Before we left the rampart we photographed it carefully,and studied its mortarless Cyclopean masonry with complete bewilderment. We wished that Pabodiewere present, for his engineering knowledge might have helped us guess how such titanic blockscould have been handled in that unbelievably remote age when the city and its outskirts werebuilt up.

    The half-mile walk downhill to the actual city, with the upper wind shriekingvainly and savagely through the skyward peaks in the background, was something whose smallestdetails will always remain engraved on my mind. Only in fantastic nightmares could any humanbeings but Danforth and me conceive such optical effects. Between us and the churning vapoursof the west lay that monstrous tangle of dark stone towers; its outré and incredible forms impressingus afresh at every new angle of vision. It was a mirage in solid stone, and were it not forthe photographs I would still doubt that such a thing could be. The general type of masonrywas identical with that of the rampart we had examined; but the extravagant shapes which thismasonry took in its urban manifestations were past all description.

    Even the pictures illustrate only one or two phases of its infinite bizarrerie,endless variety, preternatural massiveness, and utterly alien exoticism. There were geometricalforms for which an Euclid could scarcely find a name—cones of all degrees of irregularityand truncation; terraces of every sort of provocative disproportion; shafts with odd bulbousenlargements; broken columns in curious groups; and five-pointed or five-ridged arrangementsof mad grotesqueness. As we drew nearer we could see beneath certain transparent parts of theice-sheet, and detect some of the tubular stone bridges that connected the crazily sprinkledstructures at various heights. Of orderly streets there seemed to be none, the only broad openswath being a mile to the left, where the ancient river had doubtless flowed through the towninto the mountains.

    Our field-glasses shewed the external horizontal bands of nearly effaced sculpturesand dot-groups to be very prevalent, and we could half imagine what the city must once havelooked like—even though most of the roofs and tower-tops had necessarily perished. Asa whole, it had been a complex tangle of twisted lanes and alleys; all of them deep canyons,and some little better than tunnels because of the overhanging masonry or overarching bridges.Now, outspread below us, it loomed like a dream-phantasy against a westward mist through whosenorthern end the low, reddish antarctic sun of early afternoon was struggling to shine; andwhen for a moment that sun encountered a denser obstruction and plunged the scene into temporaryshadow, the effect was subtly menacing in a way I can never hope to depict. Even the faint howlingand piping of the unfelt wind in the great mountain passes behind us took on a wilder note ofpurposeful malignity. The last stage of our descent to the town was unusually steep and abrupt,and a rock outcropping at the edge where the grade changed led us to think that an artificialterrace had once existed there. Under the glaciation, we believed, there must be a flight ofsteps or its equivalent.

    When at last we plunged into the labyrinthine town itself, clambering overfallen masonry and shrinking from the oppressive nearness and dwarfing height of omnipresentcrumbling and pitted walls, our sensations again became such that I marvel at the amount ofself-control we retained. Danforth was frankly jumpy, and began making some offensively irrelevantspeculations about the horror at the camp—which I resented all the more because I couldnot help sharing certain conclusions forced upon us by many features of this morbid survivalfrom nightmare antiquity. The speculations worked on his imagination, too; for in one place—wherea debris-littered alley turned a sharp corner—he insisted that he saw faint traces ofground markings which he did not like; whilst elsewhere he stopped to listen to a subtle imaginarysound from some undefined point—a muffled musical piping, he said, not unlike that ofthe wind in the mountain caves yet somehow disturbingly different. The ceaseless five-pointednessof the surrounding architecture and of the few distinguishable mural arabesques had a dimlysinister suggestiveness we could not escape; and gave us a touch of terrible subconscious certaintyconcerning the primal entities which had reared and dwelt in this unhallowed place.

    Nevertheless our scientific and adventurous souls were not wholly dead; andwe mechanically carried out our programme of chipping specimens from all the different rocktypes represented in the masonry. We wished a rather full set in order to draw better conclusionsregarding the age of the place. Nothing in the great outer walls seemed to date from later thanthe Jurassic and Comanchian periods, nor was any piece of stone in the entire place of a greaterrecency than the Pliocene age. In stark certainty, we were wandering amidst a death which hadreigned at least 500,000 years, and in all probability even longer.

    As we proceeded through this maze of stone-shadowed twilight we stopped atall available apertures to study interiors and investigate entrance possibilities. Some wereabove our reach, whilst others led only into ice-choked ruins as unroofed and barren as therampart on the hill. One, though spacious and inviting, opened on a seemingly bottomless abysswithout visible means of descent. Now and then we had a chance to study the petrified wood ofa surviving shutter, and were impressed by the fabulous antiquity implied in the still discerniblegrain. These things had come from Mesozoic gymnosperms and conifers—especially Cretaceouscycads—and from fan-palms and early angiosperms of plainly Tertiary date. Nothing definitelylater than the Pliocene could be discovered. In the placing of these shutters—whose edgesshewed the former presence of queer and long-vanished hinges—usage seemed to be varied;some being on the outer and some on the inner side of the deep embrasures. They seemed to havebecome wedged in place, thus surviving the rusting of their former and probably metallic fixturesand fastenings.

    After a time we came across a row of windows—in the bulges of a colossalfive-ridged cone of undamaged apex—which led into a vast, well-preserved room with stoneflooring; but these were too high in the room to permit of descent without a rope. We had arope with us, but did not wish to bother with this twenty-foot drop unless obliged to—especiallyin this thin plateau air where great demands were made upon the heart action. This enormousroom was probably a hall or concourse of some sort, and our electric torches shewed bold, distinct,and potentially startling sculptures arranged round the walls in broad, horizontal bands separatedby equally broad strips of conventional arabesques. We took careful note of this spot, planningto enter here unless a more easily gained interior were encountered.

    Finally, though, we did encounter exactly the opening we wished; an archwayabout six feet wide and ten feet high, marking the former end of an aërial bridge whichhad spanned an alley about five feet above the present level of glaciation. These archways,of course, were flush with upper-story floors; and in this case one of the floors still existed.The building thus accessible was a series of rectangular terraces on our left facing westward.That across the alley, where the other archway yawned, was a decrepit cylinder with no windowsand with a curious bulge about ten feet above the aperture. It was totally dark inside, andthe archway seemed to open on a well of illimitable emptiness.

    Heaped debris made the entrance to the vast left-hand building doubly easy,yet for a moment we hesitated before taking advantage of the long-wished chance. For thoughwe had penetrated into this tangle of archaic mystery, it required fresh resolution to carryus actually inside a complete and surviving building of a fabulous elder world whose naturewas becoming more and more hideously plain to us. In the end, however, we made the plunge; andscrambled up over the rubble into the gaping embrasure. The floor beyond was of great slateslabs, and seemed to form the outlet of a long, high corridor with sculptured walls.

    Observing the many inner archways which led off from it, and realising theprobable complexity of the nest of apartments within, we decided that we must begin our systemof hare-and-hound trail-blazing. Hitherto our compasses, together with frequent glimpses ofthe vast mountain-range between the towers in our rear, had been enough to prevent our losingour way; but from now on, the artificial substitute would be necessary. Accordingly we reducedour extra paper to shreds of suitable size, placed these in a bag to be carried by Danforth,and prepared to use them as economically as safety would allow. This method would probably gainus immunity from straying, since there did not appear to be any strong air-currents inside theprimordial masonry. If such should develop, or if our paper supply should give out, we couldof course fall back on the more secure though more tedious and retarding method of rock-chipping.

    Just how extensive a territory we had opened up, it was impossible to guesswithout a trial. The close and frequent connexion of the different buildings made it likelythat we might cross from one to another on bridges underneath the ice except where impeded bylocal collapses and geologic rifts, for very little glaciation seemed to have entered the massiveconstructions. Almost all the areas of transparent ice had revealed the submerged windows astightly shuttered, as if the town had been left in that uniform state until the glacial sheetcame to crystallise the lower part for all succeeding time. Indeed, one gained a curious impressionthat this place had been deliberately closed and deserted in some dim, bygone aeon, rather thanoverwhelmed by any sudden calamity or even gradual decay. Had the coming of the ice been foreseen,and had a nameless population left en masse to seek a less doomed abode? The precise physiographicconditions attending the formation of the ice-sheet at this point would have to wait for latersolution. It had not, very plainly, been a grinding drive. Perhaps the pressure of accumulatedsnows had been responsible; and perhaps some flood from the river, or from the bursting of someancient glacial dam in the great range, had helped to create the special state now observable.Imagination could conceive almost anything in connexion with this place.

    VI.

    It would be cumbrous to give a detailed, consecutive account of our wanderings inside that cavernous,aeon-dead honeycomb of primal masonry; that monstrous lair of elder secrets which now echoedfor the first time, after uncounted epochs, to the tread of human feet. This is especially truebecause so much of the horrible drama and revelation came from a mere study of the omnipresentmural carvings. Our flashlight photographs of those carvings will do much toward proving thetruth of what we are now disclosing, and it is lamentable that we had not a larger film supplywith us. As it was, we made crude notebook sketches of certain salient features after all ourfilms were used up.

    The building which we had entered was one of great size and elaborateness,and gave us an impressive notion of the architecture of that nameless geologic past. The innerpartitions were less massive than the outer walls, but on the lower levels were excellentlypreserved. Labyrinthine complexity, involving curiously irregular differences in floor levels,characterised the entire arrangement; and we should certainly have been lost at the very outsetbut for the trail of torn paper left behind us. We decided to explore the more decrepit upperparts first of all, hence climbed aloft in the maze for a distance of some 100 feet, to wherethe topmost tier of chambers yawned snowily and ruinously open to the polar sky. Ascent waseffected over the steep, transversely ribbed stone ramps or inclined planes which everywhereserved in lieu of stairs. The rooms we encountered were of all imaginable shapes and proportions,ranging from five-pointed stars to triangles and perfect cubes. It might be safe to say thattheir general average was about 30 x 30 feet in floor area, and 20 feet in height; thoughmany larger apartments existed. After thoroughly examining the upper regions and the glaciallevel we descended story by story into the submerged part, where indeed we soon saw we werein a continuous maze of connected chambers and passages probably leading over unlimited areasoutside this particular building. The Cyclopean massiveness and giganticism of everything aboutus became curiously oppressive; and there was something vaguely but deeply unhuman in all thecontours, dimensions, proportions, decorations, and constructional nuances of the blasphemouslyarchaic stonework. We soon realised from what the carvings revealed that this monstrous citywas many million years old.

    We cannot yet explain the engineering principles used in the anomalous balancingand adjustment of the vast rock masses, though the function of the arch was clearly much reliedon. The rooms we visited were wholly bare of all portable contents, a circ*mstance which sustainedour belief in the city’s deliberate desertion. The prime decorative feature was the almostuniversal system of mural sculpture; which tended to run in continuous horizontal bands threefeet wide and arranged from floor to ceiling in alternation with bands of equal width givenover to geometrical arabesques. There were exceptions to this rule of arrangement, but its preponderancewas overwhelming. Often, however, a series of smooth cartouches containing oddly patterned groupsof dots would be sunk along one of the arabesque bands.

    The technique, we soon saw, was mature, accomplished, and aesthetically evolvedto the highest degree of civilised mastery; though utterly alien in every detail to any knownart tradition of the human race. In delicacy of execution no sculpture I have ever seen couldapproach it. The minutest details of elaborate vegetation, or of animal life, were renderedwith astonishing vividness despite the bold scale of the carvings; whilst the conventional designswere marvels of skilful intricacy. The arabesques displayed a profound use of mathematical principles,and were made up of obscurely symmetrical curves and angles based on the quantity of five. Thepictorial bands followed a highly formalised tradition, and involved a peculiar treatment ofperspective; but had an artistic force that moved us profoundly notwithstanding the interveninggulf of vast geologic periods. Their method of design hinged on a singular juxtaposition ofthe cross-section with the two-dimensional silhouette, and embodied an analytical psychologybeyond that of any known race of antiquity. It is useless to try to compare this art with anyrepresented in our museums. Those who see our photographs will probably find its closest analoguein certain grotesque conceptions of the most daring futurists.

    The arabesque tracery consisted altogether of depressed lines whose depth onunweathered walls varied from one to two inches. When cartouches with dot-groups appeared—evidentlyas inscriptions in some unknown and primordial language and alphabet—the depression ofthe smooth surface was perhaps an inch and a half, and of the dots perhaps a half-inch more.The pictorial bands were in counter-sunk low relief, their background being depressed abouttwo inches from the original wall surface. In some specimens marks of a former colouration couldbe detected, though for the most part the untold aeons had disintegrated and banished any pigmentswhich may have been applied. The more one studied the marvellous technique the more one admiredthe things. Beneath their strict conventionalisation one could grasp the minute and accurateobservation and graphic skill of the artists; and indeed, the very conventions themselves servedto symbolise and accentuate the real essence or vital differentiation of every object delineated.We felt, too, that besides these recognisable excellences there were others lurking beyond thereach of our perceptions. Certain touches here and there gave vague hints of latent symbolsand stimuli which another mental and emotional background, and a fuller or different sensoryequipment, might have made of profound and poignant significance to us.

    The subject-matter of the sculptures obviously came from the life of the vanishedepoch of their creation, and contained a large proportion of evident history. It is this abnormalhistoric-mindedness of the primal race—a chance circ*mstance operating, through coincidence,miraculously in our favour—which made the carvings so awesomely informative to us, andwhich caused us to place their photography and transcription above all other considerations.In certain rooms the dominant arrangement was varied by the presence of maps, astronomical charts,and other scientific designs on an enlarged scale—these things giving a naive and terriblecorroboration to what we gathered from the pictorial friezes and dadoes. In hinting at whatthe whole revealed, I can only hope that my account will not arouse a curiosity greater thansane caution on the part of those who believe me at all. It would be tragic if any were to beallured to that realm of death and horror by the very warning meant to discourage them.

    Interrupting these sculptured walls were high windows and massive twelve-footdoorways; both now and then retaining the petrified wooden planks—elaborately carved andpolished—of the actual shutters and doors. All metal fixtures had long ago vanished, butsome of the doors remained in place and had to be forced aside as we progressed from room toroom. Window-frames with odd transparent panes—mostly elliptical—survived here andthere, though in no considerable quantity. There were also frequent niches of great magnitude,generally empty, but once in a while containing some bizarre object carved from green soapstonewhich was either broken or perhaps held too inferior to warrant removal. Other apertures wereundoubtedly connected with bygone mechanical facilities—heating, lighting, and the like—ofa sort suggested in many of the carvings. Ceilings tended to be plain, but had sometimes beeninlaid with green soapstone or other tiles, mostly fallen now. Floors were also paved with suchtiles, though plain stonework predominated.

    As I have said, all furniture and other moveables were absent; but the sculpturesgave a clear idea of the strange devices which had once filled these tomb-like, echoing rooms.Above the glacial sheet the floors were generally thick with detritus, litter, and debris; butfarther down this condition decreased. In some of the lower chambers and corridors there waslittle more than gritty dust or ancient incrustations, while occasional areas had an uncannyair of newly swept immaculateness. Of course, where rifts or collapses had occurred, the lowerlevels were as littered as the upper ones. A central court—as in other structures we hadseen from the air—saved the inner regions from total darkness; so that we seldom had touse our electric torches in the upper rooms except when studying sculptured details. Below theice-cap, however, the twilight deepened; and in many parts of the tangled ground level therewas an approach to absolute blackness.

    To form even a rudimentary idea of our thoughts and feelings as we penetratedthis aeon-silent maze of unhuman masonry one must correlate a hopelessly bewildering chaos offugitive moods, memories, and impressions. The sheer appalling antiquity and lethal desolationof the place were enough to overwhelm almost any sensitive person, but added to these elementswere the recent unexplained horror at the camp, and the revelations all too soon effected bythe terrible mural sculptures around us. The moment we came upon a perfect section of carving,where no ambiguity of interpretation could exist, it took only a brief study to give us thehideous truth—a truth which it would be naive to claim Danforth and I had not independentlysuspected before, though we had carefully refrained from even hinting it to each other. Therecould now be no further merciful doubt about the nature of the beings which had built and inhabitedthis monstrous dead city millions of years ago, when man’s ancestors were primitive archaicmammals, and vast dinosaurs roamed the tropical steppes of Europe and Asia.

    We had previously clung to a desperate alternative and insisted—eachto himself—that the omnipresence of the five-pointed motif meant only some cultural orreligious exaltation of the Archaean natural object which had so patently embodied the qualityof five-pointedness; as the decorative motifs of Minoan Crete exalted the sacred bull, thoseof Egypt the scarabaeus, those of Rome the wolf and the eagle, and those of various savage tribessome chosen totem-animal. But this lone refuge was now stripped from us, and we were forcedto face definitely the reason-shaking realisation which the reader of these pages has doubtlesslong ago anticipated. I can scarcely bear to write it down in black and white even now, butperhaps that will not be necessary.

    The things once rearing and dwelling in this frightful masonry in the age ofdinosaurs were not indeed dinosaurs, but far worse. Mere dinosaurs were new and almost brainlessobjects—but the builders of the city were wise and old, and had left certain traces inrocks even then laid down well-nigh a thousand million years . . . rocks laiddown before the true life of earth had advanced beyond plastic groups of cells . . .rocks laid down before the true life of earth had existed at all. They were the makers and enslaversof that life, and above all doubt the originals of the fiendish elder myths which things likethe Pnakotic Manuscripts and the Necronomicon affrightedly hint about. They were theGreat Old Ones that had filtered down from the stars when earth was young—the beings whosesubstance an alien evolution had shaped, and whose powers were such as this planet had neverbred. And to think that only the day before Danforth and I had actually looked upon fragmentsof their millennially fossilised substance . . . and that poor Lake and his partyhad seen their complete outlines. . . .

    It is of course impossible for me to relate in proper order the stages by whichwe picked up what we know of that monstrous chapter of pre-human life. After the first shockof the certain revelation we had to pause a while to recuperate, and it was fully three o’clockbefore we got started on our actual tour of systematic research. The sculptures in the buildingwe entered were of relatively late date—perhaps two million years ago—as checkedup by geological, biological, and astronomical features; and embodied an art which would becalled decadent in comparison with that of specimens we found in older buildings after crossingbridges under the glacial sheet. One edifice hewn from the solid rock seemed to go back fortyor possibly even fifty million years—to the lower Eocene or upper Cretaceous—andcontained bas-reliefs of an artistry surpassing anything else, with one tremendous exception,that we encountered. That was, we have since agreed, the oldest domestic structure we traversed.

    Were it not for the support of those flashlights soon to be made public, Iwould refrain from telling what I found and inferred, lest I be confined as a madman. Of course,the infinitely early parts of the patchwork tale—representing the pre-terrestrial lifeof the star-headed beings on other planets, and in other galaxies, and in other universes—canreadily be interpreted as the fantastic mythology of those beings themselves; yet such partssometimes involved designs and diagrams so uncannily close to the latest findings of mathematicsand astrophysics that I scarcely know what to think. Let others judge when they see the photographsI shall publish.

    Naturally, no one set of carvings which we encountered told more than a fractionof any connected story; nor did we even begin to come upon the various stages of that storyin their proper order. Some of the vast rooms were independent units so far as their designswere concerned, whilst in other cases a continuous chronicle would be carried through a seriesof rooms and corridors. The best of the maps and diagrams were on the walls of a frightful abyssbelow even the ancient ground level—a cavern perhaps 200 feet square and sixty feet high,which had almost undoubtedly been an educational centre of some sort. There were many provokingrepetitions of the same material in different rooms and buildings; since certain chapters ofexperience, and certain summaries or phases of racial history, had evidently been favouriteswith different decorators or dwellers. Sometimes, though, variant versions of the same themeproved useful in settling debatable points and filling in gaps.

    I still wonder that we deduced so much in the short time at our disposal. Ofcourse, we even now have only the barest outline; and much of that was obtained later on froma study of the photographs and sketches we made. It may be the effect of this later study—therevived memories and vague impressions acting in conjunction with his general sensitivenessand with that final supposed horror-glimpse whose essence he will not reveal even to me—whichhas been the immediate source of Danforth’s present breakdown. But it had to be; for wecould not issue our warning intelligently without the fullest possible information, and theissuance of that warning is a prime necessity. Certain lingering influences in that unknownantarctic world of disordered time and alien natural law make it imperative that further explorationbe discouraged.

    VII.

    The full story, so far as deciphered, will shortly appear in an official bulletin of MiskatonicUniversity. Here I shall sketch only the salient high lights in a formless, rambling way. Mythor otherwise, the sculptures told of the coming of those star-headed things to the nascent,lifeless earth out of cosmic space—their coming, and the coming of many other alien entitiessuch as at certain times embark upon spatial pioneering. They seemed able to traverse the interstellarether on their vast membraneous wings—thus oddly confirming some curious hill folklorelong ago told me by an antiquarian colleague. They had lived under the sea a good deal, buildingfantastic cities and fighting terrific battles with nameless adversaries by means of intricatedevices employing unknown principles of energy. Evidently their scientific and mechanical knowledgefar surpassed man’s today, though they made use of its more widespread and elaborate formsonly when obliged to. Some of the sculptures suggested that they had passed through a stageof mechanised life on other planets, but had receded upon finding its effects emotionally unsatisfying.Their preternatural toughness of organisation and simplicity of natural wants made them peculiarlyable to live on a high plane without the more specialised fruits of artificial manufacture,and even without garments except for occasional protection against the elements.

    It was under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes, thatthey first created earth-life—using available substances according to long-known methods.The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They haddone the same thing on other planets; having manufactured not only necessary foods, but certainmulticellular protoplasmic masses capable of moulding their tissues into all sorts of temporaryorgans under hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work ofthe community. These viscous masses were without doubt what Abdul Alhazred whispered about asthe “shoggoths” in his frightful Necronomicon, though even that mad Arabhad not hinted that any existed on earth except in the dreams of those who had chewed a certainalkaloidal herb. When the star-headed Old Ones on this planet had synthesised their simple foodforms and bred a good supply of shoggoths, they allowed other cell-groups to develop into otherforms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes; extirpating any whose presence becametroublesome.

    With the aid of the shoggoths, whose expansions could be made to lift prodigiousweights, the small, low cities under the sea grew to vast and imposing labyrinths of stone notunlike those which later rose on land. Indeed, the highly adaptable Old Ones had lived muchon land in other parts of the universe, and probably retained many traditions of land construction.As we studied the architecture of all these sculptured palaeogean cities, including that whoseaeon-dead corridors we were even then traversing, we were impressed by a curious coincidencewhich we have not yet tried to explain, even to ourselves. The tops of the buildings, whichin the actual city around us had of course been weathered into shapeless ruins ages ago, wereclearly displayed in the bas-reliefs; and shewed vast clusters of needle-like spires, delicatefinials on certain cone and pyramid apexes, and tiers of thin, horizontal scalloped discs cappingcylindrical shafts. This was exactly what we had seen in that monstrous and portentous mirage,cast by a dead city whence such skyline features had been absent for thousands and tens of thousandsof years, which loomed on our ignorant eyes across the unfathomed mountains of madness as wefirst approached poor Lake’s ill-fated camp.

    Of the life of the Old Ones, both under the sea and after part of them migratedto land, volumes could be written. Those in shallow water had continued the fullest use of theeyes at the ends of their five main head tentacles, and had practiced the arts of sculptureand of writing in quite the usual way—the writing accomplished with a stylus on waterproofwaxen surfaces. Those lower down in the ocean depths, though they used a curious phosphorescentorganism to furnish light, pieced out their vision with obscure special senses operating throughthe prismatic cilia on their heads—senses which rendered all the Old Ones partly independentof light in emergencies. Their forms of sculpture and writing had changed curiously during thedescent, embodying certain apparently chemical coating processes—probably to secure phosphorescence—whichthe bas-reliefs could not make clear to us. The beings moved in the sea partly by swimming—usingthe lateral crinoid arms—and partly by wriggling with the lower tier of tentacles containingthe pseudo-feet. Occasionally they accomplished long swoops with the auxiliary use of two ormore sets of their fan-like folding wings. On land they locally used the pseudo-feet, but nowand then flew to great heights or over long distances with their wings. The many slender tentaclesinto which the crinoid arms branched were infinitely delicate, flexible, strong, and accuratein muscular-nervous coördination; ensuring the utmost skill and dexterity in all artisticand other manual operations.

    The toughness of the things was almost incredible. Even the terrific pressuresof the deepest sea-bottoms appeared powerless to harm them. Very few seemed to die at all exceptby violence, and their burial-places were very limited. The fact that they covered their verticallyinhumed dead with five-pointed inscribed mounds set up thoughts in Danforth and me which madea fresh pause and recuperation necessary after the sculptures revealed it. The beings multipliedby means of spores—like vegetable pteridophytes as Lake had suspected—but owingto their prodigious toughness and longevity, and consequent lack of replacement needs, theydid not encourage the large-scale development of new prothalli except when they had new regionsto colonise. The young matured swiftly, and received an education evidently beyond any standardwe can imagine. The prevailing intellectual and aesthetic life was highly evolved, and produceda tenaciously enduring set of customs and institutions which I shall describe more fully inmy coming monograph. These varied slightly according to sea or land residence, but had the samefoundations and essentials.

    Though able, like vegetables, to derive nourishment from inorganic substances;they vastly preferred organic and especially animal food. They ate uncooked marine life underthe sea, but cooked their viands on land. They hunted game and raised meat herds—slaughteringwith sharp weapons whose odd marks on certain fossil bones our expedition had noted. They resistedall ordinary temperatures marvellously; and in their natural state could live in water downto freezing. When the great chill of the Pleistocene drew on, however—nearly a millionyears ago—the land dwellers had to resort to special measures including artificial heating;until at last the deadly cold appears to have driven them back into the sea. For their prehistoricflights through cosmic space, legend said, they had absorbed certain chemicals and became almostindependent of eating, breathing, or heat conditions; but by the time of the great cold theyhad lost track of the method. In any case they could not have prolonged the artificial stateindefinitely without harm.

    Being non-pairing and semi-vegetable in structure, the Old Ones had no biologicalbasis for the family phase of mammal life; but seemed to organise large households on the principlesof comfortable space-utility and—as we deduced from the pictured occupations and diversionsof co-dwellers—congenial mental association. In furnishing their homes they kept everythingin the centre of the huge rooms, leaving all the wall spaces free for decorative treatment.Lighting, in the case of the land inhabitants, was accomplished by a device probably electro-chemicalin nature. Both on land and under water they used curious tables, chairs, and couches like cylindricalframes—for they rested and slept upright with folded-down tentacles—and racks forthe hinged sets of dotted surfaces forming their books.

    Government was evidently complex and probably socialistic, though no certaintiesin this regard could be deduced from the sculptures we saw. There was extensive commerce, bothlocal and between different cities; certain small, flat counters, five-pointed and inscribed,serving as money. Probably the smaller of the various greenish soapstones found by our expeditionwere pieces of such currency. Though the culture was mainly urban, some agriculture and muchstock-raising existed. Mining and a limited amount of manufacturing were also practiced. Travelwas very frequent, but permanent migration seemed relatively rare except for the vast colonisingmovements by which the race expanded. For personal locomotion no external aid was used; sincein land, air, and water movement alike the Old Ones seemed to possess excessively vast capacitiesfor speed. Loads, however, were drawn by beasts of burden—shoggoths under the sea, anda curious variety of primitive vertebrates in the later years of land existence.

    These vertebrates, as well as an infinity of other life-forms—animaland vegetable, marine, terrestrial, and aërial—were the products of unguided evolutionacting on life-cells made by the Old Ones but escaping beyond their radius of attention. Theyhad been suffered to develop unchecked because they had not come in conflict with the dominantbeings. Bothersome forms, of course, were mechanically exterminated. It interested us to seein some of the very last and most decadent sculptures a shambling primitive mammal, used sometimesfor food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon by the land dwellers, whose vaguely simian andhuman foreshadowings were unmistakable. In the building of land cities the huge stone blocksof the high towers were generally lifted by vast-winged pterodactyls of a species heretoforeunknown to palaeontology.

    The persistence with which the Old Ones survived various geologic changes andconvulsions of the earth’s crust was little short of miraculous. Though few or none oftheir first cities seem to have remained beyond the Archaean age, there was no interruptionin their civilisation or in the transmission of their records. Their original place of adventto the planet was the Antarctic Ocean, and it is likely that they came not long after the matterforming the moon was wrenched from the neighbouring South Pacific. According to one of the sculpturedmaps, the whole globe was then under water, with stone cities scattered farther and fartherfrom the antarctic as aeons passed. Another map shews a vast bulk of dry land around the southpole, where it is evident that some of the beings made experimental settlements though theirmain centres were transferred to the nearest sea-bottom. Later maps, which display this landmass as cracking and drifting, and sending certain detached parts northward, uphold in a strikingway the theories of continental drift lately advanced by Taylor, Wegener, and Joly.

    With the upheaval of new land in the South Pacific tremendous events began.Some of the marine cities were hopelessly shattered, yet that was not the worst misfortune.Another race—a land race of beings shaped like octopi and probably corresponding to thefabulous pre-human spawn of Cthulhu—soon began filtering down from cosmic infinity andprecipitated a monstrous war which for a time drove the Old Ones wholly back to the sea—acolossal blow in view of the increasing land settlements. Later peace was made, and the newlands were given to the Cthulhu spawn whilst the Old Ones held the sea and the older lands.New land cities were founded—the greatest of them in the antarctic, for this region offirst arrival was sacred. From then on, as before, the antarctic remained the centre of theOld Ones’ civilisation, and all the discoverable cities built there by the Cthulhu spawnwere blotted out. Then suddenly the lands of the Pacific sank again, taking with them the frightfulstone city of R’lyeh and all the cosmic octopi, so that the Old Ones were again supremeon the planet except for one shadowy fear about which they did not like to speak. At a ratherlater age their cities dotted all the land and water areas of the globe—hence the recommendationin my coming monograph that some archaeologist make systematic borings with Pabodie’stype of apparatus in certain widely separated regions.

    The steady trend down the ages was from water to land; a movement encouragedby the rise of new land masses, though the ocean was never wholly deserted. Another cause ofthe landward movement was the new difficulty in breeding and managing the shoggoths upon whichsuccessful sea-life depended. With the march of time, as the sculptures sadly confessed, theart of creating new life from inorganic matter had been lost; so that the Old Ones had to dependon the moulding of forms already in existence. On land the great reptiles proved highly tractable;but the shoggoths of the sea, reproducing by fission and acquiring a dangerous degree of accidentalintelligence, presented for a time a formidable problem.

    They had always been controlled through the hypnotic suggestion of the OldOnes, and had modelled their tough plasticity into various useful temporary limbs and organs;but now their self-modelling powers were sometimes exercised independently, and in various imitativeforms implanted by past suggestion. They had, it seems, developed a semi-stable brain whoseseparate and occasionally stubborn volition echoed the will of the Old Ones without always obeyingit. Sculptured images of these shoggoths filled Danforth and me with horror and loathing. Theywere normally shapeless entities composed of a viscous jelly which looked like an agglutinationof bubbles; and each averaged about fifteen feet in diameter when a sphere. They had, however,a constantly shifting shape and volume; throwing out temporary developments or forming apparentorgans of sight, hearing, and speech in imitation of their masters, either spontaneously oraccording to suggestion.

    They seem to have become peculiarly intractable toward the middle of the Permianage, perhaps 150 million years ago, when a veritable war of re-subjugation was waged upon themby the marine Old Ones. Pictures of this war, and of the headless, slime-coated fashion in whichthe shoggoths typically left their slain victims, held a marvellously fearsome quality despitethe intervening abyss of untold ages. The Old Ones had used curious weapons of molecular disturbanceagainst the rebel entities, and in the end had achieved a complete victory. Thereafter the sculpturesshewed a period in which shoggoths were tamed and broken by armed Old Ones as the wild horsesof the American west were tamed by cowboys. Though during the rebellion the shoggoths had shewnan ability to live out of water, this transition was not encouraged; since their usefulnesson land would hardly have been commensurate with the trouble of their management.

    During the Jurassic age the Old Ones met fresh adversity in the form of a newinvasion from outer space—this time by half-fungous, half-crustacean creatures from aplanet identifiable as the remote and recently discovered Pluto; creatures undoubtedly the sameas those figuring in certain whispered hill legends of the north, and remembered in the Himalayasas the Mi-Go, or Abominable Snow-Men. To fight these beings the Old Ones attempted, for thefirst time since their terrene advent, to sally forth again into the planetary ether; but despiteall traditional preparations found it no longer possible to leave the earth’s atmosphere.Whatever the old secret of interstellar travel had been, it was now definitely lost to the race.In the end the Mi-Go drove the Old Ones out of all the northern lands, though they were powerlessto disturb those in the sea. Little by little the slow retreat of the elder race to their originalantarctic habitat was beginning.

    It was curious to note from the pictured battles that both the Cthulhu spawnand the Mi-Go seem to have been composed of matter more widely different from that which weknow than was the substance of the Old Ones. They were able to undergo transformations and reintegrationsimpossible for their adversaries, and seem therefore to have originally come from even remotergulfs of cosmic space. The Old Ones, but for their abnormal toughness and peculiar vital properties,were strictly material, and must have had their absolute origin within the known space-timecontinuum; whereas the first sources of the other beings can only be guessed at with bated breath.All this, of course, assuming that the non-terrestrial linkages and the anomalies ascribed tothe invading foes are not pure mythology. Conceivably, the Old Ones might have invented a cosmicframework to account for their occasional defeats; since historical interest and pride obviouslyformed their chief psychological element. It is significant that their annals failed to mentionmany advanced and potent races of beings whose mighty cultures and towering cities figure persistentlyin certain obscure legends.

    The changing state of the world through long geologic ages appeared with startlingvividness in many of the sculptured maps and scenes. In certain cases existing science willrequire revision, while in other cases its bold deductions are magnificently confirmed. As Ihave said, the hypothesis of Taylor, Wegener, and Joly that all the continents are fragmentsof an original antarctic land mass which cracked from centrifugal force and drifted apart overa technically viscous lower surface—an hypothesis suggested by such things as the complementaryoutlines of Africa and South America, and the way the great mountain chains are rolled and shovedup—receives striking support from this uncanny source.

    Maps evidently shewing the Carboniferous world of an hundred million or moreyears ago displayed significant rifts and chasms destined later to separate Africa from theonce continuous realms of Europe (then the Valusia of hellish primal legend), Asia, the Americas,and the antarctic continent. Other charts—and most significantly one in connexion withthe founding fifty million years ago of the vast dead city around us—shewed all the presentcontinents well differentiated. And in the latest discoverable specimen—dating perhapsfrom the Pliocene age—the approximate world of today appeared quite clearly despite thelinkage of Alaska with Siberia, of North America with Europe through Greenland, and of SouthAmerica with the antarctic continent through Graham Land. In the Carboniferous map the wholeglobe—ocean floor and rifted land mass alike—bore symbols of the Old Ones’vast stone cities, but in the later charts the gradual recession toward the antarctic becamevery plain. The final Pliocene specimen shewed no land cities except on the antarctic continentand the tip of South America, nor any ocean cities north of the fiftieth parallel of South Latitude.Knowledge and interest in the northern world, save for a study of coast-lines probably madeduring long exploration flights on those fan-like membraneous wings, had evidently declinedto zero among the Old Ones.

    Destruction of cities through the upthrust of mountains, the centrifugal rendingof continents, the seismic convulsions of land or sea-bottom, and other natural causes was amatter of common record; and it was curious to observe how fewer and fewer replacements weremade as the ages wore on. The vast dead megalopolis that yawned around us seemed to be the lastgeneral centre of the race; built early in the Cretaceous age after a titanic earth-bucklinghad obliterated a still vaster predecessor not far distant. It appeared that this general regionwas the most sacred spot of all, where reputedly the first Old Ones had settled on a primalsea-bottom. In the new city—many of whose features we could recognise in the sculptures,but which stretched fully an hundred miles along the mountain-range in each direction beyondthe farthest limits of our aërial survey—there were reputed to be preserved certainsacred stones forming part of the first sea-bottom city, which were thrust up to light afterlong epochs in the course of the general crumpling of strata.

    VIII.

    Naturally, Danforth and I studied with especial interest and a peculiarly personal sense ofawe everything pertaining to the immediate district in which we were. Of this local materialthere was naturally a vast abundance; and on the tangled ground level of the city we were luckyenough to find a house of very late date whose walls, though somewhat damaged by a neighbouringrift, contained sculptures of decadent workmanship carrying the story of the region much beyondthe period of the Pliocene map whence we derived our last general glimpse of the pre-human world.This was the last place we examined in detail, since what we found there gave us a fresh immediateobjective.

    Certainly, we were in one of the strangest, weirdest, and most terrible ofall the corners of earth’s globe. Of all existing lands it was infinitely the most ancient;and the conviction grew upon us that this hideous upland must indeed be the fabled nightmareplateau of Leng which even the mad author of the Necronomicon was reluctant to discuss.The great mountain chain was tremendously long—starting as a low range at Luitpold Landon the coast of Weddell Sea and virtually crossing the entire continent. The really high partstretched in a mighty arc from about Latitude 82°, E. Longitude 60° to Latitude 70°,E. Longitude 115°, with its concave side toward our camp and its seaward end in the regionof that long, ice-locked coast whose hills were glimpsed by Wilkes and Mawson at the AntarcticCircle.

    Yet even more monstrous exaggerations of Nature seemed disturbingly close athand. I have said that these peaks are higher than the Himalayas, but the sculptures forbidme to say that they are earth’s highest. That grim honour is beyond doubt reserved forsomething which half the sculptures hesitated to record at all, whilst others approached itwith obvious repugnance and trepidation. It seems that there was one part of the ancient land—thefirst part that ever rose from the waters after the earth had flung off the moon and the OldOnes had seeped down from the stars—which had come to be shunned as vaguely and namelesslyevil. Cities built there had crumbled before their time, and had been found suddenly deserted.Then when the first great earth-buckling had convulsed the region in the Comanchian age, a frightfulline of peaks had shot suddenly up amidst the most appalling din and chaos—and earth hadreceived her loftiest and most terrible mountains.

    If the scale of the carvings was correct, these abhorred things must have beenmuch over 40,000 feet high—radically vaster than even the shocking mountains of madnesswe had crossed. They extended, it appeared, from about Latitude 77°, E. Longitude 70°to Latitude 70°, E. Longitude 100°—less than 300 miles away from the dead city,so that we would have spied their dreaded summits in the dim western distance had it not beenfor that vague opalescent haze. Their northern end must likewise be visible from the long AntarcticCircle coast-line at Queen Mary Land.

    Some of the Old Ones, in the decadent days, had made strange prayers to thosemountains; but none ever went near them or dared to guess what lay beyond. No human eye hadever seen them, and as I studied the emotions conveyed in the carvings I prayed that none evermight. There are protecting hills along the coast beyond them—Queen Mary and Kaiser WilhelmLands—and I thank heaven no one has been able to land and climb those hills. I am notas sceptical about old tales and fears as I used to be, and I do not laugh now at the pre-humansculptor’s notion that lightning paused meaningfully now and then at each of the broodingcrests, and that an unexplained glow shone from one of those terrible pinnacles all throughthe long polar night. There may be a very real and very monstrous meaning in the old Pnakoticwhispers about Kadath in the Cold Waste.

    But the terrain close at hand was hardly less strange, even if less namelesslyaccursed. Soon after the founding of the city the great mountain-range became the seat of theprincipal temples, and many carvings shewed what grotesque and fantastic towers had piercedthe sky where now we saw only the curiously clinging cubes and ramparts. In the course of agesthe caves had appeared, and had been shaped into adjuncts of the temples. With the advance ofstill later epochs all the limestone veins of the region were hollowed out by ground waters,so that the mountains, the foothills, and the plains below them were a veritable network ofconnected caverns and galleries. Many graphic sculptures told of explorations deep underground,and of the final discovery of the Stygian sunless sea that lurked at earth’s bowels.

    This vast nighted gulf had undoubtedly been worn by the great river which floweddown from the nameless and horrible westward mountains, and which had formerly turned at thebase of the Old Ones’ range and flowed beside that chain into the Indian Ocean betweenBudd and Totten Lands on Wilkes’s coast-line. Little by little it had eaten away the limestonehill base at its turning, till at last its sapping currents reached the caverns of the groundwaters and joined with them in digging a deeper abyss. Finally its whole bulk emptied into thehollow hills and left the old bed toward the ocean dry. Much of the later city as we now foundit had been built over that former bed. The Old Ones, understanding what had happened, and exercisingtheir always keen artistic sense, had carved into ornate pylons those headlands of the foothillswhere the great stream began its descent into eternal darkness.

    This river, once crossed by scores of noble stone bridges, was plainly theone whose extinct course we had seen in our aëroplane survey. Its position in differentcarvings of the city helped us to orient ourselves to the scene as it had been at various stagesof the region’s age-long, aeon-dead history; so that we were able to sketch a hasty butcareful map of the salient features—squares, important buildings, and the like—forguidance in further explorations. We could soon reconstruct in fancy the whole stupendous thingas it was a million or ten million or fifty million years ago, for the sculptures told us exactlywhat the buildings and mountains and squares and suburbs and landscape setting and luxuriantTertiary vegetation had looked like. It must have had a marvellous and mystic beauty, and asI thought of it I almost forgot the clammy sense of sinister oppression with which the city’sinhuman age and massiveness and deadness and remoteness and glacial twilight had choked andweighed on my spirit. Yet according to certain carvings the denizens of that city had themselvesknown the clutch of oppressive terror; for there was a sombre and recurrent type of scene inwhich the Old Ones were shewn in the act of recoiling affrightedly from some object—neverallowed to appear in the design—found in the great river and indicated as having beenwashed down through waving, vine-draped cycad-forests from those horrible westward mountains.

    It was only in the one late-built house with the decadent carvings that weobtained any foreshadowing of the final calamity leading to the city’s desertion. Undoubtedlythere must have been many sculptures of the same age elsewhere, even allowing for the slackenedenergies and aspirations of a stressful and uncertain period; indeed, very certain evidenceof the existence of others came to us shortly afterward. But this was the first and only setwe directly encountered. We meant to look farther later on; but as I have said, immediate conditionsdictated another present objective. There would, though, have been a limit—for after allhope of a long future occupancy of the place had perished among the Old Ones, there could notbut have been a complete cessation of mural decoration. The ultimate blow, of course, was thecoming of the great cold which once held most of the earth in thrall, and which has never departedfrom the ill-fated poles—the great cold that, at the world’s other extremity, putan end to the fabled lands of Lomar and Hyperborea.

    Just when this tendency began in the antarctic it would be hard to say in termsof exact years. Nowadays we set the beginning of the general glacial periods at a distance ofabout 500,000 years from the present, but at the poles the terrible scourge must have commencedmuch earlier. All quantitative estimates are partly guesswork; but it is quite likely that thedecadent sculptures were made considerably less than a million years ago, and that the actualdesertion of the city was complete long before the conventional opening of the Pleistocene—500,000years ago—as reckoned in terms of the earth’s whole surface.

    In the decadent sculptures there were signs of thinner vegetation everywhere,and of a decreased country life on the part of the Old Ones. Heating devices were shewn in thehouses, and winter travellers were represented as muffled in protective fabrics. Then we sawa series of cartouches (the continuous band arrangement being frequently interrupted in theselate carvings) depicting a constantly growing migration to the nearest refuges of greater warmth—somefleeing to cities under the sea off the far-away coast, and some clambering down through networksof limestone caverns in the hollow hills to the neighbouring black abyss of subterrene waters.

    In the end it seems to have been the neighbouring abyss which received thegreatest colonisation. This was partly due, no doubt, to the traditional sacredness of thisespecial region; but may have been more conclusively determined by the opportunities it gavefor continuing the use of the great temples on the honeycombed mountains, and for retainingthe vast land city as a place of summer residence and base of communication with various mines.The linkage of old and new abodes was made more effective by means of several gradings and improvementsalong the connecting routes, including the chiselling of numerous direct tunnels from the ancientmetropolis to the black abyss—sharply down-pointing tunnels whose mouths we carefullydrew, according to our most thoughtful estimates, on the guide map we were compiling. It wasobvious that at least two of these tunnels lay within a reasonable exploring distance of wherewe were; both being on the mountainward edge of the city, one less than a quarter-mile towardthe ancient river-course, and the other perhaps twice that distance in the opposite direction.

    The abyss, it seems, had shelving shores of dry land at certain places; butthe Old Ones built their new city under water—no doubt because of its greater certaintyof uniform warmth. The depth of the hidden sea appears to have been very great, so that theearth’s internal heat could ensure its habitability for an indefinite period. The beingsseem to have had no trouble in adapting themselves to part-time—and eventually, of course,whole-time—residence under water; since they had never allowed their gill systems to atrophy.There were many sculptures which shewed how they had always frequently visited their submarinekinsfolk elsewhere, and how they had habitually bathed on the deep bottom of their great river.The darkness of inner earth could likewise have been no deterrent to a race accustomed to longantarctic nights.

    Decadent though their style undoubtedly was, these latest carvings had a trulyepic quality where they told of the building of the new city in the cavern sea. The Old Oneshad gone about it scientifically; quarrying insoluble rocks from the heart of the honeycombedmountains, and employing expert workers from the nearest submarine city to perform the constructionaccording to the best methods. These workers brought with them all that was necessary to establishthe new venture—shoggoth-tissue from which to breed stone-lifters and subsequent beastsof burden for the cavern city, and other protoplasmic matter to mould into phosphorescent organismsfor lighting purposes.

    At last a mighty metropolis rose on the bottom of that Stygian sea; its architecturemuch like that of the city above, and its workmanship displaying relatively little decadencebecause of the precise mathematical element inherent in building operations. The newly bredshoggoths grew to enormous size and singular intelligence, and were represented as taking andexecuting orders with marvellous quickness. They seemed to converse with the Old Ones by mimickingtheir voices—a sort of musical piping over a wide range, if poor Lake’s dissectionhad indicated aright—and to work more from spoken commands than from hypnotic suggestionsas in earlier times. They were, however, kept in admirable control. The phosphorescent organismssupplied light with vast effectiveness, and doubtless atoned for the loss of the familiar polarauroras of the outer-world night.

    Art and decoration were pursued, though of course with a certain decadence.The Old Ones seemed to realise this falling off themselves; and in many cases anticipated thepolicy of Constantine the Great by transplanting especially fine blocks of ancient carving fromtheir land city, just as the emperor, in a similar age of decline, stripped Greece and Asiaof their finest art to give his new Byzantine capital greater splendours than its own peoplecould create. That the transfer of sculptured blocks had not been more extensive, was doubtlessowing to the fact that the land city was not at first wholly abandoned. By the time total abandonmentdid occur—and it surely must have occurred before the polar Pleistocene was far advanced—theOld Ones had perhaps become satisfied with their decadent art—or had ceased to recognisethe superior merit of the older carvings. At any rate, the aeon-silent ruins around us had certainlyundergone no wholesale sculptural denudation; though all the best separate statues, like othermoveables, had been taken away.

    The decadent cartouches and dadoes telling this story were, as I have said,the latest we could find in our limited search. They left us with a picture of the Old Onesshuttling back and forth betwixt the land city in summer and the sea-cavern city in winter,and sometimes trading with the sea-bottom cities off the antarctic coast. By this time the ultimatedoom of the land city must have been recognised, for the sculptures shewed many signs of thecold’s malign encroachments. Vegetation was declining, and the terrible snows of the winterno longer melted completely even in midsummer. The saurian livestock were nearly all dead, andthe mammals were standing it none too well. To keep on with the work of the upper world it hadbecome necessary to adapt some of the amorphous and curiously cold-resistant shoggoths to landlife; a thing the Old Ones had formerly been reluctant to do. The great river was now lifeless,and the upper sea had lost most of its denizens except the seals and whales. All the birds hadflown away, save only the great, grotesque penguins.

    What had happened afterward we could only guess. How long had the new sea-caverncity survived? Was it still down there, a stony corpse in eternal blackness? Had the subterraneanwaters frozen at last? To what fate had the ocean-bottom cities of the outer world been delivered?Had any of the Old Ones shifted north ahead of the creeping ice-cap? Existing geology shewsno trace of their presence. Had the frightful Mi-Go been still a menace in the outer land worldof the north? Could one be sure of what might or might not linger even to this day in the lightlessand unplumbed abysses of earth’s deepest waters? Those things had seemingly been ableto withstand any amount of pressure—and men of the sea have fished up curious objectsat times. And has the killer-whale theory really explained the savage and mysterious scars onantarctic seals noticed a generation ago by Borchgrevingk?

    The specimens found by poor Lake did not enter into these guesses, for theirgeologic setting proved them to have lived at what must have been a very early date in the landcity’s history. They were, according to their location, certainly not less than thirtymillion years old; and we reflected that in their day the sea-cavern city, and indeed the cavernitself, had no existence. They would have remembered an older scene, with lush Tertiary vegetationeverywhere, a younger land city of flourishing arts around them, and a great river sweepingnorthward along the base of the mighty mountains toward a far-away tropic ocean.

    And yet we could not help thinking about these specimens—especially aboutthe eight perfect ones that were missing from Lake’s hideously ravaged camp. There wassomething abnormal about that whole business—the strange things we had tried so hard tolay to somebody’s madness—those frightful graves—the amount and natureof the missing material—Gedney—the unearthly toughness of those archaic monstrosities,and the queer vital freaks the sculptures now shewed the race to have. . . .Danforth and I had seen a good deal in the last few hours, and were prepared to believe andkeep silent about many appalling and incredible secrets of primal Nature.

    IX.

    I have said that our study of the decadent sculptures brought about a change in our immediateobjective. This of course had to do with the chiselled avenues to the black inner world, ofwhose existence we had not known before, but which we were now eager to find and traverse. Fromthe evident scale of the carvings we deduced that a steeply descending walk of about a milethrough either of the neighbouring tunnels would bring us to the brink of the dizzy sunlesscliffs above the great abyss; down whose side adequate paths, improved by the Old Ones, ledto the rocky shore of the hidden and nighted ocean. To behold this fabulous gulf in stark realitywas a lure which seemed impossible of resistance once we knew of the thing—yet we realisedwe must begin the quest at once if we expected to include it on our present flight.

    It was now 8 P.M., and we had not enough battery replacements to let our torchesburn on forever. We had done so much of our studying and copying below the glacial level thatour battery supply had had at least five hours of nearly continuous use; and despite the specialdry cell formula would obviously be good for only about four more—though by keeping onetorch unused, except for especially interesting or difficult places, we might manage to ekeout a safe margin beyond that. It would not do to be without a light in these Cyclopean catacombs,hence in order to make the abyss trip we must give up all further mural deciphering. Of coursewe intended to revisit the place for days and perhaps weeks of intensive study and photography—curiosityhaving long ago got the better of horror—but just now we must hasten. Our supply of trail-blazingpaper was far from unlimited, and we were reluctant to sacrifice spare notebooks or sketchingpaper to augment it; but we did let one large notebook go. If worst came to worst, we couldresort to rock-chipping—and of course it would be possible, even in case of really lostdirection, to work up to full daylight by one channel or another if granted sufficient timefor plentiful trial and error. So at last we set off eagerly in the indicated direction of thenearest tunnel.

    According to the carvings from which we had made our map, the desired tunnel-mouthcould not be much more than a quarter-mile from where we stood; the intervening space shewingsolid-looking buildings quite likely to be penetrable still at a sub-glacial level. The openingitself would be in the basem*nt—on the angle nearest the foothills—of a vast five-pointedstructure of evidently public and perhaps ceremonial nature, which we tried to identify fromour aërial survey of the ruins. No such structure came to our minds as we recalled ourflight, hence we concluded that its upper parts had been greatly damaged, or that it had beentotally shattered in an ice-rift we had noticed. In the latter case the tunnel would probablyturn out to be choked, so that we would have to try the next nearest one—the one lessthan a mile to the north. The intervening river-course prevented our trying any of the moresoutherly tunnels on this trip; and indeed, if both of the neighbouring ones were choked itwas doubtful whether our batteries would warrant an attempt on the next northerly one—abouta mile beyond our second choice.

    As we threaded our dim way through the labyrinth with the aid of map and compass—traversingrooms and corridors in every stage of ruin or preservation, clambering up ramps, crossing upperfloors and bridges and clambering down again, encountering choked doorways and piles of debris,hastening now and then along finely preserved and uncannily immaculate stretches, taking falseleads and retracing our way (in such cases removing the blind paper trail we had left), andonce in a while striking the bottom of an open shaft through which daylight poured or trickleddown—we were repeatedly tantalised by the sculptured walls along our route. Many musthave told tales of immense historical importance, and only the prospect of later visits reconciledus to the need of passing them by. As it was, we slowed down once in a while and turned on oursecond torch. If we had had more films we would certainly have paused briefly to photographcertain bas-reliefs, but time-consuming hand copying was clearly out of the question.

    I come now once more to a place where the temptation to hesitate, or to hintrather than state, is very strong. It is necessary, however, to reveal the rest in order tojustify my course in discouraging further exploration. We had wormed our way very close to thecomputed site of the tunnel’s mouth—having crossed a second-story bridge to whatseemed plainly the tip of a pointed wall, and descended to a ruinous corridor especially richin decadently elaborate and apparently ritualistic sculptures of late workmanship—when,about 8:30 P.M., Danforth’s keen young nostrils gave us the first hint of something unusual.If we had had a dog with us, I suppose we would have been warned before. At first we could notprecisely say what was wrong with the formerly crystal-pure air, but after a few seconds ourmemories reacted only too definitely. Let me try to state the thing without flinching. Therewas an odour—and that odour was vaguely, subtly, and unmistakably akin to what had nauseatedus upon opening the insane grave of the horror poor Lake had dissected.

    Of course the revelation was not as clearly cut at the time as it sounds now.There were several conceivable explanations, and we did a good deal of indecisive whispering.Most important of all, we did not retreat without further investigation; for having come thisfar, we were loath to be balked by anything short of certain disaster. Anyway, what we musthave suspected was altogether too wild to believe. Such things did not happen in any normalworld. It was probably sheer irrational instinct which made us dim our single torch—temptedno longer by the decadent and sinister sculptures that leered menacingly from the oppressivewalls—and which softened our progress to a cautious tiptoeing and crawling over the increasinglylittered floor and heaps of debris.

    Danforth’s eyes as well as nose proved better than mine, for it was likewisehe who first noticed the queer aspect of the debris after we had passed many half-choked archesleading to chambers and corridors on the ground level. It did not look quite as it ought aftercountless thousands of years of desertion, and when we cautiously turned on more light we sawthat a kind of swath seemed to have been lately tracked through it. The irregular nature ofthe litter precluded any definite marks, but in the smoother places there were suggestions ofthe dragging of heavy objects. Once we thought there was a hint of parallel tracks, as if ofrunners. This was what made us pause again.

    It was during that pause that we caught—simultaneously this time—theother odour ahead. Paradoxically, it was both a less frightful and a more frightful odour—lessfrightful intrinsically, but infinitely appalling in this place under the known circ*mstances . . .unless, of course, Gedney. . . . For the odour was the plain and familiar oneof common petrol—every-day gasoline.

    Our motivation after that is something I will leave to psychologists. We knewnow that some terrible extension of the camp horrors must have crawled into this nighted burial-placeof the aeons, hence could not doubt any longer the existence of nameless conditions—presentor at least recent—just ahead. Yet in the end we did let sheer burning curiosity—oranxiety—or auto-hypnotism—or vague thoughts of responsibility toward Gedney—orwhat not—drive us on. Danforth whispered again of the print he thought he had seen atthe alley-turning in the ruins above; and of the faint musical piping—potentially of tremendoussignificance in the light of Lake’s dissection report despite its close resemblance tothe cave-mouth echoes of the windy peaks—which he thought he had shortly afterward halfheard from unknown depths below. I, in my turn, whispered of how the camp was left—ofwhat had disappeared, and of how the madness of a lone survivor might have conceived the inconceivable—awild trip across the monstrous mountains and a descent into the unknown primal masonry—

    But we could not convince each other, or even ourselves, of anything definite.We had turned off all light as we stood still, and vaguely noticed that a trace of deeply filteredupper day kept the blackness from being absolute. Having automatically begun to move ahead,we guided ourselves by occasional flashes from our torch. The disturbed debris formed an impressionwe could not shake off, and the smell of gasoline grew stronger. More and more ruin met oureyes and hampered our feet, until very soon we saw that the forward way was about to cease.We had been all too correct in our pessimistic guess about that rift glimpsed from the air.Our tunnel quest was a blind one, and we were not even going to be able to reach the basem*ntout of which the abyssward aperture opened.

    The torch, flashing over the grotesquely carven walls of the blocked corridorin which we stood, shewed several doorways in various states of obstruction; and from one ofthem the gasoline odour—quite submerging that other hint of odour—came with especialdistinctness. As we looked more steadily, we saw that beyond a doubt there had been a slightand recent clearing away of debris from that particular opening. Whatever the lurking horrormight be, we believed the direct avenue toward it was now plainly manifest. I do not think anyonewill wonder that we waited an appreciable time before making any further motion.

    And yet, when we did venture inside that black arch, our first impression wasone of anticlimax. For amidst the littered expanse of that sculptured crypt—a perfectcube with sides of about twenty feet—there remained no recent object of instantly discerniblesize; so that we looked instinctively, though in vain, for a farther doorway. In another moment,however, Danforth’s sharp vision had descried a place where the floor debris had beendisturbed; and we turned on both torches full strength. Though what we saw in that light wasactually simple and trifling, I am none the less reluctant to tell of it because of what itimplied. It was a rough levelling of the debris, upon which several small objects lay carelesslyscattered, and at one corner of which a considerable amount of gasoline must have been spilledlately enough to leave a strong odour even at this extreme super-plateau altitude. In otherwords, it could not be other than a sort of camp—a camp made by questing beings who likeus had been turned back by the unexpectedly choked way to the abyss.

    Let me be plain. The scattered objects were, so far as substance was concerned,all from Lake’s camp; and consisted of tin cans as queerly opened as those we had seenat that ravaged place, many spent matches, three illustrated books more or less curiously smudged,an empty ink bottle with its pictorial and instructional carton, a broken fountain pen, someoddly snipped fragments of fur and tent-cloth, a used electric battery with circular of directions,a folder that came with our type of tent heater, and a sprinkling of crumpled papers. It wasall bad enough, but when we smoothed out the papers and looked at what was on them we felt wehad come to the worst. We had found certain inexplicably blotted papers at the camp which mighthave prepared us, yet the effect of the sight down there in the pre-human vaults of a nightmarecity was almost too much to bear.

    A mad Gedney might have made the groups of dots in imitation of those foundon the greenish soapstones, just as the dots on those insane five-pointed grave-mounds mighthave been made; and he might conceivably have prepared rough, hasty sketches—varying intheir accuracy or lack of it—which outlined the neighbouring parts of the city and tracedthe way from a circularly represented place outside our previous route—a place we identifiedas a great cylindrical tower in the carvings and as a vast circular gulf glimpsed in our aërialsurvey—to the present five-pointed structure and the tunnel-mouth therein. He might, Irepeat, have prepared such sketches; for those before us were quite obviously compiled as ourown had been from late sculptures somewhere in the glacial labyrinth, though not from the oneswhich we had seen and used. But what this art-blind bungler could never have done was to executethose sketches in a strange and assured technique perhaps superior, despite haste and carelessness,to any of the decadent carvings from which they were taken—the characteristic and unmistakabletechnique of the Old Ones themselves in the dead city’s heyday.

    There are those who will say Danforth and I were utterly mad not to flee forour lives after that; since our conclusions were now—notwithstanding their wildness—completelyfixed, and of a nature I need not even mention to those who have read my account as far as this.Perhaps we were mad—for have I not said those horrible peaks were mountains of madness?But I think I can detect something of the same spirit—albeit in a less extreme form—inthe men who stalk deadly beasts through African jungles to photograph them or study their habits.Half-paralysed with terror though we were, there was nevertheless fanned within us a blazingflame of awe and curiosity which triumphed in the end.

    Of course we did not mean to face that—or those—which we knew hadbeen there, but we felt that they must be gone by now. They would by this time have found theother neighbouring entrance to the abyss, and have passed within to whatever night-black fragmentsof the past might await them in the ultimate gulf—the ultimate gulf they had never seen.Or if that entrance, too, was blocked, they would have gone on to the north seeking another.They were, we remembered, partly independent of light.

    Looking back to that moment, I can scarcely recall just what precise form ournew emotions took—just what change of immediate objective it was that so sharpened oursense of expectancy. We certainly did not mean to face what we feared—yet I will not denythat we may have had a lurking, unconscious wish to spy certain things from some hidden vantage-point.Probably we had not given up our zeal to glimpse the abyss itself, though there was interposeda new goal in the form of that great circular place shewn on the crumpled sketches we had found.We had at once recognised it as a monstrous cylindrical tower figuring in the very earliestcarvings, but appearing only as a prodigious round aperture from above. Something about theimpressiveness of its rendering, even in these hasty diagrams, made us think that its sub-glaciallevels must still form a feature of peculiar importance. Perhaps it embodied architectural marvelsas yet unencountered by us. It was certainly of incredible age according to the sculptures inwhich it figured—being indeed among the first things built in the city. Its carvings,if preserved, could not but be highly significant. Moreover, it might form a good present linkwith the upper world—a shorter route than the one we were so carefully blazing, and probablythat by which those others had descended.

    At any rate, the thing we did was to study the terrible sketches—whichquite perfectly confirmed our own—and start back over the indicated course to the circularplace; the course which our nameless predecessors must have traversed twice before us. The otherneighbouring gate to the abyss would lie beyond that. I need not speak of our journey—duringwhich we continued to leave an economical trail of paper—for it was precisely the samein kind as that by which we had reached the cul de sac; except that it tended to adhere moreclosely to the ground level and even descend to basem*nt corridors. Every now and then we couldtrace certain disturbing marks in the debris or litter under foot; and after we had passed outsidethe radius of the gasoline scent we were again faintly conscious—spasmodically—ofthat more hideous and more persistent scent. After the way had branched from our former coursewe sometimes gave the rays of our single torch a furtive sweep along the walls; noting in almostevery case the well-nigh omnipresent sculptures, which indeed seem to have formed a main aestheticoutlet for the Old Ones.

    About 9:30 P.M., while traversing a vaulted corridor whose increasingly glaciatedfloor seemed somewhat below the ground level and whose roof grew lower as we advanced, we beganto see strong daylight ahead and were able to turn off our torch. It appeared that we were comingto the vast circular place, and that our distance from the upper air could not be very great.The corridor ended in an arch surprisingly low for these megalithic ruins, but we could seemuch through it even before we emerged. Beyond there stretched a prodigious round space—fully200 feet in diameter—strown with debris and containing many choked archways correspondingto the one we were about to cross. The walls were—in available spaces—boldly sculpturedinto a spiral band of heroic proportions; and displayed, despite the destructive weatheringcaused by the openness of the spot, an artistic splendour far beyond anything we had encounteredbefore. The littered floor was quite heavily glaciated, and we fancied that the true bottomlay at a considerably lower depth.

    But the salient object of the place was the titanic stone ramp which, eludingthe archways by a sharp turn outward into the open floor, wound spirally up the stupendous cylindricalwall like an inside counterpart of those once climbing outside the monstrous towers or zigguratsof antique Babylon. Only the rapidity of our flight, and the perspective which confounded thedescent with the tower’s inner wall, had prevented our noticing this feature from theair, and thus caused us to seek another avenue to the sub-glacial level. Pabodie might havebeen able to tell what sort of engineering held it in place, but Danforth and I could merelyadmire and marvel. We could see mighty stone corbels and pillars here and there, but what wesaw seemed inadequate to the function performed. The thing was excellently preserved up to thepresent top of the tower—a highly remarkable circ*mstance in view of its exposure—andits shelter had done much to protect the bizarre and disturbing cosmic sculptures on the walls.

    As we stepped out into the awesome half-daylight of this monstrous cylinder-bottom—fiftymillion years old, and without doubt the most primally ancient structure ever to meet our eyes—wesaw that the ramp-traversed sides stretched dizzily up to a height of fully sixty feet. This,we recalled from our aërial survey, meant an outside glaciation of some forty feet; sincethe yawning gulf we had seen from the plane had been at the top of an approximately twenty-footmound of crumbled masonry, somewhat sheltered for three-fourths of its circumference by themassive curving walls of a line of higher ruins. According to the sculptures the original towerhad stood in the centre of an immense circular plaza; and had been perhaps 500 or 600 feet high,with tiers of horizontal discs near the top, and a row of needle-like spires along the upperrim. Most of the masonry had obviously toppled outward rather than inward—a fortunatehappening, since otherwise the ramp might have been shattered and the whole interior choked.As it was, the ramp shewed sad battering; whilst the choking was such that all the archwaysat the bottom seemed to have been recently half-cleared.

    It took us only a moment to conclude that this was indeed the route by whichthose others had descended, and that this would be the logical route for our own ascent despitethe long trail of paper we had left elsewhere. The tower’s mouth was no farther from thefoothills and our waiting plane than was the great terraced building we had entered, and anyfurther sub-glacial exploration we might make on this trip would lie in this general region.Oddly, we were still thinking about possible later trips—even after all we had seen andguessed. Then as we picked our way cautiously over the debris of the great floor, there camea sight which for the time excluded all other matters.

    It was the neatly huddled array of three sledges in that farther angle of theramp’s lower and outward-projecting course which had hitherto been screened from our view.There they were—the three sledges missing from Lake’s camp—shaken by a hardusage which must have included forcible dragging along great reaches of snowless masonry anddebris, as well as much hand portage over utterly unnavigable places. They were carefully andintelligently packed and strapped, and contained things memorably familiar enough—thegasoline stove, fuel cans, instrument cases, provision tins, tarpaulins obviously bulging withbooks, and some bulging with less obvious contents—everything derived from Lake’sequipment. After what we had found in that other room, we were in a measure prepared for thisencounter. The really great shock came when we stepped over and undid one tarpaulin whose outlineshad peculiarly disquieted us. It seems that others as well as Lake had been interested in collectingtypical specimens; for there were two here, both stiffly frozen, perfectly preserved, patchedwith adhesive plaster where some wounds around the neck had occurred, and wrapped with patentcare to prevent further damage. They were the bodies of young Gedney and the missing dog.

    X.

    Many people will probably judge us callous as well as mad for thinking about the northward tunneland the abyss so soon after our sombre discovery, and I am not prepared to say that we wouldhave immediately revived such thoughts but for a specific circ*mstance which broke in upon usand set up a whole new train of speculations. We had replaced the tarpaulin over poor Gedneyand were standing in a kind of mute bewilderment when the sounds finally reached our consciousness—thefirst sounds we had heard since descending out of the open where the mountain wind whined faintlyfrom its unearthly heights. Well known and mundane though they were, their presence in thisremote world of death was more unexpected and unnerving than any grotesque or fabulous tonescould possibly have been—since they gave a fresh upsetting to all our notions of cosmicharmony.

    Had it been some trace of that bizarre musical piping over a wide range whichLake’s dissection report had led us to expect in those others—and which, indeed,our overwrought fancies had been reading into every wind-howl we had heard since coming on thecamp horror—it would have had a kind of hellish congruity with the aeon-dead region aroundus. A voice from other epochs belongs in a graveyard of other epochs. As it was, however, thenoise shattered all our profoundly seated adjustments—all our tacit acceptance of theinner antarctic as a waste as utterly and irrevocably void of every vestige of normal life asthe sterile disc of the moon. What we heard was not the fabulous note of any buried blasphemyof elder earth from whose supernal toughness an age-denied polar sun had evoked a monstrousresponse. Instead, it was a thing so mockingly normal and so unerringly familiarised by oursea days off Victoria Land and our camp days at McMurdo Sound that we shuddered to think ofit here, where such things ought not to be. To be brief—it was simply the raucous squawkingof a penguin.

    The muffled sound floated from sub-glacial recesses nearly opposite to thecorridor whence we had come—regions manifestly in the direction of that other tunnel tothe vast abyss. The presence of a living water-bird in such a direction—in a world whosesurface was one of age-long and uniform lifelessness—could lead to only one conclusion;hence our first thought was to verify the objective reality of the sound. It was, indeed, repeated;and seemed at times to come from more than one throat. Seeking its source, we entered an archwayfrom which much debris had been cleared; resuming our trail-blazing—with an added paper-supplytaken with curious repugnance from one of the tarpaulin bundles on the sledges—when weleft daylight behind.

    As the glaciated floor gave place to a litter of detritus, we plainly discernedsome curious dragging tracks; and once Danforth found a distinct print of a sort whose descriptionwould be only too superfluous. The course indicated by the penguin cries was precisely whatour map and compass prescribed as an approach to the more northerly tunnel-mouth, and we wereglad to find that a bridgeless thoroughfare on the ground and basem*nt levels seemed open. Thetunnel, according to the chart, ought to start from the basem*nt of a large pyramidal structurewhich we seemed vaguely to recall from our aërial survey as remarkably well preserved.Along our path the single torch shewed a customary profusion of carvings, but we did not pauseto examine any of these.

    Suddenly a bulky white shape loomed up ahead of us, and we flashed on the secondtorch. It is odd how wholly this new quest had turned our minds from earlier fears of what mightlurk near. Those other ones, having left their supplies in the great circular place, must haveplanned to return after their scouting trip toward or into the abyss; yet we had now discardedall caution concerning them as completely as if they had never existed. This white, waddlingthing was fully six feet high, yet we seemed to realise at once that it was not one of thoseothers. They were larger and dark, and according to the sculptures their motion over land surfaceswas a swift, assured matter despite the queerness of their sea-born tentacle equipment. Butto say that the white thing did not profoundly frighten us would be vain. We were indeed clutchedfor an instant by a primitive dread almost sharper than the worst of our reasoned fears regardingthose others. Then came a flash of anticlimax as the white shape sidled into a lateral archwayto our left to join two others of its kind which had summoned it in raucous tones. For it wasonly a penguin—albeit of a huge, unknown species larger than the greatest of the knownking penguins, and monstrous in its combined albinism and virtual eyelessness.

    When we had followed the thing into the archway and turned both our torcheson the indifferent and unheeding group of three we saw that they were all eyeless albinos ofthe same unknown and gigantic species. Their size reminded us of some of the archaic penguinsdepicted in the Old Ones’ sculptures, and it did not take us long to conclude that theywere descended from the same stock—undoubtedly surviving through a retreat to some warmerinner region whose perpetual blackness had destroyed their pigmentation and atrophied theireyes to mere useless slits. That their present habitat was the vast abyss we sought, was notfor a moment to be doubted; and this evidence of the gulf’s continued warmth and habitabilityfilled us with the most curious and subtly perturbing fancies.

    We wondered, too, what had caused these three birds to venture out of theirusual domain. The state and silence of the great dead city made it clear that it had at no timebeen an habitual seasonal rookery, whilst the manifest indifference of the trio to our presencemade it seem odd that any passing party of those others should have startled them. Was it possiblethat those others had taken some aggressive action or tried to increase their meat supply? Wedoubted whether that pungent odour which the dogs had hated could cause an equal antipathy inthese penguins; since their ancestors had obviously lived on excellent terms with the Old Ones—anamicable relationship which must have survived in the abyss below as long as any of the OldOnes remained. Regretting—in a flareup of the old spirit of pure science—that wecould not photograph these anomalous creatures, we shortly left them to their squawking andpushed on toward the abyss whose openness was now so positively proved to us, and whose exactdirection occasional penguin tracks made clear.

    Not long afterward a steep descent in a long, low, doorless, and peculiarlysculptureless corridor led us to believe that we were approaching the tunnel-mouth at last.We had passed two more penguins, and heard others immediately ahead. Then the corridor endedin a prodigious open space which made us gasp involuntarily—a perfect inverted hemisphere,obviously deep underground; fully an hundred feet in diameter and fifty feet high, with lowarchways opening around all parts of the circumference but one, and that one yawning cavernouslywith a black arched aperture which broke the symmetry of the vault to a height of nearly fifteenfeet. It was the entrance to the great abyss.

    In this vast hemisphere, whose concave roof was impressively though decadentlycarved to a likeness of the primordial celestial dome, a few albino penguins waddled—aliensthere, but indifferent and unseeing. The black tunnel yawned indefinitely off at a steep descendinggrade, its aperture adorned with grotesquely chiselled jambs and lintel. From that crypticalmouth we fancied a current of slightly warmer air and perhaps even a suspicion of vapour proceeded;and we wondered what living entities other than penguins the limitless void below, and the contiguoushoneycombings of the land and the titan mountains, might conceal. We wondered, too, whetherthe trace of mountain-top smoke at first suspected by poor Lake, as well as the odd haze wehad ourselves perceived around the rampart-crowned peak, might not be caused by the tortuous-channelledrising of some such vapour from the unfathomed regions of earth’s core.

    Entering the tunnel, we saw that its outline was—at least at the start—aboutfifteen feet each way; sides, floor, and arched roof composed of the usual megalithic masonry.The sides were sparsely decorated with cartouches of conventional designs in a late, decadentstyle; and all the construction and carving were marvellously well preserved. The floor wasquite clear, except for a slight detritus bearing outgoing penguin tracks and the inward tracksof those others. The farther one advanced, the warmer it became; so that we were soon unbuttoningour heavy garments. We wondered whether there were any actually igneous manifestations below,and whether the waters of that sunless sea were hot. After a short distance the masonry gaveplace to solid rock, though the tunnel kept the same proportions and presented the same aspectof carved regularity. Occasionally its varying grade became so steep that grooves were cut inthe floor. Several times we noted the mouths of small lateral galleries not recorded in ourdiagrams; none of them such as to complicate the problem of our return, and all of them welcomeas possible refuges in case we met unwelcome entities on their way back from the abyss. Thenameless scent of such things was very distinct. Doubtless it was suicidally foolish to ventureinto that tunnel under the known conditions, but the lure of the unplumbed is stronger in certainpersons than most suspect—indeed, it was just such a lure which had brought us to thisunearthly polar waste in the first place. We saw several penguins as we passed along, and speculatedon the distance we would have to traverse. The carvings had led us to expect a steep downhillwalk of about a mile to the abyss, but our previous wanderings had shewn us that matters ofscale were not wholly to be depended on.

    After about a quarter of a mile that nameless scent became greatly accentuated,and we kept very careful track of the various lateral openings we passed. There was no visiblevapour as at the mouth, but this was doubtless due to the lack of contrasting cooler air. Thetemperature was rapidly ascending, and we were not surprised to come upon a careless heap ofmaterial shudderingly familiar to us. It was composed of furs and tent-cloth taken from Lake’scamp, and we did not pause to study the bizarre forms into which the fabrics had been slashed.Slightly beyond this point we noticed a decided increase in the size and number of the side-galleries,and concluded that the densely honeycombed region beneath the higher foothills must now havebeen reached. The nameless scent was now curiously mixed with another and scarcely less offensiveodour—of what nature we could not guess, though we thought of decaying organisms and perhapsunknown subterrene fungi. Then came a startling expansion of the tunnel for which the carvingshad not prepared us—a broadening and rising into a lofty, natural-looking elliptical cavernwith a level floor; some 75 feet long and 50 broad, and with many immense side-passages leadingaway into cryptical darkness.

    Though this cavern was natural in appearance, an inspection with both torchessuggested that it had been formed by the artificial destruction of several walls between adjacenthoneycombings. The walls were rough, and the high vaulted roof was thick with stalactites; butthe solid rock floor had been smoothed off, and was free from all debris, detritus, or evendust to a positively abnormal extent. Except for the avenue through which we had come, thiswas true of the floors of all the great galleries opening off from it; and the singularity ofthe condition was such as to set us vainly puzzling. The curious new foetor which had supplementedthe nameless scent was excessively pungent here; so much so that it destroyed all trace of theother. Something about this whole place, with its polished and almost glistening floor, struckus as more vaguely baffling and horrible than any of the monstrous things we had previouslyencountered.

    The regularity of the passage immediately ahead, as well as the larger proportionof penguin-droppings there, prevented all confusion as to the right course amidst this plethoraof equally great cave-mouths. Nevertheless we resolved to resume our paper trail-blazing ifany further complexity should develop; for dust tracks, of course, could no longer be expected.Upon resuming our direct progress we cast a beam of torchlight over the tunnel walls—andstopped short in amazement at the supremely radical change which had come over the carvingsin this part of the passage. We realised, of course, the great decadence of the Old Ones’sculpture at the time of the tunnelling; and had indeed noticed the inferior workmanship ofthe arabesques in the stretches behind us. But now, in this deeper section beyond the cavern,there was a sudden difference wholly transcending explanation—a difference in basic natureas well as in mere quality, and involving so profound and calamitous a degradation of skillthat nothing in the hitherto observed rate of decline could have led one to expect it.

    This new and degenerate work was coarse, bold, and wholly lacking in delicacyof detail. It was counter-sunk with exaggerated depth in bands following the same general lineas the sparse cartouches of the earlier sections, but the height of the reliefs did not reachthe level of the general surface. Danforth had the idea that it was a second carving—asort of palimpsest formed after the obliteration of a previous design. In nature it was whollydecorative and conventional; and consisted of crude spirals and angles roughly following thequintile mathematical tradition of the Old Ones, yet seeming more like a parody than a perpetuationof that tradition. We could not get it out of our minds that some subtly but profoundly alienelement had been added to the aesthetic feeling behind the technique—an alien element,Danforth guessed, that was responsible for the manifestly laborious substitution. It was like,yet disturbingly unlike, what we had come to recognise as the Old Ones’ art; and I waspersistently reminded of such hybrid things as the ungainly Palmyrene sculptures fashioned inthe Roman manner. That others had recently noticed this belt of carving was hinted by the presenceof a used torch battery on the floor in front of one of the most characteristic designs.

    Since we could not afford to spend any considerable time in study, we resumedour advance after a cursory look; though frequently casting beams over the walls to see if anyfurther decorative changes developed. Nothing of the sort was perceived, though the carvingswere in places rather sparse because of the numerous mouths of smooth-floored lateral tunnels.We saw and heard fewer penguins, but thought we caught a vague suspicion of an infinitely distantchorus of them somewhere deep within the earth. The new and inexplicable odour was abominablystrong, and we could detect scarcely a sign of that other nameless scent. Puffs of visible vapourahead bespoke increasing contrasts in temperature, and the relative nearness of the sunlesssea-cliffs of the great abyss. Then, quite unexpectedly, we saw certain obstructions on thepolished floor ahead—obstructions which were quite definitely not penguins—and turnedon our second torch after making sure that the objects were quite stationary.

    XI.

    Still another time have I come to a place where it is very difficult to proceed. I ought tobe hardened by this stage; but there are some experiences and intimations which scar too deeplyto permit of healing, and leave only such an added sensitiveness that memory reinspires allthe original horror. We saw, as I have said, certain obstructions on the polished floor ahead;and I may add that our nostrils were assailed almost simultaneously by a very curious intensificationof the strange prevailing foetor, now quite plainly mixed with the nameless stench of thoseothers which had gone before us. The light of the second torch left no doubt of what the obstructionswere, and we dared approach them only because we could see, even from a distance, that theywere quite as past all harming power as had been the six similar specimens unearthed from themonstrous star-mounded graves at poor Lake’s camp.

    They were, indeed, as lacking in completeness as most of those we had unearthed—thoughit grew plain from the thick, dark-green pool gathering around them that their incompletenesswas of infinitely greater recency. There seemed to be only four of them, whereas Lake’sbulletins would have suggested no less than eight as forming the group which had preceded us.To find them in this state was wholly unexpected, and we wondered what sort of monstrous strugglehad occurred down here in the dark.

    Penguins, attacked in a body, retaliate savagely with their beaks; and ourears now made certain the existence of a rookery far beyond. Had those others disturbed sucha place and aroused murderous pursuit? The obstructions did not suggest it, for penguin beaksagainst the tough tissues Lake had dissected could hardly account for the terrible damage ourapproaching glance was beginning to make out. Besides, the huge blind birds we had seen appearedto be singularly peaceful.

    Had there, then, been a struggle among those others, and were the absent fourresponsible? If so, where were they? Were they close at hand and likely to form an immediatemenace to us? We glanced anxiously at some of the smooth-floored lateral passages as we continuedour slow and frankly reluctant approach. Whatever the conflict was, it had clearly been thatwhich had frightened the penguins into their unaccustomed wandering. It must, then, have arisennear that faintly heard rookery in the incalculable gulf beyond, since there were no signs thatany birds had normally dwelt here. Perhaps, we reflected, there had been a hideous running fight,with the weaker party seeking to get back to the cached sledges when their pursuers finishedthem. One could picture the daemoniac fray between namelessly monstrous entities as it surgedout of the black abyss with great clouds of frantic penguins squawking and scurrying ahead.

    I say that we approached those sprawling and incomplete obstructions slowlyand reluctantly. Would to heaven we had never approached them at all, but had run back at topspeed out of that blasphemous tunnel with the greasily smooth floors and the degenerate muralsaping and mocking the things they had superseded—run back, before we had seen what wedid see, and before our minds were burned with something which will never let us breathe easilyagain!

    Both of our torches were turned on the prostrate objects, so that we soon realisedthe dominant factor in their incompleteness. Mauled, compressed, twisted, and ruptured as theywere, their chief common injury was total decapitation. From each one the tentacled starfish-headhad been removed; and as we drew near we saw that the manner of removal looked more like somehellish tearing or suction than like any ordinary form of cleavage. Their noisome dark-greenichor formed a large, spreading pool; but its stench was half overshadowed by that newer andstranger stench, here more pungent than at any other point along our route. Only when we hadcome very close to the sprawling obstructions could we trace that second, unexplainable foetorto any immediate source—and the instant we did so Danforth, remembering certain very vividsculptures of the Old Ones’ history in the Permian age 150 million years ago, gave ventto a nerve-tortured cry which echoed hysterically through that vaulted and archaic passage withthe evil palimpsest carvings.

    I came only just short of echoing his cry myself; for I had seen those primalsculptures, too, and had shudderingly admired the way the nameless artist had suggested thathideous slime-coating found on certain incomplete and prostrate Old Ones—those whom thefrightful shoggoths had characteristically slain and sucked to a ghastly headlessness in thegreat war of re-subjugation. They were infamous, nightmare sculptures even when telling of age-old,bygone things; for shoggoths and their work ought not to be seen by human beings or portrayedby any beings. The mad author of the Necronomicon had nervously tried to swear that nonehad been bred on this planet, and that only drugged dreamers had ever conceived them. Formlessprotoplasm able to mock and reflect all forms and organs and processes—viscous agglutinationsof bubbling cells—rubbery fifteen-foot spheroids infinitely plastic and ductile—slavesof suggestion, builders of cities—more and more sullen, more and more intelligent, moreand more amphibious, more and more imitative—Great God! What madness made even those blasphemousOld Ones willing to use and to carve such things?

    And now, when Danforth and I saw the freshly glistening and reflectively iridescentblack slime which clung thickly to those headless bodies and stank obscenely with that new unknownodour whose cause only a diseased fancy could envisage—clung to those bodies and sparkledless voluminously on a smooth part of the accursedly re-sculptured wall in a series of groupeddots —we understood the quality of cosmic fear to its uttermost depths. It was notfear of those four missing others—for all too well did we suspect they would do no harmagain. Poor devils! After all, they were not evil things of their kind. They were the men ofanother age and another order of being. Nature had played a hellish jest on them—as itwill on any others that human madness, callousness, or cruelty may hereafter drag up in thathideously dead or sleeping polar waste—and this was their tragic homecoming.

    They had not been even savages—for what indeed had they done? That awfulawakening in the cold of an unknown epoch—perhaps an attack by the furry, franticallybarking quadrupeds, and a dazed defence against them and the equally frantic white simians withthe queer wrappings and paraphernalia . . . poor Lake, poor Gedney . . .and poor Old Ones! Scientists to the last—what had they done that we would not have donein their place? God, what intelligence and persistence! What a facing of the incredible, justas those carven kinsmen and forbears had faced things only a little less incredible! Radiates,vegetables, monstrosities, star-spawn—whatever they had been, they were men!

    They had crossed the icy peaks on whose templed slopes they had once worshippedand roamed among the tree-ferns. They had found their dead city brooding under its curse, andhad read its carven latter days as we had done. They had tried to reach their living fellowsin fabled depths of blackness they had never seen—and what had they found? All this flashedin unison through the thoughts of Danforth and me as we looked from those headless, slime-coatedshapes to the loathsome palimpsest sculptures and the diabolical dot-groups of fresh slime onthe wall beside them—looked and understood what must have triumphed and survived downthere in the Cyclopean water-city of that nighted, penguin-fringed abyss, whence even now asinister curling mist had begun to belch pallidly as if in answer to Danforth’s hystericalscream.

    The shock of recognising that monstrous slime and headlessness had frozen usinto mute, motionless statues, and it is only through later conversations that we have learnedof the complete identity of our thoughts at that moment. It seemed aeons that we stood there,but actually it could not have been more than ten or fifteen seconds. That hateful, pallid mistcurled forward as if veritably driven by some remoter advancing bulk—and then came a soundwhich upset much of what we had just decided, and in so doing broke the spell and enabled usto run like mad past squawking, confused penguins over our former trail back to the city, alongice-sunken megalithic corridors to the great open circle, and up that archaic spiral ramp ina frenzied automatic plunge for the sane outer air and light of day.

    The new sound, as I have intimated, upset much that we had decided; becauseit was what poor Lake’s dissection had led us to attribute to those we had just judgeddead. It was, Danforth later told me, precisely what he had caught in infinitely muffled formwhen at that spot beyond the alley-corner above the glacial level; and it certainly had a shockingresemblance to the wind-pipings we had both heard around the lofty mountain caves. At the riskof seeming puerile I will add another thing, too; if only because of the surprising way Danforth’simpression chimed with mine. Of course common reading is what prepared us both to make the interpretation,though Danforth has hinted at queer notions about unsuspected and forbidden sources to whichPoe may have had access when writing his Arthur Gordon Pym a century ago. It will beremembered that in that fantastic tale there is a word of unknown but terrible and prodigioussignificance connected with the antarctic and screamed eternally by the gigantic, spectrallysnowy birds of that malign region’s core. “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!” That,I may admit, is exactly what we thought we heard conveyed by that sudden sound behind the advancingwhite mist—that insidious musical piping over a singularly wide range.

    We were in full flight before three notes or syllables had been uttered, thoughwe knew that the swiftness of the Old Ones would enable any scream-roused and pursuing survivorof the slaughter to overtake us in a moment if it really wished to do so. We had a vague hope,however, that non-aggressive conduct and a display of kindred reason might cause such a beingto spare us in case of capture; if only from scientific curiosity. After all, if such an onehad nothing to fear for itself it would have no motive in harming us. Concealment being futileat this juncture, we used our torch for a running glance behind, and perceived that the mistwas thinning. Would we see, at last, a complete and living specimen of those others? Again camethat insidious musical piping— “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

    Then, noting that we were actually gaining on our pursuer, it occurred to usthat the entity might be wounded. We could take no chances, however, since it was very obviouslyapproaching in answer to Danforth’s scream rather than in flight from any other entity.The timing was too close to admit of doubt. Of the whereabouts of that less conceivable andless mentionable nightmare—that foetid, unglimpsed mountain of slime-spewing protoplasmwhose race had conquered the abyss and sent land pioneers to re-carve and squirm through theburrows of the hills—we could form no guess; and it cost us a genuine pang to leave thisprobably crippled Old One—perhaps a lone survivor—to the peril of recapture anda nameless fate.

    Thank heaven we did not slacken our run. The curling mist had thickened again,and was driving ahead with increased speed; whilst the straying penguins in our rear were squawkingand screaming and displaying signs of a panic really surprising in view of their relativelyminor confusion when we had passed them. Once more came that sinister, wide-ranged piping— “Tekeli-li!Tekeli-li!” We had been wrong. The thing was not wounded, but had merely paused onencountering the bodies of its fallen kindred and the hellish slime inscription above them.We could never know what that daemon message was—but those burials at Lake’s camphad shewn how much importance the beings attached to their dead. Our recklessly used torch nowrevealed ahead of us the large open cavern where various ways converged, and we were glad tobe leaving those morbid palimpsest sculptures—almost felt even when scarcely seen—behind.

    Another thought which the advent of the cave inspired was the possibility oflosing our pursuer at this bewildering focus of large galleries. There were several of the blindalbino penguins in the open space, and it seemed clear that their fear of the oncoming entitywas extreme to the point of unaccountability. If at that point we dimmed our torch to the verylowest limit of travelling need, keeping it strictly in front of us, the frightened squawkingmotions of the huge birds in the mist might muffle our footfalls, screen our true course, andsomehow set up a false lead. Amidst the churning, spiralling fog the littered and unglisteningfloor of the main tunnel beyond this point, as differing from the other morbidly polished burrows,could hardly form a highly distinguishing feature; even, so far as we could conjecture, forthose indicated special senses which made the Old Ones partly though imperfectly independentof light in emergencies. In fact, we were somewhat apprehensive lest we go astray ourselvesin our haste. For we had, of course, decided to keep straight on toward the dead city; sincethe consequences of loss in those unknown foothill honeycombings would be unthinkable.

    The fact that we survived and emerged is sufficient proof that the thing didtake a wrong gallery whilst we providentially hit on the right one. The penguins alone couldnot have saved us, but in conjunction with the mist they seem to have done so. Only a benignfate kept the curling vapours thick enough at the right moment, for they were constantly shiftingand threatening to vanish. Indeed, they did lift for a second just before we emerged from thenauseously re-sculptured tunnel into the cave; so that we actually caught one first and onlyhalf-glimpse of the oncoming entity as we cast a final, desperately fearful glance backwardbefore dimming the torch and mixing with the penguins in the hope of dodging pursuit. If thefate which screened us was benign, that which gave us the half-glimpse was infinitely the opposite;for to that flash of semi-vision can be traced a full half of the horror which has ever sincehaunted us.

    Our exact motive in looking back again was perhaps no more than the immemorialinstinct of the pursued to gauge the nature and course of its pursuer; or perhaps it was anautomatic attempt to answer a subconscious question raised by one of our senses. In the midstof our flight, with all our faculties centred on the problem of escape, we were in no conditionto observe and analyse details; yet even so our latent brain-cells must have wondered at themessage brought them by our nostrils. Afterward we realised what it was—that our retreatfrom the foetid slime-coating on those headless obstructions, and the coincident approach ofthe pursuing entity, had not brought us the exchange of stenches which logic called for. Inthe neighbourhood of the prostrate things that new and lately unexplainable foetor had beenwholly dominant; but by this time it ought to have largely given place to the nameless stenchassociated with those others. This it had not done—for instead, the newer and less bearablesmell was now virtually undiluted, and growing more and more poisonously insistent each second.

    So we glanced back—simultaneously, it would appear; though no doubt theincipient motion of one prompted the imitation of the other. As we did so we flashed both torchesfull strength at the momentarily thinned mist; either from sheer primitive anxiety to see allwe could, or in a less primitive but equally unconscious effort to dazzle the entity beforewe dimmed our light and dodged among the penguins of the labyrinth-centre ahead. Unhappy act!Not Orpheus himself, or Lot’s wife, paid much more dearly for a backward glance. And againcame that shocking, wide-ranged piping— “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

    I might as well be frank—even if I cannot bear to be quite direct—instating what we saw; though at the time we felt that it was not to be admitted even to eachother. The words reaching the reader can never even suggest the awfulness of the sight itself.It crippled our consciousness so completely that I wonder we had the residual sense to dim ourtorches as planned, and to strike the right tunnel toward the dead city. Instinct alone musthave carried us through—perhaps better than reason could have done; though if that waswhat saved us, we paid a high price. Of reason we certainly had little enough left. Danforthwas totally unstrung, and the first thing I remember of the rest of the journey was hearinghim light-headedly chant an hysterical formula in which I alone of mankind could have foundanything but insane irrelevance. It reverberated in falsetto echoes among the squawks of thepenguins; reverberated through the vaultings ahead, and—thank God—through the nowempty vaultings behind. He could not have begun it at once—else we would not have beenalive and blindly racing. I shudder to think of what a shade of difference in his nervous reactionsmight have brought.

    “South Station Under—Washington Under—Park Street Under—Kendall—Central—Harvard. . . . “The poor fellow was chanting the familiar stations of the Boston-Cambridge tunnel that burrowedthrough our peaceful native soil thousands of miles away in New England, yet to me the ritualhad neither irrelevance nor home-feeling. It had only horror, because I knew unerringly themonstrous, nefandous analogy that had suggested it. We had expected, upon looking back, to seea terrible and incredibly moving entity if the mists were thin enough; but of that entity wehad formed a clear idea. What we did see—for the mists were indeed all too malignly thinned—wassomething altogether different, and immeasurably more hideous and detestable. It was the utter,objective embodiment of the fantastic novelist’s ‘thing that should not be’;and its nearest comprehensible analogue is a vast, onrushing subway train as one sees it froma station platform—the great black front looming colossally out of infinite subterraneousdistance, constellated with strangely coloured lights and filling the prodigious burrow as apiston fills a cylinder.

    But we were not on a station platform. We were on the track ahead as the nightmareplastic column of foetid black iridescence oozed tightly onward through its fifteen-foot sinus;gathering unholy speed and driving before it a spiral, re-thickening cloud of the pallid abyss-vapour.It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train—a shapeless congeriesof protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming andunforming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down uponus, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kindhad swept so evilly free of all litter. Still came that eldritch, mocking cry— “Tekeli-li!Tekeli-li!” And at last we remembered that the daemoniac shoggoths—given life,thought, and plastic organ patterns solely by the Old Ones, and having no language save thatwhich the dot-groups expressed— had likewise no voice save the imitated accents of theirbygone masters.

    XII.

    Danforth and I have recollections of emerging into the great sculptured hemisphere and of threadingour back trail through the Cyclopean rooms and corridors of the dead city; yet these are purelydream-fragments involving no memory of volition, details, or physical exertion. It was as ifwe floated in a nebulous world or dimension without time, causation, or orientation. The greyhalf-daylight of the vast circular space sobered us somewhat; but we did not go near those cachedsledges or look again at poor Gedney and the dog. They have a strange and titanic mausoleum,and I hope the end of this planet will find them still undisturbed.

    It was while struggling up the colossal spiral incline that we first felt theterrible fatigue and short breath which our race through the thin plateau air had produced;but not even the fear of collapse could make us pause before reaching the normal outer realmof sun and sky. There was something vaguely appropriate about our departure from those buriedepochs; for as we wound our panting way up the sixty-foot cylinder of primal masonry we glimpsedbeside us a continuous procession of heroic sculptures in the dead race’s early and undecayedtechnique—a farewell from the Old Ones, written fifty million years ago.

    Finally scrambling out at the top, we found ourselves on a great mound of tumbledblocks; with the curved walls of higher stonework rising westward, and the brooding peaks ofthe great mountains shewing beyond the more crumbled structures toward the east. The low antarcticsun of midnight peered redly from the southern horizon through rifts in the jagged ruins, andthe terrible age and deadness of the nightmare city seemed all the starker by contrast withsuch relatively known and accustomed things as the features of the polar landscape. The skyabove was a churning and opalescent mass of tenuous ice-vapours, and the cold clutched at ourvitals. Wearily resting the outfit-bags to which we had instinctively clung throughout our desperateflight, we rebuttoned our heavy garments for the stumbling climb down the mound and the walkthrough the aeon-old stone maze to the foothills where our aëroplane waited. Of what hadset us fleeing from the darkness of earth’s secret and archaic gulfs we said nothing atall.

    In less than a quarter of an hour we had found the steep grade to the foothills—theprobable ancient terrace—by which we had descended, and could see the dark bulk of ourgreat plane amidst the sparse ruins on the rising slope ahead. Half way uphill toward our goalwe paused for a momentary breathing-spell, and turned to look again at the fantastic palaeogeantangle of incredible stone shapes below us—once more outlined mystically against an unknownwest. As we did so we saw that the sky beyond had lost its morning haziness; the restless ice-vapourshaving moved up to the zenith, where their mocking outlines seemed on the point of settlinginto some bizarre pattern which they feared to make quite definite or conclusive.

    There now lay revealed on the ultimate white horizon behind the grotesque citya dim, elfin line of pinnacled violet whose needle-pointed heights loomed dream-like againstthe beckoning rose-colour of the western sky. Up toward this shimmering rim sloped the ancienttable-land, the depressed course of the bygone river traversing it as an irregular ribbon ofshadow. For a second we gasped in admiration of the scene’s unearthly cosmic beauty, andthen vague horror began to creep into our souls. For this far violet line could be nothing elsethan the terrible mountains of the forbidden land—highest of earth’s peaks and focusof earth’s evil; harbourers of nameless horrors and Archaean secrets; shunned and prayedto by those who feared to carve their meaning; untrodden by any living thing of earth, but visitedby the sinister lightnings and sending strange beams across the plains in the polar night—beyonddoubt the unknown archetype of that dreaded Kadath in the Cold Waste beyond abhorrent Leng,whereof unholy primal legends hint evasively. We were the first human beings ever to see them—andI hope to God we may be the last.

    If the sculptured maps and pictures in that pre-human city had told truly,these cryptic violet mountains could not be much less than 300 miles away; yet none the lesssharply did their dim elfin essence jut above that remote and snowy rim, like the serrated edgeof a monstrous alien planet about to rise into unaccustomed heavens. Their height, then, musthave been tremendous beyond all known comparison—carrying them up into tenuous atmosphericstrata peopled by such gaseous wraiths as rash flyers have barely lived to whisper of afterunexplainable falls. Looking at them, I thought nervously of certain sculptured hints of whatthe great bygone river had washed down into the city from their accursed slopes—and wonderedhow much sense and how much folly had lain in the fears of those Old Ones who carved them soreticently. I recalled how their northerly end must come near the coast at Queen Mary Land,where even at that moment Sir Douglas Mawson’s expedition was doubtless working less thana thousand miles away; and hoped that no evil fate would give Sir Douglas and his men a glimpseof what might lie beyond the protecting coastal range. Such thoughts formed a measure of myoverwrought condition at the time—and Danforth seemed to be even worse.

    Yet long before we had passed the great star-shaped ruin and reached our planeour fears had become transferred to the lesser but vast enough range whose re-crossing lay aheadof us. From these foothills the black, ruin-crusted slopes reared up starkly and hideously againstthe east, again reminding us of those strange Asian paintings of Nicholas Roerich; and whenwe thought of the damnable honeycombs inside them, and of the frightful amorphous entities thatmight have pushed their foetidly squirming way even to the topmost hollow pinnacles, we couldnot face without panic the prospect of again sailing by those suggestive skyward cave-mouthswhere the wind made sounds like an evil musical piping over a wide range. To make matters worse,we saw distinct traces of local mist around several of the summits—as poor Lake must havedone when he made that early mistake about volcanism—and thought shiveringly of that kindredmist from which we had just escaped; of that, and of the blasphemous, horror-fostering abysswhence all such vapours came.

    All was well with the plane, and we clumsily hauled on our heavy flying furs.Danforth got the engine started without trouble, and we made a very smooth takeoff over thenightmare city. Below us the primal Cyclopean masonry spread out as it had done when first wesaw it—so short, yet infinitely long, a time ago—and we began rising and turningto test the wind for our crossing through the pass. At a very high level there must have beengreat disturbance, since the ice-dust clouds of the zenith were doing all sorts of fantasticthings; but at 24,000 feet, the height we needed for the pass, we found navigation quite practicable.As we drew close to the jutting peaks the wind’s strange piping again became manifest,and I could see Danforth’s hands trembling at the controls. Rank amateur though I was,I thought at that moment that I might be a better navigator than he in effecting the dangerouscrossing between pinnacles; and when I made motions to change seats and take over his dutieshe did not protest. I tried to keep all my skill and self-possession about me, and stared atthe sector of reddish farther sky betwixt the walls of the pass—resolutely refusing topay attention to the puffs of mountain-top vapour, and wishing that I had wax-stopped ears likeUlysses’ men off the Sirens’ coast to keep that disturbing wind-piping from my consciousness.

    But Danforth, released from his piloting and keyed up to a dangerous nervouspitch, could not keep quiet. I felt him turning and wriggling about as he looked back at theterrible receding city, ahead at the cave-riddled, cube-barnacled peaks, sidewise at the bleaksea of snowy, rampart-strown foothills, and upward at the seething, grotesquely clouded sky.It was then, just as I was trying to steer safely through the pass, that his mad shrieking broughtus so close to disaster by shattering my tight hold on myself and causing me to fumble helplesslywith the controls for a moment. A second afterward my resolution triumphed and we made the crossingsafely—yet I am afraid that Danforth will never be the same again.

    I have said that Danforth refused to tell me what final horror made him screamout so insanely—a horror which, I feel sadly sure, is mainly responsible for his presentbreakdown. We had snatches of shouted conversation above the wind’s piping and the engine’sbuzzing as we reached the safe side of the range and swooped slowly down toward the camp, butthat had mostly to do with the pledges of secrecy we had made as we prepared to leave the nightmarecity. Certain things, we had agreed, were not for people to know and discuss lightly—andI would not speak of them now but for the need of heading off that Starkweather-Moore Expedition,and others, at any cost. It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, thatsome of earth’s dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be let alone; lest sleeping abnormalitieswake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of theirblack lairs to newer and wider conquests.

    All that Danforth has ever hinted is that the final horror was a mirage. Itwas not, he declares, anything connected with the cubes and caves of echoing, vaporous, wormilyhoneycombed mountains of madness which we crossed; but a single fantastic, daemoniac glimpse,among the churning zenith-clouds, of what lay back of those other violet westward mountainswhich the Old Ones had shunned and feared. It is very probable that the thing was a sheer delusionborn of the previous stresses we had passed through, and of the actual though unrecognised mirageof the dead transmontane city experienced near Lake’s camp the day before; but it wasso real to Danforth that he suffers from it still.

    He has on rare occasions whispered disjointed and irresponsible things about“the black pit”, “the carven rim”, “the proto-shoggoths”,“the windowless solids with five dimensions”, “the nameless cylinder”,“the elder pharos”, “Yog-Sothoth”, “the primal white jelly”,“the colour out of space”, “the wings”, “the eyes in darkness”,“the moon-ladder”, “the original, the eternal, the undying”, and otherbizarre conceptions; but when he is fully himself he repudiates all this and attributes it tohis curious and macabre reading of earlier years. Danforth, indeed, is known to be among thefew who have ever dared go completely through that worm-riddled copy of the Necronomiconkept under lock and key in the college library.

    The higher sky, as we crossed the range, was surely vaporous and disturbedenough; and although I did not see the zenith I can well imagine that its swirls of ice-dustmay have taken strange forms. Imagination, knowing how vividly distant scenes can sometimesbe reflected, refracted, and magnified by such layers of restless cloud, might easily have suppliedthe rest—and of course Danforth did not hint any of those specific horrors till afterhis memory had had a chance to draw on his bygone reading. He could never have seen so muchin one instantaneous glance.

    At the time his shrieks were confined to the repetition of a single mad wordof all too obvious source:

    “Tekeli-li! Tekeli-li!”

    Whether the dreams brought on the fever or the fever brought on the dreamsWalter Gilman did not know. Behind everything crouched the brooding, festering horror of theancient town, and of the mouldy, unhallowed garret gable where he wrote and studied and wrestledwith figures and formulae when he was not tossing on the meagre iron bed. His ears were growingsensitive to a preternatural and intolerable degree, and he had long ago stopped the cheap mantelclock whose ticking had come to seem like a thunder of artillery. At night the subtle stirringof the black city outside, the sinister scurrying of rats in the wormy partitions, and the creakingof hidden timbers in the centuried house, were enough to give him a sense of strident pandemonium.The darkness always teemed with unexplained sound—and yet he sometimes shook with fearlest the noises he heard should subside and allow him to hear certain other, fainter, noiseswhich he suspected were lurking behind them.

    He was in the changeless, legend-haunted city of Arkham, with its clusteringgambrel roofs that sway and sag over attics where witches hid from the King’s men in thedark, olden days of the Province. Nor was any spot in that city more steeped in macabre memorythan the gable room which harboured him—for it was this house and this room which hadlikewise harboured old Keziah Mason, whose flight from Salem Gaol at the last no one was everable to explain. That was in 1692—the gaoler had gone mad and babbled of a small, white-fangedfurry thing which scuttled out of Keziah’s cell, and not even Cotton Mather could explainthe curves and angles smeared on the grey stone walls with some red, sticky fluid.

    Possibly Gilman ought not to have studied so hard. Non-Euclidean calculus andquantum physics are enough to stretch any brain; and when one mixes them with folklore, andtries to trace a strange background of multi-dimensional reality behind the ghoulish hints ofthe Gothic tales and the wild whispers of the chimney-corner, one can hardly expect to be whollyfree from mental tension. Gilman came from Haverhill, but it was only after he had entered collegein Arkham that he began to connect his mathematics with the fantastic legends of elder magic.Something in the air of the hoary town worked obscurely on his imagination. The professors atMiskatonic had urged him to slacken up, and had voluntarily cut down his course at several points.Moreover, they had stopped him from consulting the dubious old books on forbidden secrets thatwere kept under lock and key in a vault at the university library. But all these precautionscame late in the day, so that Gilman had some terrible hints from the dreaded Necronomiconof Abdul Alhazred, the fragmentary Book of Eibon, and the suppressed UnaussprechlichenKulten of von Junzt to correlate with his abstract formulae on the properties of space andthe linkage of dimensions known and unknown.

    He knew his room was in the old Witch House—that, indeed, was why hehad taken it. There was much in the Essex County records about Keziah Mason’s trial, andwhat she had admitted under pressure to the Court of Oyer and Terminer had fascinated Gilmanbeyond all reason. She had told Judge Hathorne of lines and curves that could be made to pointout directions leading through the walls of space to other spaces beyond, and had implied thatsuch lines and curves were frequently used at certain midnight meetings in the dark valley ofthe white stone beyond Meadow Hill and on the unpeopled island in the river. She had spokenalso of the Black Man, of her oath, and of her new secret name of Nahab. Then she had drawnthose devices on the walls of her cell and vanished.

    Gilman believed strange things about Keziah, and had felt a queer thrill onlearning that her dwelling was still standing after more than 235 years. When he heard the hushedArkham whispers about Keziah’s persistent presence in the old house and the narrow streets,about the irregular human tooth-marks left on certain sleepers in that and other houses, aboutthe childish cries heard near May-Eve, and Hallowmass, about the stench often noted in the oldhouse’s attic just after those dreaded seasons, and about the small, furry, sharp-toothedthing which haunted the mouldering structure and the town and nuzzled people curiously in theblack hours before dawn, he resolved to live in the place at any cost. A room was easy to secure;for the house was unpopular, hard to rent, and long given over to cheap lodgings. Gilman couldnot have told what he expected to find there, but he knew he wanted to be in the building wheresome circ*mstance had more or less suddenly given a mediocre old woman of the seventeenth centuryan insight into mathematical depths perhaps beyond the utmost modern delvings of Planck, Heisenberg,Einstein, and de Sitter.

    He studied the timber and plaster walls for traces of cryptic designs at everyaccessible spot where the paper had peeled, and within a week managed to get the eastern atticroom where Keziah was held to have practiced her spells. It had been vacant from the first—forno one had ever been willing to stay there long—but the Polish landlord had grown waryabout renting it. Yet nothing whatever happened to Gilman till about the time of the fever.No ghostly Keziah flitted through the sombre halls and chambers, no small furry thing creptinto his dismal eyrie to nuzzle him, and no record of the witch’s incantations rewardedhis constant search. Sometimes he would take walks through shadowy tangles of unpaved musty-smellinglanes where eldritch brown houses of unknown age leaned and tottered and leered mockingly throughnarrow, small-paned windows. Here he knew strange things had happened once, and there was afaint suggestion behind the surface that everything of that monstrous past might not—atleast in the darkest, narrowest, and most intricately crooked alleys—have utterly perished.He also rowed out twice to the ill-regarded island in the river, and made a sketch of the singularangles described by the moss-grown rows of grey standing stones whose origin was so obscureand immemorial.

    Gilman’s room was of good size but queerly irregular shape; the northwall slanting perceptibly inward from the outer to the inner end, while the low ceiling slantedgently downward in the same direction. Aside from an obvious rat-hole and the signs of otherstopped-up ones, there was no access—nor any appearance of a former avenue of access—tothe space which must have existed between the slanting wall and the straight outer wall on thehouse’s north side, though a view from the exterior shewed where a window had been boardedup at a very remote date. The loft above the ceiling—which must have had a slanting floor—waslikewise inaccessible. When Gilman climbed up a ladder to the cobwebbed level loft above therest of the attic he found vestiges of a bygone aperture tightly and heavily covered with ancientplanking and secured by the stout wooden pegs common in colonial carpentry. No amount of persuasion,however, could induce the stolid landlord to let him investigate either of these two closedspaces.

    As time wore along, his absorption in the irregular wall and ceiling of hisroom increased; for he began to read into the odd angles a mathematical significance which seemedto offer vague clues regarding their purpose. Old Keziah, he reflected, might have had excellentreasons for living in a room with peculiar angles; for was it not through certain angles thatshe claimed to have gone outside the boundaries of the world of space we know? His interestgradually veered away from the unplumbed voids beyond the slanting surfaces, since it now appearedthat the purpose of those surfaces concerned the side he was already on.

    The touch of brain-fever and the dreams began early in February. For some time,apparently, the curious angles of Gilman’s room had been having a strange, almost hypnoticeffect on him; and as the bleak winter advanced he had found himself staring more and more intentlyat the corner where the down-slanting ceiling met the inward-slanting wall. About this periodhis inability to concentrate on his formal studies worried him considerably, his apprehensionsabout the mid-year examinations being very acute. But the exaggerated sense of hearing was scarcelyless annoying. Life had become an insistent and almost unendurable cacophony, and there wasthat constant, terrifying impression of other sounds—perhaps from regions beyondlife—trembling on the very brink of audibility. So far as concrete noises went, the ratsin the ancient partitions were the worst. Sometimes their scratching seemed not only furtivebut deliberate. When it came from beyond the slanting north wall it was mixed with a sort ofdry rattling—and when it came from the century-closed loft above the slanting ceilingGilman always braced himself as if expecting some horror which only bided its time before descendingto engulf him utterly.

    The dreams were wholly beyond the pale of sanity, and Gilman felt that theymust be a result, jointly, of his studies in mathematics and in folklore. He had been thinkingtoo much about the vague regions which his formulae told him must lie beyond the three dimensionswe know, and about the possibility that old Keziah Mason—guided by some influence pastall conjecture—had actually found the gate to those regions. The yellowed county recordscontaining her testimony and that of her accusers were so damnably suggestive of things beyondhuman experience—and the descriptions of the darting little furry object which servedas her familiar were so painfully realistic despite their incredible details.

    That object —no larger than a good-sized rat and quaintly called by thetownspeople “Brown Jenkin”— seemed to have been the fruit of a remarkable caseof sympathetic herd-delusion, for in 1692 no less than eleven persons had testified to glimpsingit. There were recent rumours, too, with a baffling and disconcerting amount of agreement. Witnessessaid it had long hair and the shape of a rat, but that its sharp-toothed, bearded face was evillyhuman while its paws were like tiny human hands. It took messages betwixt old Keziah and thedevil, and was nursed on the witch’s blood—which it sucked like a vampire. Its voicewas a kind of loathsome titter, and it could speak all languages. Of all the bizarre monstrositiesin Gilman’s dreams, nothing filled him with greater panic and nausea than this blasphemousand diminutive hybrid, whose image flitted across his vision in a form a thousandfold more hatefulthan anything his waking mind had deduced from the ancient records and the modern whispers.

    Gilman’s dreams consisted largely in plunges through limitless abyssesof inexplicably coloured twilight and bafflingly disordered sound; abysses whose material andgravitational properties, and whose relation to his own entity, he could not even begin to explain.He did not walk or climb, fly or swim, crawl or wriggle; yet always experienced a mode of motionpartly voluntary and partly involuntary. Of his own condition he could not well judge, for sightof his arms, legs, and torso seemed always cut off by some odd disarrangement of perspective;but he felt that his physical organisation and faculties were somehow marvellously transmutedand obliquely projected—though not without a certain grotesque relationship to his normalproportions and properties.

    The abysses were by no means vacant, being crowded with indescribably angledmasses of alien-hued substance, some of which appeared to be organic while others seemed inorganic.A few of the organic objects tended to awake vague memories in the back of his mind, thoughhe could form no conscious idea of what they mockingly resembled or suggested. In the laterdreams he began to distinguish separate categories into which the organic objects appeared tobe divided, and which seemed to involve in each case a radically different species of conduct-patternand basic motivation. Of these categories one seemed to him to include objects slightly lessillogical and irrelevant in their motions than the members of the other categories.

    All the objects—organic and inorganic alike—were totally beyonddescription or even comprehension. Gilman sometimes compared the inorganic masses to prisms,labyrinths, clusters of cubes and planes, and Cyclopean buildings; and the organic things struckhim variously as groups of bubbles, octopi, centipedes, living Hindoo idols, and intricate Arabesquesroused into a kind of ophidian animation. Everything he saw was unspeakably menacing and horrible;and whenever one of the organic entities appeared by its motions to be noticing him, he felta stark, hideous fright which generally jolted him awake. Of how the organic entities moved,he could tell no more than of how he moved himself. In time he observed a further mystery—thetendency of certain entities to appear suddenly out of empty space, or to disappear totallywith equal suddenness. The shrieking, roaring confusion of sound which permeated the abysseswas past all analysis as to pitch, timbre, or rhythm; but seemed to be synchronous with vaguevisual changes in all the indefinite objects, organic and inorganic alike. Gilman had a constantsense of dread that it might rise to some unbearable degree of intensity during one or anotherof its obscure, relentlessly inevitable fluctuations.

    But it was not in these vortices of complete alienage that he saw Brown Jenkin.That shocking little horror was reserved for certain lighter, sharper dreams which assailedhim just before he dropped into the fullest depths of sleep. He would be lying in the dark fightingto keep awake when a faint lambent glow would seem to shimmer around the centuried room, shewingin a violet mist the convergence of angled planes which had seized his brain so insidiously.The horror would appear to pop out of the rat-hole in the corner and patter toward him overthe sagging, wide-planked floor with evil expectancy in its tiny, bearded human face—butmercifully, this dream always melted away before the object got close enough to nuzzle him.It had hellishly long, sharp, canine teeth. Gilman tried to stop up the rat-hole every day,but each night the real tenants of the partitions would gnaw away the obstruction, whateverit might be. Once he had the landlord nail tin over it, but the next night the rats gnawed afresh hole—in making which they pushed or dragged out into the room a curious little fragmentof bone.

    Gilman did not report his fever to the doctor, for he knew he could not passthe examinations if ordered to the college infirmary when every moment was needed for cramming.As it was, he failed in Calculus D and Advanced General Psychology, though not without hopeof making up lost ground before the end of the term. It was in March when the fresh elemententered his lighter preliminary dreaming, and the nightmare shape of Brown Jenkin began to becompanioned by the nebulous blur which grew more and more to resemble a bent old woman. Thisaddition disturbed him more than he could account for, but finally he decided that it was likean ancient crone whom he had twice actually encountered in the dark tangle of lanes near theabandoned wharves. On those occasions the evil, sardonic, and seemingly unmotivated stare ofthe beldame had set him almost shivering—especially the first time, when an overgrownrat darting across the shadowed mouth of a neighbouring alley had made him think irrationallyof Brown Jenkin. Now, he reflected, those nervous fears were being mirrored in his disordereddreams.

    That the influence of the old house was unwholesome, he could not deny; buttraces of his early morbid interest still held him there. He argued that the fever alone wasresponsible for his nightly phantasies, and that when the touch abated he would be free fromthe monstrous visions. Those visions, however, were of abhorrent vividness and convincingness,and whenever he awaked he retained a vague sense of having undergone much more than he remembered.He was hideously sure that in unrecalled dreams he had talked with both Brown Jenkin and theold woman, and that they had been urging him to go somewhere with them and to meet a third beingof greater potency.

    Toward the end of March he began to pick up in his mathematics, though otherstudies bothered him increasingly. He was getting an intuitive knack for solving Riemannianequations, and astonished Professor Upham by his comprehension of fourth-dimensional and otherproblems which had floored all the rest of the class. One afternoon there was a discussion ofpossible freakish curvatures in space, and of theoretical points of approach or even contactbetween our part of the cosmos and various other regions as distant as the farthest stars orthe trans-galactic gulfs themselves—or even as fabulously remote as the tentatively conceivablecosmic units beyond the whole Einsteinian space-time continuum. Gilman’s handling of thistheme filled everyone with admiration, even though some of his hypothetical illustrations causedan increase in the always plentiful gossip about his nervous and solitary eccentricity. Whatmade the students shake their heads was his sober theory that a man might—given mathematicalknowledge admittedly beyond all likelihood of human acquirement—step deliberately fromthe earth to any other celestial body which might lie at one of an infinity of specific pointsin the cosmic pattern.

    Such a step, he said, would require only two stages; first, a passage out ofthe three-dimensional sphere we know, and second, a passage back to the three-dimensional sphereat another point, perhaps one of infinite remoteness. That this could be accomplished withoutloss of life was in many cases conceivable. Any being from any part of three-dimensional spacecould probably survive in the fourth dimension; and its survival of the second stage would dependupon what alien part of three-dimensional space it might select for its re-entry. Denizens ofsome planets might be able to live on certain others—even planets belonging to other galaxies,or to similar-dimensional phases of other space-time continua—though of course there mustbe vast numbers of mutually uninhabitable even though mathematically juxtaposed bodies or zonesof space.

    It was also possible that the inhabitants of a given dimensional realm couldsurvive entry to many unknown and incomprehensible realms of additional or indefinitely multiplieddimensions—be they within or outside the given space-time continuum—and that theconverse would be likewise true. This was a matter for speculation, though one could be fairlycertain that the type of mutation involved in a passage from any given dimensional plane tothe next higher plane would not be destructive of biological integrity as we understand it.Gilman could not be very clear about his reasons for this last assumption, but his hazinesshere was more than overbalanced by his clearness on other complex points. Professor Upham especiallyliked his demonstration of the kinship of higher mathematics to certain phases of magical loretransmitted down the ages from an ineffable antiquity—human or pre-human—whose knowledgeof the cosmos and its laws was greater than ours.

    Around the first of April Gilman worried considerably because his slow feverdid not abate. He was also troubled by what some of his fellow-lodgers said about his sleep-walking.It seemed that he was often absent from his bed, and that the creaking of his floor at certainhours of the night was remarked by the man in the room below. This fellow also spoke of hearingthe tread of shod feet in the night; but Gilman was sure he must have been mistaken in this,since shoes as well as other apparel were always precisely in place in the morning. One coulddevelop all sorts of aural delusions in this morbid old house—for did not Gilman himself,even in daylight, now feel certain that noises other than rat-scratchings came from the blackvoids beyond the slanting wall and above the slanting ceiling? His pathologically sensitiveears began to listen for faint footfalls in the immemorially sealed loft overhead, and sometimesthe illusion of such things was agonisingly realistic.

    However, he knew that he had actually become a somnambulist; for twice at nighthis room had been found vacant, though with all his clothing in place. Of this he had been assuredby Frank Elwood, the one fellow-student whose poverty forced him to room in this squalid andunpopular house. Elwood had been studying in the small hours and had come up for help on a differentialequation, only to find Gilman absent. It had been rather presumptuous of him to open the unlockeddoor after knocking had failed to rouse a response, but he had needed the help very badly andthought that his host would not mind a gentle prodding awake. On neither occasion, though, hadGilman been there—and when told of the matter he wondered where he could have been wandering,barefoot and with only his night-clothes on. He resolved to investigate the matter if reportsof his sleep-walking continued, and thought of sprinkling flour on the floor of the corridorto see where his footsteps might lead. The door was the only conceivable egress, for there wasno possible foothold outside the narrow window.

    As April advanced Gilman’s fever-sharpened ears were disturbed by thewhining prayers of a superstitious loomfixer named Joe Mazurewicz, who had a room on the groundfloor. Mazurewicz had told long, rambling stories about the ghost of old Keziah and the furry,sharp-fanged, nuzzling thing, and had said he was so badly haunted at times that only his silvercrucifix—given him for the purpose by Father Iwanicki of St. Stanislaus’ Church—couldbring him relief. Now he was praying because the Witches’ Sabbath was drawing near. May-Evewas Walpurgis-Night, when hell’s blackest evil roamed the earth and all the slaves ofSatan gathered for nameless rites and deeds. It was always a very bad time in Arkham, even thoughthe fine folks up in Miskatonic Avenue and High and Saltonstall Streets pretended to know nothingabout it. There would be bad doings—and a child or two would probably be missing. Joeknew about such things, for his grandmother in the old country had heard tales from her grandmother.It was wise to pray and count one’s beads at this season. For three months Keziah andBrown Jenkin had not been near Joe’s room, nor near Paul Choynski’s room, nor anywhereelse—and it meant no good when they held off like that. They must be up to something.

    Gilman dropped in at a doctor’s office on the 16th of the month, andwas surprised to find his temperature was not as high as he had feared. The physician questionedhim sharply, and advised him to see a nerve specialist. On reflection, he was glad he had notconsulted the still more inquisitive college doctor. Old Waldron, who had curtailed his activitiesbefore, would have made him take a rest—an impossible thing now that he was so close togreat results in his equations. He was certainly near the boundary between the known universeand the fourth dimension, and who could say how much farther he might go?

    But even as these thoughts came to him he wondered at the source of his strangeconfidence. Did all of this perilous sense of imminence come from the formulae on the sheetshe covered day by day? The soft, stealthy, imaginary footsteps in the sealed loft above wereunnerving. And now, too, there was a growing feeling that somebody was constantly persuadinghim to do something terrible which he could not do. How about the somnambulism? Where did hego sometimes in the night? And what was that faint suggestion of sound which once in a whileseemed to trickle through the maddening confusion of identifiable sounds even in broad daylightand full wakefulness? Its rhythm did not correspond to anything on earth, unless perhaps tothe cadence of one or two unmentionable Sabbat-chants, and sometimes he feared it correspondedto certain attributes of the vague shrieking or roaring in those wholly alien abysses of dream.

    The dreams were meanwhile getting to be atrocious. In the lighter preliminaryphase the evil old woman was now of fiendish distinctness, and Gilman knew she was the one whohad frightened him in the slums. Her bent back, long nose, and shrivelled chin were unmistakable,and her shapeless brown garments were like those he remembered. The expression on her face wasone of hideous malevolence and exultation, and when he awaked he could recall a croaking voicethat persuaded and threatened. He must meet the Black Man, and go with them all to the throneof Azathoth at the centre of ultimate Chaos. That was what she said. He must sign in his ownblood the book of Azathoth and take a new secret name now that his independent delvings hadgone so far. What kept him from going with her and Brown Jenkin and the other to the throneof Chaos where the thin flutes pipe mindlessly was the fact that he had seen the name “Azathoth”in the Necronomicon, and knew it stood for a primal evil too horrible for description.

    The old woman always appeared out of thin air near the corner where the downwardslant met the inward slant. She seemed to crystallise at a point closer to the ceiling thanto the floor, and every night she was a little nearer and more distinct before the dream shifted.Brown Jenkin, too, was always a little nearer at the last, and its yellowish-white fangs glistenedshockingly in that unearthly violet phosphorescence. Its shrill loathsome tittering stuck moreand more in Gilman’s head, and he could remember in the morning how it had pronouncedthe words “Azathoth” and “Nyarlathotep”.

    In the deeper dreams everything was likewise more distinct, and Gilman feltthat the twilight abysses around him were those of the fourth dimension. Those organic entitieswhose motions seemed least flagrantly irrelevant and unmotivated were probably projections oflife-forms from our own planet, including human beings. What the others were in their own dimensionalsphere or spheres he dared not try to think. Two of the less irrelevantly moving things—arather large congeries of iridescent, prolately spheroidal bubbles and a very much smaller polyhedronof unknown colours and rapidly shifting surface angles—seemed to take notice of him andfollow him about or float ahead as he changed position among the titan prisms, labyrinths, cube-and-planeclusters, and quasi-buildings; and all the while the vague shrieking and roaring waxed louderand louder, as if approaching some monstrous climax of utterly unendurable intensity.

    During the night of April 19-20 the new development occurred. Gilmanwas half-involuntarily moving about in the twilight abysses with the bubble-mass and the smallpolyhedron floating ahead, when he noticed the peculiarly regular angles formed by the edgesof some gigantic neighbouring prism-clusters. In another second he was out of the abyss andstanding tremulously on a rocky hillside bathed in intense, diffused green light. He was barefootedand in his night-clothes, and when he tried to walk discovered that he could scarcely lift hisfeet. A swirling vapour hid everything but the immediate sloping terrain from sight, and heshrank from the thought of the sounds that might surge out of that vapour.

    Then he saw the two shapes laboriously crawling toward him—the old womanand the little furry thing. The crone strained up to her knees and managed to cross her armsin a singular fashion, while Brown Jenkin pointed in a certain direction with a horribly anthropoidfore paw which it raised with evident difficulty. Spurred by an impulse he did not originate,Gilman dragged himself forward along a course determined by the angle of the old woman’sarms and the direction of the small monstrosity’s paw, and before he had shuffled threesteps he was back in the twilight abysses. Geometrical shapes seethed around him, and he felldizzily and interminably. At last he woke in his bed in the crazily angled garret of the eldritchold house.

    He was good for nothing that morning, and stayed away from all his classes.Some unknown attraction was pulling his eyes in a seemingly irrelevant direction, for he couldnot help staring at a certain vacant spot on the floor. As the day advanced the focus of hisunseeing eyes changed position, and by noon he had conquered the impulse to stare at vacancy.About two o’clock he went out for lunch, and as he threaded the narrow lanes of the cityhe found himself turning always to the southeast. Only an effort halted him at a cafeteria inChurch Street, and after the meal he felt the unknown pull still more strongly.

    He would have to consult a nerve specialist after all—perhaps there wasa connexion with his somnambulism—but meanwhile he might at least try to break the morbidspell himself. Undoubtedly he could still manage to walk away from the pull; so with great resolutionhe headed against it and dragged himself deliberately north along Garrison Street. By the timehe had reached the bridge over the Miskatonic he was in a cold perspiration, and he clutchedat the iron railing as he gazed upstream at the ill-regarded island whose regular lines of ancientstanding stones brooded sullenly in the afternoon sunlight.

    Then he gave a start. For there was a clearly visible living figure on thatdesolate island, and a second glance told him it was certainly the strange old woman whose sinisteraspect had worked itself so disastrously into his dreams. The tall grass near her was moving,too, as if some other living thing were crawling close to the ground. When the old woman beganto turn toward him he fled precipitately off the bridge and into the shelter of the town’slabyrinthine waterfront alleys. Distant though the island was, he felt that a monstrous andinvincible evil could flow from the sardonic stare of that bent, ancient figure in brown.

    The southeastward pull still held, and only with tremendous resolution couldGilman drag himself into the old house and up the rickety stairs. For hours he sat silent andaimless, with his eyes shifting gradually westward. About six o’clock his sharpened earscaught the whining prayers of Joe Mazurewicz two floors below, and in desperation he seizedhis hat and walked out into the sunset-golden streets, letting the now directly southward pullcarry him where it might. An hour later darkness found him in the open fields beyond Hangman’sBrook, with the glimmering spring stars shining ahead. The urge to walk was gradually changingto an urge to leap mystically into space, and suddenly he realised just where the source ofthe pull lay.

    It was in the sky. A definite point among the stars had a claim on him andwas calling him. Apparently it was a point somewhere between Hydra and Argo Navis, and he knewthat he had been urged toward it ever since he had awaked soon after dawn. In the morning ithad been underfoot; afternoon found it rising in the southeast, and now it was roughly southbut wheeling toward the west. What was the meaning of this new thing? Was he going mad? Howlong would it last? Again mustering his resolution, Gilman turned and dragged himself back tothe sinister old house.

    Mazurewicz was waiting for him at the door, and seemed both anxious and reluctantto whisper some fresh bit of superstition. It was about the witch light. Joe had been out celebratingthe night before—it was Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts—and had come home aftermidnight. Looking up at the house from outside, he had thought at first that Gilman’swindow was dark; but then he had seen the faint violet glow within. He wanted to warn the gentlemanabout that glow, for everybody in Arkham knew it was Keziah’s witch light which playednear Brown Jenkin and the ghost of the old crone herself. He had not mentioned this before,but now he must tell about it because it meant that Keziah and her long-toothed familiar werehaunting the young gentleman. Sometimes he and Paul Choynski and Landlord Dombrowski thoughtthey saw that light seeping out of cracks in the sealed loft above the young gentleman’sroom, but they had all agreed not to talk about that. However, it would be better for the gentlemanto take another room and get a crucifix from some good priest like Father Iwanicki.

    As the man rambled on Gilman felt a nameless panic clutch at his throat. Heknew that Joe must have been half drunk when he came home the night before, yet this mentionof a violet light in the garret window was of frightful import. It was a lambent glow of thissort which always played about the old woman and the small furry thing in those lighter, sharperdreams which prefaced his plunge into unknown abysses, and the thought that a wakeful secondperson could see the dream-luminance was utterly beyond sane harbourage. Yet where had the fellowgot such an odd notion? Had he himself talked as well as walked around the house in his sleep?No, Joe said, he had not—but he must check up on this. Perhaps Frank Elwood could tellhim something, though he hated to ask.

    Fever—wild dreams—somnambulism—illusions of sounds—apull toward a point in the sky—and now a suspicion of insane sleep-talking! He must stopstudying, see a nerve specialist, and take himself in hand. When he climbed to the second storyhe paused at Elwood’s door but saw that the other youth was out. Reluctantly he continuedup to his garret room and sat down in the dark. His gaze was still pulled to the southwest,but he also found himself listening intently for some sound in the closed loft above, and halfimagining that an evil violet light seeped down through an infinitesimal crack in the low, slantingceiling.

    That night as Gilman slept the violet light broke upon him with heightenedintensity, and the old witch and small furry thing—getting closer than ever before—mockedhim with inhuman squeals and devilish gestures. He was glad to sink into the vaguely roaringtwilight abysses, though the pursuit of that iridescent bubble-congeries and that kaleidoscopicl*ttle polyhedron was menacing and irritating. Then came the shift as vast converging planesof a slippery-looking substance loomed above and below him—a shift which ended in a flashof delirium and a blaze of unknown, alien light in which yellow, carmine, and indigo were madlyand inextricably blended.

    He was half lying on a high, fantastically balustraded terrace above a boundlessjungle of outlandish, incredible peaks, balanced planes, domes, minarets, horizontal discs poisedon pinnacles, and numberless forms of still greater wildness—some of stone and some ofmetal—which glittered gorgeously in the mixed, almost blistering glare from a polychromaticsky. Looking upward he saw three stupendous discs of flame, each of a different hue, and ata different height above an infinitely distant curving horizon of low mountains. Behind himtiers of higher terraces towered aloft as far as he could see. The city below stretched awayto the limits of vision, and he hoped that no sound would well up from it.

    The pavement from which he easily raised himself was of a veined, polishedstone beyond his power to identify, and the tiles were cut in bizarre-angled shapes which struckhim as less asymmetrical than based on some unearthly symmetry whose laws he could not comprehend.The balustrade was chest-high, delicate, and fantastically wrought, while along the rail wereranged at short intervals little figures of grotesque design and exquisite workmanship. They,like the whole balustrade, seemed to be made of some sort of shining metal whose colour couldnot be guessed in this chaos of mixed effulgences; and their nature utterly defied conjecture.They represented some ridged, barrel-shaped object with thin horizontal arms radiating spoke-likefrom a central ring, and with vertical knobs or bulbs projecting from the head and base of thebarrel. Each of these knobs was the hub of a system of five long, flat, triangularly taperingarms arranged around it like the arms of a starfish—nearly horizontal, but curving slightlyaway from the central barrel. The base of the bottom knob was fused to the long railing withso delicate a point of contact that several figures had been broken off and were missing. Thefigures were about four and a half inches in height, while the spiky arms gave them a maximumdiameter of about two and a half inches.

    When Gilman stood up the tiles felt hot to his bare feet. He was wholly alone,and his first act was to walk to the balustrade and look dizzily down at the endless, Cyclopeancity almost two thousand feet below. As he listened he thought a rhythmic confusion of faintmusical pipings covering a wide tonal range welled up from the narrow streets beneath, and hewished he might discern the denizens of the place. The sight turned him giddy after a while,so that he would have fallen to the pavement had he not clutched instinctively at the lustrousbalustrade. His right hand fell on one of the projecting figures, the touch seeming to steadyhim slightly. It was too much, however, for the exotic delicacy of the metal-work, and the spikyfigure snapped off under his grasp. Still half-dazed, he continued to clutch it as his otherhand seized a vacant space on the smooth railing.

    But now his oversensitive ears caught something behind him, and he looked backacross the level terrace. Approaching him softly though without apparent furtiveness were fivefigures, two of which were the sinister old woman and the fanged, furry little animal. The otherthree were what sent him unconscious—for they were living entities about eight feet high,shaped precisely like the spiky images on the balustrade, and propelling themselves by a spider-likewriggling of their lower set of starfish-arms.

    Gilman awakened in his bed, drenched by a cold perspiration and with a smartingsensation in his face, hands, and feet. Springing to the floor, he washed and dressed in frantichaste, as if it were necessary for him to get out of the house as quickly as possible. He didnot know where he wished to go, but felt that once more he would have to sacrifice his classes.The odd pull toward that spot in the sky between Hydra and Argo had abated, but another of evengreater strength had taken its place. Now he felt that he must go north—infinitely north.He dreaded to cross the bridge that gave a view of the desolate island in the Miskatonic, sowent over the Peabody Avenue bridge. Very often he stumbled, for his eyes and ears were chainedto an extremely lofty point in the blank blue sky.

    After about an hour he got himself under better control, and saw that he wasfar from the city. All around him stretched the bleak emptiness of salt marshes, while the narrowroad ahead led to Innsmouth—that ancient, half-deserted town which Arkham people wereso curiously unwilling to visit. Though the northward pull had not diminished, he resisted itas he had resisted the other pull, and finally found that he could almost balance the one againstthe other. Plodding back to town and getting some coffee at a soda fountain, he dragged himselfinto the public library and browsed aimlessly among the lighter magazines. Once he met somefriends who remarked how oddly sunburned he looked, but he did not tell them of his walk. Atthree o’clock he took some lunch at a restaurant, noting meanwhile that the pull had eitherlessened or divided itself. After that he killed the time at a cheap cinema show, seeing theinane performance over and over again without paying any attention to it.

    About nine at night he drifted homeward and stumbled into the ancient house.Joe Mazurewicz was whining unintelligible prayers, and Gilman hastened up to his own garretchamber without pausing to see if Elwood was in. It was when he turned on the feeble electriclight that the shock came. At once he saw there was something on the table which did not belongthere, and a second look left no room for doubt. Lying on its side—for it could not standup alone—was the exotic spiky figure which in his monstrous dream he had broken off thefantastic balustrade. No detail was missing. The ridged, barrel-shaped centre, the thin, radiatingarms, the knobs at each end, and the flat, slightly outward-curving starfish-arms spreadingfrom those knobs—all were there. In the electric light the colour seemed to be a kindof iridescent grey veined with green, and Gilman could see amidst his horror and bewildermentthat one of the knobs ended in a jagged break corresponding to its former point of attachmentto the dream-railing.

    Only his tendency toward a dazed stupor prevented him from screaming aloud.This fusion of dream and reality was too much to bear. Still dazed, he clutched at the spikything and staggered downstairs to Landlord Dombrowski’s quarters. The whining prayersof the superstitious loomfixer were still sounding through the mouldy halls, but Gilman didnot mind them now. The landlord was in, and greeted him pleasantly. No, he had not seen thatthing before and did not know anything about it. But his wife had said she found a funny tinthing in one of the beds when she fixed the rooms at noon, and maybe that was it. Dombrowskicalled her, and she waddled in. Yes, that was the thing. She had found it in the young gentleman’sbed—on the side next the wall. It had looked very queer to her, but of course the younggentleman had lots of queer things in his room—books and curios and pictures and markingson paper. She certainly knew nothing about it.

    So Gilman climbed upstairs again in a mental turmoil, convinced that he waseither still dreaming or that his somnambulism had run to incredible extremes and led him todepredations in unknown places. Where had he got this outré thing? He did not recall seeingit in any museum in Arkham. It must have been somewhere, though; and the sight of it as he snatchedit in his sleep must have caused the odd dream-picture of the balustraded terrace. Next dayhe would make some very guarded inquiries—and perhaps see the nerve specialist.

    Meanwhile he would try to keep track of his somnambulism. As he went upstairsand across the garret hall he sprinkled about some flour which he had borrowed—with afrank admission as to its purpose—from the landlord. He had stopped at Elwood’sdoor on the way, but had found all dark within. Entering his room, he placed the spiky thingon the table, and lay down in complete mental and physical exhaustion without pausing to undress.From the closed loft above the slanting ceiling he thought he heard a faint scratching and padding,but he was too disorganised even to mind it. That cryptical pull from the north was gettingvery strong again, though it seemed now to come from a lower place in the sky.

    In the dazzling violet light of dream the old woman and the fanged, furry thingcame again and with a greater distinctness than on any former occasion. This time they actuallyreached him, and he felt the crone’s withered claws clutching at him. He was pulled outof bed and into empty space, and for a moment he heard a rhythmic roaring and saw the twilightamorphousness of the vague abysses seething around him. But that moment was very brief, forpresently he was in a crude, windowless little space with rough beams and planks rising to apeak just above his head, and with a curious slanting floor underfoot. Propped level on thatfloor were low cases full of books of every degree of antiquity and disintegration, and in thecentre were a table and bench, both apparently fastened in place. Small objects of unknown shapeand nature were ranged on the tops of the cases, and in the flaming violet light Gilman thoughthe saw a counterpart of the spiky image which had puzzled him so horribly. On the left the floorfell abruptly away, leaving a black triangular gulf out of which, after a second’s dryrattling, there presently climbed the hateful little furry thing with the yellow fangs and beardedhuman face.

    The evilly grinning beldame still clutched him, and beyond the table stooda figure he had never seen before—a tall, lean man of dead black colouration but withoutthe slightest sign of negroid features; wholly devoid of either hair or beard, and wearing ashis only garment a shapeless robe of some heavy black fabric. His feet were indistinguishablebecause of the table and bench, but he must have been shod, since there was a clicking wheneverhe changed position. The man did not speak, and bore no trace of expression on his small, regularfeatures. He merely pointed to a book of prodigious size which lay open on the table, whilethe beldame thrust a huge grey quill into Gilman’s right hand. Over everything was a pallof intensely maddening fear, and the climax was reached when the furry thing ran up the dreamer’sclothing to his shoulders and then down his left arm, finally biting him sharply in the wristjust below his cuff. As the blood spurted from this wound Gilman lapsed into a faint.

    He awaked on the morning of the 22nd with a pain in his left wrist, and sawthat his cuff was brown with dried blood. His recollections were very confused, but the scenewith the black man in the unknown space stood out vividly. The rats must have bitten him ashe slept, giving rise to the climax of that frightful dream. Opening the door, he saw that theflour on the corridor floor was undisturbed except for the huge prints of the loutish fellowwho roomed at the other end of the garret. So he had not been sleep-walking this time. But somethingwould have to be done about those rats. He would speak to the landlord about them. Again hetried to stop up the hole at the base of the slanting wall, wedging in a candlestick which seemedof about the right size. His ears were ringing horribly, as if with the residual echoes of somehorrible noise heard in dreams.

    As he bathed and changed clothes he tried to recall what he had dreamed afterthe scene in the violet-litten space, but nothing definite would crystallise in his mind. Thatscene itself must have corresponded to the sealed loft overhead, which had begun to attack hisimagination so violently, but later impressions were faint and hazy. There were suggestionsof the vague, twilight abysses, and of still vaster, blacker abysses beyond them—abyssesin which all fixed suggestions of form were absent. He had been taken there by the bubble-congeriesand the little polyhedron which always dogged him; but they, like himself, had changed to wispsof milky, barely luminous mist in this farther void of ultimate blackness. Something else hadgone on ahead—a larger wisp which now and then condensed into nameless approximationsof form—and he thought that their progress had not been in a straight line, but ratheralong the alien curves and spirals of some ethereal vortex which obeyed laws unknown to thephysics and mathematics of any conceivable cosmos. Eventually there had been a hint of vast,leaping shadows, of a monstrous, half-acoustic pulsing, and of the thin, monotonous piping ofan unseen flute—but that was all. Gilman decided he had picked up that last conceptionfrom what he had read in the Necronomicon about the mindless entity Azathoth, which rulesall time and space from a curiously environed black throne at the centre of Chaos.

    When the blood was washed away the wrist wound proved very slight, and Gilmanpuzzled over the location of the two tiny punctures. It occurred to him that there was no bloodon the bedspread where he had lain—which was very curious in view of the amount on hisskin and cuff. Had he been sleep-walking within his room, and had the rat bitten him as he satin some chair or paused in some less rational position? He looked in every corner for brownishdrops or stains, but did not find any. He had better, he thought, sprinkle flour within theroom as well as outside the door—though after all no further proof of his sleep-walkingwas needed. He knew he did walk—and the thing to do now was to stop it. He must ask FrankElwood for help. This morning the strange pulls from space seemed lessened, though they werereplaced by another sensation even more inexplicable. It was a vague, insistent impulse to flyaway from his present situation, but held not a hint of the specific direction in which he wishedto fly. As he picked up the strange spiky image on the table he thought the older northwardpull grew a trifle stronger; but even so, it was wholly overruled by the newer and more bewilderingurge.

    He took the spiky image down to Elwood’s room, steeling himself againstthe whines of the loomfixer which welled up from the ground floor. Elwood was in, thank heaven,and appeared to be stirring about. There was time for a little conversation before leaving forbreakfast and college, so Gilman hurriedly poured forth an account of his recent dreams andfears. His host was very sympathetic, and agreed that something ought to be done. He was shockedby his guest’s drawn, haggard aspect, and noticed the queer, abnormal-looking sunburnwhich others had remarked during the past week. There was not much, though, that he could say.He had not seen Gilman on any sleep-walking expedition, and had no idea what the curious imagecould be. He had, though, heard the French-Canadian who lodged just under Gilman talking toMazurewicz one evening. They were telling each other how badly they dreaded the coming of Walpurgis-Night,now only a few days off; and were exchanging pitying comments about the poor, doomed young gentleman.Desrochers, the fellow under Gilman’s room, had spoken of nocturnal footsteps both shodand unshod, and of the violet light he saw one night when he had stolen fearfully up to peerthrough Gilman’s keyhole. He had not dared to peer, he told Mazurewicz, after he had glimpsedthat light through the cracks around the door. There had been soft talking, too—and ashe began to describe it his voice had sunk to an inaudible whisper.

    Elwood could not imagine what had set these superstitious creatures gossiping,but supposed their imaginations had been roused by Gilman’s late hours and somnolent walkingand talking on the one hand, and by the nearness of traditionally feared May-Eve on the otherhand. That Gilman talked in his sleep was plain, and it was obviously from Desrochers’keyhole-listenings that the delusive notion of the violet dream-light had got abroad. Thesesimple people were quick to imagine they had seen any odd thing they had heard about. As fora plan of action—Gilman had better move down to Elwood’s room and avoid sleepingalone. Elwood would, if awake, rouse him whenever he began to talk or rise in his sleep. Verysoon, too, he must see the specialist. Meanwhile they would take the spiky image around to thevarious museums and to certain professors; seeking identification and stating that it had beenfound in a public rubbish-can. Also, Dombrowski must attend to the poisoning of those rats inthe walls.

    Braced up by Elwood’s companionship, Gilman attended classes that day.Strange urges still tugged at him, but he could sidetrack them with considerable success. Duringa free period he shewed the queer image to several professors, all of whom were intensely interested,though none of them could shed any light upon its nature or origin. That night he slept on acouch which Elwood had had the landlord bring to the second-story room, and for the first timein weeks was wholly free from disquieting dreams. But the feverishness still hung on, and thewhines of the loomfixer were an unnerving influence.

    During the next few days Gilman enjoyed an almost perfect immunity from morbidmanifestations. He had, Elwood said, shewed no tendency to talk or rise in his sleep; and meanwhilethe landlord was putting rat-poison everywhere. The only disturbing element was the talk amongthe superstitious foreigners, whose imaginations had become highly excited. Mazurewicz was alwaystrying to make him get a crucifix, and finally forced one upon him which he said had been blessedby the good Father Iwanicki. Desrochers, too, had something to say—in fact, he insistedthat cautious steps had sounded in the now vacant room above him on the first and second nightsof Gilman’s absence from it. Paul Choynski thought he heard sounds in the halls and onthe stairs at night, and claimed that his door had been softly tried, while Mrs. Dombrowskivowed she had seen Brown Jenkin for the first time since All-Hallows. But such naive reportscould mean very little, and Gilman let the cheap metal crucifix hang idly from a knob on hishost’s dresser.

    For three days Gilman and Elwood canvassed the local museums in an effort toidentify the strange spiky image, but always without success. In every quarter, however, interestwas intense; for the utter alienage of the thing was a tremendous challenge to scientific curiosity.One of the small radiating arms was broken off and subjected to chemical analysis, and the resultis still talked about in college circles. Professor Ellery found platinum, iron, and telluriumin the strange alloy; but mixed with these were at least three other apparent elements of highatomic weight which chemistry was absolutely powerless to classify. Not only did they fail tocorrespond with any known element, but they did not even fit the vacant places reserved forprobable elements in the periodic system. The mystery remains unsolved to this day, though theimage is on exhibition at the museum of Miskatonic University.

    On the morning of April 27 a fresh rat-hole appeared in the room where Gilmanwas a guest, but Dombrowski tinned it up during the day. The poison was not having much effect,for scratchings and scurryings in the walls were virtually undiminished. Elwood was out latethat night, and Gilman waited up for him. He did not wish to go to sleep in a room alone—especiallysince he thought he had glimpsed in the evening twilight the repellent old woman whose imagehad become so horribly transferred to his dreams. He wondered who she was, and what had beennear her rattling the tin can in a rubbish-heap at the mouth of a squalid courtyard. The cronehad seemed to notice him and leer evilly at him—though perhaps this was merely his imagination.

    The next day both youths felt very tired, and knew they would sleep like logswhen night came. In the evening they drowsily discussed the mathematical studies which had socompletely and perhaps harmfully engrossed Gilman, and speculated about the linkage with ancientmagic and folklore which seemed so darkly probable. They spoke of old Keziah Mason, and Elwoodagreed that Gilman had good scientific grounds for thinking she might have stumbled on strangeand significant information. The hidden cults to which these witches belonged often guardedand handed down surprising secrets from elder, forgotten aeons; and it was by no means impossiblethat Keziah had actually mastered the art of passing through dimensional gates. Tradition emphasisesthe uselessness of material barriers in halting a witch’s motions; and who can say whatunderlies the old tales of broomstick rides through the night?

    Whether a modern student could ever gain similar powers from mathematical researchalone, was still to be seen. Success, Gilman added, might lead to dangerous and unthinkablesituations; for who could foretell the conditions pervading an adjacent but normally inaccessibledimension? On the other hand, the picturesque possibilities were enormous. Time could not existin certain belts of space, and by entering and remaining in such a belt one might preserve one’slife and age indefinitely; never suffering organic metabolism or deterioration except for slightamounts incurred during visits to one’s own or similar planes. One might, for example,pass into a timeless dimension and emerge at some remote period of the earth’s historyas young as before.

    Whether anybody had ever managed to do this, one could hardly conjecture withany degree of authority. Old legends are hazy and ambiguous, and in historic times all attemptsat crossing forbidden gaps seem complicated by strange and terrible alliances with beings andmessengers from outside. There was the immemorial figure of the deputy or messenger of hiddenand terrible powers—the “Black Man” of the witch-cult, and the “Nyarlathotep”of the Necronomicon. There was, too, the baffling problem of the lesser messengers orintermediaries—the quasi-animals and queer hybrids which legend depicts as witches’familiars. As Gilman and Elwood retired, too sleepy to argue further, they heard Joe Mazurewiczreel into the house half-drunk, and shuddered at the desperate wildness of his whining prayers.

    That night Gilman saw the violet light again. In his dream he had heard a scratchingand gnawing in the partitions, and thought that someone fumbled clumsily at the latch. Thenhe saw the old woman and the small furry thing advancing toward him over the carpeted floor.The beldame’s face was alight with inhuman exultation, and the little yellow-toothed morbiditytittered mockingly as it pointed at the heavily sleeping form of Elwood on the other couch acrossthe room. A paralysis of fear stifled all attempts to cry out. As once before, the hideous croneseized Gilman by the shoulders, yanking him out of bed and into empty space. Again the infinitudeof the shrieking twilight abysses flashed past him, but in another second he thought he wasin a dark, muddy, unknown alley of foetid odours, with the rotting walls of ancient houses toweringup on every hand.

    Ahead was the robed black man he had seen in the peaked space in the otherdream, while from a lesser distance the old woman was beckoning and grimacing imperiously. BrownJenkin was rubbing itself with a kind of affectionate playfulness around the ankles of the blackman, which the deep mud largely concealed. There was a dark open doorway on the right, to whichthe black man silently pointed. Into this the grimacing crone started, dragging Gilman afterher by his pajama sleeve. There were evil-smelling staircases which creaked ominously, and onwhich the old woman seemed to radiate a faint violet light; and finally a door leading off alanding. The crone fumbled with the latch and pushed the door open, motioning to Gilman to waitand disappearing inside the black aperture.

    The youth’s oversensitive ears caught a hideous strangled cry, and presentlythe beldame came out of the room bearing a small, senseless form which she thrust at the dreameras if ordering him to carry it. The sight of this form, and the expression on its face, brokethe spell. Still too dazed to cry out, he plunged recklessly down the noisome staircase andinto the mud outside; halting only when seized and choked by the waiting black man. As consciousnessdeparted he heard the faint, shrill tittering of the fanged, rat-like abnormality.

    On the morning of the 29th Gilman awaked into a maelstrom of horror. The instanthe opened his eyes he knew something was terribly wrong, for he was back in his old garret roomwith the slanting wall and ceiling, sprawled on the now unmade bed. His throat was aching inexplicably,and as he struggled to a sitting posture he saw with growing fright that his feet and pajama-bottomswere brown with caked mud. For the moment his recollections were hopelessly hazy, but he knewat least that he must have been sleep-walking. Elwood had been lost too deeply in slumber tohear and stop him. On the floor were confused muddy prints, but oddly enough they did not extendall the way to the door. The more Gilman looked at them, the more peculiar they seemed; forin addition to those he could recognise as his there were some smaller, almost round markings—suchas the legs of a large chair or table might make, except that most of them tended to be dividedinto halves. There were also some curious muddy rat-tracks leading out of a fresh hole and backinto it again. Utter bewilderment and the fear of madness racked Gilman as he staggered to thedoor and saw that there were no muddy prints outside. The more he remembered of his hideousdream the more terrified he felt, and it added to his desperation to hear Joe Mazurewicz chantingmournfully two floors below.

    Descending to Elwood’s room he roused his still-sleeping host and begantelling of how he had found himself, but Elwood could form no idea of what might really havehappened. Where Gilman could have been, how he got back to his room without making tracks inthe hall, and how the muddy, furniture-like prints came to be mixed with his in the garret chamber,were wholly beyond conjecture. Then there were those dark, livid marks on his throat, as ifhe had tried to strangle himself. He put his hands up to them, but found that they did not evenapproximately fit. While they were talking Desrochers dropped in to say that he had heard aterrific clattering overhead in the dark small hours. No, there had been no one on the stairsafter midnight—though just before midnight he had heard faint footfalls in the garret,and cautiously descending steps he did not like. It was, he added, a very bad time of year forArkham. The young gentleman had better be sure to wear the crucifix Joe Mazurewicz had givenhim. Even the daytime was not safe, for after dawn there had been strange sounds in the house—especiallya thin, childish wail hastily choked off.

    Gilman mechanically attended classes that morning, but was wholly unable tofix his mind on his studies. A mood of hideous apprehension and expectancy had seized him, andhe seemed to be awaiting the fall of some annihilating blow. At noon he lunched at the UniversitySpa, picking up a paper from the next seat as he waited for dessert. But he never ate that dessert;for an item on the paper’s first page left him limp, wild-eyed, and able only to pay hischeck and stagger back to Elwood’s room.

    There had been a strange kidnapping the night before in Orne’s Gangway,and the two-year-old child of a clod-like laundry worker named Anastasia Wolejko had completelyvanished from sight. The mother, it appeared, had feared the event for some time; but the reasonsshe assigned for her fear were so grotesque that no one took them seriously. She had, she said,seen Brown Jenkin about the place now and then ever since early in March, and knew from itsgrimaces and titterings that little Ladislas must be marked for sacrifice at the awful Sabbaton Walpurgis-Night. She had asked her neighbour Mary Czanek to sleep in the room and try toprotect the child, but Mary had not dared. She could not tell the police, for they never believedsuch things. Children had been taken that way every year ever since she could remember. Andher friend Pete Stowacki would not help because he wanted the child out of the way anyhow.

    But what threw Gilman into a cold perspiration was the report of a pair ofrevellers who had been walking past the mouth of the gangway just after midnight. They admittedthey had been drunk, but both vowed they had seen a crazily dressed trio furtively enteringthe dark passageway. There had, they said, been a huge robed negro, a little old woman in rags,and a young white man in his night-clothes. The old woman had been dragging the youth, whilearound the feet of the negro a tame rat was rubbing and weaving in the brown mud.

    Gilman sat in a daze all the afternoon, and Elwood—who had meanwhileseen the papers and formed terrible conjectures from them—found him thus when he camehome. This time neither could doubt but that something hideously serious was closing in aroundthem. Between the phantasms of nightmare and the realities of the objective world a monstrousand unthinkable relationship was crystallising, and only stupendous vigilance could avert stillmore direful developments. Gilman must see a specialist sooner or later, but not just now, whenall the papers were full of this kidnapping business.

    Just what had really happened was maddeningly obscure, and for a moment bothGilman and Elwood exchanged whispered theories of the wildest kind. Had Gilman unconsciouslysucceeded better than he knew in his studies of space and its dimensions? Had he actually slippedoutside our sphere to points unguessed and unimaginable? Where—if anywhere—had hebeen on those nights of daemoniac alienage? The roaring twilight abysses—the green hillside—theblistering terrace—the pulls from the stars—the ultimate black vortex—theblack man—the muddy alley and the stairs—the old witch and the fanged, furry horror—thebubble-congeries and the little polyhedron—the strange sunburn—the wrist wound—theunexplained image—the muddy feet—the throat-marks—the tales and fears of thesuperstitious foreigners—what did all this mean? To what extent could the laws of sanityapply to such a case?

    There was no sleep for either of them that night, but next day they both cutclasses and drowsed. This was April 30th, and with the dusk would come the hellish Sabbat-timewhich all the foreigners and the superstitious old folk feared. Mazurewicz came home at sixo’clock and said people at the mill were whispering that the Walpurgis-revels would beheld in the dark ravine beyond Meadow Hill where the old white stone stands in a place queerlyvoid of all plant-life. Some of them had even told the police and advised them to look therefor the missing Wolejko child, but they did not believe anything would be done. Joe insistedthat the poor young gentleman wear his nickel-chained crucifix, and Gilman put it on and droppedit inside his shirt to humour the fellow.

    Late at night the two youths sat drowsing in their chairs, lulled by the rhythmicalpraying of the loomfixer on the floor below. Gilman listened as he nodded, his preternaturallysharpened hearing seeming to strain for some subtle, dreaded murmur beyond the noises in theancient house. Unwholesome recollections of things in the Necronomicon and the BlackBook welled up, and he found himself swaying to infandous rhythms said to pertain to the blackestceremonies of the Sabbat and to have an origin outside the time and space we comprehend.

    Presently he realised what he was listening for—the hellish chant ofthe celebrants in the distant black valley. How did he know so much about what they expected?How did he know the time when Nahab and her acolyte were due to bear the brimming bowl whichwould follow the black co*ck and the black goat? He saw that Elwood had dropped asleep, and triedto call out and waken him. Something, however, closed his throat. He was not his own master.Had he signed the black man’s book after all?

    Then his fevered, abnormal hearing caught the distant, windborne notes. Overmiles of hill and field and alley they came, but he recognised them none the less. The firesmust be lit, and the dancers must be starting in. How could he keep himself from going? Whatwas it that had enmeshed him? Mathematics—folklore—the house—old Keziah—BrownJenkin . . . and now he saw that there was a fresh rat-hole in the wall nearhis couch. Above the distant chanting and the nearer praying of Joe Mazurewicz came anothersound—a stealthy, determined scratching in the partitions. He hoped the electric lightswould not go out. Then he saw the fanged, bearded little face in the rat-hole—the accursedlittle face which he at last realised bore such a shocking, mocking resemblance to old Keziah’s—andheard the faint fumbling at the door.

    The screaming twilight abysses flashed before him, and he felt himself helplessin the formless grasp of the iridescent bubble-congeries. Ahead raced the small, kaleidoscopicpolyhedron, and all through the churning void there was a heightening and acceleration of thevague tonal pattern which seemed to foreshadow some unutterable and unendurable climax. He seemedto know what was coming—the monstrous burst of Walpurgis-rhythm in whose cosmic timbrewould be concentrated all the primal, ultimate space-time seethings which lie behind the massedspheres of matter and sometimes break forth in measured reverberations that penetrate faintlyto every layer of entity and give hideous significance throughout the worlds to certain dreadedperiods.

    But all this vanished in a second. He was again in the cramped, violet-littenpeaked space with the slanting floor, the low cases of ancient books, the bench and table, thequeer objects, and the triangular gulf at one side. On the table lay a small white figure—aninfant boy, unclothed and unconscious—while on the other side stood the monstrous, leeringold woman with a gleaming, grotesque-hafted knife in her right hand, and a queerly proportionedpale metal bowl covered with curiously chased designs and having delicate lateral handles inher left. She was intoning some croaking ritual in a language which Gilman could not understand,but which seemed like something guardedly quoted in the Necronomicon.

    As the scene grew clear he saw the ancient crone bend forward and extend theempty bowl across the table—and unable to control his own motions, he reached far forwardand took it in both hands, noticing as he did so its comparative lightness. At the same momentthe disgusting form of Brown Jenkin scrambled up over the brink of the triangular black gulfon his left. The crone now motioned him to hold the bowl in a certain position while she raisedthe huge, grotesque knife above the small white victim as high as her right hand could reach.The fanged, furry thing began tittering a continuation of the unknown ritual, while the witchcroaked loathsome responses. Gilman felt a gnawing, poignant abhorrence shoot through his mentaland emotional paralysis, and the light metal bowl shook in his grasp. A second later the downwardmotion of the knife broke the spell completely, and he dropped the bowl with a resounding bell-likeclangour while his hands darted out frantically to stop the monstrous deed.

    In an instant he had edged up the slanting floor around the end of the tableand wrenched the knife from the old woman’s claws; sending it clattering over the brinkof the narrow triangular gulf. In another instant, however, matters were reversed; for thosemurderous claws had locked themselves tightly around his own throat, while the wrinkled facewas twisted with insane fury. He felt the chain of the cheap crucifix grinding into his neck,and in his peril wondered how the sight of the object itself would affect the evil creature.Her strength was altogether superhuman, but as she continued her choking he reached feebly inhis shirt and drew out the metal symbol, snapping the chain and pulling it free.

    At sight of the device the witch seemed struck with panic, and her grip relaxedlong enough to give Gilman a chance to break it entirely. He pulled the steel-like claws fromhis neck, and would have dragged the beldame over the edge of the gulf had not the claws receiveda fresh access of strength and closed in again. This time he resolved to reply in kind, andhis own hands reached out for the creature’s throat. Before she saw what he was doinghe had the chain of the crucifix twisted about her neck, and a moment later he had tightenedit enough to cut off her breath. During her last struggle he felt something bite at his ankle,and saw that Brown Jenkin had come to her aid. With one savage kick he sent the morbidity overthe edge of the gulf and heard it whimper on some level far below.

    Whether he had killed the ancient crone he did not know, but he let her reston the floor where she had fallen. Then, as he turned away, he saw on the table a sight whichnearly snapped the last thread of his reason. Brown Jenkin, tough of sinew and with four tinyhands of daemoniac dexterity, had been busy while the witch was throttling him, and his effortshad been in vain. What he had prevented the knife from doing to the victim’s chest, theyellow fangs of the furry blasphemy had done to a wrist—and the bowl so lately on thefloor stood full beside the small lifeless body.

    In his dream-delirium Gilman heard the hellish, alien-rhythmed chant of theSabbat coming from an infinite distance, and knew the black man must be there. Confused memoriesmixed themselves with his mathematics, and he believed his subconscious mind held the angleswhich he needed to guide him back to the normal world—alone and unaided for the firsttime. He felt sure he was in the immemorially sealed loft above his own room, but whether hecould ever escape through the slanting floor or the long-stopped egress he doubted greatly.Besides, would not an escape from a dream-loft bring him merely into a dream-house—anabnormal projection of the actual place he sought? He was wholly bewildered as to the relationbetwixt dream and reality in all his experiences.

    The passage through the vague abysses would be frightful, for the Walpurgis-rhythmwould be vibrating, and at last he would have to hear that hitherto veiled cosmic pulsing whichhe so mortally dreaded. Even now he could detect a low, monstrous shaking whose tempo he suspectedall too well. At Sabbat-time it always mounted and reached through to the worlds to summon theinitiate to nameless rites. Half the chants of the Sabbat were patterned on this faintly overheardpulsing which no earthly ear could endure in its unveiled spatial fulness. Gilman wondered,too, whether he could trust his instinct to take him back to the right part of space. How couldhe be sure he would not land on that green-litten hillside of a far planet, on the tessellatedterrace above the city of tentacled monsters somewhere beyond the galaxy, or in the spiral blackvortices of that ultimate void of Chaos wherein reigns the mindless daemon-sultan Azathoth?

    Just before he made the plunge the violet light went out and left him in utterblackness. The witch—old Keziah—Nahab—that must have meant her death. Andmixed with the distant chant of the Sabbat and the whimpers of Brown Jenkin in the gulf belowhe thought he heard another and wilder whine from unknown depths. Joe Mazurewicz—the prayersagainst the Crawling Chaos now turning to an inexplicably triumphant shriek—worlds ofsardonic actuality impinging on vortices of febrile dream—Iä! Shub-Niggurath! TheGoat with a Thousand Young. . . .

    They found Gilman on the floor of his queerly angled old garret room long beforedawn, for the terrible cry had brought Desrochers and Choynski and Dombrowski and Mazurewiczat once, and had even wakened the soundly sleeping Elwood in his chair. He was alive, and withopen, staring eyes, but seemed largely unconscious. On his throat were the marks of murderoushands, and on his left ankle was a distressing rat-bite. His clothing was badly rumpled, andJoe’s crucifix was missing. Elwood trembled, afraid even to speculate on what new formhis friend’s sleep-walking had taken. Mazurewicz seemed half-dazed because of a “sign”he said he had had in response to his prayers, and he crossed himself frantically when the squealingand whimpering of a rat sounded from beyond the slanting partition.

    When the dreamer was settled on his couch in Elwood’s room they sentfor Dr. Malkowski—a local practitioner who would repeat no tales where they might proveembarrassing—and he gave Gilman two hypodermic injections which caused him to relax insomething like natural drowsiness. During the day the patient regained consciousness at timesand whispered his newest dream disjointedly to Elwood. It was a painful process, and at itsvery start brought out a fresh and disconcerting fact.

    Gilman—whose ears had so lately possessed an abnormal sensitiveness—wasnow stone deaf. Dr. Malkowski, summoned again in haste, told Elwood that both ear-drums wereruptured, as if by the impact of some stupendous sound intense beyond all human conception orendurance. How such a sound could have been heard in the last few hours without arousing allthe Miskatonic Valley was more than the honest physician could say.

    Elwood wrote his part of the colloquy on paper, so that a fairly easy communicationwas maintained. Neither knew what to make of the whole chaotic business, and decided it wouldbe better if they thought as little as possible about it. Both, though, agreed that they mustleave this ancient and accursed house as soon as it could be arranged. Evening papers spokeof a police raid on some curious revellers in a ravine beyond Meadow Hill just before dawn,and mentioned that the white stone there was an object of age-long superstitious regard. Nobodyhad been caught, but among the scattering fugitives had been glimpsed a huge negro. In anothercolumn it was stated that no trace of the missing child Ladislas Wolejko had been found.

    The crowning horror came that very night. Elwood will never forget it, andwas forced to stay out of college the rest of the term because of the resulting nervous breakdown.He had thought he heard rats in the partitions all the evening, but paid little attention tothem. Then, long after both he and Gilman had retired, the atrocious shrieking began. Elwoodjumped up, turned on the lights, and rushed over to his guest’s couch. The occupant wasemitting sounds of veritably inhuman nature, as if racked by some torment beyond description.He was writhing under the bedclothes, and a great red stain was beginning to appear on the blankets.

    Elwood scarcely dared to touch him, but gradually the screaming and writhingsubsided. By this time Dombrowski, Choynski, Desrochers, Mazurewicz, and the top-floor lodgerwere all crowding into the doorway, and the landlord had sent his wife back to telephone forDr. Malkowski. Everybody shrieked when a large rat-like form suddenly jumped out from beneaththe ensanguined bedclothes and scuttled across the floor to a fresh, open hole close by. Whenthe doctor arrived and began to pull down those frightful covers Walter Gilman was dead.

    It would be barbarous to do more than suggest what had killed Gilman. Therehad been virtually a tunnel through his body—something had eaten his heart out. Dombrowski,frantic at the failure of his constant rat-poisoning efforts, cast aside all thought of hislease and within a week had moved with all his older lodgers to a dingy but less ancient housein Walnut Street. The worst thing for a while was keeping Joe Mazurewicz quiet; for the broodingloomfixer would never stay sober, and was constantly whining and muttering about spectral andterrible things.

    It seems that on that last hideous night Joe had stooped to look at the crimsonrat-tracks which led from Gilman’s couch to the nearby hole. On the carpet they were veryindistinct, but a piece of open flooring intervened between the carpet’s edge and thebase-board. There Mazurewicz had found something monstrous—or thought he had, for no oneelse could quite agree with him despite the undeniable queerness of the prints. The tracks onthe flooring were certainly vastly unlike the average prints of a rat, but even Choynski andDesrochers would not admit that they were like the prints of four tiny human hands.

    The house was never rented again. As soon as Dombrowski left it the pall ofits final desolation began to descend, for people shunned it both on account of its old reputationand because of the new foetid odour. Perhaps the ex-landlord’s rat-poison had worked afterall, for not long after his departure the place became a neighbourhood nuisance. Health officialstraced the smell to the closed spaces above and beside the eastern garret room, and agreed thatthe number of dead rats must be enormous. They decided, however, that it was not worth theirwhile to hew open and disinfect the long-sealed spaces; for the foetor would soon be over, andthe locality was not one which encouraged fastidious standards. Indeed, there were always vaguelocal tales of unexplained stenches upstairs in the Witch House just after May-Eve and Hallowmass.The neighbours grumblingly acquiesced in the inertia—but the foetor none the less formedan additional count against the place. Toward the last the house was condemned as an habitationby the building inspector.

    Gilman’s dreams and their attendant circ*mstances have never been explained.Elwood, whose thoughts on the entire episode are sometimes almost maddening, came back to collegethe next autumn and graduated in the following June. He found the spectral gossip of the townmuch diminished, and it is indeed a fact that—notwithstanding certain reports of a ghostlytittering in the deserted house which lasted almost as long as that edifice itself—nofresh appearances either of old Keziah or of Brown Jenkin have been muttered of since Gilman’sdeath. It is rather fortunate that Elwood was not in Arkham in that later year when certainevents abruptly renewed the local whispers about elder horrors. Of course he heard about thematter afterward and suffered untold torments of black and bewildered speculation; but eventhat was not as bad as actual nearness and several possible sights would have been.

    In March, 1931, a gale wrecked the roof and great chimney of the vacant WitchHouse, so that a chaos of crumbling bricks, blackened, moss-grown shingles, and rotting planksand timbers crashed down into the loft and broke through the floor beneath. The whole atticstory was choked with debris from above, but no one took the trouble to touch the mess beforethe inevitable razing of the decrepit structure. That ultimate step came in the following December,and it was when Gilman’s old room was cleared out by reluctant, apprehensive workmen thatthe gossip began.

    Among the rubbish which had crashed through the ancient slanting ceiling wereseveral things which made the workmen pause and call in the police. Later the police in turncalled in the coroner and several professors from the university. There were bones—badlycrushed and splintered, but clearly recognisable as human—whose manifestly modern dateconflicted puzzlingly with the remote period at which their only possible lurking-place, thelow, slant-floored loft overhead, had supposedly been sealed from all human access. The coroner’sphysician decided that some belonged to a small child, while certain others—found mixedwith shreds of rotten brownish cloth—belonged to a rather undersized, bent female of advancedyears. Careful sifting of debris also disclosed many tiny bones of rats caught in the collapse,as well as older rat-bones gnawed by small fangs in a fashion now and then highly productiveof controversy and reflection.

    Other objects found included the mingled fragments of many books and papers,together with a yellowish dust left from the total disintegration of still older books and papers.All, without exception, appeared to deal with black magic in its most advanced and horribleforms; and the evidently recent date of certain items is still a mystery as unsolved as thatof the modern human bones. An even greater mystery is the absolute hom*ogeneity of the crabbed,archaic writing found on a wide range of papers whose conditions and watermarks suggest agedifferences of at least 150 to 200 years. To some, though, the greatest mystery of all is thevariety of utterly inexplicable objects—objects whose shapes, materials, types of workmanship,and purposes baffle all conjecture—found scattered amidst the wreckage in evidently diversestates of injury. One of these things—which excited several Miskatonic professors profoundly—isa badly damaged monstrosity plainly resembling the strange image which Gilman gave to the collegemuseum, save that it is larger, wrought of some peculiar bluish stone instead of metal, andpossessed of a singularly angled pedestal with undecipherable hieroglyphics.

    Archaeologists and anthropologists are still trying to explain the bizarredesigns chased on a crushed bowl of light metal whose inner side bore ominous brownish stainswhen found. Foreigners and credulous grandmothers are equally garrulous about the modern nickelcrucifix with broken chain mixed in the rubbish and shiveringly identified by Joe Mazurewiczas that which he had given poor Gilman many years before. Some believe this crucifix was draggedup to the sealed loft by rats, while others think it must have been on the floor in some cornerof Gilman’s old room all the time. Still others, including Joe himself, have theoriestoo wild and fantastic for sober credence.

    When the slanting wall of Gilman’s room was torn out, the once sealedtriangular space between that partition and the house’s north wall was found to containmuch less structural debris, even in proportion to its size, than the room itself; though ithad a ghastly layer of older materials which paralysed the wreckers with horror. In brief, thefloor was a veritable ossuary of the bones of small children—some fairly modern, but othersextending back in infinite gradations to a period so remote that crumbling was almost complete.On this deep bony layer rested a knife of great size, obvious antiquity, and grotesque, ornate,and exotic design—above which the debris was piled.

    In the midst of this debris, wedged between a fallen plank and a cluster ofcemented bricks from the ruined chimney, was an object destined to cause more bafflement, veiledfright, and openly superstitious talk in Arkham than anything else discovered in the hauntedand accursed building. This object was the partly crushed skeleton of a huge, diseased rat,whose abnormalities of form are still a topic of debate and source of singular reticence amongthe members of Miskatonic’s department of comparative anatomy. Very little concerningthis skeleton has leaked out, but the workmen who found it whisper in shocked tones about thelong, brownish hairs with which it was associated.

    The bones of the tiny paws, it is rumoured, imply prehensile characteristicsmore typical of a diminutive monkey than of a rat; while the small skull with its savage yellowfangs is of the utmost anomalousness, appearing from certain angles like a miniature, monstrouslydegraded parody of a human skull. The workmen crossed themselves in fright when they came uponthis blasphemy, but later burned candles of gratitude in St. Stanislaus’ Church becauseof the shrill, ghostly tittering they felt they would never hear again.

    I.

    During the winter of 1927-28 officials of the Federal government made a strange and secretinvestigation of certain conditions in the ancient Massachusetts seaport of Innsmouth. The publicfirst learned of it in February, when a vast series of raids and arrests occurred, followedby the deliberate burning and dynamiting—under suitable precautions—of an enormousnumber of crumbling, worm-eaten, and supposedly empty houses along the abandoned waterfront.Uninquiring souls let this occurrence pass as one of the major clashes in a spasmodic war onliquor.

    Keener news-followers, however, wondered at the prodigious number of arrests,the abnormally large force of men used in making them, and the secrecy surrounding the disposalof the prisoners. No trials, or even definite charges, were reported; nor were any of the captivesseen thereafter in the regular gaols of the nation. There were vague statements about diseaseand concentration camps, and later about dispersal in various naval and military prisons, butnothing positive ever developed. Innsmouth itself was left almost depopulated, and is even nowonly beginning to shew signs of a sluggishly revived existence.

    Complaints from many liberal organisations were met with long confidentialdiscussions, and representatives were taken on trips to certain camps and prisons. As a result,these societies became surprisingly passive and reticent. Newspaper men were harder to manage,but seemed largely to coöperate with the government in the end. Only one paper—atabloid always discounted because of its wild policy—mentioned the deep-diving submarinethat discharged torpedoes downward in the marine abyss just beyond Devil Reef. That item, gatheredby chance in a haunt of sailors, seemed indeed rather far-fetched; since the low, black reeflies a full mile and a half out from Innsmouth Harbour.

    People around the country and in the nearby towns muttered a great deal amongthemselves, but said very little to the outer world. They had talked about dying and half-desertedInnsmouth for nearly a century, and nothing new could be wilder or more hideous than what theyhad whispered and hinted years before. Many things had taught them secretiveness, and therewas now no need to exert pressure on them. Besides, they really knew very little; for wide saltmarshes, desolate and unpeopled, keep neighbours off from Innsmouth on the landward side.

    But at last I am going to defy the ban on speech about this thing. Results,I am certain, are so thorough that no public harm save a shock of repulsion could ever accruefrom a hinting of what was found by those horrified raiders at Innsmouth. Besides, what wasfound might possibly have more than one explanation. I do not know just how much of the wholetale has been told even to me, and I have many reasons for not wishing to probe deeper. Formy contact with this affair has been closer than that of any other layman, and I have carriedaway impressions which are yet to drive me to drastic measures.

    It was I who fled frantically out of Innsmouth in the early morning hours ofJuly 16, 1927, and whose frightened appeals for government inquiry and action brought on thewhole reported episode. I was willing enough to stay mute while the affair was fresh and uncertain;but now that it is an old story, with public interest and curiosity gone, I have an odd cravingto whisper about those few frightful hours in that ill-rumoured and evilly shadowed seaportof death and blasphemous abnormality. The mere telling helps me to restore confidence in myown faculties; to reassure myself that I was not simply the first to succumb to a contagiousnightmare hallucination. It helps me, too, in making up my mind regarding a certain terriblestep which lies ahead of me.

    I never heard of Innsmouth till the day before I saw it for the first and—sofar—last time. I was celebrating my coming of age by a tour of New England—sightseeing,antiquarian, and genealogical—and had planned to go directly from ancient Newburyportto Arkham, whence my mother’s family was derived. I had no car, but was travelling bytrain, trolley, and motor-coach, always seeking the cheapest possible route. In Newburyportthey told me that the steam train was the thing to take to Arkham; and it was only at the stationticket-office, when I demurred at the high fare, that I learned about Innsmouth. The stout,shrewd-faced agent, whose speech shewed him to be no local man, seemed sympathetic toward myefforts at economy, and made a suggestion that none of my other informants had offered.

    “You could take that old bus, I suppose”, he said with acertain hesitation, “but it ain’t thought much of hereabouts. It goes through Innsmouth—youmay have heard about that—and so the people don’t like it. Run by an Innsmouth fellow—JoeSargent—but never gets any custom from here, or Arkham either, I guess. Wonder it keepsrunning at all. I s’pose it’s cheap enough, but I never see more’n two orthree people in it—nobody but those Innsmouth folks. Leaves the Square—front ofHammond’s Drug Store—at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. unless they’ve changed lately.Looks like a terrible rattletrap—I’ve never ben on it.”

    That was the first I ever heard of shadowed Innsmouth. Any reference to a townnot shewn on common maps or listed in recent guide-books would have interested me, and the agent’sodd manner of allusion roused something like real curiosity. A town able to inspire such dislikein its neighbours, I thought, must be at least rather unusual, and worthy of a tourist’sattention. If it came before Arkham I would stop off there—and so I asked the agent totell me something about it. He was very deliberate, and spoke with an air of feeling slightlysuperior to what he said.

    “Innsmouth? Well, it’s a queer kind of a town down at the mouthof the Manuxet. Used to be almost a city—quite a port before the War of 1812—butall gone to pieces in the last hundred years or so. No railroad now—B. & M. neverwent through, and the branch line from Rowley was given up years ago.”

    “More empty houses than there are people, I guess, and no business tospeak of except fishing and lobstering. Everybody trades mostly here or in Arkham orIpswich. Once they had quite a few mills, but nothing’s left now except one gold refineryrunning on the leanest kind of part time.”

    “That refinery, though, used to be a big thing, and Old Man Marsh, whoowns it, must be richer’n Croesus. Queer old duck, though, and sticks mighty close inhis home. He’s supposed to have developed some skin disease or deformity late in lifethat makes him keep out of sight. Grandson of Captain Obed Marsh, who founded the business.His mother seems to’ve ben some kind of foreigner—they say a South Sea islander—soeverybody raised Cain when he married an Ipswich girl fifty years ago. They always do that aboutInnsmouth people, and folks here and hereabouts always try to cover up any Innsmouth blood theyhave in ’em. But Marsh’s children and grandchildren look just like anyone else sofar’s I can see. I’ve had ’em pointed out to me here—though, come tothink of it, the elder children don’t seem to be around lately. Never saw the old man.”

    “And why is everybody so down on Innsmouth? Well, young fellow, you mustn’ttake too much stock in what people around here say. They’re hard to get started, but oncethey do get started they never let up. They’ve ben telling things about Innsmouth—whispering’em, mostly—for the last hundred years, I guess, and I gather they’re morescared than anything else. Some of the stories would make you laugh—about old CaptainMarsh driving bargains with the devil and bringing imps out of hell to live in Innsmouth, orabout some kind of devil-worship and awful sacrifices in some place near the wharves that peoplestumbled on around 1845 or thereabouts—but I come from Panton, Vermont, and that kindof story don’t go down with me.”

    “You ought to hear, though, what some of the old-timers tell about theblack reef off the coast—Devil Reef, they call it. It’s well above water a goodpart of the time, and never much below it, but at that you could hardly call it an island. Thestory is that there’s a whole legion of devils seen sometimes on that reef—sprawledabout, or darting in and out of some kind of caves near the top. It’s a rugged, uneventhing, a good bit over a mile out, and toward the end of shipping days sailors used to makebig detours just to avoid it.”

    “That is, sailors that didn’t hail from Innsmouth. One of the thingsthey had against old Captain Marsh was that he was supposed to land on it sometimes at nightwhen the tide was right. Maybe he did, for I dare say the rock formation was interesting, andit’s just barely possible he was looking for pirate loot and maybe finding it; but therewas talk of his dealing with daemons there. Fact is, I guess on the whole it was really theCaptain that gave the bad reputation to the reef.”

    “That was before the big epidemic of 1846, when over half the folks inInnsmouth was carried off. They never did quite figure out what the trouble was, but it wasprobably some foreign kind of disease brought from China or somewhere by the shipping. It surelywas bad enough—there was riots over it, and all sorts of ghastly doings that I don’tbelieve ever got outside of town—and it left the place in awful shape. Never came back—therecan’t be more’n 300 or 400 people living there now.”

    “But the real thing behind the way folks feel is simply race prejudice—andI don’t say I’m blaming those that hold it. I hate those Innsmouth folks myself,and I wouldn’t care to go to their town. I s’pose you know—though I can seeyou’re a Westerner by your talk—what a lot our New England ships used to have todo with queer ports in Africa, Asia, the South Seas, and everywhere else, and what queer kindsof people they sometimes brought back with ’em. You’ve probably heard about theSalem man that came home with a Chinese wife, and maybe you know there’s still a bunchof Fiji Islanders somewhere around Cape Cod.”

    “Well, there must be something like that back of the Innsmouth people.The place always was badly cut off from the rest of the country by marshes and creeks, and wecan’t be sure about the ins and outs of the matter; but it’s pretty clear that oldCaptain Marsh must have brought home some odd specimens when he had all three of his ships incommission back in the twenties and thirties. There certainly is a strange kind of streak inthe Innsmouth folks today—I don’t know how to explain it, but it sort of makes youcrawl. You’ll notice a little in Sargent if you take his bus. Some of ’em have queernarrow heads with flat noses and bulgy, stary eyes that never seem to shut, and their skin ain’tquite right. Rough and scabby, and the sides of their necks are all shrivelled or creased up.Get bald, too, very young. The older fellows look the worst—fact is, I don’t believeI’ve ever seen a very old chap of that kind. Guess they must die of looking in the glass!Animals hate ’em—they used to have lots of horse trouble before autos came in.”

    “Nobody around here or in Arkham or Ipswich will have anything to dowith ’em, and they act kind of offish themselves when they come to town or when anyonetries to fish on their grounds. Queer how fish are always thick off Innsmouth Harbour when thereain’t any anywhere else around—but just try to fish there yourself and see how thefolks chase you off! Those people used to come here on the railroad—walking and takingthe train at Rowley after the branch was dropped—but now they use that bus.”

    “Yes, there’s a hotel in Innsmouth—called the Gilman House—butI don’t believe it can amount to much. I wouldn’t advise you to try it. Better stayover here and take the ten o’clock bus tomorrow morning; then you can get an evening busthere for Arkham at eight o’clock. There was a factory inspector who stopped at the Gilmana couple of years ago, and he had a lot of unpleasant hints about the place. Seems they geta queer crowd there, for this fellow heard voices in other rooms—though most of ’emwas empty—that gave him the shivers. It was foreign talk, he thought, but he said thebad thing about it was the kind of voice that sometimes spoke. It sounded so unnatural—slopping-like,he said—that he didn’t dare undress and go to sleep. Just waited up and lit outthe first thing in the morning. The talk went on most all night.”

    “This fellow—Casey, his name was—had a lot to say about howthe Innsmouth folks watched him and seemed kind of on guard. He found the Marsh refinery a queerplace—it’s in an old mill on the lower falls of the Manuxet. What he said talliedup with what I’d heard. Books in bad shape, and no clear account of any kind of dealings.You know it’s always ben a kind of mystery where the Marshes get the gold they refine.They’ve never seemed to do much buying in that line, but years ago they shipped out anenormous lot of ingots.”

    “Used to be talk of a queer foreign kind of jewellery that the sailorsand refinery men sometimes sold on the sly, or that was seen once or twice on some of the Marshwomenfolks. People allowed maybe old Captain Obed traded for it in some heathen port, especiallysince he was always ordering stacks of glass beads and trinkets such as seafaring men used toget for native trade. Others thought and still think he’d found an old pirate cache outon Devil Reef. But here’s a funny thing. The old Captain’s ben dead these sixtyyears, and there ain’t ben a good-sized ship out of the place since the Civil War; butjust the same the Marshes still keep on buying a few of those native trade things—mostlyglass and rubber gewgaws, they tell me. Maybe the Innsmouth folks like ’em to look atthemselves—Gawd knows they’ve gotten to be about as bad as South Sea cannibals andGuinea savages.”

    “That plague of ’46 must have taken off the best blood in the place.Anyway, they’re a doubtful lot now, and the Marshes and the other rich folks are as badas any. As I told you, there probably ain’t more’n 400 people in the whole townin spite of all the streets they say there are. I guess they’re what they call ‘white trash’ down South—lawless and sly, and full of secret doings.They get a lot of fish and lobsters and do exporting by truck. Queer how the fish swarm right there and nowhereelse. “

    “Nobody can ever keep track of these people, and state school officialsand census men have a devil of a time. You can bet that prying strangers ain’t welcomearound Innsmouth. I’ve heard personally of more’n one business or government manthat’s disappeared there, and there’s loose talk of one who went crazy and is outat Danvers now. They must have fixed up some awful scare for that fellow.”

    “That’s why I wouldn’t go at night if I was you. I’venever ben there and have no wish to go, but I guess a daytime trip couldn’t hurt you—eventhough the people hereabouts will advise you not to make it. If you’re just sightseeing,and looking for old-time stuff, Innsmouth ought to be quite a place for you.”

    And so I spent part of that evening at the Newburyport Public Library lookingup data about Innsmouth. When I had tried to question the natives in the shops, the lunch room,the garages, and the fire station, I had found them even harder to get started than the ticket-agenthad predicted; and realised that I could not spare the time to overcome their first instinctivereticences. They had a kind of obscure suspiciousness, as if there were something amiss withanyone too much interested in Innsmouth. At the Y.M.C.A., where I was stopping, the clerk merelydiscouraged my going to such a dismal, decadent place; and the people at the library shewedmuch the same attitude. Clearly, in the eyes of the educated, Innsmouth was merely an exaggeratedcase of civic degeneration.

    The Essex County histories on the library shelves had very little to say, exceptthat the town was founded in 1643, noted for shipbuilding before the Revolution, a seat of greatmarine prosperity in the early nineteenth century, and later a minor factory centre using theManuxet as power. The epidemic and riots of 1846 were very sparsely treated, as if they formeda discredit to the county.

    References to decline were few, though the significance of the later recordwas unmistakable. After the Civil War all industrial life was confined to the Marsh RefiningCompany, and the marketing of gold ingots formed the only remaining bit of major commerce asidefrom the eternal fishing. That fishing paid less and less as the price of the commodity felland large-scale corporations offered competition, but there was never a dearth of fish aroundInnsmouth Harbour. Foreigners seldom settled there, and there was some discreetly veiled evidencethat a number of Poles and Portuguese who had tried it had been scattered in a peculiarly drasticfashion.

    Most interesting of all was a glancing reference to the strange jewelleryvaguely associated with Innsmouth. It had evidently impressed the whole countryside more thana little, for mention was made of specimens in the museum of Miskatonic University at Arkham,and in the display room of the Newburyport Historical Society. The fragmentary descriptionsof these things were bald and prosaic, but they hinted to me an undercurrent of persistent strangeness.Something about them seemed so odd and provocative that I could not put them out of my mind,and despite the relative lateness of the hour I resolved to see the local sample—saidto be a large, queerly proportioned thing evidently meant for a tiara—if it could possiblybe arranged.

    The librarian gave me a note of introduction to the curator of the Society,a Miss Anna Tilton, who lived nearby, and after a brief explanation that ancient gentlewomanwas kind enough to pilot me into the closed building, since the hour was not outrageously late.The collection was a notable one indeed, but in my present mood I had eyes for nothing but thebizarre object which glistened in a corner cupboard under the electric lights.

    It took no excessive sensitiveness to beauty to make me literally gasp at thestrange, unearthly splendour of the alien, opulent phantasy that rested there on a purple velvetcushion. Even now I can hardly describe what I saw, though it was clearly enough a sort of tiara,as the description had said. It was tall in front, and with a very large and curiously irregularperiphery, as if designed for a head of almost freakishly elliptical outline. The material seemedto be predominantly gold, though a weird lighter lustrousness hinted at some strange alloy withan equally beautiful and scarcely identifiable metal. Its condition was almost perfect, andone could have spent hours in studying the striking and puzzlingly untraditional designs—somesimply geometrical, and some plainly marine—chased or moulded in high relief on its surfacewith a craftsmanship of incredible skill and grace.

    The longer I looked, the more the thing fascinated me; and in this fascinationthere was a curiously disturbing element hardly to be classified or accounted for. At firstI decided that it was the queer other-worldly quality of the art which made me uneasy. All otherart objects I had ever seen either belonged to some known racial or national stream, or elsewere consciously modernistic defiances of every recognised stream. This tiara was neither. Itclearly belonged to some settled technique of infinite maturity and perfection, yet that techniquewas utterly remote from any—Eastern or Western, ancient or modern—which I had everheard of or seen exemplified. It was as if the workmanship were that of another planet.

    However, I soon saw that my uneasiness had a second and perhaps equally potentsource residing in the pictorial and mathematical suggestions of the strange designs. The patternsall hinted of remote secrets and unimaginable abysses in time and space, and the monotonouslyaquatic nature of the reliefs became almost sinister. Among these reliefs were fabulous monstersof abhorrent grotesqueness and malignity—half ichthyic and half batrachian in suggestion—whichone could not dissociate from a certain haunting and uncomfortable sense of pseudo-memory, asif they called up some image from deep cells and tissues whose retentive functions are whollyprimal and awesomely ancestral. At times I fancied that every contour of these blasphemous fish-frogswas overflowing with the ultimate quintessence of unknown and inhuman evil.

    In odd contrast to the tiara’s aspect was its brief and prosy historyas related by Miss Tilton. It had been pawned for a ridiculous sum at a shop in State Streetin 1873, by a drunken Innsmouth man shortly afterward killed in a brawl. The Society had acquiredit directly from the pawnbroker, at once giving it a display worthy of its quality. It was labelledas of probable East-Indian or Indo-Chinese provenance, though the attribution was frankly tentative.

    Miss Tilton, comparing all possible hypotheses regarding its origin and itspresence in New England, was inclined to believe that it formed part of some exotic pirate hoarddiscovered by old Captain Obed Marsh. This view was surely not weakened by the insistent offersof purchase at a high price which the Marshes began to make as soon as they knew of its presence,and which they repeated to this day despite the Society’s unvarying determination notto sell.

    As the good lady shewed me out of the building she made it clear that the piratetheory of the Marsh fortune was a popular one among the intelligent people of the region. Herown attitude toward shadowed Innsmouth—which she had never seen—was one of disgustat a community slipping far down the cultural scale, and she assured me that the rumours ofdevil-worship were partly justified by a peculiar secret cult which had gained force there andengulfed all the orthodox churches.

    It was called, she said, “The Esoteric Order of Dagon”, and wasundoubtedly a debased, quasi-pagan thing imported from the East a century before, at a timewhen the Innsmouth fisheries seemed to be going barren. Its persistence among a simple peoplewas quite natural in view of the sudden and permanent return of abundantly fine fishing, andit soon came to be the greatest influence on the town, replacing Freemasonry altogether andtaking up headquarters in the old Masonic Hall on New Church Green.

    All this, to the pious Miss Tilton, formed an excellent reason for shunningthe ancient town of decay and desolation; but to me it was merely a fresh incentive. To my architecturaland historical anticipations was now added an acute anthropological zeal, and I could scarcelysleep in my small room at the “Y” as the night wore away.

    II.

    Shortly before ten the next morning I stood with one small valise in frontof Hammond’s Drug Store in old Market Square waiting for the Innsmouth bus. As the hourfor its arrival drew near I noticed a general drift of the loungers to other places up the street,or to the Ideal Lunch across the square. Evidently the ticket-agent had not exaggerated thedislike which local people bore toward Innsmouth and its denizens. In a few moments a smallmotor-coach of extreme decrepitude and dirty grey colour rattled down State Street, made a turn,and drew up at the curb beside me. I felt immediately that it was the right one; a guess whichthe half-illegible sign on the windshield— “Arkham-Innsmouth-Newb’port” —soonverified.

    There were only three passengers—dark, unkempt men of sullen visage andsomewhat youthful cast—and when the vehicle stopped they clumsily shambled out and beganwalking up State Street in a silent, almost furtive fashion. The driver also alighted, and Iwatched him as he went into the drug store to make some purchase. This, I reflected, must bethe Joe Sargent mentioned by the ticket-agent; and even before I noticed any details there spreadover me a wave of spontaneous aversion which could be neither checked nor explained. It suddenlystruck me as very natural that the local people should not wish to ride on a bus owned and drivenby this man, or to visit any oftener than possible the habitat of such a man and his kinsfolk.

    When the driver came out of the store I looked at him more carefully and triedto determine the source of my evil impression. He was a thin, stoop-shouldered man not muchunder six feet tall, dressed in shabby blue civilian clothes and wearing a frayed grey golfcap. His age was perhaps thirty-five, but the odd, deep creases in the sides of his neck madehim seem older when one did not study his dull, expressionless face. He had a narrow head, bulging,watery blue eyes that seemed never to wink, a flat nose, a receding forehead and chin, and singularlyundeveloped ears. His long, thick lip and coarse-pored, greyish cheeks seemed almost beardlessexcept for some sparse yellow hairs that straggled and curled in irregular patches; and in placesthe surface seemed queerly irregular, as if peeling from some cutaneous disease. His hands werelarge and heavily veined, and had a very unusual greyish-blue tinge. The fingers were strikinglyshort in proportion to the rest of the structure, and seemed to have a tendency to curl closelyinto the huge palm. As he walked toward the bus I observed his peculiarly shambling gait andsaw that his feet were inordinately immense. The more I studied them the more I wondered howhe could buy any shoes to fit them.

    A certain greasiness about the fellow increased my dislike. He was evidentlygiven to working or lounging around the fish docks, and carried with him much of their characteristicsmell. Just what foreign blood was in him I could not even guess. His oddities certainly didnot look Asiatic, Polynesian, Levantine, or negroid, yet I could see why the people found himalien. I myself would have thought of biological degeneration rather than alienage.

    I was sorry when I saw that there would be no other passengers on the bus.Somehow I did not like the idea of riding alone with this driver. But as leaving time obviouslyapproached I conquered my qualms and followed the man aboard, extending him a dollar bill andmurmuring the single word “Innsmouth”. He looked curiously at me for a second ashe returned forty cents change without speaking. I took a seat far behind him, but on the sameside of the bus, since I wished to watch the shore during the journey.

    At length the decrepit vehicle started with a jerk, and rattled noisily pastthe old brick buildings of State Street amidst a cloud of vapour from the exhaust. Glancingat the people on the sidewalks, I thought I detected in them a curious wish to avoid lookingat the bus—or at least a wish to avoid seeming to look at it. Then we turned to the leftinto High Street, where the going was smoother; flying by stately old mansions of the earlyrepublic and still older colonial farmhouses, passing the Lower Green and Parker River, andfinally emerging into a long, monotonous stretch of open shore country.

    The day was warm and sunny, but the landscape of sand, sedge-grass, and stuntedshrubbery became more and more desolate as we proceeded. Out the window I could see the bluewater and the sandy line of Plum Island, and we presently drew very near the beach as our narrowroad veered off from the main highway to Rowley and Ipswich. There were no visible houses, andI could tell by the state of the road that traffic was very light hereabouts. The small, weather-worntelephone poles carried only two wires. Now and then we crossed crude wooden bridges over tidalcreeks that wound far inland and promoted the general isolation of the region.

    Once in a while I noticed dead stumps and crumbling foundation-walls abovethe drifting sand, and recalled the old tradition quoted in one of the histories I had read,that this was once a fertile and thickly settled countryside. The change, it was said, camesimultaneously with the Innsmouth epidemic of 1846, and was thought by simple folk to have adark connexion with hidden forces of evil. Actually, it was caused by the unwise cutting ofwoodlands near the shore, which robbed the soil of its best protection and opened the way forwaves of wind-blown sand.

    At last we lost sight of Plum Island and saw the vast expanse of the open Atlanticon our left. Our narrow course began to climb steeply, and I felt a singular sense of disquietin looking at the lonely crest ahead where the rutted roadway met the sky. It was as if thebus were about to keep on in its ascent, leaving the sane earth altogether and merging withthe unknown arcana of upper air and cryptical sky. The smell of the sea took on ominous implications,and the silent driver’s bent, rigid back and narrow head became more and more hateful.As I looked at him I saw that the back of his head was almost as hairless as his face, havingonly a few straggling yellow strands upon a grey scabrous surface.

    Then we reached the crest and beheld the outspread valley beyond, where theManuxet joins the sea just north of the long line of cliffs that culminate in Kingsport Headand veer off toward Cape Ann. On the far, misty horizon I could just make out the dizzy profileof the Head, topped by the queer ancient house of which so many legends are told; but for themoment all my attention was captured by the nearer panorama just below me. I had, I realised,come face to face with rumour-shadowed Innsmouth.

    It was a town of wide extent and dense construction, yet one with a portentousdearth of visible life. From the tangle of chimney-pots scarcely a wisp of smoke came, and thethree tall steeples loomed stark and unpainted against the seaward horizon. One of them wascrumbling down at the top, and in that and another there were only black gaping holes whereclock-dials should have been. The vast huddle of sagging gambrel roofs and peaked gables conveyedwith offensive clearness the idea of wormy decay, and as we approached along the now descendingroad I could see that many roofs had wholly caved in. There were some large square Georgianhouses, too, with hipped roofs, cupolas, and railed “widow’s walks”. Thesewere mostly well back from the water, and one or two seemed to be in moderately sound condition.Stretching inland from among them I saw the rusted, grass-grown line of the abandoned railway,with leaning telegraph-poles now devoid of wires, and the half-obscured lines of the old carriageroads to Rowley and Ipswich.

    The decay was worst close to the waterfront, though in its very midst I couldspy the white belfry of a fairly well-preserved brick structure which looked like a small factory.The harbour, long clogged with sand, was enclosed by an ancient stone breakwater; on which Icould begin to discern the minute forms of a few seated fishermen, and at whose end were whatlooked like the foundations of a bygone lighthouse. A sandy tongue had formed inside this barrier,and upon it I saw a few decrepit cabins, moored dories, and scattered lobster-pots. The onlydeep water seemed to be where the river poured out past the belfried structure and turned southwardto join the ocean at the breakwater’s end.

    Here and there the ruins of wharves jutted out from the shore to end in indeterminaterottenness, those farthest south seeming the most decayed. And far out at sea, despite a hightide, I glimpsed a long, black line scarcely rising above the water yet carrying a suggestionof odd latent malignancy. This, I knew, must be Devil Reef. As I looked, a subtle, curious senseof beckoning seemed superadded to the grim repulsion; and oddly enough, I found this overtonemore disturbing than the primary impression.

    We met no one on the road, but presently began to pass deserted farms in varyingstages of ruin. Then I noticed a few inhabited houses with rags stuffed in the broken windowsand shells and dead fish lying about the littered yards. Once or twice I saw listless-lookingpeople working in barren gardens or digging clams on the fishy-smelling beach below, and groupsof dirty, simian-visaged children playing around weed-grown doorsteps. Somehow these peopleseemed more disquieting than the dismal buildings, for almost every one had certain peculiaritiesof face and motions which I instinctively disliked without being able to define or comprehendthem. For a second I thought this typical physique suggested some picture I had seen, perhapsin a book, under circ*mstances of particular horror or melancholy; but this pseudo-recollectionpassed very quickly.

    As the bus reached a lower level I began to catch the steady note of a waterfallthrough the unnatural stillness. The leaning, unpainted houses grew thicker, lined both sidesof the road, and displayed more urban tendencies than did those we were leaving behind. Thepanorama ahead had contracted to a street scene, and in spots I could see where a cobblestonepavement and stretches of brick sidewalk had formerly existed. All the houses were apparentlydeserted, and there were occasional gaps where tumbledown chimneys and cellar walls told ofbuildings that had collapsed. Pervading everything was the most nauseous fishy odour imaginable.

    Soon cross streets and junctions began to appear; those on the left leadingto shoreward realms of unpaved squalor and decay, while those on the right shewed vistas ofdeparted grandeur. So far I had seen no people in the town, but there now came signs of a sparsehabitation—curtained windows here and there, and an occasional battered motor-car at thecurb. Pavement and sidewalks were increasingly well defined, and though most of the houses werequite old—wood and brick structures of the early nineteenth century—they were obviouslykept fit for habitation. As an amateur antiquarian I almost lost my olfactory disgust and myfeeling of menace and repulsion amidst this rich, unaltered survival from the past.

    But I was not to reach my destination without one very strong impression ofpoignantly disagreeable quality. The bus had come to a sort of open concourse or radial pointwith churches on two sides and the bedraggled remains of a circular green in the centre, andI was looking at a large pillared hall on the right-hand junction ahead. The structure’sonce white paint was now grey and peeling, and the black and gold sign on the pediment was sofaded that I could only with difficulty make out the words “Esoteric Order of Dagon”.This, then, was the former Masonic Hall now given over to a degraded cult. As I strained todecipher this inscription my notice was distracted by the raucous tones of a cracked bell acrossthe street, and I quickly turned to look out the window on my side of the coach.

    The sound came from a squat-towered stone church of manifestly later date thanmost of the houses, built in a clumsy Gothic fashion and having a disproportionately high basem*ntwith shuttered windows. Though the hands of its clock were missing on the side I glimpsed, Iknew that those hoarse strokes were telling the hour of eleven. Then suddenly all thoughts oftime were blotted out by an onrushing image of sharp intensity and unaccountable horror whichhad seized me before I knew what it really was. The door of the church basem*nt was open, revealinga rectangle of blackness inside. And as I looked, a certain object crossed or seemed to crossthat dark rectangle; burning into my brain a momentary conception of nightmare which was allthe more maddening because analysis could not shew a single nightmarish quality in it.

    It was a living object—the first except the driver that I had seen sinceentering the compact part of the town—and had I been in a steadier mood I would have foundnothing whatever of terror in it. Clearly, as I realised a moment later, it was the pastor;clad in some peculiar vestments doubtless introduced since the Order of Dagon had modified theritual of the local churches. The thing which had probably caught my first subconscious glanceand supplied the touch of bizarre horror was the tall tiara he wore; an almost exact duplicateof the one Miss Tilton had shewn me the previous evening. This, acting on my imagination, hadsupplied namelessly sinister qualities to the indeterminate face and robed, shambling form beneathit. There was not, I soon decided, any reason why I should have felt that shuddering touch ofevil pseudo-memory. Was it not natural that a local mystery cult should adopt among its regimentalsan unique type of head-dress made familiar to the community in some strange way—perhapsas treasure-trove?

    A very thin sprinkling of repellent-looking youngish people now became visibleon the sidewalks—lone individuals, and silent knots of two or three. The lower floorsof the crumbling houses sometimes harboured small shops with dingy signs, and I noticed a parkedtruck or two as we rattled along. The sound of waterfalls became more and more distinct, andpresently I saw a fairly deep river-gorge ahead, spanned by a wide, iron-railed highway bridgebeyond which a large square opened out. As we clanked over the bridge I looked out on both sidesand observed some factory buildings on the edge of the grassy bluff or part way down. The waterfar below was very abundant, and I could see two vigorous sets of falls upstream on my rightand at least one downstream on my left. From this point the noise was quite deafening. Thenwe rolled into the large semicircular square across the river and drew up on the right-handside in front of a tall, cupola-crowned building with remnants of yellow paint and with a half-effacedsign proclaiming it to be the Gilman House.

    I was glad to get out of that bus, and at once proceeded to check my valisein the shabby hotel lobby. There was only one person in sight—an elderly man without whatI had come to call the “Innsmouth look” —and I decided not to ask him any ofthe questions which bothered me; remembering that odd things had been noticed in this hotel.Instead, I strolled out on the square, from which the bus had already gone, and studied thescene minutely and appraisingly.

    One side of the cobblestoned open space was the straight line of the river;the other was a semicircle of slant-roofed brick buildings of about the 1800 period, from whichseveral streets radiated away to the southeast, south, and southwest. Lamps were depressinglyfew and small—all low-powered incandescents—and I was glad that my plans calledfor departure before dark, even though I knew the moon would be bright. The buildings were allin fair condition, and included perhaps a dozen shops in current operation; of which one wasa grocery of the First National chain, others a dismal restaurant, a drug store, and a wholesalefish-dealer’s office, and still another, at the eastern extremity of the square near theriver, an office of the town’s only industry—the Marsh Refining Company. There wereperhaps ten people visible, and four or five automobiles and motor trucks stood scattered about.I did not need to be told that this was the civic centre of Innsmouth. Eastward I could catchblue glimpses of the harbour, against which rose the decaying remains of three once beautifulGeorgian steeples. And toward the shore on the opposite bank of the river I saw the white belfrysurmounting what I took to be the Marsh refinery.

    For some reason or other I chose to make my first inquiries at the chain grocery,whose personnel was not likely to be native to Innsmouth. I found a solitary boy of about seventeenin charge, and was pleased to note the brightness and affability which promised cheerful information.He seemed exceptionally eager to talk, and I soon gathered that he did not like the place, itsfishy smell, or its furtive people. A word with any outsider was a relief to him. He hailedfrom Arkham, boarded with a family who came from Ipswich, and went back home whenever he gota moment off. His family did not like him to work in Innsmouth, but the chain had transferredhim there and he did not wish to give up his job.

    There was, he said, no public library or chamber of commerce in Innsmouth,but I could probably find my way about. The street I had come down was Federal. West of thatwere the fine old residence streets—Broad, Washington, Lafayette, and Adams—andeast of it were the shoreward slums. It was in these slums—along Main Street—thatI would find the old Georgian churches, but they were all long abandoned. It would be well notto make oneself too conspicuous in such neighbourhoods—especially north of the river—sincethe people were sullen and hostile. Some strangers had even disappeared.

    Certain spots were almost forbidden territory, as he had learned at considerablecost. One must not, for example, linger much around the Marsh refinery, or around any of thestill used churches, or around the pillared Order of Dagon Hall at New Church Green. Those churcheswere very odd—all violently disavowed by their respective denominations elsewhere, andapparently using the queerest kind of ceremonials and clerical vestments. Their creeds wereheterodox and mysterious, involving hints of certain marvellous transformations leading to bodilyimmortality—of a sort—on this earth. The youth’s own pastor—Dr. Wallaceof Asbury M. E. Church in Arkham—had gravely urged him not to join any church in Innsmouth.

    As for the Innsmouth people—the youth hardly knew what to make of them.They were as furtive and seldom seen as animals that live in burrows, and one could hardly imaginehow they passed the time apart from their desultory fishing. Perhaps—judging from thequantities of bootleg liquor they consumed—they lay for most of the daylight hours inan alcoholic stupor. They seemed sullenly banded together in some sort of fellowship and understanding—despisingthe world as if they had access to other and preferable spheres of entity. Their appearance—especiallythose staring, unwinking eyes which one never saw shut—was certainly shocking enough;and their voices were disgusting. It was awful to hear them chanting in their churches at night,and especially during their main festivals or revivals, which fell twice a year on April 30thand October 31st.

    They were very fond of the water, and swam a great deal in both river and harbour.Swimming races out to Devil Reef were very common, and everyone in sight seemed well able toshare in this arduous sport. When one came to think of it, it was generally only rather youngpeople who were seen about in public, and of these the oldest were apt to be the most tainted-looking.When exceptions did occur, they were mostly persons with no trace of aberrancy, like the oldclerk at the hotel. One wondered what became of the bulk of the older folk, and whether the“Innsmouth look” were not a strange and insidious disease-phenomenon which increasedits hold as years advanced.

    Only a very rare affliction, of course, could bring about such vast and radicalanatomical changes in a single individual after maturity—changes involving osseous factorsas basic as the shape of the skull—but then, even this aspect was no more baffling andunheard-of than the visible features of the malady as a whole. It would be hard, the youth implied,to form any real conclusions regarding such a matter; since one never came to know the nativespersonally no matter how long one might live in Innsmouth.

    The youth was certain that many specimens even worse than the worst visibleones were kept locked indoors in some places. People sometimes heard the queerest kind of sounds.The tottering waterfront hovels north of the river were reputedly connected by hidden tunnels,being thus a veritable warren of unseen abnormalities. What kind of foreign blood—if any—thesebeings had, it was impossible to tell. They sometimes kept certain especially repulsive charactersout of sight when government agents and others from the outside world came to town.

    It would be of no use, my informant said, to ask the natives anything aboutthe place. The only one who would talk was a very aged but normal-looking man who lived at thepoorhouse on the north rim of the town and spent his time walking about or lounging around thefire station. This hoary character, Zadok Allen, was ninety-six years old and somewhat touchedin the head, besides being the town drunkard. He was a strange, furtive creature who constantlylooked over his shoulder as if afraid of something, and when sober could not be persuaded totalk at all with strangers. He was, however, unable to resist any offer of his favourite poison;and once drunk would furnish the most astonishing fragments of whispered reminiscence.

    After all, though, little useful data could be gained from him; since his storieswere all insane, incomplete hints of impossible marvels and horrors which could have no sourcesave in his own disordered fancy. Nobody ever believed him, but the natives did not like himto drink and talk with strangers; and it was not always safe to be seen questioning him. Itwas probably from him that some of the wildest popular whispers and delusions were derived.

    Several non-native residents had reported monstrous glimpses from time to time,but between old Zadok’s tales and the malformed denizens it was no wonder such illusionswere current. None of the non-natives ever stayed out late at night, there being a widespreadimpression that it was not wise to do so. Besides, the streets were loathsomely dark.

    As for business—the abundance of fish was certainly almost uncanny, butthe natives were taking less and less advantage of it. Moreover, prices were falling and competitionwas growing. Of course the town’s real business was the refinery, whose commercial officewas on the square only a few doors east of where we stood. Old Man Marsh was never seen, butsometimes went to the works in a closed, curtained car.

    There were all sorts of rumours about how Marsh had come to look. He had oncebeen a great dandy, and people said he still wore the frock-coated finery of the Edwardian age,curiously adapted to certain deformities. His sons had formerly conducted the office in thesquare, but latterly they had been keeping out of sight a good deal and leaving the brunt ofaffairs to the younger generation. The sons and their sisters had come to look very queer, especiallythe elder ones; and it was said that their health was failing.

    One of the Marsh daughters was a repellent, reptilian-looking woman who worean excess of weird jewellery clearly of the same exotic tradition as that to which the strangetiara belonged. My informant had noticed it many times, and had heard it spoken of as comingfrom some secret hoard, either of pirates or of daemons. The clergymen—or priests, orwhatever they were called nowadays—also wore this kind of ornament as a head-dress; butone seldom caught glimpses of them. Other specimens the youth had not seen, though many wererumoured to exist around Innsmouth.

    The Marshes, together with the other three gently bred families of the town—theWaites, the Gilmans, and the Eliots—were all very retiring. They lived in immense housesalong Washington Street, and several were reputed to harbour in concealment certain living kinsfolkwhose personal aspect forbade public view, and whose deaths had been reported and recorded.

    Warning me that many of the street signs were down, the youth drew for my benefita rough but ample and painstaking sketch map of the town’s salient features. After a moment’sstudy I felt sure that it would be of great help, and pocketed it with profuse thanks. Dislikingthe dinginess of the single restaurant I had seen, I bought a fair supply of cheese crackersand ginger wafers to serve as a lunch later on. My programme, I decided, would be to threadthe principal streets, talk with any non-natives I might encounter, and catch the eight o’clockcoach for Arkham. The town, I could see, formed a significant and exaggerated example of communaldecay; but being no sociologist I would limit my serious observations to the field of architecture.

    Thus I began my systematic though half-bewildered tour of Innsmouth’snarrow, shadow-blighted ways. Crossing the bridge and turning toward the roar of the lower falls,I passed close to the Marsh refinery, which seemed oddly free from the noise of industry. Thisbuilding stood on the steep river bluff near a bridge and an open confluence of streets whichI took to be the earliest civic centre, displaced after the Revolution by the present Town Square.

    Re-crossing the gorge on the Main Street bridge, I struck a region of utterdesertion which somehow made me shudder. Collapsing huddles of gambrel roofs formed a jaggedand fantastic skyline, above which rose the ghoulish, decapitated steeple of an ancient church.Some houses along Main Street were tenanted, but most were tightly boarded up. Down unpavedside streets I saw the black, gaping windows of deserted hovels, many of which leaned at perilousand incredible angles through the sinking of part of the foundations. Those windows stared sospectrally that it took courage to turn eastward toward the waterfront. Certainly, the terrorof a deserted house swells in geometrical rather than arithmetical progression as houses multiplyto form a city of stark desolation. The sight of such endless avenues of fishy-eyed vacancyand death, and the thought of such linked infinities of black, brooding compartments given overto cobwebs and memories and the conqueror worm, start up vestigial fears and aversions thatnot even the stoutest philosophy can disperse.

    Fish Street was as deserted as Main, though it differed in having many brickand stone warehouses still in excellent shape. Water Street was almost its duplicate, save thatthere were great seaward gaps where wharves had been. Not a living thing did I see, except forthe scattered fishermen on the distant breakwater, and not a sound did I hear save the lappingof the harbour tides and the roar of the falls in the Manuxet. The town was getting more andmore on my nerves, and I looked behind me furtively as I picked my way back over the totteringWater Street bridge. The Fish Street bridge, according to the sketch, was in ruins.

    North of the river there were traces of squalid life—active fish-packinghouses in Water Street, smoking chimneys and patched roofs here and there, occasional soundsfrom indeterminate sources, and infrequent shambling forms in the dismal streets and unpavedlanes—but I seemed to find this even more oppressive than the southerly desertion. Forone thing, the people were more hideous and abnormal than those near the centre of the town;so that I was several times evilly reminded of something utterly fantastic which I could notquite place. Undoubtedly the alien strain in the Innsmouth folk was stronger here than fartherinland—unless, indeed, the “Innsmouth look” were a disease rather than a bloodstrain, in which case this district might be held to harbour the more advanced cases.

    One detail that annoyed me was the distribution of the few faint soundsI heard. They ought naturally to have come wholly from the visibly inhabited houses, yet inreality were often strongest inside the most rigidly boarded-up facades. There were creakings,scurryings, and hoarse doubtful noises; and I thought uncomfortably about the hidden tunnelssuggested by the grocery boy. Suddenly I found myself wondering what the voices of those denizenswould be like. I had heard no speech so far in this quarter, and was unaccountably anxious notto do so.

    Pausing only long enough to look at two fine but ruinous old churches at Mainand Church Streets, I hastened out of that vile waterfront slum. My next logical goal was NewChurch Green, but somehow or other I could not bear to repass the church in whose basem*nt Ihad glimpsed the inexplicably frightening form of that strangely diademed priest or pastor.Besides, the grocery youth had told me that the churches, as well as the Order of Dagon Hall,were not advisable neighbourhoods for strangers.

    Accordingly I kept north along Main to Martin, then turning inland, crossingFederal Street safely north of the Green, and entering the decayed patrician neighbourhood ofnorthern Broad, Washington, Lafayette, and Adams Streets. Though these stately old avenues wereill-surfaced and unkempt, their elm-shaded dignity had not entirely departed. Mansion aftermansion claimed my gaze, most of them decrepit and boarded up amidst neglected grounds, butone or two in each street shewing signs of occupancy. In Washington Street there was a row offour or five in excellent repair and with finely tended lawns and gardens. The most sumptuousof these—with wide terraced parterres extending back the whole way to Lafayette Street—Itook to be the home of Old Man Marsh, the afflicted refinery owner.

    In all these streets no living thing was visible, and I wondered at the completeabsense of cats and dogs from Innsmouth. Another thing which puzzled and disturbed me, evenin some of the best-preserved mansions, was the tightly shuttered condition of many third-storyand attic windows. Furtiveness and secretiveness seemed universal in this hushed city of alienageand death, and I could not escape the sensation of being watched from ambush on every hand bysly, staring eyes that never shut.

    I shivered as the cracked stroke of three sounded from a belfry on my left.Too well did I recall the squat church from which those notes came. Following Washington Streettoward the river, I now faced a new zone of former industry and commerce; noting the ruins ofa factory ahead, and seeing others, with the traces of an old railway station and covered railwaybridge beyond, up the gorge on my right.

    The uncertain bridge now before me was posted with a warning sign, but I tookthe risk and crossed again to the south bank where traces of life reappeared. Furtive, shamblingcreatures stared cryptically in my direction, and more normal faces eyed me coldly and curiously.Innsmouth was rapidly becoming intolerable, and I turned down Paine Street toward the Squarein the hope of getting some vehicle to take me to Arkham before the still-distant starting-timeof that sinister bus.

    It was then that I saw the tumbledown fire station on my left, and noticedthe red-faced, bushy-bearded, watery-eyed old man in nondescript rags who sat on a bench infront of it talking with a pair of unkempt but not abnormal-looking firemen. This, of course,must be Zadok Allen, the half-crazed, liquorish nonagenarian whose tales of old Innsmouth andits shadow were so hideous and incredible.

    III.

    It must have been some imp of the perverse—or some sardonic pull fromdark, hidden sources—which made me change my plans as I did. I had long before resolvedto limit my observations to architecture alone, and I was even then hurrying toward the Squarein an effort to get quick transportation out of this festering city of death and decay; butthe sight of old Zadok Allen set up new currents in my mind and made me slacken my pace uncertainly.

    I had been assured that the old man could do nothing but hint at wild, disjointed,and incredible legends, and I had been warned that the natives made it unsafe to be seen talkingto him; yet the thought of this aged witness to the town’s decay, with memories goingback to the early days of ships and factories, was a lure that no amount of reason could makeme resist. After all, the strangest and maddest of myths are often merely symbols or allegoriesbased upon truth—and old Zadok must have seen everything which went on around Innsmouthfor the last ninety years. Curiosity flared up beyond sense and caution, and in my youthfulegotism I fancied I might be able to sift a nucleus of real history from the confused, extravagantoutpouring I would probably extract with the aid of raw whiskey.

    I knew that I could not accost him then and there, for the firemen would surelynotice and object. Instead, I reflected, I would prepare by getting some bootleg liquor at aplace where the grocery boy had told me it was plentiful. Then I would loaf near the fire stationin apparent casualness, and fall in with old Zadok after he had started on one of his frequentrambles. The youth said that he was very restless, seldom sitting around the station for morethan an hour or two at a time.

    A quart bottle of whiskey was easily, though not cheaply, obtained in the rearof a dingy variety-store just off the Square in Eliot Street. The dirty-looking fellow who waitedon me had a touch of the staring “Innsmouth look”, but was quite civil in his way;being perhaps used to the custom of such convivial strangers—truckmen, gold-buyers, andthe like—as were occasionally in town.

    Reëntering the Square I saw that luck was with me; for—shufflingout of Paine Street around the corner of the Gilman House—I glimpsed nothing less thanthe tall, lean, tattered form of old Zadok Allen himself. In accordance with my plan, I attractedhis attention by brandishing my newly purchased bottle; and soon realised that he had begunto shuffle wistfully after me as I turned into Waite Street on my way to the most deserted regionI could think of.

    I was steering my course by the map the grocery boy had prepared, and was aimingfor the wholly abandoned stretch of southern waterfront which I had previously visited. Theonly people in sight there had been the fishermen on the distant breakwater; and by going afew squares south I could get beyond the range of these, finding a pair of seats on some abandonedwharf and being free to question old Zadok unobserved for an indefinite time. Before I reachedMain Street I could hear a faint and wheezy “Hey, Mister!” behind me, and I presentlyallowed the old man to catch up and take copious pulls from the quart bottle.

    I began putting out feelers as we walked along to Water Street and turned southwardamidst the omnipresent desolation and crazily tilted ruins, but found that the aged tongue didnot loosen as quickly as I had expected. At length I saw a grass-grown opening toward the seabetween crumbling brick walls, with the weedy length of an earth-and-masonry wharf projectingbeyond. Piles of moss-covered stones near the water promised tolerable seats, and the scenewas sheltered from all possible view by a ruined warehouse on the north. Here, I thought, wasthe ideal place for a long secret colloquy; so I guided my companion down the lane and pickedout spots to sit in among the mossy stones. The air of death and desertion was ghoulish, andthe smell of fish almost insufferable; but I was resolved to let nothing deter me.

    About four hours remained for conversation if I were to catch the eight o’clockcoach for Arkham, and I began to dole out more liquor to the ancient tippler; meanwhile eatingmy own frugal lunch. In my donations I was careful not to overshoot the mark, for I did notwish Zadok’s vinous garrulousness to pass into a stupor. After an hour his furtive taciturnityshewed signs of disappearing, but much to my disappointment he still sidetracked my questionsabout Innsmouth and its shadow-haunted past. He would babble of current topics, revealing awide acquaintance with newspapers and a great tendency to philosophise in a sententious villagefashion.

    Toward the end of the second hour I feared my quart of whiskey would not beenough to produce results, and was wondering whether I had better leave old Zadok and go backfor more. Just then, however, chance made the opening which my questions had been unable tomake; and the wheezing ancient’s rambling took a turn that caused me to lean forward andlisten alertly. My back was toward the fishy-smelling sea, but he was facing it, and somethingor other had caused his wandering gaze to light on the low, distant line of Devil Reef, thenshewing plainly and almost fascinatingly above the waves. The sight seemed to displease him,for he began a series of weak curses which ended in a confidential whisper and a knowing leer.He bent toward me, took hold of my coat lapel, and hissed out some hints that could not be mistaken.

    “Thar’s whar it all begun—that cursed place of all wickednesswhar the deep water starts. Gate o’ hell—sheer drop daown to a bottom no saoundin’-linekin tech. Ol’ Cap’n Obed done it—him that faound aout more’n was goodfer him in the Saouth Sea islands.”

    “Everybody was in a bad way them days. Trade fallin’ off, millslosin’ business—even the new ones—an’ the best of our menfolks kilta-privateerin’ in the War of 1812 or lost with the Elizy brig an’ theRanger snow—both of ‘em Gilman venters. Obed Marsh he had three ships afloat—brigantineColumby, brig Hetty, an’ barque Sumatry Queen. He was the only oneas kep’ on with the East-Injy an’ Pacific trade, though Esdras Martin’s barkentineMalay Pride made a venter as late as ’twenty-eight.”

    “Never was nobody like Cap’n Obed—old limb o’ Satan!Heh, heh! I kin mind him a-tellin’ abaout furren parts, an’ callin’ all thefolks stupid fer goin’ to Christian meetin’ an’ bearin’ their burdensmeek an’ lowly. Says they’d orter git better gods like some o’ the folks inthe Injies—gods as ud bring ‘em good fishin’ in return for their sacrifices,an’ ud reely answer folks’s prayers.”

    “Matt Eliot, his fust mate, talked a lot, too, only he was agin’folks’s doin’ any heathen things. Told abaout an island east of Otaheitéwhar they was a lot o’ stone ruins older’n anybody knew anything abaout, kind o’like them on Ponape, in the Carolines, but with carvin’s of faces that looked like thebig statues on Easter Island. They was a little volcanic island near thar, too, whar they wasother ruins with diff’rent carvin’s—ruins all wore away like they’dben under the sea onct, an’ with picters of awful monsters all over ’em.”

    “Wal, Sir, Matt he says the natives araound thar had all the fish theycud ketch, an’ sported bracelets an’ armlets an’ head rigs made aout of aqueer kind o’ gold an’ covered with picters o’ monsters jest like the onescarved over the ruins on the little island—sorter fish-like frogs or frog-like fishesthat was drawed in all kinds o’ positions like they was human bein’s. Nobody cudgit aout o’ them whar they got all the stuff, an’ all the other natives wonderedhaow they managed to find fish in plenty even when the very next islands had lean pickin’s.Matt he got to wonderin’ too, an’ so did Cap’n Obed. Obed he notices, besides,that lots of the han’some young folks ud drop aout o’ sight fer good from year toyear, an’ that they wa’n’t many old folks araound. Also, he thinks some ofthe folks looks durned queer even fer Kanakys.”

    “It took Obed to git the truth aout o’ them heathen. I dun’tknow haow he done it, but he begun by tradin’ fer the gold-like things they wore. Ast‘em whar they come from, an’ ef they cud git more, an’ finally wormed thestory aout o’ the old chief—Walakea, they called him. Nobody but Obed ud ever abelieved the old yeller devil, but the Cap’n cud read folks like they was books. Heh,heh! Nobody never believes me naow when I tell ‘em, an’ I dun’t s’poseyou will, young feller—though come to look at ye, ye hev kind o’ got them sharp-readin’eyes like Obed had.”

    The old man’s whisper grew fainter, and I found myself shuddering atthe terrible and sincere portentousness of his intonation, even though I knew his tale couldbe nothing but drunken phantasy.

    “Wal, Sir, Obed he larnt that they’s things on this arth as mostfolks never heerd abaout—an’ wouldn’t believe ef they did hear. It seems theseKanakys was sacrificin’ heaps o’ their young men an’ maidens to some kindo’ god-things that lived under the sea, an’ gittin’ all kinds o’ favourin return. They met the things on the little islet with the queer ruins, an’ it seemsthem awful picters o’ frog-fish monsters was supposed to be picters o’ these things.Mebbe they was the kind o’ critters as got all the mermaid stories an’ sech started.They had all kinds o’ cities on the sea-bottom, an’ this island was heaved up fromthar. Seems they was some of the things alive in the stone buildin’s when the island comeup sudden to the surface. That’s haow the Kanakys got wind they was daown thar. Made sign-talkas soon as they got over bein’ skeert, an’ pieced up a bargain afore long.”

    “Them things liked human sacrifices. Had had ‘em ages afore, butlost track o’ the upper world arter a time. What they done to the victims it ain’tfer me to say, an’ I guess Obed wa’n’t none too sharp abaout askin’.But it was all right with the heathens, because they’d ben havin’ a hard time an’was desp’rate abaout everything. They give a sarten number o’ young folks to thesea-things twict every year—May-Eve an’ Hallowe’en—reg’lar ascud be. Also give some o’ the carved knick-knacks they made. What the things agreed togive in return was plenty o’ fish—they druv ‘em in from all over the sea—an’a few gold-like things naow an’ then.”

    “Wal, as I says, the natives met the things on the little volcanic islet—goin’thar in canoes with the sacrifices et cet’ry, and bringin’ back any of the gold-likejools as was comin’ to ‘em. At fust the things didn’t never go onto the mainisland, but arter a time they come to want to. Seems they hankered arter mixin’ with thefolks, an’ havin’ j’int ceremonies on the big days—May-Eve an’Hallowe’en. Ye see, they was able to live both in an’ aout o’ water—whatthey call amphibians, I guess. The Kanakys told ‘em as haow folks from the other islandsmight wanta wipe ‘em aout ef they got wind o’ their bein’ thar, but they saysthey dun’t keer much, because they cud wipe aout the hull brood o’ humans ef theywas willin’ to bother—that is, any as didn’t hev sarten signs sech as wasused onct by the lost Old Ones, whoever they was. But not wantin’ to bother, they’dlay low when anybody visited the island.”

    “When it come to matin’ with them toad-lookin’ fishes, theKanakys kind o’ balked, but finally they larnt something as put a new face on the matter.Seems that human folks has got a kind o’ relation to sech water-beasts—that everythingalive come aout o’ the water onct, an’ only needs a little change to go back agin.Them things told the Kanakys that ef they mixed bloods there’d be children as ud lookhuman at fust, but later turn more’n more like the things, till finally they’d taketo the water an’ jine the main lot o’ things daown thar. An’ this is the importantpart, young feller—them as turned into fish things an’ went into the water wouldn’tnever die. Them things never died excep’ they was kilt violent.”

    “Wal, Sir, it seems by the time Obed knowed them islanders they was allfull o’ fish blood from them deep-water things. When they got old an’ begun to shewit, they was kep’ hid until they felt like takin’ to the water an’ quittin’the place. Some was more teched than others, an’ some never did change quite enough totake to the water; but mostly they turned aout jest the way them things said. Them as was bornmore like the things changed arly, but them as was nearly human sometimes stayed on the islandtill they was past seventy, though they’d usually go daown under fer trial trips aforethat. Folks as had took to the water gen’rally come back a good deal to visit, so’sa man ud often be a-talkin’ to his own five-times-great-grandfather, who’d leftthe dry land a couple o’ hundred years or so afore.”

    “Everybody got aout o’ the idee o’ dyin’—excep’in canoe wars with the other islanders, or as sacrifices to the sea-gods daown below, or fromsnake-bite or plague or sharp gallopin’ ailments or somethin’ afore they cud taketo the water—but simply looked forrad to a kind o’ change that wa’n’ta bit horrible arter a while. They thought what they’d got was well wuth all they’dhad to give up—an’ I guess Obed kind o’ come to think the same hisself whenhe’d chewed over old Walakea’s story a bit. Walakea, though, was one of the fewas hadn’t got none of the fish blood—bein’ of a royal line that intermarriedwith royal lines on other islands.”

    “Walakea he shewed Obed a lot o’ rites an’ incantations ashad to do with the sea-things, an’ let him see some o’ the folks in the villageas had changed a lot from human shape. Somehaow or other, though, he never would let him seeone of the reg’lar things from right aout o’ the water. In the end he give him afunny kind o’ thingumajig made aout o’ lead or something, that he said ud bringup the fish things from any place in the water whar they might be a nest of ‘em. The ideewas to drop it daown with the right kind o’ prayers an’ sech. Walakea allaowed asthe things was scattered all over the world, so’s anybody that looked abaout cud finda nest an’ bring ’em up ef they was wanted.”

    “Matt he didn’t like this business at all, an’ wanted Obedshud keep away from the island; but the Cap’n was sharp fer gain, an’ faound hecud git them gold-like things so cheap it ud pay him to make a specialty of ‘em. Thingswent on that way fer years, an’ Obed got enough o’ that gold-like stuff to makehim start the refinery in Waite’s old run-daown fullin’ mill. He didn’t dasssell the pieces like they was, fer folks ud be all the time askin’ questions. All thesame his crews ud git a piece an’ dispose of it naow and then, even though they was sworeto keep quiet; an’ he let his women-folks wear some o’ the pieces as was more human-likethan most.”

    “Wal, come abaout ‘thutty-eight—when I was seven year’old—Obed he faound the island people all wiped aout between v’yages. Seems the otherislanders had got wind o’ what was goin’ on, an’ had took matters into theirown hands. S’pose they musta had, arter all, them old magic signs as the sea-things sayswas the only things they was afeard of. No tellin’ what any o’ them Kanakys willchance to git a holt of when the sea-bottom throws up some island with ruins older’n thedeluge. Pious cusses, these was—they didn’t leave nothin’ standin’ oneither the main island or the little volcanic islet excep’ what parts of the ruins wastoo big to knock daown. In some places they was little stones strewed abaout—like charms—withsomethin’ on ‘em like what ye call a swastika naowadays. Prob’ly them wasthe Old Ones’ signs. Folks all wiped aout, no trace o’ no gold-like things, an’none o’ the nearby Kanakys ud breathe a word abaout the matter. Wouldn’t even admitthey’d ever ben any people on that island.”

    “That naturally hit Obed pretty hard, seein’ as his normal tradewas doin’ very poor. It hit the whole of Innsmouth, too, because in seafarin’ dayswhat profited the master of a ship gen’lly profited the crew proportionate. Most o’the folks araound the taown took the hard times kind o’ sheep-like an’ resigned,but they was in bad shape because the fishin’ was peterin’ aout an’ the millswa’n’t doin’ none too well.”

    “Then’s the time Obed he begun a-cursin’ at the folks ferbein’ dull sheep an’ prayin’ to a Christian heaven as didn’t help ‘emnone. He told ‘em he’d knowed of folks as prayed to gods that give somethin’ye reely need, an’ says ef a good bunch o’ men ud stand by him, he cud mebbe gita holt o’ sarten paowers as ud bring plenty o’ fish an’ quite a bit o’gold. O’ course them as sarved on the Sumatry Queen an’ seed the island knowedwhat he meant, an’ wa’n’t none too anxious to git clost to sea-things likethey’d heerd tell on, but them as didn’t know what ‘twas all abaout got kindo’ swayed by what Obed had to say, an’ begun to ast him what he cud do to set ’emon the way to the faith as ud bring ’em results.”

    Here the old man faltered, mumbled, and lapsed into a moody and apprehensivesilence; glancing nervously over his shoulder and then turning back to stare fascinatedly atthe distant black reef. When I spoke to him he did not answer, so I knew I would have to lethim finish the bottle. The insane yarn I was hearing interested me profoundly, for I fanciedthere was contained within it a sort of crude allegory based upon the strangenesses of Innsmouthand elaborated by an imagination at once creative and full of scraps of exotic legend. Not fora moment did I believe that the tale had any really substantial foundation; but none the lessthe account held a hint of genuine terror, if only because it brought in references to strangejewels clearly akin to the malign tiara I had seen at Newburyport. Perhaps the ornaments had,after all, come from some strange island; and possibly the wild stories were lies of the bygoneObed himself rather than of this antique toper.

    I handed Zadok the bottle, and he drained it to the last drop. It was curioushow he could stand so much whiskey, for not even a trace of thickness had come into his high,wheezy voice. He licked the nose of the bottle and slipped it into his pocket, then beginningto nod and whisper softly to himself. I bent close to catch any articulate words he might utter,and thought I saw a sardonic smile behind the stained, bushy whiskers. Yes—he was reallyforming words, and I could grasp a fair proportion of them.

    “Poor Matt—Matt he allus was agin’ it—tried to lineup the folks on his side, an’ had long talks with the preachers—no use—theyrun the Congregational parson aout o’ taown, an’ the Methodist feller quit—neverdid see Resolved Babco*ck, the Baptist parson, agin—Wrath o’ Jehovy—I was amighty little critter, but I heerd what I heerd an’ seen what I seen—Dagon an’Ashtoreth—Belial an’ Beëlzebub—Golden Caff an’ the idols o’Canaan an’ the Philistines—Babylonish abominations— Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin—”

    He stopped again, and from the look in his watery blue eyes I feared he wasclose to a stupor after all. But when I gently shook his shoulder he turned on me with astonishingalertness and snapped out some more obscure phrases.

    “Dun’t believe me, hey? Heh, heh, heh—then jest tell me,young feller, why Cap’n Obed an’ twenty odd other folks used to row aout to DevilReef in the dead o’ night an’ chant things so laoud ye cud hear ‘em all overtaown when the wind was right? Tell me that, hey? An’ tell me why Obed was allus droppin’heavy things daown into the deep water t’other side o’ the reef whar the bottomshoots daown like a cliff lower’n ye kin saound? Tell me what he done with that funny-shapedlead thingumajig as Walakea give him? Hey, boy? An’ what did they all haowl on May-Eve,an’ agin the next Hallowe’en? An’ why’d the new church parsons—fellersas used to be sailors—wear them queer robes an’ cover theirselves with them gold-likethings Obed brung? Hey?”

    The watery blue eyes were almost savage and maniacal now, and the dirty whitebeard bristled electrically. Old Zadok probably saw me shrink back, for he had begun to cackle evilly.

    “Heh, heh, heh, heh! Beginnin’ to see, hey? Mebbe ye’d liketo a ben me in them days, when I seed things at night aout to sea from the cupalo top o’my haouse. Oh, I kin tell ye, little pitchers hev big ears, an’ I wa’n’t missin’nothin’ o’ what was gossiped abaout Cap’n Obed an’ the folks aout tothe reef! Heh, heh, heh! Haow abaout the night I took my pa’s ship’s glass up tothe cupalo an’ seed the reef a-bristlin’ thick with shapes that dove off quick soon’sthe moon riz? Obed an’ the folks was in a dory, but them shapes dove off the far sideinto the deep water an’ never come up. . . . Haow’d ye like to bea little shaver alone up in a cupalo a-watchin’ shapes as wa’n’t humanshapes? . . . Hey? . . . Heh, heh, heh, heh. . . .”

    The old man was getting hysterical, and I began to shiver with a nameless alarm.He laid a gnarled claw on my shoulder, and it seemed to me that its shaking was not altogetherthat of mirth.

    “S’pose one night ye seed somethin’ heavy heaved offen Obed’sdory beyond the reef, an’ then larned nex’ day a young feller was missin’from home? Hey? Did anybody ever see hide or hair o’ Hiram Gilman agin? Did they? An’Nick Pierce, an’ Luelly Waite, an’ Adoniram Saouthwick, an’ Henry Garrison?Hey? Heh, heh, heh, heh. . . . Shapes talkin’ sign language with theirhands . . . them as had reel hands. . . .”

    “Wal, Sir, that was the time Obed begun to git on his feet agin. Folkssee his three darters a-wearin’ gold-like things as nobody’d never see on ‘emafore, an’ smoke started comin’ aout o’ the refin’ry chimbly. Otherfolks were prosp’rin’, too—fish begun to swarm into the harbour fit to kill,an’ heaven knows what sized cargoes we begun to ship aout to Newb’ryport, Arkham,an’ Boston. ‘Twas then Obed got the ol’ branch railrud put through. Some Kingsportfishermen heerd abaout the ketch an’ come up in sloops, but they was all lost. Nobodynever see ‘em agin. An’ jest then our folks organised the Esoteric Order o’Dagon, an’ bought Masonic Hall offen Calvary Commandery for it . . . heh,heh, heh! Matt Eliot was a Mason an’ agin’ the sellin’, but he dropped aouto’ sight jest then.”

    “Remember, I ain’t sayin’ Obed was set on hevin’ thingsjest like they was on that Kanaky isle. I dun’t think he aimed at fust to do no mixin’,nor raise no younguns to take to the water an’ turn into fishes with eternal life. Hewanted them gold things, an’ was willin’ to pay heavy, an’ I guess theothers was satisfied fer a while. . . .”

    “Come in ‘forty-six the taown done some lookin’ an’thinkin’ fer itself. Too many folks missin’—too much wild preachin’at meetin’ of a Sunday—too much talk abaout that reef. I guess I done a bit by tellin’Selectman Mowry what I see from the cupalo. They was a party one night as follered Obed’scraowd aout to the reef, an’ I heerd shots betwixt the dories. Nex’ day Obed an’thutty-two others was in gaol, with everbody a-wonderin’ jest what was afoot an’jest what charge agin’ ‘em cud be got to holt. God, ef anybody’d look’dahead . . . a couple o’ weeks later, when nothin’ had ben throwedinto the sea fer that long. . . .”

    Zadok was shewing signs of fright and exhaustion, and I let him keep silencefor a while, though glancing apprehensively at my watch. The tide had turned and was comingin now, and the sound of the waves seemed to arouse him. I was glad of that tide, for at highwater the fishy smell might not be so bad. Again I strained to catch his whispers.

    “That awful night . . . I seed ‘em . . .I was up in the cupalo . . . hordes of ‘em . . . swarmsof ‘em . . . all over the reef an’ swimmin’ up the harbourinto the Manuxet. . . . God, what happened in the streets of Innsmouth that night . . .they rattled our door, but pa wouldn’t open . . . then he clumb aout thekitchen winder with his musket to find Selectman Mowry an’ see what he cud do. . . .Maounds o’ the dead an’ the dyin’ . . . shots an’ screams . . .shaoutin’ in Ol’ Squar an’ Taown Squar an’ New Church Green . . .gaol throwed open . . . proclamation . . . treason . . .called it the plague when folks come in an’ faound haff our people missin’ . . .nobody left but them as ud jine in with Obed an’ them things or else keep quiet . . .never heerd o’ my pa no more. . . .”

    The old man was panting, and perspiring profusely. His grip on my shoulder tightened.

    “Everything cleaned up in the mornin’—but they was traces. . . .Obed he kinder takes charge an’ says things is goin’ to be changed . . .others’ll worship with us at meetin’-time, an’ sarten haouses hez gotto entertain guests . . . they wanted to mix like they done with theKanakys, an’ he fer one didn’t feel baound to stop ‘em. Far gone, was Obed . . .jest like a crazy man on the subjeck. He says they brung us fish an’ treasure, an’shud hev what they hankered arter. . . .”

    “Nothin’ was to be diff’runt on the aoutside, only we wasto keep shy o’ strangers ef we knowed what was good fer us. We all hed to take the Oatho’ Dagon, an’ later on they was secon’ an’ third Oaths that some onus took. Them as ud help special, ud git special rewards—gold an’ sech— Nouse balkin’, fer they was millions of ‘em daown thar. They’d ruther not startrisin’ an’ wipin’ aout humankind, but ef they was gave away an’ forcedto, they cud do a lot toward jest that. We didn’t hev them old charms to cut ‘emoff like folks in the Saouth Sea did, an’ them Kanakys wudn’t never give away theirsecrets.”

    “Yield up enough sacrifices an’ savage knick-knacks an’ harbouragein the taown when they wanted it, an’ they’d let well enough alone. Wudn’tbother no strangers as might bear tales aoutside—that is, withaout they got pryin’.All in the band of the faithful—Order o’ Dagon—an’ the children shudnever die, but go back to the Mother Hydra an’ Father Dagon what we all come from onct— Iä!Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah-nagl fhtagn—”

    Old Zadok was fast lapsing into stark raving, and I held my breath. Poor oldsoul—to what pitiful depths of hallucination had his liquor, plus his hatred of the decay,alienage, and disease around him, brought that fertile, imaginative brain! He began to moannow, and tears were coursing down his channelled cheeks into the depths of his beard.

    “God, what I seen senct I was fifteen year’ old— Mene,mene, tekel, upharsin! —the folks as was missin’, an’ them as kilt theirselves—themas told things in Arkham or Ipswich or sech places was all called crazy, like you’re a-callin’me right naow—but God, what I seen— They’d a kilt me long ago fer what I know,only I’d took the fust an’ secon’ Oaths o’ Dagon offen Obed, so waspertected unlessen a jury of ‘em proved I told things knowin’ an’ delib’rit . . .but I wudn’t take the third Oath—I’d a died ruther’n take that—”

    “It got wuss araound Civil War time, when children born senct ‘forty-sixbegun to grow up —some of ‘em, that is. I was afeard—never did no pryin’arter that awful night, an’ never see one of— them —clost to in all mylife. That is, never no full-blooded one. I went to the war, an’ ef I’d a had anyguts or sense I’d a never come back, but settled away from here. But folks wrote me thingswa’n’t so bad. That, I s’pose, was because gov’munt draft men was intaown arter ‘sixty-three. Arter the war it was jest as bad agin. People begun to falloff—mills an’ shops shet daown—shippin’ stopped an’ the harbourchoked up—railrud give up—but they . . . they never stoppedswimmin’ in an’ aout o’ the river from that cursed reef o’ Satan—an’more an’ more attic winders got a-boarded up, an’ more an’ more noises washeerd in haouses as wa’n’t s’posed to hev nobody in ’em. . . .”

    “Folks aoutside hev their stories abaout us—s’pose you’veheerd a plenty on ‘em, seein’ what questions ye ast—stories abaout thingsthey’ve seed naow an’ then, an’ abaout that queer joolry as still comes infrom somewhars an’ ain’t quite all melted up—but nothin’ never gitsdef’nite. Nobody’ll believe nothin’. They call them gold-like things pirateloot, an’ allaow the Innsmouth folks hez furren blood or is distempered or somethin’.Besides, them that lives here shoo off as many strangers as they kin, an’ encourage therest not to git very cur’ous, specially raound night time. Beasts balk at the critters—hosseswuss’n mules—but when they got autos that was all right.”

    “In ‘forty-six Cap’n Obed took a second wife that nobodyin the taown never see —some says he didn’t want to, but was made to by themas he’d called in—had three children by her—two as disappeared young, butone gal as looked like anybody else an’ was eddicated in Europe. Obed finally got hermarried off by a trick to an Arkham feller as didn’t suspect nothin’. But nobodyaoutside’ll hev nothin’ to do with Innsmouth folks naow. Barnabas Marsh that runsthe refin’ry naow is Obed’s grandson by his fust wife—son of Onesiphorus,his eldest son, but his mother was another o’ them as wa’n’t never seedaoutdoors.”

    “Right naow Barnabas is abaout changed. Can’t shet his eyes nomore, an’ is all aout o’ shape. They say he still wears clothes, but he’lltake to the water soon. Mebbe he’s tried it already—they do sometimes go daown ferlittle spells afore they go fer good. Ain’t ben seed abaout in public fer nigh on tenyear’. Dun’t know haow his poor wife kin feel—she come from Ipswich, an’they nigh lynched Barnabas when he courted her fifty odd year’ ago. Obed he died in ‘seventy-eight,an’ all the next gen’ration is gone naow—the fust wife’s children dead,an’ the rest . . . God knows. . . .”

    The sound of the incoming tide was now very insistent, and little by littleit seemed to change the old man’s mood from maudlin tearfulness to watchful fear. He wouldpause now and then to renew those nervous glances over his shoulder or out toward the reef,and despite the wild absurdity of his tale, I could not help beginning to share his vague apprehensiveness.Zadok now grew shriller, and seemed to be trying to whip up his courage with louder speech.

    “Hey, yew, why dun’t ye say somethin’? Haow’d ye liketo be livin’ in a taown like this, with everything a-rottin’ an’ a-dyin’,an’ boarded-up monsters crawlin’ an’ bleatin’ an’ barkin’an’ hoppin’ araoun’ black cellars an’ attics every way ye turn? Hey?Haow’d ye like to hear the haowlin’ night arter night from the churches an’Order o’ Dagon Hall, an’ know what’s doin’ part o’ the haowlin’?Haow’d ye like to hear what comes from that awful reef every May-Eve an’ Hallowmass?Hey? Think the old man’s crazy, eh? Wal, Sir, let me tell ye that ain’t the wust!”

    Zadok was really screaming now, and the mad frenzy of his voice disturbed me more than I care to own.

    “Curse ye, dun’t set thar a-starin’ at me with them eyes—Itell Obed Marsh he’s in hell, an’ hez got to stay thar! Heh, heh . . .in hell, I says! Can’t git me—I hain’t done nothin’ nor told nobodynothin’—”

    “Oh, you, young feller? Wal, even ef I hain’t told nobody nothin’yet, I’m a-goin’ to naow! You jest set still an’ listen to me, boy—thisis what I ain’t never told nobody. . . . I says I didn’t do no pryin’arter that night— but I faound things aout jest the same!”

    “Yew want to know what the reel horror is, hey? Wal, it’s this—itain’t what them fish devils hez done, but what they’re a-goin’ to do!They’re a-bringin’ things up aout o’ whar they come from into the taown—bendoin’ it fer years, an’ slackenin’ up lately. Them haouses north o’the river betwixt Water an’ Main Streets is full of ‘em—them devils an’what they brung —an’ when they git ready. . . . I say, whenthey git ready . . . ever hear tell of a shoggoth? . . .”

    “Hey, d’ye hear me? I tell ye I know what them things be–Iseen ’em one night when . . . EH—AHHHH—AH! E’YAAHHHH. . . .”

    The hideous suddenness and inhuman frightfulness of the old man’s shriekalmost made me faint. His eyes, looking past me toward the malodorous sea, were positively startingfrom his head; while his face was a mask of fear worthy of Greek tragedy. His bony claw dugmonstrously into my shoulder, and he made no motion as I turned my head to look at whateverhe had glimpsed.

    There was nothing that I could see. Only the incoming tide, with perhaps oneset of ripples more local than the long-flung line of breakers. But now Zadok was shaking me,and I turned back to watch the melting of that fear-frozen face into a chaos of twitching eyelidsand mumbling gums. Presently his voice came back—albeit as a trembling whisper.

    “Git aout o’ here! Git aout o’ here! They seenus —git aout fer your life! Dun’t wait fer nothin’— they know naow–Run fer it—quick— aout o’ this taown —”

    Another heavy wave dashed against the loosening masonry of the bygone wharf,and changed the mad ancient’s whisper to another inhuman and blood-curdling scream.

    “E—YAAHHHH! . . . YHAAAAAAA! . . .”

    Before I could recover my scattered wits he had relaxed his clutch on my shoulderand dashed wildly inland toward the street, reeling northward around the ruined warehouse wall.

    I glanced back at the sea, but there was nothing there. And when I reachedWater Street and looked along it toward the north there was no remaining trace of Zadok Allen.

    IV.

    I can hardly describe the mood in which I was left by this harrowing episode—anepisode at once mad and pitiful, grotesque and terrifying. The grocery boy had prepared me forit, yet the reality left me none the less bewildered and disturbed. Puerile though the storywas, old Zadok’s insane earnestness and horror had communicated to me a mounting unrestwhich joined with my earlier sense of loathing for the town and its blight of intangible shadow.

    Later I might sift the tale and extract some nucleus of historic allegory;just now I wished to put it out of my head. The hour had grown perilously late—my watchsaid 7:15, and the Arkham bus left Town Square at eight—so I tried to give my thoughtsas neutral and practical a cast as possible, meanwhile walking rapidly through the desertedstreets of gaping roofs and leaning houses toward the hotel where I had checked my valise andwould find my bus.

    Though the golden light of late afternoon gave the ancient roofs and decrepitchimneys an air of mystic loveliness and peace, I could not help glancing over my shoulder nowand then. I would surely be very glad to get out of malodorous and fear-shadowed Innsmouth,and wished there were some other vehicle than the bus driven by that sinister-looking fellowSargent. Yet I did not hurry too precipitately, for there were architectural details worth viewingat every silent corner; and I could easily, I calculated, cover the necessary distance in ahalf-hour.

    Studying the grocery youth’s map and seeking a route I had not traversedbefore, I chose Marsh Street instead of State for my approach to Town Square. Near the cornerof Fall Street I began to see scattered groups of furtive whisperers, and when I finally reachedthe Square I saw that almost all the loiterers were congregated around the door of the GilmanHouse. It seemed as if many bulging, watery, unwinking eyes looked oddly at me as I claimedmy valise in the lobby, and I hoped that none of these unpleasant creatures would be my fellow-passengerson the coach.

    The bus, rather early, rattled in with three passengers somewhat before eight,and an evil-looking fellow on the sidewalk muttered a few indistinguishable words to the driver.Sargent threw out a mail-bag and a roll of newspapers, and entered the hotel; while the passengers—thesame men whom I had seen arriving in Newburyport that morning—shambled to the sidewalkand exchanged some faint guttural words with a loafer in a language I could have sworn was notEnglish. I boarded the empty coach and took the same seat I had taken before, but was hardlysettled before Sargent reappeared and began mumbling in a throaty voice of peculiar repulsiveness.

    I was, it appeared, in very bad luck. There had been something wrong with theengine, despite the excellent time made from Newburyport, and the bus could not complete thejourney to Arkham. No, it could not possibly be repaired that night, nor was there any otherway of getting transportation out of Innsmouth, either to Arkham or elsewhere. Sargent was sorry,but I would have to stop over at the Gilman. Probably the clerk would make the price easy forme, but there was nothing else to do. Almost dazed by this sudden obstacle, and violently dreadingthe fall of night in this decaying and half-unlighted town, I left the bus and reënteredthe hotel lobby; where the sullen, queer-looking night clerk told me I could have Room 428 onnext the top floor—large, but without running water—for a dollar.

    Despite what I had heard of this hotel in Newburyport, I signed the register,paid my dollar, let the clerk take my valise, and followed that sour, solitary attendant upthree creaking flights of stairs past dusty corridors which seemed wholly devoid of life. Myroom, a dismal rear one with two windows and bare, cheap furnishings, overlooked a dingy courtyardotherwise hemmed in by low, deserted brick blocks, and commanded a view of decrepit westward-stretchingroofs with a marshy countryside beyond. At the end of the corridor was a bathroom—a discouragingrelique with ancient marble bowl, tin tub, faint electric light, and musty wooden panellingaround all the plumbing fixtures.

    It being still daylight, I descended to the Square and looked around for adinner of some sort; noticing as I did so the strange glances I received from the unwholesomeloafers. Since the grocery was closed, I was forced to patronise the restaurant I had shunnedbefore; a stooped, narrow-headed man with staring, unwinking eyes, and a flat-nosed wench withunbelievably thick, clumsy hands being in attendance. The service was of the counter type,and it relieved me to find that much was evidently served from cans and packages. A bowl ofvegetable soup with crackers was enough for me, and I soon headed back for my cheerless roomat the Gilman; getting an evening paper and a flyspecked magazine from the evil-visaged clerkat the rickety stand beside his desk.

    As twilight deepened I turned on the one feeble electric bulb over the cheap,iron-framed bed, and tried as best I could to continue the reading I had begun. I felt it advisableto keep my mind wholesomely occupied, for it would not do to brood over the abnormalities ofthis ancient, blight-shadowed town while I was still within its borders. The insane yarn I hadheard from the aged drunkard did not promise very pleasant dreams, and I felt I must keep theimage of his wild, watery eyes as far as possible from my imagination.

    Also, I must not dwell on what that factory inspector had told the Newburyportticket-agent about the Gilman House and the voices of its nocturnal tenants—not on that,nor on the face beneath the tiara in the black church doorway; the face for whose horror myconscious mind could not account. It would perhaps have been easier to keep my thoughts fromdisturbing topics had the room not been so gruesomely musty. As it was, the lethal mustinessblended hideously with the town’s general fishy odour and persistently focussed one’sfancy on death and decay.

    Another thing that disturbed me was the absence of a bolt on the door of myroom. One had been there, as marks clearly shewed, but there were signs of recent removal. Nodoubt it had become out of order, like so many other things in this decrepit edifice. In mynervousness I looked around and discovered a bolt on the clothes-press which seemed to be ofthe same size, judging from the marks, as the one formerly on the door. To gain a partial relieffrom the general tension I busied myself by transferring this hardware to the vacant place withthe aid of a handy three-in-one device including a screw-driver which I kept on my key-ring.The bolt fitted perfectly, and I was somewhat relieved when I knew that I could shoot it firmlyupon retiring. Not that I had any real apprehension of its need, but that any symbol of securitywas welcome in an environment of this kind. There were adequate bolts on the two lateral doorsto connecting rooms, and these I proceeded to fasten.

    I did not undress, but decided to read till I was sleepy and then lie downwith only my coat, collar, and shoes off. Taking a pocket flashlight from my valise, I placedit in my trousers, so that I could read my watch if I woke up later in the dark. Drowsiness,however, did not come; and when I stopped to analyse my thoughts I found to my disquiet thatI was really unconsciously listening for something—listening for something which I dreadedbut could not name. That inspector’s story must have worked on my imagination more deeplythan I had suspected. Again I tried to read, but found that I made no progress.

    After a time I seemed to hear the stairs and corridors creak at intervals asif with footsteps, and wondered if the other rooms were beginning to fill up. There were novoices, however, and it struck me that there was something subtly furtive about the creaking.I did not like it, and debated whether I had better try to sleep at all. This town had somequeer people, and there had undoubtedly been several disappearances. Was this one of those innswhere travellers were slain for their money? Surely I had no look of excessive prosperity. Orwere the townsfolk really so resentful about curious visitors? Had my obvious sightseeing, withits frequent map-consultations, aroused unfavourable notice? It occurred to me that I must bein a highly nervous state to let a few random creakings set me off speculating in this fashion—butI regretted none the less that I was unarmed.

    At length, feeling a fatigue which had nothing of drowsiness in it, I boltedthe newly outfitted hall door, turned off the light, and threw myself down on the hard, unevenbed—coat, collar, shoes, and all. In the darkness every faint noise of the night seemedmagnified, and a flood of doubly unpleasant thoughts swept over me. I was sorry I had put outthe light, yet was too tired to rise and turn it on again. Then, after a long, dreary interval,and prefaced by a fresh creaking of stairs and corridor, there came that soft, damnably unmistakablesound which seemed like a malign fulfilment of all my apprehensions. Without the least shadowof a doubt, the lock on my hall door was being tried—cautiously, furtively, tentatively—witha key.

    My sensations upon recognising this sign of actual peril were perhaps lessrather than more tumultuous because of my previous vague fears. I had been, albeit without definitereason, instinctively on my guard—and that was to my advantage in the new and real crisis,whatever it might turn out to be. Nevertheless the change in the menace from vague premonitionto immediate reality was a profound shock, and fell upon me with the force of a genuine blow.It never once occurred to me that the fumbling might be a mere mistake. Malign purpose was allI could think of, and I kept deathly quiet, awaiting the would-be intruder’s next move.

    After a time the cautious rattling ceased, and I heard the room to the northentered with a pass-key. Then the lock of the connecting door to my room was softly tried. Thebolt held, of course, and I heard the floor creak as the prowler left the room. After a momentthere came another soft rattling, and I knew that the room to the south of me was being entered.Again a furtive trying of a bolted connecting door, and again a receding creaking. This timethe creaking went along the hall and down the stairs, so I knew that the prowler had realisedthe bolted condition of my doors and was giving up his attempt for a greater or lesser time,as the future would shew.

    The readiness with which I fell into a plan of action proves that I must havebeen subconsciously fearing some menace and considering possible avenues of escape for hours.From the first I felt that the unseen fumbler meant a danger not to be met or dealt with, butonly to be fled from as precipitately as possible. The one thing to do was to get out of thathotel alive as quickly as I could, and through some channel other than the front stairs andlobby.

    Rising softly and throwing my flashlight on the switch, I sought to light thebulb over my bed in order to choose and pocket some belongings for a swift, valiseless flight.Nothing, however, happened; and I saw that the power had been cut off. Clearly, some cryptic,evil movement was afoot on a large scale—just what, I could not say. As I stood ponderingwith my hand on the now useless switch I heard a muffled creaking on the floor below, and thoughtI could barely distinguish voices in conversation. A moment later I felt less sure that thedeeper sounds were voices, since the apparent hoarse barkings and loose-syllabled croakingsbore so little resemblance to recognised human speech. Then I thought with renewed force ofwhat the factory inspector had heard in the night in this mouldering and pestilential building.

    Having filled my pockets with the flashlight’s aid, I put on my hat andtiptoed to the windows to consider chances of descent. Despite the state’s safety regulationsthere was no fire escape on this side of the hotel, and I saw that my windows commanded onlya sheer three-story drop to the cobbled courtyard. On the right and left, however, some ancientbrick business blocks abutted on the hotel; their slant roofs coming up to a reasonable jumpingdistance from my fourth-story level. To reach either of these lines of buildings I would haveto be in a room two doors from my own—in one case on the north and in the other case onthe south—and my mind instantly set to work calculating what chances I had of making thetransfer.

    I could not, I decided, risk an emergence into the corridor; where my footstepswould surely be heard, and where the difficulties of entering the desired room would be insuperable.My progress, if it was to be made at all, would have to be through the less solidly built connectingdoors of the rooms; the locks and bolts of which I would have to force violently, using my shoulderas a battering-ram whenever they were set against me. This, I thought, would be possible owingto the rickety nature of the house and its fixtures; but I realised I could not do it noiselessly.I would have to count on sheer speed, and the chance of getting to a window before any hostileforces became coördinated enough to open the right door toward me with a pass-key. Myown outer door I reinforced by pushing the bureau against it—little by little, in orderto make a minimum of sound.

    I perceived that my chances were very slender, and was fully prepared for anycalamity. Even getting to another roof would not solve the problem, for there would then remainthe task of reaching the ground and escaping from the town. One thing in my favour was the desertedand ruinous state of the abutting buildings, and the number of skylights gaping blackly openin each row.

    Gathering from the grocery boy’s map that the best route out of townwas southward, I glanced first at the connecting door on the south side of the room. It wasdesigned to open in my direction, hence I saw—after drawing the bolt and finding otherfastenings in place—it was not a favourable one for forcing. Accordingly abandoning itas a route, I cautiously moved the bedstead against it to hamper any attack which might be madeon it later from the next room. The door on the north was hung to open away from me, and this—thougha test proved it to be locked or bolted from the other side—I knew must be my route. IfI could gain the roofs of the buildings in Paine Street and descend successfully to the groundlevel, I might perhaps dart through the courtyard and the adjacent or opposite buildings toWashington or Bates—or else emerge in Paine and edge around southward into Washington.In any case, I would aim to strike Washington somehow and get quickly out of the Town Squareregion. My preference would be to avoid Paine, since the fire station there might be open allnight.

    As I thought of these things I looked out over the squalid sea of decayingroofs below me, now brightened by the beams of a moon not much past full. On the right the blackgash of the river-gorge clove the panorama; abandoned factories and railway station clingingbarnacle-like to its sides. Beyond it the rusted railway and the Rowley road led off througha flat, marshy terrain dotted with islets of higher and dryer scrub-grown land. On the leftthe creek-threaded countryside was nearer, the narrow road to Ipswich gleaming white in themoonlight. I could not see from my side of the hotel the southward route toward Arkham whichI had determined to take.

    I was irresolutely speculating on when I had better attack the northward door,and on how I could least audibly manage it, when I noticed that the vague noises underfoot hadgiven place to a fresh and heavier creaking of the stairs. A wavering flicker of light shewedthrough my transom, and the boards of the corridor began to groan with a ponderous load. Muffledsounds of possible vocal origin approached, and at length a firm knock came at my outer door.

    For a moment I simply held my breath and waited. Eternities seemed to elapse,and the nauseous fishy odour of my environment seemed to mount suddenly and spectacularly. Thenthe knocking was repeated—continuously, and with growing insistence. I knew that the timefor action had come, and forthwith drew the bolt of the northward connecting door, bracing myselffor the task of battering it open. The knocking waxed louder, and I hoped that its volume wouldcover the sound of my efforts. At last beginning my attempt, I lunged again and again at thethin panelling with my left shoulder, heedless of shock or pain. The door resisted even morethan I had expected, but I did not give in. And all the while the clamour at the outer doorincreased.

    Finally the connecting door gave, but with such a crash that I knew those outsidemust have heard. Instantly the outside knocking became a violent battering, while keys soundedominously in the hall doors of the rooms on both sides of me. Rushing through the newly openedconnexion, I succeeded in bolting the northerly hall door before the lock could be turned; buteven as I did so I heard the hall door of the third room—the one from whose window I hadhoped to reach the roof below—being tried with a pass-key.

    For an instant I felt absolute despair, since my trapping in a chamber withno window egress seemed complete. A wave of almost abnormal horror swept over me, and investedwith a terrible but unexplainable singularity the flashlight-glimpsed dust prints made by theintruder who had lately tried my door from this room. Then, with a dazed automatism which persisteddespite hopelessness, I made for the next connecting door and performed the blind motion ofpushing at it in an effort to get through and—granting that fastenings might be as providentiallyintact as in this second room—bolt the hall door beyond before the lock could be turnedfrom outside.

    Sheer fortunate chance gave me my reprieve—for the connecting door beforeme was not only unlocked but actually ajar. In a second I was through, and had my right kneeand shoulder against a hall door which was visibly opening inward. My pressure took the openeroff guard, for the thing shut as I pushed, so that I could slip the well-conditioned bolt asI had done with the other door. As I gained this respite I heard the battering at the two otherdoors abate, while a confused clatter came from the connecting door I had shielded with thebedstead. Evidently the bulk of my assailants had entered the southerly room and were massingin a lateral attack. But at the same moment a pass-key sounded in the next door to the north,and I knew that a nearer peril was at hand.

    The northward connecting door was wide open, but there was no time to thinkabout checking the already turning lock in the hall. All I could do was to shut and bolt theopen connecting door, as well as its mate on the opposite side—pushing a bedstead againstthe one and a bureau against the other, and moving a washstand in front of the hall door. Imust, I saw, trust to such makeshift barriers to shield me till I could get out the window andon the roof of the Paine Street block. But even in this acute moment my chief horror was somethingapart from the immediate weakness of my defences. I was shuddering because not one of my pursuers,despite some hideous pantings, gruntings, and subdued barkings at odd intervals, was utteringan unmuffled or intelligible vocal sound.

    As I moved the furniture and rushed toward the windows I heard a frightfulscurrying along the corridor toward the room north of me, and perceived that the southward batteringhad ceased. Plainly, most of my opponents were about to concentrate against the feeble connectingdoor which they knew must open directly on me. Outside, the moon played on the ridgepole ofthe block below, and I saw that the jump would be desperately hazardous because of the steepsurface on which I must land.

    Surveying the conditions, I chose the more southerly of the two windows asmy avenue of escape; planning to land on the inner slope of the roof and make for the nearestskylight. Once inside one of the decrepit brick structures I would have to reckon with pursuit;but I hoped to descend and dodge in and out of yawning doorways along the shadowed courtyard,eventually getting to Washington Street and slipping out of town toward the south.

    The clatter at the northerly connecting door was now terrific, and I saw thatthe weak panelling was beginning to splinter. Obviously, the besiegers had brought some ponderousobject into play as a battering-ram. The bedstead, however, still held firm; so that I had atleast a faint chance of making good my escape. As I opened the window I noticed that it wasflanked by heavy velour draperies suspended from a pole by brass rings, and also that therewas a large projecting catch for the shutters on the exterior. Seeing a possible means of avoidingthe dangerous jump, I yanked at the hangings and brought them down, pole and all; then quicklyhooking two of the rings in the shutter catch and flinging the drapery outside. The heavy foldsreached fully to the abutting roof, and I saw that the rings and catch would be likely to bearmy weight. So, climbing out of the window and down the improvised rope ladder, I left behindme forever the morbid and horror-infested fabric of the Gilman House.

    I landed safely on the loose slates of the steep roof, and succeeded in gainingthe gaping black skylight without a slip. Glancing up at the window I had left, I observed itwas still dark, though far across the crumbling chimneys to the north I could see lights ominouslyblazing in the Order of Dagon Hall, the Baptist church, and the Congregational church whichI recalled so shiveringly. There had seemed to be no one in the courtyard below, and I hopedthere would be a chance to get away before the spreading of a general alarm. Flashing my pocketlamp into the skylight, I saw that there were no steps down. The distance was slight, however,so I clambered over the brink and dropped; striking a dusty floor littered with crumbling boxesand barrels.

    The place was ghoulish-looking, but I was past minding such impressions andmade at once for the staircase revealed by my flashlight—after a hasty glance at my watch,which shewed the hour to be 2 a.m. The steps creaked, but seemed tolerably sound; and I raceddown past a barn-like second story to the ground floor. The desolation was complete, and onlyechoes answered my footfalls. At length I reached the lower hall, at one end of which I sawa faint luminous rectangle marking the ruined Paine Street doorway. Heading the other way, Ifound the back door also open; and darted out and down five stone steps to the grass-grown cobblestonesof the courtyard.

    The moonbeams did not reach down here, but I could just see my way about withoutusing the flashlight. Some of the windows on the Gilman House side were faintly glowing, andI thought I heard confused sounds within. Walking softly over to the Washington Street sideI perceived several open doorways, and chose the nearest as my route out. The hallway insidewas black, and when I reached the opposite end I saw that the street door was wedged immovablyshut. Resolved to try another building, I groped my way back toward the courtyard, but stoppedshort when close to the doorway.

    For out of an opened door in the Gilman House a large crowd of doubtful shapeswas pouring—lanterns bobbing in the darkness, and horrible croaking voices exchanginglow cries in what was certainly not English. The figures moved uncertainly, and I realised tomy relief that they did not know where I had gone; but for all that they sent a shiver of horrorthrough my frame. Their features were indistinguishable, but their crouching, shambling gaitwas abominably repellent. And worst of all, I perceived that one figure was strangely robed,and unmistakably surmounted by a tall tiara of a design altogether too familiar. As the figuresspread throughout the courtyard, I felt my fears increase. Suppose I could find no egress fromthis building on the street side? The fishy odour was detestable, and I wondered I could standit without fainting. Again groping toward the street, I opened a door off the hall and cameupon an empty room with closely shuttered but sashless windows. Fumbling in the rays of my flashlight,I found I could open the shutters; and in another moment had climbed outside and was carefullyclosing the aperture in its original manner.

    I was now in Washington Street, and for the moment saw no living thing norany light save that of the moon. From several directions in the distance, however, I could hearthe sound of hoarse voices, of footsteps, and of a curious kind of pattering which did not soundquite like footsteps. Plainly I had no time to lose. The points of the compass were clear tome, and I was glad that all the street-lights were turned off, as is often the custom on stronglymoonlit nights in unprosperous rural regions. Some of the sounds came from the south, yet Iretained my design of escaping in that direction. There would, I knew, be plenty of deserteddoorways to shelter me in case I met any person or group who looked like pursuers.

    I walked rapidly, softly, and close to the ruined houses. While hatless anddishevelled after my arduous climb, I did not look especially noticeable; and stood a good chanceof passing unheeded if forced to encounter any casual wayfarer. At Bates Street I drew intoa yawning vestibule while two shambling figures crossed in front of me, but was soon on my wayagain and approaching the open space where Eliot Street obliquely crosses Washington at theintersection of South. Though I had never seen this space, it had looked dangerous to me onthe grocery youth’s map; since the moonlight would have free play there. There was nouse trying to evade it, for any alternative course would involve detours of possibly disastrousvisibility and delaying effect. The only thing to do was to cross it boldly and openly; imitatingthe typical shamble of the Innsmouth folk as best I could, and trusting that no one—orat least no pursuer of mine—would be there.

    Just how fully the pursuit was organised—and indeed, just what its purposemight be—I could form no idea. There seemed to be unusual activity in the town, but Ijudged that the news of my escape from the Gilman had not yet spread. I would, of course, soonhave to shift from Washington to some other southward street; for that party from the hotelwould doubtless be after me. I must have left dust prints in that last old building, revealinghow I had gained the street.

    The open space was, as I had expected, strongly moonlit; and I saw the remainsof a park-like, iron-railed green in its centre. Fortunately no one was about, though a curioussort of buzz or roar seemed to be increasing in the direction of Town Square. South Street wasvery wide, leading directly down a slight declivity to the waterfront and commanding a longview out at sea; and I hoped that no one would be glancing up it from afar as I crossed in thebright moonlight.

    My progress was unimpeded, and no fresh sound arose to hint that I had beenspied. Glancing about me, I involuntarily let my pace slacken for a second to take in the sightof the sea, gorgeous in the burning moonlight at the street’s end. Far out beyond thebreakwater was the dim, dark line of Devil Reef, and as I glimpsed it I could not help thinkingof all the hideous legends I had heard in the last thirty-four hours—legends which portrayedthis ragged rock as a veritable gateway to realms of unfathomed horror and inconceivable abnormality.

    Then, without warning, I saw the intermittent flashes of light on the distantreef. They were definite and unmistakable, and awaked in my mind a blind horror beyond all rationalproportion. My muscles tightened for panic flight, held in only by a certain unconscious cautionand half-hypnotic fascination. And to make matters worse, there now flashed forth from the loftycupola of the Gilman House, which loomed up to the northeast behind me, a series of analogousthough differently spaced gleams which could be nothing less than an answering signal.

    Controlling my muscles, and realising afresh how plainly visible I was, I resumedmy brisker and feignedly shambling pace; though keeping my eyes on that hellish and ominousreef as long as the opening of South Street gave me a seaward view. What the whole proceedingmeant, I could not imagine; unless it involved some strange rite connected with Devil Reef,or unless some party had landed from a ship on that sinister rock. I now bent to the left aroundthe ruinous green; still gazing toward the ocean as it blazed in the spectral summer moonlight,and watching the cryptical flashing of those nameless, unexplainable beacons.

    It was then that the most horrible impression of all was borne in upon me—theimpression which destroyed my last vestige of self-control and set me running frantically southwardpast the yawning black doorways and fishily staring windows of that deserted nightmare street.For at a closer glance I saw that the moonlit waters between the reef and the shore were farfrom empty. They were alive with a teeming horde of shapes swimming inward toward the town;and even at my vast distance and in my single moment of perception I could tell that the bobbingheads and flailing arms were alien and aberrant in a way scarcely to be expressed or consciouslyformulated.

    My frantic running ceased before I had covered a block, for at my left I beganto hear something like the hue and cry of organised pursuit. There were footsteps and gutturalsounds, and a rattling motor wheezed south along Federal Street. In a second all my plans wereutterly changed—for if the southward highway were blocked ahead of me, I must clearlyfind another egress from Innsmouth. I paused and drew into a gaping doorway, reflecting howlucky I was to have left the moonlit open space before these pursuers came down the parallelstreet.

    A second reflection was less comforting. Since the pursuit was down anotherstreet, it was plain that the party was not following me directly. It had not seen me, but wassimply obeying a general plan of cutting off my escape. This, however, implied that all roadsleading out of Innsmouth were similarly patrolled; for the denizens could not have known whatroute I intended to take. If this were so, I would have to make my retreat across country awayfrom any road; but how could I do that in view of the marshy and creek-riddled nature of allthe surrounding region? For a moment my brain reeled—both from sheer hopelessness andfrom a rapid increase in the omnipresent fishy odour.

    Then I thought of the abandoned railway to Rowley, whose solid line of ballasted,weed-grown earth still stretched off to the northwest from the crumbling station on the edgeof the river-gorge. There was just a chance that the townsfolk would not think of that; sinceits brier-choked desertion made it half-impassable, and the unlikeliest of all avenues for afugitive to choose. I had seen it clearly from my hotel window, and knew about how it lay. Mostof its earlier length was uncomfortably visible from the Rowley road, and from high places inthe town itself; but one could perhaps crawl inconspicuously through the undergrowth. At anyrate, it would form my only chance of deliverance, and there was nothing to do but try it.

    Drawing inside the hall of my deserted shelter, I once more consulted the groceryboy’s map with the aid of the flashlight. The immediate problem was how to reach the ancientrailway; and I now saw that the safest course was ahead to Babson Street, then west to Lafayette—thereedging around but not crossing an open space hom*ologous to the one I had traversed—andsubsequently back northward and westward in a zigzagging line through Lafayette, Bates, Adams,and Bank Streets—the latter skirting the river-gorge—to the abandoned and dilapidatedstation I had seen from my window. My reason for going ahead to Babson was that I wished neitherto re-cross the earlier open space nor to begin my westward course along a cross street as broadas South.

    Starting once more, I crossed the street to the right-hand side in order toedge around into Babson as inconspicuously as possible. Noises still continued in Federal Street,and as I glanced behind me I thought I saw a gleam of light near the building through whichI had escaped. Anxious to leave Washington Street, I broke into a quiet dog-trot, trusting toluck not to encounter any observing eye. Next the corner of Babson Street I saw to my alarmthat one of the houses was still inhabited, as attested by curtains at the window; but therewere no lights within, and I passed it without disaster.

    In Babson Street, which crossed Federal and might thus reveal me to the searchers,I clung as closely as possible to the sagging, uneven buildings; twice pausing in a doorwayas the noises behind me momentarily increased. The open space ahead shone wide and desolateunder the moon, but my route would not force me to cross it. During my second pause I beganto detect a fresh distribution of the vague sounds; and upon looking cautiously out from coverbeheld a motor-car darting across the open space, bound outward along Eliot Street, which thereintersects both Babson and Lafayette.

    As I watched—choked by a sudden rise in the fishy odour after a shortabatement—I saw a band of uncouth, crouching shapes loping and shambling in the same direction;and knew that this must be the party guarding the Ipswich road, since that highway forms anextension of Eliot Street. Two of the figures I glimpsed were in voluminous robes, and one worea peaked diadem which glistened whitely in the moonlight. The gait of this figure was so oddthat it sent a chill through me—for it seemed to me the creature was almost hopping.

    When the last of the band was out of sight I resumed my progress; darting aroundthe corner into Lafayette Street, and crossing Eliot very hurriedly lest stragglers of the partybe still advancing along that thoroughfare. I did hear some croaking and clattering sounds faroff toward Town Square, but accomplished the passage without disaster. My greatest dread wasin re-crossing broad and moonlit South Street—with its seaward view—and I had tonerve myself for the ordeal. Someone might easily be looking, and possible Eliot Street stragglerscould not fail to glimpse me from either of two points. At the last moment I decided I had betterslacken my trot and make the crossing as before in the shambling gait of an average Innsmouthnative.

    When the view of the water again opened out—this time on my right—Iwas half-determined not to look at it at all. I could not, however, resist; but cast a sidelongglance as I carefully and imitatively shambled toward the protecting shadows ahead. There wasno ship visible, as I had half expected there would be. Instead, the first thing which caughtmy eye was a small rowboat pulling in toward the abandoned wharves and laden with some bulky,tarpaulin-covered object. Its rowers, though distantly and indistinctly seen, were of an especiallyrepellent aspect. Several swimmers were still discernible; while on the far black reef I couldsee a faint, steady glow unlike the winking beacon visible before, and of a curious colour whichI could not precisely identify. Above the slant roofs ahead and to the right there loomed thetall cupola of the Gilman House, but it was completely dark. The fishy odour, dispelled fora moment by some merciful breeze, now closed in again with maddening intensity.

    I had not quite crossed the street when I heard a muttering band advancingalong Washington from the north. As they reached the broad open space where I had had my firstdisquieting glimpse of the moonlit water I could see them plainly only a block away—andwas horrified by the bestial abnormality of their faces and the dog-like sub-humanness of theircrouching gait. One man moved in a positively simian way, with long arms frequently touchingthe ground; while another figure—robed and tiaraed—seemed to progress in an almosthopping fashion. I judged this party to be the one I had seen in the Gilman’s courtyard—theone, therefore, most closely on my trail. As some of the figures turned to look in my directionI was transfixed with fright, yet managed to preserve the casual, shambling gait I had assumed.To this day I do not know whether they saw me or not. If they did, my stratagem must have deceivedthem, for they passed on across the moonlit space without varying their course—meanwhilecroaking and jabbering in some hateful guttural patois I could not identify.

    Once more in shadow, I resumed my former dog-trot past the leaning and decrepithouses that stared blankly into the night. Having crossed to the western sidewalk I roundedthe nearest corner into Bates Street, where I kept close to the buildings on the southern side.I passed two houses shewing signs of habitation, one of which had faint lights in upper rooms,yet met with no obstacle. As I turned into Adams Street I felt measurably safer, but receiveda shock when a man reeled out of a black doorway directly in front of me. He proved, however,too hopelessly drunk to be a menace; so that I reached the dismal ruins of the Bank Street warehousesin safety.

    No one was stirring in that dead street beside the river-gorge, and the roarof the waterfalls quite drowned my footsteps. It was a long dog-trot to the ruined station,and the great brick warehouse walls around me seemed somehow more terrifying than the frontsof private houses. At last I saw the ancient arcaded station—or what was left of it—andmade directly for the tracks that started from its farther end.

    The rails were rusty but mainly intact, and not more than half the ties hadrotted away. Walking or running on such a surface was very difficult; but I did my best, andon the whole made very fair time. For some distance the line kept on along the gorge’sbrink, but at length I reached the long covered bridge where it crossed the chasm at a dizzyheight. The condition of this bridge would determine my next step. If humanly possible, I woulduse it; if not, I would have to risk more street wandering and take the nearest intact highwaybridge.

    The vast, barn-like length of the old bridge gleamed spectrally in the moonlight,and I saw that the ties were safe for at least a few feet within. Entering, I began to use myflashlight, and was almost knocked down by the cloud of bats that flapped past me. About halfway across there was a perilous gap in the ties which I feared for a moment would halt me; butin the end I risked a desperate jump which fortunately succeeded.

    I was glad to see the moonlight again when I emerged from that macabre tunnel.The old tracks crossed River Street at grade, and at once veered off into a region increasinglyrural and with less and less of Innsmouth’s abhorrent fishy odour. Here the dense growthof weeds and briers hindered me and cruelly tore my clothes, but I was none the less glad thatthey were there to give me concealment in case of peril. I knew that much of my route must bevisible from the Rowley road.

    The marshy region began very shortly, with the single track on a low, grassyembankment where the weedy growth was somewhat thinner. Then came a sort of island of higherground, where the line passed through a shallow open cut choked with bushes and brambles. Iwas very glad of this partial shelter, since at this point the Rowley road was uncomfortablynear according to my window view. At the end of the cut it would cross the track and swerveoff to a safer distance; but meanwhile I must be exceedingly careful. I was by this time thankfullycertain that the railway itself was not patrolled.

    Just before entering the cut I glanced behind me, but saw no pursuer. The ancientspires and roofs of decaying Innsmouth gleamed lovely and ethereal in the magic yellow moonlight,and I thought of how they must have looked in the old days before the shadow fell. Then, asmy gaze circled inland from the town, something less tranquil arrested my notice and held meimmobile for a second.

    What I saw—or fancied I saw—was a disturbing suggestion of undulantmotion far to the south; a suggestion which made me conclude that a very large horde must bepouring out of the city along the level Ipswich road. The distance was great, and I could distinguishnothing in detail; but I did not at all like the look of that moving column. It undulated toomuch, and glistened too brightly in the rays of the now westering moon. There was a suggestionof sound, too, though the wind was blowing the other way—a suggestion of bestial scrapingand bellowing even worse than the muttering of the parties I had lately overheard.

    All sorts of unpleasant conjectures crossed my mind. I thought of those veryextreme Innsmouth types said to be hidden in crumbling, centuried warrens near the waterfront.I thought, too, of those nameless swimmers I had seen. Counting the parties so far glimpsed,as well as those presumably covering other roads, the number of my pursuers must be strangelylarge for a town as depopulated as Innsmouth.

    Whence could come the dense personnel of such a column as I now beheld? Didthose ancient, unplumbed warrens teem with a twisted, uncatalogued, and unsuspected life? Orhad some unseen ship indeed landed a legion of unknown outsiders on that hellish reef? Who werethey? Why were they there? And if such a column of them was scouring the Ipswich road, wouldthe patrols on the other roads be likewise augmented?

    I had entered the brush-grown cut and was struggling along at a very slow pacewhen that damnable fishy odour again waxed dominant. Had the wind suddenly changed eastward,so that it blew in from the sea and over the town? It must have, I concluded, since I now beganto hear shocking guttural murmurs from that hitherto silent direction. There was another sound,too—a kind of wholesale, colossal flopping or pattering which somehow called up imagesof the most detestable sort. It made me think illogically of that unpleasantly undulating columnon the far-off Ipswich road.

    And then both stench and sounds grew stronger, so that I paused shivering andgrateful for the cut’s protection. It was here, I recalled, that the Rowley road drewso close to the old railway before crossing westward and diverging. Something was coming alongthat road, and I must lie low till its passage and vanishment in the distance. Thank heaventhese creatures employed no dogs for tracking—though perhaps that would have been impossibleamidst the omnipresent regional odour. Crouched in the bushes of that sandy cleft I felt reasonablysafe, even though I knew the searchers would have to cross the track in front of me not muchmore than a hundred yards away. I would be able to see them, but they could not, except by amalign miracle, see me.

    All at once I began dreading to look at them as they passed. I saw the closemoonlit space where they would surge by, and had curious thoughts about the irredeemable pollutionof that space. They would perhaps be the worst of all Innsmouth types—something one wouldnot care to remember.

    The stench waxed overpowering, and the noises swelled to a bestial babel ofcroaking, baying, and barking without the least suggestion of human speech. Were these indeedthe voices of my pursuers? Did they have dogs after all? So far I had seen none of the loweranimals in Innsmouth. That flopping or pattering was monstrous—I could not look upon thedegenerate creatures responsible for it. I would keep my eyes shut till the sounds receded towardthe west. The horde was very close now—the air foul with their hoarse snarlings, and theground almost shaking with their alien-rhythmed footfalls. My breath nearly ceased to come,and I put every ounce of will power into the task of holding my eyelids down.

    I am not even yet willing to say whether what followed was a hideous actualityor only a nightmare hallucination. The later action of the government, after my frantic appeals,would tend to confirm it as a monstrous truth; but could not an hallucination have been repeatedunder the quasi-hypnotic spell of that ancient, haunted, and shadowed town? Such places havestrange properties, and the legacy of insane legend might well have acted on more than one humanimagination amidst those dead, stench-cursed streets and huddles of rotting roofs and crumblingsteeples. Is it not possible that the germ of an actual contagious madness lurks in the depthsof that shadow over Innsmouth? Who can be sure of reality after hearing things like the taleof old Zadok Allen? The government men never found poor Zadok, and have no conjectures to makeas to what became of him. Where does madness leave off and reality begin? Is it possible thateven my latest fear is sheer delusion?

    But I must try to tell what I thought I saw that night under the mocking yellowmoon—saw surging and hopping down the Rowley road in plain sight in front of me as I crouchedamong the wild brambles of that desolate railway cut. Of course my resolution to keep my eyesshut had failed. It was foredoomed to failure—for who could crouch blindly while a legionof croaking, baying entities of unknown source flopped noisomely past, scarcely more than ahundred yards away?

    I thought I was prepared for the worst, and I really ought to have been preparedconsidering what I had seen before. My other pursuers had been accursedly abnormal—soshould I not have been ready to face a strengthening of the abnormal element; to lookupon forms in which there was no mixture of the normal at all? I did not open my eyes untilthe raucous clamour came loudly from a point obviously straight ahead. Then I knew that a longsection of them must be plainly in sight where the sides of the cut flattened out and the roadcrossed the track—and I could no longer keep myself from sampling whatever horror thatleering yellow moon might have to shew.

    It was the end, for whatever remains to me of life on the surface of this earth,of every vestige of mental peace and confidence in the integrity of Nature and of the humanmind. Nothing that I could have imagined—nothing, even, that I could have gathered hadI credited old Zadok’s crazy tale in the most literal way—would be in any way comparableto the daemoniac, blasphemous reality that I saw—or believe I saw. I have tried to hintwhat it was in order to postpone the horror of writing it down baldly. Can it be possible thatthis planet has actually spawned such things; that human eyes have truly seen, as objectiveflesh, what man has hitherto known only in febrile phantasy and tenuous legend?

    And yet I saw them in a limitless stream—flopping, hopping, croaking,bleating—surging inhumanly through the spectral moonlight in a grotesque, malignant sarabandof fantastic nightmare. And some of them had tall tiaras of that nameless whitish-gold metal . . .and some were strangely robed . . . and one, who led the way, was clad in a ghoulishlyhumped black coat and striped trousers, and had a man’s felt hat perched on the shapelessthing that answered for a head. . . .

    I think their predominant colour was a greyish-green, though they had whitebellies. They were mostly shiny and slippery, but the ridges of their backs were scaly. Theirforms vaguely suggested the anthropoid, while their heads were the heads of fish, with prodigiousbulging eyes that never closed. At the sides of their necks were palpitating gills, and theirlong paws were webbed. They hopped irregularly, sometimes on two legs and sometimes on four.I was somehow glad that they had no more than four limbs. Their croaking, baying voices, clearlyused for articulate speech, held all the dark shades of expression which their staring faceslacked.

    But for all of their monstrousness they were not unfamiliar to me. I knew toowell what they must be—for was not the memory of that evil tiara at Newburyport stillfresh? They were the blasphemous fish-frogs of the nameless design—living and horrible—andas I saw them I knew also of what that humped, tiaraed priest in the black church basem*nt hadso fearsomely reminded me. Their number was past guessing. It seemed to me that there were limitlessswarms of them—and certainly my momentary glimpse could have shewn only the least fraction.In another instant everything was blotted out by a merciful fit of fainting; the first I hadever had.

    V.

    It was a gentle daylight rain that awaked me from my stupor in the brush-grownrailway cut, and when I staggered out to the roadway ahead I saw no trace of any prints in thefresh mud. The fishy odour, too, was gone. Innsmouth’s ruined roofs and toppling steeplesloomed up greyly toward the southeast, but not a living creature did I spy in all the desolatesalt marshes around. My watch was still going, and told me that the hour was past noon.

    The reality of what I had been through was highly uncertain in my mind, butI felt that something hideous lay in the background. I mus