The Dunwich Horror – Part IV

fiction

The Dunwich Horror – Part IV

by H. P. LOVECRAFT

4

For a decade the annals of the Whateleys sink indistinguishably into
the general life of a morbid community used to their queer ways and
hardened to their May Eve and All-Hallow orgies. Twice a year they
would light fires on the top of Sentinel Hill, at which times the
mountain rumblings would recur with greater and greater violence; while
at all seasons there were strange and portentous doings at the lonely
farmhouse. In the course of time callers professed to hear sounds
in the sealed upper story even when all the family were downstairs,
and they wondered how swiftly or how lingeringly a cow or bullock
was usually sacrificed. There was talk of a complaint to the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; but nothing ever came of
it, since Dunwich folk 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 bearded face gave all the impressions of maturity, a second great
siege of carpentry went on at the old house. It was all inside the
sealed upper part, and from bits of discarded lumber people concluded
that the youth and his grandfather had knocked out all the partitions
and even removed the 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 flimsy
outside tin stove-pipe.

In the spring after this event Old Whateley noticed the growing number
of whippoorwills that would come out of Cold Spring Glen to chirp under
his window at night. He seemed to regard the circumstance as one of
great significance, and told the loungers at Osborn's that he 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's a-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
quiet daown 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 Wilbur Whateley, who had lashed his one remaining horse through the
darkness and telephoned from Osborn's in the village. He found Old
Whateley in a very grave state, with a cardiac action and stertorous
breathing that told of an end not far off. The shapeless albino
daughter and oddly bearded grandson stood by the bedside, whilst from
the vacant abyss overhead there came a disquieting suggestion of
rhythmical surging or lapping, as of the waves on some level beach. The
doctor, though, was chiefly disturbed by the chattering night birds
outside; a seemingly limitless legion of whippoorwills that cried their
endless message in repetitions timed diabolically to the wheezing gasps
of the dying man. It was uncanny and unnatural--too much, thought Dr.
Houghton, like the whole of the region he had entered so reluctantly in
response to the urgent call.

Toward 1 o'clock Old Whateley gained consciousness, and interrupted his
wheezing to choke out a few words to his grandson.

"More space, Willy, more space soon. Yew grows--an' _that_ grows
faster. It'll be ready to sarve ye soon, boy. Open up the gates to
Yog-Sothoth with the 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
whippoorwills outside adjusted their cries to the altered tempo while
some indications of the strange hill noises came from afar off, he
added another sentence or two.

"Feed it reg'lar, Willy, an' mind the quantity; but dun't let it grow
too fast fer the place, fer ef it busts quarters or gits aout afore ye
opens to Yog-Sothoth, it's all over an' no use. Only them from beyont
kin make it multiply an' 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 whippoorwills followed 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 gray eyes as the tumult of birds faded
imperceptibly to 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-sided way, and was quietly known by correspondence to many
librarians in distant places where rare and forbidden books of old days
are kept. He was more and more hated and dreaded around Dunwich because
of certain youthful disappearances which suspicion laid vaguely at his
door; but was always able to silence inquiry through fear or through
use of that fund of old-time gold which still, 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 Miskatonic University called
upon him one day and departed pale and puzzled, he was fully six and
three-quarters feet tall.

Through all the years Wilbur had treated his half-deformed albino
mother with a 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
burned on Sentinel Hill as usual, but people paid more attention
to the rhythmical screaming of vast flocks of unnaturally belated
whippoorwills which seemed to be assembled near the unlighted Whateley
farmhouse. After midnight their shrill notes burst into a kind of
pandemoniac cachinnation which filled all the countryside, and not
until dawn did they finally quiet down. Then they vanished, hurrying
southward where they were fully a month overdue. What this meant, no
one could quite be certain till later. None of the countryfolk seemed
to have died--but poor Lavinia Whateley, the twisted albino, was never
seen again.

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

>>>>>>>>For Part V, please visit sparrow-publishing.ca on August 04 2020 <<<<<<<<<<

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

two × five =

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.
Skip to content