The Dunwich Horror – Part V

fiction

The Dunwich Horror – Part V

by H. P. LOVECRAFT

5

The following winter brought an event no less strange than Wilbur's
first trip outside the Dunwich region. Correspondence with the Widener
Library at Harvard, the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the British
Museum, the University of Buenos Aires, and the Library of Miskatonic
University at Arkham had failed to get him the loan of a book he
desperately wanted; so at length he set out in person, shabby, dirty,
bearded, and uncouth of dialect, to consult the copy at Miskatonic,
which was the nearest to him geographically. Almost eight feet tall,
and carrying a cheap new valise from Osborn's general store, this
dark and goatish gargoyle appeared one day in Arkham in quest of the
dreaded volume kept under lock and key at the college library--the
hideous _Necronomicon_ of the mad Arab Alhazred in Olaus Wormius' Latin
version, as printed in Spain in the Seventeenth Century. He had never
seen a city before, but had no thought save to find his way to the
university grounds; where, indeed, he passed heedlessly by the great
white-fanged watchdog that barked with unnatural fury and enmity, and
tugged frantically at its stout chain.

Wilbur had with him the priceless but imperfect copy of Dr. Dee's
English version which his grandfather had bequeathed him, and upon
receiving access to the Latin copy he at once began to collate the two
texts with the aim of discovering a certain passage which would have
come on the 751st page of his own defective volume. This much he could
not civilly refrain 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 politely plied him with
questions. He was looking, he had to admit, for a kind of formula or
incantation containing 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 copied the formula
he finally chose, Dr. Armitage looked involuntarily over his shoulder
at the open pages; the left-hand one of which, in the Latin version,
contained such monstrous threats to the peace and sanity of the world.

    Nor is it to be thought [ran the text as Armitage mentally
    translated it] that man is either the oldest or the last of earth's
    masters, or that the common bulk of life and substance walks alone.
    The Old Ones were, the Old Ones are, and the Old Ones shall be. Not
    in the spaces we know, but _between_ them. They walk serene and
    primal, undimensioned and to us unseen. _Yog-Sothoth_ knows the
    gate. _Yog-Sothoth_ is the gate. _Yog-Sothoth_ is 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 why no
    one can behold Them as They tread. By Their smell can men sometimes
    know Them near, but of Their semblance can no man know, _saving
    only in the features of those They have begotten on mankind_; and
    of those are there many sorts, differing in likeness from man's
    truest eidolon to that shape without sight or substance which is
    _They_. They walk unseen and foul in lonely places where the Words
    have been spoken and the Rites howled through at their Seasons.
    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 South and the sunken isles of Ocean hold stones
    whereon Their seal is engraven, but who hath seen the deep frozen
    city or the sealed tower long garlanded with seaweed and barnacles?
    Great Cthulhu is Their cousin, yet can he spy Them only dimly. _Iä
    Shub-Niggurath!_ As a foulness shall ye know Them. Their hand is at
    your throats, yet ye see Them not; and Their habitation is even one
    with your guarded threshold. _Yog-Sothoth_ is the key to the gate,
    whereby the spheres meet. Man rules now where They ruled once; They
    shall soon rule where man rules now. After summer is winter, and
    after winter summer. They wait patient and potent, for here shall
    They reign again.

Dr. Armitage, associating what he was reading with what he had heard
of Dunwich and its brooding presences, and of Wilbur Whateley and his
dim, hideous aura that stretched from a dubious birth to a cloud of
probable matricide, felt a wave of fright as tangible as a draft of the
tomb's cold clamminess. The bent, goatish giant before him seemed like
the spawn of another planet or dimension; like something only partly of
mankind, and linked to black gulfs of essence and entity that stretch
like titan fantasms beyond all spheres of force and matter, space and
time.

Presently Wilbur raised his head and began speaking in that strange,
resonant fashion which hinted at sound-producing organs unlike the run
of mankind's.

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

He stopped as he saw firm denial on the librarian's face, and his own
goatish features grew crafty. Armitage, half ready to tell him he might
make a copy of what parts he needed, thought suddenly of the possible
consequences and checked himself. There was too much responsibility
in giving such a being the key to such blasphemous outer spheres.
Whateley saw how things stood, and tried to answer lightly.

"Wal, all right, ef ye feel that way abaout it. Maybe Harvard wun't be
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's gorilla-like lope as he crossed the bit of campus visible
from the window. He thought of the wild tales he had heard, and
recalled the old Sunday stories in the _Advertiser_; these things, and
the lore he had picked up from Dunwich rustics and villagers during
his one visit there. Unseen things not of earth--or at least not of
tri-dimensional earth--rushed fetid 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
terrible part of the intruding horror, and to glimpse a hellish advance
in the black dominion of the ancient and once passive nightmare. He
locked away the _Necronomicon_ with a shudder of disgust, but the room
still reeked with an unholy and unidentifiable stench. "As a foulness
shall ye know them," he quoted. Yes--the odor was the same as that
which had sickened him at the Whateley farmhouse less than three years
before. He thought of Wilbur, goatish and ominous, once again, and
laughed mockingly at the village rumors of his parentage.

"Inbreeding?" Armitage muttered half aloud to himself. "Great God, what
simpletons! Show them Arthur Machen's _Great God Pan_ and they'll think
it a common Dunwich scandal! But what thing--what cursed shapeless
influence on or off this three-dimensioned earth--was Wilbur Whateley's
father? Born on Candlemas--nine months 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 world in half-human flesh and blood?"

During the ensuing weeks Dr. Armitage set about to collect all possible
data on 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 to ponder over in the
grandfather's last words as quoted by the physician. A visit to Dunwich
Village 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 to the nature, methods, and
desires of the strange evil so vaguely threatening this planet. Talks
with several students of archaic lore in Boston, and letters to many
others elsewhere, gave him a growing amazement which passed slowly
through varied degrees of alarm to a state of really acute spiritual
fear. As the summer drew on he felt dimly that something ought to be
done about the lurking terrors of the upper Miskatonic valley, and
about the monstrous being known to the human world as Wilbur Whateley.

>>>>>>>>For Part VI, please visit sparrow-publishing.ca on August 18 2020 <<<<<<<<<<

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