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Chapter 9

  • Friday morning Armitage, Rice, and Morgan set out by motor for Dunwich,
  • arriving at the village about one in the afternoon. The day was pleasant, bu_ven in the brightest sunlight a kind of quiet dread and portent seemed t_over about the strangely domed hills and the deep, shadowy ravines of th_tricken region. Now and then on some mountain top a gaunt circle of stone_ould be glimpsed against the sky. From the air of hushed fright at Osborn'_tore they knew something hideous had happened, and soon learned of th_nnihilation of the Elmer Frye house and family. Throughout that afternoo_hey rode around Dunwich, questioning the natives concerning all that ha_ccurred, and seeing for themselves with rising pangs of horror the drear Fry_uins with their lingering traces of the tarry stickiness, the blasphemou_racks in the Frye yard, the wounded Seth Bishop cattle, and the enormou_waths of disturbed vegetation in various places. The trail up and dow_entinel Hill seemed to Armitage of almost cataclysmic significance, and h_ooked long at the sinister altar-like stone on the summit.
  • At length the visitors, apprised of a party of State Police which had com_rom Aylesbury that morning in response to the first telephone reports of th_rye tragedy, decided to seek out the officers and compare notes as far a_racticable. This, however, they found more easily planned than performed;
  • since no sign of the party could be found in any direction. There had bee_ive of them in a car, but now the car stood empty near the ruins in the Fry_ard. The natives, all of whom had talked with the policemen, seemed at firs_s perplexed as Armitage and his companions. Then old Sam Hutchins thought o_omething and turned pale, nudging Fred Farr and pointing to the dank, dee_ollow that yawned close by.
  • 'Gawd,' he gasped, 'I telled 'em not ter go daown into the glen, an' I neve_hought nobody'd dew it with them tracks an' that smell an' the whippoorwill_-screechin' daown thar in the dark o' noonday… '
  • A cold shudder ran through natives and visitors alike, and every ear seeme_trained in a kind of instinctive, unconscious listening. Armitage, now tha_e had actually come upon the horror and its monstrous work, trembled with th_esponsibility he felt to be his. Night would soon fall, and it was then tha_he mountainous blasphemy lumbered upon its eldritch course. Negotiu_erambuians in tenebris… The old librarian rehearsed the formulae he ha_emorized, and clutched the paper containing the alternative one he had no_emorized. He saw that his electric flashlight was in working order. Rice,
  • beside him, took from a valise a metal sprayer of the sort used in combatin_nsects; whilst Morgan uncased the big-game rifle on which he relied despit_is colleague's warnings that no material weapon would be of help.
  • Armitage, having read the hideous diary, knew painfully well what kind of _anifestation to expect; but he did not add to the fright of the Dunwic_eople by giving any hints or clues. He hoped that it might be conquere_ithout any revelation to the world of the monstrous thing it had escaped. A_he shadows gathered, the natives commenced to disperse homeward, anxious t_ar themselves indoors despite the present evidence that all human locks an_olts were useless before a force that could bend trees and crush houses whe_t chose. They shook their heads at the visitors' plan to stand guard at th_rye ruins near the glen; and, as they left, had little expectancy of eve_eeing the watchers again.
  • There were rumblings under the hills that night, and the whippoorwills pipe_hreateningly. Once in a while a wind, sweeping up out of Cold Spring Glen,
  • would bring a touch of ineffable foetor to the heavy night air; such a foeto_s all three of the watchers had smelled once before, when they stood above _ying thing that had passed for fifteen years and a half as a human being. Bu_he looked-for terror did not appear. Whatever was down there in the glen wa_iding its time, and Armitage told his colleagues it would be suicidal to tr_o attack it 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 t_e piling themselves up beyond the hills to the north-west. The men fro_rkham were undecided what to do. Seeking shelter from the increasing rainfal_eneath one of the few undestroyed Frye outbuildings, they debated the wisdo_f waiting, or of taking the aggressive and going down into the glen in ques_f their nameless, monstrous quarry. The downpour waxed in heaviness, an_istant peals of thunder sounded from far horizons. Sheet lightning shimmered,
  • and then a forky bolt flashed near at hand, as if descending into the accurse_len itself. The sky grew very dark, and the watchers hoped that the stor_ould prove a short, sharp one followed by clear weather.
  • It was still gruesomely dark when, not much over an hour later, a confuse_abel of voices sounded down the road. Another moment brought to view _rightened group of more than a dozen men, running, shouting, and eve_himpering hysterically. Someone in the lead began sobbing out words, and th_rkham men started violently when those words developed a coherent form.
  • 'Oh, my Gawd, my Gawd,' the voice choked out. 'It's a-goin' agin, an' thi_ime by day! It's aout - it's aout an' a-movin' this very minute, an' only th_ord knows when it'll be on us all!'
  • The speaker panted into silence, but another took up his message.
  • 'Nigh on a haour ago Zeb Whateley here heered the 'phone a-ringin', an' it wa_is' Corey, George's wife, that lives daown by the junction. She says th_ired boy Luther was aout drivin' in the caows from the storm arter the bi_olt, when he see all the trees a-bendin' at the maouth o' the glen - opposit_ide ter this \- an' smelt the same awful smell like he smelt when he faoun_he big tracks las' Monday mornin'. An' she says he says they was a swishin'
  • lappin' saound, more nor what the bendin' trees an' bushes could make, an' al_n a suddent the trees along the rud begun ter git pushed one side, an' the_as a awful stompin' an' splashin' in the mud. But mind ye, Luther he didn'_ee nothin' at all, only just the bendin' trees an' underbrush.
  • 'Then fur ahead where Bishop's Brook goes under the rud he heerd a awfu_reakin' an' strainin' on the bridge, an' says he could tell the saound o'
  • wood a-startin' to crack an' split. An' all the whiles he never see a thing,
  • only them trees an' bushes a-bendin'. An' when the swishin' saound got ver_ur off - on the rud towards Wizard Whateley's an' Sentinel Hill - Luther h_ad the guts ter step up whar he'd heerd it fust an' look at the graound. I_as all mud an' water, an' the sky was dark, an' the rain was wipin' aout al_racks abaout as fast as could be; but beginnin' at the glen maouth, whar th_rees hed moved, they was still some o' them awful prints big as bar'ls lik_e seen Monday.'
  • At this point the first excited speaker interrupted.
  • 'But that ain't the trouble naow - that was only the start. Zeb here wa_allin' folks up an' everybody was a-listenin' in when a call from Set_ishop's cut in. His haousekeeper Sally was carryin' on fit to kill - she'_est seed the trees a-bendin' beside the rud, an' says they was 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 boy Cha'nce_as a-screamin' as haow it was jest like what he smelt up to the Whatele_ewins Monday mornin'. An' the dogs was barkin' an' whinin' awful.
  • 'An' then she let aout a turrible yell, an' says the shed daown the rud ha_est caved in like the storm bed blowed it over, only the wind w'an't stron_nough to dew that. Everybody was a-listenin', an' we could hear lots o' folk_n the wire a-gaspin'. All to onct Sally she yelled again, an' says the fron_ard picket fence hed just crumbled up, though they wa'n't no sign o' wha_one it. Then everybody on the line could hear Cha'ncey an' old Seth Bisho_-yellin' tew, an' Sally was shriekin' aout that suthin' heavy hed struck th_aouse - not lightnin' nor nothin', but suthin' heavy again' the front, tha_ep' a-launchin' itself agin an' agin, though ye couldn't see nothin' aout th_ront winders. An' then… an' then… '
  • Lines of fright deepened on every face; and Armitage, shaken as he was, ha_arely poise enough to prompt the speaker.
  • 'An' then… . Sally she yelled aout, "O help, the haouse is a-cavin' in… an' o_he wire we could hear a turrible crashin' an' a hull flock o' screaming… je_ike 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 'phone arter that. Jest still-
  • like. We that heerd it got aout Fords an' wagons an' rounded up as many able-
  • bodied men-folks as we could git, at Corey's place, an' come up here ter se_hat yew thought best ter dew. Not but what I think it's the Lord's jedgmen_er our iniquities, that no mortal kin ever set aside.'
  • Armitage saw that the time for positive action had come, and spoke decisivel_o the faltering group of frightened rustics.
  • 'We must follow it, boys.' He made his voice as reassuring as possible. '_elieve there's a chance of putting it out of business. You men know tha_hose Whateleys were wizards - well, this thing is a thing of wizardry, an_ust be put down by the same means. I've seen Wilbur Whateley's diary and rea_ome of the strange old books he used to read; and I think I know the righ_ind of spell to recite to make the thing fade away. Of course, one can't b_ure, but we can always take a chance. It's invisible - I knew it would be -
  • but there's powder in this long-distance sprayer that might make it show u_or a second. Later on we'll try it. It's a frightful thing to have alive, bu_t isn't as bad as what Wilbur would have let in if he'd lived longer. You'l_ever know what the world escaped. Now we've only this one thing to fight, an_t can't multiply. It can, though, do a lot of harm; so we mustn't hesitate t_id the community of it.
  • 'We must follow it - and the way to begin is to go to the place that has jus_een 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, pointin_ith a grimy finger through the steadily lessening rain.
  • 'I guess ye kin git to Seth Bishop's quickest by cuttin' across the lowe_edder here, wadin' the brook at the low place, an' climbin' through Carrier'_owin' an' the timber-lot beyont. That comes aout on the upper rud mighty nig_eth'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, an_here were signs that the storm had worn itself away. When Armitag_nadvertently took a wrong direction, Joe Osborn warned him and walked ahea_o show the right one. Courage and confidence were mounting, though th_wilight of the almost perpendicular wooded hill which lay towards the end o_heir short cut, and among whose fantastic ancient trees they had to scrambl_s if up a ladder, put these qualities to a severe test.
  • At length they emerged on a muddy road to find the sun coming out. They were _ittle beyond the Seth Bishop place, but bent trees and hideously unmistakabl_racks showed what had passed by. Only a few moments were consumed i_urveying the ruins just round the bend. It was the Frye incident all ove_gain, and nothing dead or living was found in either of the collapsed shell_hich had been the Bishop house and barn. No one cared to remain there amids_he stench and tarry stickiness, but all turned instinctively to the line o_orrible prints leading on towards the wrecked Whateley farmhouse and th_ltar-crowned slopes of Sentinel Hill.
  • As the men passed the site of Wilbur Whateley's abode they shuddered visibly,
  • and seemed again to mix hesitancy with their zeal. It was no joke trackin_own something as big as a house that one could not see, but that had all th_icious malevolence of a daemon. Opposite the base of Sentinel Hill the track_eft the road, and there was a fresh bending and matting visible along th_road swath marking the monster's former route to and from the summit.
  • Armitage produced a pocket telescope of considerable power and scanned th_teep green side of the hill. Then he handed the instrument to Morgan, whos_ight was keener. After a moment of gazing Morgan cried out sharply, passin_he glass to Earl Sawyer and indicating a certain spot on the slope with hi_inger. Sawyer, as clumsy as most non-users of optical devices are, fumbled _hile; but eventually focused the lenses with Armitage's aid. When he did s_is cry was less restrained than Morgan's had been.
  • 'Gawd almighty, the grass an' bushes is a'movin'! It's a-goin' up - slow-like
  • - creepin' - up ter the top this minute, heaven only knows what fur!'
  • Then the germ of panic seemed to spread among the seekers. It was one thing t_hase the nameless entity, but quite another to find it. Spells might be al_ight - but suppose they weren't? Voices began questioning Armitage about wha_e knew of the thing, and no reply seemed quite to satisfy. Everyone seemed t_eel himself in close proximity to phases of Nature and of being utterl_orbidden and wholly outside the sane experience of mankind.