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.