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Chapter 5

  • It was a gentle daylight rain that awaked me front my stupor in the brush-
  • grown railway cut, and when I staggered out to the roadway ahead I saw n_race of any prints in the fresh mud. The fishy odour, too, was gone,
  • Innsmouth's ruined roofs and toppling steeples loomed up greyly toward th_outheast, but not a living creature did I spy in all the desolate sal_arshes around. My watch was still going, and told me that the hour was pas_oon.
  • The reality of what I had been through was highly uncertain in my mind, but _elt that something hideous lay in the background. I must get away from evil-
  • shadowed Innsmouth - and accordingly I began to test my cramped, wearie_owers of locomotion. Despite weakness hunger, horror, and bewilderment _ound myself after a time able to walk; so started slowly along the muddy roa_o Rowley. Before evening I was in village, getting a meal and providin_yself with presentable cloths. I caught the night train to Arkham, and th_ext day talked long and earnestly with government officials there; a proces_ later repeated in Boston. With the main result of these colloquies th_ublic is now familiar \- and I wish, for normality's sake, there were nothin_ore to tell. Perhaps it is madness that is overtaking me - yet perhaps _reater horror - or a greater marvel - is reaching out.
  • As may well be imagined, I gave up most of the foreplanned features of th_est of my tour - the scenic, architectural, and antiquarian diversions o_hich I had counted so heavily. Nor did I dare look for that piece of strang_ewelry said to be in the Miskatonic University Museum. I did, however,
  • improve my stay in Arkham by collecting some genealogical notes I had lon_ished to possess; very rough and hasty data, it is true, but capable of goo_se later no when I might have time to collate and codify them. The curator o_he historical society there - Mr. B. Lapham Peabody - was very courteou_bout assisting me, and expressed unusual interest when I told him I was _randson of Eliza Orne of Arkham, who was born in 1867 and had married Jame_illiamson of Ohio at the age of seventeen.
  • It seemed that a material uncle of mine had been there many years before on _uest much like my own; and that my grandmother's family was a topic of som_ocal curiosity. There had, Mr. Peabody said, been considerable discussio_bout the marriage of her father, Benjamin Orne, just after the Civil War;
  • since the ancestry of the bride was peculiarly puzzling. That bride wa_nderstood to have been an orphaned Marsh of New Hampshire - a cousin of th_ssex County Marshes - but her education had been in France and she knew ver_ittle of her family. A guardian had deposited funds in a Boston bank t_aintain her and her French governess; but that guardian's name was unfamilia_o Arkham people, and in time he dropped out of sight, so that the governes_ssumed the role by court appointment. The Frenchwoman - now long dead - wa_ery taciturn, and there were those who said she would have told more than sh_id.
  • But the most baffling thing was the inability of anyone to place the recorde_arents of the young woman - Enoch and Lydia (Meserve) Marsh - among the know_amilies of New Hampshire. Possibly, many suggested, she was the natura_aughter of some Marsh of prominence \- she certainly had the true Marsh eyes.
  • Most of the puzzling was done after her early death, which took place at th_irth of my grandmother - her only child. Having formed some disagreeabl_mpressions connected with the name of Marsh, I did not welcome the news tha_t belonged on my own ancestral tree; nor was I pleased by Mr. Peabody'_uggestion that I had the true Marsh eyes myself. However, I was grateful fo_ata which I knew would prove valuable; and took copious notes and lists o_ook references regarding the well-documented Orne family.
  • I went directly home to Toledo from Boston, and later spent a month at Maume_ecuperating from my ordeal. In September I entered Oberlin for my final year,
  • and from then till the next June was busy with studies and other wholesom_ctivities - reminded of the bygone terror only by occasional official visit_rom government men in connexion with the campaign which my pleas and evidenc_ad started. Around the middle of July - just a year after the Innsmout_xperience - I spent a week with my late mother's family in Cleveland;
  • checking some of my new genealogical data with the various notes, traditions,
  • and bits of heirloom material in existence there, and seeing what kind of _onnected chart I could construct.
  • I did not exactly relish this task, for the atmosphere of the Williamson hom_ad always depressed me. There was a strain of morbidity there, and my mothe_ad never encouraged my visiting her parents as a child, although she alway_elcomed her father when he came to Toledo. My Arkham-born grandmother ha_eemed strange and almost terrifying to me, and I do not think I grieved whe_he disappeared. I was eight years old then, and it was said that she ha_andered off in grief after the suicide of my Uncle Douglas, her eldest son.
  • He had shot himself after a trip to New England - the same trip, no doubt,
  • which had caused him to be recalled at the Arkham Historical Society.
  • This uncle had resembled her, and I had never liked him either. Somethin_bout the staring, unwinking expression of both of them had given me a vague,
  • unaccountable uneasiness. My mother and Uncle Walter had not looked like that.
  • They were like their father, though poor little cousin Lawrence - Walter's son
  • - had been almost perfect duplicate of his grandmother before his conditio_ook him to the permanent seclusion of a sanitarium at Canton. I had not see_im in four years, but my uncle once implied that his state, both mental an_hysical, was very bad. This worry had probably been a major cause of hi_other's death two years before.
  • My grandfather and his widowed son Walter now comprised the Clevelan_ousehold, but the memory of older times hung thickly over it. I stil_isliked the place, and tried to get my researches done as quickly a_ossible. Williamson records and traditions were supplied in abundance by m_randfather; though for Orne material I had to depend on my uncle Walter, wh_ut at my disposal the contents of all his files, including notes, letters,
  • cuttings, heirlooms, photographs, and miniatures.
  • It was in going over the letters and pictures on the Orne side that I began t_cquire a kind of terror of my own ancestry. As I have said, my grandmothe_nd Uncle Douglas had always disturbed me. Now, years after their passing, _azed at their pictured faces with a measurably heightened feeling o_epulsion and alienation. I could not at first understand the change, bu_radually a horrible sort of comparison began to obtrude itself on m_nconscious mind despite the steady refusal of my consciousness to admit eve_he least suspicion of it. It was clear that the typical expression of thes_aces now suggested something it had not suggested before - something whic_ould bring stark panic if too openly thought of.
  • But the worst shock came when my uncle shewed me the Orne jewellery in _owntown safe deposit vault. Some of the items were delicate and inspirin_nough, but there was one box of strange old pieces descended from m_ysterious great-grandmother which my uncle was almost reluctant to produce.
  • They were, he said, of very grotesque and almost repulsive design, and ha_ever to his knowledge been publicly worn; though my grandmother used to enjo_ooking at them. Vague legends of bad luck clustered around them, and m_reat-grandmother's French governess had said they ought not to be worn in Ne_ngland, though it would be quite safe to wear them in Europe.
  • As my uncle began slowly and grudgingly to unwrap the things he urged me no_o be shocked by the strangeness and frequent hideousness of the designs.
  • Artists and archaeologists who had seen them pronounced their workmanshi_uperlatively and exotically exquisite, though no one seemed able to defin_heir exact material or assign them to any specific art tradition. There wer_wo armlets, a tiara, and a kind of pectoral; the latter having in high relie_ertain figures of almost unbearable extravagance.
  • During this description I had kept a tight rein on my emotions, but my fac_ust have betrayed my mounting fears. My uncle looked concerned, and paused i_is unwrapping to study my countenance. I motioned to him to continue, whic_e did with renewed signs of reluctance. He seemed to expect som_emonstration when the first piece - the tiara - became visible, but I doub_f he expected quite what actually happened. I did not expect it, either, fo_ thought I was thoroughly forewarned regarding what the jewellery would tur_ut to be. What I did was to faint silently away, just as I had done in tha_rier choked railway cut a year before.
  • From that day on my life has been a nightmare of brooding and apprehension no_o I know how much is hideous truth and how much madness. My great-grandmothe_ad been a Marsh of unknown source whose husband lived in Arkham - and did no_ld Zadok say that the daughter of Obed Marsh by a monstrous mother wa_arried to an Arkham man trough trick? What was it the ancient toper ha_uttered about the line of my eyes to Captain Obed's? In Arkham, too, th_urator had told me I had the true Marsh eyes. Was Obed Marsh my own great-
  • great-grandfather? Who - or what - then, was my great-great-grandmother? Bu_erhaps this was all madness. Those whitish-gold ornaments might easily hav_een bought from some Innsmouth sailor by the father of my great-grand-mother,
  • whoever he was. And that look in the staring-eyed faces of my grandmother an_elf-slain uncle might be sheer fancy on my part - sheer fancy, bolstered u_y the Innsmouth shadow which had so darkly coloured my imagination. But wh_ad my uncle killed himself after an ancestral quest in New England?
  • For more than two years l fought off these reflections with partial success.
  • My father secured me a place in an insurance office, and I buried myself i_outine as deeply as possible. In the winter of 1930-31, however, the dream_egan. They were very sparse and insidious at first, but increased i_requency and vividness as the weeks went by. Great watery spaces opened ou_efore me, and I seemed to wander through titanic sunken porticos an_abyrinths of weedy cyclopean walls with grotesque fishes as my companions.
  • Then the other shapes began to appear, filling me with nameless horror th_oment I awoke. But during the dreams they did not horrify me at all - I wa_ne with them; wearing their unhuman trappings, treading their aqueous ways,
  • and praying monstrously at their evil sea-bottom temples.
  • There was much more than I could remember, but even what I did remember eac_orning would be enough to stamp me as a madman or a genius if ever I dare_rite it down. Some frightful influence, I felt, was seeking gradually to dra_e out of the sane world of wholesome life into unnamable abysses of blacknes_nd alienage; and the process told heavily on me. My health and appearanc_rew steadily worse, till finally I was forced to give up my position an_dopt the static, secluded life of an invalid. Some odd nervous affliction ha_e in its grip, and I found myself at times almost unable to shut my eyes.
  • It was then that I began to study the mirror with mounting alarm. The slo_avages of disease are not pleasant to watch, but in my case there wa_omething subtler and more puzzling in the background. My father seemed t_otice it, too, for he began looking at me curiously and almost affrightedly.
  • What was taking place in me? Could it be that I was coming to resemble m_randmother and uncle Douglas?
  • One night I had a frightful dream in which I met my grandmother under the sea.
  • She lived in a phosphorescent palace of many terraces, with gardens of strang_eprous corals and grotesque brachiate efflorescences, and welcomed me with _armth that may have been sardonic. She had changed - as those who take to th_ater change - and told me she had never died. Instead, she had gone to a spo_er dead son had learned about, and had leaped to a realm whose wonders -
  • destined for him as well - he had spurned with a smoking pistol. This was t_e my realm, too - I could not escape it. I would never die, but would liv_ith those who had lived since before man ever walked the earth.
  • I met also that which had been her grandmother. For eighty thousand year_th'thya-l'yi had lived in Y'ha-nthlei, and thither she had gone back afte_bed Marsh was dead. Y'ha-nthlei was not destroyed when the upper-earth me_hot death into the sea. It was hurt, but not destroyed. The Deep Ones coul_ever be destroyed, even though the palaeogean magic of the forgotten Old One_ight sometimes check them. For the present they would rest; but some day, i_hey remembered, they would rise again for the tribute Great Cthulhu craved.
  • It would be a city greater than Innsmouth next time. They had planned t_pread, and had brought up that which would help them, but now they must wai_nce more. For bringing the upper-earth men's death I must do a penance, bu_hat would not be heavy. This was the dream in which I saw a shoggoth for th_irst time, and the sight set me awake in a frenzy of screaming. That mornin_he mirror definitely told me I had acquired the Innsmouth look.
  • So far I have not shot myself as my uncle Douglas did. I bought an automati_nd almost took the step, but certain dreams deterred me. The tense extreme_f horror are lessening, and I feel queerly drawn toward the unknown sea-deep_nstead of fearing them. I hear and do strange things in sleep, and awake wit_ kind of exaltation instead of terror. I do not believe I need to wait fo_he full change as most have waited. If I did, my father would probably shu_e up in a sanitarium as my poor little cousin is shut up. Stupendous an_nheard-of splendors await me below, and I shall seek them soon. Ia-R'lyeh_ihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No, I shall not shoot myself - I cannot be made t_hoot myself!
  • I shall plan my cousin's escape from that Canton mad-house, and together w_hall go to marvel-shadowed Innsmouth. We shall swim out to that brooding ree_n the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columne_'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonde_nd glory for ever.