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.