Toward the end of June the phonograph record came - shipped from Brattleboro,
since Akeley was unwilling to trust conditions on the branch line north o_here. He had begun to feel an increased sense of espionage, aggravated by th_oss of some of our letters; and said much about the insidious deeds o_ertain men whom he considered tools and agents of the hidden beings. Most o_ll he suspected the surly farmer Walter Brown, who lived alone on a run-dow_illside place near the deep woods, and who was often seen loafing aroun_orners in Brattleboro, Bellows Falls, Newfane, and South Londonderry in th_ost inexplicable and seemingly unmotivated way. Brown's voice, he fel_onvinced, was one of those he had overheard on a certain occasion in a ver_errible conversation; and he had once found a footprint or clawprint nea_rown's house which might possess the most ominous significance. It had bee_uriously near some of Brown's own footprints - footprints that faced towar_t.
So the record was shipped from Brattleboro, whither Akeley drove in his For_ar along the lonely Vermont back roads. He confessed in an accompanying not_hat he was beginning to be afraid of those roads, and that he would not eve_o into Townshend for supplies now except in broad daylight. It did not pay,
he repeated again and again, to know too much unless one were very remote fro_hose silent and problematical hills. He would be going to California prett_oon to live with his son, though it was hard to leave a place where all one'_emories and ancestral feelings centered.
Before trying the record on the commercial machine which I borrowed from th_ollege administration building I carefully went over all the explanator_atter in Akeley's various letters. This record, he had said, was obtaine_bout 1 A.M. on the 1st of May, 1915, near the closed mouth of a cave wher_he wooded west slope of Dark Mountain rises out of Lee's swamp. The place ha_lways been unusually plagued with strange voices, this being the reason h_ad brought the phonograph, dictaphone, and blank in expectation of results.
Former experience had told him that May Eve - the hideous Sabbat-night o_nderground European legend - would probably be more fruitful than any othe_ate, and he was not disappointed. It was noteworthy, though, that he neve_gain heard voices at that particular spot.
Unlike most of the overheard forest voices, the substance of the record wa_uasi-ritualistic, and included one palpably human voice which Akeley ha_ever been able to place. It was not Brown's, but seemed to be that of a ma_f greater cultivation. The second voice, however, was the real crux of th_hing - for this was the accursed buzzing which had no likeness to humanit_espite the human words which it uttered in good English grammar and _cholarly accent.
The recording phonograph and dictaphone had not worked uniformly well, and ha_f course been at a great disadvantage because of the remote and muffle_ature of the overheard ritual; so that the actual speech secured was ver_ragmentary. Akeley had given me a transcript of what he believed the spoke_ords to be, and I glanced through this again as I prepared the machine fo_ction. The text was darkly mysterious rather than openly horrible, though _nowledge of its origin and manner of gathering gave it all the associativ_orror which any words could well possess. I will present it here in full as _emember it - and I am fairly confident that I know it correctly by heart, no_nly from reading the transcript, but from playing the record itself over an_ver again. It is not a thing which one might readily forget!
(A Cultivated Male Human Voice)
… is the Lord of the Wood, even to… and the gifts of the men of Leng… so fro_he wells of night to the gulfs of space, and from the gulfs of space to th_ells of night, ever the praises of Great Cthulhu, of Tsathoggua, and of Hi_ho is not to be Named. Ever Their praises, and abundance to the Black Goat o_he Woods. Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!
(A Buzzing Imitation of Human Speech)
Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!
And it has come to pass that the Lord of the Woods, being… seven and nine,
down the onyx steps … (tri)butes to Him in the Gulf, Azathoth, He of Whom Tho_as taught us marv(els)… on the wings of night out beyond space, out beyon_h… to That whereof Yuggoth is the youngest child, rolling alone in blac_ether at the rim…
… go out among men and find the ways thereof, that He in the Gulf may know.
To Nyarlathotep, Mighty Messenger, must all things be told. And He shall pu_n the semblance of men, the waxen mask and the robe that hides, and come dow_rom the world of Seven Suns to mock…
(Nyarl)athotep, Great Messenger, bringer of strange joy to Yuggoth through th_oid, Father of the Million Favoured Ones, Stalker among…
(Speech Cut Off by End of Record)
Such were the words for which I was to listen when I started the phonograph.
It was with a trace of genuine dread and reluctance that I pressed the leve_nd heard the preliminary scratching of the sapphire point, and I was gla_hat the first faint, fragmentary words were in a human voice - a mellow,
educated voice which seemed vaguely Bostonian in accent, and which wa_ertainly not that of any native of the Vermont hills. As I listened to th_antalisingly feeble rendering, I seemed to find the speech identical wit_keley's carefully prepared transcript. On it chanted, in that mello_ostonian voice… "Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Goat with a Thousand Young!… "
And then I heard the other voice. To this hour I shudder retrospectively whe_ think of how it struck me, prepared though I was by Akeley's accounts. Thos_o whom I have since described the record profess to find nothing but chea_mposture or madness in it; but could they have the accursed thing itself, o_ead the bulk of Akeley's correspondence, (especially that terrible an_ncyclopaedic second letter), I know they would think differently. It is,
after all, a tremendous pity that I did not disobey Akeley and play the recor_or others - a tremendous pity, too, that all of his letters were lost. To me,
with my first-hand impression of the actual sounds, and with my knowledge o_he background and surrounding circumstances, the voice was a monstrous thing.
It swiftly followed the human voice in ritualistic response, but in m_magination it was a morbid echo winging its way across unimaginable abysse_rom unimaginable outer hells. It is more than two years now since I last ra_ff that blasphemous waxen cylinder; but at this moment, and at all othe_oments, I can still hear that feeble, fiendish buzzing as it reached me fo_he first time.
"Ia! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!"
But though the voice is always in my ears, I have not even yet been able t_nalyse it well enough for a graphic description. It was like the drone o_ome loathsome, gigantic insect ponderously shaped into the articulate speec_f an alien species, and I am perfectly certain that the organs producing i_an have no resemblance to the vocal organs of man, or indeed to those of an_f the mammalia. There were singularities in timbre, range, and overtone_hich placed this phenomenon wholly outside the sphere of humanity and earth-
life. Its sudden advent that first time almost stunned me, and I heard th_est of the record through in a sort of abstracted daze. When the longe_assage of buzzing came, there was a sharp intensification of that feeling o_lasphemous infinity which had struck me during the shorter and earlie_assage. At last the record ended abruptly, during an unusually clear speec_f the human and Bostonian voice; but I sat stupidly staring long after th_achine had automatically stopped.
I hardly need say that I gave that shocking record many another playing, an_hat I made exhaustive attempts at analysis and comment in comparing note_ith Akeley. It would be both useless and disturbing to repeat here all tha_e concluded; but I may hint that we agreed in believing we had secured a clu_o the source of some of the most repulsive primordial customs in the crypti_lder religions of mankind. It seemed plain to us, also, that there wer_ncient and elaborate alliance; between the hidden outer creatures and certai_embers of the human race. How extensive these alliances were, and how thei_tate today might compare with their state in earlier ages, we had no means o_uessing; yet at best there was room for a limitless amount of horrifie_peculation. There seemed to be an awful, immemorial linkage in severa_efinite stages betwixt man and nameless infinity. The blasphemies whic_ppeared on earth, it was hinted, came from the dark planet Yuggoth, at th_im of the solar system; but this was itself merely the populous outpost of _rightful interstellar race whose ultimate source must lie far outside eve_he Einsteinian space-time continuum or greatest known cosmos.
Meanwhile we continued to discuss the black stone and the best way of gettin_t to Arkham - Akeley deeming it inadvisable to have me visit him at the scen_f his nightmare studies. For some reason or other, Akeley was afraid to trus_he thing to any ordinary or expected transportation route. His final idea wa_o take it across country to Bellows Falls and ship it on the Boston and Main_ystem through Keene and Winchendon and Fitchburg, even though this woul_ecessitate his driving along somewhat lonelier and more forest-traversin_ill roads than the main highway to Brattleboro. He said he had noticed a ma_round the express office at Brattleboro when he had sent the phonograp_ecord, whose actions and expression had been far from reassuring. This ma_ad seemed too anxious to talk with the clerks, and had taken the train o_hich the record was shipped. Akeley confessed that he had not felt strictl_t ease about that record until he heard from me of its safe receipt.
About this time - the second week in July - another letter of mine wen_stray, as I learned through an anxious communication from Akeley. After tha_e told me to address him no more at Townshend, but to send all mail in car_f the General Delivery at Brattleboro; whither he would make frequent trip_ither in his car or on the motor-coach line which had lately replace_assenger service on the lagging branch railway. I could see that he wa_etting more and more anxious, for he went into much detail about th_ncreased barking of the dogs on moonless nights, and about the fresh claw-
prints he sometimes found in the road and in the mud at the back of hi_armyard when morning came. Once he told about a veritable army of print_rawn up in a line facing an equally thick and resolute line of dog-tracks,
and sent a loathsomely disturbing Kodak picture to prove it. That was after _ight on which the dogs had outdone themselves in barking and howling.
On the morning of Wednesday, July 18, I received a telegram from Bellow_alls, in which Akeley said he was expressing the black stone over the B. & M.
on Train No. 5508, leaving Bellows Falls at 12:15 P.M., standard time, and du_t the North Station in Boston at 4:12 P.M. It ought, I calculated, to get u_o Arkham at least by the next noon; and accordingly I stayed in all Thursda_orning to receive it. But noon came and went without its advent, and when _elephoned down to the express office I was informed that no shipment for m_ad arrived. My next act, performed amidst a growing alarm, was to give _ong-distance call to the express agent at the Boston North Station; and I wa_carcely surprised to learn that my consignment had not appeared. Train No.
5508 had pulled in only 35 minutes late on the day before, but had containe_o box addressed to me. The agent promised, however, to institute a searchin_nquiry; and I ended the day by sending Akeley a night-letter outlining th_ituation.
With commendable promptness a report came from the Boston office on th_ollowing afternoon, the agent telephoning as soon as he learned the facts. I_eemed that the railway express clerk on No. 5508 had been able to recall a_ncident which might have much bearing on my loss - an argument with a ver_urious-voiced man, lean, sandy, and rustic-looking, when the train wa_aiting at Keene, N. H., shortly after one o’clock standard time. The man, h_aid, was greatly excited about a heavy box which he claimed to expect, bu_hich was neither on the train nor entered on the company’s books. He ha_iven the name of Stanley Adams, and had had such a queerly thick dronin_oice, that it made the clerk abnormally dizzy and sleepy to listen to him.
The clerk could not remember quite how the conversation had ended, bu_ecalled starting into a fuller awakeness when the train began to move. Th_oston agent added that this clerk was a young man of wholly unquestione_eracity and reliability, of known antecedents and long with the company.
That evening I went to Boston to interview the clerk in person, havin_btained his name and address from the office. He was a frank, prepossessin_ellow, but I saw that he could add nothing to his original account. Oddly, h_as scarcely sure that he could even recognise the strange inquirer again.
Realising that he had no more to tell, I returned to Arkham and sat up til_orning writing letters to Akeley, to the express company and to the polic_epartment and station agent in Keene. I felt that the strange-voiced man wh_ad so queerly affected the clerk must have a pivotal place in the ominou_usiness, and hoped that Keene station employees and telegraph-office record_ight tell something about him and about how he happened to make his inquir_hen and where he did.
I must admit, however, that all my investigations came to nothing. The queer-
voiced man had indeed been noticed around the Keene station in the earl_fternoon of July 18, and one lounger seemed to couple him vaguely with _eavy box; but he was altogether unknown, and had not been seen before o_ince. He had not visited the telegraph office or received any message so fa_s could be learned, nor had any message which might justly be considered _otice of the black stone’s presence on No. 5508 come through the office fo_nyone. Naturally Akeley joined with me in conducting these inquiries, an_ven made a personal trip to Keene to question the people around the station;
but his attitude toward the matter was more fatalistic than mine. He seemed t_ind the loss of the box a portentous and menacing fulfillment of inevitabl_endencies, and had no real hope at all of its recovery. He spoke of th_ndoubted telepathic and hypnotic powers of the hill creatures and thei_gents, and in one letter hinted that he did not believe the stone was on thi_arth any longer. For my part, I was duly enraged, for I had felt there was a_east a chance of learning profound and astonishing things from the old,
blurred hieroglyphs. The matter would have rankled bitterly in my mind had no_keley’s immediately subsequent letters brought up a new phase of the whol_orrible hill problem which at once seized all my attention.