It must have been some imp of the perverse - or some sardonic
pull from dark, hidden sources - which made me change my plans as I did.
I had long before resolved to limit my observations to architecture alone,
and I was even then hurrying toward the Square in an effort to get quick
transportation out of this festering city of death and decay; but the sight
of old Zadok Allen set
up new currents in my mind and made me slacken my pace
I had been assured that the old man could do nothing but
hint at wild, disjointed, and incredible legends, and I had been warned
that the natives made it unsafe to be seen talking with him; yet the thought
of this aged witness to the town's decay, with memories going back to the
early days of ships and factories, was a lure that no amount of reason
could make me resist. After all, the
strangest and maddest of myths are often merely symbols
or allegories based upon truth - and old Zadok must have seen everything
which went on around Innsmouth for the last ninety years. Curiosity
flared up beyond sense and caution, and in my youthful egotism I fancied
I might be able to sift a nucleus of real history from the confused, extravagant
outpouring I would probably
extract with the aid of raw whiskey.
I knew that I could not accost him then and there, for
the firemen would surely notice and object. Instead, I reflected,
I would prepare by getting some bootleg liquor at a place where the grocery
boy had told me it was plentiful. Then I would loaf near the fire
station in apparent casualness, and fall in with old Zadok after he had
started on one of his frequent rambles. The youth
had said that he was very restless, seldom sitting around
the station for more than an hour or two at a time.
A quart bottle of whiskey was easily, though not cheaply,
obtained in the rear of a dingy variety-store just off the Square in Eliot
Street. The dirty-looking fellow who waited on me had a touch of
the staring "Innsmouth look", but was quite civil in his way; being perhaps
used to the custom of such convivial strangers - truckmen, gold-buyers,
and the like - as were occasionally in
Reentering the Square I saw that luck was with me; for
- shuffling out of Paine street around the corner of the Gilman House -
I glimpsed nothing less than the tall, lean, tattered form of old Zadok
Allen himself. In accordance with my plan, I attracted his attention
by brandishing my newly-purchased bottle: and soon realised that he had
begun to shuffle wistfully after me as I
turned into Waite Street on my way to the most deserted
region I could think of.
I was steering my course by the map the grocery boy had
prepared, and was aiming for the wholly abandoned stretch of southern waterfront
which I had previously visited. The only people in sight there had
been the fishermen on the distant breakwater; and by going a few squares
south I could get beyond the range of these, finding a pair of seats on
some abandoned wharf and
being free to question old Zadok unobserved for an indefinite
time. Before I reached Main Street I could hear a faint and wheezy
"Hey, Mister!" behind me and I presently allowed the old man to catch up
and take copious pulls from the quart bottle.
I began putting out feelers as we walked amidst the omnipresent
desolation and crazily tilted ruins, but found that the aged tongue did
not loosen as quickly as I had expected. At length I saw a grass-grown
opening toward the sea between crumbling brick walls, with the weedy length
of an earth-and-masonry wharf projecting beyond. Piles of moss-covered
stones near the water
promised tolerable seats, and the scene was sheltered
from all possible view by a ruined warehouse on the north. Here,
I thought was the ideal place for a long secret colloquy; so I guided my
companion down the lane and picked out spots to sit in among the mossy
stones. The air of death and desertion was ghoulish, and the smell
of fish almost insufferable; but I was resolved to
let nothing deter me.
About four hours remained for conversation if I were to
catch the eight o'clock coach for Arkham, and I began to dole out more
liquor to the ancient tippler; meanwhile eating my own frugal lunch.
In my donations I was careful not to overshoot the mark, for I did not
wish Zadok's vinous garrulousness to pass into a stupor. After an
hour his furtive taciturnity shewed signs of
disappearing, but much to my disappointment he still
sidetracked my questions about Innsmouth and its shadow-haunted past.
He would babble of current topics, revealing a wide acquaintance with newspapers
and a great tendency to philosophise in a sententious village fashion.
Toward the end of the second hour I feared my quart of
whiskey would not be enough to produce results, and was wondering whether
I had better leave old Zadok and go back for more. Just then, however,
chance made the opening which my questions had been unable to make; and
the wheezing ancient's rambling took a turn that caused me to lean forward
and listen alertly. My
back was toward the fishy-smelling sea, but he was facing
it and something or other had caused his wandering gaze to light on the
low, distant line of Devil Reef, then showing plainly and almost fascinatingly
above the waves. The sight seemed to displease him, for he began
a series of weak curses which ended in a confidential whisper and a knowing
leer. He bent toward me, took
hold of my coat lapel, and hissed out some hints that
could not be mistaken,
"Thar's whar it all begun - that cursed place of all wickedness
whar the deep water starts. Gate o' hell - sheer drop daown to a
bottom no saoundin'-line kin tech. Ol' Cap'n Obed done it - him that
faound aout more'n was good fer him in the Saouth Sea islands.
"Everybody was in a bad way them days. Trade fallin'
off, mills losin' business - even the new ones - an' the best of our menfolks
kilt aprivateerin' in the War of 1812 or lost with the Elizy brig an' the
Ranger scow - both on 'em Gilman venters. Obed Marsh he had three
ships afloat - brigantine Columby, brig Hefty, an' barque Sumatry Queen.
He was the only one as kep' on with
the East-Injy an' Pacific trade, though Esdras Martin's
barkentine Malay Bride made a venter as late as twenty-eight.
"Never was nobody like Cap'n Obed - old limb o' Satan!
Heh, heh! I kin mind him a-tellin' abaout furren parts, an' callin' all
the folks stupid for goin' to Christian meetin' an' bearin' their burdns
meek an' lowly. Says they'd orter git better gods like some o' the
folks in the Injies - gods as ud bring 'em good fishin' in return for their
sacrifices, an' ud reely answer folks's prayers.
"Matt Eliot his fust mate, talked a lot too, only he was
again' folks's doin' any heathen things. Told abaout an island east
of Othaheite whar they was a lot o' stone ruins older'n anybody knew anying
abaout, kind o' like them on Ponape, in the Carolines, but with carven's
of faces that looked like the big statues on Easter Island. Thar
was a little volcanic island near thar, too, whar
they was other ruins with diff'rent carvin' - ruins all
wore away like they'd ben under the sea onct, an' with picters of awful
monsters all over 'em.
"Wal, Sir, Matt he says the natives anound thar had all
the fish they cud ketch, an' sported bracelets an' armlets an' head rigs
made aout o' a queer kind o' gold an' covered with picters o' monsters
jest like the ones carved over the ruins on the little island - sorter
fish-like frogs or froglike fishes that was drawed in all kinds o' positions
likes they was human bein's. Nobody cud get
aout o' them whar they got all the stuff, an' all the
other natives wondered haow they managed to find fish in plenty even when
the very next island had lean pickin's. Matt he got to wonderon'
too an' so did Cap'n Obed. Obed he notices, besides, that lots of
the hn'some young folks ud drop aout o' sight fer good from year to year,
an' that they wan't many old folks around. Also, he
thinks some of the folks looked dinned queer even for
"It took Obed to git the truth aout o' them heathen.
I dun't know haow he done it, but be begun by tradin' fer the gold-like
things they wore. Ast 'em whar they come from, an' ef they cud git
more, an' finally wormed the story aout o' the old chief -- Walakea, they
called him. Nobody but Obed ud ever a believed the old yeller devil,
but the Cap'n cud read folks like they was books.
Heh, heh! Nobody never believes me naow when I tell 'em,
an' I dun't s'pose you will, young feller - though come to look at ye,
ye hev kind o' got them sharp-readin' eyes like Obed had."
The old man's whisper grew fainter, and I found myself
shuddering at the terrible and sincere portentousness of his intonation,
even though I knew his tale could be nothing but drunken phantasy.
"Wal, Sir, Obed he 'lart that they's things on this arth
as most folks never heerd about - an' wouldn't believe ef they did hear.
lt seems these Kanakys was sacrificin' heaps o' their young men an' maidens
to some kind o' god-things that lived under the sea, an' gittin' all kinds
o' favour in return. They met the things on the little islet with
the queer ruins, an' it seems them awful picters o'
frog-fish monsters was supposed to be picters o' these
things. Mebbe they was the kind o' critters as got all the mermaid
stories an' sech started.
"They had all kinds a' cities on the sea-bottom, an' this
island was heaved up from thar. Seem they was some of the things
alive in the stone buildin's when the island come up sudden to the surface,
That's how the Kanakys got wind they was daown thar. Made sign-talk
as soon as they got over bein' skeert, an' pieced up a bargain afore long.
"Them things liked human sacrifices. Had had 'em
ages afore, but lost track o' the upper world after a time. What
they done to the victims it ain't fer me to say, an' I guess Obed was'n't
none too sharp abaout askin'. But it was all right with the heathens,
because they'd ben havin' a hard time an' was desp'rate abaout everything.
They give a sarten number o' young folks to the
sea-things twice every year - May-Eve an' Hallawe'en
- reg'lar as cud be. Also give some a' the carved knick-knacks they
made. What the things agreed to give in return was plenty a' fish
- they druv 'em in from all over the sea - an' a few gold like things naow
"Wal, as I says, the natives met the things on the little
volcanic islet - goin' thar in canoes with the sacrifices et cet'ry, and
bringin' back any of the gold-like jools as was comin' to 'em. At
fust the things didn't never go onto the main island, but arter a time
they come to want to. Seems they hankered arter mixin' with the folks,
an' havin' j'int ceremonies on the big days - May-Eve an'
Hallowe'en. Ye see, they was able to live both
in ant aout o' water - what they call amphibians, I guess. The Kanakys
told 'em as haow folks from the other islands might wanta wipe 'an out
if they got wind o' their bein' thar, but they says they dun't keer much,
because they cud wipe aout the hull brood o' humans ef they was willin'
to bother - that is, any as didn't be, sarten signs
sech as was used onct by the lost Old Ones, whoever they
was. But not wantin' to bother, they'd lay low when anybody visited
"When it come to matin' with them toad-lookin' fishes,
the Kanakys kind o' balked, but finally they larnt something as put a new
face on the matter. Seems that human folks has got a kind a' relation
to sech water-beasts - that everything alive come aout o' the water onct
an' only needs a little change to go back agin. Them things told
the Kanakys that ef they mixed bloods there'd be
children as ud look human at fust, but later turn more'n
more like the things, till finally they'd take to the water an' jine the
main lot o' things daown har. An' this is the important part, young
feller - them as turned into fish things an' went into the water wouldn't
never die. Them things never died excep' they was kilt violent.
"Wal, Sir, it seems by the time Obed knowed them islanders
they was all full o' fish blood from them deep water things. When
they got old an' begun to shew it, they was kep' hid until they felt like
takin' to the water an' quittin' the place. Some was more teched
than others, an' some never did change quite enough to take to the water;
but mosily they turned out jest the way them
things said. Them as was born more like the things
changed arly, but them as was nearly human sometimes stayed on the island
till they was past seventy, though they'd usually go daown under for trial
trips afore that. Folks as had took to the water gen'rally come back
a good deal to visit, so's a man ud often be a'talkin' to his own five-times-great-grandfather
who'd left the dry
land a couple o' hundred years or so afore.
"Everybody got aout o' the idee o' dyin' - excep' in canoe
wars with the other islanders, or as sacrifices to the sea-gods daown below,
or from snakebite or plague or sharp gallopin' ailments or somethin' afore
they cud take to the water - but simply looked forrad to a kind o' change
that wa'n't a bit horrible artet a while. They thought what they'd
got was well wuth all they'd had to
give up - an' I guess Obed kind o' come to think the
same hisself when he'd chewed over old Walakea's story a bit. Walakea,
though, was one of the few as hadn't got none of the fish blood - bein'
of a royal line that intermarried with royal lines on other islands.
"Walakea he shewed Obed a lot o' rites an' incantations
as had to do with the sea things, an' let him see some o' the folks in
the village as had changed a lot from human shape. Somehaow or other,
though, he never would let him see one of the reg'lar things from right
aout o' the water. In the end he give him a funny kind o' thingumajig
made aout o' lead or something, that he said
ud bring up the fish things from any place in the water
whar they might be a nest o' 'em. The idee was to drop it daown with
the right kind o' prayers an' sech. Walakea allowed as the things
was scattered all over the world, so's anybody that looked abaout cud find
a nest an' bring 'em up ef they was wanted.
"Matt he didn't like this business at all, an' wanted
Obed shud keep away from the island; but the Cap'n was sharp fer gain,
an' faound he cud get them gold-like things so cheap it ud pay him to make
a specialty of them. Things went on that way for years an' Obed got
enough o' that gold-like stuff to make him start the refinery in Waite's
old run-daown fullin' mill. He didn't dass sell
the pieces like they was, for folks ud be all the time
askin' questions. All the same his crews ud get a piece an' dispose
of it naow and then, even though they was swore to keep quiet; an' he let
his women-folks wear some o' the pieces as was more human-like than most.
"Well, come abaout thutty-eight - when I was seven year'
old - Obed he faound the island people all wiped aout between v'yages.
Seems the other islanders had got wind o' what was goin' on, and had took
matters into their own hands. S'pose they must a had, after all,
them old magic signs as the sea things says was the only things they was
afeard of. No tellin' what any o' them
Kanakys will chance to git a holt of when the sea-bottom
throws up some island with ruins older'n the deluge. Pious cusses,
these was - they didn't leave nothin' standin' on either the main island
or the little volcanic islet excep' what parts of the ruins was too big
to knock daown. In some places they was little stones strewed abaout
- like charms - with somethin' on 'em like what ye
call a swastika naowadays. Prob'ly them was the
Old Ones' signs. Folks all wiped aout no trace o' no gold-like things
an' none the nearby Kanakys ud breathe a word abaout the matter.
Wouldn't even admit they'd ever ben any people on that island.
"That naturally hit Obed pretty hard, seein' as his normal
trade was doin' very poor. It hit the whole of Innsmouth, too, because
in seafarint days what profited the master of a ship gen'lly profited the
crew proportionate. Most of the folks araound the taown took the
hard times kind o' sheep-like an' resigned, but they was in bad shape because
the fishin' was peterin' aout an' the mills
wan't doin' none too well.
"Then's the time Obed he begun a-cursin' at the folks
fer bein' dull sheep an' prayin' to a Christian heaven as didn't help 'em
none. He told 'em he'd knowed o' folks as prayed to gods that give
somethin' ye reely need, an' says ef a good bunch o' men ud stand by him,
he cud mebbe get a holt o' sarten paowers as ud bring plenty o' fish an'
quite a bit of gold. 0' course them as sarved on
the Sumatry Queen, an' seed the island knowed what he
meant, an' wa'n't none too anxious to get clost to sea-things like they'd
heard tell on, but them as didn't know what 'twas all abaout got kind o'
swayed by what Obed had to say, and begun to ast him what he cud do to
sit 'em on the way to the faith as ud bring 'em results."
Here the old man faltered, mumbled, and lapsed into a
moody and apprehensive silence; glancing nervously over his shoulder and
then turning back to stare fascinatedly at the distant black reef.
When I spoke to him he did not answer, so I knew I would have to let him
finish the bottle. The insane yarn I was hearing interested me profoundly,
for I fancied there was contained within
it a sort of crude allegory based upon the strangeness
of Innsmouth and elaborated by an imagination at once creative and full
of scraps of exotic legend. Not for a moment did I believe that the
tale had any really substantial foundation; but none the less the account
held a hint of genuine terror if only because it brought in references
to strange jewels clearly akin to the malign tiara I
had seen at Newburyport. Perhaps the ornaments
had, after all, come from some strange island; and possibly the wild stories
were lies of the bygone Obed himself rather than of this antique toper.
I handed Zadok the bottle, and he drained it to the last
drop. It was curious how he could stand so much whiskey, for not
even a trace of thickness had come into his high, wheezy voice. He
licked the nose of the bottle and slipped it into his pocket, then beginning
to nod and whisper softly to himself. I bent close to catch any articulate
words he might utter, and thought I saw a
sardonic smile behind the stained bushy whiskers.
Yes - he was really forming words, and I could grasp a fair proportion
"Poor Matt - Matt he allus was agin it - tried to line
up the folks on his side, an' had long talks with the preachers - no use
- they run the Congregational parson aout o' taown, an' the Methodist feller
quit - never did see Resolved Babcock, the Baptist parson, agin - Wrath
0' Jehovy - I was a mightly little critter, but I heerd what I heerd an,
seen what I seen - Dagon an' Ashtoreth -
Belial an' Beelzebub - Golden Caff an' the idols o' Canaan
an' the Philistines - Babylonish abominations - Mene, mene, tekel, upharisn
He stopped again, and from the look in his watery blue
eyes I feared he was close to a stupor after all. But when I gently
shook his shoulder he turned on me with astonishing alertness and snapped
out some more obscure phrases.
"Dun't believe me, hey? Hey, heh, heh - then jest tell
me, young feller, why Cap'n Obed an' twenty odd other folks used to row
aout to Devil Reef in the dead o' night an' chant things so laoud ye cud
hear 'em all over taown when the wind was right? Tell me that, hey? An'
tell me why Obed was allus droppin' heavy things daown into the deep water
t'other side o' the reef whar the
bottom shoots daown like a cliff lower'n ye kin saound?
Tell me what he done with that funny-shaped lead thingumajig as Walakea
give him? Hey, boy? An' what did they all haowl on May-Eve, an, agin the
next Hallowe'en? An' why'd the new church parsons - fellers as used to
he sailors - wear them queer robes an' cover their-selves with them gold-like
things Obed brung? Hey?"
The watery blue eyes were almost savage and maniacal now,
and the dirty white beard bristled electrically. Old Zadok probably
saw me shrink back, for he began to cackle evilly.
"Heh, heh, heh, heh! Beginni'n to see hey? Mebbe ye'd
like to a ben me in them days, when I seed things at night aout to sea
from the cupalo top o' my haouse. Oh, I kin tell ye' little pitchers
hev big ears, an' I wa'n't missin' nothin' o' what was gossiped abaout
Cap'n Obed an' the folks aout to the reef! Heh, heh, heh! Haow abaout the
night I took my pa's ship's glass up to the cupalo
an' seed the reef a-bristlin' thick with shapes that
dove off quick soon's the moon riz?
"Obed an' the folks was in a dory, but them shapes dove
off the far side into the deep water an' never come up ...
"Haow'd ye like to be a little shaver alone up in a cupola
a-watchin' shapes as wa'n't human shapes? ...Heh? ... Heh, heh, heh
The old man was getting hysterical, and I began to shiver
with a nameless alarm. He laid a gnarled claw on my shoulder, and
it seemed to me that its shaking was not altogether that of mirth.
"S'pose one night ye seed somethin' heavy heaved offen
Obed's dory beyond the reef' and then learned next day a young feller was
missin' from home. Hey! Did anybody ever see hide or hair o' Hiram
Gilman agin. Did they? An' Nick Pierce, an' Luelly Waite, an' Adoniram
Saouthwick, an' Henry Garrison Hey? Heh, heh, heh, heh ... Shapes
talkin' sign language with their hands ...
them as had reel hands ...
"Wal, Sir, that was the time Obed begun to git on his
feet agin. Folks see his three darters a-wearin' gold-like things
as nobody'd never see on 'em afore, an' smoke stared comin' aout o' the
refin'ry chimbly. Other folks was prosp'rin, too - fish begun to
swarm into the harbour fit to kill' an' heaven knows what sized cargoes
we begun to ship aout to Newb'ryport, Arkham, an'
Boston. T'was then Obed got the ol' branch railrud
put through. Some Kingsport fishermen heerd abaout the ketch an'
come up in sloops, but they was all lost. Nobody never see 'em agin.
An' jest then our folk organised the Esoteric Order 0' Dagon, an' bought
Masoic Hall offen Calvary Commandery for it ... heh, heh, heh! Matt
Eliot was a Mason an' agin the sellin', but he
dropped aout o' sight jest then.
"Remember, I ain't sayin' Obed was set on hevin' things
jest like they was on that Kanaky isle. I dun't think he aimed at
fust to do no mixin', nor raise no younguns to take to the water an' turn
into fishes with eternal life. He wanted them gold things, an' was
willin' to pay heavy, an' I guess the others was satisfied fer a while
"Come in' forty-six the taown done some lookin' an' thinkin'
fer itself. Too many folks missin' - too much wild preachin' at meetin'
of a Sunday - too much talk abaout that reef. I guess I done a bit
by tellin' Selectman Mowry what I see from the cupalo. They was a
party one night as follered Obed's craowd aout to the reef, an' I heerd
shots betwixt the dories. Nex' day Obed and
thutty-two others was in gaol, with everybody a-wonderin'
jest what was afoot and jest what charge agin 'em cud he got to holt.
God, ef anybody'd look'd ahead ... a couple o' weeks later, when
nothin' had ben throwed into the sea fer thet long ...
Zadok was shewing sings of fright and exhaustion, and
I let him keep silence for a while, though glancing apprehensively at my
watch. The tide had turned and was coming in now, and the sound of
the waves seemed to arouse him. I was glad of that tide, for at high
water the fishy smell might not be so bad. Again I strained to catch
"That awful night ... I seed 'em. I was up
in the cupalo ... hordes of 'em ... swarms of 'em ...
all over the reef an' swimmin' up the harbour into the Manuxet ...
God, what happened in the streets of Innsmouth that night ... they
rattled our door, but pa wouldn't open ... then he clumb aout the
kitchen winder with his musket to find Selecman Mowry an' see what he cud
Maounds o' the dead an' the dyin' ... shots and
screams ... shaoutin' in Ol Squar an' Taown Squar an' New Church
Green - gaol throwed open ... - proclamation ... treason ...
called it the plague when folks come in an' faoud haff our people missin'
... nobody left but them as ud jine in with Obed an' them things
or else keep quiet ... never heard o' my pa no more... "
The old man was panting and perspiring profusely.
His grip on my shoulder tightened.
"Everything cleaned up in the mornin' - but they was traces
... Obed he kinder takes charge an' says things is goin' to be changed
... others'll worship with us at meetin'-time, an' sarten haouses
hez got to entertin guests ... they wanted to mix like they done
with the Kanakys, an' he for one didn't feel baound to stop 'em.
Far gone, was Obed ... jest like a crazy man on the subjeck.
He says they brung us fish an' treasure, an' shud hev
what they hankered after ..."
"Nothin' was to be diff'runt on the aoutsid; only we was
to keep shy o' strangers ef we knowed what was good fer us.
"We all hed to take the Oath o' Dagon, an' later on they
was secon' an' third oaths that some o' us took. Them as ud help
special, ud git special rewards - gold an' sech - No use balkin', fer they
was millions of 'em daown thar. They'd ruther not start risin' an'
wipin' aout human-kind, but ef they was gave away an' forced to, they cud
do a lot toward jest that. We didn't hev them old
charms to cut 'em off like folks in the Saouth Sea did,
an' them Kanakys wudu't never give away their secrets.
"Yield up enough sacrifices an' savage knick-knacks an'
harbourage in the taown when they wanted it, an' they'd let well enough
alone. Wudn't bother no strangers as might bear tales aoutside -
that is, withaout they got pryin'. All in the band of the faithful
- Order 0' Dagon - an' the children shud never die, but go back to the
Mother Hydra an' Father Dagon what we all come from
onct ... Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh
Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah-nagl fhtaga - "
Old Zadok was fast lapsing into stark raving, and I held
my breath. Poor old soul - to what pitiful depths of hallucination
had his liquor, plus his hatred of the decay, alienage, and disease around
him, brought that fertile, imaginative brain? He began to moan now, and
tears were coursing down his channelled checks into the depths of his beard.
"God, what I seen senct I was fifteen year' old - Mene,
mene, tekel, upharsin! - the folks as was missin', and them as kilt theirselves
- them as told things in Arkham or Ipswich or sech places was all called
crazy, like you're callin' me right naow - but God, what I seen - They'd
a kilt me long ago fer' what I know, only I'd took the fust an' secon'
Oaths o' Dago offen Obed, so was
pertected unlessen a jury of 'em proved I told things
knowin' an' delib'rit ... but I wudn't take the third Oath - I'd
a died ruther'n take that -
"It got wuss araound Civil War time, when children born
senct 'forty-six begun to grow up - some 'em, that is. I was afeared
- never did no pryin' arter that awful night, an' never see one o' - them
- clost to in all my life. That is, never no full-blooded one.
I went to the war, an' ef I'd a had any guts or sense I'd a never come
back, but settled away from here. But folks wrote me
things wa'n't so bad. That, I s'pose, was because
gov'munt draft men was in taown arter 'sixty-three. Arter the war
it was jest as bad agin. People begun to fall off - mills an' shops
shet daown - shippin' stopped an' the harbour choked up - railrud give
up - but they ... they never stopped swimmin' in an' aout o' the
river from that cursed reef o' Satan - an' more an' more attic winders
got a-boarded up, an' more an' more noises was heerd
in haouses as wa'n't s'posed to hev nobody in 'em...
"Folks aoutside hev their stories abaout us - s'pose you've
heerd a plenty on 'em, seein' what questions ye ast - stories abaout things
they've seed naow an' then, an' abaout that queer joolry as still comes
in from somewhars an' ain't quite all melted up - but nothin' never gits
def'nite. Nobody'll believe nothin'. They call them gold-like
things pirate loot, an' allaow the Innsmouth folks
hez furren blood or is dis-tempered or somethin'.
Beside, them that lives here shoo off as many strangers as they kin, an'
encourage the rest not to git very cur'ous, specially raound night time.
Beasts balk at the critters - hosses wuss'n mules - but when they got autos
that was all right.
"In 'forty-six Cap'n Obed took a second wife that nobody
in the taown never see - some says he didn't want to, but was made to by
them as he'd called in - had three children by her - two as disappeared
young, but one gal as looked like anybody else an' was eddicated in Europe.
Obed finally got her married off by a trick to an Arkham feller as didn't
suspect nothin'. But nobody
aoutside'll hav nothin' to do with Innsmouth folks naow.
Barnabas Marsh that runs the refin'ry now is Obed's grandson by his fust
wife - son of Onesiphorus, his eldest son, but his mother was another o'
them as wa'n't never seen aoutdoors.
"Right naow Barnabas is abaout changed. Can't shet
his eyes no more, an' is all aout o' shape. They say he still wears
clothes, but he'll take to the water soon. Mebbe he's tried it already
- they do sometimes go daown for little spells afore they go daown for
good. Ain't ben seed abaout in public fer nigh on ten year'.
Dun't know haow his poor wife kin feel - she come from
Ipiwich, an' they nigh lynched Barnabas when he courted
her fifty odd year' ago. Obed he died in 'seventy-eight an' all the
next gen'ration is gone naow - the fust wife's children dead, and the rest
... God knows ..."
The sound of the incoming tide was now very insistent,
and little by little it seemed to change the old man's mood from maudlin
tearfulness to watchful fear. He would pause now and then to renew
those nervous glances over his shoulder or out toward the reef, and despite
the wild absurdity of his tale, I could not help beginning to share his
apprehensiveness. Zadok now grew
shriller, seemed to be trying to whip up his courage
with louder speech.
"Hey, yew, why dun't ye say somethin'? Haow'd ye like
to he livin' in a taown like this, with everything a-rottin' an' dyin',
an' boarded-up monsters crawlin' an' bleatin' an' barkin' an' hoppin' araoun'
black cellars an' attics every way ye turn? Hey? Haow'd ye like to hear
the haowlin' night arter night from the churches an' Order 0' Dagon Hall,
an' know what's doin' part o' the haowlin'?
Haow'd ye like to hear what comes from that awful reef
every May-Eve an' Hallowmass? Hey? Think the old man's crazy, eh? Wal,
Sir, let me tell ye that ain't the wust!"
Zadok was really screaming now, and the mad frenzy of
his voice disturbed me more than I care to own.
"Curse ye, dun't set thar a'starin' at me with them eyes
- I tell Obed Marsh he's in hell, an, hez got to stay thar! Heh, heh ...
in hell, I says! Can't git me - I hain't done nothin' nor told nobody nothin'
"Oh, you, young feller? Wal, even ef I hain't told nobody
nothin' yet, I'm a'goin' to naow! Yew jest set still an' listen to me,
boy - this is what I ain't never told nobody... I says I didn't get
to do pryin' arter that night - but I faound things about jest the same!"
"Yew want to know what the reel horror is, hey? Wal, it's
this - it ain't what them fish devils hez done, but what they're a-goin'
to do! They're a-bringin' things up aout o' whar they come from into the
taown - been doin' it fer years, an' slackenin' up lately. Them haouses
north o' the river be-twixt Water an' Main Streets is full of 'em - them
devils an' what they brung - an' when they
git ready ... I say, when they git... ever
hear tell of a shoggoth?
"Hey, d'ye hear me? I tell ye I know what them things
be - I seen 'em one night when ... eh-ahhh-ah! e'yahhh ...
The hideous suddenness and inhuman frightfulness of the
old man's shriek almost made me faint. His eyes, looking past me
toward the malodorous sea, were positively starting from his head; while
his face was a mask of fear worthy of Greek tragedy. His bony claw
dug monstrously into my shoulder, and he made no motion as I turned my
head to look at whatever he had
There was nothing that I could see. Only the incoming
tide, with perhaps one set of ripples more local than the long-flung line
of breakers. But now Zadok was shaking me, and I turned back to watch
the melting of that fear-frozen face into a chaos of twitching eyelids
and mumbling gums. Presently his voice came back - albeit as a trembling
"Git aout o' here! Get aout o' here! They seen us - git
aout fer your life! Dun't wait fer nothin' - they know naow - Run fer it
- quick - aout o' this taown - -"
Another heavy wave dashed against the loosing masonry
of the bygone wharf, and changed the mad ancient's whisper to another inhuman
and blood-curdling scream. "E-yaahhhh! ... Yheaaaaaa!..."
Before I could recover my scattered wits he had relaxed
his clutch on my shoulder and dashed wildly inland toward the street, reeling
northward around the ruined warehouse wall.
I glanced back at the sea, but there was nothing there.
And when I reached Water Street and looked along it toward the north there
was no remaining trace of Zadok Allen.