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 no trace of any prints in the fresh mud. The
fishy odour, too, was gone, Innsmouth's ruined roofs and toppling steeples
loomed up greyly toward the southeast, but not a living creature did I
spy in all the desolate salt marshes around.
My watch was still going, and told me that the hour was
The reality of what I had been through was highly uncertain
in my mind, but I felt that something hideous lay in the background.
I must get away from evil-shadowed Innsmouth - and accordingly I began
to test my cramped, wearied powers of locomotion. Despite weakness
hunger, horror, and bewilderment I found myself after a time able to walk;
so started slowly along the
muddy road to Rowley. Before evening I was in village,
getting a meal and providing myself with presentable cloths. I caught
the night train to Arkham, and the next day talked long and earnestly with
government officials there; a process I later repeated in Boston.
With the main result of these colloquies the public is now familiar - and
I wish, for normality's sake, there were
nothing more to tell. Perhaps it is madness that
is overtaking me - yet perhaps a greater horror - or a greater marvel -
is reaching out.
As may well be imagined, I gave up most of the foreplanned
features of the rest of my tour - the scenic, architectural, and antiquarian
diversions on which I had counted so heavily. Nor did I dare look
for that piece of strange jewelry said to be in the Miskatonic University
Museum. I did, however, improve my stay in Arkham by collecting some
genealogical notes I had long
wished to possess; very rough and hasty data, it is true,
but capable of good use later no when I might have time to collate and
codify them. The curator of the historical society there - Mr.
B. Lapham Peabody - was very courteous about assisting me, and expressed
unusual interest when I told him I was a grandson of Eliza Orne of Arkham,
who was born in 1867 and had married
James Williamson of Ohio at the age of seventeen.
It seemed that a material uncle of mine had been there
many years before on a quest much like my own; and that my grandmother's
family was a topic of some local curiosity. There had, Mr.
Peabody said, been considerable discussion about the marriage of her father,
Benjamin Orne, just after the Civil War; since the ancestry of the bride
was peculiarly puzzling. That bride was
understood to have been an orphaned Marsh of New Hampshire
- a cousin of the Essex County Marshes - but her education had been in
France and she knew very little of her family. A guardian had deposited
funds in a Boston bank to maintain her and her French governess; but that
guardian's name was unfamiliar to Arkham people, and in time he dropped
out of sight, so that the
governess assumed the role by court appointment.
The Frenchwoman - now long dead - was very taciturn, and there were those
who said she would have told more than she did.
But the most baffling thing was the inability of anyone
to place the recorded parents of the young woman - Enoch and Lydia (Meserve)
Marsh - among the known families of New Hampshire. Possibly, many
suggested, she was the natural daughter 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 the birth of my grandmother - her only
child. Having formed some disagreeable impressions connected with
the name of Marsh, I did not welcome the news that it belonged on my own
ancestral tree; nor was I pleased by Mr. Peabody's suggestion that
I had the true Marsh eyes myself. However, I was grateful for data
which I knew would prove valuable; and took
copious notes and lists of book references regarding
the well-documented Orne family.
I went directly home to Toledo from Boston, and later
spent a month at Maumee recuperating 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 wholesome activities - reminded of the bygone
terror only by occasional official visits from government men in connexion
with the campaign which my pleas
and evidence had started. Around the middle of
July - just a year after the Innsmouth experience - 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 a connected chart I could construct.
I did not exactly relish this task, for the atmosphere
of the Williamson home had always depressed me. There was a strain
of morbidity there, and my mother had never encouraged my visiting her
parents as a child, although she always welcomed her father when he came
to Toledo. My Arkham-born grandmother had seemed strange and almost
terrifying to me, and I do not think I
grieved when she disappeared. I was eight years
old then, and it was said that she had wandered 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. Something about 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
condition took him to the permanent seclusion of a sanitarium
at Canton. I had not seen him in four years, but my uncle once implied
that his state, both mental and physical, was very bad. This worry
had probably been a major cause of his mother's death two years before.
My grandfather and his widowed son Walter now comprised
the Cleveland household, but the memory of older times hung thickly over
it. I still disliked the place, and tried to get my researches done
as quickly as possible. Williamson records and traditions were supplied
in abundance by my grandfather; though for Orne material I had to depend
on my uncle Walter, who put 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 to acquire a kind of terror of my own ancestry.
As I have said, my grandmother and Uncle Douglas had always disturbed me.
Now, years after their passing, I gazed at their pictured faces with a
measurably heightened feeling of repulsion and alienation. I could
not at first understand the change, but
gradually a horrible sort of comparison began to obtrude
itself on my unconscious mind despite the steady refusal of my consciousness
to admit even the least suspicion of it. It was clear that the typical
expression of these faces now suggested something it had not suggested
before - something which would bring stark panic if too openly thought
But the worst shock came when my uncle shewed me the Orne
jewellery in a downtown safe deposit vault. Some of the items were
delicate and inspiring enough, but there was one box of strange old pieces
descended from my mysterious great-grandmother which my uncle was almost
reluctant to produce. They were, he said, of very grotesque and almost
repulsive design, and
had never to his knowledge been publicly worn; though
my grandmother used to enjoy looking at them. Vague legends of bad
luck clustered around them, and my great-grandmother's French governess
had said they ought not to be worn in New England, 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 not to be shocked by the strangeness and frequent hideousness
of the designs. Artists and archaeologists who had seen them pronounced
their workmanship superlatively and exotically exquisite, though no one
seemed able to define their exact material or assign them to any specific
art tradition. There
were two armlets, a tiara, and a kind of pectoral; the
latter having in high relief certain figures of almost unbearable extravagance.
During this description I had kept a tight rein on my
emotions, but my face must have betrayed my mounting fears. My uncle
looked concerned, and paused in his unwrapping to study my countenance.
I motioned to him to continue, which he did with renewed signs of reluctance.
He seemed to expect some demonstration when the first piece - the tiara
- became visible, but I
doubt if he expected quite what actually happened.
I did not expect it, either, for I thought I was thoroughly forewarned
regarding what the jewellery would turn out to be. What I did was
to faint silently away, just as I had done in that brier choked railway
cut a year before.
From that day on my life has been a nightmare of brooding
and apprehension nor do I know how much is hideous truth and how much madness.
My great-grandmother had been a Marsh of unknown source whose husband lived
in Arkham - and did not old Zadok say that the daughter of Obed Marsh by
a monstrous mother was married to an Arkham man trough trick? What was
it the ancient toper had muttered about the line of my
eyes to Captain Obed's? In Arkham, too, the curator 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? But perhaps this was
all madness. Those whitish-gold ornaments might easily have been
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 and self-slain
uncle might be sheer fancy on my part - sheer fancy, bolstered up by the
Innsmouth shadow which had so darkly coloured my imagination. But
why had 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 in routine as deeply as possible. In
the winter of 1930-31, however, the dreams began. They were very
sparse and insidious at first, but increased in frequency and vividness
as the weeks went by. Great watery spaces opened out
before me, and I seemed to wander through titanic sunken
porticos and labyrinths of weedy cyclopean walls with grotesque fishes
as my companions. Then the other shapes began to appear, filling
me with nameless horror the moment I awoke. But during the dreams
they did not horrify me at all - I was one with them; wearing their unhuman
trappings, treading their aqueous
ways, and praying monstrously at their evil sea-bottom
There was much more than I could remember, but even what
I did remember each morning would be enough to stamp me as a madman or
a genius if ever I dared write it down. Some frightful influence,
I felt, was seeking gradually to drag me out of the sane world of wholesome
life into unnamable abysses of blackness and alienage; and the process
told heavily on me. My health
and appearance grew steadily worse, till finally I was
forced to give up my position and adopt the static, secluded life of an
invalid. Some odd nervous affliction had me 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 slow ravages of disease are not pleasant to watch, but
in my case there was something subtler and more puzzling in the background.
My father seemed to notice 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 my
grandmother 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 strange leprous corals and grotesque brachiate efflorescences,
and welcomed me with a warmth that may have been sardonic. She had
changed - as those who take to the water change - and told me she had never
she had gone to a spot her 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 to be my realm, too -
I could not escape it. I would never die, but would live with those
who had lived since before man ever walked the earth.
I met also that which had been her grandmother.
For eighty thousand years Pth'thya-l'yi had lived in Y'ha-nthlei, and thither
she had gone back after Obed Marsh was dead. Y'ha-nthlei was not
destroyed when the upper-earth men shot death into the sea. It was
hurt, but not destroyed. The Deep Ones could never be destroyed,
even though the palaeogean magic of the forgotten
Old Ones might sometimes check them. For the present
they would rest; but some day, if they remembered, they would rise again
for the tribute Great Cthulhu craved. It would be a city greater
than Innsmouth next time. They had planned to spread, and had brought
up that which would help them, but now they must wait once more.
For bringing the upper-earth men's death I
must do a penance, but that would not be heavy.
This was the dream in which I saw a shoggoth for the first time, and the
sight set me awake in a frenzy of screaming. That morning the 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 automatic and almost took the step, but certain dreams deterred
me. The tense extremes of horror are lessening, and I feel queerly
drawn toward the unknown sea-deeps instead of fearing them. I hear
and do strange things in sleep, and awake with a kind of exaltation instead
of terror. I do not believe I need to
wait for the full change as most have waited. If
I did, my father would probably shut me up in a sanitarium as my poor little
cousin is shut up. Stupendous and unheard-of splendors await me below,
and I shall seek them soon. Ia-R'lyehl Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia! No,
I shall not shoot myself - I cannot be made to shoot myself!
I shall plan my cousin's escape from that Canton mad-house,
and together we shall go to marvel-shadowed Innsmouth. We shall swim
out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses
to Cyclopean and many-columned Y'ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep
Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory for ever.