Collected Stories – Part 1 – Day 126 of 276

“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 his whispers.

“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 do…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 aoutside; 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 wudn’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.

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