The Watchers Out of Time

The Watchers Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft Read Free Book Online

Book: The Watchers Out of Time by H.P. Lovecraft Read Free Book Online
Authors: H.P. Lovecraft
conducting me into the adjoining room and showing me the couch. On the way in, I picked up the
Seventh Book of Moses,
impelled by curiosity inspired by decades of hearing talk of the potent wonders between its covers; though he eyed me strangely, my host made no objection, and returned to his wicker rocking chair in the next room again, leaving me to my own devices.
    Outside, the rain still came down in torrential gusts. I made myself comfortable on the couch, which was an old-fashioned leather-overed affair, with a high headrest, moved the lamp over close—for its light was very feeble—and commenced to read in the
Seventh Book of Moses,
which, I soon found, was a curious rigmarole of chants and incantations to such “princes” of the nether world as Aziel, Mephistopheles, Marbuel, Barbuel, Aniquel, and others. The incantations were of many kinds; some were designed to cure illness, others to grant wishes; some were meant for success in undertakings, others for vengeance upon one’s enemies. The reader was repeatedly warned in the text of how terrible some of the words were, so much so, that perhaps because of these adjurations, I was compelled to copy the worst of the incantations which caught my eye—
Aila himel adonaij amara Zebaoth cadas yeseraije haralius
—which was nothing less than an incantation for the assemblage of devils or spirits, or the raising of the dead.
    And, having copied it, I was not loath to say it aloud several times, not for a moment expecting anything untoward to take place. Nor did it. So I put the book aside and looked at my watch. Eleven o’clock. It seemed to me that the force of the rain had begun to diminish; it was no longer such a downpour; that lessening which always foretells the end of a rain storm within a reasonably short time had begun. Marking the appointments of the room well, so that I would not stumble over any object of furniture on my way back to the room where my host waited, I put out the light to rest a little while before taking to the road once more.
    But, tired as I was, I found it hard to compose myself.
    It was not alone that the couch on which I lay was hard and cold, but that the very atmosphere of the house seemed oppressive. Like its owner, it had about it a kind of resignation, an air of waiting for the inevitable, as if it, too, knew that sooner rather than later its weatherbeaten siding would buckle outward and its roof fall inward to bring an end to its increasingly precarious existence. But there was something more than this atmosphere of so many old houses which it possessed; it was a resignation tinged with apprehension—that same apprehension which had caused old Amos Stark to hesitate about answering my knock; and soon I caught myself listening, too, as Stark did, for more than the patter of the rain, steadily diminishing now, and the incessant gnawing of mice.
    My host did not sit still. Every little while he rose, and I could hear him shuffle from place to place; now it was the window, now the door; he went to try them, to make sure they were locked; then he came back and sat down again. Sometimes he muttered to himself; perhaps he had lived too long alone and had fallen into that common habit of isolated, reclusive people, of talking to himself. For the most part what he said was indistinguishable, almost inaudible, but on occasion some words came through, and it occurred to me that one of the things which occupied his thoughts was the amount of interest that would be due on the money he owed Nahum Wentworth, were it now collectible. “A hunderd an’ fifty dollars a year,” he kept saying. “Comes to seven-fifty”—said with something akin to awe. There was more of this, and there was something more which troubled me more than I cared to admit.
    Something the old man said was upsetting when pieced together; but he said none of it consecutively. “I fell,” he muttered, and there followed a sentence or two of inanities. “All they was to

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