Something like fear chilled me as I sat there in the small hours alone–I say alone, for one who sits by a sleeper is indeed alone, perhaps more alone than he can realise. My uncle breathed heavily, his deep inhalations and exhalations accompanied by the rain outside, and punctuated by another nerve-racking sound of dripping water within–for the house was repulsively damp even in dry weather, and in this storm positively swamp-like. I studied the loose, antique masonry of the walls in the fungus-light and the feeble rays which stole in from the street through the screened windows; and once, when the noisome atmosphere of the place seemed to sicken me, I opened the door and looked up and down the street, feasting my eyes on familiar sights and my nostrils on the wholesome air. Still nothing occurred to reward my watching; and I yawned repeatedly, fatigue getting the better of apprehension.
Then the stirring of my uncle in his sleep attracted my notice. He had turned restlessly on the cot several times during the latter half of the first hour, but now he was breathing with unusual irregularity, occasionaly heaving a sigh which held more than a few of the qualities of a choking moan. I turned my electric flashlight on him and found his face averted, so rising and crossing to the other side of the cot–
Oh god don’t do that.
I again flashed the light to see if he seemed in any pain.
I SAID DON’T DO THAT.
What I saw unnerved me most surprisingly, considering its relative triviality.
THIS IS GONNA BE GOOD.
It must have been merely the association of any odd circumstance with the sinister nature of our location and mission, for surely the circumstance
GET ON WITH IT MAN.
was not itself frightful or unnatural.
It was merely that my uncle’s facial expression, disturbed no doubt by the strange dreams which our situation prompted, betrayed considerable agitation, and seemed not at all characteristic of him. His habitual expression was one of kindly and well-bred calm, whereas now a variety of emotions seemed struggling within him.
Well that’s disappointing.
I think, on the whole, that it was this variety which chiefly disturbed me. My uncle, as he gasped and tossed in increasing perturbation and with eyes that had now started open, seemed not one but many men, and suggested a curious quality of alienage from himself.
All at once he commenced to mutter, and I did not like the look of his mouth and teeth as he spoke.
You’re going to kill your uncle with the flashlight, aren’t you? DON’T KILL YOUR UNCLE WITH THE FLASHLIGHT.
The words were at first indistinguishable, and then–with a tremendous start–I recognised something about them which filled with me icy fear
He’s speaking French, isn’t he?
till I recalled the breadth of my uncle’s education and the interminable translations he had made from anthropological and antiquarian articles in the Revue des Deux Mondes. For the venerable Elihu Whipple was muttering in French
OH GOD HE’S SPEAKING IN FRENCH KILL HIM WITH THE FLASHLIGHT KILL HIM WITH THE FLASHLIGHT
and the few phrases
WHAT WAS THAT NOISE
I could distinguish seemed
I THINK THAT WAS A CAT SCREAMING
connected with the darkest myths
WHAT WAS THAT NOISE THAT WAS A DIFFERENT NOISE
he had ever adapted from the famous Paris magazine
I AM LITERALLY GOING TO DIE SOMEONE TELL ME WHAT THAT NOISE IS