Chapter 4

ForadecadetheannalsoftheWhateleyssinkindistinguishablyintothegenerallifeofamorbidcommunityusedtotheirqueerwaysandhardenedtotheirMayEveandAll–Hallowsorgies.TwiceayeartheywouldlightfiresonthetopofSentinelHill,atwhichtimesthemountainrumblingswouldrecurwithgreaterandgreaterviolence;whileatallseasonstherewerestrangeandportentousdoingsatthelonelyfarm-house.Inthecourseoftimecallersprofessedtohearsoundsinthesealedupperstoreyevenwhenallthefamilyweredownstairs,andtheywonderedhowswiftlyorhowlingeringlyacoworbullockwasusuallysacrificed.TherewastalkofacomplainttotheSocietyforthePreventionofCrueltytoAnimalsbutnothingevercameofit,sinceDunwichfolkareneveranxioustocalltheoutsideworld’sattentiontothemselves.

About1923,whenWilburwasaboyoftenwhosemind,voice,stature,andbeardedfacegavealltheimpressionsofmaturity,asecondgreatsiegeofcarpentrywentonattheoldhouse.Itwasallinsidethesealedupperpart,andfrombitsofdiscardedlumberpeopleconcludedthattheyouthandhisgrandfatherhadknockedoutallthepartitionsandevenremovedtheatticfloor,leavingonlyonevastopenvoidbetweenthegroundstoreyandthepeakedroof.Theyhadtorndownthegreatcentralchimney,too,andfittedtherustyrangewithaflimsyoutsidetinstove-pipe.

InthespringafterthiseventOldWhateleynoticedthegrowingnumberofwhippoorwillsthatwouldcomeoutofColdSpringGlentochirpunderhiswindowatnight.

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