Chapter 2

ItwasinthetownshipofDunwich,inalargeandpartlyinhabitedfarmhousesetagainstahillsidefourmilesfromthevillageandamileandahalffromanyotherdwelling,thatWilburWhateleywasbornat5a.m.onSunday,thesecondofFebruary,1913.ThisdatewasrecalledbecauseitwasCandlemas,whichpeopleinDunwichcuriouslyobserveunderanothername;andbecausethenoisesinthehillshadsounded,andallthedogsofthecountrysidehadbarkedpersistently,throughoutthenightbefore.LessworthyofnoticewasthefactthatthemotherwasoneofthedecadentWhateleys,asomewhatdeformed,unattractivealbinowomanofthirty-five,livingwithanagedandhalf-insanefatheraboutwhomthemostfrightfultalesofwizardryhadbeenwhisperedinhisyouth.LaviniaWhateleyhadnoknownhusband,butaccordingtothecustomoftheregionmadenoattempttodisavowthechild;concerningtheothersideofwhoseancestrythecountryfolkmightanddidspeculateaswidelyastheychose.Onthecontrary,sheseemedstrangelyproudofthedark,goatish-lookinginfantwhoformedsuchacontrasttoherownsicklyandpink-eyedalbinism,andwasheardtomuttermanycuriouspropheciesaboutitsunusualpowersandtremendousfuture.

Laviniawasonewhowouldbeapttomuttersuchthings,forshewasalonecreaturegiventowanderingamidstthunderstormsinthehillsandtryingtoreadthegreatodorousbookswhichherfatherhadinheritedthroughtwocenturiesofWhateleys,andwhichwerefastfallingtopieceswithageandwormholes.Shehadneverbeentoschool,butwasfilledwithdisjointedscrapsofancientlorethatOldWhateleyhadtaughther.TheremotefarmhousehadalwaysbeenfearedbecauseofOldWhateley’sreputationforblackmagic,andtheunexplaineddeathbyviolenceofMrsWhateleywhenLaviniawastwelveyearsoldhadnothelpedtomaketheplacepopular.

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