"The Fearful Old Man"

brought over from "The Terrible Old Man" by H. P. Lovecraft

English draft at [1]

It was the plot off Angelo Ricci and Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva to call on the Fearful Old Man. This old man dwells allone in a true old house on Water Road near to the sea, and is reckoned to be both too rich and too weak; which makes a standing true quemely to men off the trade off Messrs. Ricci, Czanek, and Silva, for that trade was nothing less earlish than thieving.

The townfolk off Kingsford say and think many things about the Fearful Old Man which most often keep him sound from the heed off drightfolk like Master Ricci and his fellows, notwithstanding the almost wis fact that he hides a gavelhoard off unbound greatness somewhere about his musty and on-drysen abode. He is, in truth, a true uncouth man, believed to have been a headman off East Hinduland clipper ships in his day; so old that no one can bethink when he was young, and so untalkly that few know his true name. Among the gnarled trees in the foreyard off his old and forsaken stead he keeps a weird gathering off big stones, odd clustered and dyed so that they look like the offgods in some hidden Eastern church. This gathering frightens away most off the small boys who love to tease the Fearful Old Man about his long white hair and beard, or to break the small sheeted windows off his home with wicked shots; but there are other things which frighten the more old and more ferwetful folk who sometimes steal up to the house to peer in through the dusty windows. These folk say that on a board in a bare room on the ground floor are many weird flasks, in each a small bit off lead hung down from a string. And they say that the Fearful Old Man talks with these flasks, calling them by such names as Jack, Scarface, Long Tom, Spanish Joe, Peters, and Mate Ellis, and that whenever he speaks to a flask the little lead downhanging within makes unmistakeworth quiverings as if in answer.

Those who have watched the tall, lean, Fearful Old Man in these weird talks do not watch him again. But Angelo Ricci and Joe Czanek and Manuel Silva were not off Kingsford blood; they were off that new and mixed outlandish stock which lies outside the spellbound ring off New England life and thew, and they saw in the Fearful Old Man mere a tottering, almost helploose grey beard, who could not walk without the help off his knotted staff, and whose thin, weak hands shook rueful. They were true most sorry in their way for the allonely, unfonded old fellow, whom everybody shunned, and at whom all the dogs barked odd. But business is business, and to a thief whose soul is in his trade, there is a costing and a dare about a true old and true weak man who has no ledger at the geldhouse, and who yields for his few needs at the town shop with Spanish gold and silver minted twohundred years ago.

Messrs. Ricci, Czanek, and Silva chose the night off April 11th for their call. Master Ricci and Master Silva were to befraign the poor old bern, while Master Czanek waited for them and their foretakeworth burden off ore with a wriened roadwain in Ship Street, by the gate in the tall hind wall off their host’s grounds. The hope to miss needloose outlayings in the case off unforeseen lawwarden harrying shinded these plots for a still and unloffyearn outfaring.

As forestighted, the three outfarers each started out allone thus to forestall any evil minded inklings afterward. Messrs. Ricci and Silva met in Waterroad by the old man’s foregate, and although they did not fond the way the moon shone down upon the dyed stones through the budding twigs off the gnarled trees, they had more thringing things to think about than little idle overbelief. They feared it might be bitter work making the Fearful Old Man gabby about his hoarded gold and silver, for old seaheadmen are most stubborn and uncouth. Still, he was very old and very weak, and there were two callers. Messrs. Ricci and Silva were wise in the craft off making unwilling folk speechful, and the screams off a weak and unmeet enough elderly man can be easy deadened. So they went up to the one lighted window and heard the Fearful Old Man talking childish to his flasks with downhangings. They then put on fake nebs and knocked kind at the weather stained oak door.

Waiting seemed true long to Master Czanek as he fidgeted restloose in the wriened roadwain by the Fearful Old Man’s backgate in Ship Road. He was more than gemean tender hearted, and he did not fond the ghastly screams that he had heard in the old house only after the stound set for the deed. Had he not told his fellows to be soft as they could be with the rueful old seaheadman? True edgily he watched that narrow oak gate in the high and ivy clad stone wall. Often he looked at his watch, and wondered at the tarrying. Had the old man died before unheling where his hoard was hidden, and had a thorough combing become needful? Master Czanek did not fond to wait so long in the dark in such a stead. Then he sensed a soft tread or tapping on the walk inside the gate, heard a soft fumbling at the rusty latch, and saw the narrow, heavy door swing inward. And in the wan glow off the one dim roadlamp he squinted his eyes to see what his fellows had brought out from that forbidding house which loomed so near behind. But when he looked, he did not see what he had thought; for his fellows were not there at all, but only the Fearful Old Man leaning ringloose on his knotted staff and smiling grim. Master Czanek had never before heeded the hue off that man’s eyes; now he saw that they were yellow.

Little things make a mighty stir in little towns, which is why that Kingsford folk talked all that spring and summer about the three unacknowworth bodies, frightful cut as with many seaswords, and frightful twisted as by the tread off many ruthloose bootheels, which the tide washed in. And some folk even spoke off things paltry as the forsaken roadwain found in Ship Road, or true unmennish screams, most likely off a lost wight or northfaring bird, heard in the night by wakeful burgars. But off this idle town gossip the Fearful Old Man took no heed at all. He was by lund withdrawn, and when one is old and weak, one’s withholding is twice as strong. Beside, so eldern a seaheadman must have witted scores off things much more stirring in the faroff days off his unbethought youth.

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