The Strange High House in the Mist (1931)
Tuesday’s Tale of Terror June 25, 2013
In the morning mist comes up from the sea by the cliffs beyond Kingsport. White and feathery it comes from the deep to its brothers the clouds, full of dreams of dank pastures and caves of leviathan.
Where are we? Come in a little closer …
In still summer rains on the steep roofs of poets, the clouds scatter bits of those dreams, that men shall not live without rumour of old, strange secrets, and wonders that planets tell planets alone in the night.
If you didn’t recognize this deep and delicious opening, we are in H.P. Lovecraft’s world. Can you feel the mystical whiteness surround you? Something mythical is floating in. Look up at the ancient grey low-eaved house high on a sinister north crag. A nameless hermit dwells there—as the story goes—an Elder “One” who talks with the morning mists. Tales of fierce lightning shooting from the house and terrible shapes that flapped out of the mists haunt the little town of Kingsport. No one dares to ascend the cliff to the house perched on the rim of the earth with no path above the sea. The sea-folk often speak of the house’s gray peaked roof and the dim yellow lights that sometimes emit from the small windows.
Maybe, like me, you’re tempted to visit this strange house in the mists? What kind of creature could possibly live there? Man? Beast? Mighty One?
One summer, Thomas Olney, a philosopher comes to Kingsport and becomes more than just curious about the strange high house and the sea-folks’ rumours of old. What secrets are there? For Thomas, the high cliffs call him from cryptic ethers with bells sounding and wild cries. He decides he must go to the mountaintop. His climb is slow and perilous through caves, pathless woods, and a great chasm until he finds the grey cottage standing bold in the seaward vapors.
The bricks of the house are crumbling; the shingles are worm-eaten. No door on the landward side—only lattice windows. Thomas stands on the narrow rim of the cliff among the clouds and chaos. The sea’s mist thickens at thousands of feet above the thrashing waves. Poor Thomas, alone in the frightful sky, clinging to the cottage wall, wind bracing his face, he peers into the leaded bull’s eye windowpane. A halting sound strikes him with terror.
To find out what happens to Thomas Olney (and it’s quite a fantastical ride that you won’t want to miss, as only Lovecraft would deliver), you can read it here at HPLovecraft.com (short read at 3800 words).
Here’s a cool commentary by Chris Lackey and Chadd Fiffer at HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast; the posted comments are interesting interpretations. Stop by.
As to this amazing house on the crag, did the art catch your eye? It certainly captured mine. This art titled The High House in the Mist is compliments of award-winning artist Armand Cabrera. You can view his profile and web site below. Stop by his very popular blog site: ArtAndInfluence.blogspot.com
Artwork by Armand Cabrera © 2013 All rights reserved.
If you have any thoughts about Lovecraft’s ending or the meaning of this story, I’d love to hear it. Please drop a line or comment.