Impari lentamente, mio amato, ma impari. E ciò che si impara lentamente scende più nel profondo. Voi uomini e i vostri Dei! Vi beffate della Madre per la sua lentezza da lumaca, perché crea ciecamente al buio. Tuttavia quando create senza di Lei, in fretta e alla luce, create davvero ciecamente, dando forma, magari, alla morte di un mondo! Ebbene, avvelenate il mare e il cielo, l'aria che respirate, e persino la dolce pelle bruna del suo seno, che Essa vi ha sempre permesso di lacerare per darvi le messi. Uccidete e uccidete finché non rimane più niente se non ossa nude su una terra squallida e contaminata. La Madre è potente; Essa ha molti corpi, e il vostro mondo è solo uno di quelli. Nella Sua potenza Essa può tuttavia guarire le vostre ferite e far rifiorire la terra, sì: allevare voi uomini, anche se deve partorire di nuovo tutta la vostra razza. Perché una buona madre è paziente; sa che un bambino inciampa più volte prima d'imparare a camminare...
He asked, looking at her dark-rimmed eyes, "You do not sleep?"She shivered. "No. I do not want to sleep any more. I sleep too much already. It is so cold, where Quincy sends me in my sleep. Deep into the house, farther in, not into the house we see. It is as if that house were a face, and when you see a face you can't see the brain or the thoughts of the person behind it. And it is so strange - the house inside the house."********"How is it strange - this that you call the house inside the house?"She said vaguely, her eyes growing glassy, "Strange. Shapes change, and sizes. The rooms are different: bigger and blacker and longer and the shadows are full of things. Creatures - or sometimes the rooms get smaller, fewer, and the furnishings change and change, like the scenes in a kaleidoscope, and I see the people in the portraits walking about in them.
It was so awful! And he kept on looking at me and I knew I must get out of bed or he'd come and touch me. I did, too, but when I got out I wasn't me-I was a little white bunny. And he started out of the room and I had to go with him for fear he'd touch me. It felt so horrid, going out with him and looking back at mother there asleep."We went into the main part of the house, and one of the big front doors was open, and we went out through it. And then he gave a big jump, and so did I, and it took us clear up into the sky. We couldn't fly, but we kept jumping and jumping."Sometimes we stayed in the sky a little while, jumping from cloud to cloud, and the moon would get closer and closer and bigger and bigger, and its face would change and get horrible and grin at us until it seemed like its mouth was a mile wide and open, to swallow us up. And then we'd come down again and jump from one cliff to another, and the sea would be roaring down under us, and the waves all grey and cold and moving around and boiling like they were mad or afraid."We went all over the island and sometimes we jumped over the sea to the mainland and back again; and sometimes I tried to get away and run back to Mother - I thought she'd know me even if I was a bunny - but always, whichever way I turned, the hare was there in front of me, and his teeth were shining."We kept it up all night, and I was so tired and cold and miserable, and so scared. I didn't know whether he would ever let me go home or whether he would take me to Aunt Sarai. Then finally I did get away and the hare chased me!"She broke off, her voice rising again to a wail."It was so awful! I ran all over the island, into all sorts of queer little places that I never knew were there before - it seems so different after dark - and finally, when two or three times I'd been so tired that I thought I just couldn't go any farther, before he caught me, I saw the house in front of me and the front door still open and I started to run in, and then I thought - what if they'd planned it that way, and Aunt Sarai had come down from her portrait and was inside there in the dark, waiting for me?
Quincy laughed. "If I were Elizabeth I shouldn't thank either of you for that comforting diagnosis. Would it do any good to open Aunt Sarai's grave and drive a stake through her? If you believe in as much sorcery as that, you must regret the days of witch-burners, Carew."Carew said quietly, "No. Witch-burners were barbarous blunderers. If I wanted to suppress a dangerous letter, could I do it by burning the envelope and leaving the letter loose? The witch would come back unchanged; I should merely have postponed the danger until another time and place. And have further handicapped myself to meet it, by depriving the witch, by violent death, of the years allotted her, or him, for evolution."Joseph said with dry humor, "She might not have used them for that, Carew. At least not for your idea of it."Carew shrugged. "That would be her responsibility, not mine. And, in any case, she would be that many years nearer the time of her inevitable change."This time Joseph did not answer, only smiled.
Five actors playing allotted parts on a set stage; and now he, for whom no part had been written, had walked onto the stage unexpectedly, because one of the players had turned rebel, as she had once before. He threw everything out of focus, and them into a fever. The heat and intensity of these flying questions was enough to make a man with even partially trained clairvoyant faculties feel as if he sat in a room filled with flashing fireflies.He took warning and withdrew himself to a cold inner isolation, as he knew how to do, even while laughing and talking with surface ease. It would not do to let his mind become clouded with emotion; or open any door of his imagination. But the impressions that came across that safer inner distance did not make his companions seem less dramatic, more normal: they were still out of focus. Something about the picture was distorted, even to a clear vision. The sense of evil was as strong as ever although the lurking Presence seemed to have retreated into a far background.He saw presently what the distortion was.Their modern figures were somehow incongruous in the old house, not at home. Like actors who had somehow got onto the wrong stage, onto sets with which their voices and costumes clashed. Interlopers. Or else-actors of an old school dressed up in an unbecoming masquerade.Witch House was an old house. Not old as other houses are old, that remain beds of the continuous stream of life, of marriages and births and deaths, of children crying and children laughing, where the past is only part of the pattern, root of the present and the future. Joseph de Quincy, dead nearly a quarter of a thousand years, was still its master: he had been strong, so strong that no later personality could dim or efface him here where he had set his seal."He left his evil here when he could no longer stay himself," Carew thought. "As a man with diphtheria leaves germs on the things he has handled, the bed he has lain in. Thoughts are tangible things; on their own plane they breed like germs and, unlike germs, they do not die. He may have forgotten; he may even walk the earth in other flesh, but what he has left here lives."As probably it had been meant to do. For the man whose malignance, swollen with the contributions of the centuries, still ensouled these walls would not have cared to build a house or found a family except as a means to an end. Witch House was set like a mold, steeped in ritual atmosphere as a temple.Dangerous business, for who could say that such a temple would not find a god? There are low, non-human beings that coalesce with and feed on such leftover forces: lair in them.
Are these black cats like the hare?""No. They're smaller; they only want me to play with them. Fly away with them to a place on the other side of the moon. There's a garden there, all silvery-gold, and the cats and hares dance and jump round and round. They can jump so much farther than they can on earth; it's like flying, and they love it so. Sometimes I've felt as if I'd like to dance and jump through the air too, they looked so happy, and I've thought maybe if I did I wouldn't be afraid any more, but when I look they're all dancing round a Figure that sits still in the middle of the garden. A big black Figure with a hood on. And It hasn't got any face. Its face is so awful that It keeps it covered. And then I get so terribly afraid. And everything stops.""And you see all that in the picture?""I don't know." She hesitated again. "I think it's partly dreams. After I've thought they were at the windows - the cats and the big hare. They sit there and watch, you see, after I've gone to sleep. But they don't come often. I don't usually know what's there."She came closer and whispered, her blue eyes earnest and weird, "I don't think it's an animal hare. I think it's Aunt Sarai's hare, that maybe it came from hell. It isn't swearing to say that word just as the name of a place, is it? That's why people used to be so scared of witches' black cats, isn't it, because they thought they weren't earth-cats, they were from the devil? Mother says there isn't any hell or any witches. But Aunt Sarai was a witch; that's why she can come back. I think they've all been witches here; the house is mad because mother wouldn't be; that's why it wants me now."Carew said, "It was all dreams, Betty. There is no hell. There is no garden on the other side of the moon. It's a dead world, full of volcanic craters, with no air for anything to grow in or breathe. A hare frightened you and, being nervous, you've had nightmares about it - pictures that fear paints on your mind just as an artist would on canvas, with paints and brushes."Every dream is now a movie we make for ourselves in our sleep...
Also another time she had wakened in dead of night, thinking that something touched her, and when she looked she saw that a black scaly tail, tufted with flame at the end, like a fiend's, had switched across her and lay there burning the covers. And when she turned shrieking, to see what manner of thing lay beside her in the bed, she was at first reassured by sight of her husband's face, then saw, to her horror, that horns had risen, black and pointed, from his forehead. After that she screamed again and remembered nothing until Joseph was shaking her awake, and there were neither horns nor tail to be seen. Nor were the bedclothes scorched.