I’ve been studying The Festival for years now, researching several Kingsport projects I’ve got going, but while I’m starting to get a really good grasp of the short story and related tales and topics there is one scene I just can’t wrap my mind around. Can anyone help with this?
The narrator has found the “seventh house on the left in Green Lane” and is lead into the house’s living room by the waxy-faced old man. HPL goes on to describe the room in his usual baroque detail, including noting that…
“The high-backed settle faced the row of curtained windows at the left, and seemed to be occupied, though I was not sure.” <-- HPL fails to indicate what the significance of this is, instead continuing by describing the old man’s face and such. (This sentence is also strange in that the definite article “the” indicates the settle bench has already been introduces and is therefore known to the reader, which in fact it is not. A more natural description would have read “A high-backed settle faced…” Still, I put this down to HPL’s idiosyncratic writing style).
At this time there seems to be at least 3 people in the room beside the narrator; the “old man” with the vax face, the “old woman” at the spinning wheel, and the unseen person(s) sitting on the settle-bench with the back to our narrator.
“Pointing to a chair, table, and pile of books, the old man now left the room; and when I sat down to read”
And then there were 2 people in the room beside the narrator.
“No one spoke to me, but I could hear the creaking of signs in the wind outside, and the whir of the wheel as the bonneted old woman continued her silent spinning, spinning.” <-- I don’t know if this is relevant in some way, but I include it as the windows become important next.
“I disliked it when I fancied I heard the closing of one of the windows that the settle faced, as if it had been stealthily opened. It had seemed to follow a whirring that was not of the old woman's spinning-wheel. This was not much, though, for the old woman was spinning very hard, and the aged clock had been striking. After that I lost the feeling that there were persons on the settle…” <-- The unseen person(s) on the settle sneakily (opens and?) close a window by masking the sound to the noise of the old woman’s spinning wheel, possibly in collusion with the old woman who is spinning very hard now.
Now there’s only the old spinning crone in the room with the narrator.
“[I] was reading intently and shudderingly when the old man came back booted and dressed in a loose antique costume, and sat down on that very bench, so that I could not see him. It was certainly nervous waiting…”
So, what the hell is going on here? I cannot figure it out. Who is the unseen person or persons sitting on the settle bench? Why are they there, why do they leave by window, and what purpose does all of this serve in the story? What is the significance of the old man sitting down on the settle when he returns fully dressed, waiting for the clock to strike 11? As far as I can tell, the unseen character(s) are never mentioned or references again (or before for that matter).
Either HPL had a sub-plot going at one point but chose to drop it only to forget to cut this one enigmatic-exit-by-window scene, a mistake that then slipped past his editors, OR (and I think this is far more likely) I simply fail to grasp some subtle aspect of The Festival. Can anyone of you great minds here connect the dots for me? What am I missing here and how is this all relevant to the overall story?
Thanks in advance for any help you guys can offer
Edited by Angelman, 07 November 2017 - 04:33 PM.