This fun little ditty was a page out of Poe. Thus far this was the most linear and straightforward story, and obviously something that Lovecraft knocked out one dreary evening. Very little appears of his Mythos cycle, or of his cosmic horror, except for a few sentences in the middle of the story.
Ostensibly this story is about the town of Ulthar, who loves cats. There is one crotchety old couple that will kill any cat that comes near them in the night, but the town folk are too scared of them to approach or do anything about them, so they continue their nefarious deeds.
Then we have a strange caravan with strange drawings come through the town. The people are odd and are interested in buying odd things, and there is a young boy names Menes, who’s parents died “in the plague” and he has a cat whom he loves and makes him happy in their absence.
That night the cat that Menes loves so much disappears and the towns folk blame the old man and woman in the cabin in the forest. Menes prays and meditates in a language the people don’t understand, and many of them feel as though there are strange symbols and creatures in the sky and in the trees, but the narrator says that sometimes “…nature is full of such illusions to impress the imaginative.”
All the cats disappear in town the next day and the old couple is blamed, but then the cats come back, full and lethargic.
The mayor checks on the old couple, only to find two skeletons picked clean.
Here is Lovecrafts genius. In the first paragraph he states that cats are “the soul of antique Aegyptus…” and that they have vast knowledge beyond our understanding. The boy in the town was named Menes who was a Pharaoh of Egypt around 5000 BCE. Here we have the link to the fictional Nyarlathotep from millennia ago, and one can assume that this caravan was indeed a troupe following Nyarlathotep, as Menes calls upon his Old Gods power (which looks very similar to how it looked in the story “Nyarlathotep”).
At this point I assume that all of these stories are told within the same headspace, and not necessarily meant to coalesce, however the more I dig and the more I read, the more it seems as though there is connection.
Join me next week for the next blind read through “Hypnos” as we get deeper in the the mythos of Lovecraft.