October 19, ----
The Old House, Forehaven
My dear Mr. Hale,
From the tone of your last letter I regretfully infer that your anticipation of my story has increased, rather than decreased, in utter contrast to the hopes I placed in delay. I am sorry for you that such is the case, for although not given either to sentimentality or to prolixity, I have to go through a deal of introductory information before I come to the heart of the eerie tale which I have begun in my two preceding letters. What I have already narrated has been in effect the title page, the dedication, and the table of contents; only the preface, or prooemium, remains before Chapter the First rears its terrific head above the waters of eldritch uncertainty and deadly earnest.
When Mr. Montgomery reached Stonewells on November 1, he gave orders for the installation of some of the more important furniture, and the serving of his next meal, which was to be a simple supper of whatever could be got ready without a good deal of fuss or trouble. He has always been a considerate man, as those who are both well-read and practical tend to be, and this quality of his manifested itself on this occasion no less than on any other. He himself, meanwhile, retired to the room which was to become his library, taking with him a first instalment of the vast collection which was to populate that well-proportioned and commodious room .
It was, rather, a suite of rooms, large ones to be sure, clearly connected as only an enfilade can be, and yet quite separate and distinct. Each chamber of the library was painted a different colour, and the diversity of decor was evident as one proceeded from room to room. The portion of the library in which Mr. Montgomery settled when he first arrived at Stonewells was the Blue Room, as it had been called for generations of our practical forebears; their considerate nature is also evident from the clarity inherent in this nomenclature.
He had considered bringing along with him and his books a folding stool, cushioned for his greater comfort, but he thought better of it, for he remembered hearing of a set of built-in benches that graced the Blue Room around the entirety of its circumference. It was, I assure you, a circular room, yet this was through no necessity of form or function, since it was unrelated to any of the several towers of Stonewells, some of which will figure prominently in other sections of my chilling narrative. The Abbot's Tower, or Turris Abbatis, in particular has an eldritch significance that could not be denied by Mr. Montgomery, and consequently cannot be omitted whenever opportunity arises in this my faithful retelling of his words, words that, I confess, haunt me wholly to this day.
I hope to be able to relate further testimony after a lesser lapse of time, since, although it makes my heart quake at the least premonition of having to tell this -- what can I call it but a story? -- I have fully and pertinaciously committed to a total and ample account of its many terrifying details, as well as its quite normal and homely ones, which are, unfortunately, few and far between, as such things tend to be in the ruins of Cistercian abbeys, or in the buildings that rise therefrom. I must admit that I can only endure so much of my narration before I must cease for the sake of my organism, since I feel a revolting wave of sickness at the very thought of the events; think what Mr. Montgomery went through in the actual experience. With this alone as excuse, I am and remain
Your obedient servant,
R. O. Fox
P. S. No matter how much you beseech me to do so in your next letter, I will not reply any the sooner; I hope you can appreciate the effect such an action would have on my health, in any way considered or defined.