The Picture in the House
"The Picture in the House" is a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft. It was written on December 12, 1920, and first published in the July issue of The National Amateur—which was published in the summer of 1921.
While riding on his bicycle in the Miskatonic Valley of rural New England, a genealogist seeks shelter from an approaching storm in an apparently abandoned house, only to find that it is occupied by a «loathsome old, white-bearded, and ragged man,» speaking in «an extreme form of Yankee dialect…thought long extinct.» The narrator notices that the house is full of antique books, exotic artifacts, and furniture predating the American Revolution. The old man is apparently harmless and ignorant, but shows a disquieting fascination for an engraving in a rare old book, Regnum Congo, and admits to the narrator that it made him hunger for «victuals I couldn't raise nor buy»– presumably human flesh. It is suggested that the old man in the house was murdering men who stumbled upon the shack to satisfy his «craving», and that the old man has extended his life preternaturally through cannibalism. The narrator realizes the old man has been alive for over a century. The old man denies that he ever acted on his desire, but then a red drop of blood falls from the ceiling, clearly coming from the floor above, and splashes a page in the book. The narrator then looks up to see a spreading red stain on the ceiling; this belies the old man's statement. At that moment, a bolt of lightning destroys the house, bringing oblivion to the narrator.
Famous works of the author Howard Phillips Lovecraft: At the Mountains of Madness, The Dreams in the Witch House, The Horror at Red Hook, The Shadow Out of Time, The Shadows over Innsmouth, The Alchemist, Reanimator, Ex Oblivione, Azathoth, The Call of Cthulhu, The Cats of Ulthar, The Outsider, The Picture in the House, The Shunned House, The Terrible Old Man, The Tomb, Dagon, What the Moon Brings.