“Beast in the Cave, The“

   Juvenile story (2,500 words); first draft written in the spring of 1904; final draft completed April 21, 1905. First published in Vagrant(June 1918); first collected in Marginalia;corrected text in D. A man slowly realizes that he is lost in Mammoth Cave and may never be found. He wavers between resignation at his fate and a desire for self-preservation; but when he begins shouting to call attention to himself, he summons not the guide who had led his tour group but a shambling beast whom he cannot see in the blackness of the cave but can only hear. In attempting to protect himself from the creature he hurls rocks at it and appears to have fatally injured it. Fleeing from the scene, he comes upon the guide and leads him back to the site of his encounter with the beast. The “beast” turns out to be a man who has been lost in the cave for years.
   HPL notes that he spent “days of boning at the library” (i.e., the Providence Public Library) in researching the locale of the tale, Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It is perhaps a kind of mirror-image of Poe’s “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”: in that story, what are taken to be the actions of a man turn out to have been performed by an ape, whereas here what is taken for an ape proves to be a man. The last page of the autograph manuscript bears the notation
   Tales of Terror
   I. The Beast in the Cave
   By H.P. Lovecraft
   We do not know what other tales were to make up this volume.

An H.P.Lovecraft encyclopedia. .

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