An H. P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia

By S. T. Joshi; David E. Schultz | Go to book overview

L

Lake,———. In At the Mountains of Madness, a professor of biology on the Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition who leads an exploration party that is destroyed by the Old Ones, whom his group unwittingly resuscitates from suspended animation.

“Last Test, The.” Novelette (19,330 words); ghostwritten for Adolphe de Castro, in October–November 1927. First published in WT (November 1928); first collected in Cats; corrected text in HM.

Dr. Alfred Clarendon, a renowned physician and medical researcher, is appointed to the post of medical director of the California State Penitentiary at San Quentin by his old friend, Governor James Dalton. (Dalton’s father had been ruined on Wall Street by Clarendon’s father, but the younger Dalton held no grudge.) Clarendon’s home in San Francisco is run by his sister Georgina, with whom Dalton has long been in love. Clarendon is working on an antitoxin for black fever. In the course of his work he has had to travel to exotic places, and he has brought back a band of Tibetan servants, over whom Clarendon has placed an enigmatic figure named Surama.

Shortly after Clarendon’s arrival at San Quentin, one of the inmates comes down with black fever; Clarendon places the man in a separate ward so that he can study the case himself, thereby enraging his assistant, Dr. Jones, who wishes to assist. The inmate dies, and later several other prisoners contract the disease. News of the epidemic spreads throughout San Francisco, causing a panic that drives many citizens from the city. Eventually the panic subsides, but Clarendon is criticized for his handling of the matter; he pays no attention, however, to the bad press he receives. Governor Dalton continues to defend Clarendon, in spite of the latter’s curt refusal to allow him to marry Georgina.

Dr. Jones then contrives to change the manner of institutional appointments, with the result that Clarendon is fired from his position and Jones installed in his

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