“The Horror in the Museum” (1932)
Read in 2018.
A sceptic examines a wax museum and finds Rhan-Tegoth: “It is starving down there beyond that door, and if It dies the Old Ones can never come back.”
The ruined temple near Nome, Alaska, is one of Lovecraft’s rare large and stable artifacts of the Mythos in a public place relatively close to home. The character of Jones is one of the author’s rational sceptics: When he is assaulted by the “high priest” he assumes, quite reasonably, that it is the sculptor in disguise, and he is right. He defends himself unreservedly against this mere physical threat and then resolves to “call in an alienist”, rather than burn the place to the ground. This healthy scepticism is not undermined by the fantasy elements of the story. The madman is wearing the skin of a dimensional shambler etc., but it would have been foolish of Jones to assume so. Despite this quality, the protagonist otherwise acts in whatever manner is most convenient for carrying the plot forward, with little credibility.