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“ But wherefore to the mountain-top
Can this unhappy Woman go,
Whatever star is in the skies,
Whatever wind may blow?"
“ Nay, rack your brain— tis all in vain,
I'll tell you every thing I know;
But to the Thorn, and to the Pond
Which is a little step beyond,
I wish that you would go :
Perhaps, when you are at the place,
You something of her tale may trace.
I'll give you the best help I can:
Before you up the mountain go,
Up to the dreary mountain-top,
I'll tell you all I know.
'Tis now some two-and-twenty years
Since she (her name is Martha Ray)
Gave, with a maiden's true good will,
Her company to Stephen Hill;
And she was blithe and gay,
And she was happy, happy still
Whene'er she thought of Stephen Hill.
“And they had fix'd the wedding-day,
The morning that must wed them both;
But Stephen to another Maid
Had sworn another oath ;
And with this other Maid to church
Unthinking Stephen went-
Poor Martha! on that woeful day
A pang of pitiless dismay
Into her soul was sent;
A Fire was kindled in her breast,
Which might not burn itself to rest.
They say, full six months after this, While yet the summer leaves were green, She to the mountain-top would go, And there was often seen. 'Tis said, a child was in her womb, As now to any eye was plain ; She was with child, and she was mad; Yet often she was sober sad From her exceeding pain. Oh me! ten thousand times I'd rather That he had died, that cruel father!
Sad case for such a brain to hold
Communion with a stirring child!
Sad case, as you may think, for one
Who had a brain so wild!
Last Christmas when we talked of this,
Old farmer Simpson did maintain,
That in her womb the infant wrought
About its mother's beart, and brought
Her senses back again:
And when at last her time drew near,
Her looks were calm, her senses clear.
No more I know, I wish I did,
And I would tell it all to you;
For what became of this poor child
There's none that ever knew:
And if a child was born or no,
There's no one that could ever tell;
And if 'twas born alive or dead,
There's no one knows, as I have said;
But some remember well,
That Martha Ray about this time
Would up the mountain often climb.
And all that winter, when at night
The wind blew from the mountain-peak,
'Twas worth your while, though in the dark,
The churchyard path to seek:
For many a time and oft were heard
Cries coming from the mountain-head:
Some plainly living voices were;
And others, I've heard many swear,
Were voices of the dead :
I cannot think, whate'er they say,
They had to do with Martha Ray.
But that she goes to this old Thorn,
The Thorn which I've described to you,
And there sits in a scarlet cloak,
I will be sworn is true.
For one day with my telescope,
To view the ocean wide and bright,
When to this country first I came,
Ere I had heard of Martha's name,
I climbed the mountain's height:
A storm came on, and I could see
No object higher than my knee.
'Twas mist and rain, and storm and rain,
No screen, no fence could I discover,
And then the wind ! in faith, it was
A wind full ten times over.
I looked around, I thought I saw
A jutting crag,--and off I ran,
Head-foremost, through the driving rain,
The shelter of the crag to gain;
And, as I am a man,
Instead of jutting crag, I found
A Woman seated on the ground.
I did not speak-I saw her face,
Her face-it was enough for me;
I turned about and heard her cry,
“O misery! O misery!"
And there she sits, until the moon
Through half the clear blue sky will go ;
And, when the little breezes make
The waters of the Pond to shake,
As all the country know,
She shudders, and you hear her cry,
“ Oh misery! oh misery!"