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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
Perhaps, when you are at the place,
I'll give you the best help I can:
'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
Into her soul was sent;
A Fire was kindled in her breast,
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
Sad case, as you may think, for one
Last Christmas when we talked of this,
And when at last her time drew near, Her looks were calm, her senses clear.
No more I know, I wish I did,
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
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,
I cannot think, whate'er they say,
But that she goes to this old Thorn,
And there sits in a scarlet cloak,
I will be sworn is true.
For one day with my telescope,
"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
Instead of jutting crag, I found
I did not speak-I saw her face,
And there she sits, until the moon
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!"