Witch-Face Mountain’s Mysteries
THE beetling crags that jut out over the gorge have no facial resemblances or suggestions in their austere rock carving.
Against the sky beyond, the jagged contours of shelving bluffs create no massive profile.
One could look far and wide, study the enormous slope with an eager and anxious gaze, and see nothing like the semblance that has given the mountain its name since time immemorial.
When the illusive simulacrum is suddenly disclosed to the eye, however, the imagination requires little assistance.A gigantic peaked sinister face is limned on the bare, sandy, rocky slope in a certain slant of the diurnal light, even on bright nights at the full moon, sometimes in the uncanny flicker of electricity smitten from a storm-cloud, so definite, with such fixity of lineament, that one is amazed that its recognition came no earlier, and is startled when it disappears.Few people have ever seen it because they did not climb from the herder’s trail across the narrow wayside brook and up the rough mountain slopes to the point where it became visible.
The explorer will be disappointed there.
A dry and sterile environment, from which the hardy chickweed can hardly get enough nourishment for its timorous sprouting’s; a few protruding rocks; a series of transverse gullies here and there, washed down to deep indentations’ legacy of the ferocity of the fire that was ” let out ” in the woods with the mission of burning only the leaves and undergrowth, but which, in its uncontrolled strength, transcended its instructions, as it were, and devastated large trees, is a stretch of scorched, shattered lumber known as ” fire-scald
.” That’s all there is to it. However, from a different vantage point on the opposite side of the gorge, the experience can be used to distinguish the elements that go into making up a strange human countenance. The large peaked brown hood is suggested by the fire-scald; the oblong sandy stretch produces the pallid face; the ledges delineate the nose and mouth the chin and the browse eyes peer out from deep indentations where the slope is washed by winter rain currents, and gullies carve heavy lines and wrinkles here and there.
And when the wind is fresh and the clouds scud in front of it, the face will appear to mow at the spectator in the motion of their shadows, until the belief that it is the precise semblance of a witch’s face comes very easily..
The residents of Witch-Face Mountain always point out and insist on the resemblance, as if they had long and personal contact with that sort of unhallowed gentry and were uniquely able to pronounce on the resemblance.
” Doesn’t it look like ‘am now?
“Isn’t that a witch’s very moral?” Constant Hite requested it one windy day, when the shadows in the sun flitted and the face appeared animated by the venom of mockery or mirth, as he pointed it out to his friend with a triumphant victory in its splenetic contortions.
He was a huge, cocky fellow who seemed to take joy in everything that happened to him. He was proud of his limb length, his weight of 138 pounds, and his thin appearance. “You don’t know where I placed ‘am, do ye?” he would say as he got off the scales at the hamlet’s grocery down in the Cove. ” My boy, it’s solid meat, bone, and muscle.” “Stay on the friendly side of one hundred and eighty,” he says, winking. He was proud of his sparkling brown eyes, dark hair and moustache, and smiling, gorgeous countenance, as well as his popularity among the “gal creatures,” as he called the class. He was enthralled by it.
His several endowments as a rugged woodsman, such as his endurance, sylvan craft, pluck, and luck, as well as his accurate aim.
The buck, all grey and antlered because it was August, that hung across the horse’s back, behind the saddle, bore witness to this exactitude in the tiny wound at the base of the ear, where the rifle-ball had entered to pierce the brain; to the untrained eye, death appeared to have come from the gaping knife-stroke across the throat, which was, however, a simple matter of butchery.
He was proud of his enormous boots and long spurs, as well as the fine muscular bay horse he rode, which could easily carry double, and he detested flimsy town clothes, believing that good home-woven blue jeans were the proper attire for a guy who was a man.
He took several glances at his companion’s various toggery, definitely a man of cities, whom he had met on the side of the road and with whom he had travelled more than a mile.