THE GHOST OF BERRY HILL

By RICHARD CECIL ROGERS

Did you ever see a Spook or a Ghost?
Did you ever have a Haunt, or something almost
Whisper, with warm breath close to your ear,
Till it froze up your blood with horror and fear?
Now, the story I tell, oh! it frightens me still!
While I worked on a plantation, called "Old Berry Hill."
In a big old house, with its sprawling lawn,
That was built 'way back, before Hector was born.


With its sky-high ceilings and transomed doors,
Long shuttered windows, and broad board floors,
That creaked and cried, if you walked or if you ran!
Lord, it wasn't no place, for an old Colored man!
Cause people had died on every floor--
From the cellar to the attic, now this I know;
For a record was kept in black and white
But that record doesn't tell what happens at night!


No, that record will not tell, that the doors will slam!
That the windows will clatter, tho tightly jammed.
And that something tip-toes up the double stairs,
Like a Persian cat in her high-toned airs.
The record will not tell you, that while I slept,
That a woman came in, and raved and wept;
Hissing, and whispering, "Where can he be."
Staring, glaring wild-eyed, at me!


Oh! the cold chills ran the length of my spine,
My heart 'most stopped beating, I lost my weak mind.
And stared back at the woman, who stared at me.
And repeated her question, "Where can he be."
I thought of that woman, I'd promised to wed.
But why think of her, is my poor darling dead?
Has she come back to earth, in quest of me,
To hiss and whisper, "Where can he be?"


Oh, I shook, and I shivered, and covered my face.
And begged the Intruder, to please leave the place
But she stood and stared, thru her big eyes of brown,
Then pulled up a chair, and sat herself down.
She told me a tale, that I remember too well;
I promised her story, I never would tell.
Then there came a crash, like the breaking of morn!
I rolled out of bed, lo, the woman was gone!


Now, the story I tell, I have proof that backs
That this old Mansion still stands, in old Halifax.
With its sky-high ceilings and transomed doors.
And the Ghosts are still walking the creaky floors.
Big bats fly in from the grave yard hard by.
And the howling winds down the Whippoorwill's cry!
Big night Owls ask, "who, who, are youoooo?"
Then a voice cries, "Ise de Ghost, uv ol 'Mammy Louoooo!"


For eighty long years, ah lived hearh a slave.
Toiled in de sun, an' lolled in de shade.
Heart sore an' foot sore, wid a straw bunk to lie in;
Fur a pone uv corn bread, an' a rock cabin to die in.
But ah sung an' ah prayed, ah laffed an' ah cried.
Yes, ah lived while ah lived, den ah died, den ah died!
Den mar good White-folks in splender, laid me 'way,
To res' mar tired ol'bones, till de Judgement-day!


When de winder frames clatter, an' de lights all goes out,
An' de black cat purs de loudest, Ise some war' bout!
Now, dar aint no use uv hiding! kaze every thing ah see!
While ah lived, not a soul, nor a critter feared me!
Little Chillun, dey loved me, both de Whites and' de Blacks;
Tho ah yanked dem fum mischief, an' spanked dey young backs!
Den rocked dem to sleep, an tucked dem in bed.
Oh, it's de living' dat hurts you'and' never de Dead!
Fear de Livin', fear de Living', and never de Dead!


This information is was originally published in The Poet's Corner of the Gazette-Virginian,
and provided by The South Boston-Halifax County Museum of Fine Arts and History
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This page was last updated on August 16, 1998.