Cruel As The Grave
There is not in all the mountain region of Virginia a wilder, darker, gloomier glade than that forming the home manor of the Berners family, and known as the Black Valley. It is a long, deep, narrow vale, lying between high, steep ridges of iron-gray rock, half covered with a growth of deep-green stunted cedars.
At the head or northern extremity of the vale springs a cascade, called, for the darkness of its color, the Black Torrent. It rushes, roaring, down the side of the precipice, now hiding under a heavy growth of evergreen, now bursting into light as it foams over the face of some rock, until at length it tumbles down to the foot of the mountain and flows along through the bottom of the Valley, until about half way down its length, it widens into a little lake, called, from its hue, the Black Water, or the Black Pond; then narrowing again, it flows on down past the little hamlet of Blackville, situated at the foot or southern extremity of the Black Vall