Abandoned Home

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow Refocused

by Washington Irving and Refocuspublishing.com

 

 

 

 

Title: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Author: Washington Irving

Refocused: Keira Jackson

Refocused version published:  August 31, 2020

 

 

THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

 

 

by Washington Irving and refocuspublishing.com

FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS OF THE LATE DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER.

 

 

A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,

Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;

And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,

Forever flushing round a summer sky.

CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.

 

 

 

 

In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good househusbands of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their wives to linger about the village tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic. 

 

Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquility.

 

I recollect that, when a stripling, my first exploit in squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut-trees that shades one side of the valley. I had wandered into it at noontime, when all nature is peculiarly quiet, and was startled by the roar of my own gun, as it broke the Sabbath stillness around and was prolonged and reverberated by the angry echoes. If ever I should wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this little valley.

 

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic ladies are called the Sleepy Hollow Girls throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of her tribe, held her powwows there before the country was discovered by Mistress Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some warlock power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with his whole nine-fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of his gambols.

 

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. Her haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this specter, allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of her head, and that the rushing speed with which she sometimes passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to her being belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.

 

Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the specter is known at all the country firesides, by the name of the Headless Horsewoman of Sleepy Hollow.

 

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by everyone who resides there for a time. However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

 

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New York, that population, manners, and customs remain fixed, while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved. They are like those little nooks of still water, which border a rapid stream, where we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current. Though many years have elapsed since I trod the drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet I question whether I should not still find the same trees and the same families vegetating in its sheltered bosom.

 

In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy waif of the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as she expressed it, “tarried,” in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity. She was a native of Connecticut, a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its legions of frontier woods women and country schoolmistresses. The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to her person. She was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of her sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and her whole frame most loosely hung together. Her head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon her spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew. To see her striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with her clothes bagging and fluttering about her, one might have mistaken her for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

 

Her schoolhouse was a low building of one large room, rudely constructed of logs; the windows partly glazed, and partly patched with leaves of old copybooks. It was most ingeniously secured at vacant hours, by a withe twisted in the handle of the door, and stakes set against the window shutters; so that though a thief might get in with perfect ease, she would find some embarrassment in getting out, --an idea most probably borrowed by the architect, Yost Van Houten, from the mystery of an eel pot. The schoolhouse stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation, just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by, and a formidable birch-tree growing at one end of it. From hence the low murmur of her pupils’ voices, conning over their lessons, might be heard in a drowsy summer’s day, like the hum of a beehive; interrupted now and then by the authoritative voice of the mistress, in the tone of menace or command, or, peradventure, by the appalling sound of the birch, as she urged some tardy loiterer along the flowery path of knowledge. Truth to say, she was a conscientious woman, and ever bore in mind the golden maxim, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Ichabod Crane’s scholars certainly were not spoiled.

 

I would not have it imagined, however, that she was one of those cruel potentates of the school who joy in the smart of their subjects; on the contrary, she administered justice with discrimination rather than severity; taking the burden off the backs of the weak, and laying it on those of the strong. Your mere puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of the rod, was passed by with indulgence; but the claims of justice were satisfied by inflicting a double portion on some little tough wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelled and grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch. All this she called “doing her duty by their parents;” and she never inflicted a chastisement without following it by the assurance, so consolatory to the smarting urchin, that “she would remember it and thank her for it the longest day she had to live.”

 

When school hours were over, she was even the companion and playmate of the larger girls; and on holiday afternoons would convoy some of the smaller ones home, who happened to have pretty brothers, or good househusbands for fathers, noted for the comforts of the cupboard. Indeed, it behooved her to keep on good terms with her pupils. The revenue arising from her school was small, and would have been scarcely sufficient to furnish her with daily bread, for she was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the dilating powers of an anaconda; but to help out her maintenance, she was, according to country custom in those parts, boarded and lodged at the houses of the farmers whose children she instructed. With these she lived successively a week at a time, thus going the rounds of the neighborhood, with all her worldly effects tied up in a cotton handkerchief.

 

That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of her rustic patrons, who are apt to consider the costs of schooling a grievous burden, and schoolmistresses as mere drones, she had various ways of rendering herself both useful and agreeable. She assisted the farmers occasionally in the lighter labors of their farms, helped to make hay, mended the fences, took the horses to water, drove the cows from pasture, and cut wood for the winter fire. She laid aside, too, all the dominant dignity and absolute sway with which she lorded it in her little empire, the school, and became wonderfully gentle and ingratiating. She found favor in the eyes of the fathers by petting the children, particularly the youngest; and like the lion bold, which whilom so magnanimously the lamb did hold, she would sit with a child on one knee, and rock a cradle with her foot for whole hours together.

 

In addition to her other vocations, she was the singing-master of the neighborhood, and picked up many bright shillings by instructing the young folks in psalmody. It was a matter of no little vanity to her on Sundays, to take her station in front of the church gallery, with a band of chosen singers; where, in her own mind, she completely carried away the palm from the parson. Certain it is, her voice resounded far above all the rest of the congregation; and there are peculiar quavers still to be heard in that church, and which may even be heard half a mile off, quite to the opposite side of the millpond, on a still Sunday morning, which are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod Crane. Thus, by divers little makeshifts, in that ingenious way which is commonly denominated “by hook and by crook,” the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was thought, by all who understood nothing of the labor of headwork, to have a wonderfully easy life of it.

 

The schoolmistress is generally a woman of some importance in the male circle of a rural neighborhood; being considered a kind of idle, gentlewoman-like personage, of vastly superior taste and accomplishments to the rough country admirers, and, indeed, inferior in learning only to the parson. Her appearance, therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir at the tea-table of a farmhouse, and the addition of a supernumerary dish of cakes or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver teapot. Our woman of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the smiles of all the country swains. How she would figure among them in the churchyard, between services on Sundays; gathering grapes for them from the wild vines that overran the surrounding trees; reciting for their amusement all the epitaphs on the tombstones; or sauntering, with a whole bevy of them, along the banks of the adjacent millpond; while the more bashful country bumpkins hung sheepishly back, envying her superior elegance and address.

 

From her half-itinerant life, also, she was a kind of travelling gazette, carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house, so that her appearance was always greeted with satisfaction. She was, moreover, esteemed by the men as a woman of great erudition, for she had read several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s “History of New England Witchcraft,” in which, by the way, she most firmly and potently believed.

 

She was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple credulity. Her appetite for the marvelous, and her powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by her residence in this spell-bound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for her capacious swallow. It was often her delight, after her school was dismissed in the afternoon, to stretch herself on the rich bed of clover bordering the little brook that whimpered by her schoolhouse, and there con over old Mather’s direful tales, until the gathering dusk of evening made the printed page a mere mist before her eyes. Then, as she wended her way by swamp and stream and awful woodland, to the farmhouse where she happened to be quartered, every sound of nature, at that witching hour, fluttered her excited imagination, --the moan of the whip-poor-will from the hillside, the boding cry of the tree toad, that harbinger of storm, the dreary hooting of the screech owl, or the sudden rustling in the thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The fireflies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and then startled her, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across her path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging her blundering flight against her, the poor varlet was ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that she was struck with a witch’s token. Her only resource on such occasions, either to drown thought or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with awe at hearing her nasal melody, “in linked sweetness long drawn out,” floating from the distant hill, or along the dusky road.

 

Another of her sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch husbands, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvelous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horsewoman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called her. She would delight them equally by her anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!

 

But if there was a pleasure in all this, while snugly cuddling in the chimney corner of a chamber that was all of a ruddy glow from the crackling wood fire, and where, of course, no specter dared to show its face, it was dearly purchased by the terrors of her subsequent walk homewards. What fearful shapes and shadows beset her path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did she eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from some distant window! How often was she appalled by some shrub covered with snow, which, like a sheeted specter, beset her very path! How often did she shrink with curdling awe at the sound of her own steps on the frosty crust beneath her feet; and dread to look over her shoulder, lest she should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind her! And how often was she thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of her nightly scourings!

 

All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mind that walk in darkness; and though she had seen many specters in her time, and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in her lonely perambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and she would have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all her works, if her path had not been crossed by a being that causes more perplexity to mortal woman than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of warlocks put together, and that was--a man.

 

Among the musical disciples who assembled, one evening in each week, to receive her instructions in psalmody, was Katrina Van Tassel, the son and only child of a substantial Dutch farmer. He was a blooming lad of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting and rosy-cheeked as one of his mother’s peaches, and universally famed, not merely for his beauty, but his vast expectations. He was withal a little of a flirt, as might be perceived even in his dress, which was a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off his charms. He wore the ornaments of pure yellow gold, which his great-great-grandfather had brought over from Saardam; the tempting stomacher of the olden time, and withal a provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round.

 

Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex; and it is not to be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon found favor in her eyes, more especially after she had visited him in his maternal mansion. Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture of a thriving, contented, liberal-hearted farmer. She seldom, it is true, sent either her eyes or her thoughts beyond the boundaries of her own farm; but within those everything was snug, happy and well-conditioned.  She was satisfied with her wealth, but not proud of it; and piqued herself upon the hearty abundance, rather than the style in which she lived. Her stronghold was situated on the banks of the Hudson, in one of those green, sheltered, fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers are so fond of nestling. A great elm tree spread its broad branches over it, at the foot of which bubbled up a spring of the softest and sweetest water, in a little well-formed of a barrel; and then stole sparkling away through the grass, to a neighboring brook, that babbled along among alders and dwarf willows.

 

Hard by the farmhouse was a vast barn, that might have served for a church; every window and crevice of which seemed bursting forth with the treasures of the farm; the flail was busily resounding within it from morning to night; swallows and martins skimmed twittering about the eaves; and rows of pigeons, some with one eye turned up, as if watching the weather, some with their heads under their wings or buried in their bosoms, and others swelling, and cooing, and bowing about their cocks, were enjoying the sunshine on the roof. Sleek unwieldy porkers were grunting in the repose and abundance of their pens, from whence sallied forth, now and then, troops of sucking pigs, as if to snuff the air. A stately squadron of snowy geese were riding in an adjoining pond, convoying whole fleets of ducks; regiments of turkeys were gobbling through the farmyard, and Guinea fowls fretting about it, like ill-tempered househusbands, with their peevish, discontented cry. Before the barn door strutted the gallant hen, that pattern of a wife, a warrior and a fine gentlewoman, clapping her burnished wings and crowing in the pride and gladness of her heart,--sometimes tearing up the earth with her feet, and then generously calling her ever-hungry family of husbands and children to enjoy the rich morsel which she had discovered.

 

The pedagogue’s mouth watered as she looked upon this sumptuous promise of luxurious winter fare. In her devouring mind’s eye, she pictured to herself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in her belly, and an apple in her mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cozily in dishes, like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In the porkers she saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy relishing ham; not a turkey but she beheld daintily trussed up, with its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory sausages; and even bright chanticleer herself lay sprawling on her back, in a side dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which her chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living.

 

As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as she rolled her great green eyes over the fat meadow lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burdened with ruddy fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of Van Tassel, her heart yearned after the bachelor who was to inherit these domains, and her imagination expanded with the idea, how they might be readily turned into cash, and the money invested in immense tracts of wild land, and shingle palaces in the wilderness. Nay, her busy fancy already realized her hopes, and presented to her the blooming Katrina, with a whole family of children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and she beheld herself bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels, setting out for Kentucky, Tennessee, --or the Lord knows where!

 

When she entered the house, the conquest of her heart was complete. It was one of those spacious farmhouses, with high-ridged but lowly sloping roofs, built in the style handed down from the first Dutch settlers; the low projecting eaves forming a piazza along the front, capable of being closed up in bad weather. Under this were hung flails, harness, various utensils of husbandry, and nets for fishing in the neighboring river. Benches were built along the sides for summer use; and a great spinning-wheel at one end, and a churn at the other, showed the various uses to which this important porch might be devoted. From this piazza the wondering Ichabod entered the hall, which formed the center of the mansion, and the place of usual residence. Here rows of resplendent pewter, ranged on a long dresser, dazzled her eyes. In one corner stood a huge bag of wool, ready to be spun; in another, a quantity of linsey-woolsey just from the loom; ears of Indian corn, and strings of dried apples and peaches, hung in gay festoons along the walls, mingled with the gaud of red peppers; and a door left ajar gave her a peep into the best parlor, where the claw-footed chairs and dark mahogany tables shone like mirrors; andirons, with their accompanying shovel and tongs, glistened from their covert of asparagus tops; mock-oranges and conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings of various-colored birds eggs were suspended above it; a great ostrich egg was hung from the center of the room, and a corner cupboard, knowingly left open, displayed immense treasures of old silver and well-mended china.

 

From the moment Ichabod laid her eyes upon these regions of delight, the peace of her mind was at an end, and her only study was how to gain the affections of the peerless son of Van Tassel. In this enterprise, however, she had more real difficulties than generally fell to the lot of a knight-errant of yore, who seldom had anything but giants, enchanters, fiery dragons, and such like easily conquered adversaries, to contend with and had to make her way merely through gates of iron and brass, and walls of adamant to the castle keep, where the lord of her heart was confined; all which she achieved as easily as a woman would carve her way to the center of a Christmas pie; and then the lord gave her his hand as a matter of course. Ichabod, on the contrary, had to win her way to the heart of a country flirt, beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which were forever presenting new difficulties and impediments; and she had to encounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood, the numerous rustic admirers, who beset every portal to his heart, keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other, but ready to fly out in the common cause against any new competitor.

 

Among these, the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roistering blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with her feats of strength and hardihood. She was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair, and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance. From her Herculean frame and great powers of limb she had received the nickname of BROM BONES, by which she was universally known. She was famed for great knowledge and skill in horsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar.  She was foremost at all races and cock fights; and, with the ascendancy which bodily strength always acquires in rustic life, was the umpire in all disputes, setting her hat on one side, and giving her decisions with an air and tone that admitted of no gainsay or appeal. She was always ready for either a fight or a frolic; but had more mischief than ill-will in her composition; and with all her overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish good humor at bottom. She had three or four boon companions, who regarded her as their model, and at the head of whom she scoured the country, attending every scene of feud or merriment for miles round. In cold weather she was distinguished by a fur cap, surmounted with a flaunting fox’s tail; and when the folks at a country gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance, whisking about among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by for a squall. Sometimes her crew would be heard dashing along past the farmhouses at midnight, with whoop and halloo, like a troop of Don Cossacks; and the old men, startled out of their sleep, would listen for a moment till the hurry-scurry had clattered by, and then exclaim, “Ay, there goes Brom Bones and her gang!” The neighbors looked upon her with a mixture of awe, admiration, and good-will; and, when any madcap prank or rustic brawl occurred in the vicinity, always shook their heads, and warranted Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

 

This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina for the object of her uncouth gallantries, and though her amorous toyings were something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a bear, yet it was whispered that he did not altogether discourage her hopes. Certain it is, her advances were signals for rival candidates to retire, who felt no inclination to cross a lion in her amours; insomuch, that when her horse was seen tied to Van Tassel’s paling, on a Sunday night, a sure sign that her mistress was courting, or, as it is termed, “sparking,” within, all other suitors passed by in despair, and carried the war into other quarters.

 

Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to contend, and, considering all things, a stouter woman than she would have shrunk from the competition, and a wiser woman would have despaired. She had, however, a happy mixture of pliability and perseverance in her nature; she was in form and spirit like a supple-jack--yielding, but tough; though she bent, she never broke; and though she bowed beneath the slightest pressure, yet, the moment it was away--jerk!--she was as erect, and carried her head as high as ever.

 

To have taken the field openly against her rival would have been madness; for she was not a woman to be thwarted in her amours, any more than that stormy lover, Achilles. Ichabod, therefore, made her advances in a quiet and gently insinuating manner. Under cover of her character of singing-mistress, she made frequent visits at the farmhouse; not that she had anything to apprehend from the meddlesome interference of parents, which is so often a stumbling-block in the path of lovers. Balt Van Tassel was an easy indulgent soul; she loved her son better even than her pipe, and, like a reasonable woman and an excellent mother, let him have his way in everything. Her notable little husband, too, had enough to do to attend to his housekeeping and manage his poultry; for, as he sagely observed, ducks and geese are foolish things, and must be looked after, but boys can take care of themselves. Thus, while the busy lord bustled at the house, or plied his spinning-wheel at one end of the piazza, honest Balt would sit smoking her evening pipe at the other, watching the achievements of a little wooden warrior, who, armed with a sword in each hand, was most valiantly fighting the wind on the pinnacle of the barn. In the meantime, Ichabod would carry on her suit with the son by the side of the spring under the great elm, or sauntering along in the twilight, that hour so favorable to the lover’s eloquence.

 

I profess not to know how men’s hearts are wooed and won. To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some seem to have but one vulnerable point, or door of access; while others have a thousand avenues, and may be captured in a thousand different ways. It is a great triumph of skill to gain the former, but a still greater proof of generalship to maintain possession of the latter, for woman must battle for her fortress at every door and window. She who wins a thousand common hearts is therefore entitled to some renown; but she who keeps undisputed sway over the heart of a flirt is indeed a hero. Certain it is, this was not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones; and from the moment Ichabod Crane made her advances, the interests of the former evidently declined: her horse was no longer seen tied to the palings on Sunday nights, and a deadly feud gradually arose between her and the preceptor of Sleepy Hollow.

 

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in her nature, would fain have carried matters to open warfare and have settled their pretensions to the lord, according to the mode of those most concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore, --by single combat; but Ichabod was too conscious of the superior might of her adversary to enter the lists against her; she had overheard a boast of Bones, that she would “double the schoolmistress up, and lay her on a shelf of her own schoolhouse;” and she was too wary to give her an opportunity. There was something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific system; it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in her disposition, and to play off boorish practical jokes upon her rival. Ichabod became the object of whimsical persecution to Bones and her gang of rough riders. They harried her hitherto peaceful domains; smoked out her singing school by stopping up the chimney; broke into the schoolhouse at night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of with and window stakes, and turned everything topsy-turvy, so that the poor schoolmistress began to think all the warlocks in the country held their meetings there. But what was still more annoying, Brom took all opportunities of turning her into ridicule in presence of her master, and had a scoundrel dog whom she taught to whine in the most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod’s, to instruct him in psalmody.

 

In this way matters went on for some time, without producing any material effect on the relative situations of the contending powers. On a fine autumnal afternoon, Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on the lofty stool from whence she usually watched all the concerns of her little literary realm. In her hand she swayed a ferule, that scepter of despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails behind the throne, a constant terror to evil doers, while on the desk before her might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon the persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little paper gamecocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of justice recently inflicted, for her scholars were all busily intent upon their books, or slyly whispering behind them with one eye kept upon the mistress; and a kind of buzzing stillness reigned throughout the schoolroom. It was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a person in tow-cloth jacket and trousers, a round-crowned fragment of a hat, like the cap of Mercury, and mounted on the back of a ragged, wild, half-broken colt, which she managed with a rope by way of halter.  She came clattering up to the school door with an invitation to Ichabod to attend a merry-making or “quilting frolic,” to be held that evening at Mynheer Van Tassel’s; and having delivered her message with that air of importance, and effort at fine language, which a person is apt to display on petty embassies of the kind, she dashed over the brook, and was seen scampering away up the hollow, full of the importance and hurry of her mission.

 

All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet schoolroom. The scholars were hurried through their lessons without stopping at trifles; those who were nimble skipped over half with impunity, and those who were tardy had a smart application now and then in the rear, to quicken their speed or help them over a tall word. Books were flung aside without being put away on the shelves, inkstands were overturned, benches thrown down, and the whole school was turned loose an hour before the usual time, bursting forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing about the green in joy at their early emancipation.

 

The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half hour at her toilet, brushing and furbishing up her best, and indeed only suit of rusty black, and arranging her locks by a bit of broken looking-glass that hung up in the schoolhouse. That she might make her appearance before her master in the true style of a cavalier, she borrowed a horse from the farmer with whom she was domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman of the name of Hans Van Ripper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth like a knight-errant in quest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in the true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks and equipment of my hero and her mare. The animal she bestrode was a broken-down plow-horse, that had outlived almost everything but its viciousness. She was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck, and a head like a hammer; her rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burs; one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral, but the other had the gleam of a genuine devil in it. Still she must have had fire and mettle in her day, if we may judge from the name she bore of Gunpowder. She had, in fact, been a favorite mare of her mistress’, the choleric Van Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of her own spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as she looked, there was more of the lurking devil in her than in any young filly in the country.

 

Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a mare. She rode with short stirrups, which brought her knees nearly up to the pommel of the saddle; her sharp elbows stuck out like grasshoppers’; she carried her whip perpendicularly in her hand, like a scepter, and as her horse jogged on, the motion of her arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings. A small wool hat rested on the top of her nose, for so her scanty strip of forehead might be called, and the skirts of her black coat fluttered out almost to the horse’s tail. Such was the appearance of Ichabod and her mare as they shambled out of the gate of Hans Van Ripper, and it was altogether such an apparition as is seldom to be met with in broad daylight.

 

It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet. Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech and hickory-nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from the neighboring stubble field.

 

The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fullness of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and frolicking from bush to bush, and tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety around them. There was the honest cock robin, the favorite game of stripling sportswomen, with its loud querulous note; and the twittering blackbirds flying in sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker with his crimson crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the cedar bird, with its red-tipped wings and yellow-tipped tail and its little Monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his gay light blue coat and white underclothes, screaming and chattering, nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with every songster of the grove.

 

As Ichabod jogged slowly on her way, her eye, ever open to every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. On all sides she beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press. Farther on she beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from their leafy coverts, and holding out the promise of cakes and hasty-pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of the most luxurious of pies; and anon she passed the fragrant buckwheat fields breathing the odor of the beehive, and as she beheld them, soft anticipations stole over her mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered, and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel.

 

Thus, feeding her mind with many sweet thoughts and “sugared suppositions,” she journeyed along the sides of a range of hills which look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty Hudson. The sun gradually wheeled her broad disk down in the west. The wide bosom of the Tappan Zee lay motionless and glassy, excepting that here and there a gentle undulation waved and prolonged the blue shadow of the distant mountain. A few amber clouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air to move them. The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually into a pure apple green, and from that into the deep blue of the mid-heaven. A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth to the dark gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop was loitering in the distance, dropping slowly down with the tide, his sail hanging uselessly against the mast; and as the reflection of the sky gleamed along the still water, it seemed as if the vessel was suspended in the air.

 

It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of the Dame Van Tassel, which she found thronged with the pride and flower of the adjacent country. Old farmers were in homespun coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles. Their brisk, withered little lords, in close-crimped caps, long-waisted short gowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and pincushions, and gay calico pockets hanging on the outside. Barrel-chested lads, almost as antiquated as their fathers, excepting where a straw hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city innovation. The daughters, in short square-skirted coats, with rows of stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the fashion of the times, especially if they could procure an eel-skin for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout the country as a potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.

 

Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come to the gathering on her favorite mare Daredevil, a creature, like herself, full of mettle and mischief, and which no one but herself could manage. She was, in fact, noted for preferring vicious animals, given to all kinds of tricks which kept the rider in constant risk of her neck, for she held a tractable, well-broken horse as unworthy of a girl of spirit.

 

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as she entered the state parlor of Van Tassel’s mansion. Not those of the bevy of barrel-chested lads, with their luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped up platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced Dutch househusbands! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover, delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the fatherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst--Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story. Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as her historian, but did ample justice to every dainty.

 

She was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion as her skin was filled with good cheer, and whose spirits rose with eating, as some women’s do with drink. She could not help, too, rolling her large eyes round her as she ate, and chuckling with the possibility that she might one day be lady of all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor. Then, she thought, how soon she’d turn her back upon the old schoolhouse; snap her fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and every other stingy patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue out of doors that should dare to call her comrade!

 

Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among her guests with a face dilated with content and good humor, round and jolly as the harvest moon. Her hospitable attentions were brief, but expressive, being confined to a shake of the hand, a slap on the shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing invitation to “fall to, and help themselves.”

 

And now the sound of the music from the common room, or hall, summoned to the dance. The musician was an old gray-headed man, who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more than half a century. His instrument was as old and battered as himself. The greater part of the time he scraped on two or three strings, accompanying every movement of the bow with a motion of the head; bowing almost to the ground, and stamping with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to start.

 

Ichabod prided herself upon her dancing as much as upon her vocal powers. Not a limb, not a fiber about her was idle; and to have seen her loosely hung frame in full motion, and clattering about the room, you would have thought St. Vitus herself, that blessed patroness of the dance, was figuring before you in person. She was the admiration of all the farmers; who, having gathered, of all ages and sizes, from the farm and the neighborhood, stood forming a pyramid of shining faces at every door and window, gazing with delight at the scene, rolling their eyeballs, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear. How could the flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and joyous? The lord of her heart was her partner in the dance, and smiling graciously in reply to all her amorous oglings; while Brom Bones, sorely smitten with love and jealousy, sat brooding by herself in one corner.

 

When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the piazza, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories about the war.

 

This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of those highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great women. The British and American line had run near it during the war; it had, therefore, been the scene of marauding and infested with refugees, cowgirls, and all kinds of border chivalry. Just sufficient time had elapsed to enable each storyteller to dress up her tale with a little becoming fiction, and, in the indistinctness of her recollection, to make herself the hero of every exploit.

 

There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-haired Dutchwoman, who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron nine-pounder from a mud breastwork, only that her gun burst at the sixth discharge. And there was an old gentlewoman who shall be nameless, being too rich a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who, in the battle of White Plains, being an excellent master of defense, parried a musket-ball with a small sword, insomuch that she absolutely felt it whiz round the blade, and glance off at the hilt; in proof of which she was ready at any time to show the sword, with the hilt a little bent. There were several more that had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was persuaded that she had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy termination.

 

But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions that succeeded. The neighborhood is rich in legendary treasures of the kind. Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered, long-settled retreats; but are trampled underfoot by the shifting throng that forms the population of most of our country places. Besides, there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they have scarcely had time to finish their first nap and turn themselves in their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled away from the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established Dutch communities.

 

The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land. Several of the Sleepy Hollow people were present at Van Tassel’s, and, as usual, were doling out their wild and wonderful legends. Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the unfortunate Major André was taken, and which stood in the neighborhood. Some mention was made also of the man in white, that haunted the dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights before a storm, having perished there in the snow. The chief part of the stories, however, turned upon the favorite specter of Sleepy Hollow, the Headless Horsewoman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling the country; and, it was said, tethered her horse nightly among the graves in the churchyard.

 

The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook among broken rocks and trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime; but occasioned a fearful darkness at night. Such was one of the favorite haunts of the Headless Horsewoman, and the place where she was most frequently encountered. The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical disbeliever in ghosts, how she met the Horsewoman returning from her foray into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind her; how they galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached the bridge; when the Horsewoman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree-tops with a clap of thunder.

 

This story was immediately matched by a thrice marvelous adventure of Brom Bones, who made light of the Galloping Hessian as an errant jockey. She affirmed that on returning one night from the neighboring village of Sing Sing, she had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that she had offered to race with her for a bowl of punch, and should have won it too, for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but just as they came to the church bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash of fire.

 

All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which women talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of Ichabod. She repaid them in kind with large extracts from her invaluable author, Cotton Mather, and added many marvelous events that had taken place in her native State of Connecticut, and fearful sights which she had seen in her nightly walks about Sleepy Hollow.

 

The revel now gradually broke up. The old farmers gathered together their families in their wagons, and were heard for some time rattling along the hollow roads, and over the distant hills. Some of the lads mounted on pillions behind their favorite swains, and their light-hearted laughter, mingling with the clatter of hoofs, echoed along the silent woodlands, sounding fainter and fainter, until they gradually died away, --and the late scene of noise and frolic was all silent and deserted. Ichabod only lingered behind, according to the custom of country lovers, to have a tête-à-tête with the heir; fully convinced that she was now on the high road to success. What passed at this interview I will not pretend to say, for in fact I do not know.  Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for she certainly sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an air quite desolate and chapfallen. Oh, these men! these men! Could that boy have been playing off any of his flirtish tricks? Was his encouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere sham to secure his conquest of her rival? Heaven only knows, not I! Let it suffice to say, Ichabod stole forth with the air of one who had been sacking a rooster roost, rather than a fair lord’s heart. Without looking to the right or left to notice the scene of rural wealth, on which she had so often gloated, she went straight to the stable, and with several hearty cuffs and kicks roused her mare most uncourteously from the comfortable quarters in which she was soundly sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn and oats, and whole valleys of timothy and clover.

 

It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued her travels homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which she had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was as dismal as herself. Far below her the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight, she could even hear the barking of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of her distance from this faithful companion of woman. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some farmhouse away among the hills--but it was like a dreaming sound in her ear. No signs of life occurred near her, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in her bed.

 

All the stories of ghosts and goblins that she had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon her recollection. The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from her sight. She had never felt so lonely and dismal. She was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the center of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known by the name of Major André’s tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.

 

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, she began to whistle; she thought her whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. As she approached a little nearer, she thought she saw something white, hanging in the midst of the tree: she paused and ceased whistling but, on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid bare. Suddenly she heard a groan -- her teeth chattered, and her knees smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. She passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before her.

 

About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road, and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of Wiley’s Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape-vines, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the sturdy yeowomen concealed who surprised her. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolgirl who has to pass it alone after dark.

 

As she approached the stream, her heart began to thump; she summoned up, however, all her resolution, gave her horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the contrary foot: it was all in vain; her mare started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmistress now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a suddenness that had nearly sent her rider sprawling over her head. Just at this moment a splashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, she beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler.

 

The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon her head with terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late; and besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, she demanded in stammering accents, “Who are you?” She received no reply. She repeated her demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more she cudgeled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and, shutting her eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and with a scramble and a bound stood at once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. She appeared to be a horsewoman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. She made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road, jogging along on the blind side of old Gunpowder, who had now got over her fright and waywardness.

 

Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, and bethought herself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the Galloping Hessian, now quickened her mare in hopes of leaving her behind. The stranger, however, quickened her horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind, --the other did the same. Her heart began to sink within her; she endeavored to resume her psalm tune, but her parched tongue clove to the roof of her mouth, and she could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of her fellow-traveler in relief against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that she was headless!--but her horror was still more increased on observing that the head, which should have rested on her shoulders, was carried before her on the pommel of her saddle! Her terror rose to desperation; she rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give her companion the slip; but the specter started full jump with her. Away, then, they dashed through thick and thin; stones flying and sparks flashing at every bound. Ichabod’s flimsy garments fluttered in the air, as she stretched her long lank body away over her horse’s head, in the eagerness of her flight.

 

They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow; but Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping up it, made an opposite turn, and plunged headlong downhill to the left. This road leads through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crosses the bridge famous in goblin story; and just beyond swells the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

 

As yet the panic of the mare had given her unskillful rider an apparent advantage in the chase, but just as she had got half way through the hollow, the girths of the saddle gave way, and she felt it slipping from under her. She seized it by the pommel, and endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain; and had just time to save herself by clasping old Gunpowder round the neck, when the saddle fell to the earth, and she heard it trampled underfoot by her pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper’s wrath passed across her mind, --for it was her Sunday saddle; but this was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on her haunches; and (unskillful rider that she was!) she had much ado to maintain her seat; sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of her horse’s backbone, with a violence that she verily feared would cleave her asunder.

 

An opening in the trees now cheered her with the hopes that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook told her that she was not mistaken.  She saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. She recollected the place where Brom Bones’ ghostly competitor had disappeared. “If I can but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then she heard the black mare panting and blowing close behind her; she even fancied that she felt her hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; she thundered over the resounding planks; she gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if her pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then she saw the goblin rising in her stirrups, and in the very act of hurling her head at her. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered her cranium with a tremendous crash, --she was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black mare, and the goblin rider, passed by like a whirlwind.

 

The next morning the old horse was found without her saddle, and with the bridle under her feet, soberly cropping the grass at her mistress’ gate. Ichabod did not make her appearance at breakfast; dinner-hour came, but no Ichabod. The boys and girls assembled at the schoolhouse, and strolled idly about the banks of the brook; but no schoolmistress. Hans Van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Ichabod, and her saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation they came upon her traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

 

The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmistress was not to be discovered. Hans Van Ripper as executor of her estate, examined the bundle which contained all her worldly effects. They consisted of two shirts and a half; two stocks for the neck; a pair or two of worsted stockings; an old pair of corduroy small-clothes; a rusty razor; a book of psalm tunes full of dog’s-ears; and a broken pitch-pipe. As to the books and furniture of the schoolhouse, they belonged to the community, excepting Cotton Mather’s “History of Witchcraft,” a “New England Almanac,” and a book of dreams and fortune-telling; in which last was a sheet of foolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless attempts to make a copy of verses in honor of the heir of Van Tassel.  These magic books and the poetic scrawl were forthwith consigned to the flames by Hans Van Ripper; who, from that time forward, determined to send her children no more to school, observing that she never knew any good come of this same reading and writing. Whatever money the schoolmistress possessed, and she had received her quarter’s pay but a day or two before, she must have had about her person at the time of her disappearance.

 

The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on the following Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were collected in the churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and pumpkin had been found. The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a whole budget of others were called to mind; and when they had diligently considered them all, and compared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook their heads, and came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by the Galloping Hessian. As she was unmarried, and in nobody’s debt, nobody troubled her head any more about her; the school was removed to a different quarter of the hollow, and another pedagogue reigned in her stead.

 

It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive; that she had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly dismissed by the heir; that she had changed her quarters to a distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered; written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after her rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin; which led some to suspect that she knew more about the matter than she chose to tell.

 

The old country husbands, however, who are the best judges of these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about the neighborhood round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object of superstitious awe; and that may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years, so as to approach the church by the border of the millpond. The schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue and the plowgirl, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied her voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.

 

 

 

 

 

POSTSCRIPT.

 

FOUND IN THE HANDWRITING OF MRS. KNICKERBOCKER.

 

The preceding tale is given almost in the precise words in which I heard it related at a Corporation meeting at the ancient city of Manhattoes, at which were present many of its sagest and most illustrious burghers. The narrator was a pleasant, shabby, gentlewomanly old dame, in pepper-and-salt clothes, with a sadly humorous face, and one whom I strongly suspected of being poor -- she made such efforts to be entertaining. When her story was concluded, there was much laughter and approbation, particularly from two or three deputy alderwomen, who had been asleep the greater part of the time. There was, however, one tall, dry-looking old gentlewoman, with beetling eyebrows, who maintained a grave and rather severe face throughout, now and then folding her arms, inclining her head, and looking down upon the floor, as if turning a doubt over in her mind.  She was one of your wary women, who never laugh but upon good grounds --when they have reason and law on their side. When the mirth of the rest of the company had subsided, and silence was restored, she leaned one arm on the elbow of her chair, and sticking the other akimbo, demanded, with a slight, but exceedingly sage motion of the head, and contraction of the brow, what was the moral of the story, and what it went to prove?

 

The story-teller, who was just putting a glass of wine to her lips, as a refreshment after her toils, paused for a moment, looked at her inquirer with an air of infinite deference, and, lowering the glass slowly to the table, observed that the story was intended most logically to prove--

 

“That there is no situation in life but has its advantages and pleasures--provided we will but take a joke as we find it:

 

“That, therefore, she that runs races with goblin troopers is likely to have rough riding of it.

 

“Ergo, for a country schoolmistress to be refused the hand of a Dutch heir is a certain step to high preferment in the state.”

 

The cautious old gentlewoman knit her brows tenfold closer after this explanation, being sorely puzzled by the ratiocination of the syllogism, while, methought, the one in pepper-and-salt eyed him with something of a triumphant leer. At length she observed that all this was very well, but still she thought the story a little on the extravagant --there were one or two points on which she had her doubts.

 

“Faith, sir,” replied the story-teller, “as to that matter, I don’t believe one-half of it myself.”  D. K.

 

THE END.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Original

FOUND AMONG THE PAPERS OF THE LATE DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER.

 

 

        A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,

          Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;

        And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,

          Forever flushing round a summer sky.

                                         CASTLE OF INDOLENCE.

 

 

In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern

shore of the Hudson, at that broad expansion of the river denominated

by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always

prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas

when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which

by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly

known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in

former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the

inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village

tavern on market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact,

but merely advert to it, for the sake of being precise and authentic.

Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little

valley or rather lap of land among high hills, which is one of the

quietest places in the whole world. A small brook glides through it,

with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the occasional

whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound

that ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.

 

I recollect that, when a stripling, my first exploit in

squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut-trees that shades one

side of the valley. I had wandered into it at noontime, when all nature

is peculiarly quiet, and was startled by the roar of my own gun, as it

broke the Sabbath stillness around and was prolonged and reverberated

by the angry echoes. If ever I should wish for a retreat whither I might

steal from the world and its distractions, and dream quietly away the

remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this

little valley.

 

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its

inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this

sequestered glen has long been known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and

its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys throughout all the

neighboring country. A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the

land, and to pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place

was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days of the

settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of

his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by

Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under

the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of

the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are

given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and

visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in

the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots,

and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across

the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare,

with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her

gambols.

 

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and

seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the

apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head. It is said by some

to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away

by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War,

and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in

the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind. His haunts are not

confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and

especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance. Indeed,

certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been

careful in collecting and collating the floating facts concerning this

spectre, allege that the body of the trooper having been buried in the

churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly

quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes

passes along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being

belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.

 

Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has

furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and

the spectre is known at all the country firesides, by the name of the

Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

 

It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not

confined to the native inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously

imbibed by every one who resides there for a time. However wide awake

they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are

sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and

begin to grow imaginative, to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

 

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in such

little retired Dutch valleys, found here and there embosomed in the

great State of New York, that population, manners, and customs remain

fixed, while the great torrent of migration and improvement, which is

making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country,

sweeps by them unobserved. They are like those little nooks of still

water, which border a rapid stream, where we may see the straw and

bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving in their mimic

harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current. Though many

years have elapsed since I trod the drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet

I question whether I should not still find the same trees and the same

families vegetating in its sheltered bosom.

 

In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period of American

history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the

name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, “tarried,”

 in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the children of the

vicinity. He was a native of Connecticut, a State which supplies the

Union with pioneers for the mind as well as for the forest, and sends

forth yearly its legions of frontier woodmen and country schoolmasters.

The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall,

but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands

that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for

shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was

small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a

long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his

spindle neck to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along

the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and

fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of

famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a

cornfield.

 

His schoolhouse was a low building of one large room, rudely constructed

of logs; the windows partly glazed, and partly patched with leaves of

old copybooks. It was most ingeniously secured at vacant hours, by a

withe twisted in the handle of the door, and stakes set against the

window shutters; so that though a thief might get in with perfect ease,

he would find some embarrassment in getting out,--an idea most probably

borrowed by the architect, Yost Van Houten, from the mystery of an

eelpot. The schoolhouse stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation,

just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by, and

a formidable birch-tree growing at one end of it. From hence the low

murmur of his pupils’ voices, conning over their lessons, might be heard

in a drowsy summer’s day, like the hum of a beehive; interrupted now and

then by the authoritative voice of the master, in the tone of menace or

command, or, peradventure, by the appalling sound of the birch, as he

urged some tardy loiterer along the flowery path of knowledge. Truth to

say, he was a conscientious man, and ever bore in mind the golden maxim,

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.” Ichabod Crane’s scholars certainly

were not spoiled.

 

I would not have it imagined, however, that he was one of those cruel

potentates of the school who joy in the smart of their subjects; on

the contrary, he administered justice with discrimination rather than

severity; taking the burden off the backs of the weak, and laying it on

those of the strong. Your mere puny stripling, that winced at the least

flourish of the rod, was passed by with indulgence; but the claims of

justice were satisfied by inflicting a double portion on some little

tough wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelled

and grew dogged and sullen beneath the birch. All this he called “doing

his duty by their parents;” and he never inflicted a chastisement

without following it by the assurance, so consolatory to the smarting

urchin, that “he would remember it and thank him for it the longest day

he had to live.”

 

When school hours were over, he was even the companion and playmate

of the larger boys; and on holiday afternoons would convoy some of

the smaller ones home, who happened to have pretty sisters, or good

housewives for mothers, noted for the comforts of the cupboard. Indeed,

it behooved him to keep on good terms with his pupils. The revenue

arising from his school was small, and would have been scarcely

sufficient to furnish him with daily bread, for he was a huge feeder,

and, though lank, had the dilating powers of an anaconda; but to help

out his maintenance, he was, according to country custom in those

parts, boarded and lodged at the houses of the farmers whose children

he instructed. With these he lived successively a week at a time, thus

going the rounds of the neighborhood, with all his worldly effects tied

up in a cotton handkerchief.

 

That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of his rustic

patrons, who are apt to consider the costs of schooling a grievous

burden, and schoolmasters as mere drones, he had various ways of

rendering himself both useful and agreeable. He assisted the farmers

occasionally in the lighter labors of their farms, helped to make

hay, mended the fences, took the horses to water, drove the cows from

pasture, and cut wood for the winter fire. He laid aside, too, all the

dominant dignity and absolute sway with which he lorded it in his little

empire, the school, and became wonderfully gentle and ingratiating.

He found favor in the eyes of the mothers by petting the children,

particularly the youngest; and like the lion bold, which whilom so

magnanimously the lamb did hold, he would sit with a child on one knee,

and rock a cradle with his foot for whole hours together.

 

In addition to his other vocations, he was the singing-master of the

neighborhood, and picked up many bright shillings by instructing the

young folks in psalmody. It was a matter of no little vanity to him on

Sundays, to take his station in front of the church gallery, with a band

of chosen singers; where, in his own mind, he completely carried away

the palm from the parson. Certain it is, his voice resounded far above

all the rest of the congregation; and there are peculiar quavers still

to be heard in that church, and which may even be heard half a mile off,

quite to the opposite side of the millpond, on a still Sunday morning,

which are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod

Crane. Thus, by divers little makeshifts, in that ingenious way which is

commonly denominated “by hook and by crook,” the worthy pedagogue got on

tolerably enough, and was thought, by all who understood nothing of the

labor of headwork, to have a wonderfully easy life of it.

 

The schoolmaster is generally a man of some importance in the female

circle of a rural neighborhood; being considered a kind of idle,

gentlemanlike personage, of vastly superior taste and accomplishments to

the rough country swains, and, indeed, inferior in learning only to the

parson. His appearance, therefore, is apt to occasion some little stir

at the tea-table of a farmhouse, and the addition of a supernumerary

dish of cakes or sweetmeats, or, peradventure, the parade of a silver

teapot. Our man of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the

smiles of all the country damsels. How he would figure among them in the

churchyard, between services on Sundays; gathering grapes for them from

the wild vines that overran the surrounding trees; reciting for their

amusement all the epitaphs on the tombstones; or sauntering, with a

whole bevy of them, along the banks of the adjacent millpond; while the

more bashful country bumpkins hung sheepishly back, envying his superior

elegance and address.

 

From his half-itinerant life, also, he was a kind of travelling gazette,

carrying the whole budget of local gossip from house to house, so that

his appearance was always greeted with satisfaction. He was, moreover,

esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read

several books quite through, and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s

“History of New England Witchcraft,” in which, by the way, he most

firmly and potently believed.

 

He was, in fact, an odd mixture of small shrewdness and simple

credulity. His appetite for the marvellous, and his powers of digesting

it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by his

residence in this spell-bound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous

for his capacious swallow. It was often his delight, after his school

was dismissed in the afternoon, to stretch himself on the rich bed of

clover bordering the little brook that whimpered by his schoolhouse, and

there con over old Mather’s direful tales, until the gathering dusk of

evening made the printed page a mere mist before his eyes. Then, as he

wended his way by swamp and stream and awful woodland, to the farmhouse

where he happened to be quartered, every sound of nature, at that

witching hour, fluttered his excited imagination,--the moan of the

whip-poor-will from the hillside, the boding cry of the tree toad, that

harbinger of storm, the dreary hooting of the screech owl, or the

sudden rustling in the thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The

fireflies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now

and then startled him, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across

his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging

his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet was ready to give up

the ghost, with the idea that he was struck with a witch’s token. His

only resource on such occasions, either to drown thought or drive away

evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes and the good people of Sleepy

Hollow, as they sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with

awe at hearing his nasal melody, “in linked sweetness long drawn out,”

 floating from the distant hill, or along the dusky road.

 

Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was to pass long winter

evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire,

with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and

listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted

fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses,

and particularly of the headless horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the

Hollow, as they sometimes called him. He would delight them equally by

his anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous

sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of

Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations upon

comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that the world did

absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!

 

But if there was a pleasure in all this, while snugly cuddling in

the chimney corner of a chamber that was all of a ruddy glow from the

crackling wood fire, and where, of course, no spectre dared to show

its face, it was dearly purchased by the terrors of his subsequent walk

homewards. What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the

dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night! With what wistful look did he

eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the waste fields from

some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered

with snow, which, like a sheeted spectre, beset his very path! How often

did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the

frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest

he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him! And how

often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling

among the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of

his nightly scourings!

 

All these, however, were mere terrors of the night, phantoms of the mind

that walk in darkness; and though he had seen many spectres in his time,

and been more than once beset by Satan in divers shapes, in his lonely

perambulations, yet daylight put an end to all these evils; and he would

have passed a pleasant life of it, in despite of the Devil and all his

works, if his path had not been crossed by a being that causes more

perplexity to mortal man than ghosts, goblins, and the whole race of

witches put together, and that was--a woman.

 

Among the musical disciples who assembled, one evening in each week,

to receive his instructions in psalmody, was Katrina Van Tassel,

the daughter and only child of a substantial Dutch farmer. She was a

blooming lass of fresh eighteen; plump as a partridge; ripe and melting

and rosy-cheeked as one of her father’s peaches, and universally famed,

not merely for her beauty, but her vast expectations. She was withal a

little of a coquette, as might be perceived even in her dress, which was

a mixture of ancient and modern fashions, as most suited to set off

her charms. She wore the ornaments of pure yellow gold, which her

great-great-grandmother had brought over from Saardam; the tempting

stomacher of the olden time, and withal a provokingly short petticoat,

to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round.

 

Ichabod Crane had a soft and foolish heart towards the sex; and it is

not to be wondered at that so tempting a morsel soon found favor in his

eyes, more especially after he had visited her in her paternal mansion.

Old Baltus Van Tassel was a perfect picture of a thriving, contented,

liberal-hearted farmer. He seldom, it is true, sent either his eyes or

his thoughts beyond the boundaries of his own farm; but within those

everything was snug, happy and well-conditioned. He was satisfied with

his wealth, but not proud of it; and piqued himself upon the hearty

abundance, rather than the style in which he lived. His stronghold was

situated on the banks of the Hudson, in one of those green, sheltered,

fertile nooks in which the Dutch farmers are so fond of nestling. A

great elm tree spread its broad branches over it, at the foot of which

bubbled up a spring of the softest and sweetest water, in a little well

formed of a barrel; and then stole sparkling away through the grass, to

a neighboring brook, that babbled along among alders and dwarf willows.

Hard by the farmhouse was a vast barn, that might have served for a

church; every window and crevice of which seemed bursting forth with the

treasures of the farm; the flail was busily resounding within it from

morning to night; swallows and martins skimmed twittering about the

eaves; and rows of pigeons, some with one eye turned up, as if watching

the weather, some with their heads under their wings or buried in their

bosoms, and others swelling, and cooing, and bowing about their dames,

were enjoying the sunshine on the roof. Sleek unwieldy porkers were

grunting in the repose and abundance of their pens, from whence sallied

forth, now and then, troops of sucking pigs, as if to snuff the air.

A stately squadron of snowy geese were riding in an adjoining pond,

convoying whole fleets of ducks; regiments of turkeys were gobbling

through the farmyard, and Guinea fowls fretting about it, like

ill-tempered housewives, with their peevish, discontented cry. Before

the barn door strutted the gallant cock, that pattern of a husband, a

warrior and a fine gentleman, clapping his burnished wings and crowing

in the pride and gladness of his heart,--sometimes tearing up the earth

with his feet, and then generously calling his ever-hungry family of

wives and children to enjoy the rich morsel which he had discovered.

 

The pedagogue’s mouth watered as he looked upon this sumptuous promise

of luxurious winter fare. In his devouring mind’s eye, he pictured to

himself every roasting-pig running about with a pudding in his belly,

and an apple in his mouth; the pigeons were snugly put to bed in a

comfortable pie, and tucked in with a coverlet of crust; the geese were

swimming in their own gravy; and the ducks pairing cosily in dishes,

like snug married couples, with a decent competency of onion sauce. In

the porkers he saw carved out the future sleek side of bacon, and juicy

relishing ham; not a turkey but he beheld daintily trussed up, with

its gizzard under its wing, and, peradventure, a necklace of savory

sausages; and even bright chanticleer himself lay sprawling on his back,

in a side dish, with uplifted claws, as if craving that quarter which

his chivalrous spirit disdained to ask while living.

 

As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his great

green eyes over the fat meadow lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye,

of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burdened with ruddy

fruit, which surrounded the warm tenement of Van Tassel, his heart

yearned after the damsel who was to inherit these domains, and his

imagination expanded with the idea, how they might be readily turned

into cash, and the money invested in immense tracts of wild land, and

shingle palaces in the wilderness. Nay, his busy fancy already realized

his hopes, and presented to him the blooming Katrina, with a whole

family of children, mounted on the top of a wagon loaded with household

trumpery, with pots and kettles dangling beneath; and he beheld himself

bestriding a pacing mare, with a colt at her heels, setting out for

Kentucky, Tennessee,--or the Lord knows where!

 

When he entered the house, the conquest of his heart was complete. It

was one of those spacious farmhouses, with high-ridged but lowly sloping

roofs, built in the style handed down from the first Dutch settlers; the

low projecting eaves forming a piazza along the front, capable of being

closed up in bad weather. Under this were hung flails, harness, various

utensils of husbandry, and nets for fishing in the neighboring

river. Benches were built along the sides for summer use; and a great

spinning-wheel at one end, and a churn at the other, showed the various

uses to which this important porch might be devoted. From this piazza

the wondering Ichabod entered the hall, which formed the centre of the

mansion, and the place of usual residence. Here rows of resplendent

pewter, ranged on a long dresser, dazzled his eyes. In one corner

stood a huge bag of wool, ready to be spun; in another, a quantity of

linsey-woolsey just from the loom; ears of Indian corn, and strings of

dried apples and peaches, hung in gay festoons along the walls, mingled

with the gaud of red peppers; and a door left ajar gave him a peep into

the best parlor, where the claw-footed chairs and dark mahogany tables

shone like mirrors; andirons, with their accompanying shovel and

tongs, glistened from their covert of asparagus tops; mock-oranges and

conch-shells decorated the mantelpiece; strings of various-colored birds

eggs were suspended above it; a great ostrich egg was hung from

the centre of the room, and a corner cupboard, knowingly left open,

displayed immense treasures of old silver and well-mended china.

 

From the moment Ichabod laid his eyes upon these regions of delight, the

peace of his mind was at an end, and his only study was how to gain the

affections of the peerless daughter of Van Tassel. In this enterprise,

however, he had more real difficulties than generally fell to the lot of

a knight-errant of yore, who seldom had anything but giants, enchanters,

fiery dragons, and such like easily conquered adversaries, to contend

with and had to make his way merely through gates of iron and brass,

and walls of adamant to the castle keep, where the lady of his heart was

confined; all which he achieved as easily as a man would carve his way

to the centre of a Christmas pie; and then the lady gave him her hand as

a matter of course. Ichabod, on the contrary, had to win his way to

the heart of a country coquette, beset with a labyrinth of whims

and caprices, which were forever presenting new difficulties and

impediments; and he had to encounter a host of fearful adversaries of

real flesh and blood, the numerous rustic admirers, who beset every

portal to her heart, keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other,

but ready to fly out in the common cause against any new competitor.

 

Among these, the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roystering blade,

of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom

Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with his feats of

strength and hardihood. He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed,

with short curly black hair, and a bluff but not unpleasant countenance,

having a mingled air of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame

and great powers of limb he had received the nickname of BROM BONES,

by which he was universally known. He was famed for great knowledge and

skill in horsemanship, being as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar.

He was foremost at all races and cock fights; and, with the ascendancy

which bodily strength always acquires in rustic life, was the umpire in

all disputes, setting his hat on one side, and giving his decisions with

an air and tone that admitted of no gainsay or appeal. He was always

ready for either a fight or a frolic; but had more mischief than

ill-will in his composition; and with all his overbearing roughness,

there was a strong dash of waggish good humor at bottom. He had three or

four boon companions, who regarded him as their model, and at the

head of whom he scoured the country, attending every scene of feud or

merriment for miles round. In cold weather he was distinguished by a

fur cap, surmounted with a flaunting fox’s tail; and when the folks at a

country gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance, whisking

about among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by for a squall.

Sometimes his crew would be heard dashing along past the farmhouses at

midnight, with whoop and halloo, like a troop of Don Cossacks; and the

old dames, startled out of their sleep, would listen for a moment till

the hurry-scurry had clattered by, and then exclaim, “Ay, there goes

Brom Bones and his gang!” The neighbors looked upon him with a mixture

of awe, admiration, and good-will; and, when any madcap prank or rustic

brawl occurred in the vicinity, always shook their heads, and warranted

Brom Bones was at the bottom of it.

 

This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the blooming Katrina

for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and though his amorous

toyings were something like the gentle caresses and endearments of a

bear, yet it was whispered that she did not altogether discourage his

hopes. Certain it is, his advances were signals for rival candidates to

retire, who felt no inclination to cross a lion in his amours; insomuch,

that when his horse was seen tied to Van Tassel’s paling, on a Sunday

night, a sure sign that his master was courting, or, as it is termed,

“sparking,” within, all other suitors passed by in despair, and carried

the war into other quarters.

 

Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to contend,

and, considering all things, a stouter man than he would have shrunk

from the competition, and a wiser man would have despaired. He had,

however, a happy mixture of pliability and perseverance in his nature;

he was in form and spirit like a supple-jack--yielding, but tough;

though he bent, he never broke; and though he bowed beneath the

slightest pressure, yet, the moment it was away--jerk!--he was as erect,

and carried his head as high as ever.

 

To have taken the field openly against his rival would have been

madness; for he was not a man to be thwarted in his amours, any more

than that stormy lover, Achilles. Ichabod, therefore, made his advances

in a quiet and gently insinuating manner. Under cover of his character

of singing-master, he made frequent visits at the farmhouse; not that he

had anything to apprehend from the meddlesome interference of parents,

which is so often a stumbling-block in the path of lovers. Balt Van

Tassel was an easy indulgent soul; he loved his daughter better even

than his pipe, and, like a reasonable man and an excellent father, let

her have her way in everything. His notable little wife, too, had enough

to do to attend to her housekeeping and manage her poultry; for, as she

sagely observed, ducks and geese are foolish things, and must be looked

after, but girls can take care of themselves. Thus, while the busy dame

bustled about the house, or plied her spinning-wheel at one end of the

piazza, honest Balt would sit smoking his evening pipe at the other,

watching the achievements of a little wooden warrior, who, armed with a

sword in each hand, was most valiantly fighting the wind on the pinnacle

of the barn. In the mean time, Ichabod would carry on his suit with the

daughter by the side of the spring under the great elm, or sauntering

along in the twilight, that hour so favorable to the lover’s eloquence.

 

I profess not to know how women’s hearts are wooed and won. To me they

have always been matters of riddle and admiration. Some seem to have but

one vulnerable point, or door of access; while others have a thousand

avenues, and may be captured in a thousand different ways. It is a

great triumph of skill to gain the former, but a still greater proof of

generalship to maintain possession of the latter, for man must battle

for his fortress at every door and window. He who wins a thousand common

hearts is therefore entitled to some renown; but he who keeps undisputed

sway over the heart of a coquette is indeed a hero. Certain it is, this

was not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones; and from the moment

Ichabod Crane made his advances, the interests of the former evidently

declined: his horse was no longer seen tied to the palings on Sunday

nights, and a deadly feud gradually arose between him and the preceptor

of Sleepy Hollow.

 

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature, would fain have

carried matters to open warfare and have settled their pretensions

to the lady, according to the mode of those most concise and simple

reasoners, the knights-errant of yore,--by single combat; but Ichabod

was too conscious of the superior might of his adversary to enter the

lists against him; he had overheard a boast of Bones, that he would

“double the schoolmaster up, and lay him on a shelf of his own

schoolhouse;” and he was too wary to give him an opportunity. There was

something extremely provoking in this obstinately pacific system; it

left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of rustic waggery in

his disposition, and to play off boorish practical jokes upon his rival.

Ichabod became the object of whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang

of rough riders. They harried his hitherto peaceful domains; smoked

out his singing school by stopping up the chimney; broke into the

schoolhouse at night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of withe

and window stakes, and turned everything topsy-turvy, so that the poor

schoolmaster began to think all the witches in the country held

their meetings there. But what was still more annoying, Brom took all

opportunities of turning him into ridicule in presence of his mistress,

and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whine in the most ludicrous

manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod’s, to instruct her in

psalmody.

 

In this way matters went on for some time, without producing any

material effect on the relative situations of the contending powers. On

a fine autumnal afternoon, Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on

the lofty stool from whence he usually watched all the concerns of his

little literary realm. In his hand he swayed a ferule, that sceptre of

despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails behind the

throne, a constant terror to evil doers, while on the desk before

him might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons,

detected upon the persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples,

popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little

paper gamecocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of justice

recently inflicted, for his scholars were all busily intent upon their

books, or slyly whispering behind them with one eye kept upon the

master; and a kind of buzzing stillness reigned throughout the

schoolroom. It was suddenly interrupted by the appearance of a negro in

tow-cloth jacket and trowsers, a round-crowned fragment of a hat,

like the cap of Mercury, and mounted on the back of a ragged, wild,

half-broken colt, which he managed with a rope by way of halter. He came

clattering up to the school door with an invitation to Ichabod to attend

a merry-making or “quilting frolic,” to be held that evening at

Mynheer Van Tassel’s; and having delivered his message with that air of

importance, and effort at fine language, which a negro is apt to display

on petty embassies of the kind, he dashed over the brook, and was seen

scampering away up the hollow, full of the importance and hurry of his

mission.

 

All was now bustle and hubbub in the late quiet schoolroom. The scholars

were hurried through their lessons without stopping at trifles; those

who were nimble skipped over half with impunity, and those who were

tardy had a smart application now and then in the rear, to quicken their

speed or help them over a tall word. Books were flung aside without

being put away on the shelves, inkstands were overturned, benches thrown

down, and the whole school was turned loose an hour before the usual

time, bursting forth like a legion of young imps, yelping and racketing

about the green in joy at their early emancipation.

 

The gallant Ichabod now spent at least an extra half hour at his toilet,

brushing and furbishing up his best, and indeed only suit of rusty

black, and arranging his locks by a bit of broken looking-glass that

hung up in the schoolhouse. That he might make his appearance before his

mistress in the true style of a cavalier, he borrowed a horse from the

farmer with whom he was domiciliated, a choleric old Dutchman of the

name of Hans Van Ripper, and, thus gallantly mounted, issued forth like

a knight-errant in quest of adventures. But it is meet I should, in

the true spirit of romantic story, give some account of the looks

and equipments of my hero and his steed. The animal he bestrode was

a broken-down plow-horse, that had outlived almost everything but its

viciousness. He was gaunt and shagged, with a ewe neck, and a head like

a hammer; his rusty mane and tail were tangled and knotted with burs;

one eye had lost its pupil, and was glaring and spectral, but the other

had the gleam of a genuine devil in it. Still he must have had fire and

mettle in his day, if we may judge from the name he bore of Gunpowder.

He had, in fact, been a favorite steed of his master’s, the choleric Van

Ripper, who was a furious rider, and had infused, very probably, some of

his own spirit into the animal; for, old and broken-down as he looked,

there was more of the lurking devil in him than in any young filly in

the country.

 

Ichabod was a suitable figure for such a steed. He rode with short

stirrups, which brought his knees nearly up to the pommel of the saddle;

his sharp elbows stuck out like grasshoppers’; he carried his whip

perpendicularly in his hand, like a sceptre, and as his horse jogged on,

the motion of his arms was not unlike the flapping of a pair of wings. A

small wool hat rested on the top of his nose, for so his scanty strip of

forehead might be called, and the skirts of his black coat fluttered out

almost to the horses tail. Such was the appearance of Ichabod and his

steed as they shambled out of the gate of Hans Van Ripper, and it was

altogether such an apparition as is seldom to be met with in broad

daylight.

 

It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and

serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always

associate with the idea of abundance. The forests had put on their sober

brown and yellow, while some trees of the tenderer kind had been nipped

by the frosts into brilliant dyes of orange, purple, and scarlet.

Streaming files of wild ducks began to make their appearance high in the

air; the bark of the squirrel might be heard from the groves of beech

and hickory-nuts, and the pensive whistle of the quail at intervals from

the neighboring stubble field.

 

The small birds were taking their farewell banquets. In the fullness

of their revelry, they fluttered, chirping and frolicking from bush to

bush, and tree to tree, capricious from the very profusion and variety

around them. There was the honest cock robin, the favorite game of

stripling sportsmen, with its loud querulous note; and the twittering

blackbirds flying in sable clouds; and the golden-winged woodpecker with

his crimson crest, his broad black gorget, and splendid plumage; and the

cedar bird, with its red-tipt wings and yellow-tipt tail and its little

monteiro cap of feathers; and the blue jay, that noisy coxcomb, in his

gay light blue coat and white underclothes, screaming and chattering,

nodding and bobbing and bowing, and pretending to be on good terms with

every songster of the grove.

 

As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to every symptom

of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly

autumn. On all sides he beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in

oppressive opulence on the trees; some gathered into baskets and barrels

for the market; others heaped up in rich piles for the cider-press.

Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears

peeping from their leafy coverts, and holding out the promise of cakes

and hasty-pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning

up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of

the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat

fields breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he beheld them, soft

anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered,

and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand

of Katrina Van Tassel.

 

Thus feeding his mind with many sweet thoughts and “sugared

suppositions,” he journeyed along the sides of a range of hills which

look out upon some of the goodliest scenes of the mighty Hudson. The sun

gradually wheeled his broad disk down in the west. The wide bosom of the

Tappan Zee lay motionless and glassy, excepting that here and there a

gentle undulation waved and prolonged the blue shadow of the distant

mountain. A few amber clouds floated in the sky, without a breath of air

to move them. The horizon was of a fine golden tint, changing gradually

into a pure apple green, and from that into the deep blue of the

mid-heaven. A slanting ray lingered on the woody crests of the

precipices that overhung some parts of the river, giving greater depth

to the dark gray and purple of their rocky sides. A sloop was loitering

in the distance, dropping slowly down with the tide, her sail hanging

uselessly against the mast; and as the reflection of the sky gleamed

along the still water, it seemed as if the vessel was suspended in the

air.

 

It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of the Heer

Van Tassel, which he found thronged with the pride and flower of the

adjacent country. Old farmers, a spare leathern-faced race, in homespun

coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge shoes, and magnificent pewter

buckles. Their brisk, withered little dames, in close-crimped caps,

long-waisted short gowns, homespun petticoats, with scissors and

pincushions, and gay calico pockets hanging on the outside. Buxom

lasses, almost as antiquated as their mothers, excepting where a straw

hat, a fine ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city

innovation. The sons, in short square-skirted coats, with rows of

stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the fashion

of the times, especially if they could procure an eel-skin for the

purpose, it being esteemed throughout the country as a potent nourisher

and strengthener of the hair.

 

Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come to the

gathering on his favorite steed Daredevil, a creature, like himself,

full of mettle and mischief, and which no one but himself could manage.

He was, in fact, noted for preferring vicious animals, given to all

kinds of tricks which kept the rider in constant risk of his neck, for

he held a tractable, well-broken horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit.

 

Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that burst upon

the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the state parlor of Van

Tassel’s mansion. Not those of the bevy of buxom lasses, with their

luxurious display of red and white; but the ample charms of a genuine

Dutch country tea-table, in the sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped up

platters of cakes of various and almost indescribable kinds, known only

to experienced Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the

tender oly koek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and

short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family of

cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and pumpkin pies;

besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover delectable dishes

of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and quinces; not to mention

broiled shad and roasted chickens; together with bowls of milk and

cream, all mingled higgledy-piggledy, pretty much as I have enumerated

them, with the motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the

midst--Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this

banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story.

Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his historian, but

did ample justice to every dainty.

 

He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion

as his skin was filled with good cheer, and whose spirits rose with

eating, as some men’s do with drink. He could not help, too, rolling his

large eyes round him as he ate, and chuckling with the possibility that

he might one day be lord of all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury

and splendor. Then, he thought, how soon he’d turn his back upon the old

schoolhouse; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and every

other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue out of doors

that should dare to call him comrade!

 

Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a face dilated

with content and good humor, round and jolly as the harvest moon. His

hospitable attentions were brief, but expressive, being confined to a

shake of the hand, a slap on the shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing

invitation to “fall to, and help themselves.”

 

And now the sound of the music from the common room, or hall, summoned

to the dance. The musician was an old gray-headed negro, who had

been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood for more than half a

century. His instrument was as old and battered as himself. The greater

part of the time he scraped on two or three strings, accompanying every

movement of the bow with a motion of the head; bowing almost to the

ground, and stamping with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to

start.

 

Ichabod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his vocal

powers. Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to have seen his

loosely hung frame in full motion, and clattering about the room, you

would have thought St. Vitus himself, that blessed patron of the dance,

was figuring before you in person. He was the admiration of all the

negroes; who, having gathered, of all ages and sizes, from the farm

and the neighborhood, stood forming a pyramid of shining black faces at

every door and window, gazing with delight at the scene, rolling their

white eyeballs, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear. How

could the flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and joyous? The

lady of his heart was his partner in the dance, and smiling graciously

in reply to all his amorous oglings; while Brom Bones, sorely smitten

with love and jealousy, sat brooding by himself in one corner.

 

When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the

sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the

piazza, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories about

the war.

 

This neighborhood, at the time of which I am speaking, was one of those

highly favored places which abound with chronicle and great men. The

British and American line had run near it during the war; it had,

therefore, been the scene of marauding and infested with refugees,

cowboys, and all kinds of border chivalry. Just sufficient time had

elapsed to enable each storyteller to dress up his tale with a little

becoming fiction, and, in the indistinctness of his recollection, to

make himself the hero of every exploit.

 

There was the story of Doffue Martling, a large blue-bearded Dutchman,

who had nearly taken a British frigate with an old iron nine-pounder

from a mud breastwork, only that his gun burst at the sixth discharge.

And there was an old gentleman who shall be nameless, being too rich

a mynheer to be lightly mentioned, who, in the battle of White Plains,

being an excellent master of defence, parried a musket-ball with a small

sword, insomuch that he absolutely felt it whiz round the blade, and

glance off at the hilt; in proof of which he was ready at any time to

show the sword, with the hilt a little bent. There were several more

that had been equally great in the field, not one of whom but was

persuaded that he had a considerable hand in bringing the war to a happy

termination.

 

But all these were nothing to the tales of ghosts and apparitions that

succeeded. The neighborhood is rich in legendary treasures of the

kind. Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered,

long-settled retreats; but are trampled under foot by the shifting

throng that forms the population of most of our country places. Besides,

there is no encouragement for ghosts in most of our villages, for they

have scarcely had time to finish their first nap and turn themselves in

their graves, before their surviving friends have travelled away from

the neighborhood; so that when they turn out at night to walk their

rounds, they have no acquaintance left to call upon. This is perhaps the

reason why we so seldom hear of ghosts except in our long-established

Dutch communities.

 

The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories

in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow.

There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted

region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting

all the land. Several of the Sleepy Hollow people were present at

Van Tassel’s, and, as usual, were doling out their wild and wonderful

legends. Many dismal tales were told about funeral trains, and mourning

cries and wailings heard and seen about the great tree where the

unfortunate Major André was taken, and which stood in the neighborhood.

Some mention was made also of the woman in white, that haunted the

dark glen at Raven Rock, and was often heard to shriek on winter nights

before a storm, having perished there in the snow. The chief part of the

stories, however, turned upon the favorite spectre of Sleepy Hollow, the

Headless Horseman, who had been heard several times of late, patrolling

the country; and, it was said, tethered his horse nightly among the

graves in the churchyard.

 

The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a

favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by

locust-trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent, whitewashed

walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the

shades of retirement. A gentle slope descends from it to a silver sheet

of water, bordered by high trees, between which, peeps may be caught at

the blue hills of the Hudson. To look upon its grass-grown yard, where

the sunbeams seem to sleep so quietly, one would think that there at

least the dead might rest in peace. On one side of the church extends a

wide woody dell, along which raves a large brook among broken rocks and

trunks of fallen trees. Over a deep black part of the stream, not far

from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led

to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees,

which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime; but occasioned a

fearful darkness at night. Such was one of the favorite haunts of

the Headless Horseman, and the place where he was most frequently

encountered. The tale was told of old Brouwer, a most heretical

disbeliever in ghosts, how he met the Horseman returning from his foray

into Sleepy Hollow, and was obliged to get up behind him; how they

galloped over bush and brake, over hill and swamp, until they reached

the bridge; when the Horseman suddenly turned into a skeleton, threw old

Brouwer into the brook, and sprang away over the tree-tops with a clap

of thunder.

 

This story was immediately matched by a thrice marvellous adventure of

Brom Bones, who made light of the Galloping Hessian as an arrant jockey.

He affirmed that on returning one night from the neighboring village of

Sing Sing, he had been overtaken by this midnight trooper; that he had

offered to race with him for a bowl of punch, and should have won it

too, for Daredevil beat the goblin horse all hollow, but just as they

came to the church bridge, the Hessian bolted, and vanished in a flash

of fire.

 

All these tales, told in that drowsy undertone with which men talk in

the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving

a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sank deep in the mind of

Ichabod. He repaid them in kind with large extracts from his invaluable

author, Cotton Mather, and added many marvellous events that had taken

place in his native State of Connecticut, and fearful sights which he

had seen in his nightly walks about Sleepy Hollow.

 

The revel now gradually broke up. The old farmers gathered together

their families in their wagons, and were heard for some time rattling

along the hollow roads, and over the distant hills. Some of the

damsels mounted on pillions behind their favorite swains, and their

light-hearted laughter, mingling with the clatter of hoofs, echoed along

the silent woodlands, sounding fainter and fainter, until they gradually

died away,--and the late scene of noise and frolic was all silent and

deserted. Ichabod only lingered behind, according to the custom of

country lovers, to have a tête-à-tête with the heiress; fully convinced

that he was now on the high road to success. What passed at this

interview I will not pretend to say, for in fact I do not know.

Something, however, I fear me, must have gone wrong, for he certainly

sallied forth, after no very great interval, with an air quite desolate

and chapfallen. Oh, these women! these women! Could that girl have been

playing off any of her coquettish tricks? Was her encouragement of the

poor pedagogue all a mere sham to secure her conquest of his rival?

Heaven only knows, not I! Let it suffice to say, Ichabod stole forth

with the air of one who had been sacking a henroost, rather than a fair

lady’s heart. Without looking to the right or left to notice the scene

of rural wealth, on which he had so often gloated, he went straight to

the stable, and with several hearty cuffs and kicks roused his steed

most uncourteously from the comfortable quarters in which he was soundly

sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn and oats, and whole valleys of

timothy and clover.

 

It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and

crestfallen, pursued his travels homewards, along the sides of the

lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so

cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below

him the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with

here and there the tall mast of a sloop, riding quietly at anchor under

the land. In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking

of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was

so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this

faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long-drawn crowing

of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some

farmhouse away among the hills--but it was like a dreaming sound in his

ear. No signs of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy

chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a

neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably and turning suddenly in

his bed.

 

All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon

now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and

darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds

occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and

dismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the

scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the centre of the road

stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the

other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its

limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for

ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth, and rising again into

the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate

André, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally known

by the name of Major André’s tree. The common people regarded it with a

mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the

fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange

sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.

 

As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle; he thought

his whistle was answered; it was but a blast sweeping sharply through

the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw

something white, hanging in the midst of the tree: he paused and ceased

whistling but, on looking more narrowly, perceived that it was a place

where the tree had been scathed by lightning, and the white wood laid

bare. Suddenly he heard a groan--his teeth chattered, and his knees

smote against the saddle: it was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon

another, as they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in

safety, but new perils lay before him.

 

About two hundred yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road,

and ran into a marshy and thickly-wooded glen, known by the name of

Wiley’s Swamp. A few rough logs, laid side by side, served for a bridge

over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the

wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape-vines,

threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest

trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate André was

captured, and under the covert of those chestnuts and vines were the

sturdy yeomen concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been

considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the

schoolboy who has to pass it alone after dark.

 

As he approached the stream, his heart began to thump; he summoned up,

however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the

ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across the bridge; but instead of

starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement, and

ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the

delay, jerked the reins on the other side, and kicked lustily with the

contrary foot: it was all in vain; his steed started, it is true, but

it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road into a thicket of

brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and

heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward,

snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge, with a

suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head.

Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the

sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin

of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It

stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic

monster ready to spring upon the traveller.

 

The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror.

What was to be done? To turn and fly was now too late; and besides,

what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which

could ride upon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a

show of courage, he demanded in stammering accents, “Who are you?”

 He received no reply. He repeated his demand in a still more agitated

voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he cudgelled the sides

of the inflexible Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with

involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of

alarm put itself in motion, and with a scramble and a bound stood at

once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal,

yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. He

appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black

horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability,

but kept aloof on one side of the road, jogging along on the blind side

of old Gunpowder, who had now got over his fright and waywardness.

 

Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, and

bethought himself of the adventure of Brom Bones with the Galloping

Hessian, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind. The

stranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled

up, and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind,--the other did the

same. His heart began to sink within him; he endeavored to resume his

psalm tune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth, and

he could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody and

dogged silence of this pertinacious companion that was mysterious and

appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising

ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveller in relief

against the sky, gigantic in height, and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was

horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless!--but his horror was

still more increased on observing that the head, which should have

rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his

saddle! His terror rose to desperation; he rained a shower of kicks and

blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion

the slip; but the spectre started full jump with him. Away, then, they

dashed through thick and thin; stones flying and sparks flashing at

every bound. Ichabod’s flimsy garments fluttered in the air, as

he stretched his long lank body away over his horse’s head, in the

eagerness of his flight.

 

They had now reached the road which turns off to Sleepy Hollow; but

Gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping up it,

made an opposite turn, and plunged headlong downhill to the left. This

road leads through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter

of a mile, where it crosses the bridge famous in goblin story; and just

beyond swells the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

 

As yet the panic of the steed had given his unskilful rider an apparent

advantage in the chase, but just as he had got half way through the

hollow, the girths of the saddle gave way, and he felt it slipping from

under him. He seized it by the pommel, and endeavored to hold it firm,

but in vain; and had just time to save himself by clasping old Gunpowder

round the neck, when the saddle fell to the earth, and he heard it

trampled under foot by his pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van

Ripper’s wrath passed across his mind,--for it was his Sunday saddle;

but this was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on his

haunches; and (unskilful rider that he was!) he had much ado to maintain

his seat; sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and

sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse’s backbone, with a

violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.

 

An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church

bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the

bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken. He saw the walls

of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. He recollected the

place where Brom Bones’s ghostly competitor had disappeared. “If I can

but reach that bridge,” thought Ichabod, “I am safe.” Just then he heard

the black steed panting and blowing close behind him; he even fancied

that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and

old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding

planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind

to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of

fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups,

and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to

dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium

with a tremendous crash,--he was tumbled headlong into the dust, and

Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider, passed by like a

whirlwind.

 

The next morning the old horse was found without his saddle, and with

the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master’s

gate. Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast; dinner-hour

came, but no Ichabod. The boys assembled at the schoolhouse, and

strolled idly about the banks of the brook; but no schoolmaster. Hans

Van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor

Ichabod, and his saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent

investigation they came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading

to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt; the tracks of

horses’ hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed,

were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of

the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the

unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin.

 

The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was not to

be discovered. Hans Van Ripper as executor of his estate, examined the

bundle which contained all his worldly effects. They consisted of two

shirts and a half; two stocks for the neck; a pair or two of worsted

stockings; an old pair of corduroy small-clothes; a rusty razor; a book

of psalm tunes full of dog’s-ears; and a broken pitch-pipe. As to the

books and furniture of the schoolhouse, they belonged to the community,

excepting Cotton Mather’s “History of Witchcraft,” a “New England

Almanac,” and a book of dreams and fortune-telling; in which last was

a sheet of foolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless

attempts to make a copy of verses in honor of the heiress of Van Tassel.

These magic books and the poetic scrawl were forthwith consigned to the

flames by Hans Van Ripper; who, from that time forward, determined to

send his children no more to school, observing that he never knew

any good come of this same reading and writing. Whatever money the

schoolmaster possessed, and he had received his quarter’s pay but a

day or two before, he must have had about his person at the time of his

disappearance.

 

The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on the

following Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were collected in the

churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and pumpkin

had been found. The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a whole budget of

others were called to mind; and when they had diligently considered them

all, and compared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook

their heads, and came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried

off by the Galloping Hessian. As he was a bachelor, and in nobody’s

debt, nobody troubled his head any more about him; the school was

removed to a different quarter of the hollow, and another pedagogue

reigned in his stead.

 

It is true, an old farmer, who had been down to New York on a visit

several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure

was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still

alive; that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the

goblin and Hans Van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been

suddenly dismissed by the heiress; that he had changed his quarters to a

distant part of the country; had kept school and studied law at the same

time; had been admitted to the bar; turned politician; electioneered;

written for the newspapers; and finally had been made a justice of

the Ten Pound Court. Brom Bones, too, who, shortly after his rival’s

disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina in triumph to the altar,

was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod

was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the

pumpkin; which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter

than he chose to tell.

 

The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these

matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by

supernatural means; and it is a favorite story often told about the

neighborhood round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than

ever an object of superstitious awe; and that may be the reason why the

road has been altered of late years, so as to approach the church by

the border of the millpond. The schoolhouse being deserted soon fell to

decay, and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate

pedagogue and the plowboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening,

has often fancied his voice at a distance, chanting a melancholy psalm

tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow.

 

 

 

POSTSCRIPT.

 

FOUND IN THE HANDWRITING OF MR. KNICKERBOCKER.

 

The preceding tale is given almost in the precise words in which I

heard it related at a Corporation meeting at the ancient city of

Manhattoes, at which were present many of its sagest and most

illustrious burghers. The narrator was a pleasant, shabby, gentlemanly

old fellow, in pepper-and-salt clothes, with a sadly humourous face,

and one whom I strongly suspected of being poor--he made such efforts

to be entertaining. When his story was concluded, there was much

laughter and approbation, particularly from two or three deputy

aldermen, who had been asleep the greater part of the time. There was,

however, one tall, dry-looking old gentleman, with beetling eyebrows,

who maintained a grave and rather severe face throughout, now and then

folding his arms, inclining his head, and looking down upon the floor,

as if turning a doubt over in his mind. He was one of your wary men,

who never laugh but upon good grounds--when they have reason and law on

their side. When the mirth of the rest of the company had subsided, and

silence was restored, he leaned one arm on the elbow of his chair, and

sticking the other akimbo, demanded, with a slight, but exceedingly

sage motion of the head, and contraction of the brow, what was the

moral of the story, and what it went to prove?

 

The story-teller, who was just putting a glass of wine to his lips, as

a refreshment after his toils, paused for a moment, looked at his

inquirer with an air of infinite deference, and, lowering the glass

slowly to the table, observed that the story was intended most

logically to prove--

 

“That there is no situation in life but has its advantages and

pleasures--provided we will but take a joke as we find it:

 

“That, therefore, he that runs races with goblin troopers is likely to

have rough riding of it.

 

“Ergo, for a country schoolmaster to be refused the hand of a Dutch

heiress is a certain step to high preferment in the state.”

 

The cautious old gentleman knit his brows tenfold closer after this

explanation, being sorely puzzled by the ratiocination of the

syllogism, while, methought, the one in pepper-and-salt eyed him with

something of a triumphant leer. At length he observed that all this was

very well, but still he thought the story a little on the

extravagant--there were one or two points on which he had his doubts.

 

“Faith, sir,” replied the story-teller, “as to that matter, I don’t

believe one-half of it myself.”  D. K.

 

THE END.