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by Washington Irving                                                Back to Ghost Stories

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,
For ever 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

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 noon
time, 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 nine fold, 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 church-yard, 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 church-yard 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

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 woodsmen 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 school-house was a low building of one large room, rudely constructed of logs;
the windows partly glazed, and partly patched  with leaves of old copy-books. 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
eel-pot. The school-house 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 of 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  mill-pond, on a still Sunday morning, which are said to be
legitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod Crane. Thus, by divers little
make-shifts 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 gentleman-like 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 tea-pot. Our
man of letters, therefore, was peculiarly happy in the smiles of all the country
damsels. How he would figure among them in the church-yard, between services on
Sundays! Gathering grapes for them from the wild vines that overrun 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 mill-pond;
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 spellbound
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 school-house, and
there con over old Mather's direful tales, until the gathering dusk of the 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 fire-flies, 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

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 his 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

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 every thing 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 bubbled along among alders and dwarf willows. Hard by the
farm-house 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; 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 farm-yard, 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 mantel-piece;
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 any thing 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 for ever 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

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 BromM 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 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 admitting 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 any thing 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 meantime, 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 the 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 at 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 school-house;" 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 school-house at night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of
withe and window stakes, and turned every thing 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 situation of the contending powers. On a fine autumnal afternoon,
Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on the lofty stool whence he usually
watched all the concerns of his little literary realm. In his hand he swayed a ferrule,
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 school-room. 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 school-room. 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 looks by
a bit of broken looking-glass, that hung up in the school-house. 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 plough-horse, that had outlived
almost every thing but his 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
burrs; 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
horse's 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

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-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 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 stores 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
bee-hive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty
flapjacks, 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 into 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 Herr 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 shortgowns, 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 tea-pot 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 school-house; 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

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

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 Saint 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 eye-balls, 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, cow-boys, and all kinds of border chivalry.
Just sufficient time had elapsed to enable each story-teller 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 Whiteplains, 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 Andre
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

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. This 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 tete-a-tete 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 hen roost, 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 crest-fallen,
pursued his travel 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
watch dog 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 farm-house 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 dismayed. 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 tragic story of the
unfortunate Andre, who had been taken prisoner hard by; and was universally
known by the name of Major Andre'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 Andre 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

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 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, he
beheld something huge, misshapen, black and towering. It stirred not, but seemed
gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the

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 the 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

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 down hill 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 unskillful 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 (unskillful 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

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 school-house 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 dogs' ears; and a broken
pitchpipe. As to the books and furniture of the school-house, 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 church-yard, 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

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 mill-pond. The school-house being deserted, soon fell to decay, and
was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue; and the
plough boy, 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.  

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