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 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 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 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 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
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 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 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.
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
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 church-yard.
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 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 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 tragical 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 ploughboy, 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