Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse half a score of kicks in the ribs, and attempted to dash briskly across 945 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 950 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 955 rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a plashy tramp by the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the 960 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 965 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 970 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 un- 975 known might now in some degree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black

953. Starveling, hungry, lean, meagre, thin, wasted from lack of nutri

ment.

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 980 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 985 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 psalmtune, but his parched tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and he could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody 990 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 995 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 1000 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.

1005

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 the hill to the left. This road leads through a sandy hollow, shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, 1010

990. Stave (akin to staff; Icelandic steff, strophe), a verse in psalm-singing, or so much of a hymn as is given out at once by the precentor to be sung by the congregation; a staff or metrical portion of a tune.

where it crosses the bridge famous in goblin story; and just beyond swells the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church.

As yet the panic of the steed had given his unskilful rider an apparent advantage in the chase; but just as he had got 1015 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 1020 under foot by his pursuer. For a moment the terror of Hans Van Ripper's wrath passed across his mind, - for it was his Sunday saddle; - but this was no time for petty fears; the goblin was hard on his haunches, and (unskilful rider that he was!) he had much ado to maintain his seat, sometimes slipping 1025 on one side, sometimes on the other, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse's backbone with a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.

[ocr errors]

An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection 1030 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' ghostly competitor had disappeared. "If I can but reach that bridge," thought Ichabod, "I am safe." Just then he 1085 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 1046 pursuer should vanish, according to rule, in a flash of fire and

1011. Goblin (Fr. gobelin, a hobgoblin), a supernatural being, misshapen, hideous, monstrous.

1034. If I can but reach that bridge, etc. See Burns's Tam O'Shanter for an illustration of the superstitious notion that witches cannot cross the middle of a stream.

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 1046 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 1050 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 1055 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 1060 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 1065 his estate, examined the bundle which contained all his worldly effects. They consisted of two shirts and a half, two stocks for the neck, a pair or two of worsted stockings, an old pair of corduroy small-clothes, a rusty razor, a book of psalm-tunes full of dog's-ears, and a broken pitch-pipe. As to the books and fur- 1070 niture 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

1065. Executor. The person appointed by the maker of a will to see that it is carried into effect. What is an administrator?

1068. Corduroy (Fr. corde-du-roi, cord of the king), a thick ribbed cottoncloth used for pantaloons, gaiters, etc.

1070. Dog's-ears, the turned-down corners of the leaves in a book.

which last was a sheet of foolscap much scribbled and blotted in several fruitless attempts to make a copy of verses in honor 1075 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 school- 1080 master 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.

[ocr errors]

The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on the following Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were 1085 collected in the churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and pumpkin had been found. The stories of Brouwer, of Bones, and a whole budget of others, were called to mind; and when they had diligently considered them all, and compared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook their 1000 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 1100 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 1105

1074. Foolscap. A fool's cap was a pointed cap once worn by professional jesters, court fools, or circus clowns. The figure of this cap was formerly used as the water-mark of the writing-paper now known as foolsсар.

1095

« ZurückWeiter »