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The day after Baltus Van Tassel's party, Ichabod doesn't appear at breakfast at the home of Hans Van Ripper where he is staying. Nearly, or perhaps more, bothersome to Van Ripper is that Gunpowder, the horse Ichabod borrowed the previous night, has returned--but without his saddle. Van Ripper and some others go in search of the saddle and the schoolmaster. On the road leading to the church they find the "traces" of Ichabod's last night in the area. First, they find the saddle on the road, and it has been "trampled in the dirt." This suggests that another rider was near, as do the deep hoofprints along the road. The fact that Gunpowder was a nag, not normally capable of "furious speed," also indicates the presence of at least one other horse.
The men follow the tracks to the bridge, and on the other side they find the schoolmaster's hat on the bank of the brook, which is particularly deep at that point. They also find, close to the hat, "a shattered pumpkin." They search the brook for the body but find nothing. How the men react to finding the pumpkin isn't noted. However, whenever the tale of Ichabod's disappearance is later related, Brom Bones always bursts into laughter when the pumpkin is mentioned. Of course, readers can surmise that Brom Bones was the rider who pursued Ichabod and hurled the pumpkin at his head, knocking him off his horse.
The morning after the chase, Ichabod's old horse is found "without his saddle, and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master's gate". When Ichabod himself does not appear at breakfast or dinner, a search party is sent out on foot to discover what might have happened to him, and "after diligent investigation they (come) upon his traces". First of all, the group finds, in one part of the road, "the saddle trampled in the dirt". Then, "the tracks of horses' hoofs deeply dented in the road, and evidently at furious speed, (are) traced to the bridge". Beyond the bridge "on the bank of a broad part of the brook" are found the last two traces - "the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it a shattered pumpkin".
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