At the end of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," the author gives several possible explanations for what happened to Ichabod Crane.
Use specific details from the text that support the inference that the "headless horseman" was a trick played on Icahabod that scared him from Sleepy Hollow.
At the end of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Ichabod Crane disappears after he is frightened by the headless horsemen. A search turns up the saddle of Ichabod's horse, his hat, and a pumpkin.
One old farmer claims that Crane has moved to a distant part of the country where he has become a lawyer, a politician and a judge.
The old women of the town believe that Ichabod has been "spirited away by supernatural means."
Brom Bones, who was Ichabod's rival for the hand of the beautiful Katrina, "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." This, of course, supports the theory that the Headless Horseman was none other than Brom Bones hiding his head under his coat and displaying a pumpkin in its place.
We know from the text that Ichabod Crane was superstitious: not only do ghost stories frighten him, but after his disappearance, the local residents find in his home a "History of Witchcraft,” and a "book of dreams and fortune-telling." Anyone who knew him could easily have played on his fears and superstitions to drive him away. We know too that a "shattered pumpkin" was found near Crane's hat on the road to the church after he vanished.
Crane, a school teacher and outsider in the established community, had entered into a rivalry with Brom Bones to marry the wealthy Katrina Van Tassel. Brom wedded Katrina after Crane left, would smile knowingly when people told Ichabod's story, and would "laugh" at the part about the pumpkin. All of these clues suggests that Brom played the role of trickster, using a ruse to convince the susceptible Crane that he was the headless horseman. Crane would have taken the pumpkin in Brom's lap for his head. Clearly, the ruse worked—unless you believe the folktales that said there was a headless horseman.