The The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, was the "headless horseman" a trick played on Ichabod Crane to scare him from Sleepy Hollow?
Although there are several possible explanations for what happened to Ichabod, I need help backing up the inference that the headless horseman was just a trick played on him. I also need specific details from the text to support this idea.
Irving doesn't tell us whether Ichabod Crane was a victim of a real "Galloping Hessian" or whether it was a prank pulled on him. From the comic way Crane and his behavior are described, we can presume that it was a prank by Brom Bones.
At the Van Tassels' party, people were telling ghost stories, especially about the Headless Horseman. Brom has his own story to tell about how he dared the horseman to race and bet a bowl of punch for the winner. Brom says he "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." In the next to last paragraph, Irving gives us another hint that Brom Bones was the culprit:
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.