Near Tarrytown on the Hudson River is a little valley populated by Dutch folk that seems to be the quietest place in the world. A drowsy influence hangs over the place and people so that the region is known as Sleepy Hollow, and the lads who live there are called Sleepy Hollow boys. Some say that the valley is bewitched.
A schoolteacher named Ichabod Crane arrives in the valley, looking like a scarecrow because of his long, skinny frame and his snipelike nose. As is customary, Crane circulates among the homes in Sleepy Hollow, boarding with the parents of each of his pupils for one week at a time. Fortunately for him, the valley’s larders are full and the tables groan with food, for the schoolmaster has a wonderful appetite. He is always welcome in the country homes because in small ways he has contrived to make himself useful to the farmers. He takes care to appear to be patient with the children, and he loves to spend the long winter nights with the families of his pupils, exchanging tales of ghosts and haunted places, while ruddy apples roast on the hearths.
The main figure said to haunt Sleepy Hollow is a man on horseback without a head. The villagers speculate that the specter is the apparition of a Hessian horseman who lost his head to a cannonball; whatever it may be, the figure is often seen in the countryside during the gloomy winter nights. The specter is known to all as the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
A fan of the writings of Salem Witch Trial chronicler Cotton Mather and a believer in ghosts, haunts, and spirits of all description, Ichabod is often filled with fear as he walks home after an evening of storytelling. His only source of courage at those times is his loud and nasal voice, which makes the night resound with many a sung psalm.
The schoolteacher picks up a little extra money by holding singing classes. One student who captures his fancy is the plump and rosy-cheeked Katrina Van Tassel. She is the only child of a very substantial farmer, a fact that contributes to her charms for the ever-hungry Ichabod. Since she is not only beautiful but also lively, she is a great favorite among the lads in the neighborhood.
Abraham Van Brunt—Brom for short—is Katrina’s favorite squire. Known for his tall and powerful frame, the locals have taken to calling him Brom Bones. A lively lad with a fine sense of humor and a tremendous amount of energy, Brom scares away Katrina’s other suitors. Brom Bones is a formidable rival for the gaunt...
(The entire section is 1027 words.)