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  • Recorded by Chip in Tampa, Florida on January 24th, 2006.

  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

  • Found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker.

  • A pleasing land of drowsy head it was, Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye;

  • And of gay castles in the clouds that pass, Forever flushing round a summer sky.

  • From 'Castle of Indolence'.

  • In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson,

  • at that broad expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan

  • Zee, and where they always prudently shortened sail and implored the protection of St. Nicholas

  • when they crossed, there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called

  • Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town.

  • This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent

  • country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village

  • tavern on market days.

  • Be that as it may, I do not vouch for the fact, but merely advert to it, for the sake

  • of being precise and authentic.

  • Not far from this village, perhaps about two miles, there is a little valley or rather

  • lap of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest places in the whole world.

  • A small brook glides through it, with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and the

  • occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a woodpecker is almost the only sound that

  • ever breaks in upon the uniform tranquillity.

  • I recollect that, when a stripling, my first exploit in squirrel-shooting was in a grove

  • of tall walnut-trees that shades one side of the valley.

  • I had wandered into it at noontime, when all nature is peculiarly quiet, and was startled

  • by the roar of my own gun, as it broke the Sabbath stillness around and was prolonged

  • and reverberated by the angry echoes.

  • If ever I should wish for a retreat whither I might steal from the world and its distractions,

  • and dream quietly away the remnant of a troubled life, I know of none more promising than this

  • little valley.

  • From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar character of its inhabitants,

  • who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has long been

  • known by the name of SLEEPY HOLLOW, and its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys

  • throughout all the neighboring country.

  • A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to pervade the very atmosphere.

  • Some say that the place was bewitched by a High German doctor, during the early days

  • of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe,

  • held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson.

  • Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds

  • a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie.

  • They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions,

  • and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air.

  • The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions;

  • stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country,

  • and the nightmare, with her whole ninefold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her

  • gambols.

  • The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief

  • of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback, without a head.

  • It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away

  • by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever

  • and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the

  • wings of the wind.

  • His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads,

  • and especially to the vicinity of a church at no great distance.

  • Indeed, certain of the most authentic historians of those parts, who have been careful in collecting

  • and collating the floating facts concerning this spectre, allege that the body of the

  • trooper having been buried in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to the scene of battle

  • in nightly quest of his head, and that the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes

  • along the Hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being belated, and in a hurry

  • to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.

  • Such is the general purport of this legendary superstition, which has furnished materials

  • for many a wild story in that region of shadows; and the spectre is known at all the country

  • firesides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

  • It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have mentioned is not confined to the native

  • inhabitants of the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one who resides there for

  • a time.

  • However wide awake they may have been before they entered that sleepy region, they are

  • sure, in a little time, to inhale the witching influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative,

  • to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

  • I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud, for it is in such little retired Dutch

  • valleys, found here and there embosomed in the great State of New York, that population,

  • manners, and customs remain fixed, while the great torrent of migration and improvement,

  • which is making such incessant changes in other parts of this restless country, sweeps

  • by them unobserved.

  • They are like those little nooks of still water, which border a rapid stream, where

  • we may see the straw and bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving in their mimic

  • harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the passing current.

  • Though many years have elapsed since I trod the drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet I

  • question whether I should not still find the same trees and the same families vegetating

  • in its sheltered bosom.

  • In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period of American history, that

  • is to say, some thirty years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane, who sojourned,

  • or, as he expressed it, "tarried," in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the

  • children of the vicinity.

  • He was a native of Connecticut, a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for the mind

  • as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly its legions of frontier woodmen and

  • country schoolmasters.

  • The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person.

  • He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that

  • dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole

  • frame most loosely hung together.

  • His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a

  • long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock perched upon his spindle neck

  • to tell which way the wind blew.

  • To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging

  • and fluttering about him, one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon

  • the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.

  • His schoolhouse was a low building of one large room, rudely constructed of logs; the

  • windows partly glazed, and partly patched with leaves of old copybooks.

  • It was most ingeniously secured at vacant hours, by a withe twisted in the handle of

  • the door, and stakes set against the window shutters; so that though a thief might get

  • in with perfect ease, he would find some embarrassment in getting out,—an idea most probably borrowed

  • by the architect, Yost Van Houten, from the mystery of an eelpot.

  • The schoolhouse stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation, just at the foot of a

  • woody hill, with a brook running close by, and a formidable birch-tree growing at one

  • end of it.

  • From hence the low murmur of his pupils' voices, conning over their lessons, might be heard

  • in a drowsy summer's day, like the hum of a beehive; interrupted now and then by the

  • authoritative voice of the master, in the tone of menace or command, or, peradventure,

  • by the appalling sound of the birch, as he urged some tardy loiterer along the flowery

  • path of knowledge.

  • Truth to say, he was a conscientious man, and ever bore in mind the golden maxim, "Spare

  • the rod and spoil the child."

  • Ichabod Crane's scholars certainly were not spoiled.

  • I would not have it imagined, however, that he was one of those cruel potentates of the

  • school who joy in the smart of their subjects; on the contrary, he administered justice with

  • discrimination rather than severity; taking the burden off the backs of the weak, and

  • laying it on those of the strong.

  • Your mere puny stripling, that winced at the least flourish of the rod, was passed by with

  • indulgence; but the claims of justice were satisfied by inflicting a double portion on

  • some little tough wrong-headed, broad-skirted Dutch urchin, who sulked and swelled and grew

  • dogged and sullen beneath the birch.

  • All this he called "doing his duty by their parents;" and he never inflicted a chastisement

  • without following it by the assurance, so consolatory to the smarting urchin, that "he

  • would remember it and thank him for it the longest day he had to live."

  • When school hours were over, he was even the companion and playmate of the larger boys;

  • and on holiday afternoons would convoy some of the smaller ones home, who happened to

  • have pretty sisters, or good housewives for mothers, noted for the comforts of the cupboard.

  • Indeed, it behooved him to keep on good terms with his pupils.

  • The revenue arising from his school was small, and would have been scarcely sufficient to

  • furnish him with daily bread, for he was a huge feeder, and, though lank, had the dilating

  • powers of an anaconda; but to help out his maintenance, he was, according to country

  • custom in those parts, boarded and lodged at the houses of the farmers whose children

  • he instructed.

  • With these he lived successively a week at a time, thus going the rounds of the neighborhood,

  • with all his worldly effects tied up in a cotton handkerchief.

  • That all this might not be too onerous on the purses of his rustic patrons, who are

  • apt to consider the costs of schooling a grievous burden, and schoolmasters as mere drones,

  • he had various ways of rendering himself both useful and agreeable.

  • He assisted the farmers occasionally in the lighter labors of their farms, helped to make

  • hay, mended the fences, took the horses to water, drove the cows from pasture, and cut

  • wood for the winter fire.

  • He laid aside, too, all the dominant dignity and absolute sway with which he lorded it

  • in his little empire, the school, and became wonderfully gentle and ingratiating.

  • He found favor in the eyes of the mothers by petting the children, particularly the

  • youngest; and like the lion bold, which whilom so magnanimously the lamb did hold, he would

  • sit with a child on one knee, and rock a cradle with his foot for whole hours together.

  • In addition to his other vocations, he was the singing-master of the neighborhood, and

  • picked up many bright shillings by instructing the young folks in psalmody.

  • It was a matter of no little vanity to him on Sundays, to take his station in front of

  • the church gallery, with a band of chosen singers; where, in his own mind, he completely

  • carried away the palm from the parson.

  • Certain it is, his voice resounded far above all the rest of the congregation; and there

  • are peculiar quavers still to be heard in that church, and which may even be heard half

  • a mile off, quite to the opposite side of the millpond, on a still Sunday morning, which

  • are said to be legitimately descended from the nose of Ichabod Crane.

  • Thus, by divers little makeshifts, in that ingenious way which is commonly denominated

  • "by hook and by crook," the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was thought,