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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
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air. The whole neighborhood abounds with loc al tales, haunted
spots, and twilight superstitions; stars shoot and met eors 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 ?gure on horseback, without a
head. It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper,
whos e 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
con?ned 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 ?oating 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
?resides, by the name of the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
It is remarkable that the visionary propensity I have
mentioned is not con?ned 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 in?uence 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 ?xed, 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 elaps ed since I trod the drowsy shades of
Sleepy Hollow, yet I question whet her I should not still ?nd the
same trees and the same families vegetating in its sheltered
In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote period
of American history, that is to say, some thirty years since, a
wort hy wight of the name of Ichabod Crane, who so jo urned, 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
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