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I'm Keith Morrison, and this is episode three of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. We last left our hero, Ichabod Crane, trading late night ghost stories with fellow guests at the Vantasso party. The ghosts were said to gather around a giant tree called Andre's tree, named after a british soldier who was caught there and later hanged. Ichabod himself was a strong believer in spirits and hauntings. He was easily spooked by forest sounds as he made his way home at night. But on this night, Ichabod was on cloud nine. He'd spent most of the evening gorging on delicious food and dancing his heart out with a woman he'd fallen head over heels for the beautiful and rich Katrina van Tassel, his biggest rival for Katrina's affection. Brahm Bones had passed the time sulking in a corner as Ichabod and Katrina tore up the dance floor. Yes, Ichabod was on the verge of getting everything he wanted. A beautiful wife, a mansion of a home, and all the riches that came with it. All that was left was to get Katrina's blessing. And so, as the party broke up, Ichabod lingered to speak alone with Katrina. But things didn't go as he planned.


No, not at all. Our story continues. What pasts of this interview I will not pretend to say, for in fact, I do not know. Something, however, I fear me must have gone wrong, for he certainly sallied forth after no great interval, with an air quite desolate and chap fallen. Oh, these women. Could that girl have been playing off any of her coquettish tricks? Was her encouragement of the poor pedagogue all a mere sham to secure her conquest of his rival? Heaven only knows not I, that it suffice to say Ichabod stole forth with the air of one who'd been sacking a henrust rather than a fair lady's heart. Without looking to the right or left to notice the scene of rural wealth on which he had so often gloated, he went straight to the stable and with several hearty cuffs and kicks, roused his steed most uncurteously from the comfortable quarters in which he was soundly sleeping, dreaming of mountains of corn and oats and whole valleys of Timothy and clover. It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy hearted and crest fallen, pursued his travels homewards along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Terrytown, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon.


The hour was as dismal as himself. Far below him, the tapanzee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters. With here and there the tall mast of a sloop riding quietly an anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight, he could even hear the barking of the watchdog from the opposite shore of the Hudson. But it was so vague and faint as to only give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man. Now and then, too, the long drawn crowing of a cock accidentally awakened, which sound far, far off from some farmhouse away among the hills. But it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No sign of life occurred near him. But occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket. Or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh. As if sleeping uncomfortably and suddenly turning in his bed. All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker. The stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal.


He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the center of the road stood an enormous tulip tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate Andre, who had been taken prisoner hard by, and was universally known by the name of Major Andre's tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill starred namesake. And partly from the tales of strange sights and doleful lamentations told concerning it. As Ichabod approached this fearful tree, he began to whistle. He thought his whistle was answered. It was but a blast sweeping sharply through the dry branches. As he approached a little nearer, he thought he saw something white hanging in the midst of the tree. He paused, ceased whistling. But on looking more narrow, he perceived that it was a place where the tree had been scathed by lightning and the white wood laid bare.


Suddenly he heard a groan. His teeth chattered, and his knees smote against the saddle. It was but the rubbing of one huge bough upon another. As they were swayed about by the breeze. He passed the tree in safety, but new perils lay before him. About 200 yards from the tree, a small brook crossed the road. And ran into a marshy and thickly wooded glen. Known by the name of Wiley swamp. A few rough logs laid side by side, served for a bridge over this stream. On that side of the road where the brook entered the wood, a group of oaks and chestnuts, matted thick with wild grape leaves, threw a cavernous gloom over it. To pass this bridge was the severest trial. It was at this identical spot that the unfortunate Andre was captured. And under the COVID of those chestnuts and vines. Were the sturdy yeoman concealed who surprised him. This has ever since been considered a haunted stream, and fearful are the feelings of the schoolboy who has to pass it alone. After dark, as he approached the stream, his heart began to thump. He summoned up, however, all his resolution, gave his horse a half score of kicks in the ribs.


And attempted to dash briskly across the bridge. But instead of starting forward, the perverse old animal made a lateral movement. And ran broadside against the fence. Ichabod, whose fears increased with the delay, jerked the reins on the other side, kicking lustily with his contrary foot. It was all in vain. His steed started, it is true, but it was only to plunge to the opposite side of the road. Into a thicket of brambles and alder bushes. The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starving ribs of old gunpowder. Who dashed forward, snuffling and snorting, but came to a stand just by the bridge. With a suddenness that had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just to this moment. Wet sounds of the side of the bridge. Caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler. The hair of the affrighted pedagog rose upon his head with terror. What was to be done to turn and fly was now too late.


And besides, what chance was there of escaping ghost or goblin, if such it was, which could ride upon the wings of the wind? Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in stammering accents, who are you? He received no reply. He repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was no answer. Once more he cudgeled the sight of the inflexible gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and with a scramble and abound, stood at once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept aloof on one side of the road, jogging along the blind side of old gunpowder, who had now got over his fright and waywardness. Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion and bethought himself of the adventure of Brom bones with the headless horseman, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind.


The stranger, however, quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up and fell into a walk, thinking to lag behind. The other did the same. His heart began to sink within him. He endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his parched tongue cloved to the roof of his mouth, and he could not utter a stave. There was something in the moody and dogged silence of this persistent companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for on mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow traveler in relief against the sky, gigantic in height and muffled in a cloak. Ichabod was horror struck on perceiving that he was headless. But his horror was still more increased on observing that the head which should have rested on his shoulders, was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle. His terror rose to desperation. He reigned a shower of kicks and blows upon gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the slip. But the specter started full jump with him away. Then they dashed through thick and thin stones flying and sparks flashing at every bound. Ichabod's flimsy garments fluttered in the air as he stretched his long length body away over his horse's head.


In the eagerness of his flight, they had now reached the robe, which turns off to sleepy Hollow. But gunpowder, who seemed possessed with a demon, instead of keeping it up, made an opposite turn and plunged headlong down to the left. This road leads through a sandy hollow shaded by trees for about a quarter of a mile, where it crosses the bridge famous in the goblin story. And just beyond the swells, the green knoll on which stands the whitewashed church. As yet, the panic of the steed had given his unskillful rider an apparent advantage in the chase. But just as he had got halfway through the hollow, the girths of the saddle gave way, and he felt it slipping from under him. He seized it by the pommel and endeavored to hold it firm, but in vain, and had just time to save himself by clasping old gunpowder round the neck when the saddle fell to the earth and he heard it trampled underfoot by his pursuer. For a moment, the terror of Hans van Ripper's wrath passed across his mind, for it was his Sunday saddle. But this was no time for petty fears. The goblin was hard on his haunches and unskillful rider that he was, he had much ado to maintain his seat, sometimes slipping on one side, sometimes on another, and sometimes jolted on the high ridge of his horse's backbone with a violence that he verily feared would cleave him asunder.


An opening in the trees now cheered him with the hopes that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken. He saw the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond. He recollected the place where Braum bone's ghostly competitor had disappeared. If I can but reach that bridge, thought Ichabod, I am safe. Just then, he heard the black steed panting and howling close behind him. He even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old gunpowder sprang upon the bridge. He thundered over the resounding planks. He gained the opposite side, and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish according to rule in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then, he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups and in the very act of hurling his head at him, Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile. But too late, it encountered his cranium. With a tremendous crash, he was tumbled headlong into the dust and gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider passed by like a whirlwind.


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The next morning, the old horse was found without his saddle and with the bridle under his feet, soberly cropping the grass at his master's gate. Ichabod did not make his appearance at breakfast. Dinner hour came, but no Ichabod. The boys assembled at the schoolhouse and strolled idly about the banks of the brook. But no schoolmaster. Hans van Ripper now began to feel some uneasiness about the fate of poor Igabod and his saddle. An inquiry was set on foot, and after diligent investigation, they came upon his traces. In one part of the road leading to the church was found the saddle trampled in the dirt. The tracks of horses hooves, deeply dented in the road and evidently at furious speed, were traced to the bridge, beyond which, on the bank of a broad part of the brook, where the water ran deep and black, was found the hat of the unfortunate Ichabod, and close beside it, a shattered pumpkin. The brook was searched, but the body of the schoolmaster was not to be discovered. Hans van Ripper, as executor of his estate, examined the bundle, which contained all his worldly effects. They consisted of two shirts and a half, two stalks for the neck, a pair or two of worsted stockings, an old pair of corduroy, small clothes, a rusty razor, a book of psalm tunes full of dog's ears, and a broken pitchpipe.


As to the books and furniture of the schoolhouse, they belonged to the community, excepting cotton Mather's history of witchcraft, a New England almanac, and a book of dreams and fortune telling, in which last was a sheet much scribbled and blotted, and several fruitless attempts to make a copy of verses in honor of the heiress of van Tessel. These magic books and the poetic scroll were forthwith consigned to the flames by Hans van Ripper, who from that time forward, determined to send his children no more to school, observing that he never knew any good come of this same reading and writing whatever money the schoolmaster possessed. And he had received his quarter's pay but a day or two before he must have had about his person at the time of his disappearance. The mysterious event caused much speculation at the church on the following Sunday. Knots of gazers and gossips were collected in the churchyard, at the bridge, and at the spot where the hat and pumpkin had been found. The stories of Brower, of bones and a whole budget of others were called to mind. And when they had diligently considered them all and compared them with the symptoms of the present case, they shook their heads and came to the conclusion that Ichabod had been carried off by the headless horseman.


As he was a bachelor and in nobody's debt, nobody troubled his head any more about him. The school was removed to a different quarter of the hollow, and another pedagogue reigned in his stead. It is true, an old farmer who had been down to New York on a visit several years after, and from whom this account of the ghostly adventure was received, brought home the intelligence that Ichabod Crane was still alive, that he had left the neighborhood partly through fear of the goblin and Hans van Ripper, and partly in mortification at having been suddenly dismissed by the Harris, that he had changed his quarters to a distant part of the country, had kept school and studied law at the same time, had been admitted to the bar turned politician, electioneered, written for the newspapers, and finally had been made a justice of the ten pound court. Rombones, 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, it 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.


The old country wives, however, who are the best judges of these matters, maintain to this day that Ichabod was spirited away by supernatural means. And it is a favorite story, often told about the neighborhoods round the winter evening fire. The bridge became more than ever an object of superstitious awe. And that may be the reason why the road has been altered of late years so as to approach the church by the border of the mill pond. The schoolhouse, being deserted, soon fell into decay and was reported to be haunted by the ghost of the unfortunate pedagogue. And the ploughboy, loitering homeward of a still summer evening, has often fancied his voice at a distance chanting a melancholy psalm tune among the tranquil solitudes of Sleepy Hollow. And so ends the story. Well, almost. Washington Irving wrote a postscript. The narrator of the story, he explained, overheard the whole tale as it was told by a good natured and funny fellow. Everyone who heard it laughed, except for one tall, serious looking man. Was the storyteller Brahm Bones was the serious man. Ichabod Crane having survived, we'll never really know. But this much is true. There is still one place you can catch a glimpse of the headless horseman.


It's in Sleepy Hollow, New York, just a few feet from where the deadly encounter supposedly took place. There stands a giant statue of the headless horseman hurling his pumpkin head at a cowering Ichabod crane. It's easy to find not too far from the cemetery gates. You can visit it for yourself if you dare. Morrison Mysteries is a production of Dateline and NBC News. Charmian Ling is senior producer, Carson Cummins is associate producer. Sound mixing by Bob Mallory. Bryson Barnes is technical director.