The Galloping Hessian





In the flower-gemmed cemetery of Tarrytown, where gentle Irving sleeps, a

Hessian soldier was interred after sustaining misfortune in the loss of

his head in one of the Revolutionary battles. For a long time after he

was buried it was the habit of this gentleman to crawl from his grave at

unseemly hours and gallop about the country, sending shivers through the

frames of many worthy people, who shrank under their blankets when they

heard the rush of hoofs along the unlighted roads.



In later times there lived in Tarrytown--so named because of the tarrying

habits of Dutch gossips on market days, though some hard-minded people

insist that Tarwe-town means Wheat-towna gaunt schoolmaster, one Ichabod

Crane, who cherished sweet sentiments for Katrina Van Tassell, the buxom

daughter of a farmer, also a famous maker of pies and doughnuts. Ichabod

had been calling late one evening, and, his way home being long,

Katrina's father lent him a horse to make the journey; but even with this

advantage the youth set out with misgivings, for he had to pass the

graveyard.



As it was near the hour when the Hessian was to ride, he whistled feebly

to keep his courage up, but when he came to the dreaded spot the whistle

died in a gasp, for he heard the tread of a horse. On looking around, his

hair bristled and his heart came up like a plug in his throat to hinder

his breathing, for he saw a headless horseman coming over the ridge

behind him, blackly defined against the starry sky. Setting spurs to his

nag with a hope of being first to reach Sleepy Hollow bridge, which the

spectre never passed, the unhappy man made the best possible time in that

direction, for his follower was surely overtaking him. Another minute and

the bridge would be reached; but, to Ichabod's horror, the Hessian dashed

alongside and, rising in his stirrups, flung his head full at the

fugitive's back. With a squeal of fright the schoolmaster rolled into a

mass of weeds by the wayside, and for some minutes he remained there,

knowing and remembering nothing.



Next morning farmer Van Tassell's horse was found grazing in a field near

Sleepy Hollow, and a man who lived some miles southward reported that he

had seen Mr. Crane striding as rapidly along the road to New York as his

lean legs could take him, and wearing a pale and serious face as he kept

his march. There were yellow stains on the back of his coat, and the man

who restored the horse found a smashed pumpkin in the broken bushes

beside the road. Ichabod never returned to Tarrytown, and when Brom

Bones, a stout young ploughman and taphaunter, married Katrina, people

made bold to say that he knew more about the galloping Hessian than any

one else, though they believed that he never had reason to be jealous of

Ichabod Crane.





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