'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'

Story Time

October 07, 1998|By Retold by Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson

Editor's note: In this retelling of the Washington Irving classic, schoolteacher Ichabod Crane encounters a ghostly vision as he returns from a late-night party.

So Ichabod rode Gunpowder to the party. Brom Bones came, too, on his fine black horse, Daredevil.

Ichabod danced every dance with Katrina because he was such a good dancer. Brom Bones sat in a corner by himself.

When the dancing ended, people started telling stories - ghost stories. Ichabod listened to them all. And Ichabod believed them. That was one of the things about Ichabod Crane; he believed in ghosts.

Most of the stories were about a ghost who rode a horse across the valley - a ghost without a head. Everyone in Sleepy Hollow knew about the ghost, and some of them said they had seen him. They said that he was a soldier whose head was carried away by a cannonball. His body, they said, was buried in the churchyard. The ghost rode out every night, looking for his head. In the morning, he rode back to the church. He was known, at all the country firesides, as the Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

It was a very witching time of night when Ichabod started for home. All of the ghost stories came into his head. The night grew darker and darker. The stars seemed to go deeper into the sky. Sometimes the clouds hid them from his sight. Ichabod had never felt so alone.

Suddenly, he saw something huge and dark in the shadows - huge and dark, and very, very scary.

As Gunpowder slowly moved closer, Ichabod saw that thing was a man on a black horse. As Ichabod passed him, he started riding behind Ichabod. But he did not speak. There was something awful about his silence.

Suddenly, the moon came out from behind a cloud. Ichabod saw the man clearly. He had no head.

Ichabod kicked Gunpowder to make him go faster. Gunpowder dashed away, through thick and thin, stones flying and sparks flashing. Ichabod couldn't stop him. Ichabod's clothes flapped in the air. The headless rider stayed right behind them. His head was tucked under his arm.

All Ichabod could think of was getting to the churchyard. That was the ghost's home. Just before the church, there was a bridge. "If I can reach that bridge," he thought, "I am safe!" Just then he heard the black horse close behind him. He even thought that he felt the horse's hot breath.

Ichabod kicked Gunpowder, and they thundered over the bridge.

But they weren't safe yet. Ichabod looked back. The terrible ghost rider was standing in his saddle, just about to throw his head. He threw straight at Ichabod. Ichabod tried to duck, but it was too late. The horrible thing hit him with a crash. He fell to the ground. And Gunpowder, the black horse, and the ghost rider, went on like a high wind.

The next morning, the village people found Gunpowder at his owner's gate, quietly eating grass. The schoolteacher wasn't at school.

Later, they found Ichabod's black hat near the bridge. Close behind it was a pumpkin, all broken to pieces.

Some say that Ichabod was carried off by the Headless Horseman. Some say that Ichabod left the village in the night, went to school to learn the law, and became a judge.

Brom Bones married Katrina and always laughed when anyone talked about the pumpkin.

After that, there were even more stories about the Headless Horseman. And people say that on some nights they can hear Ichabod Crane singing in the hills around Sleepy Hollow.

From the book THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW retold by Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson. Text copyright 1985 by Jan Gleiter and Kathleen Thompson. Illustrations copyright 1985 by Dennis Hockerman. Reprinted by permission of Steck-Vaughn Company. All rights reserved.

Pub Date: 10/07/98

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