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Gregory V. Boulware, Esq.
Raymond rode into the sleepy village at the dawn of Friday. It was a dismal rainy morning fraught with muddied roads and green colored slimy walls of timber, grass, hay, and bamboo rooftops. It was nearing the time of the winter harvest feast. Albeit, the season hinted of cold and wetness, the early October morn, brought a tingled air of change. The big war was nearing completion with the announcement of freedom in these parts. Boston had seen the war up close…many of the young men had not returned as promised. Many young widows wept as they cradled young children to their bosoms. The townsfolk went about their daily routines as if nothing was happening in the world with the exception of what was occurring in this “Sleepy Hollow” of a burb just outside of ‘Boston, Massachusetts.’ The white settlers paid him no attention. The stares came from those who looked liked him. Black Slavery was still the law of the land even after the story and promise of freedom loomed across the horizon.
September twenty-second, eighteen-sixty-two, brought word of an “Emancipation Proclamation”from the president of these United States of America. Here, up North, the practice of slavery was kept on the down-low…it was a “hush-hush” kind of thing. Everyone knew who held slaves as well as those who didn’t. The same held true for those who supported slavery as well as those who did not. The majority of the white population supported the idea of abolition and freedom. The country was experiencing “Reconstruction” and it most certainly was a dangerous time for Blacks, free and not-free alike.
Raymond didn’t use his surname except when pressured to do so. In cases whereas he is questioned by people who didn’t look like him…he then used the name of “Raymond Mulvaney,” his slave name. Ramond was taught very well. His reading and writing would readily compare to that of a college professor or highly educated teacher of sorts. Not only did he master the English language through the tutelage of former owner, but through that of one “Ichabod Crane.” He was a wandering teacher roaming throughout the northern region of the country teaching for his lodgings and meals as he ventured forth.
On the shores of the “Hudson River,” many a Dutch navigator dropped sail and hunkered down to a pint and liquors at the nearby Inns of such places as this, “Tarry Town.” Thought to be one of the quietest places in the world, in a small valley not far from here, lies a listless repose of such a place known as “Sleepy Hollow.” It’s name arose from the housewives of the villagers in New York’s Tarry Town. It is described as the little valley in the high hills. On a typical day, one could only hear the murmurings of the small brook thereabouts with the wailing winds carrying the whistle of wild quail and the tapping of busy woodpeckers going about their business.
Twilight superstitions abound with tales of an old Indian Chief laying a curse upon the land because it was always used as the site for ‘Powwows’ and sacred rituals by the neighboring tribes along the valley. Many a settler in the region has boasted of hearing strange sounds, voices, and sometimes hauntingly musical rhythms of drums and fife along the way…especially during the harvest time of the season. The Dutch say it’s the “Hessian Soldier” who rides his black horse during the dead of night. They say that the soldier was killed during the revolutionary war. His head had been blown off by a cannonball while cannon-fire littered the land with the dead bodies of young and old soldiers fighting in the war. This particular horseman was said to have been protected by a witches spell. Commonly believed to be cursed by the ‘Old Indian Chief Wizard’ for the invasion of Indian land and the wide spread diseases brought by the European settlers that have decimated the land, annihilating his people. He, the Hessian Invader, is supposed to have immortality…if he was killed, he would become one of the undead walking the land…in his case, a “Headless Horseman.”
He is known to be in search of his missing head while riding through the night(s). Should a living soul be captured by the rider, he would forfeit his head for that of the one that went missing…and be back in his tomb before the break of day. This haunted hunting ritual occurred on a nightly basis if a captured head is disliked…and discarded for that of a replacement; until satisfied. Then the spectrewould stay resting until the next season’s hunting expedition.
Raymond paid no mind to the tale as it was told to him by a young Black Woman who hungered for the knowledge he promised. They have all heard of this strange teacher named ‘Ichabod.’ They have all heard of the strange and hauntingly bizarre tales of his disappearance…his way with words and methodical manner in teaching techniques.
“Mr. Crane was a Connecticut native. He was exceedingly tall and lanky. His long arms hung down from his narrow shoulders with extra-long hands that hung way out of his sleeves. His big wide and long flat feet could readily be used for digging tools…shovels!
Atop his long skinny neck stood a small head. It was flat on top while entertaining large elephant-like ears. The over-sized orbs of glassy-green, sat on one side and the other, of a long corpulent and aquiline nose. The way they all sat together, one could not avoid in the mind’s image, that of a six-foot-four buzzard when striding down the road. On a windy day, a person could use him for a weather-vane, telling the direction of the wind in his baggy loose fitting clothing.
The building that was assigned to Ichabod in those days was an old, yet modest one-room school-house. It stood just inside of a tree-filled hillside along-side a calmingly boisterous brook on the outer edge of the village. In the summer time, that would be nearly the only noise that could be heard outside of the whistling bird-life and fluttering butterflies, and murmuring whispering voices of children about their studies. The winter times allowed no such sounds…only the wind and the Owls outside the windows and door. While it was (still) forbidden to teach the Black children, Ichabod found a way. Twilight was the perfect time to attend to those young ones…nine o’clock was the perfect time to attend to the ones of European descent (as well as avoiding the suspicions of the villagers). His not getting started prior to that time would infringe upon his ability to get or meet the morning meals offered throughout the growing tiny village…after midnight, the older (Black) generation took advantage of the golden opportunity. All hoped and prayed that they would never, ever be exposed.
It appeared that Ichabod hardly slept. During the after school hours, he’d hang out with the local older boys, especially if they had friendly mothers, widowed mothers, and/or good-looking sisters and cousins. He made it his business to keep on the good side of his pupils for want and need of ample unlimited food and winter lodgings. He generally owned only the threads on his back and the leather around his feet. He did own the tired old nag of a horse that transported him around and about.
He helped out around the many farms in the village as well. These aids were afforded on the weekends when school was out. He had to feast on those days as well. Nearly everything was bartered for and traded in those days…money was very scarce.
Ichabod got along well with the church community as well. He sang and taught music lessons of various available instrumentation. They only had a few musical tools in the village; a flute/fife, a drum, a bugle, a violin, a guitar, a harmonica/harp, and a piano. He offered them singing lessons too. A lot of behinds were kissed in order to maintain the lavish lifestyle to which he had become accustomed…at least until it was time to move on to the next town, village, or sleepy hollow.
As funny-looking as he was, Ichabod had his pick of the village women…the young and not-so-young single ones as well as the widowed. Divorce was unheard of then. They all thought this man was worldly and well educated…as compared to the plentiful selection of dull, un-interesting, un-educated country bumpkins available around and about in this little “Sleepy Hollow.”
Ichabod is admired for his reading of books and knowledge of history and story-telling. He could recite poetry and quote ‘Shakespeare’ and ‘Aristotle.’ He was regarded as a man of many talents, wisdom, knowledge; a erudite.
The evening hours after work held an enjoyable time for the master teacher. The drinks continually poured while he lavished in abound the companionship of the local herdsmen and farmers. They too thought highly of him. Tales of darkness were often told during these visits with the village men. They liked to entertaining themselves with tales of horror and scariness over draughts and spirits before heading home…in the early thick darkness of the winter months.
“Phantoms, demons, and boogie-men” often were evaded by the entrance of morning…should one be fortunate enough in surviving the night and making it to then.
On one such night as described, Ichabod found favor in the eye of one of the young ladies during a church recital. The flowering young Miss was the betrothed of another. He was one of the young fellows who felt slighted by his young lady’s attentions and affection towards the skinny free-loading school teacher.
Ichabod paid little to no attention, the looming threat of this jilted lover. He was only seized upon the moment of infatuation and temptation; the soft and warm looking flesh of this tender morsel, so desperately desiring to be sampled and enjoyed.
“Oh foolish the heart toward the sex,” with the aid of his close friends, the jilted lover set into motion a plan that would end this so-called rivalry once and forever…
Ichabod not only savored the thought of making love to the young rich woman, all of eighteen years, he realized the possibilities of marrying into this, such an abundance of wealth. The patriarch was completely self-sufficient in his farmlands. He needed nor desired anything beyond its boundaries. His only happiness was the luxuriousness of his wealth and the broad spread of the treasures within the realm of his farmlands and stronghold.
Ichabod was enraptured while favoring the dream of having the cake and eating it too. The life style of this rich Dutch-like abode was of a man’s fancied dreams and final desires…along with the beautiful and desirable young maiden of the land.
The driving force that kept him afloat, the availability of courting many women…he became focused on only one…the only one who could fulfill his life of luxury and complete contentment was right before his eyes…he could see nothing else. He pondered the challenge of “how to win her…this prize among prizes?”
While Ichabod entertained the household with song and story, on that particular cold dark and damp winter evening in October…it was getting late, very late!
The jilted lover was once the “eye-apparent” of the rich and available young lady in question. He was the village hero who broke wild stallions, was the best in a bare knuckle fight, the strongest and most handsome man around for miles. All of the young ladies in the village admired and possibly adored him. He also only had eyes for one. It was almost certain that she would most certainly become his bride…without question or pause. That is, until this despicable interloper arrived in this fair shire.
No one dared challenge this formidable suiter for the fair young maiden’s affections…especially when his horse could readily be seen tethered at the household on Saturday and Sunday nights. He was formally welcomed and encouraged by the family as well as this beautiful and wholesome young woman.
…Until Ichabod came to call.
The jilted young rival did not wish it known, his plans for making this opponent to go completely away. The jilted lover sabotaged the school on numerous occasions. They caused the singing students and their master to be sickened with smoke inhalation when he and his friends stopped up the exhaust chimney at the school one evening. The school had been ransacked again and again in attempts to get rid of the schoolmaster; to scare him off. When it became apparent that Ichabod was not welcome in the shire because of the jilted lover’s anger, he was openly challenged and ridiculed at every turn. Ichabod couldn’t walk down the street in peace because the village gang would taunt him and call him filthy names while accusing him of free-loading. It also became apparent to the young lady in question as well of what was transpiring against Ichabod.
One afternoon, the scholars were all busy with their books and lessons while the schoolmaster sat atop his lofty teaching stool which allowed him to gaze over the entire room and beyond the window panes. The classroom was all a buzz when suddenly a horse and rider appeared. When it got close enough to identify, the ragged pony bore to weight, a small but wiry old Black Man.
The man got off his horse and clambered up the stoops of the schoolhouse, knocking upon the outer door. Ichabod motioned for one of the children to open it, allowing the gentleman entry into the classroom. When he entered, the Black Man greeted the familiar schoolmaster with a warm smile and handed him the note he held in his right hand while the left held his hat.
The man bid Ichabod farewell and departed the same way as he arrived. Ichabod read the note and smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait to make the party to which he was formerly invited. It was Friday…school was dismissed a half-hour early this day in anticipation to this evenings events.
Ichabod prepared himself as best he could. The lack of financial repose has managed to leave him with very little by way of wardrobe and formal attire. He brushed off an old black suit with frayed edges and cuffs. He washed the old beaten up boots he wore when traveling the country-side with boot-black. He borrowed that from one of the townsfolk he was residing with. His old brown horse was tired and dragging his ass like that of the old black plow horse to which he begged of the land lord. For some unknown reason it was called “Gunpowder.” He must have been some kind of a horse back-in-the-day because he looked at Ichabod like he wanted to eat him.
Riding Gunpowder was another game all its own. The saddle had burr holes in it, the under blanket was ragged and tattered with large holes and snags, and the shortened stirrups didn’t help either. His knees came up to his chest and punched him in the chin with every step the horse managed to gather.
The schoolmaster was indeed a sight to behold. He brushed off the laughter and whispering of the shire-folk who weren’t invited to the illustrious gathering. He lost himself in the wonders of the Autumn evening, its fragrances of the hillside, the fall colors of leaves falling from the trees, and the changing flowers along the way to the riches and abundance of the wealthy homestead. Could it be possible that he may become betrothed to the most beautiful and richest young lady in the valley?
“Oh what heavenly blessings await me.” he thought aloud. The horse simply clanked and clunked along the roadway. The thought of food came to mind…“oh what a full belly I’ll have tonight!” he smiled to himself as he arrived at the main gateway of the ranch.
The evening wore on with joyous laughter and revelry. The singing, eating, drinking, and dancing seemed like it would never end, going on for hours upon hours. At one point, the men all seemed to wander into another room in another section of the house. It held a massive fireplace with horns of dead animals hanging from the brick encrusted walls. The trophies told stories of bear, deer, moose, wild hogs, and a host of birds and fowl filling the void in between the larger displays.
The men all held large glasses of dark ruby red port and fine fat cigars that smoked up the opulence of the entire room. Everyone had a short story to tell. Some of them told of evil deeds while some told of good deeds and blessings of good news and prosperity.
Then there were those of haunting(s), witchcraft, and evil deviltry…
Several of the men told of Indian curses and demonic wizardry. Then it was the turn of the jilted lover to tell his tale. He told of the war and the blown off head of the Hessian soldier who rode a majestic black stallion. For some unknown reason, the hair on Ichabod’s neck began to stiffen and stand straight up. He began to feel the chill of the night even while standing quite closely to the roaring fire in the massive fireplace.
The jilted lover told of how he was chased by this headless apparition… He told of how the thing had almost caught him.
“If it wasn’t for the speed of my horse, I might not be sitting here discussing this tale with the likes of you fine gentlemen!”
He spoke of how the horse of the Hessian was upon his neck…so close that he could feel the hot fire-like breath of hell; the smelling of cinders and ash; hearing the bubbling of hellfire cauldrons boiling the liquid of death in its’ throat…eternal death. He spake of the Godless shrills made by the ghosted hunter in the black of night during this chase for life!
“I then felt the hand of the Hessian upon the collar of my shirt and coat. On my neck I could feel the bony hand of death as it clutched away at me! He laughed and screeched a death-dealing scream just as he lunged and missed for the last attempt. I ducked under the gripping clutching skeletal limbs covered in black garment as they left hot burning scratches…scarring my neck to this very day! Oh so lucky was I to get away with the God-sent speed of my gallant and trusted steed that I am here with you all this very day!” He said. The jilted lover wiped his sweating brow and slugged a large swallow of grog, chased with a splash of clear liquid spirits. He turned to Ichabod in a cold glassy death warning stare and said…
“Don’t go out into the blackness this night…t’was a night such as this that the headless horseman shall ride! It’ll take more than manly mettle to survive the race of death…the race with the death-dealing hunter of heads! Dare not venture into the night if you value your life!”
It was already nearing two-o’clock in the morning with light snow falling. The men all looked over their shoulders and saw the main house lights go dark. The families, many had already departed for home. The remaining company were all men…the men who indulged in the private cigar and port soirée…
Several of the remaining gentlemen shared their carriages with one another…the jilted lover had been gone for at least twenty minutes or more after bidding the hosts a fond goodnight. Ichabod was the only single man left at the doorway.
His horse was agitated beyond description. It simply did not want to go…they had to go…they had to venture out into the night as no good gentleman spends the night at the domicile of a virginal young and innocent lady. There were no extra rooms to be had or offered by the young woman’s parents, other family and guests had full occupancy of vacancies throughout the premises.
Ichabod reluctantly bade the family farewell and forced his trusted old steed out into the darkened wet and pitch-black night…the trip back into the village…back to the loneliness of the schoolhouse. The grog and spirits seemed to have vacated him. He was drunk from the consumption of wine, beer, food and spirits. He had consumed plenty…he thought, more than anyone there; left him void of happiness and contentment…the affects of the drink abandoned him. He was left to face the journey stone-cold sober and deathly afraid.
There was no music to hum to…he could not think of a single verse or rhyme to uplift his spirit for the long journey home. There was no sound of horse hoof pounding or the clattering wagon and cart wheels abounding forth from the farm towards the village. The blackened night was deathly silent. There was no sound of the owl or of any other fowl. No insect clicking or rustling leaves to be heard…anywhere. The falling of soft white snow flakes was the only sound to be heard, if any.
Just ahead, a short distance down the road, lay a covered bridge of oaks and chestnut, matted thickly together by old grape and wild vines. A cavernous gloom fell all around man and horse alike. Ichabod gave the frightened horse a bunch of kicks to the bony ribs of the horror frozen animal. Its’ eyes ablaze with the glaze of madness as it attempted to dash quickly across the scantly fashioned bridge. The horse instead missed the landing and fell short of the entrance-way of the ill-shaped bridge. They stood there frozen in disbelief as they scrambled up out of the thicket of bramble bush and muck alongside the makeshift crossing apparatus. They started forward once again. Then suddenly without warning the animal came to a complete stop. Its’ rider nearly fell forward off the front of the horses face, sprawling back into the muddy road surface. At that same moment, the large darkened shape and shadow of something caught the squinting eyes of Ichabod and his companion. The blackened thing did not move. It just stood there not making a sound. They couldn’t quite make out the shape as it towered like that of some misshapen behemoth waiting for orders to pounce upon any would be traveler seeking to cross this particular bridge. Summoning all of the inner courage and power left in his frightened body, Ichabod shouted out…
“Good evening my friend! Are you having difficulty in crossing such a bridge with such a large mount as yours?” He assumed it was a rider and horse when he heard the jet-black animal snort and stamp the ground with one of its’ front hooves.
The dark rider offered no reply.
Ichabod made another attempt at getting old Gunpowder to move forward onto the bridge. The attempt was almost futile. The horse would not move. The black rider’s horse made another move with the other hoof, striking the ground even harder than the previous gesture.
Then, with a mighty kick, the crestfallen schoolmaster urged his steed forward, nearly breaking a rid or two. The old horse moved reluctantly forward. They made sure to pass on the other side of the bridge so as not to make contact with the mysteriously huge rider and mount. Every hair on the man and animal stood erect, to needle-point attention. Ichabod began to sing. He didn’t know what song to sing, nor did he know what he was singing as he shut his eyes upon approaching the statuesque figure who now stood directly in the middle of the roadway.
Once it was realized the road was blocked, Ichabod and his trusty steed made a complete about face once they attempted to pass by the dark rider and his larger than life, black as night, muscular horse. They started out with a brisk and lively trot…the dark rider and horse matched their pace as they came ever closer. Then Ichabod and steed broke into a full gallop in a desperate attempt at breaking free of this unwanted shadow of a monster. They galloped as if their very lived depended on it! Realizing that they couldn’t outrun their unwanted company, they slowed to a quickened pace. The dark rider did the same…just a few yards behind. When they stopped, it stopped. When they moved forward, it also moved forward.
When they came upon a hilly rise in the roadway, they could easily see the full figure of the shadowed stranger and mount. The full figure of this traveling non-talker, came into view against the backdrop of light which bounced a reflection from upon the glaze of the creek water below. The rider was huge in stature as was his black full muscled steed. He and Gunpowder were no match for this large figure of a man without a head! They realized the horror stories were indeed true…true to life as they are witnessing up close and in living color! Ichabod could readily see that the black rider was actually carrying a head. It was perched upon the saddle-horn or the pommel of his saddle…what struck the most fear into the traveling duo was the fact that the head was alive…it’s widened eyes glared at them without uttering a single word!
Then the head screamed! It screamed such an un-Godly, un-Holy scream that it surely reached the heavens above…despite this cold dank and dangerous darkness of night.
Ichabod rained desperate blows and kicks upon Gunpowder in order to get him moving at a full and life saving gallop. He hoped to gain some distance between him and the headless Hessian…wishful thinking…to no avail. Ichabod’s terror continued to rise. His fright, now reaching beyond desperation, only imagining giving the stranger the slip when they reached a patch of shaded trees. Just before the green knoll of the churchyard, they crossed the famous church bridge. Ichabod’s trusted steed seemed to be possessed by a demon when they plunged headfirst into a downhill fall, giving the unskilled rider an apparent advantage during the chase, they rolled for a few feet and managed to get back upright into a very quick and steadfast gallop across the churchyard.
Just when they got halfway up and through the hollow, they could feel the girths of the saddle loosening. The straps gave way and slipped off. Ichabod had one chance to regain his grip and composure…he reached for the mane of his horse and grabbed him around the neck and hung on for dear life just as he felt the saddle slip away from under him. Slipping to one side and then the other, Ichabod managed to hang on. Hope arose as they saw and scrambled for an opening in the trees ahead.
“If we can just make the bridge on the other side of the church yard, we’ll be safe.” He thought aloud, shouting into the left ear of Gunpowder. Then the inevitable occurred, after he had given Gunpowder another convulsive kick in the ribs, he envisioned freedom and safety…it was not to be. The black stallion with its’ rider clearly in control, Ichabod could feel the hot breathe blowing down the back of his neck. He heard the black steed blowing and panting close behind them. Gunpowder thundered over the resounding planks of the wooden bridge. With an insane gesture of desperation, he peered over his left shoulder when they reached the opposite side of the bridge. They hoped their pursuer would vanish in a puff of smoke, maybe into a flash of fire and brimstone, simply disappearing into nothingness…it was not to be. Ichabod saw the rider raise over his head the screaming, mouth foaming and frothing face of the hobgoblin…it looked like, it appeared to be that of a real live pumpkin that was aflame…engulfed in the fires of hell. The rider raised the thing and tossed it directly at the head of Ichabod. He tried to duck, causing the head to miss him. The endeavor was pointless. The marksman hit his target with direct and precise precision… The flaming projectile made a direct hit. It hit Ichabod with a flashing and thunderous explosion as it splattered into a million pieces, knocking Gunpowder’s rider from his back and headlong into the muck and mire of the messy moor. Gunpowder continued his gallop to freedom with the black steed and its rider in hot pursuit. They passed Ichabod with the whirling speed of the wind.
The headless horseman returned to the spot were Ichabod lay in the mud. The monstrous black steed bellowed and raised up onto its hind legs, while the headless Hessian cracked a whirling black whip.
All of the villagers gathered at the schoolhouse the next morning in anticipation of the schoolmaster’s opening bell ringing. It was not to be heard on this morning. Gunpowder was in his stable, shaken and unnerved with many scratches on his hide. He wore no saddle or bridle straps…there was no blanket on his back either. No one knew of the whereabouts of the dear school teacher.
The townsfolk put forth a search. They found the ripped saddle and the broken bridle about a mile away from where hoof prints deeply set in the earth surrounding the remnants of a rather large and broken pumpkin. The brook was searched as was the entire area for miles around. The remains of Ichabod were nowhere to be found.
It’s been said that Ichabod simply kept running away and found refuge in the lands and homes of another church-like community. That was never proven. The jilted rival never hesitated in regaining his position in the household of his once betrothed. That knot was ties rather quickly after the assumed fate and disappearance of Ichabod Crane.
The tale of the headless Hessian only bloomed to a higher level of acceptance. No one ventured out alone at night ever again. The schoolhouse was deserted and soon fell into decayed rotting wood and fibre and mulch…only good for plant and crop composting.
Travelers came, visited, and passed through the lively out of the way shire, many have said that they’ve heard voices out on the moor and varied times of the season…some even said that they heard a voice that sounded like that of Ichabod singing in the distance. That remains to be seen.”
Raymond had just completed his story when a thunderous knock came upon the door, followed by the explosive entrance of angry townsfolk and “Slave Catchers!”
Raymond’s owner went missing one morning when the young slave was just reaching puberty. He was treated like that of many young male captives from Africa. He was whipped when he didn’t give in to the overseer on the plantation. He vowed that he would run the very next time that anyone laid a hand on him.
One winter morning, Raymond was out in the field working with the plantation owner. For some unforeseen reason he began to whip Raymond with a saddle whip… The slave master was out in the field working with his newly purchased wheat chopper/hay baling machine. The baling machine chopped grass, wheat, and hay for the farmer(s) (while being pulled by horses) and baled the material up as it passed over the stalks. Its a bit before its time, but a highly desirable farming tool. The last time the slave owner was seen was when he went to chasing Raymond while his new machine was running…it was found to be operating alone. There was no one running the damned thing…the plantation owner simply disappeared. The livestock that year appeared to be truly fattened and contented when they were gathered and brought in for examination.
Raymond was also nowhere to be found either.
Years later, Raymond was found up North, teaching at a college in New York City.
When Raymond returned to the South Carolina Plantation in an attempt to free all those he left behind upon his venturing into the strange new world. His successful adventures led him back to his people, in attempts at freeing them – mentally, physically, and spiritually, all over and across the country.
The townsfolk in the then tiny New England Territories, didn’t like uppity northern niggers to come around teaching their darkies how to read and write. They sighted Raymond, locked him up and many threatened to drag him out and lynch him in front of the courthouse for all to bare witness.
When his friends up north got wind of Raymond’s dilemma, they quickly scrambled, assembling everyone they knew that could and would venture southward in a rescue of their studious and illustrious Black friend, teacher, and colleague. Just before their arrival to the small and secretive village, the previous night proved them to be a bit late in the rescue attempt.
A small band of townsmen and their new found friends (the slave-catchers), managed to sneak Raymond out of the jailhouse. They had him roped and gagged when they dragged him into the waiting horse and wagon tethered out back of the jail. Little did they know, the “Law Keeper” in the village was alerted that two young children had not returned from the nine o’clock hayride. They were thirteen and fourteen year old white kids. The marshal was busy gathering a posse to search for the missing teens. Meanwhile, someone caught up to the hanging party and informed them of the missing kids. They were momentarily distracted from their mission. They all turned to listen to the news and alert when a few Black folk sneaked up and slashed the ropes on Raymond, freeing him in a swift swoop of the machete, the young teacher was set free. When the hangmen turned to find him gone, they froze like statues when they heard the un-Godly sound of a shrilling shriek. It seemed to be coming from all around them. No one could pinpoint the exact location or direction of the strange noise. It came closer and closer. The hangmen were suddenly all very terrified…they feared for their very lives as they all of a sudden realized that they were out on the moor in the dark of night.
A light flashed and vanished as quickly as it had appeared. The group of six men were suddenly bombarded with the splashing of bloody body parts. They couldn’t for the moment figure out what the gooey substances were. Then one of them realized that they were the body parts of the missing young white juveniles to whom the town was in search of. They all panicked and began to run back toward the village. They left behind the horses and wagon in which they had originally arrived. They all ran on foot as fast as they could. It did them no good…then the light appeared again along with the un-Godly screech and screaming! They found themselves under attack…the attacker could not be evaded. One by one, the hangmen all vanished into the dark moonless night of death and wanton destruction.
Raymond also heard the screams of death and the death-dealer as his horse galloped closer and closer to him and his escaping friends. The scared and running Raymond could not keep up with his rescuers as they all fled. He unthinkingly took a look back, tripped and fell into the ravine alongside the old church bridge. The monstrous spectre of the horseman was suddenly upon him… The over-sized blackened monster horse whined and raised up on its hind legs, towering over the hapless teacher…he saw the face and head of his mentor...It was Ichabod who sat upon the black stallion of the night!
As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared.
The villagers reported sightings of the headless horseman in the distance that night. Many were in disbelief. They shrugged it all off and called it an old wives tale…a “Halloween Fantasy!”
Only the people who resided in that region knew that the horseman would return every year at this time. While Raymond remains alive and well, telling his version of the adventure of a lifetime…to all those who would listen and possibly believe.
Til Next Time…
References and Acknowledgements:
Based upon a story by:
‘Mr. Washington Irving’
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”
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