Source Text: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
“The Headless Horseman Pursuing Ichabod Crane,” by John Quidor
Image Source / Public Domain
“In the six months that have passed since publication of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the dominant effect on the locale must be, I presume, an outbreak of tinnitus. What was once a quiet pastoral village now echoes with the sounds of holidaymakers, tradesmen, and any number of waggish local rantipoles. The knoll near the church is thronged with excursionists making oil paintings of the bridge, while their companions pose as if to race the Horseman across. These are invariably surrounded by a coterie of peddlers hawking their wares; the demand for pumpkin-print cravats and ‘Team Ichabod’ nightshifts must be insatiable. The noise from the crowds alone is enough to wake the dead, if any could still be found abed in these parts.
Nightfall brings no respite. It seems that rumors of the Horseman’s celebrity have reached even the farthest corners of the netherworld, and every two-bit specter and upstart haunt in the county has come for his share. The eventide roadway is mobbed with wraiths jostling and elbowing each other, screeching at passersby, with no concern for any drowsy mortals in the vicinity. Whilst leaning red-eyed out my window last evening, I was buttonholed by a banshee seeking a writeup. The Horseman himself rarely appears anymore, and from the unearthly racket I can’t exactly blame him. It’s not called ‘Stay Awake All Night And Listen To Spectral Traffic’ Hollow, is it? If I’d wanted to be kept up, I’d have stayed in Five Points.”
“I regret to note the local tavern, Balthus’ Bistro, is not quite the ‘five-star’ establishment it claims to be. We arrived early one afternoon for dinner yet were kept waiting for seats for nearly an hour. Then, my olykoeks came with a side of dysentery. We left no tip.
Upon departing, I found further cause for concern. The band of local youths that Mr. Irving christened ‘the Sleepy Hollow Boys’ have made industrious use of the last six months to expand their enterprise. Of late they have branched out into racketeering, the selling of unlicensed pharmaceuticals, and the proprietorship of a gambling den in the back of a local tavern. Calls for a magistrate go generally unheeded; complainants are left to search for one not already in the Boys’ (well-lined) pockets.”
“I was promised I would see the Galloping Hessian, but we saw only these old Dutch ghosts and some Major André fellow. More like Minor André. Then I figured Wiley’s Swamp might be a good place to sneak a pipe, but it’s been roped off by the Sleepy Hollow Regional Medical Society on account of the miasma. An utter waste.”
“Unable to leave the churchyard without being chased down for an autograph. Head gone missing again, probably carted off by some tipsy enthusiast. Goblin steed has developed a preference for carrots and sugar from devoted admirers, at present would lose a race across the bridge to a box turtle. Was zur Hölle? Not sure what the purpose is in staying around here anymore. May require a change of pace.
Have heard good things about Salem.”