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In one of those coves along the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad expanse of the river named by ancient Dutch navigators the Tappan Zee, lies a small rural port known by the name of Tarry Town.
This name was given, we are told, by the housewives of the nearby country, from the habit of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days.
Not far from this village, about two miles away, is a little valley which is one of the quietest places in the world.
A small brook glides through it with just murmur enough to lull one to sleep, and the whistle of a quail or tap of a woodpecker are almost the only sounds that ever break in upon the uniform tranquillity.
There is no retreat from the world and its distractions more promising than this little valley.From the stillness of the place, and the character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from the original Dutch settlers, this secluded glen has long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow.
A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to fill the very atmosphere.
Some say that the place was bewitched during the early days of the settlement.
Others say that an old Indian chief, the wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Henry Hudson.
The place still continues under the sway of some witching power that holds a spell over the minds of the people.
They are given to all kinds of marvelous beliefs, are subject to trances and visions, and frequently see strange sights and hear music and voices.
The place abounds with local tales, haunted spots, twilight superstitions and nightmares.
The dominant spirit that haunts this enchanted region is a headless figure on horseback.
It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper whose head had been carried away by a cannonball in a battle during the Revolutionary War, and who has been seen ever since by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night as if on the wings of the wind.His haunts are not confined to the valley, but extend at times to the adjacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a local church.
Indeed, some local historians claim that the body of the trooper was buried in the churchyard and the ghost rides to the scene of battle every night in quest of his head.
The rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along the hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being late and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard before daybreak.
This legendary superstition has furnished materials for many a wild story in that region of shadows, and the specter is known, by all the country firesides, by the name of The Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.
Everyone who resides there for a time is sure to inhale the witching influence of the air and begin to dream and see spirits.
In this place there lived a worthy fellow from Connecticut by the name of Ichabod Crane, who settled, or “tarried” as he expressed it, in Sleepy Hollow for the purpose of instructing the children of the vicinity.
The name of Crane was well suited to him.
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