8 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
quartered, every sound of nature, at that witching hour, fluttered his excited imagination : the moan of the whippoorwill * from the hillside ; the boding cry of the tree-toad, that harbinger of storm ; the dreary hooting of the screech-owl, or the sudden rustling in the
thicket of birds frightened from their roost. The fire-flies, too, which sparkled most vividly in the darkest places, now and then startled
him, as one of uncommon brightness would stream across his path; and if, by chance, a huge blockhead of a beetle came winging his blundering flight against him, the poor varlet was ready to give up the ghost, with the idea that he was struck with a witch's token. His only resource on such occasions, either to drown thought or drive away evil spirits, was to sing psalm tunes; and the good people of Sleepy Hollow, as they sat by their doors of an evening, were often filled with awe, at hearing his nasal melody, " in linked sweetness long drawn out," floating from the distant hill or along the dusky
Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was, to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire,
with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted
fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses,
and particularly of the headless horseman, or Galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called him. He would delight them
equally by his anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier
times of Connecticut; and would frighten them wofully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars, and with the alarming fact
that the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!
But if there was a pleasure in all this, while snugly cuddling in the chimney-corner of a chamber that was all of a ruddy glow from * The whippoorwill is a bird which is only heard at night. It receives its name from its note, which
is thought to resemble those words.
Click tabs to swap between content that is broken into logical sections.