Saturday, October 21, 2006

October Surprise!

from "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"

"Thus, by divers little make-shifts in that ingenious way which is commonly denominated "by hook and by crook," the worthy pedagogue got on tolerably enough, and was thought, by all who understood nothing of the labor of headwork, to have a wonderfully easy life of it...

In his hand he swayed a ferrule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails, behind the throne, a constant terror to evil doers; while on the desk before him might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon the persons of idle urchins; such as half-munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of rampant little paper gamecocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of justice recently inflicted, for his scholars were all busily intent upon their books, or slyly whispering behind them with one eye kept upon the master; and a kind of buzzing stillness reigned throughout the school-room."

America's most infamous October Surprise is recounted in Washington Irving's classic Halloween tale of an academic who who vanished without a trace, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

The more unreliable ancient texts and oral testimony recount that Sleepy Hollow "was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the early days of the settlement; others, that an old Indian chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his powwows there before the country was discovered by Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is, the place still continues under the sway of some witching power, that holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to all kinds of marvellous beliefs; are subject to trances and visions; and frequently see strange sights, and hear music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood abounds with local tales, haunted spots, and twilight superstitions: stars shoot and meteors glare oftener across the valley than in any other part of the country, and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head."

Irving's apocryphal tale, allegedly "found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker," purports to document the mysterious and uninvestigated disappearance of a greedy, superstitious, and preposterously ridiculous itinerant pedagogue, (no, not that one!) named Ichabod Crane, who was spirited "off the planet" by supernatural means on Halloween by the Headdessed Horsemen.

The pedagogue, a superstitious bird, imagined himself to be quite the ladies' man, but he was played for a sucker by an accomplished horseman, a "formidable ...burly, roaring, roystering blade, of the name of Abraham, or, according to the Dutch abbreviation, Brom Van Brunt, the hero of the country round, which rang with his feats of strength and hardihood. He was broad-shouldered and double-jointed, with short curly black hair, and a bluff, but not unpleasant countenance, having a mingled air of fun and arrogance. From his Herculean frame and great powers of limb, he had received the nickname of Brom Bones." (Just kidding! Heh heh!)


And now, the Legend of Pine Ridge proudly presents "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"!


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