Or: Wire Dog Hears A Halloween Tale
Story 64 Written by Tom Johnson
Illustrated by Julie Weaver
It was a warm autumn morning, and Ellen had just received the latest issue of the Miss Moonbeam comic book super heroine, and she was reading it to Wire Dog in her upstairs room by the light of sunbeams shining through the open window. Wire Dog’s ears were sticking straight up as he followed every word she read from the latest adventure of their favorite comic book.
They were so absorbed in the tale they failed to hear the knock on the door downstairs, and were not aware that anyone had entered the house until both heard loud feet pounding up the stairs. They turned towards the door, and Ellen yelped, “Abigail!”
Yes, indeed, Abigail, the bookworm, was back, and she was wearing her magic pack on her back; the one she always carried her wonderful books in.
“What did you bring for us today, Abigail? Ellen asked, as she jumped up from the floor to greet their friend.
“It’s another of my favorite little stories,” Abigail said. “One that might even scare Wire. It’s about a headless horseman.”
Now Wire wasn’t sure what a headless horseman was, but so far he wasn’t a bit scared. In fact, he was really anxious to hear another story from their friend. So he just wagged his little tail and tried to look pleased.
Both girls squatted back down on the floor, and Abigail reached into her backpack and pulled out a book. “This is a short story collection by Washington Irvin, and the story I want to read to you today is The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was written when Mr. Irvin was living abroad in Birmingham, England, and was published in 1820. The setting is Tarry Town, in the glen of Sleepy Hollow, and there were rumors of ghosts and a headless horseman that we will learn all about today.”
Abigail stopped to catch her breath, then continued, “The story features a slender school master named Ichabod Crane that came to Sleepy Hollow one day, and he met the 18-year-old daughter of rich Baltus Van Tassel, the lovely Katrina Van Tassel. A lover of good food and lots of money, Ichabod made plans to marry her, but there was one hitch and it was a big one, by the name of Abraham “Braun Bones” Van Brunt, a husky gent and quite rowdy fellow.”
Seeing that she had their attention, Abigail smiled and continued. “Now Braun Bones was a mite stuck on Katrina also, and didn’t want the school master getting between them, so one night at an autumn party, Braun Bones told a number of scary yarns about the ghosts that reside in Sleepy Hollow. And he could see old Ichabod was frightened. For the school master was superstitious and afraid of ghosts.”
Now, Wire was starting to understand the scary part about ghosts, and he was happy that it was daylight, and not dark in the room. He didn’t want the girls to know that he was scared, not one little bit.
“About the time the party was over,” continued Abigail, “darkness had covered the valley, and a bit of wind had picked up. Poor Ichabod was not able to propose to Katrina, and it was time for him to leave. He mounted the old plow horse and headed for home, but the night was scary and every shadow looked menacing. He urged the old horse on, but then he saw the dreaded thing that Braun Bones had warned him about, the terrible headless horseman. There he was, astride the huge black horse, and carrying his head on the saddle. Now, old Ichabod and the plow horse both became frightened and the horse took off with the school master barely hanging on, and it seemed the wraith was breathing down their back it was so close.”
Wire looked under the bed, trying to see all the dark corners, to make sure there was nothing under there, then snuggled closer to Ellen, hoping she didn’t feel him shaking.
“Old Ichabod remembered the legend of the bridge suddenly.” Abigail said. “It was said that the headless horseman could not cross the bridge. If Ichabod could reach there safely, he would outwit the wraith. The old plow horse was giving it all he had to reach the bridge, too. It was like a race with the very devil.”
Abigail smiled as she saw Wire curling up into a ball as the story continued, and knew she had him frightened. Just a little more she thought.
“The old plow horse raced across the bridge, its hoofs pounding the wooden planks, sounding like thunder during a wild spring storm. Now they could see the safety on the other side. It was just a few more yards.”
Wire was visibly shaking as he anticipated the end of the story.
“Both horse and rider collapsed on the carpet of grass after they left the bridge, but then they heard the thunder of hoof beats pounding the wooden planks of the bridge and looked up to see the headless horseman riding across at full gallop. Ichabod and the plow horse were visibly shaken, but neither could rise. It was then that the huge horse reared up on its back legs with a ferocious snort, fire coming from its eyes, and the headless rider lifted the head from the saddle and flung it towards the slender, and timid school master!”
“Then what happened?” Ellen asked, as she rubbed Wire’s neck.
“No one knows for sure,” Abigail said. “Ichabod Crane was never seen again. There at the bridge a busted pumpkin was found on the ground. Some say it was Braun Bones pulling one of his pranks against his rival for Katrina Van Tassel’s hand, but others swear that it was the ghost of the Headless Horseman, and the wraith had spirited away the school master. But we’ll never know.”
“What did you think of the story, Wire?” Ellen asked.
“I’m staying in the house this Halloween,” he growled.