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This rantipole hero had for some time singled out the
blooming Katrina for the object of his uncouth gallantries, and
though his amorous toyings were something like the gentle
caresses and endearments ofa bear, yet it was whispered that she
did not altogether discourage his hopes. Certain it is, his
advances were signals for rival candidates to retire, who felt no
inclination to cross a lion in his amours; insomuch, that when
his horse was seen tied to Van Tassel's paling, on a Sunday
night, a sure sign that his master was courting, or, as it is
termed, " sparking," within, all other suitors passed by in
despair, and carried the war into other quarters.

Such was the formidable rival with whom Ichabod Crane had to
contend, and, considering, all things, a stouter man than he
would have shrunk from the competition, and a wiser man would
have despaired. He had, however, a happy mixture of pliability
and perseverance in his nature; he was in form and spirit like a
supple-jackÄyielding, but tough; though he bent, he never broke;
and though he bowed beneath the slightest pressure, yet, the
moment it was away--jerk!--he was as erect, and carried his
head as high as ever.

To have taken the field openly against his rival would have
been madness; for he was not a man to be thwarted in his amours,
any more than that stormy lover, Achilles. Ichabod, therefore,
made his advances in a quiet and gently insinuating manner. Under
cover of his character of singing-master, he made frequent visits
at the farmhouse; not that he had anything to apprehend from the
meddlesome interference of parents, which is so often a
stumbling-block in the path of lovers. Balt Van Tassel was an
easy indulgent soul; he loved his daughter better even than his
pipe, and, like a reasonable man and an excellent father, let her
have her way in everything. His notable little wife, too, had
enough to do to attend to her housekeeping and manage her
poultry; for, as she sagely observed, ducks and geese are foolish
things, and must be looked after, but girls can take care of
themselves. Thus, while the busy dame bustled about the house, or
plied her spinning-wheel at one end of the piazza, honest Balt
would sit smoking his evening pipe at the other, watching the
achievements of a little wooden warrior, who, armed with a sword
in each hand, was most valiantly fighting the wind on the
pinnacle of the barn. In the mean time, Ichabod would carry on
his suit with the daughter by the side of the spring under the
great elm, or sauntering along in the twilight, that hour so
favorable to the lover's eloquence.

I profess not to know how women's hearts are wooed and won.
To me they have always been matters of riddle and admiration.
Some seem to have but one vulnerable point, or door of access;
while others have a thousand avenues, and may be captured in a
thousand different ways. It is a great triumph of skill to gain
the former, but a still greater proof of generalship to maintain
possession of the latter, for man must battle for his fortress at
every door and window. He who wins a thousand common hearts is
therefore entitled to some renown; but he who keeps undisputed
sway over the heart of a coquette is indeed a hero. Certain it
is, this was not the case with the redoubtable Brom Bones; and
from the moment Ichabod Crane made his advances, the interests of
the former evidently declined: his horse was no longer seen tied
to the palings on Sunday nights, and a deadly feud gradually
arose between him and the preceptor of Sleepy Hollow.

Brom, who had a degree of rough chivalry in his nature,
would fain have carried matters to open warfare and have settled
their pretensions to the lady, according to the mode of those
most concise and simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore, --
by single combat; but lchabod was too conscious of the superior
might of his adversary to enter the lists against him; he had
overheard a boast of Bones, that he would "double the
schoolmaster up, and lay him on a shelf of his own schoolhouse;"
and he was too wary to give him an opportunity. There was
something extremely provoking, in this obstinately pacific
system; it left Brom no alternative but to draw upon the funds of
rustic waggery in his disposition, and to play off boorish
practical jokes upon his rival. Ichabod became the object of
whimsical persecution to Bones and his gang of rough riders. They
harried his hitherto peaceful domains, smoked out his singing-
school by stopping up the chimney, broke into the schoolhouse at
night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of withe and window
stakes, and turned everything topsy-turvy, so that the poor
schoolmaster began to think all the witches in the country held
their meetings there. But what was still more annoying, Brom took
all Opportunities of turning him into ridicule in presence of his
mistress, and had a scoundrel dog whom he taught to whine in the
most ludicrous manner, and introduced as a rival of Ichabod's, to
instruct her in psalmody.

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
General Fiction
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