It was toward evening that Ichabod arrived at the castle of
the Heer Van Tassel, which he found thronged with the pride and
flower of the adjacent country Old farmers, a spare leathern-
faced race, in homespun coats and breeches, blue stockings, huge
shoes, and magnificent pewter buckles. Their brisk, withered
little dames, in close crimped caps, long waisted short-gowns,
homespun petticoats, with scissors and pin-cushions, and gay
calico pockets hanging on the outside. Buxom lasses, almost as
antiquated as their mothers, excepting where a straw hat, a fine
ribbon, or perhaps a white frock, gave symptoms of city
innovation. The sons, in short square-skirted coats, with rows of
stupendous brass buttons, and their hair generally queued in the
fashion of the times, especially if they could procure an eelskin
for the purpose, it being esteemed throughout the country as a
potent nourisher and strengthener of the hair.
Brom Bones, however, was the hero of the scene, having come
to the gathering on his favorite steed Daredevil, a creature,
like himself, full of mettle and mischief, and which no one but
himself could manage. He was, in fact, noted for preferring
vicious animals, given to all kinds of tricks which kept the
rider in constant risk of his neck, for he held a tractable,
wellbroken horse as unworthy of a lad of spirit.
Fain would I pause to dwell upon the world of charms that
burst upon the enraptured gaze of my hero, as he entered the
state parlor of Van Tassel's mansion. Not those of the bevy of
buxom lasses, with their luxurious display of red and white; but
the ample charms of a genuine Dutch country tea-table, in the
sumptuous time of autumn. Such heaped up platters of cakes of
various and almost indescribable kinds, known only to experienced
Dutch housewives! There was the doughty doughnut, the tender
olykoek, and the crisp and crumbling cruller; sweet cakes and
short cakes, ginger cakes and honey cakes, and the whole family
of cakes. And then there were apple pies, and peach pies, and
pumpkin pies; besides slices of ham and smoked beef; and moreover
delectable dishes of preserved plums, and peaches, and pears, and
quinces; not to mention broiled shad and roasted chickens;
together with bowls of milk and cream, all mingled higgledy-
pigglely, pretty much as I have enumerated them, with the
motherly teapot sending up its clouds of vapor from the midst--
Heaven bless the mark! I want breath and time to discuss this
banquet as it deserves, and am too eager to get on with my story.
Happily, Ichabod Crane was not in so great a hurry as his
historian, but did ample justice to every dainty.
He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in
proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer, and whose
spirits rose with eating, as some men's do with drink. He could
not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and
chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of
all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor. Then,
he thought, how soon he 'd turn his back upon the old
schoolhouse; snap his fingers in the face of Hans Van Ripper, and
every other niggardly patron, and kick any itinerant pedagogue
out of doors that should dare to call him comrade!
Old Baltus Van Tassel moved about among his guests with a
face dilated with content and goodhumor, round and jolly as the
harvest moon. His hospitable attentions were brief, but
expressive, being confined to a shake of the hand, a slap on the
shoulder, a loud laugh, and a pressing invitation to "fall to,
and help themselves."
And now the sound of the music from the common room, or
hall, summoned to the dance. The musician was an old gray-headed
negro, who had been the itinerant orchestra of the neighborhood
for more than half a century. His instrument was as old and
battered as himself. The greater part of the time he scraped on
two or three strings, accompanying every movement of the bow with
a motion of the head; bowing almost to the ground, and stamping
with his foot whenever a fresh couple were to start.
Ichabod prided himself upon his dancing as much as upon his
vocal powers. Not a limb, not a fibre about him was idle; and to
have seen his loosely hung frame in full motion, and clattering
about the room, you would have thought St. Vitus himself, that
blessed patron of the dance, was figuring before you in person.
He was the admiration of all the negroes; who, having gathered,
of all ages and sizes, from the farm and the neighborhood, stood
forming a pyramid of shining black faces at every door and
window; gazing with delight at the scene; rolling their white
eye-balls, and showing grinning rows of ivory from ear to ear.
How could the flogger of urchins be otherwise than animated and
joyous? the lady of his heart was his partner in the dance, and
smiling graciously in reply to all his amorous oglings; while
Brom Bones, sorely smitten with love and jealousy, sat brooding
by himself in one corner.