“All these tales told in that dreamy undertone with which men talk in the dark, the countenances of the listeners only now and then receiving a casual gleam from the glare of a pipe, sunk deep in the mind of Ichabod.”
Legend of Sleepy Hollow
It was on the village wharf that the coadjutors met. Basset, as he contemplated the martial bearing of the General and the burly form of Gladding, felt comforted. The clouds that all day long had lowered above his mental horizon parted, and patches of blue sky began to appear. It was a cause of special gratulation to him, which he realized more sensibly in the darkness than by day, that assistance so important as Gladding’s had been secured, and that without additional expense. He was confident now of an easy victory. The associates jumped into the boat, the painter was cast off, the constable, as principal, took the steersman’s seat, and Tom and Primus disposed themselves to row.
The night was neither clear nor dark, or rather was both by fits and starts. Light fleecy clouds were constantly passing over the heavens, now gathering densely together and completely hiding the stars, and now breaking up and revealing between the rifts then shining points. A low wind softly moaned through the leafless trees on the banks of the Severn, sadly chiming in with the murmur of the tide, which rose quite up to the Falls of the Yaupaae. In the indistinct light, just enough to stimulate and keep in active play the imagination, softening away all those harshnesses which the garish brilliancy of day discloses, and inviting the mind to supply with its own creations what is vague and deficient, the village presented an appearance more attractive, if possible, than by day. Along the margin of the river, and up the hill-sides, the lights scattered in every direction, and rising irregularly one above another, contended successfully with the struggling stars to light the way of the adventurers; while a low sound, the faint indication of life, hardly distinguishable from other noises, rose from the village, for it was yet early in the night, and imparted a sense of security by the consciousness of human propinquity. But gradually, under the skillful strokes of the oars, the sounds became fainter and fainter, and one light after another disappeared till, at a turn in the stream, the bold promontory of Okommakemisit hid the town from view.
A feeling of loneliness now, in spite of the presence of his two friends, began to creep over the constable. So long as the lights had been visible, he felt a strength derived from the vicinity of the habitations of his fellow-beings, as if, were anything untoward to happen, assistance was close at hand and ready to be proffered, but now he might die a thousand deaths, and none be the wiser for his wretched end. As these and other thoughts equally dismal chased each other through his mind, the silence became more and more oppressive (for it was only now and then, hitherto, a word had been uttered), and it was with an emotion of thankfulness and relief he heard it broken by the voice of Gladding.