13 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
a man would carve his way to the centre of a Christmas pie ; and then the lady gave him her hand as a matter of course. Ichabod, on the con
trary, had to win his way to the heart of a country coquette, beset with a labyrinth of whims and caprices, which were forever presenting new difficulties and impediments; and he had to encounter a host of fearful adversaries of real flesh and blood, the numerous rustic admirers, who beset every portal to her heart; keeping a watchful and angry eye upon each other, but ready to fly out in the common cause against any new competitor.
Among these the most formidable was a burly, roaring, roistering 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, by which he was universally known.
He was famed for great knowledge and skill in horsemanship, being
as dexterous on horseback as a Tartar. He was foremost at all races
and cock-fights ; and, with the ascendancy which bodily strength acquires in rustic life, was the umpire in all disputes, setting his hat
on one side, and giving his decisions with an air and tone admitting
of no gainsay or appeal. He was always ready for either a fight or
a frolic ; but had more mischief than ill-will in his composition ; and,
with all his overbearing roughness, there was a strong dash of waggish good-humor at bottom. He had three or four boon companions,
who regarded him as their model, and at the head of whom he
scoured the country, attending every scene of feud or merriment for
miles round. In cold weather he was distinguished by a fur cap, sur-
mounted with a flaunting fox's tail ; and when the folks at a country
gathering descried this well-known crest at a distance, whisking about
among a squad of hard riders, they always stood by for a squall.
Sometimes his crew would be heard dashing along past the farm-