16 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
simple reasoners, the knights-errant of yore—by single combat; but Ichabod 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 school-house " ; 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 perse-
cution 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 school-house at night, in spite of its formidable fastenings of withe and window-stakes, and turned every
thing 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 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.
In this way matters went on for some time, without producing any material effect on the relative situation of the contending powers.
On a fine autumnal afternoon, Ichabod, in pensive mood, sat enthroned on the lofty stool whence he usually watched all the concerns
of his little literary realm. In his hand he swayed a ferule, that sceptre of despotic power; the birch of justice reposed on three nails,
behind the throne, a constant terror to evil-doers ; while on the desk before him might be seen sundry contraband articles and prohibited weapons, detected upon the persons of idle urchins, such as half-munched apples, popguns, whirligigs, fly-cages, and whole legions of
rampant little paper game-cocks. Apparently there had been some appalling act of justice recently inflicted, for his scholars were all
busily intent upon their books, or slyly whispering behind them with one eye kept upon the master ; and a kind of buzzing stillness
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