Chapter 1: Chapter one
In the mortuary of the Bellevue Hospital, Nurse Isabelle Van Tassel is assisting Doctor Benjamen Hale in the autopsy of a middle-aged man who had recently passed.
"I must thank you again, Nurse Van Tassel. There are not many with a strong enough stomach to do this," Dr. Hale told her.
"It is not much trouble, Dr. Hale. I believe that the Lord gave us the will to learn as much as we can before we join him and our loved ones in his kingdom," Isabelle said as she pulled the heart out once Dr. Hale finished cutting.
She placed the heart on the scale before saying, "11 ounces, Doctor," and placed it aside in a silver bowl, that had been thoroughly cleaned, on the table.
"Now let's look at the lungs," He said. Dr. Hale takes a scalpel and cuts one of the lungs open. When he was finished, he puts the scalpel aside and reaches into the lung. He takes his hand out, but in his hand was foam.
"Foam?" Isabelle questioned.
"Foam indeed, Nurse Van Tassel," Dr. Hale confirmed, "Now, what can cause foam in the lungs?"
"Aconitum," She answered, "It has been known to cause foaming in the lungs, but it is also an extremely fast-acting poison. Meaning that the murder would have no time to escape due to the wife telling the doctors that her husband dropped to the ground unexpectedly."
"And I believe we have found our murderer. The wife, I suspect, might have a relative or a book on botany, which is how she must have obtained the knowledge of Aconitum. Death by the plant is an extremely painful one, you would have hated this man enough to kill him in such a horrifying way."
"When the wife had come here I noticed that there was severe bruising on her hands and face, though the bruising was fading, it was still noticeable."
"Nurse Van Tassel," Dr. Hale smiled, "I believe we found who the murderer is."
"Indeed we have, Dr. Hale," Isabelle said, “Will we alert the authorities?”
"This man abused his wife. I believe God decided that it was time for this man to be punished. Could you sew him up, Nurse Van Tassel? I am going to speak with the widow.”
Dr. Hale left the mortuary to talk to the widow, while Isabelle placed the heart back inside the man's chest before sewing the incision that was made.
When Isabelle was finished, she got a carriage and returned to the home that she shared with her fiance, Ichabod Crane. An hour or two had passed before her fiance had returned home. He walks into the house looking very nervous.
“Is everything well, Ichabod?” Isabelle asked with worry.
Ichabod walks over to her with a smile and kisses her on the cheek, “Everything is fine, but you should pack your bags because I am being sent to a town that has had mysterious murders as of late and I want you to come with me.”
“And where is the town?”
“That is one of the reasons I wish for you to come with me, other than I do not wish to leave you alone, is that the town is your childhood home, Sleepy Hollow,” Ichabod told her.
Upon hearing the name of where she grew up, Isabelle smiled, “Oh, Ichabod. You’ll finally be able to meet my family. I know that my father will love you.”
“Your father?” Ichabod gulped nervously.
“Don’t worry, my love, no matter what my father will say I will always love you,” Isabelle told him,” Now, what else do you know about the murders?”
“Not much, other than their heads have chopped off, but we should get ready the carriage will be here at any moment.”
The two began packing what things they needed. While they were packing, Ichabod walked towards the sphere birdcage which housed a Cardinal. He opened the cage and gently grabbed the cardinal before walking to the open window and letting it fly away.
A short while later, the carriage arrived and they placed their things in the carriage before they got in and began their journey to solve the mysterious murders of Sleepy hollow.
Chapter 2: Chapter two
The carriage ride ends when it pulls up to the pathway leading to Sleepy Hollow. Icahood opens the door and steps out of the carriage first before turning around and helping Isabelle out. Isabelle took in her surroundings and could not help but notice that change in Sleepy Hollow that had taken place while she was away. It was quiet and no one was out.
“Is it usually this quiet, my love?” Ichabod asked.
“No, I remember that there would be people, though not many, walking around or a few children playing games,” She replied. The two continue walking and they saw a man bidding goodbye to his son, “But fear seems to have always ruled this land.”
“Perhaps we should continue our walk to your Father’s home, my dear,” Icahood said. Isabelle nodded in response before leading the way to the house on the hill.
When they had reached the door, Isabelle knocked. They looked to their right and saw a man and woman making out. The door soon opens and they entered the home. The house was full of life as it would appear that the whole town was inside having a joyous time. Everyone was smiling and laughing as if the murders had never occurred.
Ichabod and Isabelle made their way through the large room. By the fireplace, a circle of men going around grinning and a young woman with a blindfold on, who Isabelle instantly recognized as her little sister Katrina, spinning around in the center.
“The Pickety Witch, the Pickety Witch, who's got a kiss for the Pickety Witch?” Katrina chanted as she spun around.
“Katrina!” Isabelle called.
Katrina removes her blindfold and smiles, “Isabelle!” She leaves the circle and rushes to hug her sister, “Oh, how I have missed you.”
“And I you.”
Katrina pulls away from her sister and holds her hands, “You must tell me everything that has happened since you left us such as did the boy you have feelings forever confess his love for you?”
“He did,” Isabelle answered with a smile,” Ichabod, please come here? I would like to introduce you to my sister, Katrina Van Tassel.”
Ichabod approaches and smiles politely at Katrina, “Good evening, I am Ichabod Crane, Isabelle’s finance. It is a pleasure to meet you Miss Van Tassel.”
Soon, Isabelle’s father and stepmother walk into the room and toward the three.
“Ah, my darling Isabelle,” Baltus said as he hugged his daughter, “Why did you not tell us you were coming here? I would have sent someone to fetch you.”
“It is good to see you again, Father, but unfortunately I am here on business matters not personal,” Isabelle explained.
“I am Baltus Van Tassel and this is my wife, Lady Van Tassel. And who might you be, young man?” He asked Ichabod.
“I am Constable Ichabod Crane, sent to you from New York with authority to investigate murder in Sleepy Hollow alongside Nurse Isabelle Van Tassel,” Ichabod said in his most professional manner, “I am also Nurse Van Tassel’s fiance, sir.”
“Then, Sleepy Hollow is grateful to you, Constable Crane. And we hope you will honor us by remaining in this house,” Lady Van Tassel said.
“Well spoke!” Baltus said to his wife before saying to Ichabod and his daughter, “Come, dear. We'll get you and Constable Crane settled.”
Ichabod and Isabelle were led to their room which happened to be Isabelle’s old room. A short while later, as Ichabod and Isabelle were unpacking Sarah, the maid, came into the room with a jug of water.
“Thank you,” Ichabod said, “Please tell Mr. Van Tassel that I and Nurse Van Tassel will be down in a moment.
“I will, sir,” Sarah places the jug down before leaving the room, but she stops and turns to them, “Thank God you’re here.”
Sarah left the room in a hurry, leaving Ichabod and Isabelle to share a look before continuing to unpack their things.
Once the two had finished unpacking, Isabelle led Ichabod to her father’s study. When they entered the study, they saw Baltus, Lady Van Tassel, Sarah serving drinks, and four gentlemen.
“Excellent! Come in!” Baltus said to Ichabod and Isabelle before saying to his wife,” Leave us, my dear.”
Lady Van Tassel and Sarah nod their heads to Ichabod and Isabelle as they leave the room.
Baltus continues as he introduces the men to the two, “We are joined by Dr.Thomas Lancaster,” he gestured to an older man with frizzy hair,” Reverend Steenwyck," He gestured to an almost startled looking man in a wig, " Our able Magistrate Phillipse," He gestured to a rather plump man in a wig, clutching something in his hand,” and lastly, this fine fellow is James Hardenbrook, our notary" He gestured to a very old man with a clouded over the eye.
“And you, sir?” Ichabod asked.
“A simple farmer who has prospered,” He answered, “ The Town has looked to me as friend and counsel.”
“And Landlord, and Banker. Can we proceed?” Magistrate Phillipse asked.
“Thank you,” Icabod reads his notebook before closing it.
“I must ask if the young lady is to be present for this meeting?” Reverend Steenwyck asked.
“Indeed, I must, Reverend Steenwyck,” Isabelle answered, “I was sent here alongside my fiance, Constable Crane, to find the madman who has been terrorizing my childhood home.”
So,” Ichabod began as he circled the room, “Three persons murdered. First, Peter Van Garrett and his son Dirk Van Garrett, both of them strong capable men, found together, decapitated. A week later, the Widow Winship, also decapitated. I will need to ask you many questions, but first let me ask -- is anyone suspected?”
Magistrate Phillipse chokes on his tea.
“Constable… Nurse...how much have your superiors explained to you?” Baltus asked.
“Only that the three were slain in open ground and their heads found severed from their bodies…” Ichabod explained.
“Hm. The heads were not found severed. The heads were not found at all,” Reverend Steenwyck told them.
“The heads are gone?” He questioned.
Hardenbrook leans forward, his voice cragged, “Taken. Taken by the Headless Horseman. Taken back to hell.”
“The Headless Horseman is a legend my mother would tell me when I was young,” Isabelle said.
“Pardon me, I...?” Ichabod began.
“Perhaps you had better sit down,” Baltus told him.
“Yes,” Ichabod said before taking a seat and making himself a cup of tea. Isabelle takes a seat beside him.
“The Horseman was a Hessian mercenary, sent to our shores by German princes to keep Americans under the yoke of England. But unlike his compatriots who came for money, the Horseman came...for love of carnage...and he was not like the others...He rode a giant black steed named Daredevil. He was infamous for taking his horse hard into battle...chopping off heads at full gallop. To look upon him made your blood run cold, for he had filed down his teeth to sharp points...to add to the ferocity of his appearance… This butcher would not finally meet his end till the winter of seventy-nine......they chopped off his head with his own sword. Even today, The Western Woods is a haunted place... Where brave men will not venture. For what was planted in the ground that day was a seed of evil. And so it has been for twenty years. But now the Hessian wakes. He’s on the rampage, cutting off heads where he can find them.”
Isabelle looked toward Ichabod and saw that the teacup and saucer were shaking in his hands. She places her hand on his, causing him to stop shaking.
“Are you...saying...? Is that what you believe?” Ichabod asked them.
Notary Hardenbrook looked at Ichabod, “Seeing is believing!”
“They tell me you have brought books and trappings of scientific investigation -- this is the only book I recommend you study,” Reverend Steenwyck drops the bible on the table next to Ichabod.
Ichabod lifts the front cover to a page revealing the Van Tassel Family tree, which includes the Van Garretts.
“I see,” Ichabod shuts the book, “Reverend Steenwyck...gentlemen…” He and Isabelle stand, “murder needs no ghost come from the grave. We have murders in New York without the benefit of ghouls and goblins.
“Your a long way from New York, Constable,” Baltus told him.
“The Assassin is a man of flesh and blood, And I along with Nurse Van Tassel will discover him,” Ichabod said.
After the meeting, Ichabod and Isabelle retired to their room for the evening, unaware that the Horseman had taken another head.
Chapter 3: Chapter three
The next day in the morning, Ichabod and Isabelle were standing outside a livery stable waiting for Killian to bring out a horse for Ichabod to barrow and Isabelle's horse to which she left in his care before leaving for New York. Killian came out a moment later leading a dappled grey and quarter horse.
"His name is Gunpowder," Killian said, "And here is Empress, Miss Van Tassel."
"Thank you for caring for her, "Isabelle said.
"Your welcome, Miss."
"He should do just fine," Ichabod said, slapping Gunpowder lightly on the rump. "Thank you."
"Now if you need any help, you just call my name."He said.
"Of course, thank you, sir," Ichabod said as Gunpowder bumped his head against Ichabod's.
In the house beside the barn, a pregnant woman left, and a red-haired woman followed, stopped in the doorway, and smiled. She spotted a young boy playing a few yards away.
"Thomas! Come inside!" She called. A little red-haired boy began to run in as Killian happily scooped him up and kissed his head.
"Go on and eat your breakfast. Kiss your mother once for you and twice for me, "He said setting the boy down.
As Ichabod took Gunpowder's reins, a loud gunshot at the tree line caught his attention. A man on horseback held a gun.
"Murder! The Horseman has killed again!"The man shouted before riding to spread the news to the rest of the town.
In a panic, Ichabod attempted to mount the horse as Killian ran inside the barn to get his horse. Isabelle managed to get on Empress with ease and waited for Ichabod.
"Come on Gunpowder, we're off!" Ichabod said. But he was unable to as Gunpowder moved away from him but he was eventually able to get on the saddle with both feet in the stirrups, he held his bag out to the side and gripped the reins in one hand. Isabelle couldn't help but smile at the struggle her fiance had with Gunpowder and managed not to laugh.
"Giddy-up… no, no… this way…" Ichabod said steering the horse in the right direction. Gunpowder began to walk forward. "Good horsey."
Isabelle steered Empress next to Gunpowder and said to Ichabod, "Do not worry, Gunpowder will follow Empress if you have trouble. Now, we must hurry, or else who knows what they might do?"
Isabelle nudged Empress to pick up speed to catch up with Killian. She looked behind her and saw Ichabod holding onto the reins as Gunpowder followed her horse.
They eventually were in the part of the woods where the body of Masbeth had been found. Killian got off his horse and stood by a tree with a gun in hand while Isabelle and Ichabod just arrived. The two saw a group of men gathered around the decapitated body; the men from the previous night in Isabelle's father's study, a few townsmen, and Brom. The body was on its back with its arms on its stomach. Doctor Lancaster was crouching by the body.
"It's alright. I'm here now," Ichabod said as he awkwardly dismounted the horse before helping Isabelle down. The two began to approach the body and began to pass Baltus.
"May I inquire why she is here?" Reverend Steenwyck asked once again, questioning if Isabelle should be here.
"I trust her very much and I know she can withstand such a gruesome sight. I believe she is completely capable of withstanding this," Icabod said gesturing to Masbeth's body with a nod. He walked forward with a nod and set his bag down close to the body. He looked down at it and resisted the urge to gag.
"The fourth victim. Jonathan Masbeth," Dr. Lancaster informed Ichabod.
"Ah. I-I see… A-and the head?" Ichabod asked with his back to the group.
"Taken," Philipse answered.
"Taken… Interesting. Very interesting…" Ichabod said, turning to the group again.
"What is?"Baltus asked.
"In headless corpse cases such as this, the head is removed to prevent identification of the body," Ichabod said approaching Baltus.
"But we know that this is Jonathan Masbeth!" Baltus said.
"Precisely, so why was the head removed?" Ichabod said.
"Why…" Baltus echoed.
"Right!" Ichabod said turning.
"The body has been moved," Isabelle informed Ichabod in a hushed tone. He then noticed the obvious situation that the body had been moved. Ichabod and Isabelle walk down the line of men to Dr. Lancaster. He turned to face him, hands behind his back.
"You have moved the body."He stated.
"I did," Dr. Lancaster admitted with a bit of confusion.
"You must never move the body!" Ichabod said, loudly.
"Why not?" Dr. Lancaster asked, confused.
"Because doing so would disrupt the scene of the murder and delay the investigation," Isabelle replied.
Ichabod noticed the hoof prints in the leaves around the body. He also noticed some boot prints as well. He took a few giant steps to recreate the Horseman's stride.
"The stride is gigantic! The attacker rode Masbeth down," Ichabod pretended to ride a horse at a gallop, past Masbeth's body, "turned his horse," he made a loop around, "and came back," he said as he arrived back at the body, "Came back to claim the head."
Ichabod swiftly ran to his bag and opened it, pulling out a small rack of bottles. Isabelle grabbed a small bottle and crouched by the body. She sprinkled powder by the severed neck of the body. She and Ichabod watch as the powder began to fizzle.
"Yes. There's a chemical reaction. It shows there was a powerful, singular thrust to the neck."Ichabod told the small group. Ichabod returned to his bag and bent his head as he pulled something on. He looked up and was wearing goggles with magnifying lenses, which made his eyes huge. Isabelle tries not to laugh not Ichabod as he grabbed a pair of tongs and turned. All the men looked at each other, confused.
"Now, "Ichabod began, crouching by the severed neck. Trying not to look too closely at the exposed bone and blood, using the tongs he had brought, he lifted the skin of the neck. A beetle scurried out and away from Ichabod and the body. He shuddered, gagged, and stood quickly, turning away from everyone.
"Interesting," Ichabod said with a strangled voice.
"What is it?"Baltus asked.
"The wound was cauterized in the very instant, as though the blade itself were…" He turned to the group. " Red-hot. And yet, no blistering, no scorched flesh." He concluded.
"The Devil's fire," Philipse said, his grip tightening on something around his neck.
Ichabod slowly removed his goggles and replaced all of his tools and the bottle into the bag. The group of townsmen all lifted Masbeth's body and began to take it back towards town. Ichabod closed his bag as everyone silently began to get on their horses to head back into town
Later that day, the people of the town gathered in the cemetery for the funeral of Jonathan Masbeth.
Steenwyck stands at the open grave, reads from the Bible, "Be sober, be vigilant..." as it sayeth in the book of Peter, chapter five, verse eight - "because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour..."
Ichabod stands with Isabelle bhind Baltus and Lady Van Tassel. Ichabod looks around, observing. Isabelle sees Young Masbeth stare at the grave of his father. Ichabod feels someone's eyes on him and sees Brom glaring toward him before looking away.
"God rest, Jonathan Masbeth." Reverend Steenwyck finished. Everyone began to silently make their way back to town. The atmosphere was sad and grim with the grey clouds and fog looming.
As Reverend Steenwyck passed Young Masbeth he clasped his shoulder in what was meant to be a reassuring manner. But to Young Masbeth, it meant nothing, as he stood silently by the mound of dirt and tombstone that was his father's final resting place. Ichabod watched as Isabelle walked forward towards Young Masbeth.
She placed a hand on the boy's shoulder and he hugged her tightly. She hugged back, stroking his hair comfortingly. After a second Young Masbeth pulled back, taking a deep breath. Ichabod turned and began to walk away. Young Masbeth saw him leave and suddenly took off into a short run to catch up to him, Isabelle following after.
"Mr. Constable, Sir," Young Masbeth said as he stopped just behind Ichabod. Ichabod turned and gave the young boy a sympathetic smile.
"Ah… you're Young Masbeth," He said. Isabelle stood behind the boy and kept a hand on his shoulder.
"I was Young Masbeth… but now the only one," Young Masbeth said, "Masbeth at your service. In honor, bound to avenge my father."
"Well, one-and-only Masbath, I thank you, but your mother will need you more than I."
Isabelle looked sadly at Young Masbath and he says, "My mother is in heaven, sir, and has my father now to care for her. But you have no one to serve you, and I am your man, sir."
"Yes, and a brave one, too. But I cannot be the one to look after you." Ichabod found it hard to look the young boy in the face. Ichabod put a hand on the shoulder Isabelle's hand wasn't on. " I'm sorry for your loss, young master Masbeth," Ichabod said.
Ichabod pats his shoulder a few times then met Isabelle's eyes. She gave him a look a sad look. Ichabod briefly met Young Masbeth's eyes. Isabelle hugged Young Masbeth again and released his shoulder. Ichabod and Isabelle turn to leave. Young Masbeth sadly looked at his father's grave and walked over to it, glancing at Ichabod and Isabelle walking away.
As Ichabod and Isabelle walk through the graveyard, Magistrate Philipse stopped them.
"Constable Crane. Miss Van Tassel" Philipse greeted.
"Mr. Philipse." Ichabod returned.
Philipse looks around anxiously to see if they're observed, "Something you should know. Jonathan Masbath was not the fourth victim but the fifth!"
"The fifth?" Ichabod asked.
"Aye. Five victims, in four graves." Philipse said facing Ichabod and Isabelle.
"But whatever do you mean?" Isabelle asked.
Philipse sees that Steenwyck has noticed the encounter. He breaks off and scuttles away. Ichabod and Isabelle turn their gaze toward the fresh grave of Jonathan Masbath, and three more graves almost as recent: The Van Garretts receiving their brand new headstones, and Widow Winship's grave is marked at the present by a simple wooden cross with her name on it.
"What was that about? There were only four graves," She asked. Ichabod said nothing and counted all the graves silently, " Ichabod?"
Ichabod suddenly turned.
"Young Masbeth!" He called. Young Masbeth turned to look at him, "Find a place in the Van Tassel's servant's quarters. Wake me before dawn. I hope you have a strong stomach."