What Happened to Ichabod Crane?

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Ichabod Crane, the main character in Washington Irving's short story, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,"' may have escaped and never returned to Sleepy Hollow, or the Headless Horseman may have got him. At the end of the tale, the characters as well as the readers are left to guess at what happened.

At the end of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," there is a confrontation between the schoolmaster Crane and the Headless Horseman, whose head had apparently been shot off during the Revolutionary War. A frantic chase ends on a bridge the Horseman is thought unable to cross. Crane, thinking he has avoided danger, stops his horse and looks back at the entity that has been chasing him.

The Horseman, in an apparent fit of rage, throws his flaming pumpkin, which is in place of his head, at Crane and knocks him off his horse. The scene then cuts to the next morning, when townspeople see Crane's riderless horse wandering around. They also find his hat on the ground at the end of the bridge alongside some smashed pumpkin bits. The assumption is that the Headless Horseman got his victim after all, though others say the former teacher escaped and never returned. Irving leaves the conclusion up to the imagination.