Being short fiction, no time is wasted in setting the tone. The image of a peaceful valley is interwoven with that of a headless horseman allegedly in search of his lost head.
The narration is in first person but the narrator has no place within the story.
The first character described in any depth is that of the school teacher, Ichabod Crane. The school teacher is also the headmaster: his school being run by himself alone. His life described is quite a contrast to what teachers see today. "...his worldly effects (are) tied up in a cotton handkerchief," while he lives on a different farmstead each week. He is not just a teacher, but helps the farms with the menial labour which is never ending. He is a gossip. Despite all the good words describing him, it is then written that,
he was a perfect master of Cotton Mather's "History of New England Witchcraft," in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently believed.which is one wicked piece of writing.
Another character, Katrina Van Tassel, described as a coquette (flirt) for wearing a
provokingly short petticoat, to display the prettiest foot and ankle in the country round.But, all his efforts are for nothing: the more masculine Brom Bones was perhaps the only real contender while she may have used him as a means of motivating Brom to propose.
As Ichabod returns home, he is intercepted by Brom who pretends to be the Headless Horseman. He terrifies him so badly that he leaves and never returns.
The story has some really gorgeous descriptions of the settings in which the scenes are played out. But, I was a bit disappointed by the fact that the story wasn't really scary at all. The climax left me wanting.