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the place combined to produce in the mind of Ichabod those superstitious terrors which made him an easy victim to the practical prank of his rival. Had the writer failed to present these clearly, the story would be greatly lacking in interest.
Read the first and second paragraphs of “Ichabod Crane’s Ride,” for an understanding of the influence which the time and place had upon the incidents related.
Order of Arrangement. When the time and place have been properly explained, the next consideration is in what order to present the incidents. If the narrative be the account of a single series of incidents, the natural order to follow would be the time order: what took place first, what happened next, and so on. When several incidents take place simultaneously, it is often necessary to go back in point of time in the narrative to tell what was taking place at the same time, and in such cases the time order of these different incidents should be distinctly stated to prevent confusion. For example, in narrating the rescue of a drowning man, as already suggested, it might be necessary for clear presentation of the facts to go back in time a few moments after telling of the needed preparations for the rescue, such as securing a rope and loosening a boat from its moorings, in order to tell what the man in the water was doing during this time.
Read the incidents narrated in the following, beginning with the third paragraph and notice that the order in which they took place is preserved.
ICHABOD CRANE'S RIDE It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crestfallen, pursued his travel homewards along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above
Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour as dismal as himseli. Far below him the Tappan Zee spread its dusky and indistinct waste of waters, with here and there the tall mast of a sloop riding at anchor under the land. In the dead hush of midnight he could even hear the barking of the watch-dog from the opposite shore of the Hudson; but it was so vague and faint as only to give an idea of his distance from this faithful companion of man. Now and then too the longdrawn crowing of a cock, accidentally awakened, would sound far, far off, from some farmhouse away among the hills
but it was like a dreaming sound in his ear. No sign of life occurred near him, but occasionally the melancholy chirp of a cricket, or perhaps the guttural twang of a bullfrog from a neighboring marsh, as if sleeping uncomfortably, and turning suddenly in his bed.
All the stories of ghosts and goblins that he had heard in the afternoon now came crowding upon his recollection. The night grew darker and darker; the stars seemed to sink deeper in the sky, and driving clouds occasionally hid them from his sight. He had never felt so lonely and dismal. He was, moreover, approaching the very place where many of the scenes of the ghost stories had been laid. In the center of the road stood an enormous tulip-tree, which towered like a giant above all the other trees of the neighborhood, and formed a kind of landmark. Its limbs were gnarled and fantastic, large enough to form trunks for ordinary trees, twisting down almost to the earth and rising again into the air. It was connected with the tragical story of the unfortunate André, who had been taken prisoner hard by, and was universally known as Major André's tree. The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out 'of sympathy for the fate of its ill-starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights and doleful lamentations told concerning it.
The schoolmaster now bestowed both whip and heel upon the starveling ribs of old Gunpowder, who dashed forward, snuffing and snorting, but came to a sudden stand just by the bridge with a suddenness which had nearly sent his rider sprawling over his head. Just at this moment a
plashy tramp at the side of the bridge caught the sensitive ear of Ichabod. In the dark shadow of the grove, on the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, misshapen, black, and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom, like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveler.
The hair of the affrighted pedagogue rose upon his head with terror. What was to be done? To turn and fly was too late. Summoning up, therefore, a show of courage, he demanded in stammering accents,
“Who are you?” He received no reply. He repeated his demand in a still more agitated voice. Still there was answer.
Once more he cudgeled the sides of the inflexible Gunpowder, and, shutting his eyes, he broke forth with involuntary fervor into a psalm tune. Just then the shadowy object of alarm put itself in motion, and, with a scramble and a bound, stood at once in the middle of the road. Though the night was dark and dismal, yet the form of the unknown might now in some degree be ascertained. He appeared to be a horseman of large dimensions, and mounted on a black horse of powerful frame. He made no offer of molestation or sociability, but kept along on one side of the road.
Ichabod, who had no relish for this strange midnight companion, now quickened his steed in hopes of leaving him behind. The stranger quickened his horse to an equal pace. Ichabod pulled up, and fell into a walk thinking to lag behind. The other did the same. His heart began to sink within him. He endeavored to resume his psalm tune, but his parched tongue clove to the roof of his mouth and he could not utter a stave. There was something -in the moody and dogged silence of his pertinacious companion that was mysterious and appalling. It was soon fearfully accounted for. On mounting a rising ground, which brought the figure of his fellow-traveler in relief against the sky, gigantic in height and muffled in a cloak, Ichabod was horror-struck on perceiving that he was headless ! But his horror was still more increased on observing that the head that should have rested on the shoulders was carried before him on the pommel of his saddle. Ichabod's terror rose to desperation. He rained a shower of kicks and blows upon Gunpowder, hoping by a sudden movement to give his companion the slip. But the specter started full jump with him. Away they dashed, through thick and thin, stones flying and sparks flashing at every bound.
An opening in the trees now cheered Ichabod with the hope that the church bridge was at hand. The wavering reflection of a single star in the bosom of the brook told him that he was not mistaken.
“If I can but reach the bridge," thought Ichabod, "I shall be safe.” Just then he heard the black steed puffing and blowing close behind him; he even fancied that he felt his hot breath. Another convulsive kick in the ribs, and old Gunpowder sprang upon the bridge; he thundered over the resounding planks; he gained the opposite side; and now Ichabod cast a look behind to see if his pursuer should vanish, according to rule in a flash of fire and brimstone. Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups and in the very act of hurling his head at him. Ichabod endeavored to dodge the horrible missile, but too late. It encountered his cranium with a tremendous crash. He was tumbled headlong into the dust, and Gunpowder, the black steed, and the goblin rider passed by like a whirlwind.
From “ Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” WASHINGTON IRVING. Action in Narration. — Since narration treats of what happens or is done, there must always be action in a narrative, in order that one who listens may seem to see the incidents taking place before him. A story, to hold the attention and interest, must present in the telling the same activity that was present in the incidents related. Often the action of a narrative must move with great rapidity in order to be a truthful presentation of incidents that happened in quick succession, and in this case many words that express action will be used. Action in narration should not be allowed to lag; and when description and explanation must be given, they should be as brief as a clear presentation will allow, in order that the connection between the incidents may not be broken.
Notice how many words in the following short narrative express action, and how clearly each represents the action named:
The Christmas Dinner Mrs. Cratchit made the gravy (ready beforehand in a little saucepan) hissing hot; Master Peter mashed the potatoes with incredible vigor; Miss Belinda sweetened up the apple-sauce; Martha dusted the hot plates; Bob took Tiny Tim beside him in a tiny corner of the table; the two young Cratchits set chairs for everybody, not forgetting themselves, and, mounting guard upon their posts, crammed spoons into their mouths, lest they should shriek for goose before their time came to be served. At last the dishes were set on and grace was said. It was succeeded by a breathless pause, as Mrs. Cratchit looked all along the carving-knife, prepared to plunge it into the breast of the goose; but when she did and when the longexpected gush of stuffing issued forth, one murmur of delight arose all round the board, and even Tiny Tim, excited by the two young Cratchits, beat on the table with the handle of his knife and feebly cried, Hurrah !
From “ Christmas at the Cratchits'." – CHARLES DICKENS.
Exercises in Oral Narration
1. Relate some incident in your experience which may be suggested by one of the following subjects:
My Part in a Game of Football or Baseball.
2. Select one of the following subjects and give a true or an imaginary account of the event, making the main incident prominent:
Finding a Purse on the Street.