Lina then saw Mr. von Essen sitting by the mill pond as he read from a small book. When she smiled, raising a hand in greeting, he tipped his hat and stood up from the grass.

“Miss Evangeline,” he greeted her.

“Our new schoolmaster, Mr. von Essen,” she gave a small curtsy in reply as she turned to introduce the two gentlemen to each other, “This is Mr. Irving, one of my friends from New York City.”

The schoolmaster held out his hand, “How do you do, Mr. Irving,”

“How do you do,” Mr. Irving smiled as he shook his hand, “Miss Lina, I believe I ought to see what my brother is up to.”

“Very well,” Lina smiled, and she saw Mr. Irving walk away before she turned to Mr. von Essen, “Do you not have classes today?”

“We just finished,” he held up the small book he was reading, “I found myself wanting to read my favorites again.”

She strained to read the cover of his book. “Shakespeare?” Her face lit up, “Which one is your favorite of his works?”

He smiled, “It’s quite tragic, but I feel quite partial to Hamlet.”

Her brow furrowed with recognition of the name, “That’s the one with ‘to be or not to be’, isn’t it?”

“That’s it,” he nodded, “Are you familiar with it?”

“I merely perused it,” she admitted, “I prefer ones like Romeo and Juliet, but my favorite is A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

He smiled with an arched brow, “‘I see Queen Mab hath been with you’,” The reference to Mercutio was not lost on Lina, and a giggle escaped. “Is it the fairies that intrigue you?”

She nodded as they sat back down on the grass. “They are both whimsical and dangerous, but they don’t seem to mean harm to people. Compared to those like Hamlet or Macbeth, it seems much more diverting. I always see a warning in Macbeth.” She cut herself short at that. How silly she was to prattle on and on!

Mr. von Essen, however, didn’t seem to be bothered with her brief monologue, and prompted, “How so?”

She shrugged, “The witches’ spell—‘something wicked this way comes’. You probably have heard of the haunted legends in the town by now.”

“Enough of them,” he hedged.

She suspected he was merely being gentle with his words, but she granted a small pardon for that time. “Well, it feels like something wicked may come to Sleepy Hollow, if it hasn’t already. The rumors of the village being cursed have been around even before I was born.”

He nodded, “The hauntings here may even predate the arrival of Europeans to this area. What about Hamlet?”

“When I read it, the idea of ghosts scared me. Maybe reading it now would not discomfit me, but it’s hard to make out the meaning of the Middle English.”

He smiled, “I might be able to help you. Mrs. Van Ripper suggested you were interested in tutoring. Perhaps I could tutor you in Shakespeare’s works as well as psalmody.”

It was Lina’s turn to grin broadly, “That would be quite lovely!”


I hope you enjoyed this bit from The Hollow Bones! Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Thank you so much for stopping by! Until next time, stay magical, everyone!


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