‘The Bold Dragoon, Or The Adventure Of My Grandfather’ by Washington Irving

The Bold Dragoon, Or The Adventure Of My Grandfather by Washington Irving, 1824

The magic trick:

Combining comedy, character study, and horror

These comic ghost stories by Washington Irving are legendary. Obviously. We all know this. They’re wonderful. The risk they run, though, is that sometimes the comical aspects overtake the ghostly ones. In “The Bold Dragoon,” Irving does such a wonderful job of setting the scene and creating the character of the grandfather, the ghost story part almost feels like an afterthought. But let’s focus on the positive: what a job of settling into the scene. The grandfather and his ability to ingratiate himself into the home – particularly with the ladies – is vividly drawn. Certainly, that will be my lasting memory when I think back on this story. And that’s quite a trick on Irving’s part.

The selection:

My grandfather rode jollily along, in his easy slashing way, for he was a saucy, sunshiny fellow-staring about him at the motley crowd, and the old houses with gabel ends to the street and storks’ nests on the chimneys; winking at the ya vrouws who showed their faces at the windows, and joking the women right and left in the street; all of whom laughed and took it in amazing good part; for though he did not know a word of their language, yet he had always a knack of making himself understood among the women.


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