|occhi_bella (occhi_bella) wrote in unknown_fandom,|
@ 2007-08-05 21:33:00
|Current music:||Modest Mouse - It's a Long Drive...|
|Entry tags:||fan fiction, sleepy hollow (movie)|
Fandom: Sleepy Hollow (movie)
Character/Pairing: Ichabod Crane
Prompt/Claim: sane/insane, third part of a multi-part story
Word Count: 1412
Disclaimer: Sleepy Hollow and its characters do not belong to me.
Link here for 1st part of fic.
Darkness had fallen over the city, and an uneasy quiet with it. Constable Jackson had set aside his paperwork and joined Ichabod for dinner, which consisted of bread, cheese and fruit from a nearby shop. Loathe to the idea of free-loading, Ichabod offered to assist with chores that evening in return for the food that the constable had paid for. Constable Jackson merely laughed and waved him off. Constable Thompson, who had overheard the exchange, immediately suggested that he could sweep all of the rooms.
“In a little while, Constable Drake will be back and I will take his place making the rounds on our block. You’re welcome to sleep in here on the floor again, although you may be more comfortable on a cot in one of the cells.”
Ichabod shuddered at the thought. Noticing his expression, Constable Jackson chuckled lightly.
“The cells here are not like the ones at the Broad Street Watch House. They’re fairly clean, in fact.”
“Why is that?”
“This is more of a debtors’ prison. Most of the inmates in these cells cannot pay their creditors, and so they’ve been incarcerated here, but not under lock and key. They’re allowed to come and go as they please, to find work.”
“New York has become an overcrowded place, and the administrators still have not figured out how to account for that. New buildings are being erected, but only the rich can afford them. There is much quarreling among the citizens and even the leaders of the town disagree with each other on matters of government. Many are down on their luck and crime has become rampant. It’s a sad state of affairs.”
“What is Canvas Town?” Ichabod inquired after some hesitation.
An expression of surprise crossed Constable Jackson’s features.
“I overheard you speaking of it as I was coming upstairs.”
“During the revolution, fires raged here in New York. Most of the houses were destroyed and there was a great shortage. A cluster of tents and shanties rose up on Broad Street as many citizens were forced to resort to squat in makeshift accommodations. There were not enough homes to go round, and the rentals rose so high that many couldn’t afford the lodgings that were available. The price of food, firewood, everything soared and Canvas Town became an area infested with crime and vice. Crime was the only means to their survival. It was for this reason that the first Watch House was built on Broad Street. Now that very same street is becoming one of the most fashionable in the city. The squatters were pushed out of the area by the building developers.”
“Where are they now?”
“They were forced to relocate to the outer-most boundaries of the city. East along the river and north, off of upper Broadway. Near here. Unfortunates such as them are an eyesore to the more fortunate men. They don’t want to see it and so the less fortunate are segregated.” Constable Jackson sighed heavily. “There are many ills in this world, Young Crane.”
Ichabod fell silent, musing on the conversation that he’d overheard between the two constables earlier. Constable Jackson appeared to be remarkable and a sense of awe pervaded him as he reflected on his luck in crossing paths with this man.
“I merely guide them in the right direction, to give them a fighting chance. They come here with nothing. But if given the opportunity to find work and learn a profession, maybe we won’t have so many of them living in Canvas Town, or worse, in our jail cells.”
Every word that he’d said to Constable Thompson was burned into Ichabod’s memory. This was someone who cared about people as well as his occupation. He couldn’t help but be impressed by this for he knew all too well that the world was a frightening and cruel place, full of people that were motivated by fear and greed.
His father, Reverend Crane, was a devoutly religious minister and Ichabod grew up in a small town on the outskirts of Hartford with a strict Calvinist upbringing. He was required to attend his father’s services on Sunday, but one day he found that a void had formed within him and he no longer knew what to believe. The words of fear and sin, faith and salvation that his father expounded on before the congregants in the severe white chapel rang with emptiness in his ears, devoid of meaning.
That was a long time ago, when he was very young, seven, perhaps. His mother died when he was seven; one day she was there, the next day she was gone and he never saw her again. Vague recollections of images of the funeral haunted him at times, bringing on severe, unbearable headaches which required him to retire to bed, often for an entire day. Sleep assuaged the pain and erased the shadows of memory that lurked just behind his consciousness.
Several scars on his back bore witness to the brutal beatings and lashes that he received at Reverend Crane’s hand, meant for his own good and salvation. Frightened and apprehensive that he would unknowingly commit some offense that would inspire a beating, young Ichabod withdrew, keeping to himself most of the time and shunning the company of others. He spent his waking hours alone, reading, exploring and learning about his surroundings, nursing an injured baby cardinal back to health and keeping him as his own.
Although they were not wealthy, the reverend saw to it that his son was educated, the one thing for which Ichabod was grateful to him. Sensitive and quiet, smaller than other boys and slight of build, he became a target among his schoolmates. But he learned to read and write and, confident in his abilities and intellect, which he knew to be far beyond those of his peers, he rose above their bullying.
Possessing a brilliant, agile mind and a thirst for knowledge he devoured books on every subject under the sun. Absorbed in his reading, the cruelty of his father and of the world around him faded away, if only temporarily. Books of science and medicine intrigued him and with wonder he discovered new, more sensible explanations for the phenomena around him. He lost himself in the epics of Homer and Virgil, memorized and took to heart the ancient teachings of Plato and Aristotle, and eagerly embraced the philosophies of modern, enlightened men such as Beccaria and Montesquieu, in whose writings reason and logic prevailed.
He’d already read through Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments several times when he was old enough to realize that the reverend and the other elders of the town used devices of torture to punish men, and less frequently women, who stood accused of a crime. Beccaria had denounced this method of punishment. He advocated the idea that all men must be assumed innocent until they are proven guilty and that torture was not a means with which to discover a man’s guilt; only reasonable and undeniable evidence could prove it and the punishment ought to fit the crime. Ichabod had internalized this philosophy and made it his own.
Horrified by the revelation of this barbaric treatment of people whose crimes hadn’t yet been proven, hesitant to speak out for fear of his father’s wrath, and physically sickened by the sight of the frightening-looking contraptions that they used, Ichabod wished to put himself as far away from his father and the other leaders as possible. He, too, had read the Bible, had listened to passages read in church by his father, and he had learned that Christ taught the way of peace, compassion, mercy. How could supposedly sane men who claimed to worship Him and follow His teachings justify torturing their fellow human beings?
“Are you alright?”
Ichabod started as Constable Jackson’s voice brought him back to the present. The elder man was studying his face closely and the young man attempted to regain his composure quickly.
“Yes. Thank you.” His throat was constricted, his voice choked. “I…you’ve been very kind to me. I appreciate it.”
But it was not only his kindness for which Ichabod was grateful to this man. He appreciated his candor, his easy-going manner and his sensibility. And Constable Jackson respected his privacy. He had not asked one question about the circumstances from which he’d come, nor had he pried into why he’d left home.
Perhaps he could have some faith in humanity after all.