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Short Story: “Rip Van Winkle” Author: Washington Irving, 1783–1859 First published: 1819 Illustrations first published: 1863 The original story and illustrations are in the public domain in the United States and in most, if not all, other countries as well. Readers outside the United States should check their own countries’ copyright laws to be certain they can legally download this ebook. The Online Books Page has an FAQ which gives a summary of copyright durations for many other countries, as well as links to more official sources. This PDF ebook was created by José Menéndez.

“Rip Van Winkle” first appeared in Washington Irving’s collection of stories, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., published in 1819. The text and illustrations used in this ebook are from the revised edition of the Sketch Book, published in 1863.



[The following Tale was found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker. an old gentleman of New York. From whence comes Wensday. His historical researches. who was very curious in the Dutch history of the province.By Woden. Truth is a thing that ever I will keep Unto thylke day in which I creep into My sepulchre— CARTWRIGHT. A POSTHUMOUS WRITING OF DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER. God of Saxons. that is Wodensday. however. and the manners of the descendants from its primitive settlers. for the former are lamentably scanty 5 . did not lie so much among books as among men.

whose good opinion is well worth having. under a spreading sycamore. and though it did now and then kick up the dust a little in the eyes of his neighbors. rich in that legendary lore. yet his errors and follies are remembered “more in sorrow than in anger. that his time might have been much better employed in weightier labors. who have gone so far as to imprint his likeness on their new-year cakes. almost equal to the being stamped on a Waterloo Medal. particularly by certain biscuit-bakers. it cannot do much harm to his memory to say. for whom he felt the truest deference and affection. he happened upon a genuine Dutch family. however. that he never intended to injure or offend. and have thus given him a chance for immortality. or a Queen Anne’s Farthing. Its chief merit is its scrupulous accuracy. therefore. and studied it with the zeal of a book-worm. which indeed was a little questioned. on its first appearance. he looked upon it as a little clasped volume of black-letter. but has since been completely established. snugly shut up in its low-roofed farm-house. The old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his work. which he published some years since. The result of all these researches was a history of the province during the reign of the Dutch governors. and grieve the spirit of some friends. and still more their wives. it is not a whit better than it should be. so invaluable to true history.] . whereas he found the old burghers. Whenever. and it is now admitted into all historical collections. There have been various opinions as to the literary character of his work. to tell the truth. as a book of unquestionable authority. it is still held dear among many folk. was apt to ride his hobby his own way. He. But however his memory may be appreciated by critics. and now that he is dead and gone.” and it begins to be suspected.6 RIP VAN WINKLE on his favorite topics. and.

Every change of season. and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky. they are clothed in blue and purple. produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains. and lording it over the surrounding country. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family. far and near. but W . and are seen away to the west of the river. When the weather is fair and settled. indeed every hour of the day. swelling up to a noble height. as perfect barometers. and they are regarded by all the good wives.WASHINGTON IRVING 7 HOEVER has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Kaatskill mountains. every change of weather.

they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits. (may he rest in peace!) and there were some of the houses of the original settlers standing within a few years. be considered a tolerable blessing. The children of the village. in some respects. he was. who are under the discipline of shrews at home. a simple good-natured fellow. of great antiquity. A termagant wife may. and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina. and a curtain lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering. just about the beginning of the government of the good Peter Stuyvesant. surmounted with weathercocks. as usual with the amiable sex. and in one of these very houses (which. would shout with joy whenever he approached. Their tempers. while the country was yet a province of Great Britain. to tell the precise truth.8 RIP VAN WINKLE sometimes. It is a little village. of the name of Rip Van Winkle. and an obedient hen-pecked husband. having been founded by some of the Dutch colonists. Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed. however. the voyager may have descried the light smoke curling up from a village. will glow and light up like a crown of glory. In that same village. took his part in all family squabbles. to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity. are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation. which. Certain it is. in the last rays of the setting sun. and never failed. was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten). for those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad. built of small yellow bricks brought from Holland. doubtless. who. and if so. there lived many years since. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant. therefore. I have observed that he was a simple good-natured man. whenever they talked those matters over in their evening gossipings. that he was a great favorite among all the good wives of the village. to lay all the blame on Dame Van Winkle. when the rest of the landscape is cloudless. having latticed windows and gable fronts. He inherited. just where the blue tints of the upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape. . moreover. whose shingle-roofs gleam among the trees. too. a kind neighbor. in the early times of the province. but little of the martial character of his ancestors. At the foot of these fairy mountains. Indeed.

and fish all day without a murmur. He would never refuse to assist a neighbor even in the roughest toil. or building stone-fences. Whenever he went dodging about the village. and up hill and down dale. and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity. taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles. trudging through woods and swamps. the women of the village. and told them long stories of ghosts. even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble. to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons. and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood. He would carry a fowlingpiece on his shoulder for hours together. It could not be from the want of assiduity or perseverance. and was a foremost man at all country frolics for husking Indian corn. The great error in Rip’s composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. too. clambering on his back. and Indians. made their playthings. witches. used to employ . with a rod as long and heavy as a Tartar’s lance. he was surrounded by a troop of them. hanging on his skirts.WASHINGTON IRVING 9 He assisted at their sports. for he would sit on a wet rock.

shook his head. and would go wrong. her tongue was incessantly going. whichever can be got with least thought or trouble. His children. it was the most pestilent little piece of ground in the whole country. every thing about it went wrong. Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind. in truth. the rain always made a point of setting in just as he had some outdoor work to do. he would have whistled life away in perfect contentment. and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. and the ruin he was bringing on his family. If left to himself. and take to the outside of the house—the only side which. and that. He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother’s heels. he found it impossible. of foolish. equipped in a pair of his father’s cast-off galligaskins. yet it was the worst-conditioned farm in the neighborhood. was one of those happy mortals. but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness. his carelessness. weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else. well-oiled dispositions. acre by acre. and to do such little odd jobs as their less obliging husbands would not do for them. This. or get among the cabbages. his cow would either go astray. however. In a word. had grown into a habit. and every thing he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence. as a fine lady does her train in bad weather. but as to doing family duty. in spite of him. His son Rip. and night. however. he declared it was of no use to work on his farm. cast up his eyes. Morning. an urchin begotten in his own likeness. eat white bread or brown. too. Rip was ready to attend to anybody’s business but his own. always provoked a fresh volley from his wife. until there was little more left than a mere patch of Indian corn and potatoes. but said nothing. and keeping his farm in order. noon. so that he was fain to draw off his forces. His fences were continually falling to pieces. Rip Van Winkle. promised to inherit the habits. which he had much ado to hold up with one hand. In fact. . who take the world easy. so that though his patrimonial estate had dwindled away under his management. by frequent use.10 RIP VAN WINKLE him to run their errands. with the old clothes of his father. He shrugged his shoulders. were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody. belongs to a hen-pecked husband.

WASHINGTON IRVING 11 Rip’s sole domestic adherent was his dog Wolf. as the cause of his master’s going so often astray. who was as much henpecked as his master. his tail drooped to the ground or curled between his legs. and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use. for Dame Van Winkle regarded them as companions in idleness. by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of the sages. True it is. For a long while he used to console himself. and at the least flourish of a broomstick or ladle. and even looked upon Wolf with an evil eye. in all points of spirit befitting an honorable dog. when driven from home. he would fly to the door with yelping precipitation. he was as courageous an animal as ever scoured the woods—but what courage can withstand the ever-during and all-besetting terrors of a woman’s tongue? The moment Wolf entered the house his crest fell. Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of matrimony rolled on. casting many a sidelong glance at Dame Van Winkle. and other . philosophers. he sneaked about with a gallows air. a tart temper never mellows with age.

and how sagely they would deliberate upon public events some months after they had taken place. which held its sessions on a bench before a small inn. as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel. just moving sufficiently to avoid the sun and keep in the shade of a large tree. a dapper. But it would have been worth any statesman’s money to have heard the profound discussions that sometimes took place when by chance an old newspaper fell into their hands from some passing traveller. The opinions of this junto were completely controlled by Nicholas Vedder. or telling endless sleepy stories about nothing. lazy summer’s day. How solemnly they would listen to the contents. so that the neighbors . Here they used to sit in the shade through a long. and landlord of the inn. learned little man. at the door of which he took his seat from morning till night. the schoolmaster. who was not to be daunted by the most gigantic word in the dictionary. designated by a rubicund portrait of His Majesty George the Third. talking listlessly over village gossip. a patriarch of the village.12 RIP VAN WINKLE idle personages of the village.

and his only alternative. he threw himself. and if dogs can feel pity I verily believe he reciprocated the sentiment with all his heart. to escape from the labor of the farm and the clamor of his wife. whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend to stand by thee!” Wolf would wag his tail. and emit it in light and placid clouds. In a long ramble of the kind on a fine autumnal day. “Poor Wolf. When any thing that was read or related displeased him. perfectly understood him. who would suddenly break in upon the tranquillity of the assemblage. and knew how to gather his opinions. he was observed to smoke his pipe vehemently. nor was that august personage. he would inhale the smoke slowly and tranquilly. but never mind. but when pleased. who charged him outright with encouraging her husband in habits of idleness. He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson. sacred from the daring tongue of this terrible virago. with whom he sympathized as a fellow-sufferer in persecution. “thy mistress leads thee a dog’s life of it. and to send forth short. It is true. and angry puffs. and call the members all to nought. however. moving on its silent but majestic course. he was rarely heard to speak. that crowned the brow of a precipice. but smoked his pipe incessantly. covered with mountain herbage. From an opening between the trees he could overlook all the lower country for many a mile of rich woodland. and the still solitudes had echoed and re-echoed with the reports of his gun. From even this stronghold the unlucky Rip was at length routed by his termagant wife. my lad. (for every great man has his adherents). far below him. with the .WASHINGTON IRVING 13 could tell the hour by his movements as accurately as by a sun-dial. Nicholas Vedder himself. taking the pipe from his mouth. late in the afternoon. Rip had unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Kaatskill mountains. Panting and fatigued. and letting the fragrant vapor curl about his nose. and sometimes. His adherents. He was after his favorite sport of squirrel shooting. was to take gun in hand and stroll away into the woods. Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair. far. frequent. look wistfully in his master’s face. on a green knoll. would gravely nod his head in token of perfect approbation. Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a tree.” he would say. and share the contents of his wallet with Wolf.

and turned again to descend. As he was about to descend. wild. Rip now felt a vague apprehension stealing over him.14 RIP VAN WINKLE reflection of a purple cloud. they clambered up a narrow gully. “Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!” He looked round. he hastened down to yield it. he saw that it would be dark long before he could reach the village. lonely. with thick bushy hair. and mutually relieving one another. when he heard the same cry ring through the still evening air: “Rip Van Winkle! Rip Van Winkle!”—at the same time Wolf bristled up his back. and bending under the weight of something he carried on his back. here and there sleeping on its glassy bosom. Though rather shy and distrustful of this new acquaintance. the outer one of ample volume. As they ascended. he was still more surprised at the singularity of the stranger’s appearance. that seemed full of liquor. For some time Rip lay musing on this scene. the bottom filled with fragments from the impending cliffs. decorated with rows of buttons down the sides and bunches at the knees. He was a short. He bore on his shoulder a stout keg. he heard a voice from a distance hallooing. looking fearfully down into the glen. His dress was of the antique Dutch fashion—a cloth jerkin strapped round the waist—several pairs of breeches. he looked anxiously in the same direction. but could see nothing but a crow winging its solitary flight across the mountain. and made signs for Rip to approach and assist him with the load. the mountains began to throw their long blue shadows over the valleys. and shagged. Rip every now and then heard long . and giving a low growl. On nearer approach. but supposing it to be some one of the neighborhood in need of his assistance. On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen. He thought his fancy must have deceived him. square-built old fellow. Rip complied with his usual alacrity. evening was gradually advancing. and at last losing itself in the blue highlands. skulked to his master’s side. and he heaved a heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame Van Winkle. He was surprised to see any human being in this lonely and unfrequented place. and perceived a strange figure slowly toiling up the rocks. and a grizzled beard. apparently the dry bed of a mountain torrent. or the sail of a lagging bark. and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of the setting sun.

Passing through the ravine. of various shapes and colors. echoed along the mountains like rumbling peals of thunder. yet they maintained the gravest face. which. surrounded by perpendicular precipices. What seemed particularly odd to Rip was. he proceeded. or rather cleft. withal. the most mysterious silence. toward which their rugged path conducted. whenever they were rolled.WASHINGTON IRVING 15 rolling peals. between lofty rocks. were peculiar. red stockings. Rip and his companion had labored on in silence. he wore a laced doublet. like distant thunder. in the parlor of Dominie Van Schaick. They were dressed in quaint outlandish fashion. that though these folks were evidently amusing themselves. high-crowned hat and feather. others jerkins. broad face. and small piggish eyes. On a level spot in the centre was a company of odd-looking personages playing at nine-pins. and which had been brought over from Holland at the time of the settlement. and the bright evening cloud. the village parson. . yet there was something strange and incomprehensible about the unknown. There was one who seemed to be the commander. the face of another seemed to consist entirely of nose. with long knives in their belts. with a weather-beaten countenance. broad belt and hanger. over the brinks of which impending trees shot their branches. During the whole time. He paused for an instant. and were. so that you only caught glimpses of the azure sky. and was surmounted by a white sugar-loaf hat. and high-heeled shoes. of similar style with that of the guide’s. they came to a hollow. the most melancholy party of pleasure he had ever witnessed. Their visages. one had a large head. that seemed to issue out of a deep ravine. They all had beards. and most of them had enormous breeches. like a small amphitheatre. On entering the amphitheatre. set off with a little red cock’s tail. for though the former marvelled greatly what could be the object of carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain. He was a stout old gentleman. Nothing interrupted the stillness of the scene but the noise of the balls. The whole group reminded Rip of the figures in an old Flemish painting. with roses in them. new objects of wonder presented themselves. that inspired awe and checked familiarity. too. some wore short doublets. but supposing it to be the muttering of one of those transient thunder-showers which often take place in the mountain heights.

and stared at him with such fixed. when no eye was fixed upon him. they quaffed the liquor in profound silence. that his heart turned within him. he found himself stiff in the joints. “and if this . they suddenly desisted from their play. well-oiled fowling-piece. but all in vain. By degrees Rip’s awe and apprehension subsided. He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening’s gambol.16 RIP VAN WINKLE As Rip and his companion approached them. The strange man with a keg of liquor— the mountain ravine—the wild retreat among the rocks—the woebegone party at nine-pins—the flagon—“Oh! that flagon! that wicked flagon!” thought Rip—“what excuse shall I make to Dame Van Winkle?” He looked round for his gun. Wolf. He obeyed with fear and trembling. lack-lustre countenances. “Surely. and breasting the pure mountain breeze. the echoes repeated his whistle and shout. and then returned to their game. and the stock worm-eaten. and his knees smote together.” He recalled the occurrences before he fell asleep. and if he met with any of the party. and he fell into a deep sleep.” thought Rip. He now suspected that the grave roysterers of the mountain had put a trick upon him. As he rose to walk. His companion now emptied the contents of the keg into large flagons. to taste the beverage. he found an old firelock lying by him. He whistled after him and shouted his name. He even ventured. his eyes swam in his head. and made signs to him to wait upon the company. and wanting in his usual activity. the lock falling off. and was soon tempted to repeat the draught. too. his head gradually declined. “I have not slept here all night. uncouth. The birds were hopping and twittering among the bushes. and such strange. but he might have strayed away after a squirrel or partridge. He was naturally a thirsty soul. which he found had much of the flavor of excellent Hollands. and having dosed him with liquor. “These mountain beds do not agree with me. he found himself on the green knoll whence he had first seen the old man of the glen. the barrel incrusted with rust. to demand his dog and gun. He rubbed his eyes—it was a bright sunny morning. had disappeared. and the eagle was wheeling aloft.” thought Rip. One taste provoked another. had robbed him of his gun. statue-like gaze. but no dog was to be seen. but in place of the clean. and he reiterated his visits to the flagon so often that at length his senses were overpowered. On waking.

The constant recurrence of this gesture induced Rip. however. which somewhat surprised him. hooting after him. black from the shadows of the surrounding forest. He. At length he reached to where the ravine had opened through the cliffs to the amphitheatre. but none whom he new. The rocks presented a high impenetrable wall. and witchhazel. working his toilsome way through thickets of birch. but no traces of such opening remained. with a heart full of trouble and anxiety. Here.” With some difficulty he got down into the glen: he found the gully up which he and his companion had ascended the preceding evening. but to his astonishment a mountain stream was now foaming down it. and spread a kind of network in his path. . and Rip felt famished for want of his breakfast. too. shouldered the rusty firelock. to his astonishment. A troop of strange children ran at his heels. involuntarily. I shall have a blessed time with Dame Van Winkle. made shift to scramble up its sides. but it would not do to starve among the mountains. leaping from rock to rock. poor Rip was brought to a stand. sassafras. and fell into a broad deep basin. he was only answered by the cawing of a flock of idle crows. seemed to look down and scoff at the poor man’s perplexities. What was to be done? the morning was passing away. too. not one of which he recognized for an old acquaintance. over which the torrent came tumbling in a sheet of feathery foam. then. They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise. sporting high in the air about a dry tree that overhung a sunny precipice. He grieved to give up his dog and gun. turned his steps homeward. Their dress. he dreaded to meet his wife. and who. secure in their elevation. and. and whenever they cast their eyes upon him. was of a different fashion from that to which he was accustomed. and sometimes tripped up or entangled by the wild grape-vines that twisted their coils or tendrils from tree to tree. and filling the glen with babbling murmurs. for he had thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round. invariably stroked their chins. He again called and whistled after his dog. when. to do the same. and pointing at his gray beard.WASHINGTON IRVING 17 frolic should lay me up with a fit of the rheumatism. He shook his head. The dogs. As he approached the village he met a number of people. he found his beard had grown a foot long! He had now entered the skirts of the village.

which he approached with silent awe. The very village was altered. His mind now misgave him. and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before. Strange names were over the doors—strange faces at the windows—every thing was strange. There stood the Kaatskill mountains—there ran the silver Hudson at a distance—there was every hill and dale precisely as it had always been—Rip was sorely perplexed—“That flagon last night. expecting every moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle.” thought he. He found the house gone to decay—the roof fallen in. which he had left but the day before. it was larger and more populous. A halfstarved dog that looked like Wolf was skulking about it. and the doors off the hinges. Surely this was his native village. the windows shattered. “has addled my poor head sadly!” It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house.18 RIP VAN WINKLE barked at him as he passed. he began to doubt whether both he and the world around him were not bewitched. Rip called him by .

“has forgotten me!” He entered the house.” Instead of the great tree that used to shelter the quiet little Dutch inn of yore. naked pole. a sword was held in the hand instead of a sceptre. The red coat was changed for one of blue and buff. and underneath was painted in large characters. but the cur snarled.WASHINGTON IRVING 19 name. the head was decorated with a cocked hat. a crowd of folk about the door. but even this was singularly metamorphosed. however. GENERAL WASHINGTON. but none that Rip recollected. There was a busy. which. The very character of the people seemed changed. and an army of women and children at his heels. and passed on. He looked in vain for the sage Nicholas Vedder. on which was a singular assemblage of stars and stripes— all this was strange and incomprehensible. some of them broken and mended with old hats and petticoats. with great gaping windows. with his long grizzled beard. by Jonathan Doolittle. and fair long pipe. showed his teeth. “The Union Hotel. It was empty. doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. A large rickety wooden building stood in its place. forlorn. instead of idle speeches. This was an unkind cut indeed. uttering clouds of tobacco smoke. his rusty fowlingpiece. bilious-looking fellow. bustling. and over the door was painted. a lean. In place of these.” sighed poor Rip. the village inn— but it too was gone. He now hurried forth. and hastened to his old resort. there now was reared a tall. with his broad face. with his pockets full of handbills. double chin. the ruby face of King George. and from it was fluttering a flag. was haranguing vehemently about rights of citizens—elections—members of Congress—liberty—Bunker’s hill—heroes of seventy-six—and other words. and apparently abandoned. There was. the schoolmaster. Dame Van Winkle had always kept in neat order. with something on the top that looked like a red night-cap. The appearance of Rip. . or Van Bummel. disputatious tone about it. which were a perfect Babylonish jargon to the bewildered Van Winkle. and then all again was silence. This desolateness overcame all his connubial fears—he called loudly for his wife and children—the lonely chambers rang for a moment with his voice. his uncouth dress. under which he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe. to tell the truth. He recognized on the sign. instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity.—“My very dog. as usual.

I don’t know—he never came back again. but that’s rotten and gone too. he went off to the army in the beginning of the war. inquired. “I am a poor quiet man. eying him from head to foot with great curiosity. Another short but busy little fellow pulled him by the arm. who are they? Name them. “Where’s Nicholas Vedder?” There was a silence for a little while. drawing him partly aside. having assumed a tenfold austerity of brow.” cried Rip. “Nicholas Vedder! why.20 RIP VAN WINKLE soon attracted the attention of the tavern politicians. They crowded round him. rising on tiptoe. and whom he was seeking? The poor man humbly assured him that he meant no harm. God bless him!” Here a general shout burst from the bystanders—“A tory! a tory! a spy! a refugee! hustle him! away with him!” It was with great difficulty that the self-important man in the cocked hat restored order. as it were. in an austere tone. and inquired. into his very soul. self-important old gentleman in a sharp cocked hat. “Well. and. the other resting on his cane. when a knowing. who used to keep about the tavern. and a loyal subject of the king. inquired in his ear. with one arm akimbo. he is dead and gone these eighteen years! There was a wooden tombstone in the churchyard that used to tell all about him. made his way through the crowd. The orator bustled up to him. a native of the place. and. demanded.” . and planting himself before Van Winkle. “on which side he voted?” Rip stared in vacant stupidity. and.” “Where’s Brom Dutcher?” “Oh. when an old man replied. piping voice.” Rip bethought himself a moment. in a thin. and whether he meant to breed a riot in the village?” “Alas! gentlemen. and a mob at his heels. what he came there for. “whether he was Federal or Democrat?” Rip was equally at a loss to comprehend the question. putting them to the right and left with his elbows as he passed. demanded again of the unknown culprit. “what brought him to the election with a gun on his shoulder. but merely came there in search of some of his neighbors. some say he was killed at the storming of Stony Point—others say he was drowned in a squall at the foot of Antony’s Nose. somewhat dismayed. his keen eyes and sharp hat penetrating.

” “And your father’s name?” . “I’m not myself—I’m somebody else—that’s me yonder—no—that’s somebody else got into my shoes—I was myself last night. at the very suggestion of which the self-important man in the cocked hat retired with some precipitation. and they’ve changed my gun. the old man won’t hurt you. was a great militia general. and I can’t tell what’s my name. nod. She had a chubby child in her arms. and every thing’s changed. or who I am!” The bystanders began now to look at each other. “hush. There was a whisper. and of matters which he could not understand: war—Congress—Stony Point. wink significantly. and certainly as ragged. and tap their fingers against their foreheads. “Judith Gardenier. by treating of such enormous lapses of time. as he went up the mountain: apparently as lazy. At this critical moment a fresh. began to cry. comely woman pressed through the throng to get a peep at the graybearded man. the tone of her voice. at his wit’s end. leaning against the tree. “Does nobody here know Rip Van Winkle?” “Oh. to be sure! that’s Rip Van Winkle yonder.” The name of the child. and beheld a precise counterpart of himself.” cried she. “Hush. and keeping the old fellow from doing mischief. and I’m changed. Every answer puzzled him too. also. but I fell asleep on the mountain. the schoolmaster?” “He went off to the wars.” Rip looked. you little fool. “What is your name. the man in the cocked hat demanded who he was. He doubted his own identity. about securing the gun. too. and is now in Congress. and what was his name? “God knows.—he had no courage to ask after any more friends. and whether he was himself or another man. all awakened a train of recollections in his mind. frightened at his looks. but cried out in despair. Rip. In the midst of his bewilderment. and finding himself thus alone in the world. Rip Van Winkle!” exclaimed two or three.” exclaimed he. “Oh. my good woman?” asked he. The poor fellow was now completely confounded.” Rip’s heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his home and friends. the air of the mother. which.WASHINGTON IRVING 21 “Where’s Van Bummel.

The honest man could contain himself no longer. Why. He assured the company that it was a fact. but it’s twenty years since he went away from home with his gun. old neighbor. put her hand to her brow. she too had died but a short time since. at least. Rip Van Winkle was his name. and peering under it in his face for a moment. who wrote one of the earliest accounts of the province. she broke a blood-vessel in a fit of passion at a New England peddler. He recollected Rip at once. who.” There was a drop of comfort.” Rip had but one question more to ask. or was carried away by the Indians. I was then but a little girl. exclaimed. He caught his daughter and her child in his arms. and shook his head—upon which there was a general shaking of the head throughout the assemblage. had returned to the field. who was seen slowly advancing up the road. The neighbors stared when they heard it. He was a descendant of the historian of that name. that the Kaatskill mountains had always been haunted by strange beings. handed down from his ancestor the historian. Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village. and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner. and never has been heard of since—his dog came home without him. screwed down the corners of his mouth. however. and well versed in all the wonderful events and traditions of the neighborhood.22 RIP VAN WINKLE “Ah! poor man. to take the opinion of old Peter Vanderdonk. and put their tongues in their cheeks: and the self-important man in the cocked hat. nobody can tell. but he put it with a faltering voice: “Where’s your mother?” “Oh. It was determined. tottering out from among the crowd. some were seen to wink at each other. where have you been these twenty long years?” Rip’s story was soon told. but whether he shot himself. for the whole twenty long years had been to him but as one night. “Sure enough! it is Rip Van Winkle—it is himself! Welcome home again. “I am your father!” cried he—“Young Rip Van Winkle once— old Rip Van Winkle now! Does nobody know poor Rip Van Winkle?” All stood amazed. when the alarm was over. until an old woman. That it was affirmed that the . in this intelligence.

he shook his head. the sound of their balls. Having nothing to do at home. or could be made to comprehend the strange events that had taken place during his torpor. the changes of states and empires made but little impression on him. instead of being a subject to his Majesty George the Third. How that there had been a revolutionary war—that the country had thrown off the yoke of old England—and that. Rip now resumed his old walks and habits. but evinced an hereditary disposition to attend to any thing else but his business. with whom be soon grew into great favor. she had a snug. who was the ditto of himself. he was now a free citizen of the United States. and was reverenced as one of the patriarchs of the village. whom Rip recollected for one of the urchins that used to climb upon his back. but there was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned. Rip. Rip’s daughter took him home to live with her. and preferred making friends among the rising generation. and cast up his eyes. however. and a stout. and could go in and out whenever he pleased. kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years. and that was—petticoat government. and keep a guardian eye upon the river. and that he himself had heard. the company broke up. That his father had once seen them in their old Dutch dresses playing at ninepins in a hollow of the mountain. which might . being permitted in this way to revisit the scenes of his enterprise. the first discoverer of the river and country. though all rather the worse for the wear and tear of time. and the great city called by his name. As to Rip’s son and heir. To make a long story short. Whenever her name was mentioned. he had got his neck out of the yoke of matrimony. like distant peals of thunder. shrugged his shoulders. he was employed to work on the farm. one summer afternoon. in fact. was no politician. and being arrived at that happy age when a man can be idle with impunity. well-furnished house. he took his place once more on the bench at the inn door. seen leaning against the tree. Happily that was at an end. he soon found many of his former cronies. without dreading the tyranny of Dame Van Winkle. with his crew of the Half-moon.” It was some time before he could get into the regular track of gossip. and returned to the more important concerns of the election. cheery farmer for a husband. and a chronicle of the old times “before the war.WASHINGTON IRVING 23 great Hendrick Hudson.

. and not a man. to vary on some points every time he told it. that they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle’s flagon. and insisted that Rip had been out of his head. however. The old Dutch inhabitants. when life hangs heavy on their hands. or child in the neighborhood. owing to his having so recently awaked. Even to this day they never hear a thunder-storm of a summer afternoon about the Kaatskill. at first. doubtless. or joy at his deliverance. woman. but they say Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their game of nine-pins. which was. Some always pretended to doubt the reality of it. Doolittle’s hotel. and it is a common wish of all hen-pecked husbands in the neighborhood. It at last settled down precisely to the tale I have related. and that this was one point on which he always remained flighty. almost universally gave it full credit. He used to tell his story to every stranger that arrived at Mr. but knew it by heart. He was observed.24 RIP VAN WINKLE pass either for an expression of resignation to his fate.

in the villages along the Hudson. I have seen a certificate on the subject taken before a country justice and signed with cross. one would suspect. I have even talked with Rip Van Winkle myself. all of which were too well authenticated to admit of a doubt. which he had appended to the tale. and the Kypphaüser mountain: the subjoined note. is beyond the possibility of doubt.WASHINGTON IRVING 25 NOTE. that I think no conscientious person could refuse to take this into the bargain. and so perfectly rational and consistent on every other point.” . K. The story. when I last saw him. “D. therefore. Indeed. in the justice’s own handwriting. I have heard many stranger stories than this. who. however. shows that it is an absolute fact. nay. but nevertheless I give it my full belief. narrated with his usual fidelity: “The story of Rip Van Winkle may seem incredible to many. for I know the vicinity of our old Dutch settlements to have been very subject to marvellous events and appearances. was a very venerable old man. Knickerbocker by a little German superstition about the Emperor Frederick der Rothbart. had been suggested to Mr. The foregoing Tale.

or Catskill Mountains. The Indians considered them the abode of spirits.26 RIP VAN WINKLE POSTSCRIPT. have always been a region full of fable. who influenced the weather. They were ruled by an old squaw spirit. The following are travelling notes from a memorandum-book of Mr. and cut up the old ones into . She hung up the new moons in the skies. said to be their mother. and sending good or bad hunting seasons. spreading sunshine or clouds over the landscape. She dwelt on the highest peak of the Catskills. and had charge of the doors of day and night. Knickerbocker: The Kaatsberg. to open and shut them at the proper hour.

dissolved by the heat of the sun. the fruits to ripen. from the flowering vines which clamber about it. with water-snakes basking in the sun on the leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on the surface. flake after flake. she would brew up clouds black as ink. is known by the name of the Garden Rock. lead the bewildered hunter a weary chase through tangled forests and among ragged rocks. there was a kind of Manitou or Spirit. like flakes of carded cotton. If displeased. It is a great rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the mountains. Near the foot of it is a small lake. if properly propitiated. until. or a deer. say the Indian traditions. Sometimes he would assume the form of a bear. The favorite abode of this Manitou is still shown. . however. they would fall in gentle showers. and. the haunt of the solitary bittern. who kept about the wildest recesses of the Catskill Mountains. and when these clouds broke. causing the grass to spring. and send them off from the crest of the mountain. woe betide the valleys! In old times. and the wild flowers which abound in its neighborhood. she would spin light summer clouds out of cobwebs and morning dew.WASHINGTON IRVING 27 stars. and took a mischievous pleasure in wreaking all kind of evils and vexations upon the red men. a panther. and then spring off with a loud ho! ho! leaving him aghast on the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent. In times of drought. sitting in the midst of them like a bottle-bellied spider in the midst of its web. and the corn to grow an inch an hour. to float in the air.

One of these he seized and made off with it. a hunter who had lost his way. penetrated to the garden rock.28 RIP VAN WINKLE This place was held in great awe by the Indians. being the identical stream known by the name of the Kaaterskill. where he was dashed to pieces. however. insomuch that the boldest hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. which washed him away and swept him down precipices. when a great stream gushed forth. but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks. and the stream made its way to the Hudson. and continues to flow to the present day. where he beheld a number of gourds placed in the crotches of trees. Once upon a time. .