RIP VAN WINKLE

BY

WASHINGTON IRVING

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COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
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.

NOTE ON THE TEXT
“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.

HART WM.CONTENTS RIP VAN WINKLE POSTSCRIPT LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS RIP VAN WINKLE ASLEEP THE CATSKILLS RIP VAN WINKLE AND THE CHILDREN DAME VAN WINKLE’S LECTURE VILLAGE POLITICIANS RIP AND THE DOG RIP AND THE RISING GENERATION CATSKILL FALLS CATSKILL LAKE FATHER TIME HOPPIN PARSONS DARLEY “ “ “ “ WM. HART HOPPIN .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The very village was altered. it was larger and more populous. and those which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared.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 .” thought he. 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. which he approached with silent awe. He found the house gone to decay—the roof fallen in. A halfstarved dog that looked like Wolf was skulking about it. Strange names were over the doors—strange faces at the windows—every thing was strange. There were rows of houses which he had never seen before. which he had left but the day before. the windows shattered. “has addled my poor head sadly!” It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own house. His mind now misgave him. and the doors off the hinges. expecting every moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. Surely this was his native village.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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