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" He used to console himself by frequenting a kind of 
perpetual club of the sages, philosophers and other idle 
personages, which held its sessions before a small inn." 





Complete Edition, u,ilh 51 lllustralioni in Colour. First pub- 
lished (/5.<. net) September 1905. 

New Impressions January 1907 ; Augus 1908: May 1909; 
November 1910. 

Cheaper Issue, with 24 Illustrations in Colour and many new 
Illustrations in the T,xl. October 1916 

Printed in Great Britain 



To face page 

' He used to console himself by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of the 

sages, philosophers and other idle personages, which held its sessions 

before a small inn " Frontispiece 

Certain biscuit-bakers have gone so far as to imprint his likeness on 

their New-Year Cakes " x 

' These mountains are regarded by cJl good wives, far and near, as perfect 

barometers " x 

' Some of the houses of the original settlers " 2 

A curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the 

virtues of patience and long-suffering " • • . ' • ■ • • 2 

Taught them to fly kites " 2 

His cow would go astray or get among the cabbages " .... 4 

His children were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody " • 4 

Equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off galligaskins, which he had as 

much ado to hold up as a fine lady does her train in bad weather " • 4 
So that he was fain to draw off his forces and take to the outside of the 

house — the only side which, in truth, belongs to a henpecked husband." 6 
A company of odd-looking persons playing at ninepins " • . • .10 

They maintained the gravest faces " 12 

They stared at him with such fixed, statue-like gaze, that his heart turned 

within him and his knees smote together " 12 

He even ventured to taste the beverage, which he found had much of 

the flavour of excellent Hollands " 12 

Surely," thought he, " I have not slept here all night. . . . Oh ! that 

flagon ! that wicked flagon ! what excuse shall I make to Dame Van 

Winkle?" 12 




To face page 

" They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise and invariably stroked 

their chins " '^ 

" A troop of strange children ran at his heels, hooting after him and pointing 

at his grey beard " '4 

" The dogs, too, not one of whom he recognised for an old acquaintance, 

barked at him as he passed " • • 14 

" He found the house gone to decay. . . . ' My very dog,' sighed poor Rip, 

' has forgotten me ' " • • ' O 

" They crowded round him, eyeing him from head to foot with great curiosity ' 1 6 

Rip's daughter and grandchild 20 

" He preferred making friends among the rising generation, with whom he 

soon grew into great favour "... 24 

" The Kaatsberg or Catskill mountains have always been a region full of fable" 26 

They were ruled by an old squaw spirit 28 



These fairy mountains 2 

Long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians 5 

Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village 21 

The Kaatskill mountains had always been haunted by strange beings • 25 

Very subject to msu^vellous events and appearances 30 

When these clouds broke, woe betide the valleys 33 

With a loud ho ! ho ! 35 


By Woden, God of Saxons, 

From whence comes Wensday, that is Wodensday. 

Truth is a thing that ever I will keep 

Unto thylke day in which I creep into 

My sepulchre 




THE following tale was found among the papers of the 
late Diedrich Knickerbocker, an old gentleman of 
New York, who was very curious in the Dutch 
history of the province, and the manners of the 
descendants from its primitive settlers. His historical re- 
searches, however, did not lie so much among books as 
among men ; for the former are lamentably scanty on his 
favourite topics ; whereas he found the old burghers, and still 
more their wives, rich in that legendary lore so invaluable to 
true history. Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a 
genuine Dutch family, snugly shut up in its low-roofed farm- 
house, under a spreading sycamore, he looked upon it as a little 
clasped volume of black-letter, and studied it with the zeal of 
a book- worm. 

The result of all these researches was a history of the province 
during the reign of the Dutch governors, which he published 
some years since. There have been various opinions as to the 



literary character of his work, and, to tell the truth, It is not a 
whit better than it should be. Its chief merit is its scrupulous 
accuracy, which indeed was a little questioned on its first appear- 
ance, but has since been completely established ; and it is now 
admitted into all historical collections as a book of unquestionable 

The old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his 
work ; and now that he is dead and gone, it cannot do much 
harm to his memory to say that his time might have been much 
better employed in weightier labours. He, however, was apt to ride 
his hobby in his own way ; and though it did now and then kick up 
the dust a little in the eyes of his neighbours, and grieve the spirit 
of some friends, for whom he felt the 
truest deference and affection, yet his 
errors and follies are remembered " more 
in sorrow than anger," and it begins to 
be suspected that he never intended to 
injure or offend. But however his 
memory may be appreciated by critics, 
it is still held dear by many folks whose 
good opinion is well worth having ; par- 
ticularly by certain biscuit-bakers, who 
have gone so far as to Imprint his like- 
ness on their new-year cakes ; and have 
thus given him a chance for Immortality, 
almost equal to the being stamped on a 
Waterloo medal, or a Queen Anne's 

\ -01 ' \ 

" Certain biscuit-bakers have gone so far as to imprint his 
Hkeness on their New- Year Cakes." 

These mountains are regarded by all good wives, far and 
near, as perfect barometers." 

These fairy mountains. 

Some of the houses of the original settlers." 

" A curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world 
for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering." 

" Taught them to fly kites." 


[HOEVER has made a voyage up the 
Hudson must remember the Kaatskili 
mountains. They are a dismembered 
branch of the great Appalachian family, 
and are seen away to the west of the river, 
swelling up to a noble height, and lording 
it over the surrounding country. Every 
change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour 
of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes 
of these mountains, and they are regarded by all the good wives, 
far and near, as perfect barometers. When the weather is fair 
and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, and print their 
bold outlines on the clear evening sky ; but sometimes, when the 
rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of 
grey vapours about their summits, which, in the last rays of the 
setting sun, will glow and light up like a crown of glory. 

At the foot of these fairy^ mountains, the voyager may have 
descried the light smoke curling up from a village, whose shingle- 
roofs gleam among the trees, just where the blue tints of the 
upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape. 
It is a little village, of great antiquity, having been founded 
by some of the Dutch colonists in the early times of the pro- 
vince, just about the beginning of the government of the good 
Peter Stuyvesant (may he rest in peace !), and there were some 



of the houses of the original settlers standing within a few years, 
built of small yellow bricks brought from Holland, having 
latticed windows and gable fronts, surmounted with weathercocks. 

In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, 
to tell the precise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten), 
there lived, many years since, while the country was yet a provmce 
of Great Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of 

^Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who 

figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant, 
and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christma. He(inherited, 
however, but little of the martial character of his ancestors. I 
have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man ; he was, 
moreover, a kind neighbour, and an obedient, hen-pecked husband. 
Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness 
of spirit which gained him such universal popularity ; for those 
men are apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad, who 
are under the discipline of shrews at home. Their tempers, 
doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace 
of domestic tribulation ; and a curtain-lecture is worth all the 
sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and 
long-suffering. A termagant wife may, therefore, in some respects, 
be considered a tolerable blessing ; and if so. Rip Van Winkle 
ivas thrice blessed. 

Certain it is that he was a great favourite among all the good 
wives of the village, who, as usual with the amiable sex, took his 
part in all family squabbles ; and never failed, whenever they 
talked those matters over in their evening gossipings, to lay all 
the blame on Dame Van Winkle. The children of the village, too, 
would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at 
their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and 


His cow would go astray or get among the cabbages. 

" His children were as ragged «md wild as if they belonged 
to nobody." 

" Equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off galligaskins, 
which he had as much ado to hold up as a fine lady does her 
train in bad weather." 


Long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians. 

shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and 
Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was 
surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on his skirts, clambering 
on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity ; 
and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighbourhood. 

The great error in Rip's composition was an insuperable aversion 
to all kinds of profitable labour. ; It could not be for want 
of assiduity or perseverance ; for he would sit on a wet rock, with 
a rod as long and heavy as a Tartar's lance, and fish all day without 
a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single 
nibble. He would carry a fowling-piece on his shoulder for hours 
together, trudging through woods and swamps, and up hill and 
down dale, to shoot a few squirrels or wild pigeons. He would 
never refuse to assist a neighbour even in the roughest toil, and 
was a foremost man in all country frolics for husking Indian corn, 



or building stone fences ; the women of the village, too, used to 
employ him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs 
as their less obliging husbands would not do for them. In a 
word. Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business but his own ; 
but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found 
it impossible. 

In fact, he declared it was of no use to work on his farm ; 
it was the most pestilent little piece of ground in the whole 
country ; everything about it went wrong, in spite of him. His 
fences were continually falling to pieces ; his cow would either 
go astray, or get among the cabbages ; weeds were sure to 
grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else ; the rain always 
made a point of setting in just as he had some outdoor work to do ; 
^so that though his patrimonial estate had dwindled away under his 
management, acre by acre, until there was little more left than a 
mere patch of Indian corn and potatoes, yet it was the worst- 
conditioned farm in the neighbourhood. 

His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to 
nobody. His son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own likeness, 
promised to inherit the habits, with the old clothes, of his father. 
He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother's heels, 
equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off galligaskins, which he 
had much ado to hold up with one hand, as a fine lady does her 
train in bad weather. 

Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of 
foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy, eat white 
bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or 
trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. 
If left to himself, he would have whistled life away in perfect 
contentment ; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears 


So that he was fain to draw off his forces and take to the 
outside of the house— the only side which, in truth, belongs 
to a henpecked husband." 


abou^is idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing 
on his family. Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was in- 
cessantly going, and everything he said or did was sure to produce 
a torrent of household eloquence./^ Rip had but one way of replying 
to all lectures of the kind, and that, by frequent use, had grown 
into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast 
up his eyes, but said nothing.^ This, however, always provoked 
a fresh volley from his wife ; so that he was fain to draw off his 
forces, and take to thq^ outside of the house-^the only side which, 
in truth, belongs to a hen-pecked husband. 

Rip's sole domestic adherent was his dog Wolf, who was as 
much hen-pecked as his master ; for Dame Van Winkle regarded 
them as companions in idleness, and even looked upon Wolf with 
an evil eye, as (the cause of his master's going so often astray^ 
True it is, in all points of spirit befitting an honourable dog, he 
was as courageous an animal as ever scoured the woods — but 
/what courage can withstand the evil-doing and all-besetting 
terrors of a woman's tongue ? The moment Wolf entered the 
house his chest fell, his tail drooped to the ground or curled 
between his legs, he sneaked about with a gallows air, casting 
many a sidelong glance at Dame Van Winkle, and at the least 
flourish of a broomstick or ladle he would fly to the door with 
yelping precipitation. 

Times grew worse and worse with Rip Van Winkle as years of \ 
matrimony rolled on ; a tart temper never mellows with age, and / 
a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant 
use. For a long while he used to console himself, when driven\ 
from home, by frequenting a kind of perpetual club of the sages, 
pixilpsophers and otherucHe personages of the village, which held 
its sessions on a bench before a small inn, designated by a rubicund 
B 1 


portrait of His Majesty George the Third. Here they used to 
sit in the shade through a long, lazy summer's day, talkmg list- 
lessly over village gossip, or telling endless, sleepy stories about 
nothing. (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. How solemnly they would listen^ 
to the contents, as drawled out by Derrick Van Bummel, the 
schoolmaster, a dapper, learned little man, who was not to be 

daunted by the 
most gigantic word 
in the dictionary ; 
and how sagely they 
would deliberate 
upon public events 
some months after 
they^ had taken 

Thfe opinions of 
this junto werecom- 
pletelycontrolled by 
(Nicholas Vedder,, a patriarch of the village,) and landlord of the inn, 
at the door of which he took his seat from morning till night, just 
moving sufficiently to avoid the sun and keep in the shade of a large 
tree ; so that the neighbours could tell the hour by his movements 
as accurately as by a sun-dial. It is true he was rarely heard to 
speak, but smoked his pipe incessantly. His adherents, however 
(for every great man has his adherents), perfectly understood 
him, and knew how to gather his opinions.^ When anything that 
was read or related displeased him, he was observed to smoke his 


pipe vehemently, and to send forth short, frequent, and angry 
putfs ; but when pleased, he would inhale the smoke slowly and 
tranquilly, and emit it in light and placid clouds ; and sometimes, 
taking the pipe from his mouth, and letting the fragrant vapour 
curl about his nose, would gravely nod his head in token of perfect 

From even this stronghold the unlucky Rip was at length routed 
by his termagant wife, who would suddenly break in upon the 
tranquillity of the assemblage and call the members all to 
naught ; nor was that august personage, Nicholas Vedder him- 
self, sacred from the daring tongue of this terrible virago, who 
C charged him outright with encouraging her husband in habits of 

(Poor Rip was at last reduced almost to despair ; and his only 
alternative, to | esc ape; from the labour of the farm and clamour 
of his wife, was to take gun in hand and stroll away into the woods^ 
Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a tree, and 
share the contents of his wallet with Wolf, with whom he sym- 
pathised as a fellow-sufferer in persecution. " Poor Wolf," he 
would say, ** thy mistress leads thee a dog's life of it ; but never 
mind, my lad, whilst I live thou shalt never want a friend to stand 
by thee ! " Wolf would wag his tail, look wistfully in his master's 
face ; and, if dogs can feel pity, I verily believe he reciprocated 
the sentiment with all his heart. 

In a long ramble of the kind on a fine autumnal day. Rip had 
unconsciously scrambled to one of the highest parts of the Kaats- 
kill Mountains. He was after fhis favourite sport of squirrel 
shooting,' and the still solitudes had echoed and re-echoed with 
the reports of his gun. Panting and fatigued, he threw himself, 
late in the afternoon, on a green knoll, covered with mountain 
B 2 9 


herbage, that crowned the brow of a precipice. From an opening 
between the trees he could overlook all the lower country for many 
a mile of rich woodland. He saw at a distance the lordly Hudson, 
far, far below him, moving on its silent but majestic course, with 
the reflection of a purple cloud, or the sail of a lagging bark, here 
and there sleeping on its glassy bosom, and at last losing itself 
in the blue highlands. 

On the other side he looked down into a deep mountain glen, 
wild, lonely, and shagged, the bottom filled with fragments from 
the impending cliffs, and scarcely lighted by the reflected rays of 
the setting sun. For some time Rip lay musing on this scene ; 
evening was gradually advancing ; the mountains began to throw 
their long blue shadows over the valleys ; he saw that it would 
be dark long before he could reach the village, and he heaved a 
heavy sigh when he thought of encountering the terrors of Dame 
Van Winkle. 

As he was about to descend, he heard a voice from a distance, 
hallooing : *' Rip Van Winkle ! Rip Van Winkle ! " He looked 
round, but could see nothing but a crow winging its solitary flight 
across the mountain. He thought his fancy must have deceived 
him, and turned again to descend, 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 
giving a low growl, skulked to his master's side, looking fearfully 
down into the glen. Rip now felt a vague apprehension stealing 
over him ; he looked anxiously in the same direction, and per- 
ceived a strange figure slowly toiling up the rocks, and bending 
under the weight of something he carried on his back. He 
was surprised to see any human being in this lonely and 
unfrequented place ; but supposing it to be some one of the 

A company of odd-looking persons playing at ninepins. 


\ neighbourhood In need of his assistance, he hastened down to 
yield it. 

On nearer approach he was still more surprised at the singularity 
of the stranger's appearance. He was a short, square-built old 
fellow, with thick bushy hair, and a grizzled beard. His dress 

was of the antique Dutch fashion : a cloth jerkin strapped round 
the waist — several pair of breeches, the outer one of ample volume, 
decorated with rows of buttons down the sides, and bunches at 
the knees. He bore on his shoulder a stout keg, that seemed 
full of liquor, and made signs for Rip to approach and assist him 
with the load. Though rather shy and distrustful of his new 



I acquaintance, Rip complied with his usual alacrity ; and mutually 
I relieving one another, they clambered up a narrow gully, appar- 
'ently the dry bed of a mountain torrent. As they ascended, Rip 
every now and then heard long, rolling peals, like distant thunder, 
that seemed to issue out of a deep ravine, or rather cleft, between 
lofty rocks, toward which their ragged path conducted. He 
paused for an mstant, but supposing it to be the muttering of one 
of those transient thunder-showers which often take place in 
mountain heights, he proceeded. Passing through the ravine, 
they came to a hollow, like a small amphitheatre, surrounded 
by perpendicular precipices, over the brinks of which impending 
trees shot their branches, so that you only caught glimpses 
of the azure sky and the bright evening cloud. During the 
whole time Rip and his companion had laboured on in 
silence ; for though the former marvelled greatly what could be 
the object of carrying a keg of liquor up this wild mountain, 
fyet there was something strange and incomprehensible about 
the unknown, that inspired awe and checked familiarity. 
On entering the amphitheatre, new objects 
of wonder presented themselves. On a level 
spot in the centre was a company of odd- 
looking personages playing at ninepins. They 
were dressed in a quaint, outlandish fashion; 
some wore short doublets, others jerkins, 
with long knives in their belts, and most 
of them had enormous breeches, of similar 
style with that of the guide's. Their 
visages, too, were peculiar ; one had a large 
beard, broad face, and small piggish eyes ; 
the face of another seemed to consist 


" They maintained the gravest faces. 

" They stared at him with such fixed, statue-like gaze, that 
his heart turned within him and his knees smote together." 


" He even ventured to taste the beverage, which he found 
had much of the flavour of excellent Hollands. " 

" Surely," thought he, " I have not slept here all night. 
. . . Oh ! that flagon ! that wicked flagon ! what excuse 
shall I make to Dame Van Winkle ? " 


entirely of nose, and was surmounted 
by a white sugar-loaf hat, set off 
with a little red cock's tail. They 
all had beards, or various shapes and 
colours. There was one who seemed 
to be the commander. He was a 
stout old gentleman, with a weather- 
beaten countenance ; he wore a laced 
doublet, broad belt and hanger, 
high-crowned hat and feather, red 
stockmgs, and high-heeled shoes, 
with roses in them. The whole 
group remmded Rip of the figures 

in an old Flemish painting, in the parlour of Dominie Van 
Shaick, the village parson, and which had been brought over 
frojoo Holland at the time of the settlement. 
!_What seemed particularly odd to Rip was, that these folks 
were evidently amusing themselves, yet 
they maintained the gravest faces, the 
most mysterious silence, and were, 
withal, the most melancholy party of 
pleasure he had ever witnessed. ^ 
Nothing interrupted the stillness of 
'the scene but the noise of the balls, 
which, whenever they were rolled, 
echoed along the mountains like 
rumbling peals of thunder. 

As Rip and his companion approached 
them, they suddenly desisted from their 
play, and stared at him with such fixed, 



statue-like gaze, and such strange, uncouth, lack-lustre counten- 
ances, that his heart turned within him, and his knees smote 
together. His companion now emptied the contents of the keg 
into large flagons, and made signs to him to wait upon the 
company. He obeyed with fear and trembling ; they quaffed 
the liquor in profound silence, and then returned to their game. 

By degrees Rip's awe and apprehension subsided. He even 
ventured, when no eye was fixed upon him, to taste the beverage, 
which he found had much of_the flavour of excellent Hollands. 
He was^aturally a thirsty soul, and was soon tempted to repeat 
the draught. One taste provoked another ; and he reiterated his 
visits to the flagon so often that at length his senses were over- 
powered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradually declined, 
and he fell into a deep sleep. 

On waking, he found himself on the green knoll whence he had 
first seen the old man of the glen. He rubbed his eyes — it was a 
bright sunny morning. The birds were hopping and twittering 
among the bushes, and the eagle was wheeling aloft, and breasting 
the pure mountain breeze. " Surely," thought Rip, " I have not 
slept here all night." He recalled the occurrences before he fell 
asleep. The strange man with a keg of liquor — the mountain 
ravine — the wild retreat among the rocks — the woebegone party 
at ninepins — the flagon — " Oh ! that flagon ! that wicked 
flagon ! " thought Rip, — " what excuse shall I make to Dame Van 

He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean, well- 
oiled fowling-piece, he found an old firelock lying by him, the 
barrel incrusted with rust, the lock falling off, and the stock worm- 
eaten. He now suspected that the grave roysterers of the mountains 
had put a trick upon him, and, having dosed him with liquor, 


They all stared at him with equal marks of surprise and 
invariably stroked their chins." 

' A troop of strange children ran at his heels, hooting after 
hirn and pointing at his grey beard." 

The dogs, too, not one of whom he recognised for an old 
acquaintance, barked at him as he passed." 


had robbed him of his gun. Wolf, too, had disappeared, but he 
might have strayed away after a squirrel or partridge. He whistled 
after him, and shouted his name, but all in vain ; the echoes 
repeated his whistle and shout, but no dog was to be seen. 

He determined to revisit the scene of the last evening's gambol, 
and if he met with any of the party, to demand his dog and gun. 
As he rose to walk, he found himself stiff in the joints, and wanting 
in his usual activity. " These mountam beds do not agree with 
me," thought Rip, " and if this frolic should lay me up with a 
fit of the rheumatism, I shall have a blessed time with Dame Van 
Winkle." 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! Z^\M-^ 
was now foaming down it, leaping from rock to rock, and filling 
the glen with babbling murmurs. He, however, made shift to 
scramble up its sides, working his toilsome way through thickets 
of birch, sassafras, and witch-hazel, and sometimes tripped up or 
entangled by the wild grape-vines that twisted their coils or tendrils 
from tree to tree, and spread a kind of network in his path. 

At length he reached to where the ravine had opened throughV 
the cliffs to the amphitheatre ; but no traces of such opening 1 ^ 
remained. The /rocks presented a high, impenetrable wall, over 
which the torrent came tumbling in a sheet of feathery foam, and 
fell into a broad deep basin, black from the shadows of the sur- 
rounding forest. Here, then, poor Rip was brought to a stand. He 
again called and whistled after his dog ; he was only answered by 
the cawing of a flock of idle crows, sporting high in the air about a 
dry tree that overhung a sunny precipice ; and who, secure in their 
elevation, seemed to look down and scoff at the poor man's per- 
plexities. What was to be done ? the morning was passing away, 



and Rip felt famished for want of his breakfast. He grieved to 
give up his dog and gun ; he dreaded to meet his wife ; but it 
would not do to starve among the mountains. He shook his head, 
shouldered the rusty firelock, and, with a heart full of trouble and 
anxiety, turned his steps homeward. 

As he approached the village he met a number of people, but 
none whom he knew, which somewhat surprised him, for he had 
thought himself acquainted with every one in the country round. 
Their dress, too, was of a different fashion from that to which he 
was accustomed. They all stared at him with equal marks of 

(surprise, and whenever they cast their eyes upon him, invariably 
stroked their chins. The constant recurrence of this gesture 
induced Rip, involuntarily, to do the same, 1 when, to his astonish- 
ment, he found his beard had grown a foot long ! 

He had now entered the skirts of the village. A troop of strange 
children ran at his heels, hooting after him, and pointing at his 
grey beard. The dogs, too, not one of whom he recognised for 
an old acquaintance, barked at him as he passed. Th e very 
village was altered.; it was larger and more populous. There 
were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those 
which had been his familiar haunts had disappeared. Strange 
names were over the doors — strange faces at the windows — 
everything was strange. His mind now misgave him ; he began 
to doubt whether both he and the world around him were not 
bewitched. Surely this was his native village, which he had 
left but the day before. 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 per- 
plexed. *' That flagon last night," thought he, " has addled my 
poor head sadly ! " 


" He found the house gone to decay. . . . ' My very dog, 
sighed poor Rip, ' has forgotten me.' " 


It was with some difficulty that he found the way to his own 
house, which he approached with silent awe, expecting every 
moment to hear the shrill voice of Dame Van Winkle. / He found 
the house gone to decay — the roof had fallen in, the windows 
shattered, and the doors off the hinges. A half -starved dog that 
looked like Wolf was skulking about it. Rip called him by name, 
but the cur snarled, showed his teeth, and passed on. This was 
an unkind cut indeed. " My very dog," sighed poor Rip, *' has 
forgotten, me ! " 

He entered the house, which, to tell the truth. Dame Van Winkle 
had always kept in neat order. It was empty, forlorn, and appa- 
rently abandoned. 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, and then all again was silence. 

He now hurried forth, and hastened to his old resort, the village 
inn — but it too was gone. A large rickety wooden building stood 
in its place, with great gaping windows, some of them broken 
and mended with old hats and petticoats, and over the door was 
painted, " The JJnion Hotel, by Jonathan Doolittle." Instead 
of the great tree that used to shelter the quiet little Dutch inn of 
yore, there now was reared a tall, naked pole, with something on 
the top that looked like a red nightcap, and from it was fluttering 
a flag, on which was a singular assemblage of stars and stripes ; 
— all this was strange and incomprehensible./^ He recognised on 
the sign, however, the ruby face of King George, under which 
he had smoked so many a peaceful pipe ; but even this was singu- 
larly metamorphosed. The red coat was changed for one of blue 
and buff, a sword was held in the hand instead of a sceptre, the 
head was decorated with a cocked hat, and underneath was painted 
in large characters, "General WASHINGTON." ' 



There was, as usual, a crowd of folk about the door, but none 
that Rip recollected. The veiy__character of the people seemed 
. changed. There was a busy, bustling, disputatious tone about 
it, instead of the accustomed phlegm and drowsy tranquillity.) 
He looked in vain for the sage Nicholas Vedder, with his broad 
face, double chin, and fair long pipe, uttering clouds of tobacco- 
smoke instead of idle speeches ; or Van Bummel, the schoolmaster, 
'doling forth the contents of an ancient newspaper. In place of 
these, a lean, bilious-looking fellow, with his pockets full of hand- 
bills, was haranguing vehemently about rights of citizens — elections 
— members of congress — liberty — Bunker's Hill — heroes of seventy- 
six — and other words, which were a perfect Babylonish jargon to 
•the bewildered Van Winkle. 

The appearance of Rip, with his long, grizzled beard, his rusty 
fowling-piece, his uncouth dress, and an army of women and 
children at his heels, soon attracted the attention of thef tavern 
politicians.' They crowded round him, eyeing him from head to 
foot with great curiosity. The orator bustled up to him, and, 
drawing him partly aside, inquired " On which side he voted ? " 
Rip stared in vacant stupidity. Another short but busy little fellow 
pulled him by the arm, and, rising on tiptoe, inquired in his ear, 
Whether he was Federal or Democrat ? " Rip was equally 
at a loss to comprehend the question ; when a knowing, self- 
important old gentleman, in a sharp cocked hat, made his way 
through the crowd, putting them to the right and left with his 
elbows as he passed, and planting himself before Van Winkle, 
with one arm akimbo, the other resting on his cane, his keen eyes 
and sharp hat penetrating, as it were, into his very soul, demanded 
in an austere tone, " What brought him to the election with a 
gun on his shoulder, and a mob at his heels ; and whether he meant 


to breed a riot in the village ? " " Alas ! gentlemen," cried Rip, 
somewhat dismayed, " I am a poor quiet man, a native of the 
place, and a loyal subject of the king, God bless him ! " 

Here a general shout burst from the bystanders — " A tory 1 
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 ; and, havmg assumed a tenfold austerity of 
brow, demanded agam of the unknown culprit, what he came there 
for, and whom he was seekmg ? The poor man humbly assured 
him that he meant no harm, but merely came there in search of 
some of his neighbours, who used to keep about the tavern. 

" Well — who are they ? — name them." 

Rip bethought himself a moment, and inquired : " Where's 
Nicholas Vedder ? " 

There was a silence for a little while, when an old man replied, 
in a thin, piping voice, " Nicholas Vedder ! why, he is dead and 
gone these eighteen years ! There was a wooden tombstone 
in the churchyard that used to tell all about him, but that's rotten 
and gone too."^- '- '^ 7^^--^ /^^ " 

" Where's Brom Dutcher ? " 

** Oh, he went off to the army in the beginning of the war ; 
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. I 
don't know — he never came back again." 

" Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmaster ? " \ 

" He went off to the wars too, was a great militia general, and is' 
now m congress." 

Rip's heart died away at hearing of these sad changes in his 
home and friends, and finding himself thus alone in the worldj 
Every answer puzzled him too, by treating of such enormous lapses 



of time, and of matters which he could not understand : war — 
congress — Stony Point ; — he had no courage to ask after any more 
friends, but cried out in despair : " Does nobody here know Rip 
Van Winkle?" 

*' Oh, Rip Van Winkle ! " exclaimed two or three, " oh, to be 
sure ! that's Rip Van Winkle yonder, leaning against the tree." 

Rip looked, and beheld a precise counterpart of himself, as he 
went up the mountain ; apparently as lazy, and certainly as ragged. 
The poor fellow was now completely confounded. He doubted 
his own identity, and whether he was himself or another man. 
In the midst of his bewilderment, the man in the cocked hat 
demanded who he was, and what was his name. 

"God knows!" exclaimed he, at his wit's end; "I'm not 
myself — I'm somebody else — that's me yonder — no — that's some- 
body else got into my shoes — I was myself last night, but I fell 
asleep on the mountain, and they've changed my gun, and every- 
thing's changed, and I can't tell what's my name, or who I am ! " 

The bystanders began now to look at each other, nod, wink 
significantly, and tap their fingers against their foreheads. There 
was a whisper, also, about securing the gun, and keeping the old 
fellow from doing mischief, at the very suggestion of which the 
self-important man in the cocked hat retired with some precipi- 
tation. At this critical moment a fresh, comely woman pressed 
through the throng to get a peep at the grey-bearded man. She 
had a chubby child in her arms, which, frightened at his looks, 
began to cry. " Hush, Rip," cried she, " hush, you little fool ; 
the old man won't hurt you." The name of the child, the air 
of the mother, the tone of her voice, all awakened a train of recol- 
lections in his mind. " What is your name, my good woman? ' 
asked he. 

Rip's daughter and grandchild. 

Peter was the most ancient inhabitant of the village (p. 24). 



*' Judith Gardenier." 

" And your father's name ? " 

'* Ah, poor man, Rip Van Winkle was his name, but it's twenty 
years since he went away from home with his gun, and never 
has been heard of since, — his dog came home without him ; but 
whether he shot himself, or was carried away by the Indians, 
nobody can tell. I was then but a little girl." 

Rip had but one question more to ask ; but he put it with a 
faltering voice : 

" Where's your mother ? " 

'* Oh, she too had died but a short time since ; she broke a blood ~^ 
vessel in a fit of passion at a New-England pedler." /^ 

There was a drop of comfort, at least, in this intelligence. The 
honest man could contain himself no longer. He caught his 
daughter and her child in his arms. " 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, until an old woman, tottering out from among 
the crowd, put her hand to her brow, and peering under it in his 
face for a moment, exclaimed : ** Sure enough ! it is Rip Van 
Winkle — it is himself ! Welcome home again, old neighbour. 
Why, where have you been these twenty long years ? " 

Rip's story was soon told, for the whole twenty years had seemed/ 
to him as but one night. The neighbours stared when they 
heard it ; some were seen to wink at each other, and put their 
tongues in their cheeks ; and the self-important man in the cocked^ 
hat, who, when the alarm was over, had returned to the field, \ 
screwed down the corners of his mouth, and shook his head — upon 1 
which there was a general shaking of the head throughout the 

c 23 


It was determined, however, to take the opinion of old Peter 
Vanderdonk, who was seen slowly advancing up the road. He 
was a descendant of the historian of that name, who wrote one of 
the earliest accounts of the province. Peter was the most ancient 
inhabitant of the village, and well versed in all the wonderful 
events and traditions of the neighbourhood. He recollected Rip 
at once, and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner. 
He assured the company that it was a fact, handed down from his 
ancestor the historian, that the Kaatskill mountains had always 
been haunted by strange beings. That it was affirmed that the 
great Hendrick Hudson, the first discoverer of the river and 
country, kept a kind of vigil there every twenty years, with his 
crew i^fjtlie-HalLjiiQQn ; being permitted in this way to revisit 
the scenes of his enterprise, and keep a guardian eye upon the 
river and the great city called by his name. That his father had 
once seen them in their old Dutch dresses playing at ninepins 
in a hollow of the mountain ; and that he himself had heard, one 
summer afternoon, the sound of their balls, like distant peals of 

To make a long story short, the company broke up and returned 
to the more important concerns of the election. ) Rip's daughter 
took him home to live with her ; she had a snug, well-furnished 
house, and a stout, cheery farmer for a husband, whom Rip re- 
collected for one of the urchins that used to climb upon his back. 
As to Rip's son and heir, who was the ditto of himself, seen leaning 
against the tree, he was employed to work on the farm ; but 
evinced an hereditary disposition to attend to anything else but his 

Rip now resumed his old walks and habits ; he soon found 
many of his former cronies, though all rather the worse for 

He preferred making friends among the rising generation, 
with whom he soon grew into great favour." 

Ihe Kaahkill mountains had always been haunted by strange beings. 


The Kaatsberg or Catskiil mountains have always been a 
region full of fable." 


the wear and tear of time ; and preferred making friends 
among the rising generation, with whom he soon grew into ' 
great favour. 

Having nothing to do at home, and being arrived at that happyi 
age when a man can be idle with impunity, he took his place once 
more on the bench at the inn-door, and was reverenced as one of 
the patriarchs of the village, and a (chronicle of the old times ^ 
" before the war." ) It was some time before he could get into the 
regular track of gossip, or could be made to comprehend the strange 
events that had taken place during his torpor. How that there 
had been a revolutionary war, — that the country had thrown off 
theljoke) of old England, — and that, mstead of being a subject of 
his Majesty George the Third, he was now a free citizen of the 
United States. Rip^ in fact, was no politician ; the changes of 
states and empires made but little impression on him ; but there 
was one species of despotism under which he had long groaned, 
and that was— ;;petticoat government. Happily that was at an end ; 
he had got his neck out of the(yokebf matrimony, and could go 
in and out whenever he pleased, without dreading the tyranny 
of Dame Van Winkle. Whenever her name was mentioned, 
however, he shook his head, shrugged his shoulders, and cast up 
his eyes ; which might pass either for an expression of resignation 
to his fate, or joy at his deliverance. ^^ 

He used to tell his story to every stranger that arrived at Mr. 
Doolittle's hotel. He was observed, at first, to vary on some points 
every time he told it, which was, doubtless, owing to his having 
so recently awaked. It at last settled down precisely to the tale 
I have related, and not a man, woman, or child in the neighbour- 
hood but knew it by heart. Some always pretended to doubt 
the reality of it, and insisted that Rip had been out of his head, 



^and that this was one point 
on which he always remained 
flighty. The old Dutch 
inhabitants, however, almost 
universally gave it full credit. 
Even to this day they never 
hear a thunder-storm of a 
summer afternoon about the 
Kaatskill, but they say 

Hendrick Hudson and his crew are at their game of ninepins ; 
and it is a common wish of all hen-pecked husbands in the 
neighbourhood, when life hangs heavy on their hands, that 
they might have a quieting draught out of Rip Van Winkle's 
flagon. -^jiM^ 


They were ruled by an old squaw spirit. 


Very subject to marvellous events and appearances. 



The foregoing tale, one would suspect, had been suggested to 
Mr. Knickerbocker by a little German superstition about the 
Emperor Frederick der Rothbart, and the Kypphauser mountain ; 
the subjoined note, however, which he had appended to the tale, 
shows that it is an absolute fact, narrated with his usual fidelity. 

** The story of Rip Van Winkle may seem incredible to many, 
but nevertheless I give it my full belief, for I know the vicinity of 
our old Dutch settlements to have been very subject to marvellous 
events and appearances. Indeed, I have heard many stranger 
stories than this, in the villages along the Hudson, all of which 
were too well authenticated to admit of a doubt. I have even 
talked with Rip Van Winkle myself, who, when last I saw him, 
was a very venerable old man, and so perfectly rational and 
consistent on every other point, that I think no conscientious 
person could refuse to take this into the bargain ; ' nay, I have seen 
a certificate on the subject taken before a country justice and 
signed with a cross, in the justice's own handwriting. The story, 
therefore, is beyond the possibility of doubt. ! 

"D. K." 



The following are travelling notes from a memorandum-book 
of Mr. Knickerbocker. 

The Kaatsberg or Catskill mountains have always been a region 
full of fable. The Indians considered them the abode of spirits, 
who influenced the weather, spreading sunshine or clouds over the 
landscape, and sending good or bad hunting seasons. They were 
ruled by an old squaw spirit, said to be their mother. She dwelt 
nn th e h' rhpst peak of the Catskills, and had charge of the doors 
of day and night to open and shut them at the proper hour. She 
hung up the new moons in the skies, and cut up the old ones into 
stars. In times of drought, if properly propitiated, she would 
spin light summer clouds out of cobwebs and morning dew, and 
send them off from the crest of the mountain, flake after flake, 
like flakes of carded cotton, to float in the air, until, dissolved by 
the heat of the sun, they would fall in gentle showers, causing the 
grass to spring, the fruits to ripen, and the corn to grow an inch 
an hour. If displeased, however, she would brew up clouds 
black as ink, sitting in the midst of them like a bottle-bellied spider 
in the midst of its web ; and when these clouds broke, woe betide 
the valleys ! 

In old times, say the Indian traditions, there was a kind of Manitou 
or Spirit, who kept about the wildest recesses of the Catskill moun- 
tains, and took a mischievous pleasure in wreaking all kinds of evils 
and vexations upon the red men. Sometimes he would assume 
the form of a bear, a panther, or a deer, lead the bewildered hunter 


When these clouds broke, woe betide the valleys ! 



a weary chase through tangled forests and among ragged rocks, 
and then spring off with a loud ho ! ho'! leaving him aghast on 
the brink of a beetling precipice or raging torrent. 
The favourite abode of this Manitou is still shown. It is a great 



rock or cliff on the loneliest part of the mountains, and, from the 
flowering vines which clamber about it, and the wild flowers 
which abound in its neighbourhood, is known by the name of the 
( Garden Rock, Near the foot of it is a small lake, the haunt of the 
solitary bittern, with water-snakes basking in the sun on the 
leaves of the pond-lilies which lie on the surface. This place was 
held in great awe by the Indians, insomuch that the boldest 
hunter would not pursue his game within its precincts. fOnce 
upon a time, however, a hunter who had lost his way penetrated \/ 
to the Garden Rock, where he beheld a number of gourds placed 
in the crotches of trees. One of these he seized and made off 
with it, but in the hurry of his retreat he let it fall among the rocks, 
when a great stream gushed forth, which washed him away and 
swept him down precipices, where he was dashed to pieces, and 
the stream made its way to the Hudson, and continues to flow to 
the present day, being the identical stream known by the name of 
the Kaaters-kill. 


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