XIII. Rip Van Winkle (2)
He was surprised to see any human being in this
lonely 1 place, but, supposing it to be some one of the neighbourhood
in need of 2 assistance, he hastened s down to help him. The man
bore 4 on his shoulder a fairly big keg b that seemed full of liquor's
and made signs 7 for Rip to come and assist him with
As usual, Rip was ready to give his help, though he did not quite
like the strange man's appearance.8 Together they climbed up a
narrow gully,9 which seemed to be the dry bed of a mountain torrent.9
As they ascended,10 Rip every now and then11 heard sounds, like
distant thunder,12 that seemed to come from a deep ravine.9 He
stopped an instant, but supposing it to be one of those passing
thunder showers which often take place among the mountains, he
went on. Passing through the ravine, they came
to a hollow.13
On entering this hollow he perceived more strange things. In the
middle was a company 14 of odd-looking 15 men playing at ninepins.16
They were dressed in a queer outlandish fashion,17 and all had
beards, of different shapes and colours.
What seemed especially odd to Rip was, that though these people
were amusing themselves, yet their faces were quite serious, they
uttered never a word, and were the most mournful party 18 of pleasure
he had ever seen.
As Rip and his companion approached them,19 they suddenly stopped
their play and stared at him 20 in such a way that his heart
was filled with fear.
His companion now emptied the contents of the keg 21 into large
bottles, and made signs to him to wait on the company.22 He did
so with fear and trembling; they drank the liquor in deep silence,
and then returned to their game.
After a time Rip grew less afraid. When no eye was fixed on him,
he even drank some of the liquor, which he found very agreeable.
He was by nature a thirsty fellow and soon raised the bottle to
his lips again. As no one seemed to notice him, he drank several
times. At last his head grew heavy, and before long he fell into
a deep sleep.
On waking,23 he found himself on the green hill from which he had
first seen the queer old man. lie rubbed his eyes. It was a bright
sunny morning. The birds were hopping and twittering among the
bushes, and the squirrels were busy on the branches of the trees.
Surely," thought Rip, "I have not slept here all night." lie
remembered what had happened before he fell asleep. The strange
man with the keg of liquor,-the mountain ravine,the hollow among
the rocks,-the mournful party at ninepins, -the bottle.
" O! that bottle ! that dreadful bottle !" thought Rip
; "what excuse 24 shall I make to Dame Van Winkle?"
He looked round for his gun, but in place of the nice, clean gun
he had taken with him, he found lying by him one that was covered
with rust,25 and nearly falling to pieces. He now thought that
the queer old man of the mountain had taken his own gun from him
while he slept.
Wolf, too, had disappeared, but he might have wandered away in
search 26 of a squirrel. He whistled after him and shouted his
name, but all in vain. The echoes repeated 27 his whistle and shout,2S
but no dog was to be seen.29
He determined 30 to revisit 31 the hollow, and, if he met any of
the party, to demand his dog and gun. As he rose to walk, he found
himself stiff3a and wanting in his usual activity.33
These mountain beds do not agree with me 34," thought Rip, "and
if this ramble should make me ill, I shall have to stay at home,
and Dame Van Winkle will give me a nice time ! "
With some difficulty 35 he made his way down ; he found the gully
which he and his companion had ascended the evening
before; but, to his surprise, a mountain torrent was now flowing
36 down it.
He, however, managed to climb up its sides, working his way through
He again called and whistled after his dog. He was only answered
by the cawing 37 of idle crows, flying high in the air about a
dry tree that overhung a sunny rock.38
What was to be done 139 The morning was passing away,4o and Rip
felt very hungry for want of his breakfast.41 ' He was sorry to
lose his dog and gun ; he feared to meet his wife ; but he did
not want to starve among the mountains. He shook his head, took
up the rusty 25 gun, and, with a heart full of trouble and ansiety,42
turned his steps homeward.
As he approached the village he met a number of people, but none
whom he knew, which rather surprised him, for he had thought that
he knew everyone in the country round.43 Their dress, too, was
of a different fashion from that to which he was used.
They all stared at him with signs of surprise also, and, whenever
they looked at him, they all stroked their chins.44 This led Rip,
after a time, to do the same, when, to his surprise, he found his
beard had grown a foot long.
He had now reached the edge of the village. A number of strange
children ran close behind him, calling after him, and pointing
45 at his grey beard. The dogs, too, not one of which
he seemed to know, barked at him as he passed. The very
village 46 was changed. It was larger, and there were people in
There were rows of houses which he had never seen before, and those
which he had often visited had disappeared. Strange names were
over the doors, strange faces at the windows. Everything was strange.
Surely this was his own village, which he had left but the day
before. There stood the Catskill Mountains. There ran the silver
Hudson at a distance. There was every hill and dale 47 as it had
always been. Rip did not know what to think of it.
That bottle last night," thought he, "has made me see
strange things !"
1It was lonely because people (human beings) rarely went there. 2 Or: wanting
; v. to need. This poor man is in need of food. 3 Or : hurried. 4 Qr : carried.
fi Beer or wine is kept in kegs. A keg is smaller than a cask. Casks and kegs
are made of wood and are usually kept in the cellar. g Water, wine, beer, etc.,
are liquors. 7 He did not speak, but made signs with his hand or his head.
8 v. to appear; the man appeared (or: seemed) queer. Cp, assist, assistance;
remember, remembrance. 9 The water of a torrent (which is smaller and goes
more quickly than a river) carries away the earth, and so has a deep bed. In
the summer there is no water and the bed is dry. The sides are close together,
and this makes a narrow gully, or ravine. When the sides are not so close together,
the gully is not narrow, but wide. 10 opp. to descend. 11 Or : from time to
time.12 In a storm we sometimes hear the thunder, after
seeing the lightning. 13 A hollow place. 14 A number of
people, who work or play together. 15 Or: strange-looking; they had an
odd appearance. 18 A game in which a man throws a heavy ball at nine pieces
wood, so as to throw them over. 17
They had such clothes as one might find in another country. They
did not wear the same kind of clothes as Rip. The fashion (in clothes)
changes every year; people do not always dress in the same fashion
(or way). 18 I invite my friends to a party on my birthday.
19 Or: came near to them. 20 They fixed their eyes on him,
looked at him for some time. 21 Or: the liquor in the keg, what
the keg contained. 22 Or : to pour out the liquor for the company,
to fill their glasses.23 Or : when he woke. 24 v. to excuse (see
IV. 7). How shall I excuse myself 4 What shall I say to excuse myself ! 25
When a piece of iron is left in water, it soon becomes brown, it is covered
with rust, it is rusty. 26 v. to search (see IL 27). He had perhaps gone to
search for a squirrel. 27 The echo repeats what we say, it says it again. The
teacher sometimes says a word, and the boys repeat it. 28 v. to whistle, to
shout. 29 Or: could be seen. 30 He said to himself: "I must go there again." 31
Or: to visit again. Cp. echo, re-echo ; turn, return. 32 He could not move
his arms and legs easily. 33 He was not as active as usual. A boy or a young
man can move about quickly. An old man is less active, he moves more slowly,
and gets tired sooner. 34 Sleeping in the mountains is not good for me. 35
a. difficult. With difficulty : opp. easily. 36 The water of a torrent flows
from the mountains towards the lower land. 37 Some birds twitter or sing; crows
caw. 38 The tree was on the top of the rock, and some of its branches hung
over the edge. 39 Or : what could he do l 40 It was getting near noon. 41 Or
: because he had had no breakfast. 42 a. anxious. 43 In the country round his
village, in the neighbourhood. 44 They passed their hands over their chins;
see XI. 22. 45 With their fingers. Point to the door, to the window. 48 Or:
even the village. 47 The dale is between the hills or mountains. We ran over
hill and dale, up and down hill.