XIV. Rip Van Winkle (3)
It was with some difficulty that he found his
own house, which he approached with silent fear, thinking every
moment that he would hear the angry voice of Dame Van Winkle.
He found the roof fallen in, and the windows broken. A half-starved
dog that looked like Wolf was near the door. Rip called him by
name, but the dog showed his teeth,1 and passed on.
My very dog 2," sighed Rip, " has forgotten me! "
He entered the house, which, to tell the truth,3 Dame Van Winkle
had always kept in good order. It was empty. Ile called loudly
for his wife and children. The lonely rooms rang for a moment with
his voice, and then all again was silenco.4
He now hurried to the village inn ; but it was gone too. In its
place was a hotel.5 The appearance of Rip, with his long grey beard,
his rusty gun, his strange dress, and a number of women and children
behind him, soon attracted the attention
of the men at the hotel.6 They gathered around hiffl,7 and
looked at him from head to foot with great curiosity.8
One of them came up to him and inquired 9 on which side he voted.10
Rip stared at him with wide-open eyes.
A self-important 11 old gentleman asked him what brought him to
the election 10 with a gun on his shoulder and all these women
and children behind him.
Alas! gentlemen," cried Rip, "I am a poor, quiet man,
a native of this place,12 and a loyal 13 subject 10 of the King."
Here the bystanders 14 all shouted
" A subject of the King
of England ! Away with him!" 15
It was with great difficulty that the self-important man had restored
order,ig and, looking very serious indeed, demanded again of the
unknown 17 culprit ls what he came there for, and whom he was seeking.ls
The poor man declared that he meant no harm, but only came there
in search of some of his neighbours, who used to live near the
Well, who are they 4 Name them."
Rip thought for a moment, and inquired, " Where's Nicholas
There was silence for a little while, when an old man replied in
a thin voice
Nicholas Vedder! why, he is dead and gone these eighteen years
Where's Brom Dutcher7"
Oh, he went off to the army 20 in the beginning of the war.10 Some
say he was killed. He never came back again."
Where's Van Bummel, the schoolmaster?" 21
He went off to the wars too, was a great general, 22 and is now
in Congress." 23
Rip's heart grew heavy when he heard of these sad changes in his
home and his friends, and at finding himself thus alone in the
world. Every answer puzzled 24 him, too, for people talked about
things which he could not understand. What war were they talking
about '4 What was Congress ? He did not want to ask after any more
friends, but cried out
Does nobody 33 here know Rip Van Winkle?"
" Oh, Rip Van Winkle! " exclaimed two or three. "
Oh, to be sure ! that's Rip Van Winkle over there, leaning against
the tree." Rip looked and beheld a man just the same as he
had been when he went up the mountain-apparently25 as lazy, and
certainly as ragged.
The poor fellow was now quite confused.26 He did not know whether
he -was himself or another man. The selfimportant man then demanded
who he was, and what was his name.
I only wish I could tell," exclaimed he. "I'm not myselfI'm
somebody else-I'm over there-no-that's somebody else got into my
shoes. I was myself last night, but I fell asleep on the mountain,
and they've changed my gun, and everything's changed, and I can't
tell what's my name, or who I am."
The bystanders began to look at each other, nod, and tap their
fingers against their foreheads.27
There was a whisper, also, about taking his gun, and keeping the
old fellow from doing harm, at the very thought of which the self-important
man left them rather hurriedly.
At this very moment a fresh, nice-looking 28 woman made her way
through the people to have a look at the grey-bearded 29 man. She
had a healthy child in her arms, which, frightened at his appearance,
began to cry.
fiush,30 Rip," she cried, "hush; the old man won't hurt
The name of the child, the face of the mother, the sound of her
voice, all brought back memories.32
What is your name, my good woman ?" asked he.
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 he has never been
heard of since. His dog came home without him ; but whether he
shot himself, or was carried away by the Indians,33 nobody can
tell. I was then but a little girl."
Rip had only one more question to ask, but he put it with a trembling
Where's your mother?"
Oh, she died but a short time ago." Then Rip put his arms
round his daughter and her child.
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,34 until an old woman looked into his face for
a moment and 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 long years had
been to him but as one night.-'5 The neighbours stared when they
heard it. The self-important man, on seeing that poor Rip was quiet
and did not want to shoot anybody, had returned. When he heard
Rip's story, he shook his head, and all the other bystanders shook
their heads too.
To make a long story short, the company broke up 34 and returned
to the more serious business of the election. Rip's daughter took
him home to live with her. She had a nice, comfortable house, and
a cheerful farmer for a husband, whom Rip remembered as one of
the little boys who used to climb upon his back.
Rip used to tell his story to every stranger37 that arrived at
the hotel. Not a man, woman, or child in the neighbourhood but
knew it by heart.38 Even to this day they never hear a thunderstorm
on a summer afternoon about the Catskill Mountains, but they say
39 that Hendrick Hudson 40 and his men are at their game 41 of
1 As if he wanted to bite Rip. 2 Or: even my dog. 3 She was an ill-tempered
woman, but she did keep her house in good order. 4 No other sound was to be
heard. 5 When we are travelling, we spend the night in hotels. A hotel is bigger
and finer than an inn. 6 Made the men look at him, v. to attend ; a. attentive.
You listen attentively to the words of your teacher, you attend to what he
says, you give him your full attention. 7 Or: they all came round him. s They
were surprised at his appearance and wanted to know who he might be. They were
curious to find out who he was. 3 Or: asked. 10 There was an election at the
time. During Rip's long sleep there had been a war between Great Britain and
the Americans. The Americans were no longer subjects of King George III, of
England; the United States of America were a Republic, with a President, not
a King. They were going to have a new President, and some voted for one man,
others for another. This man wanted to know to which man Rip would give his
vote. 11 A man is self-important when he has a very good opinion of himself,
when he thinks a good deal of himself. See I. 2. 12 Or : living in this place.
This was his native village. Which is your native town? 13 A man is a loyal
subject when he honours his king, 14 The people standing near him. 15 Let us
drive him away ! 16 He did not find it easy to stop their shouting. It
was some time before they were quiet agaia. 17 opp. known ; cp. uncomfortable,
unfortunate, unhappy, unpleasant. 18 One who has done wrong. The bystanders
thought that as he was a subject of King George III. he wanted to do them some
harm. 19 Whom he wanted to find. He sought; he has sought. 20 He had become
a soldier, and bad fought in the American army. 21 He had taught the children
in the village school. 22 A general is at the head of an army of soldiers.
Give the name of a general in your own country. 23 Congress in the United States
is the same as Parliament in Great Britain. What is it called in your country? 24
In every answer there was something strange which he could not understand.
25 As it seemed (or: appeared). 26 He did not know what to think of it all.
27 They touched their foreheads several times, as a sign that something was
wrong in Rip's head. We sometimes tap at a door before going into a room. 28
She looked nice. 29 Having a grey beard; cp. four footed, good-natured,
ill-tempered. 30 We say " Hush !" when we want someone to be silent,
to stop talking. 31 Will not do you any harm. 32 We remember what has happened,
we have memories of it. 33 The Red Indians are the true natives of America.
Nobody : no one. 34 Or: greatly surprised. 36 Or : had seemed to him no longer
than one night. 36 The people went away. 37 A stranger was one who passed through
the village ; not a native of the village. 38 Every single person knew the
story. 39 Or: without saying. 40 The people thought that the man whom Rip saw
carrying the keg was Hendrick Hudson. An Englishman called Hudson sailed up
the River Hudson in 1609; it is after him that it was named. 41 Or : playing