XII. Rip Van Winkle (1)
Whoever has made a voyage up the Hudson 1 must
remember the Catskill Mountains. They are a branch of the great
Appalachian family,2 and are seen away to the west of the river,
lording 3 it over the surrounding country.
Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed every hour
of the day, makes some change in the wonderful hues 4 and shapes
5 of these mountains, and all the good wives, far and near, say
that they are perfect 6 barometers.7
At the foot of these mountains the traveller may have seen the
light smoke rising up from a village, whose roofs gleams among
the trees. In that same village there lived many years ago, while
the country was a province of Great Britain,9 a simple 10 good-natured" fellow,
of the name of Rip Van Winkle.
The children of the village would shout 12 with joy whenever he
appeared. He assisted 13 at their games, made their playthings,14
taught them to fly kites,15 and told them long stories.
He was always ready to assist a neighbour even in the hardest work.
The women of the village, too, used to employ him 16 to do such
little odd jobs17 as their less obliging 18 husbands would
not do for them. In a`vurd, Rip was ready to attend to 19 anybody's
business but his own : and as to doing work at home, and keeping
his farm in order, he found it impossible.20
He declared it was of no use to work on his farm. It was the most
worthless little piece of ground in the whole country. Everything
about it went wrong, and would go wrong, in spite of him.21 His
children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody.
His son Rip, a boy in his own likeness,22 promised to inherit 23
the habits with the old clothes of his father. Rip
Van Winkle, however, was one of these happy foolish fellows who
eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought
or trouble, and would rather starve 24 on a penny than work for
If left to himself, he would have whistled life away 25 in perfect
contentment 26 ; but his wife kept continually 27 scolding him
for his idleness 28 and his carelessness.28 Morning, noon, and
night, her tongue was always going, and everything he said or did
was sure to be wrong and to make her talk. Rip had but one way
of replying to her scolding, and that, bv frequent use,29 had grown
into a habit. He shrugged 3o his shoulders, shook his head, but
This, however, always led to a fresh scolding from his wife. So
he thought it better to leave her, and to take to the outside of
the house,-the only side which, in truth,31 belongs to a lazy husband.
Rip's only friend in the house was his dog Wolf, who was as much
grumbled at 32 as his master; for Dame Van Winkle thought them
companions 33 in idleness.
Often poor Rip felt he could stand 34 it no longer. To escape 35
from work on the farm and the loud tongue of his wife, he then
took his gun 36 and wandered away into the woods.
Here he would sometimes seat himself at the foot of a tree, and
share 37 his meal with Wolf, his companion.
Poor Wolf," he would say,38 " your mistress treats you
very badly; but as long as I am alive, vou have a good friend."
Wolf would wag his tail,39 and look up into his master's face,
as if he quite understood, and felt no less sorry for Rip than
Rip felt for him.
In a long ramble 40 of this kind on a fine autumn day, Rip had
reached one of the highest parts of the Catskill Mountains. He
was busy shooting 36 squirrels, and the silent woods had echoed
41 and re-echoed 41 with the reports 42 of his gun.
At last he felt tired and threw himself, late in the afternoon,
on a little green hill. From an opening43 between the trees he
could see all the lower country for many a mile of rich
As he was going to descend,45 he heard a voice from a distance
calling out :
Rip Van Winkle ! Rip Van Winkle !"
He looked around, but he could see nothing but a crow flying across
He thought he had made a mistake, and turned again to descend,
when he heard the same cry ringing 46 through the still evening
I°Rip Van Wiukle! Rip Van Winkle!"
At the same time Wolf bristled up his back,47 and, giving a low
grow1,48 came to his master's side, looking fearfully 49 down among
Rip now felt a kind of fear coming over him. He looked anxiously
in the same direction,50 and perceived 51 a strange figure slowly
climbing up the rocks, and bending 52 under the weight of something
he carried on his back.
1 Anyone who has sailed up the Hudson, a great river in the United States of
America. New York is on the Hudson. We travel up a river, when we go farther
and farther from its mouth, not in the same direction as the water. 2 They
are part of the Appalachian Mountains. 3 A lord is a man of noble family. These
mountains lorded it over the surrounding couutry : they seemed proud and grand.
4 Or : colours. 5 A ball has a round shape, it is round in shape. Draw the
shape of a mountain on the blackboard. 6 A thing is perfect when it is as good
as it can possibly be. We say "It is a perfect day," when the weather
is very fine. Sometimes we say "perfectly" for "quite' : These
flowers are perfectly beautiful. 7 A barometer is an instrument which shows
us what the weather will be. 8 Or : shine, are bright. 9 A province is part
of a country. The country now called the United States belonged to Great Britain
until 1776. 10 He was not very clever, did not think very much. 11 He had a
good nature, a kind heart ; he was not illtempered. Cp. goodsized (XI. 11).12
They used to cry out aloud, it made them so happy to see him, they rejoiced
when he came to them. 13 Or: helped them, gave them assistance. 14 Things that
they could use in their games. 15 Kites are made of paper (or cloth) and wood.
A long string is tied to them. The wind carries the kite along, but we hold
one end of the string. Do you know the shape of a kite? 16 Or: make use of
him. 17 Small pieces of work. 18 Ready to help, willing to do something for
19 Or: to see to, to look after. 20 It seemed to him that he could not do any
odd jobs in his own house or attend to his farm. 21 Or : however much he worked,
whatever he did. 22 Or: very much like him. Cp. bright, brightness; busy, business;
cheerful, cheerfulness; clever, cleverness ; dark, darkness; forgetful, forgetfulness;
happy, happiness; kind, kindness; sad, sadness; ugly, ugliness. 23 When a father
dies, his wife and children inherit what he has left. Here "inherit" means
to receive from the father, although the father is still alive. 24 Or : die
of hunger. 25 Or: spent his life in whistling, done nothing but whistle. 26
Adj. contented ; in perfect contentment : quite happily, not wishing for
anything better. 27 v. to continue (see L 28); continually, without stopping.
She was always scolding him. 28 Substantives to idle and to careless, opp.
careful. Care, careless ; cp. worth, worthless. 29 Or: because he did it so
frequently (or: often). 30 A man shrugs his shoulders to show that he does
not care. 31 Adj. true : cp. warm, warmth ; long, length; strong, strength.
32 His mistress grumbled at him, she was unkind to him and showed it by her
words. 33 They were idle together. When I go for a walk with a friend, he is
my companion. 34 Or: bear. It was more than he could bear. 35 Or : get away.36
A man who hunts has a gun with which he shoots rabbits, bears, wolves, birds,
etc. I shot a rabbit; I have shot two crows. 37 He gave the dog part of his
meal, the dog received a share (or: part) of it. 38 Or: frequently said, used
to say. 39 A dog, when pleased, wags his tail. Past : wugged ; cp. beg. begged.
40 We ramble when we take a walk for pleasure, and go along slowly. 41 Sometimes,
when we shout, the sound of our voice comes back to us, we hear the echo. The
woods echoed and reechoed : they sent the echo back more than once. 42 When
we shoot, there is a loud report, the gun goes "Bang! " 43 Adj. open
; v. to open. Cp. to begin, a beginning ; to build, a building; to feel, a
feeling; to live, a living; to warn, a warning. 44 Land covered with trees.
45 Or : go down (the hill). 46 The cry (v. to cry) sounded clearly, like a
bell (see X. 48). 47 The hair of his back stood on end. 48 v. to growl. 49
Full of fear ; cp. beautiful, careful, cheerful, delightful, dreadful, forgetful,
harmful, hopeful, joyful, mournful, thankful, thoughtful, useful, wonderful.
50 He turned his eyes towards the same place as the dog had done. 51 Or : saw,
noticed, beheld. 52 He could not stand straight because of the heavy weight
on his back. Past : bent.