Whoever has journeyed up the long Hudson River will remember the Catskill Mountains. Rising up to the west of the river, these mountains look different with each change in weather or time of day. Even when the rest of the land is cloudless, the Catskill Mountains at dusk hold a misty blanket around themselves, glowing with the rays of the setting sun.
It is said that in these misty mountains, strange magic can sometimes take place. Such a mysterious and magical thing happened long ago to a man named Rip Van Winkle. Rip lived in a village at the foot of the mountains. He was well-known in the village.
Rip Van Winkle lived in a comfortable house that he had built with his own two hands. He had a doting wife who took good care of the couple's several children. These children were all rosy-cheeked and happy, and they all loved their father.
Rip would gather his children around him and play games with them. The children and their father would fly kites and shoot marbles. Late at night around the family's fireplace, Rip would tell the children stories of ghosts and witches and the wild frontier. Rip Van Winkle was a good father and a good man who enjoyed his life.
One of Rip's favorite things to do was to hike among the beautiful Catskill Mountains. He loved to look at the plants and animals that lived there. He loved to stare at the mountains' misty majesty. It was on such an evening hike that Rip's famous troubles would occur.
That particular evening, as Rip and his dog, Wolf, started to climb into the mountains, there came from the woods a voice calling Rip's name.
"Rip Van Winkle!" the voice cried out. "Hello, Rip Van Winkle!" It seemed to be getting closer.
Rip looked around, but saw only an old crow perched in a tree. Figuring that his imagination was playing tricks on him, Rip began to hike again. But again he heard the voice call his name. "Rip Van Winkle!" it called.
Again, Rip turned around, and this time spotted a small figure walking toward him. As the stranger came closer, Rip was surprised at his appearance. The stranger was a very short and stout little man, with bushy hair and eyebrows and a full, bushy beard. On the man's shoulder was a barrel. The man asked Rip to help him carry it, and Rip, being a friendly man, agreed.
Rip and the strange little man carried the barrel high up into the mountains. They walked and walked, higher and higher into the misty mountains, and deeper and deeper into the dark woods.
Finally, the two came to a clearing. Here Rip spotted a group of small men much like his new friend. These men were busy playing a game of bowling on the clearing's grass. All of the little men had long, flowing beards and funny hats and clothes, much like the man with the barrel.
The men opened up the barrel, which Rip saw was full of a strange, dark liquid. Pouring the liquid into cups and mugs, the men offered one to Rip. Rip found the drink so sweet and so good that he drank mug after mug of it. All the while, the strange little men watched Rip drink. And then, the men watched his head begin to nod, his eyes begin to close, and soon, Rip Van Winkle was asleep.
Find out what happened when Rip Van Winkle woke up on the next page.