Page:The Garden of Romance - 1897.djvu/170
158 THE GARDEN OF ROMANCE
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, lustre-like countenances, 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 naturally 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 overpowered, his eyes swam in his head, his head gradu- ally 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 the keg of liquor -the mountain ravine the wild retreat among the rocks the woe-begone party at ninepins the flagon " oh ! that flagon ! that wicked flagon ! " thought Rip ; " what excuse shall I make to Dame Van Winkle ? "
He looked round for his gun, but in place of the clean, well-oiled fowling-piece, he found an old firelock