Rip van Winkle, the hero of a short story by the American writer Washington Irving, was based on an old German legend. Rip was a cheerful but lazy farmer in upstate New York. Always willing to help others, Rip neglected his own home and chores, causing his wife to nag him constantly. One day Rip went hunting in the Catskill Mountains and met a strange-looking little man carrying a keg of liquor. Rip helped the man carry the barrel to a place in the mountains where he saw many similar people playing a bowling game. Rip drank some of the liquor and fell asleep.
Twenty years later, Rip awoke to find his world completely changed. During his long sleep, his wife and most of his friends had died, and the American Revolution had taken place. At first, no one believed his story, but a young woman explained that her father, Rip van Winkle, had gone away 20 years ago. Rip later learned that the little men he saw were the ghosts of Henry Hudson's crew who had discovered the Hudson River.