In 1766, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle lived in a little village of great antiquity, founded by some of the Dutch colonists west of the Hudson River in the Catskill Mountains. The Van Winkles had fought gallantly alongside Peter Stuyvesant at the siege of Fort Christina, but Rip himself inherited little of the martial character of his war-like ancestors. For some time this Appalachian region had been a province of Great Britain. On this glorious fall day, it would seem the reign of King George III was untroubled. Still the first trimester of any pregnancy is a matter best keep private by parents of the unborn child, and the birth of a new nation is much the same. They must pray for God' mercy, and hope against hope, that that theirs is not a violent birth in blood and tears.
In 1766, amongst the Catskill Mountains lived Dame Van Winkle, her morose husband Rip, their two children and dog named 'Wolf'. They were getting on with their lives in peace, albeit for the wife's hot temper, frustrated by her husband's inactivity. Dame had dreams, bigger dreams. So did America.
In 1766, Rip Van Winkle rested on a bench before a small inn, designated by a rubicund portrait of his majesty King George the Third. His wife Dame had driven him out of home for his broken promises to repair the house. Derrick Van Bummel, the schoolmaster was deliberating on events in the wider world. Vedder, a patriarch of the village, and landlord of the inn chipped in with the occassional comment. An evening of human fellowship, there was no need to change the House, and no need to get angry about the events roundabout. Situation normal.
In 1766, Rip Van Winkle, driven out of home by his wife for his broken promises to repair the house wandered into the Castkill mountains with his dog 'Wolf'. A band of men hailed from the river. The whole group reminded Rip of the figures in an old Flemish painting, in the parlor of Dominie Van Schaick, the village parson, and which had been brought over from Holland at the time of the settlement. Together they drank a flagon of 'Hollands' together, and Rip fell deep asleep.
In 1786, Rip Van Winkle to find an old firelock lying by him, the barrel incrusted with rust, the lock falling off. There was no sign of 'Wolf' his dog, nor the band of strangers. Perhaps the grave roysters of the mountain had put a trick upon him, and having dosed him with liquor, had robbed him of his gun.
In 1786, Rip Van Winkle stumbles into the city of New York, attempting to find this imposter, George Washington, who had supplanted the rightful rule of King George. He had been told that the capital of these United States was in New York City, the old New Amsterdam. He strode the streets like a ghost from another world, his long gray hair and beard giving him the appearance of an ancient wizard risen and seeking something in this new country that had been ripped from him. He stopped in a shop to replace the flintlock that had rusted beside him in the hills, but his money did not match this new land's. He attacked and killed the shopkeeper in his anger, and the young son of the shopkeeper, a boy named Washington, incensed the old man as well. He shot the child, and was surprised to find himself fading away...
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.