What does Peter Vanderdonk tell Rip and the villagers about the men in the mountains in "Rip van Winkle"?
After Rip awakens from his twenty-year sleep and returns to his village where no one recognizes him, he relates to curious bystanders and his daughter, Judith Gardenier, the events of his evening on the mountain and what he believes is his dream. Amidst the shaking of heads, it is decided that the people should consult old Peter Vanderdonk, the oldest among them and a descendant of one of the historian of the province.
He recollected Rip at once and corroborated his story in the most satisfactory manner. He assured the company that it was a fact handed down from his ancestor the historian that the Kaatskill Mountains had always been haunted by strange beings.
Vanderdonk further asserts that his ancestor recorded that Hendrick Hudson, an English navigator who discovered the Hudson River, kept a "vigil every twenty years" with his crew of the old ship, the Half Moon. In this way, he was able to keep "a guardian eye" upon the area he had discovered. Vanderdonk contends that his father once saw these sailors in the Dutch clothing playing at ninepins in a hollow in the mountain, just as Rip van Winkle has reported. In a confirmation of Rip's description, Vanderdonk says that the ninepins made a sound like peals of thunder in the distance.
Shortly after Rip Van Winkle returns to his village after sleeping for twenty years in the Kaatskill Mountains, the villagers gather to listen to Rip explain his story. However, the community members are skeptical of Rip's identity and consult old Peter Vanderdonk. Peter Vanderdonk was a descendant of a historian who wrote one of the earliest accounts of the province. Peter was renowned throughout the community for his knowledge regarding the village's past events and traditions. He recognizes Rip Van Winkle immediately and corroborates his story. Peter Vanderdonk tells the villagers that his ancestor had passed down stories that described how the Kaatskill Mountains had always been haunted by "strange beings." It was also affirmed that Hendrick Hudson kept a vigil with his crew there every twenty years during the Half Moon. Peter then mentions that his father had witnessed Hudson and his crew playing nine-pins, and Peter himself heard their balls hitting the pins, which sounded like thunder in the distance.