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James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Bewildering Emotions


The merriment that followed was subdued--
As though the story-teller's attitude
Were dual, in a sense, appealing quite
As much to sorrow as to mere delight,
According, haply, to the listener's bent
Either of sad or merry temperament.--
'And of your two appeals I much prefer
The pathos,' said 'The Noted Traveler,'--
'For should I live to twice my present years,
I know I could not quite forget the tears
That child-eyes bleed, the little palms nailed wide,
And quivering soul and body crucified....
But, bless 'em! there are no such children here
To-night, thank God!--Come here to me, my dear!'
He said to little Alex, in a tone
So winning that the sound of it alone
Had drawn a child more lothful to his knee:--
'And, now-sir, _I'll_ agree if _you'll_ agree,--
_You_ tell us all a story, and then _I_
Will tell one.'

'_But I can't._'

'Well, can't you _try?_'
'Yes, Mister: he _kin_ tell _one_. Alex, tell
The one, you know, 'at you made up so well,
About the _Bear_. He allus tells that one,'
Said Bud,--'He gits it mixed some 'bout the _gun_
An' _ax_ the Little Boy had, an' _apples_, too.'--
Then Uncle Mart said--'There, now! that'll do!--
Let _Alex_ tell his story his own way!'
And Alex, prompted thus, without delay
Began.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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