A Test Of Love

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

"Now who shall say he loves me not."

He wooed her first in an atmosphere
Of tender and low-breathed sighs;
But the pang of her laugh went cutting clear
To the soul of the enterprise;
"You beg so pert for the kiss you seek
It reminds me, John," she said,
"Of a poodle pet that jumps to 'speak'
For a crumb or a crust of bread."

And flashing up, with the blush that flushed
His face like a tableau-light,
Came a bitter threat that his white lips hushed
To a chill, hoarse-voiced "Good night!"
And again her laugh, like a knell that tolled,
And a wide-eyed mock surprise, -
"Why, John," she said, "you have taken cold
In the chill air of your sighs!"

And then he turned, and with teeth tight clenched,
He told her he hated her, -
That his love for her from his heart he wrenched
Like a corpse from a sepulcher.
And then she called him "a ghoul all red
With the quintessence of crimes" -
"But I know you love me now," she said,
And kissed him a hundred times.

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