Bewildering Emotions

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

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.

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