James Whitcomb Riley

7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana

A Test Of Love

'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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