In "The Storyteller," the aunt underestimates the children's attention span. She underestimates the children's ability to show interest in any story. She has tried everything to keep them quiet. She tells them a story of which they have no interest. The man traveling in the train car with the aunt and three extremely inquisitive children, to a point of being annoying, inserts that the aunt did not tell a very good story:
'You don't seem to be a success as a story-teller,' said the bachelor suddenly from his corner.
The aunt, offended, responds:
'Perhaps you would like to tell them a story,' was the aunt's retort.
She underestimates the children's ability to sit quietly and listen to the bachelor's story. She could not keep them quiet with her story. She could not keep the children interested in her story. She underestimates the children's ability to actually become interested in any story. The aunt thinks the children will react to his story the way they have reacted to hers. When the bachelor is able to command the children's attention, the aunt tries to hide her admiration during the bachelor's story telling:
The aunt suppressed a gasp of admiration.
Truly, the aunt is impressed that the bachelor has maintained command of the children's attention. However, by the end of the story, she reprimands the bachelor for telling such a story with such a terrible ending. She insists that his story has been most improper:
'A most improper story to tell to young children! You have undermined the effect of years of careful teaching.'
The bachelor smugly responds:
'I kept them quiet for ten minutes, which was more than you were able to do.'