In June of 1920 I received the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Mathematics and Economics, a title which, coupled to the name of Lucius Mirabeau Lamar the Third, was of such resounding grandiloquence as to bring from the assembled students faculty and families (who else would be there in the boiling muggy Texas sun?) a burst of applause embracing, I knew well enough, a component of irony. It did sound good, as some of the movie false fronts look good, but there was mostly air behind it.
From Shards by Lucius M. Lamar, 1968
And this before Lucius M. Lamar, III, (1898-1978) added a law degree.
It is not surprising someone so willing to self-mock would choose a conscientiously pretentious name for the protagonist in a pride-before-the-fall, the-grass-is-always-greener, be-careful-what-you-wish-for fable, So Doth a Little Polly, woven for his five-year-old-niece and seven-year-old nephew.
Jesus Francisco de Assisi Sensontle.
This tale of a San Antonio mockingbird did not bow to monosyllabic rhyming words first-graders could read. No, it was a vocabulary-stretching story rippling with multiple layers of bicultural meaning and accompanying music ranging from “Hinky Dinky Parlez Vous” to Handel.
Sensontle, or Don Sensontle as he preferred to be called, wintered on Alamo Plaza, convinced he reigned over all other feathered creatures. He believed his singing so awe-inspiriting he was “astonished at his own virtuosity” (Notes in the margin recommend the accompaniment of a toy flute here.).
One day a sparrow, Cecil, asked if Sensontle had read the recent news from Austin in the paper:
“A gentleman never reads,” replied Sensontle with dignity, being innocent of that clerical accomplishment.
“Perhaps not,” went on Cecil, ignoring the implication….
The news Cecil the sparrow was trumpeting was that the mockingbird had been proclaimed the State Bird of Texas.
Pompous pride over this tribute soon led to a downturn in Sensontle’s popularity among the birds of the plaza (pompous chords followed by a fast march).
Frustrated, Sensontle flew to a home on Zarzamora Street to visit his caged cousin, Maria Ysabel Dolores Soledad Sensontle, “a handsome and engaging young fellow, whose somewhat effeminate name had been bestowed by his captors under a misapprehension as to his sex.”
Yearning for an easy life, Sensontle negotiated to change places with his cousin for a year.
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A year later Maria returns and perches on the branch of a fig tree near his former cage. Sensontle desperately pleads:
“Kindly release me.”
“Come,” said Maria, “your morals have improved at the expense of your manners. You should ask no labor of me until I have got my wind.”
“I ask nothing save the fulfillment of your promise, which is a sacred duty you should perform at once, tired or not. Be quick, let me out!”
“Patience, cousin, patience,” soothed Maria.
And that’s the problem.
Twelve dried, yellowed, longer-than-legal-sized typewritten pages.
The end of the story is missing, scattered somewhere amongst the shards left in the wake of closing the Mister’s parents’ household. Lost. Along with copies of other “children’s” works produced by Lucius, including “Hardboiled Harry.”
We are hoping the Mister’s great-uncle passed the stories down orally to his own children and are mailing “So Doth a Little Polly” to his daughter tomorrow.
Please. Let us know if Sensontle lived to fly freely lording over the Alamo once again….
1 thought on “‘So Doth a Little Polly,’ sayeth this Lamar”
Gayle, I am so pleased and touched to see this report on my father’s story. I am sorry to say that neither I nor my cousin Mary Gaddis (the current family members with the most interest and archives) know any more about the story or its fate. Now that you have concluded your search for the missing pages, I will send out feelers to other cousins and hope for the best.
With gratitude and admiration for your summary,