NORCAL-L ArchivesArchiver > NORCAL > 1999-06 > 0929841709
From: "Christine A. Doyle, M.D." <>
Subject: Mary - A True Tale (Part 3)
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 1999 18:21:49 -0700
[written by my greatgrandfather Michael Joseph Doyle, about his mother,
Mary Agnes Murphy Doyle]
Her donkey plodded without whip or rein,
Thro tangled shrubs that snared the winding way;
But urging pats like coaxing words were vain
To increase his gait and merely made him bray.
To fancy, every motion of his head
>From side to side seemed genturing firmly - No!
Unless dejection of his frame ill-fed
Strove, by its wagging, to depict his woe.
The negros stride, lost soon to hail or sight,
Set Mary worrying: might her boy now lost
Be in some pit or hidden jungle tossed
By his spent bearer? Growing chill with fright,
Other black conjurings thro her terror stirred:
Perhaps some ravenous animal, unheard,
Had pounced upon and dragged him to its lair
To feast in silence on her darling there.
Such frenzies seized her when the heat increased
She scarce could keep her seat upon the beast;
Until, perhaps, a clearing showed the pair
In some cool spot at east, her boy asleep,
Or, waking, of her terrors unaware,
Staring astonishment to see her weep.
But rank malarial vapors drugged again
Her vision on their way. The facile brain,
Often as distance hid her boy, would start
Weaving fantastic filaments that mocked,
Conjuring conjectures that all reason shocked,
Leaving no vigor in the tortured heart.
Fronds looked like hands whose digits waved her back
Or swished malicious oer her donkeys ears. -
Where a deep shadow fell across the track,
There gaped some threatening pit before her fears:
A large gray lichen seemed to squat in wrath,
Grimalkin-like, grimacing in her path.
But sudden darkness swept across the sky,
And racking thunders, lightning armed on high
Boomed rough belligerance thro rocked space afar,
In horrid crash of elemental war;
Followed by such a deluge, crystal clear,
A silvery screen hid even objects near.
Quick as this boon from heaven had been released
The cloud-born torrents in soft cadence ceased,
Leaving but lisping rivulets around
Bent toward thirsting fissures in the ground;
While tardier drops, like fairy footsteps fell,
>From freshened branches, dimpling every dell.
Tho Mary had dismounted twice before
She once more left the donkey to arrange
Her sodden packs and give her child a change,
Debating how to dry the dress she wore;
For now her reason, like the sky had cleared,
Rid, as by magic, of the sprites she feared.
While thus considering, hampered by her child,
The negro breaking through the brush in haste
Came up beside assuring, for he smiled,
And pointing toward the way he just retraced,
Put her upon the donkey, and defiled,
Tearing the brush before him, while he led
The beast by coaxing to a near-by shed.
Stooped nigh, an old squaw fanned a fresh brush fire,
While Marys little man, half stripped, stood near
Swinging a part of his still damp attire,
As tho at home, without a sign of fear.
Entering the shed, despite repugnance felt,
She placed her babe upon a spread-out pelt,
Summoned the squaw to wring and dry her dress;
Then took her babe to breast with fond caress.
Soon they were plodding on the road again,
And two hours later came within the ken
Of those who had preceded them, now camped
Near a clear brooklet by a hillock ramped,
>From whose rich vest of purple, red, and green
A distant view of Panama was seen.
They had not missed her at their hurried start
Until so far upon the way, return
To know what happened, or her plight to learn,
Was thought unwise. Now, seeing her, many a heart
Set to claim her. So warm was welcome there,
They abashed with undue tenderness and care.
>From heedless hearts indifferent at a test,
Conscience exacts past dues with interest.
Next morning all must be upon the way,
To board new lighters oer the shallow bay
Toward their vessel, anchored two miles out;
So, while they suppered, men discussed the route.
Night, like a nun in sable garb, drew nigh,
Disposing all to peace. Their evening meal,
Lit round by glories from the western sky,
Made even the weariest new devotion feel.
A pick-up breakfast theirs, and on they moved,
Often oer rapids forded in dismay;
Tried to extremity, but patient proved -
Some even humorous till they reached the bay.
Mary, quite spent again, was helped aboard
A lighter by those friends whose sympathy
Contrived a coush for her. Courage restored
She crossed at ease the shallow stretch of sea