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"So I do not work for Mister Kennan any more. I am a rich man. Three thousand dollars, all mine, from the Government, and Mister Kennan sees that it is paid to me by the Government and not robbed from me by the men with the guns. Just because I kicked the man in the head who was like a mountain lion! It is fortune. It is America. And I am glad that I have left Italy and come to chop wood on Mister Kennan's ranch. And I start this hotel in Glen Ellen with the three thousand dollars. I know there is large money in the hotel business. When I was a little boy, did not my father have a hotel in Napoli? I have now two daughters in high school. Also I own an automobile."
* * * * *
"Mercy me, the whole ranch is a hospital!" cried Villa Kennan, two days later, as she came out on the broad sleeping-porch and regarded Harley and Jerry stretched out, the one with his leg in splints, the other with his leg in a plaster cast. "Look at Michael," she continued. "You're not the only ones with broken bones. I've only just discovered that if his nose isn't broken, it ought to be, from the blow he must have received on it. I've had hot compresses on it for the last hour. Look at it!"
Michael, who had followed in at her invitation, betrayed a ridiculously swollen nose as he sniffed noses with Jerry, wagged his bobtail to Harley in greeting, and was greeted in turn with a blissful hand laid on his head.
"Must have got it in the fight," Harley said. "The fellow struck him with the whip many times, so Piccolomini says, and, naturally, it would be right across the nose when he jumped for him."
"And Piccolomini says he never cried out when he was struck, but went on running and jumping," Villa took up enthusiastically. "Think of it! A dog no bigger than Michael dragging out of the saddle a man-killing outlaw whom scores of officers could not catch!"
"So far as we are concerned, he did better than that," Harley commented quietly. "If it hadn't been for Michael, and for Jerry, too--if it hadn't been for the pair of them, I do verily believe that that lunatic would have kicked my head off as he promised."
"The blessed pair of them!" Villa cried, with shining eyes, as her hand flashed out to her husband's in a quick press of heart-thankfulness. "The last word has not been said upon the wonder of dogs," she added, as, with a quick winking of her eyelashes to overcome the impending moistness, she controlled her emotion.
"The last word of the wonder of dogs will never be said," Harley spoke, returning the pressure of her hand and releasing it in order to help her.
"And just for that were going to say something right now," she smiled. "Jerry, and Michael, and I. We've been practising it in secret for a surprise for you. You just lie there and listen. It's the Doxology. Don't Laugh. No pun intended."
She bent forward from the stool on which she sat, and drew Michael to her so that he sat between her knees, her two hands holding his head and jowls, his nose half-buried in her hair.