Part 6 out of 6
The nooses were slipped, and St. Elias was at liberty, within the
confines of his cage, to get acquainted with the ring in his nose.
With his powerful fore-paws, standing erect and roaring, he
proceeded to get acquainted with the ring. It certainly was not a
thing persuasible. It was living fire. And he tore at it with
his paws as he would have torn at the stings of bees when raiding
a honey-tree. He tore the thing out, ripping the ring clear
through the flesh and transforming the round perforation into a
ragged chasm of pain.
Mulcachy cursed. "Here's where hell coughs," he said. The nooses
were introduced again. Again St. Elias, helpless on his side
against and partly through the bars, had his nose punched. This
time it was the other nostril. And hell coughed. As before, the
moment he was released, he tore the ring out through his flesh.
Mulcachy was disgusted. "Listen to reason, won't you?" he
objurgated, as, this time, the reason he referred to was the
introduction of the ring clear through both nostrils, higher up,
and through the central dividing wall of cartilage. But St. Elias
was unreasonable. Unlike Ben Bolt, there was nothing inside of
him weak enough, or nervous enough, or high-strung enough, to
break. The moment he was free he ripped the ring away with half
of his nose along with it. Mulcachy punched St. Elias's right
ear. St. Elias tore his right ear to shreds. Mulcachy punched
his left ear. He tore his left ear to shreds. And Mulcachy gave
in. He had to. As he said plaintively:
"We're beaten. There ain't nothing left to make fast to."
Later, when St. Elias was condemned to be a "cage-animal" all his
days, Mulcachy was wont to grumble:
"He was the most unreasonable animal! Couldn't do a thing with
him. Couldn't ever get anything to make fast to."
It was in the Orpheum Theatre, of Oakland, California; and Harley
Kennan was in the act of reaching under his seat for his hat, when
his wife said:
"Why, this isn't the interval. There's one more turn yet."
"A dog turn," he answered, and thereby explained; for it was his
practice to leave a theatre during the period of the performance
of an animal-act.
Villa Kennan glanced hastily at the programme.
"Of course," she said, then added: "But it's a singing dog. A
dog Caruso. And it points out that there is no one on the stage
with the dog. Let us stay for once, and see how he compares with
"Some poor brute tormented into howling," Harley grumbled.
"But it has the stage to itself," Villa urged. "Besides, if it is
painful, then we can go out. I'll go out with you. But I just
would like to see how much better Jerry sings than does he. And
it says an Irish terrier, too."
So Harley Kennan remained. The two burnt-cork comedians finished
their turn and their three encores, and the curtain behind them
went up on a full set of an empty stage. A rough-coated Irish
terrier entered at a sedate walk, sedately walked forward to the
centre, nearly to the footlights, and faced the leader of the
orchestra. As the programme had stated, he had the stage to
The orchestra played the opening strains of "Sweet Bye and Bye."
The dog yawned and sat down. But the orchestra was thoroughly
instructed to play the opening strains over and over, until the
dog responded, and then to follow on with him. By the third time,
the dog opened his mouth and began. It was not a mere howling.
For that matter, it was too mellow to be classified as a howl at
all. Nor was it merely rhythmic. The notes the dog sang were of
the air, and they were correct.
But Villa Kennan scarcely heard.
"He has Jerry beaten a mile," Harley muttered to her.
"Listen," she replied, in tense whispers. "Did you ever see that
Harley shook his head.
"You have seen him before," she insisted. "Look at that crinkled
ear. Think! Think back! Remember!"
Still her husband shook his head.
"Remember the Solomons," she pressed. "Remember the Ariel.
Remember when we came back from Malaita, where we picked Jerry up,
to Tulagi, that he had a brother there, a nigger-chaser on a
"And his name was Michael--go on."
"And he had that self-same crinkled ear," she hurried. "And he
was rough-coated. And he was full brother to Jerry. And their
father and mother were Terrence and Biddy of Meringe. And Jerry
is our Sing Song Silly. And this dog sings. And he has a
crinkled ear. And his name is Michael."
"Impossible," said Harley.
"It is when the impossible comes true that life proves worth
while," she retorted. "And this is one of those worth-whiles of
impossibles. I know it."
Still the man of him said impossible, and still the woman of her
insisted that this was an impossible come true. By this time the
dog on the stage was singing "God Save the King."
"That shows I am right," Villa contended. "No American, in
America, would teach a dog 'God Save the King.' An Englishman
originally owned that dog and taught it. The Solomons are
"That's a far cry," he smiled. "But what gets me is that ear. I
remember it now. I remember the day when we were on the beach at
Tulagi with Jerry, and when his brother came ashore from the
Eugenie in a whaleboat. And his brother had that self-same,
loppy, crinkled ear."
"And more," Villa argued. "How many singing dogs have we ever
known! Only one--Jerry. Evidently such a type occurs rarely.
The same family would more likely produce similar types than
different families. The family of Terrence and Biddy produced
Jerry. And this is Michael."
"He WAS rough-coated, along with a crinkly ear," Harley meditated
back. "I see him distinctly as he stood up in the bow of the
whaleboat and as he ran along the beach side by side with Jerry."
"If Jerry should to-morrow run side by side with him you would be
convinced?" she queried.
"It was their trick, and the trick of Terrence and Biddy before
them," he agreed. "But it's a far cry from the Solomons to the
"Jerry is such a far cry," she replied. "And if Jerry won from
the Solomons to California, then is there anything more remarkable
in Michael so winning?--Oh, listen!"
For the dog on the stage, now responding to its one encore, was
singing "Home, Sweet Home." This finished, Jacob Henderson, to
tumultuous applause., came on the stage from the wings and joined
the dog in bowing. Villa and Harley sat in silence for a moment.
Then Villa said, apropos of nothing:
"I have been sitting here and feeling very grateful for one
"It is that we are so abominably wealthy," she concluded.
"Which means that you want the dog, must have him, and are going
to got him, just because I can afford to do it for you," he
"Because you can't afford not to," she answered. "You must know
he is Jerry's brother. At least, you must have a sneaking
suspicion . . . ?"
"I have," he nodded. "The thing that can't sometimes does, and
there is a chance that this may be one of those times. Of course,
it isn't Michael; but, on the other hand, what's to prevent it
from being Michael? Let us go behind and find out."
"More agents of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals," was Jacob Henderson's thought, as the man and woman,
accompanied by the manager of the theatre, were shown into his
tiny dressing-room. Michael, on a chair and half asleep, took no
notice of them. While Harley talked with Henderson, Villa
investigated Michael; and Michael scarcely opened his eyes ere he
closed them again. Too sour on the human world, and too glum in
his own soured nature, he was anything save his old courtly self
to chance humans who broke in upon him to pat his head, and say
silly things, and go their way never to be seen by him again.
Villa Kennan, with a pang of disappointment at such rebuff,
forwent her overtures for the moment, and listened to what tale
Jacob Henderson could tell of his dog. Harry Del Mar, a trained-
animal man, had picked the dog up somewhere on the Pacific Coast,
most probably in San Francisco, she learned; but, having taken the
dog east with him, Harry Del Mar had died by accident in New York
before telling anybody anything about the animal. That was all,
except that Henderson had paid two thousand dollars to one Harris
Collins, and had found the investment the finest he had ever made.
Villa turned back to the dog.
"Michael," she called, caressingly, almost in a whisper.
And Michael's eyes partly opened, the base-muscles of his ears
stiffened, and his body quivered.
"Michael," she repeated.
This time raising his head, the eyes open and the ears stiffly
erect, Michael looked at her. Not since on the beach at Tulagi
had he heard that name uttered. Across the years and the seas the
word came to him out of the past. Its effect was electrical, for
on the instant all the connotations of "Michael" flooded his
consciousness. He saw again Captain Kellar, of the Eugenie, who
had last called him it, and MISTER Haggin, and Derby, and Bob of
Meringe Plantation, and Biddy and Terrence, and, not least among
these shades of the vanished past, his brother Jerry.
But was it the vanished past? The name which had ceased for
years, had come back. It had entered the room along with this man
and woman. All this he did not reason; but indubitably, as if he
had so reasoned, he acted upon it.
He jumped from the chair and ran to the woman. He smelled her
hand, and smelled her as she patted him. Then, as he recognized
her, he went wild. He sprang away, dashing around and around the
room, sniffing under the washstand and smelling out the corners.
As in a frenzy he was back to the woman, whimpering eagerly as she
strove to pet him. The next moment, stiff in a frenzy, he was
away again, scurrying about the room and still whimpering.
Jacob Henderson looked on with mild disapproval.
"He never cuts up that way," he said. "He is a very quiet dog.
Maybe it is a fit he is going to have, though he never has fits."
No one understood, not even Villa Kennan. But Michael understood.
He was looking for that vanished world which had rushed back upon
him at sound of his old-time name. If this name could come to him
out of the Nothingness, as this woman had whom once he had seen
treading the beach at Tulagi, then could all other things of
Tulagi and the Nothingness come to him. As she was there, before
him in the living flesh, uttering his name, so might Captain
Kellar, and MISTER Haggin, and Jerry be there, somewhere in the
very room or just outside the door.
He ran to the door, whimpering as he scratched at it.
"Maybe he thinks there is something outside," said Jacob
Henderson, opening the door for him.
And Michael did so think. As a matter of course, through that
open door, he was prepared to have the South-Pacific Ocean flow
in, bearing on its bosom schooners and ships, islands and reefs,
and all men and animals and things he once had known and still
But no past flowed in through the door. Outside was the usual
present. He came back dejectedly to the woman, who still called
him Michael as she petted him. She, at any rate, was real. Next
he carefully smelled and identified the man with the beach of
Tulagi and the deck of the Ariel, and again his excitement began
"Oh, Harley, I know it is he!" Villa cried. "Can't you test him?
Can't you prove him?"
"But how?" Harley pondered. "He seems to recognize his name. It
excites him. And though he never knew us very well, he seems to
remember us and to be excited by us, too. If only he could talk .
. . "
"Oh, talk! Talk!" Villa pleaded with Michael, catching both sides
of his head and jaws in her hands and swaying him back and forth.
"Be careful, madam," Jacob Henderson warned. "He is a very sour
dog; and he don't let people take such liberties."
"He does me," she laughed, half-hysterically. "Because he knows
me. . . . Harley!" She broke off as the great idea dawned on her.
"I have a test. Listen! Remember, Jerry was a nigger-chaser
before we got him. And Michael was a nigger-chaser. You talk in
beche-de-mer. Appear angry with some black boy, and see how it
will affect him."
"I'll have to remember hard to resurrect any beche-de-mer," Harley
said, nodding approval of the suggestion.
"At the same time I'll distract him," she rushed on.
Sitting down and bending forward to Michael so that his head was
buried in her arms and breast, she began swaying him and crooning
to him as was her wont with Jerry. Nor did he resent the liberty
she took, and, like Jerry, he yielded to her crooning and softly
began to croon with her. She signalled Harley with her eyes.
"My word!" he began in tones of wrath. "What name you fella boy
stop 'm along this fella place? You make 'm me cross along you
And at the words Michael bristled, dragged himself clear of the
woman's detaining hands, and, with a snarl, whirled about to get a
look at the black boy who must have just then entered the room and
aroused the white god's ire. But there was no black boy. He
looked on, still bristling, to the door. Harley transferred his
own gaze to the door, and Michael knew, beyond all doubt, that
outside the door was standing a Solomons nigger.
"Hey! Michael!" Harley shouted. "Chase 'm that black fella boy
With a roaring snarl, Michael flung himself at the door. Such was
the fury and weight of his onslaught that the latch flew loose and
the door swung open. The emptiness of the space which he had
expected to see occupied, was appalling, and he shrank down, sick
and dizzy with the baffling apparitional past that thus vexed his
"And now," said Harley to Jacob Henderson, "we will talk business
. . . "
When the train arrived at Glen Ellen, in the Valley of the Moon,
it was Harley Kennan himself, at the side-door of the baggage-car,
who caught hold of Michael and swung him to the ground. For the
first time Michael had performed a railroad journey uncrated.
Merely with collar and chain had he travelled up from Oakland. In
the waiting automobile he found Villa Kennan, and, chain removed,
sat beside her and between her and Harley
As the machine purred along the two miles of road that wound up
the side of Sonoma Mountain, Michael scarcely looked at the
forest-trees and vistas of wandering glades. He had been in the
United States three years, during which time he had been kept a
close prisoner. Cage and crate and chain had been his portion,
and narrow rooms, baggage cars, and station platforms. The
nearest he had come to the country was when chained to benches in
the various parks while Jacob Henderson studied Swedenborg. So
that trees and hills and fields had ceased to mean anything. They
were something inaccessible, as inaccessible as the blue of the
sky or the drifting cloud-fleeces. Thus did he regard the trees
and hills and fields, if the negative act of not regarding a thing
at all can be considered a state of mind.
"Don't seem to be enthusiastic over the ranch, eh, Michael?"
He looked up at sound of his old name, and made acknowledgment by
flattening his ears a quivering trifle and by touching his nose
against Harley's shoulder.
"Nor does he seem demonstrative," was Villa's judgment. "At
least, nothing like Jerry,"
"Wait till they meet," Harley smiled in anticipation. "Jerry will
furnish enough excitement for both of them."
"If they remember each other after all this time," said Villa. "I
wonder if they will."
"They did at Tulagi," he reminded her. "And they were full grown
and hadn't seen each other since they were puppies. Remember how
they barked and scampered all about the beach. Michael was the
hurly-burly one. At least he made twice as much noise."
"But he seems dreadfully grown-up and subdued now."
"Three years ought to have subdued him," Harley insisted.
But Villa shook her head.
As the machine drew up at the house and Kennan first stepped out,
a dog's whimperingly joyous bark of welcome struck Michael as not
altogether unfamiliar. The joyous bark turned to a suspicious and
jealous snarl as Jerry scented the other dog's presence from
Harley's caressing hand. The next moment he had traced the
original source of the scent into the limousine and sprung in
after it. With snarl and forward leap Michael met the snarling
rush less than half-way, and was rolled over on the bottom of the
The Irish terrier, under all circumstances amenable to the control
of the master as are few breeds of dogs, was instantly manifest in
Jerry and Michael an Harley Kennan's voice rang out. They
separated, and, despite the rumbling of low growling in their
throats, refrained from attacking each other as they plunged out
to the ground. The little set-to had occurred in so few seconds,
or fractions of seconds, that they had not begun to betray
recognition of each other until they were out of the machine.
They were still comically stiff-legged and bristly as they aloofly
"They know each other!" Villa cried. "Let's wait and see what
they will do."
As for Michael, he accepted, without surprise, the indubitable
fact that Jerry had come back out of the Nothingness. Things of
this sort had begun to happen rapidly, but it was not the things
themselves, but the connotations of them, that almost stunned him.
If the man and woman, whom he had last seen at Tulagi, and,
likewise, Jerry, had come back from the Nothingness, then could
come, and might come at any moment, the beloved Steward.
Instead of responding to Jerry, Michael sniffed and glanced about
in quest of Steward. Jerry's first expression of greeting and
friendliness took the form of a desire to run. He barked
invitation to his brother, scampered away half a dozen jumps,
scampered back, and dabbed playfully at Michael with one fore-paw
in added emphasis of invitation ere he scampered away again.
For so many years had Michael not run with another dog, that at
first Jerry's invitation had little meaning to him. Nevertheless,
such running was an habitual expression of happiness and
friendliness in dogdom, and especially strong had been his
inheritance of it from Terrence and Biddy, the noted love-runners
of the Solomons.
The next time Jerry dabbed at him with a paw, barked, and scurried
away in an enticing semicircle, Michael started involuntarily
though slowly after him. But Michael did not bark; and, after
half a dozen leaps, he came to a full stop and looked to Villa and
Harley for permission.
"All right, Michael," Harley called heartily, deliberately turning
his shoulder in the non-interest of consent as he extended his
hand to help Villa from the machine.
Michael sprang away again, and was numbly aware of an ancient joy
as he shouldered Jerry who shouldered against him as they ran side
by side. But most of the joy was Jerry's, as was the wildest of
the skurrying and the racing and the shouldering, of the body-
wriggling, and ear-pricking, and yelping cries. Also, Jerry
barked; and Michael did not bark.
"He used to bark," said Villa.
"Much more than Jerry," Harley supplemented.
"Then they have taken the bark out of him," she concluded. "He
must have gone through terrible experiences to have lost his
The green California spring merged into tawny summer, as Jerry,
ever running afield, made Michael acquainted with the farthest and
highest reaches of the Kennan ranch in the Valley of the Moon.
The pageant of the wild flowers vanished until all that lingered
on the burnt hillsides were orange poppies faded to palest gold,
and Mariposa lilies, wind-blown on slender stems amidst the
desiccated grasses, that smouldered like ornate spotted moths
fluttering in rest for a space between flight and flight.
And Michael, a follower always where the exuberant Jerry led,
sought throughout the passing year for what he could not find.
"Looking for something, looking for something," Harley would say
to Villa. "It is not alive. It is not here. Now just what is it
he is always looking for?"
Steward it was, and Michael never found him. The Nothingness held
him and would not yield him up, although, could Michael have
journeyed a ten-days' steamer-journey into the South Pacific to
the Marquesas, Steward he would have found, and, along with him,
Kwaque and the Ancient Mariner, all three living like lotus-eaters
on the beach-paradise of Taiohae. Also, in and about their grass-
thatched bungalow under the lofty avocado trees, Michael would
have found other pet--cats, and kittens, and pigs, donkeys and
ponies, a pair of love-birds, and a mischievous monkey or two; but
never a dog and never a cockatoo. For Dag Daughtry, with violence
of language, had laid a taboo upon dogs. After Killeny Boy, he
averred, there should be no other dog. And Kwaque, without
averring anything at all, resolutely refrained from possessing
himself of the white cockatoos brought ashore by the sailors off
the trading schooners.
But Michael was long in giving over his search for Steward, and,
running the mountain trails or scrambling and sliding down into
the deep canyons, was ever expectant and ready for Steward to step
forth before him, or to pick up the unmistakable scent that would
lead him to him.
"Looking for something, looking for something," Harley Kennan
would chant curiously, as he rode beside Villa and observed
Michael's unending search. "Now Jerry's after rabbits, and fox-
trails; but you'll notice they don't interest Michael much.
They're not what he's after. He behaves like one who has lost a
great treasure and doesn't know where he lost it nor where to look
Much Michael learned from Jerry of the varied life of the forest
and fields. To run with Jerry seemed the one pleasure he took,
for he never played. Play had passed out of him. He was not
precisely morose or gloomy from his years on the trained-animal
stage and in Harris Collins's college of pain, but he was sobered,
subdued. The spring and the spontaneity had gone out of him.
Just as the leopard had claw-marked his shoulder so that damp and
frosty weather made the pain of the old wound come back, so was
his mind marked by what he had gone through. He liked Jerry, was
glad to be with him and to run with him; but it was Jerry who was
ever in the lead, who ever raised the hue and cry of hunting
pursuit, who barked indignation and eager yearning at a tree'd
squirrel in refuge forty feet above the ground. Michael looked on
and listened, but took no part in such antics of enthusiasm.
In the same way he looked on when Jerry fought fearful comic
battles with Norman Chief, the great Percheron stallion. It was
only play, for Jerry and Norman Chief were tried friends; and,
though the huge horse, ears laid back, mouth open to bite, pursued
Jerry in mad gyrations all about the paddock, it was with no
thought of inflicting hurt, but merely to act up to his part in
the sham battle. Yet no invitation of Jerry's could induce
Michael to join in the fun. He contented himself with sitting
down outside the rails and looking on.
"Why play?" might Michael have asked, who had had all play taken
out of him.
But when it came to serious work, he was there even ahead of
Jerry. On account of foot-and-mouth disease and of hog-cholera,
strange dogs were taboo on the Kennan ranch. It did not take
Michael long to learn this, and stray dogs got short shrift from
him. With never a warning bark nor growl, in deadly silence, he
rushed them, slashed and bit them, rolled them over and over in
the dust, and drove them from the place. It was like nigger-
chasing, a service to perform for the gods whom he loved and who
willed such chasing.
No wild passion of love, such as he had had for Steward, did he
bear Villa and Harley, but he did develop for them a great, sober
love. He did not go out of his way to express it with overtures
of wrigglings and squirmings and whimpering yelpings. Jerry could
be depended upon for that. But he was always seriously glad to be
with Villa and Harley and to receive recognition from them next
after Jerry. Some of his deepest moments of content, before the
fireplace, were to sit beside Villa or Harley and lean his head
against a knee and have a hand, on occasion, drop down on his head
or gently twist his crinkled ear.
Jerry was even guilty of playing with children who happened at
times to be under the Kennan aegis. Michael endured children for
as long as they left him alone. If they waxed familiar, he would
warn them with a bristling of his neck-hair and a throaty rumbling
and get up and stalk away.
"I can't understand it," Villa would say. "He was the fullest of
play, and spirits, and all foolishness. He was much sillier and
much more excitable than Jerry and certainly noisier. He must
have some terrible story to tell, if only he could, of all that
happened between Tulagi and the time we found him on the Orpheum
"And that may be the least little hint of it," Harley would reply,
pointing to Michael's shoulder where the leopard had scarred it on
the day Jack, the Airedale, and Sara, the little green monkey, had
"He used to bark, I know he used to bark," Villa would continue.
"Why doesn't he bark now?"
And Harley would point to the scarred shoulder and say, "That may
account for it, and most possibly a hundred other things like it
of which we cannot see the marks."
But the time was to come when they were to hear him bark again--
not once, but twice. And both times were to be but an earnest of
another and graver time when, without barking at all, he would
express in action the measure of his love and worship of them who
had taken him from the crate and the footlights and given him the
freedom of the Valley of the Moon.
And in the meantime, running endlessly with Jerry over the ranch,
he learned all the ways of it and all the life of it from the
chickenyards and the duck-ponds to the highest pitch of Sonoma
Mountain. He learned where the wild deer, in their season, were
to be found; when they raided the prune-orchard, the vineyards,
and the apple-trees; when they sought the deepest canyons and most
secret coverts; and when they stamped out in open glades and on
bare hillsides and crashed and clattered their antlers together in
combat. Under Jerry's leadership, always running second and after
on the narrow trails as a subdued dog should, he learned the ways
and habits of the foxes, the coons, the weasels, and the ring-tail
cats that seemed compounded of cat and coon and weasel. He came
to know the ground-nesting birds and the difference between the
customs of the valley quail, the mountain quail, and the
pheasants. The traits and lairs of the domestic cats gone wild he
also learned, as did he learn the wild loves of mountain farm-dogs
with the free-roving coyotes.
He knew of the presence of the mountain lion, adrift down from
Mendocino County, ere the first shorthorn calf was slain, and came
home from the encounter, torn and bleeding, to attest what he had
discovered and to be the cause of Harley Kennan riding trail next
day with a rifle across his pommel. Likewise Michael came to know
what Harley Kennan never did know and always denied as existing on
his ranch--the one rocky outcrop, in the dense heart of the
mountain forest, where a score of rattlesnakes denned through the
winters and warmed themselves in the sun.
Winter came on in its delectable way in the Valley of the Moon.
The last Mariposa lily vanished from the burnt grasses as the
California Indian summer dreamed itself out in purple mists on the
windless air. Soft rain-showers first broke the spell. Snow fell
on the summit of Sonoma Mountain. At the ranch house the morning
air was crisp and brittle, yet midday made the shade welcome, and
in the open, under the winter sun, roses bloomed and oranges,
grape-fruit, and lemons turned to golden yellow ripeness. Yet, a
thousand feet beneath, on the floor of the valley, the mornings
were white with frost.
And Michael barked twice. The first time was when Harley Kennan,
astride a hot-blooded sorrel colt, tried to make it leap a narrow
stream. Villa reined in her steed at the crest beyond, and,
looking back into the little valley, waited for the colt to
receive its lesson. Michael waited, too, but closer at hand. At
first he lay down, panting from his run, by the stream-edge. But
he did not know horses very well, and soon his anxiety for the
welfare of Harley Kennan brought him to his feet.
Harley was gentle and persuasive and all patience as he strove to
make the colt take the leap. The urge of voice and rein was of
the mildest; but the animal balked the take-off each time, and the
hot thoroughbredness in its veins made it sweat and lather. The
velvet of young grass was torn up by its hoofs, and its terror of
the stream was such, that, when fetched to the edge at a canter,
it stiffened and crouched to an abrupt stop, then reared on its
hind-legs. Which was too much for Michael.
He sprang at the horse's head as it came down with fore-feet to
earth, and as he sprang he barked. In his bark was censure and
menace, and, as the horse reared again, he leaped into the air
after it, his teeth clipping together as he just barely missed its
Villa rode back down the slope to the opposite bank of the stream.
"Mercy!" she cried. "Listen to him! He's actually barking."
"He thinks the colt is trying to do some damage to me," Harley
said. "That's his provocation. He hasn't forgotten how to bark.
He's reading the colt a lecture."
"If he gets him by the nose it will be more than a lecture," Villa
warned. "Be careful, Harley, or he will."
"Now, Michael, lie down and be good," Harley commanded. "It's all
right, I tell you. It's an right. Lie down."
Michael sank down obediently, but protestingly; and he had eyes
only for the horse's antics, while all his muscles were gathered
tensely to spring in case the horse threatened injury to Harley
"I can't give in to him now, or he never will jump anything,"
Harley said to his wife, as he whirled about to gallop back to a
distance. "Either I lift him over or I take a cropper."
He came back at full speed, and the colt, despite himself, unable
to stop, lifted into the leap that would avoid the stream he
feared, so that he cleared it with a good two yards to spare on
the other side.
The next time Michael barked was when Harley, on the same hot-
blood mount, strove to close a poorly hung gate on the steep pitch
of a mountain wood-road. Michael endured the danger to his man-
god as long as he could, then flew at the colt's head in a frenzy
"Anyway, his barking helped," Harley conceded, as he managed to
close the gate. "Michael must certainly have told the colt that
he'd give him what-for if he didn't behave."
"At any rate, he's not tongue-tied," Villa laughed, "even if he
isn't very loquacious."
And Michael's loquacity never went farther. Only on these two
occasions, when his master-god seemed to be in peril, was he known
to bark. He never barked at the moon, nor at hillside echoes, nor
at any prowling thing. A particular echo, to be heard directly
from the ranch-house, was an unfailing source of exercise for
Jerry's lungs. At such times that Jerry barked, Michael, with a
bored expression, would lie down and wait until the duet was over.
Nor did he bark when he attacked strange dogs that strayed upon
"He fights like a veteran," Harley remarked, after witnessing one
such encounter. "He's cold-blooded. There's no excitement in
"He's old before his time," Villa said. "There is no heart of
play left in him, and no desire for speech. Just the same I know
he loves me, and you--"
"Without having to be voluble about it," her husband completed for
"You can see it shining in those quiet eyes of his," she
"Reminds me of one of the survivors of Lieutenant Greeley's
Expedition I used to know," he agreed. "He was an enlisted
soldier and one of the handful of survivors. He had been through
so much that he was just as subdued as Michael and just as
taciturn. He bored most people, who could not understand him. Of
course, the truth was the other way around. They bored him. They
knew so little of life that he knew the last word of. And one
could scarcely get any word out of him. It was not that he had
forgotten how to speak, but that he could not see any reason for
speaking when nobody could understand. He was really crusty from
too-bitter wise experience. But all you had to do was look at him
in his tremendous repose and know that he had been through the
thousand hells, including all the frozen ones. His eyes had the
same quietness of Michael's. And they had the same wisdom. I'd
give almost anything to know how he got his shoulder scarred. It
must have been a tiger or a lion."
The man, like the mountain lion whom Michael had encountered up
the mountain, had strayed down from the wilds of Mendocino County,
following the ruggedest mountain stretches, and, at night,
crossing the farmed valley spaces where the presence of man was a
danger to him. Like the mountain lion, the man was an enemy to
man, and all men were his enemies, seeking his life which he had
forfeited in ways more terrible than the lion which had merely
killed calves for food.
Like the mountain lion, the man was a killer. But, unlike the
lion, his vague description and the narrative of his deeds was in
all the newspapers, and mankind was a vast deal more interested in
him than in the lion. The lion had slain calves in upland
pastures. But the man, for purposes of robbery, had slain an
entire family--the postmaster, his wife, and their three children,
in the upstairs over the post office in the mountain village of
For two weeks the man had eluded and exceeded pursuit. His last
crossing had been from the mountains of the Russian River, across
wide-farmed Santa Rosa Valley, to Sonoma Mountain. For two days
he had laired and rested, sleeping much, in the wildest and most
inaccessible precincts of the Kennan Ranch. With him he had
carried coffee stolen from the last house he had raided. One of
Harley Kennan's angora goats had furnished him with meat. Four
times he had slept the clock around from exhaustion, rousing on
occasion, like any animal, to eat voraciously of the goat-meat, to
drink large quantities of the coffee hot or cold, and to sink down
into heavy but nightmare-ridden sleep.
And in the meantime civilization, with its efficient organization
and intricate inventions, including electricity, had closed in on
him. Electricity had surrounded him. The spoken word had located
him in the wild canyons of Sonoma Mountain and fringed the
mountain with posses of peace-officers and detachments of armed
farmers. More terrible to them than any mountain lion was a man-
killing man astray in their landscape. The telephone on the
Kennan Ranch, and the telephones on all other ranches abutting on
Sonoma Mountain, had rung often and transmitted purposeful
conversations and arrangements.
So it happened, when the posses had begun to penetrate the
mountain, and when the man was compelled to make a daylight dash
down into the Valley of the Moon to cross over to the mountain
fastnesses that lay between it and Napa Valley, that Harley Kennan
rode out on the hot-blooded colt he was training. He was not in
pursuit of the man who had slain the postmaster of Chisholm and
his family. The mountain was alive with man-hunters, as he well
knew, for a score had bedded and eaten at the ranch house the
night before. So the meeting of Harley Kennan with the man was
unplanned and eventful.
It was not the first meeting with men the man had had that day.
During the preceding night he had noted the campfires of several
posses. At dawn, attempting to break forth down the south-western
slopes of the mountain toward Petaluma, he had encountered not
less than five separate detachments of dairy-ranchers all armed
with Winchesters and shotguns. Breaking back to cover, the chase
hot on his heels, he had run full tilt into a party of village
youths from Glen Ellen and Caliente. Their squirrel and deer
rifles had missed him, but his back had been peppered with
birdshot in a score of places, the leaden pellets penetrating
maddeningly in a score of places just under the skin.
In the rush of his retreat down the canyon slope, he had plunged
into a bunch of shorthorn steers, who, far more startled than he,
had rolled him on the forest floor, trampled over him in their
panic, and smashed his rifle under their hoofs. Weaponless,
desperate, stinging and aching from his superficial wounds and
bruises, he had circled the forest slopes along deer-paths,
crossed two canyons, and begun to descend the horse-trail he found
in the third canyon.
It was on this trail, going down, that he met the reporter coming
up. The reporter was--well, just a reporter, from the city,
knowing only city ways, who had never before engaged in a man-
hunt. The livery horse he had rented down in the valley was a
broken-kneed, jaded, and spiritless creature, that stood calmly
while its rider was dragged from its back by the wild-looking and
violently impetuous man who sprang out around a sharp turn of the
trail. The reporter struck at his assailant once with his riding-
whip. Then he received a beating, such as he had often written up
about sailor-rows and saloon-frequenters in his cub-reporter days,
but which for the first time it was his lot to experience.
To the man's disgust he found the reporter unarmed save for a
pencil and a wad of copy paper. Out of his disappointment in not
securing a weapon, he beat the reporter up some more, left him
wailing among the ferns, and, astride the reporter's horse, urging
it on with the reporter's whip, continued down the trail.
Jerry, ever keenest on the hunting, had ranged farther afield than
Michael as the pair of them accompanied Harley Kennan on his early
morning ride. Even so, Michael, at the heels of his master's
horse, did not see nor understand the beginning of the
catastrophe. For that matter, neither did Harley. Where a steep,
eight-foot bank came down to the edge of the road along which he
was riding, Harley and the hot-blood colt were startled by an
eruption through the screen of manzanita bushes above. Looking
up, he saw a reluctant horse and a forceful rider plunging in mid-
air down upon him. In that flashing glimpse, even as he reined
and spurred to make his own horse leap sidewise out from under,
Harley Kennan observed the scratched skin and torn clothing, the
wild-burning eyes, and the haggardness under the scraggly growth
of beard, of the man-hunted man.
The livery horse was justifiably reluctant to make that leap out
and down the bank. Too painfully aware of the penalty its broken
knees and rheumatic joints must pay, it dug its hoofs into the
steep slope of moss and only sprang out and clear in the air in
order to avoid a fall. Even so, its shoulder impacted against the
shoulder of the whirling colt below it, overthrowing the latter.
Harley Kennan's leg, caught under against the earth, snapped, and
the colt, twisted and twisting as it struck the ground, snapped
To his utter disgust, the man, pursued by an armed countryside,
found Harley Kennan, his latest victim, like the reporter, to be
weaponless. Dismounted, he snarled in his rage and disappointment
and deliberately kicked the helpless man in the side. He had
drawn back his foot for the second kick, when Michael took a hand-
-or a leg, rather, sinking his teeth into the calf of the back-
drawn leg about to administer the kick.
With a curse the man jerked his leg clear, Michael's teeth
ribboning flesh and trousers.
"Good boy, Michael!" Harley applauded from where he lay helplessly
pinioned under his horse. "Hey! Michael!" he continued, lapsing
back into beche-de-mer, "chase 'm that white fella marster to hell
outa here along bush!"
"I'll kick your head off for that," the man gritted at Harley
through his teeth.
Savage as were his acts and utterance, the man was nearly ready to
cry. The long pursuit, his hand against all mankind and all
mankind against him, had begun to break his stamina. He was
surrounded by enemies. Even youths had risen up and peppered his
back with birdshot, and beef cattle had trod him underfoot and
smashed his rifle. Everything conspired against him. And now it
was a dog that had slashed down his leg. He was on the death-
road. Never before had this impressed him with such clear
certainty. Everything was against him. His desire to cry was
hysterical, and hysteria, in a desperate man, is prone to express
itself in terrible savage ways. Without rhyme or reason he was
prepared to carry out his threat to kick Harley Kennan to death.
Not that Kennan had done anything to him. On the contrary, it was
he who had attacked Kennan, hurling him down on the road and
breaking his leg under his horse. But Harley Kennan was a man,
and all mankind was his enemy; and, in killing Kennan, in some
vague way it appeared to him that he was avenging himself, at
least in part, on mankind in general. Going down himself in
death, he would drag what he could with him into the red ruin.
But ere he could kick the man on the ground, Michael was back upon
him. His other calf and trousers' leg were ribboned as he tore
clear. Then, catching Michael in mid-leap with a kick that
reached him under the chest, he sent him flying through the air
off the road and down the slope. As mischance would have it,
Michael did not reach the ground. Crashing through a scrub
manzanita bush, his body was caught and pinched in an acute fork a
yard above the ground.
"Now," the man announced grimly to Harley, "I'm going to do what I
said. I'm just going to kick your head clean off."
"And I haven't done a thing to you," Harley parleyed. "I don't so
much mind being murdered, but I'd like to know what I'm being
"Chasing me for my life," the man snarled, as he advanced. "I
know your kind. You've all got it in for me, and I ain't got a
chance except to give you yours. I'll take a whole lot of it out
Kennan was thoroughly aware of the gravity of his peril. Helpless
himself, a man-killing lunatic was about to kill him and to kill
him most horribly. Michael, a prisoner in the bush, hanging head-
downward in the manzanita from his loins squeezed in the fork, and
struggling vainly, could not come to his defence.
The man's first kick, aimed at Harley's face, he blocked with his
fore-arm; and, before the man could make a second kick, Jerry
erupted on the scene. Nor did he need encouragement or direction
from his love-master. He flashed at the man, sinking his teeth
harmlessly into the slack of the man's trousers at the waist-band
above the hip, but by his weight dragging him half down to the
And upon Jerry the man turned with an increase of madness. In
truth all the world was against him. The very landscape rained
dogs upon him. But from above, from the slopes of Sonoma
Mountain, the cries and calls of the trailing poses caught his
ear, and deflected his intention. They were the pursuing death,
and it was from them he must escape. With another kick at Jerry,
hurling him clear, he leaped astride the reporter's horse which
had continued to stand, without movement or excitement, in utter
apathy, where he had dismounted from it.
The horse went into a reluctant and stiff-legged gallop, while
Jerry followed, snarling and growling wrath at so high a pitch
that almost he squalled.
"It's all right, Michael," Harley soothed. "Take it easy. Don't
hurt yourself. The trouble's over. Anybody'll happen along any
time now and get us out of this fix."
But the smaller branch of the two composing the fork broke, and
Michael fell to the ground, landing in momentary confusion on his
head and shoulders. The next moment he was on his feet and
tearing down the road in the direction of Jerry's noisy pursuit.
Jerry's noise broke in a sharp cry of pain that added wings to
Michael's feet. Michael passed him rolling helplessly on the
road. What had happened was that the livery horse, in its stiff-
jointed, broken-kneed gallop, had stumbled, nearly fallen, and, in
its sprawling recovery, had accidentally stepped on Jerry,
bruising and breaking his fore-leg.
And the man, looking back and seeing Michael close upon him,
decided that it was still another dog attacking him. But he had
no fear of dogs. It was men, with their rifles and shot-guns,
that might bring him to ultimate grief. Nevertheless, the pain of
his bleeding legs, lacerated by Jerry and Michael, maintained his
rage against dogs.
"More dogs," was his bitter thought, as he leaned out and brought
his whip down across Michael's face.
To his surprise, the dog did not wince under the blow. Nor for
that matter did he yelp or cry out from the pain. Nor did he bark
or growl or snarl. He closed in as though he had not received the
blow, and as though the whip was not brandished above him. As
Michael leaped for his right leg he swung the whip down, striking
him squarely on the muzzle midway between nose and eyes.
Deflected by the blow, Michael dropped back to earth and ran on
with his longest leaps to catch up and make his next spring.
But the man had noticed another thing. At such close range,
bringing his whip down, he could not help noting that Michael had
kept his eyes open under the blow. Neither had he winced nor
blinked as the whip slashed down on him. The thing was uncanny.
It was something new in the way of dogs. Michael sprang again,
the man timed him again with the whip, and he saw the uncanny
thing repeated. By neither wince nor blink had the dog
acknowledged the blow.
And then an entirely new kind of fear came upon the man. Was this
the end for him, after all he had gone through? Was this deadly
silent, rough-coated terrier the thing destined to destroy him
where men had failed? He did not even know that the dog was real.
Might it not be some terrible avenger, out of the mystery beyond
life, placed to beset him and finish him finally on this road that
he was convinced was surely the death-road? The dog was not real.
It could not be real. The dog did not live that could take a
full-arm whip-slash without wince or flinch.
Twice again, as the dog sprang, he deflected it with accurately
delivered blows. And the dog came on with the same surety and
silence. The man surrendered to his terror, clapping heels to his
horse's old ribs, beating it over the head and under the belly
with the whip until it galloped as it had not galloped in years.
Even on that apathetic steed the terror descended. It was not
terror of the dog, which it knew to be only a dog, but terror of
the rider. In the past its knees had been broken and its joints
stiffened for ever, by drunken-mad riders who had hired him from
the stables. And here was another such drunken-mad rider--for the
horse sensed the man's terror--who ached his ribs with the weight
of his heels and beat him cruelly over face and nose and ears.
The best speed of the horse was not very great, not great enough
to out-distance Michael, although it was fast enough to give the
latter only infrequent opportunities to spring for the man's leg.
But each spring was met by the unvarying whip-blow that by its
very weight deflected him in the air. Though his teeth each time
clipped together perilously close to the man's leg, each time he
fell back to earth he had to gather himself together and run at
his own top speed in order to overtake the terror-stricken man on
the crazy-galloping horse.
Enrico Piccolomini saw the chase and was himself in at the finish;
and the affair, his one great adventure in the world, gave him
wealth as well as material for conversation to the end of his
days. Enrico Piccolomini was a wood-chopper on the Kennan Ranch.
On a rounded knoll, overlooking the road, he had first heard the
galloping hoofs of the horse and the crack of the whip-blows on
its body. Next, he had seen the running battle of the man, the
horse, and the dog. When directly beneath him, not twenty feet
distant, he saw the dog leap, in its queer silent way, straight up
and in to the down-smash of the whip, and sink its teeth in the
rider's leg. He saw the dog, with its weight, as it fell back to
earth, drag the man half out of the saddle. He saw the man, in an
effort to recover his balance, put his own weight on the bridle-
reins. And he saw the horse, half-rearing, half-tottering and
stumbling, overthrow the last shred of the man's balance so that
he followed the dog to the ground.
"And then they are like two dogs, like two beasts," Piccolomini
was wont to tell in after-years over a glass of wine in his little
hotel in Glen Ellen. "The dog lets go the man's leg and jumps for
the man's throat. And the man, rolling over, is at the dog's
throat. Both his hands--so--he fastens about the throat of this
dog. And the dog makes no sound. He never makes sound, before or
after. After the two hands of the man stop his breath he can not
make sound. But he is not that kind of a dog. He will not make
sound anyway. And the horse stands and looks on, and the horse
coughs. It is very strange all that I see.
"And the man is mad. Only a madman will do what I see him do. I
see the man show his teeth like any dog, and bite the dog on the
paw, on the nose, on the body. And when he bites the dog on the
nose, the dog bites him on the check. And the man and the dog
fight like hell, and the dog gets his hind legs up like a cat.
And like a cat he tears the man's shirt away from his chest, and
tears the skin of the chest with his claws till it is all red with
bleeding. And the man yow-yowls, and makes noises like a wild
mountain lion. And always he chokes the dog. It is a hell of a
"And the dog is Mister Kennan's dog, a fine man, and I have worked
for him two years. So I will not stand there and see Mister
Kennan's dog all killed to pieces by the man who fights like a
mountain lion. I run down the hill, but I am excited and forget
my axe. I run down the hill, maybe from this door to that door,
twenty feet or maybe thirty feet. And it is nearly all finished
for the dog. His tongue is a long ways out, and his eyes like
covered with cobwebs; but still he scratches the man's chest with
his hind-feet and the man yow-yowls like a hen of the mountains.
"What can I do? I have forgotten the axe. The man will kill the
dog. I look for a big rock. There are no rocks. I look for a
club. I cannot find a club. And the man is killing the dog. I
tell you what I do. I am no fool. I kick the man. My shoes are
very heavy--not like shoes I wear now. They are the shoes of the
woodchopper, very thick on the sole with hard leather, with many
iron nails. I kick the man on the side of the face, on the neck,
right under the ear. I kick once. It is a good kick. It is
enough. I know the place--right under the ear.
"And the man lets go of the dog. He shuts his eyes, and opens his
mouth, and lies very still. And the dog begins once more to
breathe. And with the breath comes the life, and right away he
wants to kill the man. But I say 'No,' though I am very much
afraid of the dog. And the man begins to become alive. He opens
his eyes and he looks at me like a mountain lion. And his mouth
makes a noise like a mountain lion. And I am afraid of him like I
am afraid of the dog. What am I to do? I have forgotten the axe.
I tell you what I do. I kick the man once again under the ear.
Then I take my belt, and my bandana handkerchief, and I tie him.
I tie his hands. I tie his legs, too. And all the time I am
saying 'No,' to the dog, and that he must leave the man alone.
And the dog looks. He knows I am his friend and am tying the man.
And he does not bite me, though I am very much afraid. The dog is
a terrible dog. Do I not know? Have I not seen him take a strong
man out of the saddle?--a man that is like a mountain lion?
"And then the men come. They all have guns-rifles, shotguns,
revolvers, pistols. And I think, first, that justice is very
quick in the United States. Only just now have I kicked a man in
the head, and, one-two-three, just like that, men come with guns
to take me to jail for kicking a man in the head. At first I do
not understand. The many men are angry with me. They call me
names, and say bad things; but they do not arrest me. Ah! I
begin to understand! I hear them talk about three thousand
dollars. I have robbed them of three thousand dollars. It is not
true. I say so. I say never have I robbed a man of one cent.
Then they laugh. And I feel better and I understand better. The
three thousand dollars is the reward of the Government for this
man I have tied up with my belt and my bandana. And the three
thousand dollars is mine because I kicked the man in the head and
tied his hands and his feet.
"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
"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.
"Now Jerry!" she called sharply, as a singing teacher might call,
so that Jerry turned his head in attention, looked at her, smiled
understanding with his eyes, and waited.
It was Villa who started and pitched the Doxology, but quickly the
two dogs joined with their own soft, mellow howling, if howling it
may be called when it was so soft and mellow and true. And all
that had vanished into the Nothingness was in the minds of the two
dogs as they sang, and they sang back through the Nothingness to
the land of Otherwhere, and ran once again with the Lost Pack, and
yet were not entirely unaware of the present and of the
indubitable two-legged god who was called Villa and who sang with
them and loved them.
"No reason we shouldn't make a quartette of it," remarked Harley
Kennan, as with his own voice he joined in.