The Zadoc Pine Labor Union

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
The Zadoc Pine Labor Union  (1887) 
by H. C. Bunner

Extracted from Scribner's magazine, 1887, pp. 669-684. Accompanying illustrations omitted.


By H. C. Bunner.

WHEN Zadoc Pine's father died, Zadoc found himself alone in the North Woods, three miles from Silsbee's Station, twenty-one years old, six foot one inch high, in perfect health, with a good appetite. He had been to school one summer; he could read and write fairly well, and could cipher very well. He had gone through the history of the United States, and he had a hazy idea of geography. When his father's estate was settled up, and all debts paid, Zadoc owned two silver dollars, the clothes he stood in, one extra flannel shirt, done up in a bandanna handkerchief in company with a razor, a comb, a tooth-brush, and two collars. Besides these things he had a six-inch clasp-knife and an old-fashioned muzzle-loading, percussion-cap rifle.

Old man Pine had been a good Adirondack guide in his time; but for the last six years he had been laid up, a helpless cripple, with inflammatory rheumatism. He and his son—old Pine's wife had died before the boy was ten years old—lived in their little house in the woods. The father had some small savings, and the son could earn a little as a sort of auxiliary guide. He got a job here and there where some party needed an extra man. Zadoc was an excellent shot; but he was no fisherman, and he had little knowledge of the streams and ponds further in the woods.

So, when the old father was gone, when Zadoc had paid the last cent of his debt to the storekeeper at Silsbee's—the storekeeper taking the almost worthless shanty of the Pines in part payment when he had settled with Silsbee's saw-mill for the boards out of which he himself had made his father's coffin, Zadoc Pine stood on the station-platform and wondered what was going to become of him, or, rather, as he put it, "what he was a-going for to do with himself."

There was no employment for him at Silsbee's Station. He might, perhaps, get a job as guide; but it was doubtful, and he had seen too much of the life. It seemed to him a waste of energy. To live as his father had lived, a life of toil and exposure, a dreary existence of hard work and small profit, and to end at last penniless and in debt for food, was no part of Zadoc's plans. He knew from the maps in the old geography that the whole Adirondack region was only a tiny patch on the map of the United States. Somewhere outside there he was sure he would find a place for himself.

He knew that the little northern railroad at his feet connected with the greater roads to the south. But the great towns of the State were only so many names to him. His eyes were not turned toward New York. He had "guided" for parties of New York men, and he had learned enough to make himself sure that New York was too large for him. "I wouldn't be no more good down there," he said to himself, "then they be up here. 'Tain't my size."

Yet somewhere he must go. He had watched the young men who employed him, and he had made up his mind to two things: First, these young men had money; second, he could get it if they could. One had jokingly shown him a hundred-dollar bill, and had asked him to change it. There was some part of the world, then, where people could be free-and-easy with hundred-dollar bills. Why was not that the place for him? "They know a lot more'n I do," he said; "but they hed to l'arn' it furst-off; an' I guess ef their brains was so everlastin' much better'n mine they wouldn't souse 'em with whiskey the way they do."

As Zadoc Pine stood on the platform, feeling of the two silver dollars in his pocket, he saw the wagon drive up from Silsbee's saw-mill with a load of timber, and old Mr. Silsbee on top of the load. There was a train of flat cars on the siding, where it had been lying for an hour, waiting for the up-train. When the wagon arrived, Mr. Silsbee, the station-master, and the engineer of the train had a three-cornered colloquy of a noisy sort. The station-master after awhile withdrew, shrugging his shoulders with the air of a man who declines to engage further in a profitless discussion.

"What's the matter?" asked Zadoc.

"That there lumber of Silsbee's," said the station-master, who was a New England man. "The durned old cantankerous cuss is kickin' because he can't ship it. Why, this here train's so short o' hands they can't hardly run it ez 'tis, let alone loadin' lumber."

"Where's it goin' to?" inquired Zadoc, "an' why's this train short o' hands?"

"Goin' to South Ridge, Noo Jersey," said the station-master, "or 'twould be ef 'twan't for this blame strike. Can't get nobody to load it."

"Where's South Ridge?" was Zadoc's next inquiry.

"’Bout ten or twenty miles from Noo York."


"Country 'nough, I guess. Ask Silsbee."

Zadoc walked after Mr. Silsbee, who was by this time marching back toward the saw-mill, red in the face and puffing hard. Zadoc got in front of him.

"Mornin', Mr. Silsbee," he said.

"Mornin'—er—who are ye? Oh, Enoch Pine's boy, hey? Mornin', young man I hain't got no time——"

"How much is it wuth to you to get them sticks to where they're goin' to?" demanded Zadoc.

"Wuth? It's wuth hundreds of dollars to me, young man it's wuth——"

"Is it wuth a five-dollar bill?" Zadoc interrupted.


"You know me, Squire Silsbee. If it's wuth a five-dollar bill to get them timbers down to South Ridge, New Jersey, an' you can get that engineer to take me on as an extry hand that far, I'll load 'em on, go down there with 'em, and unload 'em. All I want's five dollars for my keep while I'm a-goin'."

"You don't want t'go to South Ridge?" gasped Mr. Silsbee.

"Yaas, I do."

"Whut fer?"

"Fer my health," said Zadoc. The squire looked at the muscular, sunburnt animal before him, and he had to grin.

"Well," he said, "’tain't none o' my business. You come along, an' I'll see if that pig-headed fool will let you work your way down."

One hour later Zadoc was rolling southward on a flat car, and learning how to work brakes as he went. It was a wonderful pleasure-trip to him. The work was nothing; he was strong as a bull-moose; and he was simply enchanted to see the great world stringing itself out along the line of the railroad-track. He had never in his life seen a settlement larger than Silsbee's, and when the villages turned into towns and the towns into cities, he was so much interested that he lost his appetite. He asked the train-hands all the questions he could think of, and acquired some information, although they did not care to talk about much except the great strike and the probable action of the unions.

It was about six o'clock of a cloudy May evening when Zadoc Pine jumped off the car at South Ridge and helped to unload Mr. Silsbee's cargo of timber. The brakeman on his end of the train said, "So long!" Zadoc said, "So long!" and the train whirled on to New York. Zadoc stood by the track and gazed somewhat dismally after his travelling home. He was roused from something like a brown study when the station-master of South Ridge hailed him.

"Hi, country! where are you?"

"Is this New Jersey?" asked Zadoc.

"Yes. What did you think it was—Ohio?"

Zadoc had heard something of the national reputation of the State from his late companions.

"Well," he reflected, "I must be pretty mildewed when a Jerseyman hollers 'country' at me."

Zadoc made this reflection aloud. The station-master walked off with a growl, and two or three gentlemen, who were talking on the platform, laughed quietly. Zadoc walked up to one of them.

"I brung that there lumber down here," he said; "I'd like to know who owns it. Maybe there's more job in it fer me?"

"I don't think so," one of the gentlemen said, in a rather cold and distant way. "That is for the new station, and the railway company has its own hands."

Zadoc looked all about him. There was no town to be seen. He was among the foot-hills of the Orange Mountains, and on all sides of him were undulating slopes, some open, some wooded. He saw old-fashioned farm-houses, and many more modern dwellings, of what seemed to him great size and beauty, although they were only ordinary suburban cottages of the better sort. But nowhere could he see shops or factories. There was a quarry high up on one of the slopes, but that was all. It looked like a poor place in which to seek for work.

"Well," he remarked, "maybe there's somewheres where I can put up fer to-night."

"What sort of place?" the gentleman asked.

"Well," said Zadoc, "some sort of inn, or tavern, or suthin', where I c'n get about ten cents' wuth o' style an' ninety cents' wuth o' sleep an' feed."

Two of the gentlemen laughed; but the one to whom Zadoc had spoken, who seemed a dignified and haughty person, answered, in a chilly and discouraging way:

"Go down this street to the cross-roads, and ask for Bryan's. That is where the quarrymen board."

He turned away, and went in the other direction with his companions. Zadoc Pine shouldered his rifle, picked up the handkerchief which held his other belongings, and trudged down the road under the new foliage of the great chestnuts. He came in a little while to the cross-roads, where there were four huddled blocks of shabby square houses. There was a butcher's shop, a grocer's, a baker's, three or four drinking-places, and Bryan's. This was the forlornest house of all. There was a dirty attempt at an ice-cream saloon in the front, and in the rear was a large room with a long table, where the quarrymen took their meals. When Zadoc arrived, the quarrymen were sitting on the sidewalk in front of the house, with their feet in the gutter. They were smoking pipes and talking in a dull way among themselves. By the time that Zadoc had bargained for a room, with supper and breakfast, for one dollar, supper was announced, and they all came in. Zadoc did not like either his companions or his supper.

He did not know enough of the distinguishing marks of various nationalities to guess at the nativity of these men; but he knew that they were not Americans. He tried to talk to the man nearest him, but the man did not want to talk. Zadoc asked him about the work and the wages at the quarry.

"It's a dollar-twinty-five a day," the quarryman said, sullenly; "an' it's a shame! The union ain't doin' nothin' fer us. An' there ain't no more quarrymen wanted. There's Milliken, he owns the carrts; mebbe he'll take a driver. But if ye want a job ye'll have to see McCuskey, the diligate."

"What might a diligate be?" inquired the young man from the North Woods.

"The mon what runs the union. Ye're a union mon, ain't ye?"

"Guess not," said Zadoc.

"Thin ye'd best be out of this," the man said, rising rudely and lumbering off.

"Guess I won't wake McCuskey up in the mornin'," Zadoc thought; "dollar-'n'-a-quarter's big money; but I don't want no sech work ez quariyin', ef it makes a dead log of a man like that."

He finished his meal and went into the street. Bryan was leaning against the door-jamb, conversing with a tall man on the sidewalk. It was the gentleman whom Zadoc had seen at the station.

"You can't get him this week, Mr. Thorndyke," said Bryan. "Bixby's ahead of you, and the Baxters. They been waitin' three weeks for him. Fact is, Andy don't want to do no more th'n two days' work in a week."

"Can't you think of any other man?" Mr. Thorndyke queried, irritably. "Here I have been waiting for this fellow a whole fortnight to dig a half-dozen beds in my garden, and I don't believe he intends to come. There ought to be somebody who wants the job. Can't some of these men here come after hours, or before, and do it? I pay well enough for the work."

There was no movement among the quarrymen, who were once more sitting on the edge of the sidewalk, with their feet in the gutter.

"I don't know of no one, Mr. Thorndyke," said Bryan, and Mr. Thorndyke turned back up the road.

"Diggin' garden-beds? " mused Zadoc. "I ain't never dug no garden-beds; but I hev dug fer bait, 'n' I guess the principle's the same—on'y you don't hev to sort out the wums." He walked rapidly after Mr. Thorndyke, and overtook him.

"Don't you want me to dig them beds fer you?" he inquired.

"Can you dig them?" Mr. Thorndyke looked surprised and suspicious.

"That's what I'm here fer."

"Do you know where my house is? The third on the hill?"

"Third she is," said Zadoc.

"Come up to-morrow morning."

Zadoc went back to Bryan's and went to bed in a narrow, close room, overlooking an ill-kept back yard. It was dirty, it was cheerless; worst of all, it was airless. Zadoc's mind was made up. "Ef this suits quarrymen, quarryin' don't suit me."

He had a bad night, and arose at five the next morning. At six he went to a breakfast that was worse than the supper had been. Zadoc had been used to poor and coarse fare all his life, but there was something about this flabby, flavorless, greasy, boarding-house food that went against him. He ate what he could, and then walked up the road toward Mr. Thorndyke's house. As he went higher up the hill he saw that the houses at the cross-roads were very much unlike their surroundings. To a man born and brought up in the skirts of the North Woods, this New Jersey village seemed a very paradise. The green lawns amazed him; the neat fences, the broad roads, the great trees, standing clear of underbrush, were all marvels, in his eyes. And besides the comfortable farm-houses and the mansions of the rich and great, he saw many humbler dwellings of a neat and well-ordered sort. From one of these a pretty girl, standing in the doorway, with her right arm in a sling, looked at him with curiosity, and what Zadoc took to be kindly interest. It was really admiration. If Zadoc had ever thought to inquire, he would have learned that he was not only big, but good-looking.

He lingered a little as he passed this place, to admire it. The house had two stories, of which the lower was of rough stone, brightly whitewashed. In front was a bit of a garden, in which green things were sprouting; In the little woodshed, to one side, a neat old woman, with pretty, white hair, was cutting kindling-wood. The girl in the doorway was very pretty, if her arm was in a sling. Zadoc looked it all over with entire approval. "That's my size," he thought.

He found no one awake at Mr. Thorndyke's house, and he sat on the front steps until half-past seven o'clock, when Mr. Thorndyke himself came out to get the morning paper, which had been left on the front porch. Zadoc had read it through already.

"You are early," was Mr. Thorndyke's greeting.

"I was earlier when I come," returned Zadoc. "Been here more'n an hour. Awful waste o' God's sunlight, when there's work a-waitin'."

"Well," said Mr. Thorndyke, coldly, as he led the way around the corner of the house, "here are the beds. The lines are pegged out. I suppose there is about a day's work on them, and I will pay you at the usual rate for gardeners' work, hereabouts—a dollar and a half."

"Yaas," said Zadoc, as he looked over the territory staked out, "I see. But if this job's wuth a dollar-'n'-a-half to you, I'd ruther take it ez a job, at them figgers. I can fool away a day on it, ef that'll please you better; but I'd ruther git through with it when I get through, ef it's all the same to you."

"I don't care how you do it," Mr. Thorndyke said, "so long as it is done, and done properly, when I come home to-night at six."

"You needn't put off coming home fer me," was Zadoc's cheerful assurance.

Then he proceeded to ask Mr. Thorndyke a number of questions about the manner in which the beds were to be dug. Mr. Thorndyke knit his brows.

"Haven't you ever dug beds before?"

"I never dug no beds fer you. When I do work fer a man I do it to suit him, an' not to suit some other feller."

"How do I know that you can do the work at all?"

"You don't," said Zadoc, frankly; "but ef 'tain't satisfactory you don't hev to pay. Thet's cheap fer a hole in the ground."

"Have you a spade?" Mr. Thorndyke demanded, and his manner was depressingly stern.

"No, I ain't," said Zadoc, "but I'll git one."

Zadoc walked up to the next house on the hill, which was a large and imposing structure. It belonged to the richest man in South Ridge, and the richest man was sitting on his front porch.

"Got a spade to lend?" Zadoc asked.

"What do you want it for?" the richest man demanded.

"Fer a job down there to Squire Thorndyke's, next door," Zadoc informed him.

"Did Mr. Thorndyke send you?"

"No, I come myself."

The millionaire of South Ridge stared at Zadoc for a moment, and then arose, walked around the house, and presently reappeared with a spade. "When you bring this back," he said, "give it to the man in the stable."

"Much obliged!" said Zadoc.

The beds were all dug before three o'clock, and Mrs. Thorndyke came out and expressed her approval. Zadoc took off his hat and bowed, as his father had told him he should do when he met a lady.

"I see," he remarked, "you've got some mornin'-glories set out alongside o' the house. Ef you'll get me a ladder an' some string, an' nails an' a hammer, I'll train 'em up fer yer."

Mrs. Thorndyke looked doubtful.

"I don't know what arrangement my husband has made with you," she began; but Zadoc interrupted her.

"There ain't nothin' to pay fer that, ma'am. One pertater on top'f the measure don't break no one, and it kinder holds trade."

The ladder and the other things were brought out, and Zadoc climbed up and fastened the strings as he had seen them arranged for the morning-glories that climbed up the walls of Squire Silsbee's house.

While he was on the ladder, the rich man next door, whose name, by the way, was Vredenburg, came down and leaned on the fence and talked to Mrs. Thorndyke.

"Getting the place in good trim, aren't you?"

"Trying to," said Mrs. Thorndyke. "There are ever so many things to do. I've sent to three men already, to cart my ash-heap away, and they won't come. There's a wandering gardener here who has just dug my beds; if it hadn't been for him, I should have gone without flowers all the summer."

Zadoc heard this and grinned; and then he began to think. He had been looking over toward the quarry during the day, and he had noticed that the horses stood idle a large part of the time; there was one tall gray hitched to a cart, whose business it was to remove the small stones and waste, and who did not make one trip an hour, resting for the greater part of the time under a huge tree.

"That horse ain't too tired," thought Zadoc, "to give a feller a lift after workin' hours."

By four o'clock the strings were up for the morning-glories. Mr. Thorndyke would not return before six. Zadoc strolled down to the quarry and found Milliken. He asked Milliken what would be a proper charge for the services of the big gray horse for two hours after six o'clock. Milliken thought fifty cents would pay him and the horse. Then Zadoc continued his stroll, and found out that the dumping-grounds of South Ridge were near the river, among the tailings of an abandoned quarry.

After that he went back to Bryan's and got a couple of eggs cooked for his private supper. He had had his dinner at the noon hour, and it was worse than the breakfast. The eggs were, as he told Mr. Bryan, "kinder 'twixt grass and hay." He felt that he had had enough of Bryan's.

Going up the road to Mr. Thorndyke's, he came to the neat little house that he had noticed the night before; he looked at it for a minute, and then he went in and asked the white-haired old woman if she did not want to take him as a boarder. She said that she did not; she was a lone widow-woman, and she had all she could do to pay her way with doing washing, and she didn't want no quarrymen fooling around her house; she knew what quarrymen were.

Zadoc explained to her that he was not a quarryman. He told her all about himself, and about his dissatisfaction with Bryan's arrangements; but she only shook her head and said that she didn't want him. He was going out of the door, when the young girl who had smiled on him yesterday, and who had been listening in a corner, came forward and spoke earnestly to the old woman.

"He looks good, mother," Zadoc heard her say; "and it's to his credit that he don't like Bryan's. If he's a decent man, we oughtn't to send him back to a place like that. It's a shame for a young man to be left among those people."

The old woman wavered. "We might try him," she said.

Zadoc came back.

"You try me, and you'll keep me," said he. "An' as fer you, young woman, ef you use as much judgment when you pick out a husband ez you do when you choose a boarder, you'll do first-rate." The young woman blushed.

Then they talked about the proper price for Zadoc's board, and they all agreed that two dollars a week would be fair. Zadoc paid down the two dollars in advance, and was without a cent in the world, for Bryan had taken his other dollar for the two bad meals. But Zadoc did not mind that, and within fifteen minutes he had moved his possessions into a clean little whitewashed room in the second story of the widow Dadd's house. The widow was much troubled at the sight of his rifle; but she finally consented to let it hang on his white wall, and Zadoc ate his supper, although he had eaten one already, and made the meal as cheerful as he could to Mrs. Dadd and her daughter, which was not diflicult to him, for it was a good supper. A little before six he marched off to Mr. Thorndyke's.

Mr. Thorndyke paid him his dollar and a half, and Zadoc broached a new project.

"There's that there ash-heap o' yourn," he said, "why can't I cart that off fer you?"

"But you haven't a cart," Mr. Thorndyke objected.

"I'll have one," Zadoc said. "What's the job wuth?"

"I've always paid a dollar."

Zadoc rubbed his chin and mused. "I'll call on ye for thet dollar when I've earned it," he said. "Evenin'!"

Zadoc had been at the back of the house during the day, and had sized up the ash-heap, as well as one or two other things. He walked down to the quarry and got the big gray and his cart, and drove up to the Thorndykes' back yard. There he shovelled the ash-heap (the shovel went with the horse and cart) into the vehicle. There was just one load. There had been a heavy rain during the night, and the ashes were packed close. The cart held a cubic yard, and it was not overloaded when Zadoc drove it down the road toward the old quarry.

As he drove he looked ahead, and he noticed that the sidewalks, or raised paths to right and left of the road, were made of ashes pounded down—not cinders from the railroad, but ordinary hard-coal ashes, beaten into a compact mass. Before he had driven half a mile he saw, some hundred feet in front of him, a broad break in the sidewalk to his right—a gully washed out by the rain. He stopped his horse behind a clump of trees, alighted, and walked forward to the gate in front of a comfortable house. The owner was pottering about, looking at the vines that were beginning to climb up the wires on his veranda. Zadoc accosted him.

"Evenin'! You've got a bad hole in that there path o'yourn."

"Are you a road-inspector?" asked the man of the house, in a disagreeable tone of voice.

"No," said Zadoc, "I'm a road-mender. You've got ter fill that hole up. S'pose I fill it up fer you fer fifty cents?"

"Yer ain't going to drive out here and mend that walk for half a dollar, are you?" the man asked, incredulously.

"I'm a-goin' to take it on my reggleler rowt," replied Zadoc. "Does she go?"

The man looked over the fence at the big hole. "She goes," he said.

It was just one hour later, when some light lingered in the sky, that the householder with the broken sidewalk paid Zadoc Pine his fifty cents. He paid it with a dazed look on his face; but Zadoc was as bright and airy as usual as he pocketed the money and drove back to the quarry-stables. His cubic yard of ashes had filled the gap and left a little over, with which he had patched a few smaller breaks.

When Zadoc arose on the morrow and stepped out of doors to breathe the morning air, he saw the white-haired widow chopping kindling-wood in the shed.

"That ain't no work fer you," he said.

"Who's to do it?" the widow asked; "my darter, her arm's lame. She lamed it snatchin' a child off the railroad-track in front of the engyne. The engyne hit her. It was one o' them delegate's children, an' no thanks to nobody. Who's to chop kindlin', if I don't?"

"I be, I reckon," said Zadoc. He took the hatchet out of her hands and split up a week's supply. It was sharp work on an empty stomach; but he took it out of the breakfast, a little later.

After breakfast he walked down to Centre, the nearest large town, and spent an hour in a paint-shop there. He asked a great many questions, and the men in the shop had a good deal of fun with him. Zadoc knew it, but he did not care. "Amoosed them, don't hurt me, an' keeps the derned fools talkin'," he said to himself.

He returned to South Ridge in time for dinner, and in the afternoon sallied out to look for a job. Remembering the Bixbys and the Baxters, and the fact that "Andy" did not care for more than two days' work in the week, Zadoc thought he would offer his services to the two families. "Thar' ain't no room in this world," he reflected, "for two-day men. The six-day men has first call on all jobs."

The Bixbys gave him the work, and paid him a dollar for the afternoon's work; but he could not come to terms with the Baxters. They wanted him to take fifty cents for half a day's work.

"But you'd 'a' had ter pay that there other feller a dollar," Zadoc objected.

"But that's different," said Mrs. Baxter; "you aren't a regular gardener, you know."

"The job ain't different," replied Zadoc; "and ef Andy c'n get a dollar fer it, I'm a-goin' to let him have it." And he shook his long legs down the road.

He loomed up, long and bony, before Mr. Thorndyke just after dinner.

"You've come to cart the ash-heap away, I suppose?" Mr. Thorndyke said.

"That ash-heap moved out of town last evenin'. Ef you've got time, though, I want yer to step around to the back o' the house. Got somethin' to show yer."

The "something" was Mr. Thorndyke's barn. He kept no horse; but the small building that goes with every well-regulated cottage in New Jersey he utilized as a play-room for his children and a gymnasium for himself.

"That there barn," Zadoc told him, "is jest a sight to look at. It stands to the north o' the house, an' takes all the weather there is. The paint's most off it. Look at these here big scales! I took one of those there fer a sample, and here's the color, the way it ought to be, on this here bit o' shingle." Zadoc pulled the sample out of his pocket. "Now you wanter let me paint that barn for yer. I've figgered thet it'll cost yer jest twenty-five dollars. Thet's a savin' for you, an' I c'n take my time about it, and put in a week on the job an' do some other work round the town at the same time."

"Have you other engagements?" Mr. Thorndyke asked.

"No," was Zadoc's answer; "but I'm goin' to hev 'em."

"But do you know how to paint?"

"Anythin' the matter with my gardenin'?"


"All right on ash-heaps, ain't I?"

"I suppose so."

"Well, you jest try me on paint. Same old terms—no satisfaction, no pay. I can't make that there barn look wuss'n it does now; an' I'm goin' ter make it look a heap better."

The next afternoon Zadoc was painting the Thorndyke barn. He worked there only in the afternoons; in the mornings he hunted up odd jobs about the town, and the money he got for these he took to Centre and invested in paint and brushes. As he paid cash, he had to buy in small quantities; but when the barn was painted—and it was painted to Mr. Thorndyke's satisfaction—Zadoc found himself something more like a capitalist than he had ever been in his life.

But there was one unpleasant incident connected with this job. He was sitting one afternoon in the children's swing, which he had borrowed to use in painting those parts of the barn which he could not reach with a ladder; he tied the ends of the ropes around the cupola, twisted himself up to the ridge-pole, and untwisted himself as he painted downward. He was slathering away on his second coat, whistling cheerily to himself, when a man in overalls and a painty jacket came up and made some remarks about the weather. Zadoc told him that the weather was a good thing to take as it came; and then the man inquired:

"Do you belong to the union?"

"What union?" asked Zadoc; "I ain't no Canuck, ef thet's what yer mean."

"The house-painters' union," said the man.

"Well, no," said Zadoc, still slathering away, with his head on one side. "Guess I'm union enough, all by myself. I'm perfec'ly united, I am—all harmonious and unanimous an' comfortable."

"What are you a-paintin' for, then?" demanded the stranger.

"Fer money," said Zadoc. "What are you a-foolin' round here for?"

"Have you ever served an apprenticeship to this business?" the man asked.

"Hev you ever served an apprenticeship ter rollin' off a log?" Zadoc asked, by way of answer.

The man muttered something and moved away. Zadoc communed with himself.

"Ap-prenticeship ter sloppin' paint! Well, I be demed! Why, fool-work like thet's born in a man, same's swimmin'."

As Zadoc became known to the community, he found that work came right to his hand. The laboring native of South Ridge was the sort of man who said, when a job was offered to him: "Well, I guess I'll take a day off some time week arter next and 'tend to it." This energetic person from the North Woods, who made engagements and kept them, was a revelation to the householders of the town. He mended fences and roads; he cut grass and sodded lawns; he put in panes of glass and whitewashed kitchens; he soldered leaky refrigerators and clothes-boilers; he made paths and dug beds; he beat carpets and pumped water into garret tanks—in short, he did everything that a man can do with muscle and intelligent application. He was not afraid to do a thing because he had never done it before.

Moreover, he made his services acceptable by doing, as a rule, more than his contract called for. He was not above treating his employers as so many fellow human beings. When the doctor prescribed wild-cherry cordial for Mrs. Thorndyke, Zadoc put in a whole afternoon in scouring the country for wild-cherries, and brought back a large basketful. He would take no pay.

"Them's with my compliments," he said. "They growed wild, an' I guess they growed wild a-puppus. Knowed thar waz sick folks a-needin' of 'em, mebbe."

But it was not to be all plain sailing for Zadoc. One evening he went home to the widow Dadd's, and found the widow in tears and her daughter flushed and indignant. They told him that a "boycott" had been declared against him for doing union-men's work, and against them for harboring him. The butcher of the town, who was also the green-grocer, would sell Mrs. Dadd nothing more until she turned Zadoc out of doors. Centre was the nearest town from which she could get supplies, and Centre was three miles away.

Zadoc walked over to the butcher's shop. The butcher was a German.

"What's this here, Schmitzer?" he demanded. "Ain't my money good enough fer you?"

"I ken't help it, Mr. Pine," said Schmitzer, sullenly. "If I don' boygott you, dem fellis boygott me. I got noddin' against you, Mr. Pine, but I ken't sell you no mead, nor Mrs. Tatt neider."

"Runnin' me out of town, are ye?" Zadoc said. "Well, we run men out whar I come from. But we don't run 'em out onless they've done suthin', an' they don't let 'emselves be run out onless they've done suthin'. I ain't done nothin' but what I ought, an' I'm a-goin' ter stay here."

He went back to the widow Dadd's, and told her that he would take charge of the commissariat. That night he got a large packing-case, which Mr. Vredenbnrg was quite willing to give him, and a barrow-load of saw-dust from the waste-heap at the saw-mill. After an hour's work he had a fairly good ice-box, and by the next night he had that box filled with ice from Centre, and with meat and vegetables from New York. Zadoc read the papers; he had seen the market-reports, and now he was able to determine, by actual experiment, the difference between South Ridge prices and New York market-prices. He discovered that the difference was very nearly forty per cent. The express company's charge for transportation was forty cents for an ordinary flour-barrel, well packed.

Zadoc saw a new vista opening before him. He called on Mr. Thorndyke, and proposed to do that stately person's marketing, and to divide the forty per cent. profit evenly between them. Mr. Thorndyke was at first doubtful and suspicious. He cross-examined Zadoc, and found out what had started the young man on this new line. Then his manners changed. Mr. Thorndyke was not in the habit of carrying himself very graciously toward those whom he considered his social inferiors. But now he grasped Zadoc's hand and shook it heartily.

"I'm glad to know this, Pine," he said. "If you've got the pluck to fight those cowardly brutes and their boycott, I'll stand by you. You may try your hand at the marketing, and if you suit Mrs. Thorndyke, all right. If you don't, we'll find something else for you to do."

Zadoc went in town on the morrow with a list of Mrs. Thorndyke's domestic needs. He had, on his previous visit, sought out the venders who dealt in only one quality of goods, and that the best. To these, in his ignorance of the details of marketing, he thought it best to apply, although their higher prices diminished his profits. In this way he was able to send home a full week's supply of the best meat and vegetables in the market. They proved to be better than Schmitzer's best, and Mr. Thorndyke paid a bill smaller by one-fifth than he had ever received from Schmitzer. Zadoc was only forty-three cents to the good; but he had made his point. Within one month he was buying for ten families, and receiving the blessing of ten weary housewives, who found it easier to sit down of a Friday night, lay out a bill of fare for the week, and hand it to Zadoc Pine with a tranquil dismissal of all further care, than it had been to meet every recurring morning, the old, old question: What shall we have for dinner to-day? And Zadoc found his profit therein.

One warm evening in September Zadoc Pine sat in the front yard of the widow Dadd's house, whittling a plug for the cider-barrel. He looked up from his whittling and saw a party of a dozen men come up the road and stop at the gate. He arose and went forward to meet them.

"Good-evenin', friends!" he said, driving his jack-knife into the top rail of the fence and leaning over the pickets: "Want to see me, I s'pose? What c'n I do f er ye?"

One man came forward and put himself at the head of the party. Zadoc knew him by sight. It was McCuskey, the "walking-delegate."

"You can get out of this town," said McCuskey, "as fast as you know how to. We'll give you ten hours."

"That's friendly-like," said Zadoc. "I ain't had a present o' ten hours' free time made me sence I wuz a boy at school."

"Well," McCuskey broke in, annoyed at some suppressed laughter in his rear, "you can take them ten hours and use them to get out of South Ridge."

"Ken, eh?" said Zadoc. "Well, now, ef I've gotter go, I've gotter go. I ain't got no objection. But I jest wanter know what I've gotter go fer. Then maybe I'll see if I'll go or not."

"You have got to go," McCuskey began, "because you have interfered with the inalienable rights of labor; because you have taken the bread out of the mouths of honest toilers——"

"Sho!" Zadoc interrupted him, "don't talk no sech fool-talk ez that! I ain't taken no bread outer no man's mouth. I ain't got down to that yet. S'pose you tell me in plain English what I've done to be run outer town fer?"

There was more hushed laughter in the spokesman's rear, and he set his teeth angrily before he opened his lips again.

"You have no trade, and you have taken jobs away from men who have trades. You took away a painter's job when you painted that barn on the hill."

"I didn't take away no painter's job. It wazn't nobody's job—it wazn't no job at all until I made a job of it. Ef the painter wanted it, why didn't he go an' get it?"

"You've took away Andy Conner's gardening-work all around the town."

"Tha's so!" from Andy Conner, at the back of the crowd.

"Where was Andy Conner when I took his jobs away from him?" Zadoc asked, and answered himself: "Drunk, in Bryan's back yard. Andy Conner works two days in the week, an' I work six. I ain't got no time to be sortin' out Andy Conner's jobs from mine."

Then there came a husky howl from out the thickest of the crowd.

"Vell, you take avay my chob, aynyhow! You take my bissness avay—you take my boocher bissness."

"Ah!" said Zadoc, "that's you, Schmitzer, is it? Yes, yer right. I'm tak'n yer job away—the best I know how. But I didn't take it away until you took the food outer my mouth—thet's what ye did, an' no fancy talk, neither—an' outer the mouths o' two helpless wimmin. An' under them circumstances, every time, I'd take your job away, ef you was the President of the United States."

This was a solemn asseveration for Zadoc. He respected the office of the President of the United States. But it was lost on his hearers. No man in that crowd respected the President of the United States. There came a low, growling murmur from the group:

"Kill him! Hang the scab! Kill him!"


Zadoc let out a voice that only the Adirondack hills had heard before. Then he checked himself, and talked quietly, yet so that every man on the street heard him.

"I came from the North Woods," he said. "They make men whar I came from. I ain't wronged no man in this town. I come here to make my livin', an' here I'll stay. Ef you wanter fight, I'll fight yer, one at a time, or the hull gang! Ye can kill me, but ye've gotter kill me here. An' ef it comes ter killin', I c'n hold my end up. I c'n kill a rabbit at forty rod, an' I own my rifle yit. But I know ye won't give me no fair fight; ye want to crawl up behine me. Well, I'm a man from the woods. I c'n hear ye a half a mile off, an' I c'n smell ye a hundred yards."

He made an end, and stood looking at them. He had picked up his big jack-knife, and was jabbing its blade deep into the top rail of the fence and picking it out again. A silence fell upon the crowd. Zadoc Pine was a large man and a strong man. He had a knife, and in the doorway behind him stood the widow Dadd's daughter with his rifle, held ready for him.

Zadoc broke the silence.

"Boys," he said, "I ain't no hog. I want you to understand thet I'm goin' to earn my own livin' my own way. I take what work I c'n get; an' ef other folks is shif'less enough ter leave their work fer me ter do, thet's their business. I've took one man's job away from him fer cause. But I ain't got no spite ag'in him. He's on'y a fool-furriner. Thet's you, Schmitzer. An' ter show you that I ain't got no spite agin yer, I'm a-goin' ter make you an offer. I'll take yer inter partnership."

There was a derisory laugh at this from the whole delegation, but Zadoc checked it.

"Schmitzer," he said, "you come inside here and talk it over with me. I ain't goin to hurt ye, an' yer friends here'll go down street ter Bryan's an' take a drink. They've been a-talkin', an' I guess they're thirsty."

After a moment of irresolute hesitation the delegation moved off. The men were puzzled. The exiling of Zadoc Pine seemed no longer a simple matter, and they felt the need of discussing a new situation. Zadoc and Schmitzer were left together in the little stone house.

"Schmitzer," said Zadoc, "I'm makin' most as much clean profit outer my ten families ez you're makin' out of yer whole business, an' I don't have no rent t'pay. Here's my figgers—look 'em over! Now, Schmitzer, thar's no end of business hereabouts thet you ain't worked up. These farmers all around about are livin' on salt pork, an' eatin' butchers' meat wunst a week. We've gotter get their trade and teach 'em Christian livin'. These here quarrymen ain't eatin' meat like they oughter. S'pose we show 'em what they c'n get for a dollar? "

Schmitzer looked carefully over Zadoc's figures. He knew the risks of carrying perishable stock. He saw that people bought more when the opportunities of the great markets were offered to them. Before he left the house he had agreed to work with Zadoc, and to follow his leader in the new scheme for supplying South Ridge with meat and vegetables.

"An' what'll yer friends down street say?" queried Zadoc.

"I don' care vot dey say," responded Schmitzer; "dose fellus ain't no good. I got better bissness now. If dey don' like it, dey go down to Cender un' bring deir meat home demselfs."

Zadoc retains his share in the Pine & Schmitzer Supply Company; but after he had drummed up the local trade on the new basis, and broken Schmitzer into the routine work, he branched off for himself in a new line.

He had found an amateur electrician among his customers, and with this gentleman's aid he organized the South Ridge Fire Department and Protective Association. Thirty-six householders paid him ten dollars for the plant and ten dollars for yearly service; and he connected their houses in an electric circuit, of which his own bedroom was the central station. In each house was a combined bell and alarm; and if a citizen awoke at night to find his chimney on fire or to hear a stranger within his chicken-house, he rang a wild tocsin in thirty-five other houses, and then sounded a signal-letter by dot and dash to proclaim his identity. Then the whole town turned out, and Zadoc drove a small chemical engine behind Schmitzer's horse. If the cause of the disturbance was a chicken-thief, and the cause was caught, Zadoc played upon him.

"Can't bring out thet engyne fer nothin'," he said; "she's gotter serve a moral purpose somehow."

Two years and a half have passed since Zadoc left the North Woods. He is an employer now, and an owner of real-estate, in a small way, and he still has South Ridge under his protecting vdng, and keeps her yards clean and her lawns trim—or his men do. Moreover he is the husband of the girl whose smile first welcomed him to the Ridge.

"Man must earn his bread in the sweat of his brow," he has said; "but some men sweat inside o' their heads an' some outside. I'm workin' my brain. I could 'a' done more with it ef I 'a' had edication. When that there boy o' mine gets a few years on top o' the six weeks he's got now, I'll give him all he wants, an' he c'n do the swaller-tail business ef he wants to. Thet goes with edication."

"You have done much for the town, Mr. Pine," the dominie once said to him, "and I am glad to say that your success has been due to the application of sound principlesvthose principles on which true success has ever been founded."

"Yaas,"said Zadoc, meditatively, "an' then—I'm an Amerikin, an' I guess thet goes for suthin'."

This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.