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The Foreman
by [?]

A man is one thing: a man plus his work is another, entirely different. You can learn this anywhere, but in the lumber woods best of all.

Especially is it true of the camp boss, the foreman. A firm that knows its business knows this, and so never considers merely what sort of a character a candidate may bear in town. He may drink or abstain, may exhibit bravery or cowardice, strength or weakness–it is all one to the lumbermen who employ him. In the woods his quality must appear.

So often the man most efficient and trusted in the especial environment of his work is the most disreputable outside it. The mere dignifying quality of labour raises his value to the nth power. In it he discovers the self-respect which, in one form or another, is absolutely necessary to the man who counts. His resolution to succeed has back of it this necessity of self-respect, and so is invincible. A good boss gives back before nothing which will further his job.

Most people in the North Country understand this double standard; but occasionally someone, either stupid or inexperienced or unobservant, makes the mistake of concluding that the town-character and the woods-character are necessarily the same. If he acts in accordance with that erroneous idea, he gets into trouble. Take the case of Silver Jack and the walking boss of Morrison & Daly, for instance. Silver Jack imagined his first encounter with Richard Darrell in Bay City indicated the certainty of like results to his second encounter with that individual in Camp Thirty. His mistake was costly; but almost anybody could have told him better. To understand the case, you must first meet Richard Darrell.

The latter was a man about five feet six inches in height, slenderly built, yet with broad, hanging shoulders. His face was an exact triangle, beginning with a mop of red-brown hair, and ending with a pointed chin. Two level quadrilaterals served him as eyebrows, beneath which a strong hooked nose separated his round, brown, chipmunk’s eyes. When he walked, he threw his heavy shoulders slightly forward. This, in turn, projected his eager, nervous countenance. The fact that he was accustomed to hold his hands half open, with the palms square to the rear, lent him a peculiarly ready and truculent air. His name, as has been said, was Richard Darrell; but men called him Roaring Dick.

For upward of fifteen years he had been woods foreman for Morrison & Daly, the great lumber firm of the Beeson Lake district. That would make him about thirty-eight years old. He did not look it. His firm thought everything of him in spite of the fact that his reputation made it exceedingly difficult to hire men for his camps. He had the name of a “driver.” But this little man, in some mysterious way of his own, could get in the logs. There was none like him. About once in three months he would suddenly appear, worn and haggard, at Beeson Lake, where he would drop into an iron bed, which the Company maintained for that especial purpose. Tim Brady, the care-taker, would bring him food at stated intervals. After four days of this, he would as suddenly disappear into the forest, again charged with the vital, restless energy which kept him on his feet fourteen hours a day until the next break down. When he looked directly at you, this nerve-force seemed to communicate itself to you with the physical shock of an impact.

Richard Darrell usually finished banking his season’s cut a month earlier than anybody else. Then he drew his pay at Beeson Lake, took the train for Bay City, and set out to have a good time. Whiskey was its main element. On his intensely nervous organisation it acted like poison. He would do the wildest things. After his money was all spent, he started up river for the log-drive, hollow-eyed, shaking. In twenty-four hours he was himself again, dominant, truculent, fixing his brown chipmunk eyes on the delinquents with the physical shock of an impact, coolly balancing beneath the imminent ruin of a jam.