He came walking across the floor to where I sat, and stopped in front of me. The sweat in great drops fell from his blistered face, ran in tiny rivulets from his arms and hands, and splashed

on the iron floor. He trembled, he gasped for breath, and I 5 thought he was going to sink down from pure exhaustion, when, to my surprise, he deliberately winked at me.

"Ought never to have left the farm, ought we? Eh, Buddy ?” he said with a sweaty chuckle. And that was my introduction

to Pete, the best open-hearth man I ever knew, a good fellow, 10 clean and honest.

"Mike, put this guy to wheeling in manganese," said a voice behind me, and I turned and saw the boss. "Eighteen hundred at Number Four and twenty-two hundred at Number Six."

"Get that wheelbarrer over yender and foller me," instructed 15 Mike, a little, old, white-haired Irishman who was, as I learned

afterward, called "maid of all work" about the plant. I picked up the heavy iron wheelbarrow and trundled it after him, out through a runway to a detached building where the various alloys and refractories used in steel-making were kept.

"Now, then, you load your wheelbarrer up with this here ma'ganese and weigh it over on them scales yender, and then wheel it in and put it behind Number Four," Mike told me.

“Why is manganese put into steel?” I asked Pete on one of my trips past his furnace.

"It settles it, toughens it up, and makes it so it'll roll," he answered.

A few days later I asked one of the chemists about the plant the same question. "It absorbs the occluded gases in the molten

steel, hardens it, and imparts the properties of ductility and 30 malleability,” was his reply. I preferred Pete's elucidation.

All day I trundled the iron wheelbarrow back and forth along the iron floor, wheeling in manganese. I watched the powerful electric cranes at work picking up the heavy boxes of material

and dumping their contents into the furnaces. I watched the 35 tapping of the "heats," when the dams holding in the boiling



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lakes would be broken down and the fiery floods would go rushing and roaring into the ladles, these to be whisked away to the ingot molds. And I watched the men at work, saw the

strain they were under, saw the risks they took, and wondered 5 if, after a few days, I could be doing what they were doing.

"It is all very interesting," I said to Pete, as I stood near him, waiting for a crane to pass by.

He grinned. “Uh-huh! But you'll get over it. 'Bout tomorrow mornin', when your clock goes rattlety-bang and you look 10 to see what's up and find it's five o'clock, you'll not be thinkin'

it so interestin', oh, no! Let's see your hands." He laughed when he saw the blisters the handles of the wheelbarrow had developed.

Pete was right. When my alarm clock awakened me next morning and I started to get out of bed I groaned in agony. 15 Every muscle of my body ached. I fancied my joints creaked

as I sat on the edge of the couch vainly endeavoring to get them to working freely and easily. The breakfast bell rang twice, but hurry I could not.

“You'll be late to work! The others have gone!" called the 20 landlady. I managed to creak downstairs. My pail was packed

and she had tied up an extra lunch in a newspaper. “You can't stop to eat, if you want to get to work on time," she said. "Your breakfast is in this paper—eat it when you get to the mills.”

I stumbled away in the darkness, groaning and gasping, and 25 found my way to the black and dirty street. The mud was

frozen hard now, and the pools of water were ice-covered, and my heavy working shoes thumped and bumped along the dismal road in a remarkably noisy manner.

The number of job hunters was larger this morning. Among 30 them I saw the small man who could not "get took," and again he was peeking wishfully through the knothole in the fence.

"You're on, eh?" he said when he spied me. "I wisht I was. Say, you haven't got a dime you could spare a feller, have you?" I discovered a dime.

I showed my brass check—a timekeeper had given me one

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the day before, Number 1266—to the uniformed watchman. He waved me on, and I entered the gate just as the whistle blew. A minute later and I would have been docked a half-hour.

Mike, “maid of all work,” took me in hand as soon as I came 5 on the floor and proceeded to give me a few pointers. “I kept me eye on ye all day yestiddy, and ye fair disgoosted me with the way ye cavorted round with the Irish buggy. As though ye wanted to do it all the first day! Now, ye're on a twelve-hour

turn here, and ye ain't expected to work like a fool. Ye want 10 to learn to spell. (Mike wasn't referring to my orthographic

shortcomings.) Ye'll get in bad with the boss if he sees ye chinnin' with Pete. He don't like Pete, and Pete don't like him, and I don't blame Pete. The boss is solid bone from the collar

He has brainstorms. Watch out for 'em." I followed much of Mike's advice. All that day I trundled the wheelbarrow, but I made an easier day of it, and no one objected to my work. And as the days ran by I found my muscles toughening, and I could hear the alarm-bell at five in

the morning without feeling compelled to squander several valu20 able minutes in wishing I had been born rich.

For two weeks I worked every day at wheeling in materials for the furnaces. Then for one week I worked with the “maid of all work," sweeping the floors and keeping the place "righted

up," as he called it. Then I "pulled doors" for a while; I "ran 25 tests" to the laboratory; I "brought stores"; I was general-utility

Then one day, when a workman dropped a piece of pigiron on his foot and was sent to the hospital, I was put on “second helping.”

By good luck I was sent to Pete's furnace. Pete and I by 30 this time were great cronies. Many a chat we had had, back

behind his furnace, hidden from the prying eyes of the boss. I found Mike was right-it was just as well to keep out of his sight. I soon discovered that he did not like Pete. In number

less mean and petty ways did he harass the man, trying to make 35 him do something that would give him an excuse to discharge


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him. But Pete was naturally slow to anger, and with admirable strength he kept his feelings under control.

I was working nights now, every other week. The small man at the gate—he had finally "got took" and was laboring in the 5 yard gang—who had told me that “night-work is no good” knew

what he was talking about. I found night-work absolutely "no good.” The small hours of the night are the terror of the night worker.

To be aroused by a screaming whistle above your head at 10 two o'clock in the morning; to seize a shovel and run to the

open door of a white-hot furnace and there in its blistering heat to shovel in heavy ore and crushed limestone rock until every stitch of clothing on your body is soaked with perspiration; to

stagger away with pulses thumping, and drop down upon a bench, 15 only to be ordered out into a nipping winter air to raise or lower

a gas-valve this is the kind of work the poet did not have in mind when he wrote about “Toil that ennobles !” I doubt whether he or any other poet ever heard of this two-o'clock-inthe-morning toil.

When the "heat” was ready to tap I would dig out the "taphole." Another "second helper" would assist me in this work. The tap-hole, an opening in the center and lower part of the back wall of the furnace, is about a foot in diameter and three

in length. It is closed with magnesite and dolomite when the 25 furnace is charged. Digging this filling out is dangerous work

-the steel is likely to break out and burn the men who work there. When we had removed the dolomite from the hole I would notify the boss. A long, heavy bar was thrust through the peep

hole in the middle door, and a dozen men would "Ye-ho! Ye-ho!" 30 back and forth on the bar until it broke through the fused bank

of magnesite into the tap-hole. Then the lake of steel would pour out through a runner into the ladle. This tapping a “heat” is a magnificent and startling sight to

" the newcomer. I stood fascinated when I beheld it the first time. 35 A lake of seventy-five or eighty tons of sun-white steel, bursting



out of furnace bounds and rushing through the runner, a raging river, is a terrifying spectacle. The eye aches as it watches it; the body shrinks away from the burning heat it throws far out on all sides; the imagination runs riot as the seething flood roils 5 and boils in the ladle.

Sometimes when we had had a particularly hard spell of work and were dead-beat with fatigue and exhaustion, then Pete might be expected to put his well-known question: “Ought to have stayed on the farm, oughtn't we? Hey, buddy?

The foolish question, and his comical way of asking it, always made me laugh. Seeing that Pete had once been a farm laborer, the remark does not appear so silly, after all. It was his way of comparing two kinds of work; it was his favorite stock jest.

I know farm work, too, from pigs to potatoes, and I do not 15 believe there is any kind of farm work known, ten hours of which

would equal thirty minutes of “splashing” on an open-hearth furnace, in muscle-tearing, nerve-racking, back-breaking, sweatbringing effort.

Pete and I were working on Number Three furnace, the latest 20 type and the "fastest” of any in the group. Its monthly output

was three or four hundred tons more than that of any other. It belonged to Pete by rights-he was the oldest man on the floor, and he was regarded by all the other furnace-men as the

best “first helper” in the plant. No other “first helper” watched 25 his roof so carefully as did he. No other could get as many

heats "from a roof” as did he. For every three hundred and fifty heats tapped from a furnace before the furnace required a new roof, the company gave the "first helper" a bonus of fifty

dollars. This was to encourage them to watch their furnaces 30 closely, to see that the gas did not "touch" the roofs.

One morning Pete and I were notified that we were transferred to Number Ten, the oldest, the slowest, and hardest furnace to work of any. "Bulger” Lewis, a Welshman, a bosom

friend of the boss, was to take Number Three. Pete would lose 35 the bonus money due in thirty days.

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