While Uli, as long as the effect of the wine was upon him, had been angry with the master for his rebuke, now that its force was spent he became angry at himself for his debauch. He recalled the twenty-three farthings which he had gone through in one evening, and which would now take almost a fortnight’s work to earn again. He was angry at the work which he would have to do for this purpose, at the wine which he had drunk, at the tavern-keeper who had furnished it, and so on. He lost all sense, forgot everything, did everything wrong. He was uncomfortable, discontented with himself, hence also with all others, with the whole world; he had good words for none, and nothing suited him. He imagined that the mistress was intentionally cooking poor meals and preparing everything he didn’t like; that the master was tormenting him with needless work; that the horses were all bad-tempered and that the cows purposely did everything they could to bother him—the stupidest cows that ever grazed on God’s earth.
The farmer and his wife let the lad alone; it seemed as if they paid no heed to him. But it was not so. The mistress had once or twice remarked to her husband how wildly Uli was carrying on—she had never known him to be in such a state before. Had her husband spoken too sharply to him? But the farmer did not think so; Uli wasn’t angry at him alone but at the whole world, he said—probably chiefly angry at himself and was letting it out on others.
On Sunday he would talk with him again. Things couldn’t go on this way any longer; Uli would have to mend his ways or go. But he mustn’t be too harsh, said the mistress. After all, Uli wasn’t the worst in the world; they knew what he was, but they didn’t know what they might get.
A QUIET SUNDAY IN A FINE FARMHOUSE
[This describes in detail the Sunday activities on the farm—churchgoing, visits from relatives, an afternoon walk, inspection of the crops and the cattle, a coffee party.]
A NOCTURNAL ADMONITION
After they had hung up the lantern out in the stable and bedded the horses, the master himself made a bed for the cow, which tramped restlessly back and forth and could not lie down for uneasiness, and then remarked that it might be an hour or two yet, and they would go out and sit on the bench and smoke a pipe; the cow would give warning when the time came.
It was a mild night, half spring, half summer. Few stars twinkled in the blue ocean above; a ringing shout, a distant wagon broke in at times upon the stillness of the night.
“Have you made up your mind now, Uli?” asked the master, when they were sitting on the bench before the stable.
Uli answered that he was still rather undecided, but his tone was no longer angry. He wouldn’t take everything, but he shouldn’t mind staying.