“Be patient and calm yourself,” said Johannes. “Begin slowly, take the helm little by little, do all you can yourself, speak pleasantly, and try to bring ’em around gradually or at least get some on your side. Then wait awhile and see how things go, until you’re familiar with everything, so that you can tell the best way to take hold. It’s no good to rush right in at the start; usually one doesn’t know his business well enough and takes hold of it at the wrong end. Then when you know how you stand, and if things don’t get any better, sail into ’em good and proper, let ’em know where they stand with you, and force one or two of ’em to leave; you’ll see an improvement right away. And be of good cheer; you’re no slave, and you can go when you will. But it’s a good apprenticeship for you, and the more a young man has to stand the better for him. You can learn a lot—even to be master, and that takes more skill than you think. But I keep feeling that you can make your fortune at it and make a proper man of yourself. Get on good terms with the women-folk, but not so as to make the old man suspicious; if you can get on their good side, you’ve won a lot. But if they keep inviting you away from your work to drink coffee with ’em, don’t go; stay with the others. And always be the first one in the work; then they’ll have to give in at last, willing or not.”
This put Uli on his feet. He found new courage; but still be could hardly leave the master. A number of things came into his mind, about which he ought to ask; it seemed as if he knew nothing. He asked about the sowing, and how he had best do this or that; whether this plant grew here, and how that one should be raised. There was no end to his questions, until finally Johannes stopped at an inn, drank another bottle with him, and then almost drove him off home.
Encouraged, Uli finally set off, and now for the first time felt his importance to the fullest extent. He was somebody, and his eyes saw quite differently, as he now set foot on the farm that was to get its rightful attention from him alone. With quite a different step he approached the house where he was, in a sense, to govern, and where they were waiting for him as a rebellious regiment awaits its new colonel.
HOW ULI INSTALS HIMSELF AS OVERSEER
Calmly, with resolution taken, he joined the workers; it was afternoon, shortly after dinner. They were threshing by sixes. The milker and carter were preparing fodder; these he joined and helped. They did not need him, they said, and could do it alone.—He couldn’t do anything on the threshing-floor, he said, until they started to clear up, and so today he would help them prepare fodder and manure. They grumbled; but he took hold and with his wonted adroitness mixed the fodder and shook the dust from it, and so silently forced the others to work better than usual. Below in