Swiss province of the beginning of XX century. A young man named Josef Marty is an assistant in the technical bureau of engineer Karl Tobler. Before entering the new place, Josef had to live a few months without work, so he very much appreciates his current position and tries to be worthy of the hopes placed on him by the master. In the house of Tobler, a beautiful mansion in which the office is located, Josef likes everything: his cozy room in the turret, a beautiful garden with a gazebo, the way he is fed, and the beautiful cigars with which he is treated.
The owner of the house, the engineer Tobler, gives the impression of a man of strictness, sometimes even sharp, self-confident, yet subject to the tides of good nature and sincerely caring about his charges. He has a wife, a tall, slender woman with a slightly mocking and indifferent look, and four children-two boys, Walter and Eddie, and two girls, Dora and Sylvie. Previously, Mr. Tobler worked as an engineer at the plant, he lived with his family for a modest salary. Having received the inheritance, he decided to leave his post, acquire a house and open his own inventive bureau. That’s why he settled with the family in Barensville some time ago.
In the arsenal, the engineer has several inventions for which he is looking for sponsors who can support his undertakings. Watches with wings for advertisements that can be placed in places of special congestion of people, for example in a tram, are already ready. In addition to watch-advertising in the arsenal of the engineer there are projects of the machine that issues ammunition, chairs for the sick and underground drill. Almost every day, Mr. Tobler spends in traveling and negotiations, searching for a customer for his technical projects.
From the first week of his stay at the Tobler, Josef has to show not only his engineering skills, but also to fulfill the duties of a clerk and to answer to holders of bills demanding repayment of debts, asking them to wait a little longer. In his spare time, Joseph swims in the lake, walks through the forest, drinks coffee with Mrs. Tobler in the garden on the veranda.
On the first Sunday, guests... come to the mansion – it’s Josef’s predecessor, Virzich, and his mother. Virzich fell in love with the Toilers for their devotion and zeal. There was, however, one defect that nullified all his positive qualities: from time to time he went into drinking-bouts, burst out into abuse, shouted insults, but, having regained his temper, came back with a repentant look. Mr. Tobler, after reading Virzich’s notation, forgave him. But when this poor fellow turned in his insults all the limits of what was allowed, the engineer finally dismissed him and invited a new assistant. Now Virzich again begs to take him back. This time the engineer really can not do this, and Virzikha, along with his old mother, has to leave the mansion with nothing.
On working days, Josef writes texts of announcements that the engineer is looking for contact with the owners of free capital to finance their patents, sends them to large firms, helps Ms. Tobler around the house, watering the garden. Physical work attracts Josef, perhaps even more mental, although in the latter he seeks to prove his worth. The Tobler family often communicates with neighbors, accepts guests, and Joseph is involved in all their ventures: boat rides, maps, walks in Barensville, and everywhere has the opportunity to see how potent the villagers are with their owners.
On August 1, Tobler arranges a celebration in his mansion on the occasion of the official formation of Switzerland in 1291. Meanwhile, bills requiring repayment are increasingly coming to the office. Josef sees his task in protecting the patron of negative emotions, and he himself often responds to such messages with a request to wait. Once, in the office in the absence of Tobler comes Johannes Fisher, who responded to the announcement for the “owners of capital.” The helper can not sufficiently display his courtesy and ingenuity to detain Fisher and his wife before the return of the patron, which leads Tobler into a rage. Fisher does not appear like that anymore, but the engineer does not lose hope of moving his business from a dead center.
On one of the Sundays, the Tobblers go for a walk, and Sylvie is left at home. As far as a mother loves her second daughter, Dora, she also neglects Sylvie.