The judge regarded his inkwell with a smile. "You mistake the nature of this occasion, Mr. Oberlies. You are not asked to recant. You are merely asked to desist from further disloyal utterances, as much for your own protection and comfort as from consideration for the feelings of your neighbours. I will now hear the charges against Mr. Yoeder."
Mr. Yoeder, a witness declared, had said he hoped the United States would go to Hell, now that it had been bought over by England. When the witness had remarked to him that if the Kaiser were shot it would end the war, Yoeder replied that charity begins at home, and he wished somebody would put a bullet in the President.
When he was called upon, Yoeder rose and stood like a rock before the judge. "I have nothing to say. The charges are true. I thought this was a country where a man could speak his mind."
"Yes, a man can speak his mind, but even here he must take the consequences. Sit down, please." The judge leaned back in his chair, and looking at the two men in front of him, began with deliberation: "Mr. Oberlies, and Mr. Yoeder, you both know, and your friends and neighbours know, why you are here. You have not recognized the element of appropriateness, which must be regarded in nearly all the transactions of life; many of our civil laws are founded upon it. You have allowed a sentiment, noble in itself, to carry you away and lead you to make extravagant statements which I am confident neither of you mean. No man can demand that you cease from loving the country of your birth; but while you enjoy the benefits of this country, you should not defame its government to extol another. You both admit to utterances which I can only adjudge disloyal. I shall fine you each three hundred dollars; a very light fine under the circumstances. If I should have occasion to fix a penalty a second time, it will be much more severe."
After the case was concluded, Mr. Wheeler joined his neighbour at the door and they went downstairs together.
"Well, what do you hear from Claude"' Mr. Yoeder asked.
"He's still at Fort R--. He expects to get home on leave before he sails. Gus, you'll have to lend me one of your boys to cultivate my corn. The weeds are getting away from me."
"Yes, you can have any of my boys,-- till the draft gets 'em," said Yoeder sourly.