Claude, standing on the edge of the tank, almost fell backward. "Why, what--what for?"
Leonard looked him over. "Good Lord, Claude, you ain't the only fellow around here that wears pants! What for? Well, I'll tell you what for," he held up three large red fingers threateningly; "Belgium., the Lusitania, Edith Cavell. That dirt's got under my skin. I'll get my corn planted, and then Father'll look after Susie till I come back."
Claude took a long breath. "Well, Leonard, you fooled me. I believed all this chaff you've been giving me about not caring who chewed up who."
"And no more do I care," Leonard protested, "not a damn! But there's a limit. I've been ready to go since the Lusitania. I don't get any satisfaction out of my place any more. Susie feels the same way."
Claude looked at his big neighbour. "Well, I'm off tomorrow, Leonard. Don't mention it to my folks, but if I can't get into the army, I'm going to enlist in the navy. They'll always take an able-bodied man. I'm not coming back here." He held out his hand and Leonard took it with a smack.
"Good luck, Claude. Maybe we'll meet in foreign parts. Wouldn't that be a joke! Give my love to Enid when you write. I always did think she was a fine girl, though I disagreed with her on Prohibition." Claude crossed the fields mechanically, without looking where he went. His power of vision was turned inward upon scenes and events wholly imaginary as yet.
One bright June day Mr. Wheeler parked his car in a line of motors before the new pressed-brick Court house in Frankfort. The Court house stood in an open square, surrounded by a grove of cotton-woods. The lawn was freshly cut, and the flower beds were blooming. When Mr. Wheeler entered the courtroom upstairs, it was already half-full of farmers and townspeople, talking in low tones while the summer flies buzzed in and out of the open windows. The judge, a one-armed man, with white hair and side-whiskers, sat at his desk, writing with his left hand. He was an old settler in Frankfort county, but from his frockcoat and courtly manners you might have thought he had come from Kentucky yesterday instead of thirty years ago. He was to hear this morning a charge of disloyalty brought against two German farmers. One of the accused was August Yoeder, the Wheelers' nearest neighbour, and the other was Troilus Oberlies, a rich German from the northern part of the county.
Oberlies owned a beautiful farm and lived in a big white house set on a hill, with a fine orchard, rows of beehives, barns, granaries, and poultry yards. He raised turkeys and tumbler-pigeons, and many geese and ducks swam about on his cattleponds. He used to boast that he had six sons, "like our German Emperor." His neighbours were proud of his place, and pointed it out to strangers. They told how Oberlies had come to Frankfort county a poor man, and had made his fortune by his industry and intelligence. He had twice crossed the ocean to re-visit his fatherland, and when he returned to his home on the prairies he brought presents for every one; his lawyer, his banker, and the merchants with whom he dealt in Frankfort and Vicount. Each of his neighbours had in his parlour some piece of woodcarving or weaving, or some ingenious mechanical toy that Oberlies had picked up in Germany. He was an older man than Yoeder, wore a short beard that was white and curly, like his hair, and though he was low in stature, his puffy red face and full blue eyes, and a certain swagger about his carriage, gave him a look of importance. He was boastful and quick-tempered, but until the war broke out in Europe nobody had ever had any trouble with him. Since then he had constantly found fault and complained,--everything was better in the Old Country.