On the morning of Professor Sampler’s trial, time stood still. Yet, the clock moved, and soon the court was in session.
Sampler looked curiously at the proceedings. A casual observer might have been excused into thinking the court was on trial, and Sampler was studying it under a microscope.
Bob and his parents attended. No one could remember the last time Wolflcrow had a trial of this magnitude. Usually the courthouse was dead, like an obsolete video standard that time has forgotten.
The facts were straight enough, and Sampler happily agreed to all charges. The Judge looked thankfully at Sampler for making it easy. Bob could swear he saw a friendly nod. The Prosecutor wasn’t so happy, though.
“Hang him, ladies and gents. He dares to bring new technology to Analog systems.”
The ladies and gents of the jury, each entrenched in their own beliefs, also believed in the power of the committee to decide the fate of individuals. They knew every decision ever taken by a committee was eventually overturned – by another committee. This system kept each committee safe from responsibility.
Sampler was asked if he wanted to say anything in his defence.
To Bob’s horror Sampler looked straight at him. “Don’t forget. Don’t be afraid to try new things. That’s all, your honor.”
Sampler was found guilty, and was sentenced to exile. He was out of Wolfcrow before sundown.
But his words remained in Wolfcrow. It rang in Bob’s ears incessantly. Bob knew there was no turning back.
At dinner he looked at his Father and Mother lovingly. They were agitated at his calm demeanor, but didn’t say anything. By midnight Bob had left Wolfcrow for good.
By morning, Cathy had left Digitown for good.
They never returned.