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Newspaper Page Text
the moment I set eyes on him. Mary
Leeson was there to do the gush
"What do you think, Miss Lee
son?" I asked. "Guilty?"
Miss Leeson had elected to take an
obscure seat in the back of the
courtroom, to get the thing in better
perspective, she said. I was coach
ing her that day it was her first
trial in the manner of court pro
"The News-Herald says he's inno
cent," she answered.
"But what do you think?" I per
sisted. "Innocent," said Miss Leeson with
a curious intonation. It was as if her
feminine psychology was at strife
with the instinct of obedience to the
The case against Symonds was not
a .strong case. It became pretty well
evident from the second day that he
would be acquitted unless the state
could bring better witnesses. The
girl, Madge Kline, could not be found.
Without her evidence, conviction
Besides Miss Leeson's articles ex
ceeded anything that the most ac
complished artistry had ever achieved
in bringing about a revulsion of pop
ular sentiment. I heard a man in
the street discussing the crime on
the day the trial opened.
"Guilty? Sure, he's guilty," he
said. "Why did they ask a change of
venue? His neighbors knew him. He
wouldn't stand a dog's chance in his
And on the third morning, when
everybody went about with a copy of
the News-Herald in his hand, open
at Miss Leeson's article.
"Guilty? That fellow isn't guilty.
Why, there's innocence in his face.
Look at him! Who'd be fool enough
to send a box of poisoned candy like
that? Bought strychnine? Sure!
For rats! They can't and won't prove
he put it into the creams. Anyway,
I'm in favor of giving him a chance
for his life."
"They can't prove anything. No
case," summed up the popular ver
dict. About all the evidence against Sy
monds, in fact, was that he had been
jealous of his rival, and that he had
bought a box of candy at one store
and some strychnine pellets later at
another. And yet, so susceptible is
a jury to the atmosphere of a court
room, that the man might have been
convicted but for Mary Leeson's ar
ticles. On the day on which the verdict
was to be delivered old Lyons came
down to see. He patted Mary Leeson
on the arm. "We'll win," he whis
peerd. "You've done finely, Miss
Leeson. I take back all I ever said
against woman reporters."
Miss Leeson smiled and went on
writing her last article.
Lyons created something of a stir
in court The-, district attorney, in
summing up, turned and faced him
for a moment "Where is the miss-
Ung girl?" he thundered to the jury.
"Who knows? If anybody, it is the
powerful interests that are defending
Lyons leaped to his feet, but the
judge's gavel fell with a thud. "I will
not permit such an insinuation," he
shouted. "Strike that from the rec
ord." Well it was "not guilty," of course.
And yet, in spite of all the signs of
an acquittal, which had been sensed
in court from the opening of the sec
ond day, I was not sure. I saw the
face of the prisoner turn from green
to gray as the foreman pronounced
the words. Then a ghastly smile
came over Symonds' face and he
stepped down a free man.
The jury crowded about him, to go
through the farce of shaking hands.
"I congratulate you, sir," said each
man, with a beaming smirk of self
congratulation upon his perspicacity.
They gathered around him in an avid
cluster until Symonds' counsel pulled