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On the following day, the courtroom is beginning to fill. Drummond is waiting with Cates at the defendant's table. Hornbeck comes in and greets Brady, who is hungrily eating his lunch. The reporter makes jokes about how sad he will be to end his assignment and leave Hillsboro.
Cates asks Drummond what will happen to him; he does not want to go to prison. Since Drummond does not know the answer to Cates' question, he tries to reassure him that his fight has been worthwhile. Drummond tells Cates of when he was a boy. He had longed for months for a rocking horse named Golden Dancer. His parents sacrificed and saved until they could buy it for him. When he woke up and found Golden Dancer in his room, he rushed to it to take a ride; but when he climbed on the horse, it collapsed under him into pile of trash. Drummond tells Cates that many things in life are like Golden Dancer. They seem wonderful and perfect on the surface or at a distance, but when looked at closely, they are nothing more than trash. Drummond reminds Cates' that he has proven that Brady's fundamentalism is nothing more than trash, a lie that has been exposed.
An announcer comes in and gets the judge's permission to set up his radio, in order to immediately report the outcome of the trial. Next the mayor comes rushing in. He says that the Governor has wired him about his concern over the trial. He wants there to be no trouble in Hillsboro over the outcome, for elections are soon coming up.
The jury arrives and pronounces Cates guilty. The judge lets Cates say something before he is sentenced. The teacher says he feels he is convicted of violating an unjust law and that he will continue to act on his conscience in the future. The judge, having listened to the proceedings and to the Governor's plea, only sentences Cates to a one hundred dollar fine. Brady blusters his objections, but the judge ignores him.
The judge closes the court. Brady tries to give a speech, but no one will listen to him. The people are busy buying lemonade and ice cream from vendors who have come into the room. In the background, the radio announcer is speaking into his microphone, reporting on what has transpired. Although ignored, Brady continues to give his speech.
The radioman takes an interest in Brady and moves him closer to the microphone. When Brady begins to rant and ramble, the radioman pulls the microphone away from him. Brady grows increasingly emotional and then suddenly falls to the floor. As he is being carried out of the courtroom, he is reciting the inaugural speech that he was never able to deliver.
Drummond, Hornbeck, and Cates are left alone in the courtroom. Hornbeck laughs at Brady for being an "also ran." Drummond turns to Cates and congratulates him. Even though he has received a guilty verdict, he has won the support of most people who have heard his case. He reassures Cates that he has helped many other people who will come after him. He has also set a fine example of a person acting on his conscience. Cates finds out that Hornbeck's newspaper has paid his fine. He is once again a free man.
Rachel enters. She is carrying a suitcase and holding a copy of Darwin's Origin of the Species. She comes up to Cates and apologizes for having to testify against him. She tells him she has read Darwin's book; although she does not understand most of it, she does believe that Cates has a right to express his thoughts about it. She then tells Drummond that because of her father, she has never done much thinking. Now she realizes that thoughts are like children and must be born and nurtured. The weak ones will not live long, but the strong ones will survive.