Kill a Spider
or a Fly
Were these boys in their right minds? Here were two boys with good intellect,
one eighteen and one nineteen. They had all the prospects that life could
hold out for any of the young; one a graduate of Chicago and another of
Ann Arbor; one who had passed his examination for the Harvard Law School
and was about to take a trip in Europe,--another who had passed at Ann
Arbor, the youngest in his class, with three thousand dollars in the bank.
Boys who never knew what it was to want a dollar; boys who could reach
any position that was to boys of that kind to reach; boys of distinguished
and honorable families, families of wealth and position, with all the world
before them. And they gave it all up for nothing, for nothing! They took
a little companion of one of them, on a crowded street, and killed him,
for nothing, and sacrificed everything that could be of value in human
life upon the crazy scheme of a couple of immature lads.
Now, your Honor, you have been a boy; I have been a boy. And we have known
other boys. The best way to understand somebody else is to put yourself
in his place.
Is it within the realm of your imagination that a boy who was right, with
all the prospects of life before him, who could choose what he wanted,
without the slightest reason in the world would lure a young companion
to his death, and take his place in the shadow of the gallows?
I do not care what Dr. Krohn may say; he is liable to say anything except
to tell the truth, and he is not liable to do that. No one who has the
process of reasoning could doubt that a boy who would do that is not right.
How insane they are I care not, whether medically or legally. They did
not reason; they could not reason; they committed the most foolish, most
unprovoked, most purposeless, most causeless act that any two boys ever
committed, and they put themselves where the rope is dangling above their
Why did they kill little Bobby Franks?
Not for money, not for spite; not for hate. They killed him as they might
kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they
were made that way. Because somewhere in the infinite processes that go
to the making up of the boy or the man something slipped, and those unfortunate
lads sit here hated, despised, outcasts, with the community shouting for