Another in our series of new transcriptions of contemporary articles on the Leo Frank case.
August 4th, 1913
Wife and Mother of the Accused Pencil Factory Superintendent Sit Calmly Through Trial.
By TARLETON COLLIER
Women are brought into a court room, as all the world knows, for one of two purposes. Their presence may have a moral effect in softening the heart of a juror, particularly if they be young, pretty or wistful of countenance. Or they may be there on the affectionate mission of cheering and encouraging a beloved defendant.
Two women sat with Leo Frank through all the hot, weary days of last week. Their object was the one or the other. Which?
A study of these women was the answer. Everybody studied them. Everybody knew that love and trust inspired them. Whether Frank be innocent or guilty, to his credit be it said that he is loved by the women closest to him.
His mother was one of the two, a woman on whose face was written plainly the story of a life in which there was much of grief, much of the tenderest joy, much of loving and being loved.
Tragedy in Mother’s Face.
Her eyes were sad. Her features never lost their tragic composure. But it was plain that smiles had come often to her in the course of her life. The face is common to mothers.
The other woman was his wife, a robust, wholesome young woman. Her face was the placid face of one whose life has been pleasant. No unhappy event had come to mar a single feature. None of the troubles that had been the mother’s had come to her until this calamity.
If the younger Mrs. Frank were not so plainly the sane, rational young woman that she is, you would say that she should be overcome by the circumstances of the accusation and trial of her husband. She impresses you as being very young, indeed. But she is too wholesome of mind and body. You see that, as you study her.
She is reserved, too, in a sort of proud way. It is not a natural pride, but a glory in her love for the man on whose chair her arm rests, day after day of the trial.
This proud reserve is the mother’s, too. These women do not laugh at the not infrequent ludicrous incidents that arise. They do not smile, except when the man at whose side they sit smiles into their eyes. Neither do they cry.
It is this reserve that supported them through the ordeal that came Friday and Saturday. Two physicians were on the stand, and the things they told was not fit for casual conversation. Other women left the room.
Womanly Reserve—and Ugly Words.
But the two had come to be with Leo Frank. Through all the ghastly, sordid revelations they sat, armed with this quality of womanly reserve. The face of the younger woman quivered at times, involuntarily. But for most of the time the two sat unmoved, as if unconscious that hundreds of curious masculine eyes were on them, after the usparing way of masculine eyes, to see how the ugly words affected them.
Through it all the women looked straight ahead, as if seeing nothing. The arm of Mrs. Frank, the wife, rested on the back of her husband’s chair, encircling his shoulders and lightly touching them. Now and then the hand pressed his arm as a particularly revolting bit was uttered.
It was a sublime courage and reserve.
You knew then that the presence of these two women in the court room was not for its effect on the jury, not for affectation, but for the encouragement of the man who is on trial for his life.
These are not women, is your conclusion, to sit in company with an accused man for policy’s sake.
You would find your conviction deepened could you see this mother and this wife with Frank in the anteroom of the court during recesses. They are not demonstrative during the trial. There is a smile now and then, for a bare second, and nothing more.
The Reserve Is Broken.
But when recess is taken, and the court room is cleared, and the prisoner and his wife and mother are together in the little room at the side, the reserve is breaks. The wife kisses her husband, freely, tenderly. Then the mother. After that they part, he goes to jail, and they await the call of court.
When the trial begins, they usually are in their chairs waiting for him. He enters with the deputy, to be greeted by a smile or merely a look from them. They are a reserved people, these Franks.
And it is all very plain why these women come to court, and sit by the side of the man who is on trial. Not for effect, surely.
* * *
The Atlanta Georgian, August 4th 1913, “Ordeal is Borne With Reserve by Franks,” Leo Frank case newspaper article series (Original PDF)