A boy appears and announces Brady’s arrival. The townspeople sing a hymn and go off to welcome Brady. Hornbeck remains behind with the storekeeper and asks him his opinion on evolution. The storekeeper claims not to have opinions because they could pose a threat to his business. The townspeople cheer and return singing another hymn. They carry pro-Brady and anti-evolutionist banners.

The mayor asks Brady to deliver a speech. The tall, charismatic Brady thanks the townspeople and says he intends to prosecute the arrogant Cates in order to defend Hillsboro from the ideological aggression of Northern cities. The mayor starts to give a speech welcoming Brady, but a photographer and Mrs. Brady interrupt him. Brady asks the spiritual leader of the community to join them for a photograph, and Reverend Brown steps up. The mayor skips to the end of his speech and declares Brady an honorary colonel in the state militia.

The mayor reports that the local Ladies’ Aid club has prepared a brunch for the occasion. As Brady eats, Davenport, the district attorney, introduces himself and says he is eager to work on Brady’s team. Mrs. Brady reminds her husband not to overeat. Brady asks about the defendant, Cates. Rachel interjects that she knows Cates and says that he is not a criminal. Brady takes Rachel away from the crowd to talk privately. One man asks the mayor who the defense attorney will be. Hornbeck announces that the Baltimore Herald has sent the famous Henry Drummond of Chicago to defend Cates. Reverend Brown reviles Drummond as an agent of the devil.

Brady and Rachel return. Reverend Brown and the mayor try to think of ways to prevent Drummond from entering Hillsboro. Brady insists that instead they should welcome Drummond because the world will pay attention to a victory over someone of Drummond’s prominence. Brady explains that he’ll easily be able to convict Cates based on what Rachel has told him in private. Brady retires to his suite at the Mansion House. Everyone follows him away except Rachel and Hornbeck, who move to the courthouse.

Rachel calls out for Meeker and then for Cates, asking what she’s supposed to do. Hornbeck jokingly offers her his counsel at cut rates. Rachel asks Hornbeck why he is in the courtroom. He shows her a copy of the Baltimore Herald in which he wrote an article comparing Cates to Dreyfus, Socrates, and Romeo. Rachel, surprised that Hornbeck has taken Cates’s side, expresses frustration that the Hillsboro townspeople would never read articles that portray Cates as a hero.

Hornbeck and Rachel discuss teaching. Rachel says she has no reason to teach material outside the superintendent’s guidelines. Hornbeck raises questions about human existence, which Rachel says the Bible answers. Rachel asks how Cates could be innocent if a popular hero like Brady is against him. Hornbeck retorts that Brady ceased to be a spokesman for ordinary Americans when they learned to think for themselves. Rachel and Hornbeck exit.