Minnesota Tales

The Minneapolis Journal, October 2, 1907, p. 7



What Would You Have Her Do, Go Round by Western Avenue to Save Crossing Nicollet? Well, I Guess Not - But Judge Smith Cuts the Gordian Knot.

When a woman won't, she won't; but it doesn't do to let the mills of the gods wait for her too long. There are ways of getting round her, don't you know. Sarah Slater, accused at the bar of the police court of the hideous offense of peddling gimcracks on Nicollet avenue, refused to plead yesterday morning. She refused to plead yesterday noon, and yesterday evening, when Judge Waite held a special session on her account, she refused to plead a third time. Three times the great Cesar refused the crown of Rome, and three times Sarah Slater refused to answer guilty or not guilty.

The night passed peacefully, and morning broke. The city wakened with Sarah still on its hands. Perhaps the city at large wasn't altogether conscious of the predicament it was in, but down around the lockup and the court they were only too conscious. There was a putting together of heads, and more than one whispered consultation. Where a woman wouldn't, what was to be done?

It remained for Judge C. L. Waite to cut the Gordian knot. The two judges took turns with the criminal grind, and today was Judge Smith's first day.

"Bring in Sarah Slater," said his honor, and a thrill of expectancy, not unmingled with apprehension, affected most everybody.

There was a short and impressive pause, and then Sarah entered, leaning on the arms of Matron Schaeffer. She was calm. She had left her wraps behind her and stood forth in her neat traveling gown of brown fabric, with a old watch and chain not inconspicuously displayed.

"Are you guilty or not guilty?" asked Judge Smith.

Sarah shrugged her shoulders, sat playfully down on the arm of a chair, looked arch and said nothing.

"Plea of not guilty entered in behalf of defendant," said the judge, and the next Sarah knew Sarah was on trial. Then she didn't look so arch.

"This is foolery, she snapped. "Anyway, I've got as much right on Nicollet as any the rest of the boys."

She objected to nothing the officer testified against her until he said she made faces at him when he told her to move on. This she stigmatized as a barefaced lie. Then she passionately propounded this dilemma to the court:

"If I'm on Second Street and want to go to Third street, have I got to go way round by Western avenue in order to keep off Nicollet, just because I'm a peddler?"

Getting no reply to this, she went solemnly on record to the following effect:

"Judge, you can't put me on the bum, and it's no use of your trying."

She was given her choice of $15 or fifteen days and was led out loudly proclaiming that they shouldn't get any of her money.

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