Once it seemed to her that a bit of one of her
own songs floated up to her in a merry whistle from
the stream below. Could it be â but no. It must
be some negro boy gathering "light-'ud" on the
hillside. While the little horse took her own
time, stopping now and then to crop a bit of leaf-
age, Portia let her mind dwell on the events of the
evening before. She saw her sheet of music being
rolled up and carried away, and felt his face near
hers as it had been that one moment ; then she saw
him seated, looking into Marguerite's eyes, and
then she felt herself being drawn down the garden
paths, and the touch of his hand as he bade her
good-night, and wondered if it was Marguerite,
after all, who filled his thoughts; and as she won-
dered, the creeping sensation of pleasure came
stealing through her whole being; but she put it
from her as soon as she felt its growing power, or
tried to do so. " Of course he loves that beautiful
girl ; how could he help it } â And yet, â " and
again that sweetest of all sensations came creeping
from her heart to her finger-tips.
2 34 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
Clatter, clatter, clatter, sounded the fall of her
horse's hoofs, and louder grew the noise of the
rushing water as she neared the stream.
" Ah, ha ! A brown study, or a rosy study ? So
this is the way she comes lagging down the hill,
the lazy little horse. I was beginning to think
you had lost your way."
Portia's face flamed crimson. Ah, the betrayal
of her thoughts! She stooped and patted Brown
Betty's neck to hide her face for very shame, and,
turning her head, looked down the stream.
" You did not know we were coming this way, â
Brown Betty and I," she said, with a laugh.
John sprang from the log where he had been sit-
ting, and walked toward her. His horse whinnied
from the clump of alder bushes where he had tied
him, and stepped restlessly about. "Still, Clyde,"
he said sternly. "Didn't I know you would be
bent on an errand of mercy .'*"
Portia's happy thoughts had left their impress
on her face, and part of its charm lay in the fact
that she was unconscious of its transparency. Her
eyes glowed with a light that was not from without
"This for your thoughts," he said, holding a
penny on his palm. She leaned over, and giving
the back of his hand a light tap, sent the penny fly-
ing over his head.
"There it goes, thoughts and all," she cried.
"You may have them if you can catch them."
He stood a moment, petting Brown Betty's neck,
and watching her face.
" What a noisy stream ! " she said.
special Pleading 235
"What was the rosy-brown study about? I have
a reason for asking "
" I did not know you were here.
*' Of course not ! so you were happy ? "
" I told you I would be gloriously happy, riding
over these hills, and forgetting everything. You
see my thoughts were only forgettings, not worth a
** Everything, â had you forgotten ? "
"Every unpleasant thing." He still looked in
her face, and she turned away again, and gazed into
the stream, as before.
*' I came here on purpose to see you, â alone."
He spoke in a tense way, and she paled a little,
but said nothing. " I even prayed, â if wishing
with my heart in heaven that you might come this ^
way may be called praying, because â I had a
fright last evening."
She raised her hand to her throat and grew still
paler. " Oh, this awful country ! What has hap-
pened now.? Everything seemed so beautiful a
moment ago." She glanced behind her nervously.
" Have those men turned against you ? "
"You beautiful, brave girl, are you afraid.''"
He came a step nearer, and took hold of her wrist.
He could feel the tremor even through her riding
glove. " Not for yourself, I know, for I have seen
you brave. No, this is worse than any mere physi-
cal danger to me. This might ruin my whole life.
My little cousin last night told me what I, with
my man's blindness, never thought of fearing. I
never thousrht to look for it, because love is blind."
He still felt her wrist quiver in his grasp, and took
236 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
her hand in both his own. "Yes, let me tell you,
â let me tell it all. I have the most right, for I
am young and he is old. I, too, love you. Do
not take your hand from me until you hear me
through. I was not going to tell you this until I
had earned the right. I was going to wait and win
you; but now, I dare not wait lest some one snatch
you from me. What if he loves you ? I do not
care, I love you more. I am rash and headstrong,
but I will do my wooing afterwards. All my life I
will be your lover." He spoke rapidly, impetu-
ously. His own hands trembled now, and he
reached for both of hers.
Her lips quivered, and her eyes filled with tears.
"No, no. Wait." She took her hands from his
grasp. "I can't think."
"Will he wait,? It is life to me. Must I lose
all, who love you best.? Has he all the right to
speak and I none, because he has had time for
" How could Miss McLourie â "
" How could she know so soon ? A woman
divines. I am a man, â a blind lover who sits
Portia's heart seemed choking her. She tried to
speak, but her lips only moved.
"What right has he above me.?" he went on,
"Oh, do not," she said, at last. "He is only a
kindly, sweet-tempered old man, and not so old but
that he has the right to feel young. "
"Yes, and to love you."
The crimson flamed again to the roots of her
Special Pleading 237
hair, and her breast heaved. ** I have given him
no encouragement to do so, nor â " she stopped
"Nor to me.?"
"I was not going to say that."
" Forgive me. I am daring all for fear of losing
all. What can I say to you.'' How can I make
you know how I love you? Do you care.-* Out
there in the darkness, alone, listening to you sing,
I loved you before ever I saw you. I knew the face
that went with the voice would be like yours, and
when I saw it I loved it. Let me try to win you."
Still she could not speak ; her mouth and throat
were dry. "That is all I ask now, only to try to
win you." He held out his hands to her once
more, then let them drop by his side. He trembled
to lift her down and hold her in his arms, but stood
still and waited. She unbuttoned and buttoned
her gloves nervously, then drew them off and put
them on again.
"There is much I wish to say," she said at last,
"before I even tell you that."
The reins dropped down on Betty's neck, and
she improved the opportunity to crop some long
tufts of grass. Portia pulled off her gloves again,
straightening out the fingers, one by one. At last,
with glistening eyes she looked in his. He could
not stand that pathetic look, and sprang to lift her
down ; but she placed her two hands on his shoul-
ders, and gently pushed him back.
"Wait until I can speak of this rightly. Oh,
can't you see.-^ It is my heart against my con-
science." He threw her gloves on the bank, and,
238 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
taking her bare hands in his, kissed them. "Don't
make it hard for me," she pleaded.
"I will," he said, in a low voice. "I will make
it impossible for you to say what you are trying to
say if I can. First of all, tell me, have you given
some one else â â¢ "
"No, no, that isn't it. Give me time to tell
you." She struggled to gain possession of her
hands. He let them go, and, suddenly reaching
up, took her down from the saddle in his arms.
"If you will not let me have your hands I will
have you. If there is no one before me I will win
you. I will be your lover, forever, do you hear.!*
No one shall take you from me. Portia, look up.
Once ? Let me. There ! Once more. Now, see ?
You are mine."
" Oh, not yet, not yet. Let me talk a little and
you will see why."
"Once more, on your lips. See.-* I am waiting."
"But not so. Take your arms away first. I
must talk now, it is my right." Her eyes flashed
into his, yet she trembled. He led her to the
great stump where she and her grandfather had
passed Josephus and Gabriella that winter day,
â ages ago it seemed to her now. She felt
weak, and leaned against the log that spanned the
John tied Brown Betty to a sapling, and, return-
ing, sat down beside her. Neither of them spoke.
She looked away from him, gazing into the tum-
bling water, as before. At last he reached out to
her, but she put his hand back, holding it from her
with gentle touch.
Special Pleading 239
"Now you must listen to me. Think a moment
how short a time you have known me."
" Every week has been a year, because I dared
not tell you I was loving you."
" But is it right for you to expect me â "
"No. I ask only that I may love you, â that I
may be your lover."
"Ah, but that is everything."
"I tell you I will do all that other lovers do
afterward. All the happiness of my life is staked
on this one hour."
" You must not say, nor think that. There are
reasons. Mother and grandfather are dependent
on me. " She spread out her hands â those help-
ful hands â in a hopeless way. " Is not that
enough ? I told you the battle was with my own
heart, â you must not make it hard for me." She
bit her lip, as if she would put back her feelings
as she had put back his hands. "What have
I done, what have I said that you should love
" It is all that you do or say to every one every-
where. We cannot help it, you nor I. It is my
heart that will not be satisfied without its love for
you. What you say is nothing. If they are de-
pendent on you, they must be on me. If they are
yours, they must be mine. Your heart must speak
to me, nothing else."
"Oh, can't you understand.?" She turned on
him and spoke impetuously, as if her words would
not be restrained. " It will sweep everything
before it. How can I keep strong, doing my duty
every day, as if it were my first pleasure, if I give
240 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
way to my â to this? I never dreamed of this
coming upon me away off here. I have work to
do, and must do it. Oh, why have you come ? I
have no business to listen to you â I had no busi-
ness to listen to you last night, nor to ride your
horse, nor to let go my hold on myself even for a
moment. My burdens are precious to me, â to
you they might become burdens indeed. I must
carry them myself."
"No, you must let me help you. It is my right,
by reason of my love."
She rose and held out her hands to him. " For-
give me, and let me go. This is only a sudden
thing with you, â it will pass as quickly as it has
come. Give up your love now, before it goes any
farther. For you there may be another, some-
where, some time; for me only it is hard. For me
so precious a thing as your love can never come
again. â Don't speak yet. â I must put it from me,
and they neither of them must know what I have
done. Promise me â " she faltered, then went
bravely on â "promise me that you will put me out
of your heart, and be happy some day without me.
It is the only thing you can do, and this love will
pass sooner than you think possible."
" Portia, this is madness. Put you out of my
heart .-^ My own .-^ I will not. Come here, little
Puritan, you love me. Out of your lips I take the
words. When I have kissed you like this, even
though they are stolen kisses, are you not mine,
forever.? I have your love, and that is enough, â
I take everything else. If you have a care, it is
mine. Why, darling, I have enough; all we need
Special Pleading 241
for us all. Shall I let you go on as you are doing?
It is cruel."
Portia felt the earth swaying under her feet. It
seemed as if the stream had risen and was sweep-
ing her along in its rushing waters. It was only
for a moment. When she opened her eyes they
looked into the eyes of her lover, and she knew she
must give him all he asked.
"This is unreal, it is not right. Why am I
standing here, forgetting everything? My whole
hour is gone."
" It is most real and right. This one moment,
in which you give yourself to me, is worth living
my whole life for."
" I feel as if I were dreaming, and must be
wakened. Let us ride. You should have listened
to me. I told you my love was stronger than my
conscience, that it would sweep all before it; and
now see what I have done. I have yielded when I
ought not." Awed by his impetuous onslaught, she
lifted her face to his in conscience-smitten entreaty.
"My beautiful, did you think yourself hidden in
this wilderness, where even love could not find you ?
Why should you wish that ? I sought for my girl of
the German bridge and found her here. You could
no more keep me from loving you than you could
keep the water from dashing over those rocks."
" Because of them. It was hard enough for
grandfather to become dependent in his old age,
â a thing he never supposed could happen to him ;
it crushed him to earth. If the duty should be
placed on any one else it would kill him."
"We will ride, and talk it over calmly."
242 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
"What have I done with my gloves? " she said.
John picked them up from v^here he had thrown
them, and led Brown Betty to her side.
"Now, put your hand in mine, so " â he stooped
and looked once more into her eyes â "and call
me by my homely old name. Say, * John, I love
you.'" Her hand trembled in his, and her voice
faltered as she repeated the words after him. Then
she drew back and looked at him. Suddenly her
pride gave way. She threw her arms round his
neck and hid her face in his bosom.
" Oh, I do, I do. Only it is hard, so hard. I
wish I had everything and you had nothing. If
only I could give you everything, I would be
happy; but now â "
"But now â shall I finish for you? It is I who
am to be happy. Is it a little thing you have
given me? " He lifted her and swung her lightly
into the saddle, and stood a moment by her side.
"Do you think I value a woman's love so little?
Why, Portia, I am the greatest beggar on earth,
and have asked for the sweetest thing, that is all.
I am humbled in the dust when I think what I
have had the temerity to ask for."
There is no face so beautiful but that it grows
more so with the light that shines through its
windows, when the heart has opened its doors and
taken in the little blind and winged beggar, Love.
Portia's face glowed with this light as she bent
down toward her lover at that moment, and touched
his brow with the tips of her fingers, and felt the
clustering rings of his hair close round them as she
lifted it from his forehead.
Special Pleading 243
"Are you?" she said, with a smile. "You
don't look so."
"No. The touch of your hands makes me a
. Then she stooped and kissed the smooth, broad
forehead she had laid bare. " You must get your
horse, John ; we will go. I have work to do."
He raised her hand to his lips. "Your lover
forever," he said, and did as she bade him.
Slowly their horses splashed through the ford,
stepping cautiously over slippery boulders, and
scrambling up the other side. Portia felt her hap-
piness quivering through her whole frame, to her
finger-tips, yet her heart was full of misgivings.
John, on the contrary, glancing from time to time
into her beautiful face, with its heightened color,
was satisfied. He had won the day.
"Another rosy-brown study? What is it this
She took a deep breath. "The world seems
different from what it did this morning. It was
beautiful then, too, but now â I feel as if I had
been living an age since an hour ago, or were not
myself. I am so happy, and yet I feel afraid. How
can it last ! Let us try to talk rationally, and â "
"We never talked more so. I have done the
most rational thing of my life."
" Now you make me laugh at you. No, let us
talk good common sense. I see a great many diffi-
culties in the way."
"Ah, but I don't call that common sense."
" In the first place, everything must go on just as
if â as if â "
244 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
" How can everything go on just as if? "
** Oh, John, you know as well as I that your
mother would be horrified if she thought you loved
me, and that beautiful little lady, your cousin â "
"She is only a distant relative of my mother's,"
he said, evading the first part of her remark.
" Oh, why have you done this ? Why could you
not have fallen in love with her? Your mother
could never have been able to object to that, and
here you have done what will surely make her
"You said you wished to talk common sense.
If you cannot do better than that let me try."
"Be patient with me. I want a little time to
win your mother's love, if I can, lest this should
break her heart. John, promise me that. A
boarding-house is such a terribly public kind of
place, where every one is held up for inspection, as
in a tribunal. "
"Trust me. If I can't look at you without
showing my love for you, I will keep my eyes shut
in your presence, and if they ask the reason I will
say the light is too â "
"Please, please don't laugh."
"Whatever you wish I will consent to; but,
Portia, I will take you away from all of them once
in a while. You shall not be more theirs than
mine. Moreover, this slavery of yours shall not
go on forever."
"Oh, where are we going? See how high the
sun is." She started to turn her horse's head, but
he detained her.
"It is not so late, only seven; go on to old
special Pleading 245
mammy's first. You were going there. Your lazy
boarders are just turning over for another nap.
Was that a sigh? Give me a reason for it."
"It makes me a little sad to see you so happy.
I can't tell why, but I fear so much. What good
is my love to you ? Everything must go on the
same, and it will make you miserable. I would
have saved you from this if I could. If I could
only have known â but then â that would have
been impossible. A woman dare never allow her-
self to think that a man is possibly going to love
her. She can never forestall, because she must
never know until it is too late."
"Thank Heaven. I shall make you say the little
lesson over and over every day until I have my
way. It is a good way. Tell me, is it not.?"
They were approaching the little clearing. "Tell
me, is it a good way.? "
" I know to me your way will be a very sweet
way. I will love to make it mine forever; but for
the present I must do my own way, even if it may
be hard for us both."
He lifted her from the saddle as she spoke.
"Oh, John, you must not kiss me any more in this
way, not until I can be your very own, and that
may not be for a very long â Oh, John ! "
" I will see your grandfather, and tell him I love
you. You are mine now, Portia; say you are."
"I can't say that yet, and you must say nothing
to grandfather. I am not free to say anything yet
but that I love you. I am not free to say I am
yours. I have my work to do ; and John, is it so
hard? You must wait."
246 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
" Not so hard now as it was, sweetheart, now
that I know you are not to be snatched from me.
I can wait, but I will be your lover. Now that is
the way I want your eyes to shine, for me and no
one else. Look at me again like that. I am afraid
no longer. You may play backgammon with your
elderly boarder or ride with your handsomest one
and sing to them all ; but for me, I will remember
how you sang for me last evening, before my
mother came, and how you looked at me just now,
and "no one of them all will carry so light a heart
as I. Now_one more k isÂ§..and I will let you go to
have your own way, sweet. "
MAMMY CL'ISSY'S BURYII^' CLO'ES
EVERYTHING was quiet about the little cabin.
Ill one corner of the small enclosed space
stood two mules with their necks crossed and their
ears lopped forward. On the rail fence near them,
basking in the sun, sat tlie boy whose business it
was to take care of Josephus, with much the same
expression of sleepy contentment on his face, and
not far from him, perched on the same rail, and
watching him with half-closed eyes, sat Mammy
Clarissa's cat. The sun shone aslant on the peace-
ful scene, and cast elongated shadows on the bare
earth of the cabin, the mules, the boy, the cat, and
the rail fence ; and across the yard stretched the
immense shadow of a naked pine that towered
high above the roof, waving at its top a tuft of
green needles, like a worn old brush for sweeping
** Poor Joe's corn looks spindling, all choked with
weeds," said John. " Hello, Jenks, how 's Joe this
" He ain* no mo* 'n mid'lin'," said the boy, sleepily.
Old Clarissa stood in the cabin with her back to
the open door, gazing at a curious motley of clothes
laid out on the patchwork cover of her best bed.
She leaned on her stick, and her lips moved as if
she were talking to them. As the shadows of John
248 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
and Portia darkened the doorway, she spread out
her hands as if she would guard them from in-
truders' eyes, but when she saw who her visitors
were she brightened, and hobbled toward them with
"Laws, honey, am dat yo'? Howdy, honey,
howdy, Miss Po'tia. Hu-come yo' heah dis time o'
" How's Joe this morning ?" said John.
"Joe's po'ly. I 'low he ain' gwine be like he
uset tu no mo'. Joe he strivin' in he's min' how he
gwine git fo' tu pay fo' turrer mule. He don' git
no peace fo' dat frettin' an' strivin'."
" Oh, he mustn't fret. He '11 come out all right,
and pay for the other mule too." John's voice was
cheery with his own hope and gladness. ** I '11 go
up and see him." He tossed his hat on a chair
and began climbing the ladder leading to the loft
Portia glanced curiously at the strange assortment
of clothes on the bed. ** What are you doing,
mammy, making over some dresses?"
" Naw, Miss Po'tia, dem ar 's my buryin' clo'es."
*' Dem ar 's my buryin' clo'es, but I 'low de Lawd
ain' nuvvah gwine leab me wah dem."
" I don't understand what you mean. What are
'' De clo'es I gwine wah tu de grabe, chile, ef de
Lawd take de curse off an' 'low me tu die."
** Why you don't want to die yet, â you are not
so old. What do you mean by taking the curse
Mammy CFissy's Buryin' Clo'es 249
'* Laws, Miss Po'tia, I kyan' splain 'bouts dat.
Dar's de curse ob libbiii', an' dar 's de curse ob dyin',
an' I reckon de Lawd done sot on me de curse ob
libbin'. I 'low I ain' nuvvah be 'lowd tu vvah dese
heah clo'es, nohow." She held up one of the
dresses made in some strange and obsolete fashion,
a thin pink lawn, from which the pattern had long
since been washed away. '* I been layin' dese heah
by many long yeah. Dis 'n Miss Mann done gib
me. Dat time de fevah tuk me I 'lowed I 'd git free
tu wah hit, but I did n' dat time. Den de style
done change, an' I don* wan' be laid in de grabe in
ol' aout o' style clo'es nohow. Den dis 'n, Joe he
went up tu Asheville, an' I gib 'im doUah fo' git de
cloff, an' dar come 'long lady f'om de No'f wha'
done tole me haow de style ah, all two-skyrted, wid
dis heah skyrt hangin' ovah turrer."
"This looks quite new; haven't you ever worn
** Laws, no, Miss Po'tia, I ain' none o' yo' po' white
trash tu be buried in ol' aout o' style clo'es, I ain'."
She began laying the clothes carefully in a pine
box, with a cover fastened by a padlock, and hung
with leather hinges, and then shoved it in the farth-
est corner under the bed. As she raised herself
from the floor, Portia thought she seemed more
aged and bent than when she last saw her. She
apparently forgot Portia's presence and continued
talking to herself, rocking back and forth In her
large chair, and staring into the embers. ** Wah
dem clo'es? Naw, I 'low de Lawd ain' nuvvah leab
me wah 'em. I reckon he ain' gwine 'low me pass
nohow. ^ O Lawd, O Lawd ! "
250 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
*' What is it, Clarissa? " said the girl at last, com-
passionately. ** Why do you talk so? "
** Why, honey, chile, I cl'ar done fo'got yo' heah.
Is yo' had breakfus'? I reckon yo' nigh dyin' fo'
a taste o' Cl'issy's cookin'." She seemed to
waken to her old life and vivacity as the idea of
. hospitality seized her, and, uncovering the coals,
she threw on some pine knots and hung the kettle.
" No, no," said Portia, " we are going right away
as soon as Mr. Marshall comes down. I have more
linen for you to mend when you are ready for it."
*' Fotch hit 'long, honey ; I 's right smaht glad tu
git de wo'k. Now yo' sit an' I '11 hab cup o' coffee