'* And I must think about ma tue, she can't stay
all alone with that Gertrude."
" Now, daughter," â said the mother, and there
was more debating, until the matter was settled to
Miss Katherine's mind. John would ride over and
ask Mrs. Chaplain to spend the time of Katherine's
absence with her mother. " Yes, that would do,"
and: "She would surely go?" "Yes, surely."
Then the three visitors rode away satisfied, and
Katherine watched them out of sight with beating
heart. She was really to have an outing of the old-
fashioned kind ! The old times were coming back,
and people were beginning to live once more.
" John and I will ride over again as soon as all
the arrangements are made," Marguerite called
back, with a glance that made Mr. Held envious of
John for a moment. Ah, she was already begin-
ning to play her little tunes on the sensitive harp of
his artistic nature ! They rode on ahead in the nar-
row road, laughing and chatting, while John, ab-
sorbed in his own hopes and plans, took his way in
the rear, dreaming and thinking.
That afternoon Katherine drove her mother over
to the boarding-house, in the obsolete vehicle which
268 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
still remained of their former grandeur, and with the
old brown pony. The call was made in as great state
as was in their power. Mrs. Marshall was peculiarly
gracious that afternoon. She shed tears as they
talked over the past, and condoled with her old
friend on her blindness.
" But you are not much worse off than the rest of
us," she said at last. *' You are spared the pain we
have to endure of seeing such dismal changes. You
can think of it all as it used to be, without the dread-
ful truth being forced on you continually that the
South has been defrauded, ruined, by the vilest in-
justice." Her laces trembled around her face and
throat, as she raised herself, and sat erect among the
cushions that had been heaped around her. ''Think
what I must feel, here in the house that used to be
mine, surrounded by these Northern women, who
have come here to make money from our mis-
fortunes. I wish I could n't see them, I 'm sure."
" Why, aunt, you had money enough. Why did
you sell the place if you cared so much for it? You
could have kept it."
"Kept it? What should I have kept it for?
Robbed of my rights, robbed of my servants,
robbed of my husband, â kept it indeed ! I only
wish we had the war to fight over again, and that
all the soldiers might be women."
Miss Katherine sat silent, with her hands folded
in her lap. " Well," said her mother at length, *' the
past is past, and war is terrible at best. I would not
wish to go through it again."
" No, not with your calm disposition, but mine
was different. If we had had an army of women
The Blind Woman's Visit 269
with my spirit, we would never have given up until
the ground all over the South was saturated with
"I believe you, aunt: you would have made a
splendid general ; but I would not have been one to
saturate the ground with my blood, I can tell you
that. Ugh ! What a thought it is ! What if Miss
Van Ostade should hear you ! "
" She will hear it soon enough, if I stay here, â
palavering hussy. She will bear watching. I have
my eye on her."
*' Why, aunty, what do you mean? "
** Marguerite, you are a child. Why did I come
to this horrid place at all?"
"To please me, aunt, of course, and it's lucky I
am a child, for if I had been born when you were,
you would never have had the pleasure of taking
care of me, and I could never have called you
** The past is past, as you say," said Mrs. Marshall,
ignoring this sally, and settling herself back among
the cushions. *' But we can't forget, though we may
Marguerite laughed merrily. " How you must
suffer, aunt, lying in that chair among Miss Van
** And what a tease you must be," said Miss
" I never mind her. She is thoroughly spoiled,"
said Mrs. Marshall, languidly.
*' That 's so, aunty dear, and who could have done
it? Come, Miss Katherine, â I call you that be-
cause John does, you know, â come out and swing
270 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
in the hammock while aunt lugubriates. She enjoys
it. Clare will call us when Mrs. Wells wishes you."
So they went out and swung under the trees for
an hour while the older ladies reviewed their past,
and as they chatted and swung, Miss Katherine felt
herself growing younger, and the younger maid,
playing so successfully on the heartstrings of the
elder, felt her own being stirred with a loving im-
pulse, and, leaning over, took the fine sweet face
of Miss Katherine in her two hands and kissed it.
" There, I have been wanting to do that, and now
I have done it," she said.
Miss Katherine flushed with pleasure, and drew
the siren close to her side. " Here comes Clare,"
said Marguerite; "we must go in."
Two men, her lover and the artist, had emerged
from the thicket of wild shrubbery that skirted the
edge of the woods encircling the homestead on
three sides. They both saw this little episode, and
each took note of it in his own way.
** Mrs. Marshall and her ward are most charming,"
said Mr. Held. ** A great acquisition to our small
coterie here "
" They are indeed, especiall}^ the ward, don't you
" Certainly, that goes without saying. Shall we
join these ladies? "
'' As you like, I must leave you here."
So Hanford passed on, merely lifting his hat,
leaving the artist to follow at the leisure of the
ladies. Marguerite was a trifle piqued, but she
kept up her merry chatter, and the glance of her
dark eyes toward his retreating figure was unnoticed
The Blind Woman's Visit 271
by her companions. As they neared the house,
Portia came out to meet them. She began cordially
urging Miss Katherine to stay through the evening.
" You should not make a formal call on such old
friends," she said. ^' I am sure â "
" Indeed they must not," interrupted Marguerite.
"Just wait, I will ask Mrs. Wells," and she followed
Clare up the stair.
But Katherine was thinking of the long drive
home in the dark, and of John, with only the small
Gertrude to attend to his evening meal. " Oh, I
can't stay," she said.
" Andy can take your horse back now, and Alex-
ander will drive you home in the evening," said Por-
tia, divining her thoughts, " and we will send for Mr.
Marshall to dine here; he will enjoy being with his
mother, I am sure."
Still Katherine hesitated. She must return these
courtesies if she accepted them, and how could she?
No, she must not stay. Then Marguerite returned,
saying Mrs. Wells would stay if Katherine thought
best, and then, just in time to turn the scale in favor
of the delay, John came galloping up the drive, and
throwing the reins to Andy, hurried up the steps
with the freedom of which he gladly availed himself
since his mother's arrival. His buoyant, happy, al-
most triumphant bearing seemed to change the
aspect of everything. Portia appealed to him.
Would n't he persuade his friend and her mother to
remain? Ah, wouldn't he though! And remain
they did, and dined at the new boarding-house, al-
though they would have been terrified that morning
at the thought of doing so.
272 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
Mrs. Marshall seldom appeared with the other
guests, until they gathered in the dining-room in
the evening, and then she was always closely at-
tended by the French maid, bearing her cushions,
her fan, and lace shawls, and mysterious black bag.
She never spoke to one of the servants, but made all
her wants known to Clare, who in turn repeated
them to the waitress. John never had known her
to be quite so formal. Influenced by her presence,
the other guests unconsciously assumed an air of
dignity and distance, at once elegant and oppressive.
Portia felt that the easy geniality hitherto pervad-
ing her household, was gone. She would not allow
herself to be daunted, however, but went about among
them, with their many whims and smallnesses, regu-
lating affairs in the gentle way that won every one,
yet holding her head like the queen she was, com-
plete mistress of herself and of her household. John
watched her moving about, speaking to each with
gracious care, and again as she served coffee at the
little table, with the light from the tall lamp playing
over her hair, and the dear small Juliet at her elbow,
and to him her presence was the all-pervading one
â the only presence in that great old room, where
in childhood he had hidden himself away, and
watched lovely ladies in glistening foreign silks,
rustling and fanning and chattering about him.
Portia, in simple white, with a touch of lilac tulle at
her throat and wrists, her graceful head a-tilt over
the cups and saucers, seemed to him the epitome
of all the grace and beauty, the graciousness and
queenliness, the gentleness and femininity that the
great old drawing-room had ever held in its heart in
The Blind Woman's Visit 273
all the hundred years of its existence. Ah, it was a
proud little head, but had it not rested on his
bosom? and the soft tint in her cheeks, had he not
seen it deepen for him? So it was he of all the
guests who was at that moment consciously and
Marguerite drew a hassock to Mrs. Wells' feet.
" I will sit here," she said, *' where you can touch me
if you wish for anything. I am glad you stayed,
for now you can hear Miss Van Ostade sing. Oh, she
sings charmingly, and they have other music also."
** And you, too, sing charmingly, T have no doubt."
''Ah, not as she does, do I, Aunt Isabel? "
*' She certainly sings well for one who has had no
advantages, â has never been abroad, you know."
*' She has been abroad, mother," said John, bend-
ing over her chair, and speaking in a low tone. " It
was in Germany that I first saw her, and she got her
pronunciation of Italian in Italy."
" You first saw her in Germany ! " exclaimed
Mrs. Marshal], sharply.
Portia could not help hearing the words and
guessing their import. She was trying to extin-
guish the flame of the lamp under the shining urn
at her side, and an awkward movement of her hand
caused her to drop the cover and burn her fingers.
Hanford Clark stepped quickly forward and pick-
ing up the little brass disk placed it over the blaze.
" Let me take these cups for you," he said. ** Mrs.
Wells has none; shall I take them? Ah ! you have
" It is nothing," she bit her lip in her vexation,
" only my awkwardness."
274 When the Gates Lift Up then- Heads
Armed with his errand, he took himself to Mar-
guerite's side. " Won't you introduce me to your
friend? " he said.
" Gladly. Have n't you met her in all the time
you have been here? Mrs. Wells, this is Mr. Clark,
â John's friend, you know. He has brought your
** John's friend? Then I should know him," she
held out her hand, and he placed the cup in it.
*"' No, it is your hand I want. I am blind, and it
is only by the touch of your hand and the sound
of your voice that I may know you," she said
" Then you are spared all unpleasant sights," he
said. He drew a chair near, and began conversing
quietly. Presently he turned to Marguerite, *' That
was kind of you to introduce me as John's friend."
He spoke in an undertone, during the confused buzz
of general conversation about them.
** Have you met her daughter? She is talking to
Mr. Russell. Is n't she like an old picture, the way
she dresses her hair?"
" Then, why did you go right by us there in the
garden, if you think so? Mr. Held did not, and he
had less reason for stopping than you, â not being
so old an acquaintance, I mean."
** Sometimes the newest acquaintances are the
" Of course, sometimes. Was that why you passed ^
me by? "
*' Marguerite, are you going to tantalize me into
doing what I promised you I would not?"
The Blind Woman's Visit 275
** Oh," whispered Marguerite, " the pretty blond
plays the cornet," she looked toward the piano
where Mr. Vedder stood with a French horn in his
hand, and Mrs. Clare was turning her music.
Portia escaped from the room, and leaned against
one of the pillars of the verandah. Her hand
smarted with the burn, and her heart with the sting
of that sentence which she had heard, and the tone
of displeased surprise, and almost of contempt which
it seemed to contain for her. " Oh, if she would
only go away ! " she thought. " She hates me, and
she always will. She is cruel, wicked, to hate me
for what I could not help." Then she bethought
that Mrs. Marshall could not know of her precious
secret yet, and she was unjust. Yes, she would keep
on trying to win her, but she was sick of all the dis-
tasteful life she was leading. She felt that she
ought to go back and talk to Miss Katherine, and
say pleasant things to a little lady who had but just
arrived, but how could she go about saying aft'able
things in this mood, and with the consciousness of
those critical eyes on her, â that languid, watchful
look, that seemed to be indifferent, yet was so cat-
like and intent after all. She heard the wheeze of
the cornet, struggling with one of her songs, and
she pulled impatiently at the jasmine \-ine, crushing
the flowers in her hands. She heard a step near,
but did not move. She hoped it might be John,
but it was not.
"Ah, you are in hiding, I see. I missed you from
the circle in there. When you go, the soul of the
place is gone, and I always escape myself."
Portia started at the sound of the voice, and, turn-
276 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
ing sharply, looked, with an almost pitiful expression
of entreaty, into the face of her silver-haired lover.
The look was a silent entreaty from her heart to be
let alone, but his interpretation of it was different.
" You are weary. No wonder you hide."
*' Indeed, no. I am only enjoying the fresh air."
"Let me fetch you a chair, and enjoy it also."
He placed two chairs just beyond the light which
streamed from the window. " Now, this is charm-
ing, to sit here and listen to the music," he rubbed
his hands together with hearty satisfaction.
" He plays oft" the key," she said with a little ner-
" Yes, yes. A sensitive ear must suffer. There is
where we coarser organizations have a certain ad-
vantage. Now to me that music is agreeable, but I
see its defects, of course. When I judge of music,
I can judge truly." He added hastily, "I would not
have you to think I judge of your music as I do of
this, for instance. No, no. That is different entirely."
The lamp inside was moved at this moment, and the
rays fell on his beautiful hair, and illumined his face.
" Now yours is music. Oh, the pity of it, th^t you
should be shut up here with your talent, your
genius, and only selfish people get the benefit of it !
You should sing for the whole world. You should
go abroad, and then come home and bring the world
to your feet. You should â "
'' Oh, Mr. Russell, it is like hearing a romance,
but I must not dream of such things, nor even listen
to you. At this very minute I ought to be looking
after the comfort of my guests. To sit here chatting
does not fit my position." She rose to go.
The Blind Woman's Visit 277
" Your position go hang," he said with vehemence.
*' This is not your position, â I beg pardon, but you
should be in a position I have in mind for you, â
one that is fitted for you. This is all â "
Portia sank back trembling into the chair, without
strength to move. What could she do? How could
she stop him? She must, â but he went on.
" That is right. This is not your position, it is
all wrong. Miss Van Ostade, I have sought this op-
portunity for weeks. Sometimes I almost thought
you avoided me, but that it stood to reason you
could not give all your time to an old man, when
there are so many younger claimants."
"Oh, Mr. Russell, it was never your age, never,"
she paused. Was it possible that in her endeavor to
be kind, she had not made the true reason of her
avoidance clear to him?
"I understand; no, no. Certainly not; and I
am not so old, neither. My heart is young as any
man's. Miss Van Ostade, my heart is at your feet.
I can make possible all the dreams I have laid
before you and more. Let me make you mistress
of my home, and place my fortune in your hands.
There is no one to dispute your right. Miss Van
Ostade, I can command my millions, yet without
you they are worthless to me. Just let me enumerate
to you â "
" I can't listen to you ; I must not. I was out
of my senses to sit here and let you talk to me
" Just a word, a word ; I am not so old as my
white hair would indicate, â as you may think, â and
I bring you a cleaner record and a purer heart than
278 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
many a younger man. Let me urge you. Think
of all I might be able to do for your happiness, for
your most charming mother. While now you have
cares without number, all would be lifted from you,
and your path be strewn with roses. We would
travel, and revel in the wonders of the old world,
and your mother would grow young again, â so also
would your grandfather. I realize his worth. I feel
what you in your pride would say to this ; but is it
right, is it reasonable that you should throw away
their happiness as well as mine, by a refusal?"
" Mr. Russell, I am not to be bought and sold,"
she said, rising to her feet, and looking at him as
she had not dared before. Noting the pain in his
face, instantly her pride and resentment changed to
a feeling of gratitude and genuine sorrow. " For-
give me for those words ; they were too harsh."
She seated herself, and leaning on the arm of her
chair brought her face nearer his. *' You deserve
a different answer. Will you be satisfied if I give
you a glimpse into my heart? It is but fair, since
I have allowed you to say this to me. I cannot give
you what only a true woman should give to the man
she would marry. You are too good a man to be
so treated, or to wish me anything but happiness.
I cannot give you my heart; it is not mine. I love
some one else very deeply. This is a confidence
which now you alone of all the world have. Even
my mother, I have kept it from her. You will
understand now why I should avoid you ; it is not
your age, it is not yourself, believe me. It is, it â
Oh, why should this be? Why should you care so
much? There are lovely women who are famishing
The Blind Woman's Visit 279
for just such true love as you have laid at my feet.
Why should such treasure be offered me (I am not
worthy of it), and they be denied? "
The old man made no answer. He sat with his
head bowed in his hands, stunned. He had not
thought a refusal possible. He had passed the last
few weeks in one long dream of happiness, and
now the shock seemed rude indeed. At last Portia
could not bear the silence and spoke again, trying
to make her refusal seem more gracious.
'* I could have given you all you ask, if it were
not for this greater love, believe me, I could. There
are many more worthy than I ; won't you give to
some one else the treasure I mast not have, and
so bring blessedness to yourself as well as to
** Miss Van Ostade, there is but one woman in
the world for me." He rose, took her hand in his ^ .a.*^/^Â«<
f for a moment, and then bending low over it kissed it. <}â¢ ^^^ '^
** Pardon me," he said, and turning abruptly left L
her. , -^ ^
MARGUERITE SETS THE FASHION
AS the season wore along, guests flocked to the
old home from the far South, while a few of the
Northern boarders remained the summer through;
and it was not long before Portia could count
among the inmates of the house individuals who
had gathered from the four quarters of the globe.
The air of reserve and criticism which had entered
the place with the advent of Mrs. Marshall soon
passed. It had swept through the little gathering
like a contagious disease, worn itself out, and was
gone, before the more oblivious of the guests knew
it had been among them. Although protesting
she had never been so wretchedly situated in her
life, Mrs. Marshall settled herself for the summer
in the pleasant rooms which had been prepared
especially for her comfort.
*'It is more the service than it is the rooms," she
complained to John one day as he waited at her
door, lingering until he should hear Portia's step in
the hall below, for the sake of a touch of her hand
as he passed out. He seldom could get a word
with her these busy days.
'* The service ! Why, I have seen Miss Van
Ostade bringing you things with her own hands."
His mother laughed. " You seem to think that the
greatest honor that could happen to any one. It
Marguerite Sets the Fashion 281
only shows she is no lady. She should send a maid.
It would be far pleasanter for me, I am sure."
''Well, there's no accounting for tastes," he said
with a shrug.
" So I think, at least for yours."
" I must go," he said hurriedly. He thought he
heard Portia's step in the lower hall. " I have a man
on to decorate the grand salon at the hotel to-day,
so I may not be in again. He is a wonder at the
work ; you must try to drive over and see it.
He found Portia at the far end of the piazza
trying to put up a hammock that had been broken
down the night before.
" Good-morning, good-morning. What are you
frying to do?" he said cheerily, taking the hammer
from her hand. '* Now, where do you wish this
put? Here where it was before? Why you can't
do it with this; you need an auger and bit."
'' Yes, I see I do. Never mind ; I will wait until
grandfather comes." The wail of his violin floated
down to them from an upper window. She pushed
the hammock from her with a little sigh. She was
tired that morning in brain and body. She did not
glance up, for she felt his eyes on her and knew the
wistful look in them. " I did not know you were
here," she said, standing a little apart and slowly
winding her handkerchief about her hand. He
pulled it gently off and disclosed a great red bruise
across her fingers, and his heart was touched. His
mother's bitter words still rung in his ears. *' She
shows she is no lady by doing such things; " and
their injustice and cruelty stung him. He flung the
282 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
hammer over the piazza raihng and seized her hands
" Portia, these are mine ; you are mine. You
shall not be doing these things when I am here to
prevent. I say these hands are mine, and all this
work must stop. It is cruel." She grew white to
the lips, and tried weakly to pull her hands away.
He raised the bruised fingers and kissed them.
" Say it shall stop," he said tenderly.
*' Oh, John, I can't. I see no way to stop.
I must keep on, perhaps for years. There is no one
else for them to depend on, and they must not know
of this ; I must keep on if it kills me, and you â "
She bit her lip to keep back the tears and regain
** And I ? " He bent over her, looking into her
eyes, but she kept them fixed on the distant hills,
and tried again to release her hands.
" I cannot ask you to wait for me ; it is too much.
Oh, John, let everything be as it was, â as if â it
never had happened."
''As if what never had happened?"
** Oh, you know. Don't look at me. Let me
have my hands to cover my face."
" Portia, tell me what has happened." She was
silent. All the world was silent. No flutter of a
leaf, nor twitter of a bird, â only the distant plaint
of her grandfather's violin, as if to keep her in
mind of her obligations. The earth slept in the
warm morning sun. His mother, reclining on her
couch with the shades drawn, was slowly fanning
herself and listening to Clare reading aloud, a
French novel, in her native tongue.
Marguerite Sets the Fashion 283
" Tell me, Portia," he said again exultantly, " what
has happened? I want to hear it from your lips,
over and over, or sing it to me. It is fit for music,
â our hearts are full of it. Come, or I will kiss you
again as I did that morning."
Portia gave a half-frightened look around. '* No,
no, John; give me back my hands. Some one â
your mother's maid might be â might see you. I
seem to feel her eyes on me all the time lately,
wherever I am."
" They are making you miserable with their
. whims. They shall not stay here, if I have to leave
the place myself. This is downright deviltry.
'* No, no ; if I cannot win her, I am not worthy