decided, and the girlish voice was clear and sweet.
** She is better here, so we can't take her back. I
am sure I can manage, and if you are too lonely
and homesick, could n't you spend part of the
year with Aunt Anna?"
''Impossible! I wouldn't think of leaving you
alone with your mother in this wilderness.
half the population are negroes, and the rest seem
to be afflicted with some kind of lethargy. You
might both die here, and no one be the wiser. No,
I must stay by you, but I own to being disappointed
in the place."
The man was past sixty, though he appeared
much younger. His face was fine and keen, and
his figure tall and thin; his great-coat, of the finest
material, hung on him with the air of having been
long worn, and well kept. Its folds followed the
lines of his slender figure, and draped it with the
easy familiarity of old friendship.
" I know you are, and it troubles me. I don't
care for myself. At any rate, if mamma gets well
here, the place will be paradise to me. We are n't
1 6 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
half settled yet; when my piano comes, you will
take up your violin again, and we will have some
of the good old times together once more." She
stopped abruptly as she saw her grandfather
hesitate. " Oh, we can cross on that log. I did
it yesterday. It is quite firm, see?" She stepped
lightly up and held out her hand.
But he stood still, and shook his head. " I am
growing old, Portia, I am growing old," he said
Josephus rose and stretched himself. " Hoi'
dis-yer strop, Gabr'ella ; I 's gwine holp de ol' gen'l'-
man ovah." She took the leading strap, and he
sauntered toward the hesitating couple.
" Dis-yer log is mighty ticklesome crossin', sah,"
said he, with a gleaming smile. '' Ef yo' tek a hoi'
o' my han', I 's hoi' yo' stiddy like."
" Yes, grandfather, do," said the girl. ** It will
be too much for you to go back the way we came."
After a glance at the negro and another at the
brawling water below, he gave his thin, nervous
hand into Josephus' strong grasp, and was soon
on the other side. " Thank you, my good fellow ;
it is a fine thing to be strong," he said.
"And I thank you too," said the girl, looking
brightly up. She nodded to Gabr'ella as they
" I do believe that 's the one who is to bring our
eggs and butter," she said after a moment. " That 's
the way with every one about here, to judge by
their actions. They have all the time there is and
a little more. One of our greatest trials will be to
get anything done unless we do it ourselves."
Chiaro-oscuro 1 7
*' Yourself, not ourselves. I am only a draft
upon your nervous energy. Hav' n't you, for all
your wise little head and busy little hands, think
of it, dear, undertaken too great a burden? You
have not gone so far but that you can still give
** I have thought of it in all its hideousness."
" The Percys will spend the first season, — that is
all very well, very pleasant; but you might get in a
disagreeable set, and then there is the chance that,
after all is done, the house furnished, the horses
purchased, and help engaged, we might get no
" We won't get the horses until we see if they
come, — the boarders, I mean. As for the disagree-
able set, I don't take them for companionship, but
because we must have money. I will do my part
as well as I can, and if people are unpleasant, will
try not to mind. There is no other way in this
place of earning a living ; and as for the place, well,
if it were not for the inhabitants, I should think
myself in paradise. Now that romantic spot where
we crossed on the log, no wonder they wanted to
sit there ; only they are so used to the wildness, I
suppose they have no idea of its beauty. Every-
thing is so clean here, — all nature, I mean. In
mamma's room in the evening, I lean out of the
window and listen, and every sound seems like a
musical note. But, oh, noisy, dirty Chicago ! I
can't forget that awful night when we thought you
dead, and had such a time getting mamma out of
the burning district. It comes back to me like a
nightmare. When I think of it I don't care for the
1 8 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
home or anything, since I have you and mamma
safe." She paused in her hurried words, and her
grandfather switched at the azalea bushes with
" At the conservatory I had my piano and papa's
portrait, so we have them still."
"Yes, Portia, we have you to thank for all we
have left; but I am an old dog, and 'It's hard to
teach an old dog new tricks.' "
" You are not an old dog, you are a dear young
grandfather," she contradicted. " You know you
didn't care for society; how often you only went
with me because I wished it ! Here you won't have
to do that. No dress affairs to bore you, no operas,
more 's the pity, no musicals but our private
rehearsals, yours and mine, and then here 's the
garden. You always said you would rather dig in
the ground than ride in a carriage, and here you
have it, — plenty of ground and no carriage."
The anxious look faded from his face, and he
put out his arm and drew her towards him. In
silence they walked on like a pair of lovers. The
path led them away from the road to the village
through a wild ravine, past a mill-pond, an old mill,
and a rickety bridge. Nature had overrun and
adorned what the hand of man had constructed for
purposes of utility only, and the place was a per-
fect wilderness of beauty. They paused on the
bridge, leaning over the railing, to listen to the
falling water, the steady burring of the mill, and
the wind in the treetops. The drops flashed from
the great paddles of the clumsy wheel like diamonds.
" Perhaps that is the wheel of fortune grinding
Chiaro-oscuro 1 9
out my destiny along with the negro's corn," said
A very black negro was mounting a thin white
horse to ride away. They had watched him carry
in his grist, brought in two ends of a sack hung
over the back of the horse. Her grandfather shook
his head sadly. '' It makes me dizzy to watch it ;
let us walk on," he said.
** Grandpapa Ridgeway, we have gone too far ;
why did you let me?" she cried in sudden
** No, child, I am not tired, but I wish I could
look into your future and know what it is to be."
" Are n't you willing to trust that to my Maker? "
she asked gayly, though with a quick glance in
his face. She darted away to gather a cluster of
delicate little iris that grew under a boulder. " Oh,
you sweet things ! How lovely ! I must find more
for mamma," and she did, kicking among the dead
leaves and sticks. The road led them through
woodland with much undergrowth, interspersed
with huge rocks jutting out of the ground, half-
burnt logs, and great fallen trees, and winding
gradually upward emerged on an open level space,
fenced in, and showing signs of former cultivation.
It was an old tobacco plantation. The road here
was hard and smooth, and a worn footpath ran
along one side, bordered by wild flowers, and
brambly shrubs which caught at Portia's dress as
she passed. On the left a rail fence stretched its
long line of triangles, its corners filled with a wild
tangle of blackberry bushes and laurels and azaleas,
while dogwoods and redbuds and other flower-
20 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
ing trees lifted their graceful heads above the
tangle, and swung their long branches over the
path. Now they were bare, but full, bursting buds
gave promise of glory to come. On the right
stretched a line of whitewashed picket fence. The
kindly hand of Nature had not yet softened its
ugliness enough to harmonize it with herself. On
this side, halfway up the slope, which an Illinois
farmer would call a hill, stood a house, so situated
as to overlook the plantation, as well as the whole
fertile valley of which it was a part, and the hills
which bound it stretching away in receding perspec-
tive, green, purple, and blue in the far distance,
where a glimpse of a gleaming river cut its way
through the mountains.
The house had now only a semblance of its
former grandeur. The ample piazzas had a warped
appearance, and the roof lines seemed to be trying
to conform themselves to the undulating sky-lines
of the surrounding hills. From its evident antiquity
it must have been built years " befo' de wah,"
and solidly, with extensive red-brick masonry un-
derneath. Farther up the slope, on each side and
behind, was the usual litter of small detached
buildings and sheds formerly occupied by the throng
of negro domestics that used to overrun, and were
considered necessarv to a Southern home of af-
fluence. The neglected grounds had once been
skilfully laid out. A broad drive led through one
arched gateway in the now whitewashed picket
fence, past the wide porches and off out through
another arched gateway some distance away, and
directly in front of the house was an old fountain
with well-cemented basin, long since gone dry.
Giant acacias and mimosas drooped slender branches
over it, and tall forest trees arched the drive, while
all manner of ornamental shrubbery and vines ran
riot over the winding paths and dry garden beds.
Heavy timber in great variety covered the broad
slope of land above and around, up to the sky-line,
and the tinkle of cow-bells was he'ard at intervals as
the patient creatures that bore them browsed among
Mr. Ridgeway and his granddaughter paused as
they turned to enter the gateway. He looked at
the neglected home, she at the glowing distance.
*' It is pathetic, this faded grandeur," he said.
** So much is gone forever, eager happy lives, whose
ambitions and hopes are ended, and whose labor
is ending in this ruin, desolation."
Portia shaded her eyes with her hand. " Look
at the other side, grandfather. This beautiful little
valley in the sunlight, it is lik\^ one of God's smiles
on the earth. It makes me think of his wonderful
promises to humanity, so sheltered and safe, as if it
lay in the hollow of his hand ; and off there beyond
that shining line of the river, it looks, when the sun
is setting, as if it opened into heaven. Of course,
the ruined home is pathetic, as you say, but only
because it represents one of our great human
failures, don't you think? They failed to adjust
themselves to divine laws. I don't mean that the
people w^ere wicked, but the home was founded
on a curse, and this is the end."
*' Perhaps, Portia, yes. The view is a never-fail-
ing delight, certainly."
22 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
** This whitewashed fence appeals more to me.
It speaks of one poor old soul's faithfulness to
his master's memory and the past dignity of the
family. Alexander did it ; he told me '01' mars'r
al'us kep' t'ings mighty fine an' tidy. He done
hyahd folkses f'om de No'f comin' an' 'lowed he 'd
fix hit up li'l' fo' ol' mars'r's sake.' So he white-
washed the fence and arches, and then put what
lime he had left on his little cabin. It went half-
way round. The back and one side are bare.
Poor fellow, he was so proud of it ! "
" Yes, poor old fellow, but it was well the lime
gave out when it did, or he would have begun on
the house. There is your mother. Well, Portia, do
your own way. It is usually a good way. I will
help all in my power, but don't attempt too much,
A sHght, delicate woman in black, wrapped in a
soft white shawl, emerged from the doorway as he
spoke. Portia ran lightly up the drive to meet her.
'* We have had such a good time together, mamma
deary," she cried, '* only never before in such a per-
fectly charming place. The walks around here are
as romantic as they are in books. I shall be so glad
when you can go too." She gathered the fleecy
shawl close under her mother's chin, and kissed her
on one cheek, then on the other. " See these little
iris. I found them growing along by the roadside,
" Oh, they are lovely, and fragrant too," said her
mother, taking the cluster from Portia's warm, plump
hand into both her own thin, cold ones, and the
three generations entered this old Southern home
together. The father and daughter bore a strong
resemblance to each other, but the granddaughter
was of a quite different type.
Within, the mansion presented a less neglected
and more homelike aspect than without, owing to
the continued gracious and home-making presence
for the last two or three months of Portia Van
Ostade. This rambling old house, with twenty
acres of the wooded hillside, and nine hundred
dollars in her own right, had been bequeathed to
her by her grand-uncle, Oscar Van Ostade. A
strange bequest it had seemed to the family at the
time. It was now their sole dependence. " Portia's
white elephant," they had called it, and the question
arose, what could she do with it? It coukl never be
sold ; no one would go to live in that far-away place.
" We will just let it lie," said Grandfather Ridgeway,
good-humoredly ; ''the interest on the money will
pay the taxes, and keep it in repair," and he put the
deed away among his private papers. Four years
afterwards the great treasure-box was exhumed from
a huge heap of debris, and the deed taken from it, a
woful bit of charred parchment.
To-day, as they entered the sitting-room, a wood
fire burned brightly in the huge red-brick fireplace.
*'Ah, this is pleasant," said Mr. Ridgeway; ''it
makes a cheerful room of this, after all."
" Now, grandfather," said Portia, reproachfully,
" are n't you glad we have my ' white elephant ' to
come to? But I know you said that 'after all'
because you had such a forlorn time trying to man-
age here those first few weeks all alone, and these
great piazzas keep out the sun so."
24 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
" I am an ungrateful wretch, I fear," he repHed ;
** your grand-uncle Oscar must have had a prophetic
soul." He dropped wearily into his armchair and,
leaning back, closed his eyes. The two women
looked lovingly at him, and exchanged glances.
Mrs. Van Ostade put the flowers in water and
then lay down on the couch. Portia seated herself
in a low rocker and began sewing on some blue
denim that lay piled on a chair before her. She
was making portieres for one of the upper rooms.
They remained silent for some time, and then began
chatting quietly about the future.
*' You must not give up your music even if we are
living an isolated life. It may not always be so ; it
must not," said her mother.
" When I saw you really on the road to recovery,
mamma," Portia laid a broad hem and creased it in
place with a firm pressure of her thumb, "I — I
advertised for boarders. Don't, mamma; such a
look of horror makes me shiver. I knew you would
call me crazy, but think, here I am, young, strong,
and poor. Desperately poor we shall be. When
the little sum we have now is gone, we shall have
nothing at all to live on even from day to day, and
grandpapa won't hear of our touching the little
legacy that came to me with this property, and if
we did how short a time it would last ! I have
simply faced the fact. Either I must go away from
you both to earn for us all, or you must live in
some stuffy city while I teach, for I won't be de-
pendent on relatives, and you would not have me.
If I make a profession of my music, I must travel,
and we should be parted. This surely is best."
She spoke hurriedly, vehemently, her hands
dropped passively in her lap, her face averted, and
her eyes fixed on the dry fountain without. There
the sun shone warmly. The leafless trees cast sharp
shadows on the road and the piazza floor. Two
bright little green lizards darted over the gray old
stone edge of the fountain, overgrown in places
with woodbine which quivered in the breeze. Her
grandfather shifted his position with a little nervous
movement, but did not open his eyes. Portia, turn-
ing suddenly, saw two tears course down her mother's
pale cheeks, which were quickly wiped away. In-
stantly she was on her knees with her arms around
the little woman, cuddling her, comforting her, with
a woman's divination using arguments most potent
to dispel the sorrowful foreboding she knew was the
cause of them.
" Why," she laughed in a smothered way, hiding
her face in her mother's neck, *' before our various
calamities, as you call them, I thought I was the
happiest girl in existence. I did n't know what
happiness was then. I lived in a misty halo of sen-
timentalism, dreaming of living for art alone, and
pure devotion to a sort of a something or other, I
guess I did n't know what; and people were entirely
left out, and you, httle mamma, were letting me
think it was noble, and all that. Listen, mamma,
that awful fire has swept away all that nonsense
along with our wealth, and has let a little real light
into my befogged brain. I don't say this just to
comfort you ; I never was so truly happy as I am
now, here, planning for us all, since you began to
recover. I never had so many lovely things all to
l6 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
myself before, — you and grandpapa, and all nature,
mountains, streams, woods, and wonderful wild
places ; how I love them ! " She lifted her head
and drew in her breath as if she were out in the
woods breathing the freshness and fragrance.
Her mother drew her fingers through Portia's
fluffy hair. '* But when your boarders come, you
won't have it all to yourself any more, and that
money — "
** Don't talk about the money. I must do things
right, or not at all. The fountain must be set going,
and horses and carriage bought. I must train
some of the most hopeful material about me into
good housemaids to help Maggie, dear soul. Help
costs but little, and I shall keep all I need. I have
thought it all out, mamma. Mr. Hacket will keep
me in supplies sent daily from Asheville. They
have very good markets there, Mr. Clark tells me."
''Who is he?"
" He is the station agent here, and is a Northern
man. He seems to have some genuine refinement."
"Are there none of the real old Southern families
here who have culture? "
** Yes, but they are so far apart, and seem to be
so dispirited. I have n't had a chance to meet them
yet. You are not vexed, mamma, that I did n't ask
you? I couldn't; you were too ill. You are not
strong enough now." -
" How could I be vexed, deary? Yet I always
said, if I ever should be thrown on my own resources,
I never would resort to keeping boarders."
" My advertisements have been answered, mamma.
Mrs. Percy is coming first. She put the idea in my
head, writing me and begging to come ; I wrote her
I should have her to practise on."
** She is lovely and lovable. Well, as you say,
something must be done. Your head is like your
father's, I can trust it; still, don't be too sanguine,
and think. But there, it is all right ; think what
you please, do what you please. Your sunny
nature is your safety, and action is always better
Mr. Ridgeway rose, and paced the floor, his hands
behind his back, and his head drooped forward.
He was about to speak, when a light tap was heard
at the door, and the same instant a woman of thirty-
eight or forty years, with red cheeks, dark blue
eyes, and heavy black hair, put her head into the
*' Miss Porrtia, arre ye's herre? There's a black
nagur gurrel out by, settin' on me clane chair, wid
'er two feet on me clane flurre, an' be the powers,
whin I would tell 'er ye's were out waalkin' wid yer
gran'fetherr an' it's takin' 'ersilf aff she'd betherr
be, did n't she jist pit 'er basket doun, an' 'ersilf the
same, an' 'It's stayin' herre I'll be,' sez she, 'fur
I seed the young leddy an' the ould jintleman
down bi the brranch yanderr,' sez she. ' Bi phwat
brranch? ' sez I, ' an' surre w^harre else 'ould they be,'
sez I, ' fer the woods is full of thim,' sez I, an' there
she be 's this minut, an' she that black ye's 'ould
smootch yer two hands wid the touch av 'er."
" That 's the one we passed, then." Portia rose
quickly. *' I slandered her, for she got here before
us. Never mind, Maggie, the black won't come off,,
you know that."
2 8 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
'* More 's the pity, thin," said Maggie as they dis-
" The woods is full of them," said Mr. Ridgeway,
smiling. " Well done, Maggie."
*' Good faithful soul ! Portia has her strong Irish
arm to lean on," said Mrs. Van Ostade.
" I was surprised when Maggie announced her
intention of coming with us," he replied.
•* I was not; it would have broken her heart if
Portia had left her. She has loved Portia since she
was a baby, and seems to think she is a child still.
She is in years, yet I have given every care into her
hands ; she has gathered up the reins which fell from
my useless ones. But, oh, I hate to see that money
" The money is nothing, Clara. The pity is deeper
than that. What is her ability worth here? What
can she look forward to? Where will it end? We
have entered a narrow lane leading to a blank wall,
with all the loveliest things of life, which should be
hers, on the other side. Here I am stranded, too old
to begin again ; it — it is — What have we come to?
I can scarcely hold up my head under it."
** No, father, you were brought to this, you did n't
come to it. We must be watchful of her, and wait.
A few years of struggle may only broaden and
deepen her character. She has only lost worldly
prospects and wealth as yet ; she is heart whole."
A wide hall ran the whole length of the house,
opening at either end on immense piazzas. Portia
and Maggie traversed its whole length, passed out
through the farther door, and entered the house
again at the far end of the back piazza, where a long
ell addition to the main part meandered a little dis-
tance up the hill, forming a court-like square, open
and sunny now, but later In the season shaded by a
spreading, magnificent old locust-tree. This room
In the ell was Maggie's own sitting-room, low,
pleasant, and spotlessly clean. It was the pride of
her big Irish heart. Here sat the young negress
THE RETURN TO OLD SCENES AND
THE sun was setting. Its farewell glance threw
a celestial glory over Patterson. The dingy
station, the ugly boarding-house with false front,
the store and barber's pole before it, the rude black-
smith shed with creaking sign on which was painted
an impossible horse, all were bathed in the same
golden light that made splendid God's handiwork.
The hills, the mountains, rising peak above peak,
and the wonderful rocks, each from its own point
of vantage sent back toward its Creator a portion of
the radiance streaming over it. The miracle of the
spring was being enacted anew in and all about
Patterson. Trees stiffened and grew strong with
sweet sap filling their veins, — - tender greens of
hillside and woodland growing daily deeper and
richer; all the charming phalanx of mountain
shrubbery bursting into bewildering profusion of
bloom ; ugly things becoming hidden by the
young greenness of the earth ; old stumps by the
roadside, decaying logs, and last year's dead leaves
slowly, by their own death, nourishing the wild
tangle of fragrance and color that covered them,
being thus, in the lavish provision of nature, them-
selves resurrected. The mountain streams laughed
loudly in their opulence.
Return to Old Scenes 31
Up the long slope to the southwest crept the
incoming mail-train, now seen turning an outward
curve, now hidden by an intervening hill, — a live
little, consequential demon, impudently puffing its
hot breath toward heaven, trailing after it a long
line of vaporous smoke, as if vainly trying to ob-
scure the gorgeous pageantry of the western sky,
in zealous self-assertiveness. Crawling cautiously
over the long dizzy trestle, then darting on again,
it neared the little station, gave two demoniacal
shrieks that were caught up by the echoes of the
hills, and paused a moment with insistent hissing
while it emitted one traveller, a pair of completely
collapsed mail-bags, and a trunk which was vio-
lently hurled to the platform, as if those who handled
it were trying to bestow on one poor box all the
rough usage they would have given other baggage
had they had it.
The traveller, a young man, turned with a quick
shrug as his trunk struck the platform ; the little
train impatiently bustled off. A lank, leather-
colored, disconsolate-looking mail-agent dawdled
away with the collapsed bags, and the traveller was