ing you. He seemed to have found new reasons for
Marguerite was touched. She leaned over and
patted her aunt's hand. " You have always been
good to me, aunty dear, and so has John, even if we
did fight, he and I.
" Cannot you get over that childish quarrel ? "
'' Oh, yes. We got over it long ago."
''I was so happy, so encouraged, this morning,
and there that girl had to step in between you again ;
I could have struck her down."
"Now, Aunt Isabel," said Marguerite, flashing
quickly, " let 's speak the truth for once and talk
sense. Miss Van Ostade is beautiful. We know it,
and what is the use in denying it? Every one in
the house admires her, and she is good. Now!
Aunty, I will make you a promise. I will be as
good to John as I know how, for a week. I will
ride and walk with him, drive with him, talk with
him, go over his old hotel with him, and be nice to
him generally for a whole week, and if at the end of
that time he has n't seen fit to propose over again,
why, then, I will do as I please."
3 50 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
'* And what will you please to do? "
" Oh," she covered a yawn with her fingers, ** I '11
do something. I '11 be an American girl out and
out. I '11 do what I please, without reference to any-
body on earth, as Miss Keller does. I '11 marry the
station agent, I beheve, — and live happily ever
" Marguerite ! I thought you were going to be
•* I am, aunt, very serious." They were driving
into the yard now, and Marguerite leaned forward
and looked into Mrs. Marshall's eyes with a laughing
light in her own. ** I will tell every one here that
that nigger fop is the exact counterpart of some
of your Spanish relatives if you are nasty to Miss
Van Ostade again," she said.
Her aunt laughed. ** To think, my dear, that
you should be so guileless. Can't you see that
she is like all the rest of her class, ready to toady
to wealth? I have no patience with you."
PORTIA SINGS THE OLD SONGS
AFTER Mrs. Marshall's departure, Portia, glad
to be relieved of the oppressive presence,
flew about, directing Louisa Ann, and rapidly bring-
ing order out of chaos. John returned, bringing the
framework on which draperies and garlands were to
*' Here is the screen for the musicians," he said.
"What are we to do for lights?" asked Mrs.
** We have a gas-tank, — it should be tested,
though," said Judson. *' It might not be fully in
order. What do you say, John? "
"Test it by all means, if the fixtures are done."
" And if it should not work? " said Mrs. Barry.
" We might bring over lamps from the house,"
" We shall task you for nothing more," said John.
" Hanford can loan us some head-lights."
" Miss McLourie promised to send the carriage
back," said Portia. " I wonder what time it is !
Think of my running away, with forty boarders. I
must go home."
Katherine laughed. " Youh speaking of youh
forty boarders makes me think of the ' Forty
thieves.' Now tell me, did you run away with
352 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
them, or have they run away with you ? " But
Portia was already at the farther end of the room.
" Oh, we run away with her," said Mrs. Barry.
**We are never satisfied unless she is with us. She
must plan for us, sing to us, get up costumes for our
charades, talk to us, — do you know how well she
converses ? She has no invalids now to look after,
luckily, except her mother, and she is the sweetest
woman on earth."
" Mamma is no invalid now," said Portia, return-
ing. " She is much stronger. She takes all the
responsibility of the lunches for me. That is how I
can run away like this."
" The carriage is here," said John, and they all
went out, leaving the great room in charge of the
capable Louisa Ann.
" Oh, I must say a word more to the bride," said
Portia, running back. " Don't wait; I will be right
When she returned she found John waiting alone,
standing beside a beautiful little trap, and Brown
Betty in the harness.
" See what I have done," he cried gleefully. '' I
have sent them all on. Miss Katherine and all. I
brought her over in this, and now I am going to
take you back in it, and have you one whole delicious
hour all to myself. It is only half after eleven."
*' John, you have outwitted me," she said in dis-
may, looking after the carriage as it disappeared
around the corner of the notion store.
'* Yes, and now I have you in a trap," he said,
lifting her in. She laughed merrily at the foolish
pun, as he settled himself beside her.
Portia Sings the Old Songs 353
" What a beautiful little rig ! and, John, what a
man you are ! "
" The first time we ever drove together, we had
the Gebbs* buggy and the little gray pony, and it
was Mr. Russell who was outwitted. Dick Button
told me they drove on for a joke, because he was
contriving to be left behind for the sake of being
left alone to drive with you." Portia gave a radiant
glance into his face, but said nothing. ** Poor
fellow ! He wanted the seat beside you. I wanted
it too, and it fell to me," he added gently, " and it is
mine forever." He looked into her eyes, and the
light in hers was his only answer. " Do you notice
what I am doing, having your little horse trained to
drive? Come, Brownie, pick up your feet. She is
lazy, it is so warm. I shall get the nobbiest little
turnout in New York for you, and — "
" You are far too good to me, John. You must n't
do these things."
" Must n't I ? And why not ? "
" Can't you see how it is hurting your mother,
that you — that we are loving each other? I felt
abashed, humiliated in the dust."
His eyes flashed with the fire of anger. " Even
my mother is not precious to me when she strikes
at you. She knew she had me in her power, that
before all those others I could say nothing." He
bit his lip to keep back the torrent of words too
bitter for him to utter.
" I did n't feel bitter, John, because you, with
your great loving heart, bore the blow for me. I
forgot it was me she struck as I saw you walk away.
I am going to talk a little plain common-sense, to
354 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
make a speech, and you (to pay for running away
with me) must Hsten in patience. We may not
have the chance to have a good, quiet, serious talk
again for days, you know."
They had turned into a road leading through pine
forest, where the shadows were heavy and cool,
and the air full of resinous fragrance. John drew
the little horse down to a walk, and her hoofs fell
on the carpeted path as if she trod on velvet.
He placed his hand on Portia's with a touch that
thrilled through her nerves like wine. ** I will
listen to you," he said, with a happy laugh, *' as
long as you keep to the common-sense, but if you
utter a word of sophistry, I will not listen to you,
no, not even if you sing it."
She would have withdrawn her hand, but, with
an impulse that carried her beyond her reserve
she lifted his. to her lips and kissed it. *' It is
hard to say the plain reasonable things to you I
ought. Your loving intoxicates me. You have
entered into my heart, — into my very soul." She
paused, and he bent forward and looked into her
eyes. They swam in tears.
" So deep and true," he said, ** will they always
shine for me like this? "
She turned her face away. '' John, don't make
it so hard for me to say what I ought. I want
first to make you understand how I love you, —
but if I do that, I can never go any further."
*' That is far enough. Come, I will listen to that
forever, and there shall be no end."
" Love, that is born of the highest, should cast no
shadow on any human soul," she paused, and he
Portia Sings the Old Songs 355
was silent. ** Ours," she continued, " brings unhap-
piness to the one of all others whom you should
not hurt. Because she is your mother, she shall
be dear to me. Ought we not to put aside our
own wishes? What shall we do?" Still he was
silent. ** Is it right that in our loving we should
hurt another? Think what it must be to her. She
is being crossed in everything. Oh, John, if I,
who have known you so short a time, love you
as I do, what must you be to her? I felt this
morning as if I must kneel to her and beg for
forgiveness, or else to be taken into her heart
with you. Why couldn't you have done as she
wished so long ago, before ever you knew me?
If you had loved that beautiful girl, — how could
you help doing so, — then your mother would have
been happy; but now she hates me because I
have come between her and her dearest wishes,
and all her lifelong prejudices weigh against me.
There is a wrong somewhere."
*^ Portia — "
" Ought we not to, at least, cover up this love,
set it aside, perhaps for years, if need be?"
*' No, no, no ! I say no ! Portia."
'' But can we, even for the greatest good that
could come to us, can we ride over your mother's
" I tell you, Portia, this is sophistry. Love and
respect I owe my mother, and honor; but when
a man has reached my age, even his mother has
no right to rule over his spirit. Some things are
sacred even from her interference, and only to his
God is he answerable. No power on earth shall
356 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
take you from me, Portia. — Dearest, dearest, take
your hands from your face, and say the words with
me. Say them. No power on earth shall take you
" Oh, John, if I could feel in my heart that it is
*' Then feel it in my heart, Portia, for I know. As
I hold you now, so shall it be forever. My heart
shall be the nearest to your own. If I could, I
would hold you with an irresistible power, — but
I cannot. It is you who hold me so, although
you do not know it. Now will you say the words
with me? No power on earth — "
" When I have earned the right, John. I will
set myself with all my heart to win your mother
to love me, if only a little, and then, I promise you,
I will put away all personal pride, I will accept
from you all, all ! when I am able only to give
my poor self to you."
"Your bountiful, beautiful self. I would give up
all I have on earth rather than lose you."
" Wait, John," she placed her hand over his lips,
''don't say those things — I have asked you so
many times — until I have earned them — until I
am really yours."
" We never earn anything in this world, Portia.
I have never earned your love, but I have it."
They were both silent for a time. At last John
broke the spell. " And when is all this to be fin-
ished? It cannot go on forever, — when will you
say of yourself, I am really his?"
She drew herself up, and looked in his face with
the clear, steady light in hers that seemed to him
Portia Sings the Old Songs 357
always like inspiration. "You recall me to earth
again," she said, taking his hand with gentle firm-
ness. " There ! now drive with both hands." He
obeyed. *' I have a bright idea," she said after
another moment's silence. ** To be sure of the
right from some other source than your — Love
is bhnd, you know, and you may be blinded — I
know you are, from some things you have said in
the last few minutes. No. I say you must drive
with both hands."
''And I say, I need but one. Go on with your
*' Please, John, I will not let you blind me also.
There, hold the lines, so, — and here is the whip,
hold it too. Now listen. I am going to sing for
your beautiful old friend to-morrow. I feel that
those whose eyes are closed to the world around
them have clearer spiritual insight than we have,
and that is what we need now, you and I. I could
talk with grandfather, or my own sweet mother,
but they are both too nearly interested through
their love for me, and the pride I told you of.
Mrs. Wells will be able to be just, and if anything
will be influenced the other way, through the old-
time prejudices, you know, — but I think she is so
near heaven that even these may have slipped from
" What if she decides against me?"
" We will wait."
"But if she says forever? That would be an
earthly power coming between us. No, I cannot
consent to that."
" Are you sure it would be of this world?"
358 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
•' You may do it, if you will sivg to her first."
" I may not be able to sing for her afterwards."
" Very well, then I am safe. Only then she may
say I am not good enough for an angel."
"John! don't be absurd."
"If she decides for me, then what will you do?
Will you consider it then as a voice from heaven? "
She did not reply immediately, and he felt her
agitation. "See," he said, " how nicely I can man-
age the little horse with one hand. Now what will
you do? "
" What if — I should not be able to put this mat-
ter to her in such a way as not to influence her?"
she said in an anxious voice.
" Portia," he said softly, " you are hardly of the
earth yourself, my beautiful. I only fear your ab •
normal conscience will not let you be fair to my
cause. Let me put it to her."
" You know you could not do it, John." She
freed herself from his touch as before. " You must
not hold me like this, no. But I promise you, if I
can lay our case before her in a plain enough way,
bare of all my heart might plead for you or for me,
that I will take her answer as a voice from heaven.
What are you doing, John?"
" I know, but are n't you going to take me
" Not now. I am going to take you to her."
" But they will be at lunch.",
" That is nothing. What is eating? I heard you
say at the hotel, you were not needed at home at
this hour, — go with me. I can make it all right
Portia Sings the Old Songs 359
with Katherine, and her mother will think nothing
of it. How can I eat or sleep or rest, if you are
going to abide by this, until I know? No, I am
only arranging the cover; see, I am obedient. But
if I may not touch you, nor even speak what my
heart prompts to you, I will look at you and think
what thoughts I please."
So once more her lover had his way, and led her
up to the blind woman's door just as they were
about to sit down to the lunch table. "Will you
let two starving fellow-mortals eat with you ? " he
called cheerily. " I brought Miss Van Ostade here
against her will, or rather, at my own will, to — to
— sing for your mother."
Miss Katherine was delighted. '' It is really like
the old days ah here again, John," she said ; " when
people just happened in at any time, and we always
had company at meals. Ma, here is Miss Van
Ostade. John brought her to sing for you after
" A case of little Tommy Tucker, — only I get
my supper first and sing afterwards," said Portia.
"And you are just in time, my dear," said the
blind woman, warmly. There was a little tremor in
Portia's hands when she clasped them in both her
own, and when she took John's arm as he led her out
to the table (she always looked for him to lead her
out to meals when he was with them), she noticed
the same tremor there.
"Why does your arm tremble?" she said, so
quietly that only he heard her.
"Does it? I am a little tired, perhaps. I have
been driving, you know."
360 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
" Does driving make you tired, a great strong fel-
low like you?" She placed her other hand on his,
and knew in an instant that the tremor came from
his heart, and that she was treading on forbidden
ground. She turned her sightless eyes toward him
as though she could read the lines of his face, and
was silent ; but for him, he was even more tender
of her than usual, as he gently placed her in her
chair, and lifted her in it with his strong arms to the
After lunch Portia sang, while the old lady, lean-
ing back in her chair, closed her eyes and listened.
She sang all the songs she could remember, both
grave and gay, and John, seated in the doorway,
with his hands clasped about his knees, listened also.
Miss Katherine was busied with her household
cares. '' Ma" was happy, and she was content.
" I have sung all the songs I know without my
music," said Portia at last.
"Ah, don't stop yet. Sing them over again,"
said the blind woman.
*' I will sing some of these," said Portia, selecting
from the music lying on the piano some of the
songs that had stirred the hearts of the boys in gray
to deeds of heroic courage and even of desperation.
She began one.
'* Don't sing that," said John, entering and laying
hold of the music.
*'Yes, let her. It is good of you, Miss Van
Ostade. I long to hear the old songs once
And I am not singing for you, Mr. Marshall.
You brought me here to sing for her,"
Portia Sings the Old Songs 361
" Yes, sir, and if you do not like them, you can
go back North again," said his old friend, with a
He gave one imploring look, but still Portia sang
the old songs, and he strolled out and sat on the
ofarden seat where he had sat with Miss Katherine,
on that day when the voice he heard now had begun
to sing a new song in his heart. ** Yes," he said to
himself, '' I loved her before I saw her, when I sat
in the dark, and she sang to me."
When Portia finished, she turned and saw the
blind woman leaning back in her chair with closed
eyelids, but two tears had escaped, and trembled,
one on either cheek. Then Portia went quickly
and knelt at her feet, and taking one of the dear old
hands, so soft and white, in hers, she kissed it.
" Forgive me," she said, '' for bringing the past
before you and making you sad."
" The sadness is only the remembrance of sorrow
that is gone, dear, and the dawn and the opening
of the eyes is before me," she placed her hand on
Portia's head. " Bless you, daughter of the North,
and thank you. I love sweet music; and a sweet
voice ; but in singing the old songs of the boys in
gray, you have sung your way deeper into my
heart. What have I to forgive?"
Then Portia bowed her head under the gentle
touch, and opened her heart to its very depths, to
the clear seeing of the blind woman's spirit, and
there was silence for a few moments, until Portia
spoke again imploringly, —
" Tell me what is right. You are wise and true.
You see into heaven, as you sit here with your eyes
362 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
closed to all earthly sights. I have promised John
I will abide by what you say. Can love be right
when it hurts another? Can we call it God-given
when his mother is cut to the heart by it? An-
swer these questions for me, — I am afraid of
*' This is a grave question to lay upon me,
daughter." She drew Portia closer to her side, and
placing one hand on her face, touched her lightly,
tracing the contour of her features. " Let me know
you this way. I think — " she went on slowly, as
Portia turned her face toward her, giving herself
into her hands, *' I think it is a beautiful face, and I
should judge to find here a beautiful soul, as the
voice that interprets it to me is beautiful. Why
should he not love you?"
*' Because his mother hates me. She has the old-
time prejudices, and — she had hoped for another
choice for him. She is frail, she loves him so, — and
she is his mother. I have a sense of guilt when I
think of the pain we are inflicting. And yet — this
— that has come to me — " she covered her face
with her hands, '' I have let you see into my heart,
— how can I put it from me ? But if it is right, I
must. What is right, should be to us as necessity.
If she never can be won to love me — you had —
you must have had the same prejudices, the hatred
of us of the North that she has, you too lost
your dearest, more even than she. I sang those
songs because I wished — you are so far above
most of us — I wished to awaken the old spirit in
you if it might be sleeping, and then ask you to
judge, with that in your heart, as if John were your
Portia Sings the Old Songs 363
own. Could you love me then, and take me as
John's wife? Could you be content, and say, * it
is right '? "
''That way of judging might satisfy your con-
science, but the emotional way would not be the
right way. You wish to put it to the severest test,
but let us be reasonable. You are of good family,
are you not? "
" Yes," said Portia, lifting her head quickly, '* and
without stain. My father was of Dutch ancestry,
from one of the best families in New York. My
mother is descended from a noble Puritan family, of
pure English strain; they were ladies and gentle-
men, statesmen and scholars, of noble birth. I am
proud of my heredity, if I do — "
" It is not what you do ; it is what you are. We
have learned that lesson here in the South. I see
no reason why she should be bitter toward you.
The wrong is on her side. John has the right to
choose. A man cannot be always subservient to
his parents, — he could not be and be a man. His
mother should respect his manhood."
Portia rose and stood at the window. She saw
John pacing the garden-paths, and turning impetu-
ously she knelt again at the blind woman's feet.
*' Put your hands on my head once more, and bless
me," she said. " I must go to him and tell him
quickly; you are right, if I love him, I must put
him first. First of all, he must stand in my heart,"
and once again the old hands were laid on her head
Then Portia rose, and bending over the old lady's
chair kissed her, and hurried away. She sought
364 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
for Katherine at the far end of the house, where
the stores were kept.
" I am going," she called, with a ring of joy in
her voice ; '' don't come, I will see you this evening.
" Good-bye," called Katherine ; " weah the pretty
'* Surely I will," said Portia, and was gone.
THE OLD DAYS REVIVED
YES, truly, past days were being revived with
a spirit which seemed to combine the rich,
rare flavor of the old with the sparkle and energy
of the new. Miss Katherine felt the thrill of
pleasure that had tingled through her nerves in
other days as she heard the first long-drawn chords
and high thread-like tones of the viols and violins.
The musicians behind the flowery screen were get-
ting their instruments in tune, and the sounds of
scraping and thrumming caused a delicious sense
of anticipation to pervade the place, and formed a
vague background of tones for the flutter and buzz
and hum of fans and soft voices and laughter and
ceaseless moving of many feet.
Portia stood near Katherine and Mrs. Judson
Chaplain, who were making the introductions be-
tween the old element and the new. John was busy
here, there, and everywhere. Elated with a trans-
forming happiness, he heard the congratulations of
his friends and their praises of his work, the good he
was accomplishing, and the new life he had brought
to the place, as if the words were uttered in his
dreams. Sometimes his eyes wandered toward the
group near the door and rested on Portia's face.
Was she ever so beautiful before.^ Possibly not.
Since her talk with the blind woman she had re-
366 When the Gates Lift Up their Heads
signed herself to the love which had set lights in
her eyes, and kindled the fire within her which was
to illumine her spirit as the sun illumines the day
that follows such a dawn. Sometimes his eyes
rested for a moment on his mother as she stood
with Marguerite at her side, frailer, more spirit-
like than ever. Her eyes glowed as she listened
to the praises of her son, like living coals from
among the ashen hues of her whitening hair, and
her filmy, wreathing laces of white and black.
Her draperies swept the floor with a silken swish,
and her fine slender hands held a heavy feather fan,
that seemed, as it moved, to shed an odor of sandal-
wood and musk about her.
Portia looked around her with amazement. Where
had they all come from, — • these guests with soft
voices and graceful ways, clad in quaint, old lus-
trous garments with odd garniture of laces, or in
simple, dainty muslins.?
Though all were in excellent taste, she noticed
that the newest costumes were of cheap materials,
while those of rich and elegant fabric were of
antique shape and odd device. It was like the
awakening of the sleeping beauty in the wood, —
where all the lords and ladies who had slept with
her awakened with her and went about in their rare
old costumes, unconscious of the changes wrought
by the years, and mingling with the courtiers and
retainers of the prince in their modern dress, blend-
ing thus the old and the new. Where had they