While this song is very vague, I'm going to venture a guess that the gated garden Stevie speaks of is her inner self, her heart that is guarded against anyone getting close enough to break it. But, if anyone were to get inside, he would find the "rose" of "passion" there. She wants someone to come in now, but the people she loves keep playing games. Still, sometimes, someone manages to get in and "steal" her heart, "scar[ing her] to death"; as a result of her fear of vulnerability, she fights what she feels, and listens to others instead. Then, she breaks free of the opinions of others - "nobody knows nothin' 'bout it" - not even the audience that has seen it played out in the Eyes of the World! She insists that she, indeed, has always loved him - Lindsey? - every night. It's the truth - it might be unfair to say that after they've broken up, but "all's fair" in love and war!
Can you say Mick was tryin' to hide Stevie, or it could have been the other way around. Maybe they were just messin' around then...It was a game, and there are cheaters in the game of love. Was she talkin' about herself as the cheater? Or Mick? Or someone else.... But of course in true Stevie fashion, she's gonna love him but he'll probably never know it, unless he listens to the song.
I see "Gate & Garden" as a stream-of-conscious look at "Beauty & the Beast". In the story, Beauty's father, broken and spent after trying to earn enough money to replace his family's riches (destroyed byfire), stumbles upon a path (or figurative "gate") to the Beast's castle. The "gate" could have been guarded, but it wasn't-why? Beauty's father enters the castle- no resistance. He finds a table laden with enough food for guests, but when no one else arrives, he reasons the food has been put there for him. He eats his fill, rests, and prepares to continue his trek home. Still no confrontations. This haven is so beautiful, a person might liken it to "heaven", but it's not. Before leaving, he spies the most beautiful roses, and, remembering his promise to bring a rose home to Beauty, he picks one. At that moment, the terrible Beast confronts the! poor man, forcing him to commit his precious daughter to live with Beast in exchange for taking something that wasn't offered to him. The rose symbolizes the sacrifice the man has made through his indiscretion. The "guardian" represents time: "now", when Beauty's father errs, "then", when Beast erred, "it's just a few days away", when anyone could make a similar error. The thing someone "steals away" is the essence of life: the safety and comfort that comes with familiarity, leaving a person scared "to death"- the foundation of their very being is shaken.
"It's just a game that we play-" life is sort of like a game sometimes, you take chances, you win, you lose-why did the Beast terrorize Beauty's father when he helped himself to the rose, but not when he availed himself of the Beast's food and the shelter of the Beast's castle? Perhaps the Beast had a premonition that the key to his salvation lay in Beauty's father.
When Beast learns of Beauty, he feels a faint glimmer of hope that the essence of life that was stolen from him may be restored--IF he can convince Beauty-and himself--that he is worthy of being loved. It is Beast who "gives in to his friends", by allowing Beauty to return home, knowing if she does not return, it will seal his fate. If he had given in to himself, he would have held Beauty captive forever in a futile attempt to gain her love. Everyone makes a decision like this once or twice in a lifetime. Beast let Beauty go, relying only on the comfort of the belief that she cared enough for him to return again. "Don't send an answer..." the key word here is send. When Beast cries out for Beauty, he cries for her return physically, and speedily as she had promised. To "send an answer" would indicate Beauty had become preoccupied again by her old life, to gradually forget all about Beast.
Another part of the game between Beauty and Beast is knowing in their hearts that they love each other, but not revealing it as romantic love to each other. "Nobody knows nothing 'bout it" could then imply that if they did reveal their romantic love for one another, no one else could possibly understand (or "know") it and so they hesitate and doubt their own feelings.
So Beauty leaves the Beast, and very nearly doesn't return to him. In the heartbroken Beast's final hour, Beauty listens to her heart, and hears the Beast within her, and realizes they are truly one. She returns to Beast, where, near death, she tries to comfort him- but how? Simply by revealing, aloud, that she loves him. The call and reply, "How many times have you said, 'Do I love you?" "I always did..." could have been begun by either one. As they say it again and again, they become stronger and more determined in their love, which breathes new life into Beast, transforming him once again into a human. The line "Nobody knows nothing 'bout it" takes on new meaning, sort of a "it's none of their business" tone.
Finally, we all know who the modern "Beauty" and "Beast" are!!!