At Heaven's Gate

At Heaven's Gate

At Heaven's Gate

At Heaven's Gate


It was the brilliant, high, windless sky of early autumn. The blue was paler than the blue of summer, but not leached out, still positive, and drenched in sunlight as though treated with a wash which was transparent but full of minute gold flecks. When you stared at the sky, if you stared very long, it seemed to be pricked with those tiny flecks of gold, which winked and glittered.

Sue Murdock stared at the sky, northward, and narrowed her eyes against the light. She could see nothing in the sky.

She was leaning her folded arms on the white top bar of the paddock, with her chin braced on her forearms. On her left, her brother Hammond Murdock lounged against the paddock, and on her right, Slim Sarrett stood, not leaning, one of his long white hands laid on the bar, not for support but as in a position of control, as though it were a warrior's hand laid on a sword hilt, or a bearded mariner's hand laid, as in an old engraving, on a globe.

Slim Sarrett had just stated that he did not care for riding. "Have you ever been on a horse?" Sue demanded, not taking her eyes off the bright sky.

"No," Slim Sarrett confessed quite candidly, and added that he did not think that riding a horse would be very interesting.

"Of course not, of course not," she murmured, "not at all interesting , oh, no," and did not look at him.

"For Christ sake," Ham Murdock said, amiably.

"The cult of horsemanship is a very peculiar thing," Slim Sarrett continued evenly. "It is probable that most people who devote themselves to it do so despite the fact that they do not enjoy it at all, in itself, or enjoy it very little. They simply enjoy the idea. They enjoy the picture of themselves on a horse. It is a symbol. It is a snob symbol derived from the Middle Ages. It--"

"You just read all that in a book," Sue said. "And you said it all to me on the way out here and now you're saying it for Ham's benefit."

He had said it all to her in her car on the way out here to see . . .

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