The Devil's Paw
Nicholas Fenn, although civilisation had laid a heavy hand upon him during the last few
years, was certainly not a man whose outward appearance denoted any advance in either
culture or taste. His morning clothes, although he had recently abandoned the habit of
dealing at a ready-made emporium, were neither well chosen nor well worn. His evening
attire was, if possible, worse. He met Catherine that evening in the lobby of what he
believed to be a fashionable grillroom, in a swallow-tailed coat, a badly fitting shirt with
a single stud-hole, a black tie, a collar which encircled his neck like a clerical band, and
ordinary walking boots. She repressed a little shiver as she shook hands and tried to
remember that this was not only the man whom several millions of toilers had chosen to
be their representative, but also the duly appointed secretary of the most momentous
assemblage of human beings in the world's history.
"I hope I am not late," she said. "I really do not care much about dining out, these days,
but your message was so insistent."
"One must have relaxation," he declared. "The weight of affairs all day long is a terrible
strain. Shall we go in?"
They entered the room and stood looking aimlessly about them, Fenn having, naturally
enough, failed to realise the necessity of securing a table. A maitre d'hotel, however,
recognised Catherine and hastened to their rescue. She conversed with the man for a few
minutes in French, while her companion listened admiringly, and finally, at his
solicitation, herself ordered the dinner.
"The news, please, Mr. Fenn?" she asked, as soon as the man had withdrawn.
"News?" he repeated. "Oh, let's leave it alone for a time! One gets sick of shop."
She raised her eyebrows a little discouragingly. She was dressed with extraordinary
simplicity, but the difference in caste between the two supplied a problem for many
"Why should we talk of trifles," she demanded, "when we both have such a great interest
in the most wonderful subject in the world?"
"What is the most wonderful subject in the world?" he asked impressively.
"Our cause, of course," she answered firmly, "the cause of all the peoples - Peace."
"One labours the whole day long for that," he grumbled. "When the hour for rest comes,
surely one may drop it for a time?"