Beasts and Super-Beasts HTML version

The Hen
"DORA BITTHOLZ is coming on Thursday," said Mrs. Sangrail.
"This next Thursday? " asked Clovis
His mother nodded.
"You've rather done it, haven't you?" he chuckled; "Jane Martlet has only been here five
days, and she never stays less than a fortnight, even when she's asked definitely for a
week. You'll never get her out of the house by Thursday."
"Why should I?" asked Mrs. Sangrail; "she and Dora are good friends, aren't they? They
used to be, as far as I remember."
"They used to be; that's what makes them all the more bitter now. Each feels that she has
nursed a viper in her bosom. Nothing fans the flame of human resentment so much as the
discovery that one's bosom has been utilised as a snake sanatorium."
"But what has happened? Has some one been making mischief?"
"Not exactly," said Clovis; "a hen came between them."
"A hen? What hen?"
"It was a bronze Leghorn or some such exotic breed, and Dora sold it to Jane at a rather
exotic price. They both go in for prize poultry, you know, and Jane thought she was
going to get her money back in a large family of pedigree chickens. The bird turned out
to be an abstainer from the egg habit, and I'm told that the letters which passed between
the two women were a revelation as to how much invective could be got on to a sheet of
"How ridiculous!" said Mrs. Sangrail. "Couldn't some of their friends compose the
"People tried," said Clovis, "but it must have been rather like composing the storm music
of the `Fliegende Hollander.' Jane was willing to take back some of her most libellous
remarks if Dora would take back the hen, but Dora said that would be owning herself in
the wrong, and you know she'd as soon think of owning slum property in Whitechapel as
do that."
"It's a most awkward situation," said Mrs. Sangrail. "Do you suppose they won't speak to
one another?"