The Devil's Paw HTML version
Julian entered the drawing-room at Maltenby Hall a few minutes before dinner time that
evening. His mother, who was alone and, for a wonder, resting, held out her hand for him
to kiss and welcomed him with a charming smile. Notwithstanding her grey hair, she was
still a remarkably young-looking woman, with a great reputation as a hostess.
"My dear Julian," she exclaimed, "you look like a ghost! Don't tell me that you had to sit
up all night to shoot those wretched duck?"
Julian drew a chair to his mother's side and seated himself with a little air of relief.
"Never have I been more conscious of the inroads of age," he confided. "I can remember
when, ten or fifteen years ago, I used to steal out of the house in the darkness and bicycle
down to the marsh with a twenty-bore gun, on the chance of an odd shot."
"And I suppose," his mother went on, "after spending half the night wading about in the
salt water, you spent the other half talking to that terrible Mr. Furley."
"Quite right. We got cold and wet through in the evening; we sat up talking till the small
hours; we got cold and wet again this morning-and here I am."
"A converted sportsman," his mother observed. "I wish you could convert your friend,
Mr. Furley. There's a perfectly terrible article of his in the National this month. I can't
understand a word of it, but it reads like sheer anarchy."
"So long as the world exists," Julian remarked, "there must be Socialists, and Furley is at
"My dear Julian," his mother protested, "how can a Socialist be honest! Their attitude
with regard to the war, too, is simply disgraceful. I am sure that in any other country that
man Fenn, for instance, would be shot."
"What about your house party?" Julian enquired, with bland irrelevance.
"All arrived. I suppose they'll be down directly. Mr. Hannaway Wells is here."
"Good old Wells!" Julian murmured. "How does he look since he became a Cabinet
"Portentous," Lady Maltenby replied; with a smile. "He doesn't look as though he would
ever unbend. Then the Shervintons are here, and the Princess Torski - your friend Miss
"The Princess Torski?" Julian repeated. "Who on earth is she?"