The Yellow Claw HTML version

The Lady Of The Civet Furs
Henry Leroux wrote busily on. The light of the table-lamp, softened and enriched by its
mosaic shade, gave an appearance of added opulence to the already handsome
appointments of the room. The little table-clock ticked merrily from half-past eleven to a
quarter to twelve.
Into the cozy, bookish atmosphere of the novelist's study penetrated the muffled chime of
Big Ben; it chimed the three- quarters. But, with his mind centered upon his work,
Leroux wrote on ceaselessly.
An odd figure of a man was this popular novelist, with patchy and untidy hair which
lessened the otherwise striking contour of his brow. A neglected and unpicturesque
figure, in a baggy, neutral- colored dressing-gown; a figure more fitted to a garret than to
this spacious, luxurious workroom, with the soft light playing upon rank after rank of rare
and costly editions, deepening the tones in the Persian carpet, making red morocco more
red, purifying the vellum and regilding the gold of the choice bindings, caressing lovingly
the busts and statuettes surmounting the book-shelves, and twinkling upon the scantily-
covered crown of Henry Leroux. The door bell rang.
Leroux, heedless of external matters, pursued his work. But the door bell rang again and
continued to ring.
"Soames! Soames!" Leroux raised his voice irascibly, continuing to write the while.
"Where the devil are you! Can't you hear the door bell?"
Soames did not reveal himself; and to the ringing of the bell was added the unmistakable
rattling of a letter-box.
"Soames!" Leroux put down his pen and stood up. "Damn it! he's out! I have no
He retied the girdle of his dressing-gown, which had become unfastened, and opened the
study door. Opposite, across the entrance lobby, was the outer door; and in the light from
the lobby lamp he perceived two laughing eyes peering in under the upraised flap of the
letter-box. The ringing ceased.
"Are you VERY angry with me for interrupting you?" cried a girl's voice.
"My dear Miss Cumberly!" said Leroux without irritation; "on the contrary--er--I am
delighted to see you--or rather to hear you. There is nobody at home, you know." . . .
"I DO know," replied the girl firmly, "and I know something else, also. Father assures me
that you simply STARVE yourself when Mrs. Leroux is away! So I have brought down
an omelette!"
"Omelette!" muttered Leroux, advancing toward the door; "you have-- er--brought an
omelette! I understand--yes; you have brought an omelette? Er--that is very good of you."