The first lines of the story set the stage. It was night; it was also cold and wet. Here are the first words:
Outside, the night was cold and wet but a fire burned brightly in the small living room of Laburnum Villa...
Second, the story also immediately draws in the mysteries of the East by bring up the supernatural of India. The paw is from India. It was cursed by a Fakir. And finally, the person who had it last wished for death as his last wish. All of this creates a mood of fear.
Third, there is darkness in the short story. After Herbert dies, there is darkness. When the Whites hear noise, it is dark downstairs. After Mr. White goes downstair, this darkness is even stronger. He says:
A stair creaked; a squeaky mouse ran noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive. After building up his courage for some time, Mr White lit a match and, taking the matchbox with him, went downstairs for a candle.
Finally, the last lines of the story also end on a dark note.
"The street lamp opposite the house shone flickeringly on a quiet and deserted road."