The Monkey’s Paw, Part 1

Part 1 of 3 scary stories for <br>By W. W. Jacobs

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Me
Perfect weather for a visit from our friend from my old regiment, and to listen to his scary chat stories from India. Hear that wind!
Herbert
I’m listening . . . Check!
Me
I almost doubt that he’ll come tonight in this rain.
Herbert
Mate.
Me
That’s the worst of living so far out. Of all the beastly, slushy, out-of-the-way places to live. Pathway’s a bog, and the road’s a torrent. I suppose because only two houses in the road are rented, the council thinks it doesn’t matter.
Mrs. White
Never mind, dear, perhaps you’ll win the next one.
Herbert
There he is now. I hear heavyweight footsteps.
Me
I should like you both to meet Sergeant-Major Morris.
Me
Have a whiskey?

Taken much harm

(Ten minutes later, at a third glass, the visitor’s eyes brightened and he began to talk, and the family regarded with eager interest this visitor from distant parts. For he spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.)

Me
Twenty-one years of it. Now look at him.
Mrs. White
He don’t look to have taken much harm.
Me
I’d like to go to India myself, just to look round a bit, you know.
Sergeant-major
Better where you are.
Me
I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers. What was that you started telling me the other day about a monkey’s paw or something, Morris?
Sergeant-major
Nothing. Certainly nothing worth hearing.
Mrs. White
Monkey’s paw? Another one of your scary chat stories?
Sergeant-major
Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps.
Me
Have one more.
Sergeant-major
Here it is. To look at, it’s just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy. Have a look.

A spell on it

Herbert
Thanks! Vile-looking thing, this!
Me
And what is there special about it? Let me see it, son.
Sergeant-major
It had a spell put on it by an old fakir. A very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people’s lives, and that those who interfered did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so three men could each have three wishes from it.
Me
Heh-heh-heh, Ah-hem.
Mrs. White
Well, why don’t you have three wishes yourself, sir?
Sergeant-major
Because I have done, sad to say.
Mrs. White
And did you really have the three wishes granted?
Sergeant-major
I did, uh, yes, in a way.
Mrs. White
And has anybody else wished?
Sergeant-major
 The first man had his three wishes. Yes. I don’t know what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got the paw.
Mrs. White
Oh dearie, dearie me. Sad, that is, the poor man going mad!

Enough mischief

Me
If you’ve had your three wishes, it’s no good to you now, then, Morris. What do you keep it for?
Sergeant-major
Fancy, I suppose, uh, I did have some idea of selling it, but I don’t think I will. It has caused enough mischief already.
Sergeant-major
Besides, people won’t buy. They think it’s just one of those scary stories for kids; some of them, and those who do think anything of it want to try it first and pay me afterward.
Me
If you could have another three wishes, would you have them?
Sergeant-major
 I don’t know, now. I don’t know…

Don’t blame me for what happens

Me
It’s no good throwing it in the fire. Ouch, ouch, hot, but no real harm to it.
Sergeant-major
Better to let it burn.
Me
If you don’t want it, Morris, give it to me.
Sergeant-major
I won’t. I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again like a sensible man.
Me
How do you do it?
Sergeant-major
Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud, but I warn you of the consequences.
Mrs. White
Sounds like the Arabian Nights, or one of the scary stories for kids you like me to tell. You and your scary stories! But it’s meal time. Don’t you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me?

If you must wish

Me
I guess I would wish for…
Sergeant-major
Hold up there, that man. If you must wish, wish for something sensible.
Mrs. White
Dinner is ready in any case. Come and be seated, please.

(30 minutes later)

Me
Well, thanks for visiting, and goodbye Sergeant-Major!
Herbert
If the tale about the monkey’s paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us, we sha’nt make much out of it.
Mrs. White
Did you give him anything for it, father?
Me
A trifle. He didn’t want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away.

But wait!

Herbert
Why, we’re going to be rich, and famous and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin with; then you can’t be henpecked.
Me
Why you young upstart! I’ll have your guts for garters!
Herbert
Put down that carving knife! A man’s entitled to have a little laugh.
Me
Quiet! I must think of the wish. Look at it now and help me think upon it proper.  I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact. I’ve got all I want.
Herbert
If you only cleared the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?
Me
Certainly.
Herbert
Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that’ll just do it.
Me
I wish for two hundred pounds.
Me
 Eww-ugh!
Herbert
What is wrong?
Me
It moved! As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake.
Mrs. White
You dropped it!
Herbert
Well, I don’t see the money, and I bet I never shall.”
Mrs. White
It might have been your fancy, father.
Me
Unh-uh, but never mind; there’s no harm done. But it gave me a shock all the same.
Herbert
I expect you’ll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed. And something right out of those scary stories for kids squatting on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill-gotten gains.

Read Part 2 of the story!