Classics, horror

The Monkey’s Paw

II.

Next morning, as the bright, winter sun shone over the breakfast table, he laughed at his fears. There was a dull wholesomeness about the room that it lacked the previous night. The dirty, shrivelled little paw was placed carelessly on the mantle, doing little to inspire belief in its powers.

“I suppose all old soldiers are the same. I can’t believe we listened to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you?” Mrs. White said.

“Might drop on his head from the sky.” The son said sarcastically.

“Morris said the things happened so naturally you could call it coincidence if you wanted.” The father said.

“Well, don’t spend the money before I come back. I’m afraid it’ll turn you into a mean, greedy man, and we will have to disown you.” The son said as he rose from the table.

His mother laughed, followed him to the door, and watched him down the road. Returning to the breakfast table, she laughed at her husband’s credulity. Though this did not prevent her from rushing to the door at the mailman’s knock, nor from rudely referring to retired sergeant-major’s drinking habits when the mail included a tailor’s bill.

“I expect our son will have more of his funny jokes when he comes home.” She said as they sat at dinner.

“I dare say, but aside from all that, the thing moved in my hand. That I’ll swear to.” Mr. White said, pouring himself some beer.

“You thought it did.” The old lady soothed.

“I say it did! There was no mistake; I had just—- What’s the matter?” Replied the husband.

His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a man outside. He was looking at the house uncertainly, as if trying to decide whether to enter. Thinking of the two hundred pounds, she noticed the stranger was well dressed and wore a new, glossy silk hat. Three times he paused at the gate before walking away again. The fourth time he stood with his hand on it, then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path. At the same moment, Mrs. White hurriedly removed her apron, placing it beneath her chair.

She brought the uneasy stranger into the room. He stared at her nervously, listening impatiently as the old lady apologized for the appearance of the room and her husband’s garden coat. She then tried to wait patiently for him to explain his visit, but at first he was strangely silent.

“I– was asked to call. I come from ‘Maw and Meggins.” He finally said, stooping to pick a piece of cotton from his trousers.

The old lady started. “Is anything the matter? Has anything happened to my son? What is it? What is it?” She asked, breathlessly.

Her husband interrupted. “There, there. Sit down, and don’t jump to conclusions. I’m sure you haven’t brought bad news, sir.” He said hastily, eyeing the man wistfully.

“I’m sorry–” began the visitor.

“Is he hurt?” The mother demanded wildly.

The visitor bowed in confirmation. “Badly hurt, but he is not in any pain.” He said quietly.

“Oh, thank God!” The old woman said, clasping her hands. “Thank God for that! Thank–“

She broke off suddenly as she understood his sinister meaning, and saw the awful confirmation in the man’s averted face. She caught her breath, turned to her slower-witted husband, and laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.

“He was caught in the machinery.” The visitor explained in a low voice.

“Caught in the machinery.” Mr. White repeated, dazed. “Yes.”

He sat, staring blankly out the window. Taking his wife’s hand between his own, he pressed it as he had in their old courting-days, nearly forty years ago.

“He was the only one left to us. It is hard.” He said gently, turning to the visitor.

The man coughed as he stood and walked slowly to the window. “The firm wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss,” he said without looking round. “I beg you to understand I am only their servant and merely obeying orders.”

There was no reply. The old woman’s face was white, her eyes staring, and her breath inaudible. The husband’s face wore the same look the sergeant might have carried into his first battle.

“I was to say that ‘Maw and Meggins’ deny all responsibility.” The man continued. “They admit no liability at all, but in consideration of your son’s services, they wish to pay you a compensation.”

Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, rose to his feet, and gazed at the visitor with a look of horror. His dry lips shaped the words, “How much?”

“Two hundred pounds,” was the answer.

Unconscious of his wife’s shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put his hands out like a blind man, and dropped to the floor in a senseless heap.

13 thoughts on “The Monkey’s Paw”

    1. Lol I assumed public domain but admittedly should have confirmed that. I never thought about people paying for them, gah that would be sooo nice. I have no idea how to go about doing such a thing, but I would love an excuse to spend more time on it.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Ah, reminds me of that Are You Afraid of the Dark episode, where instead of a monkey’s paw a vulture’s claw was used.

    To be honest though, I wouldn’t use something like this if magic were to be real in our world. Who knows what kind of horrors were inflicted on that animal before creating this, and I suspect everything would go wrong because of the resentment the animal would feel towards its abusers.

    I do hope it make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

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