They think it's a fairy tale, some of them; and those who do think anything of it want to try it first and pay me afterwards." "If you could have another three wishes," said the old man, eyeing him keenly," would you have them?" "I don't know," said the other. "I don't know." He took the paw, and dangling it between his forefinger and thumb, suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down and snatched it off. "Better let it burn," said the soldier solemnly. "If you don't want it Morris," said the other, "give it to me." "I won't." said his friend doggedly. "I threw it on the fire. If you keep it, don't blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire like a sensible man." The other shook his head and examined his possession closely. "How do you do it?" he inquired. "Hold it up in your right hand, and wish aloud," said the Sargeant-Major, "But I warn you of the consequences." "Sounds like the 'Arabian Nights'", said Mrs. White, as she rose and began to set the supper. "Don't you think you might wish for four pairs of hands for me." Her husband drew the talisman from his pocket, and all three burst into laughter as the Seargent-Major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught him by the arm. "If you must wish," he said gruffly, "Wish for something sensible." Mr. White dropped it back in his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly forgotten, and afterwards the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion to a second instalment of the soldier's adventures in India. "If the tale about the monkey's paw is not more truthful than those he has been telling us," said Herbert, as the door closed behind their guest, just in time to catch the last train, "we shan't make much out of it."
"Did you give anything for it, father?" inquired Mrs. White, regarding her husband closely. "A trifle," said he, colouring slightly, "He didn't want it, but I made him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away." "Likely," said Herbert, with pretended horror. "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." He darted around the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs White armed with an antimacassar. Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. "I don't know what to wish for, and that's a fact," he said slowly. It seems to me I've got all I want." "If you only cleared the house, you'd be quite happy, wouldn't you!" said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. "Well, wish for two hundred pounds, then; that'll just do it." His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the talisman, as his son, with a solemn face, somewhat marred by a wink at his mother, sat down and struck a few impressive chords. "I wish for two hundred pounds," said the old man distinctly. A fine crash from the piano greeted his words, interrupted by a shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him. "It moved," he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on the floor. "As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake." "Well, I don't see the money," said his son, as he picked it up and placed it on the table, "and I bet I never shall." "It must have been your fancy, father," said his wife, regarding him anxiously. He shook his head.
"Never mind, though; there's no harm done, but it gave me a shock all the same." They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes. Outside, the wind was higher than ever, an the old man started nervously at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and depressing settled on all three, which lasted until the old couple rose to retire for the rest of the night. "I expect you'll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your bed," said Herbert, as he bade them good night, " and something horrible squatting on top of your wardrobe watching you as you pocket your ill gotten gains." He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces in it. The last was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it in amazement. It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His hand grasped the monkey's paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand on his coat and went up to bed. Part II In the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the breakfast table he laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night, and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the side-board with a carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues. "I suppose all old soldiers are the same," said Mrs White. "The idea of our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?" "Might drop on his head from the sky," said the frivolous Herbert. "Morris said the things happened so naturally," said his father, "that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence."