“Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it.”

The Monkey’s Paw is a classic “three wishes” story that doubles as a horror story and a cautionary tale; reminding us that unintended consequences often accompany the best intentions.

AmericanLiterature.com: Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnum villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son were at chess; the former, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical chances, putting his king into such sharp and unnecessary perils that it even provoked comment from the white-haired old lady knitting placidly by the fire.

“Hark at the wind,” said Mr. White, who, having seen a fatal mistake after it was too late, was amiably desirous of preventing his son from seeing it.

“I’m listening,” said the latter grimly surveying the board as he stretched out his hand. “Check.”

“I should hardly think that he’s come tonight, ” said his father, with his hand poised over the board.

“Mate,” replied the son.

“That’s the worst of living so far out,” balled Mr. White with sudden and unlooked-for violence; “Of all the beastly, slushy, out of the way places to live in, this is the worst. Path’s a bog, and the road’s a torrent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses in the road are let, they think it doesn’t matter.”

“Never mind, dear,” said his wife soothingly; “perhaps you’ll win the next one.”

Mr. White looked up sharply, just in time to intercept a knowing glance between mother and son. the words died away on his lips, and he hid a guilty grin in his thin grey beard.

“There he is,” said Herbert White as the gate banged to loudly and heavy footsteps came toward the door.

The old man rose with hospitable haste and opening the door, was heard condoling with the new arrival. The new arrival also condoled with himself, so that Mrs. White said, “Tut, tut!” and coughed gently as her husband entered the room followed by a tall, burly man, beady of eye and rubicund of visage.

“Sergeant-Major Morris, ” he said, introducing him.

The Sergeant-Major took hands and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly as his host got out whiskey and tumblers and stood a small copper kettle on the fire.

At the third glass his eyes got brighter, and he began to talk, the little family circle regarding with eager interest this visitor from distant parts, as he squared his broad shoulders in the chair and spoke of wild scenes and doughty deeds; of wars and plagues and strange peoples.

“Twenty-one years of it,” said Mr. White, nodding at his wife and son. “When he went away he was a slip of a youth in the warehouse. Now look at him.”

“He don’t look to have taken much harm.” said Mrs. White politely.

“I’d like to go to India myself,” said the old man, just to look around a bit, you know.”

“Better where you are,” said the Sergeant-Major, shaking his head. He put down the empty glass and sighning softly, shook it again.

“I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers,” said the old man. “what was that that you started telling me the other day about a monkey’s paw or something, Morris?” MORE

8 Comments on “Be careful what you wish for, you may receive it.”

  1. Oh, I’ve read this story about a hundred times – it’s gruesome but one of the ones that draws me back to ghost stories, which as a genre I love. If you also enjoy them, a few more great reads are ~

    The Portobello Road (Muriel Spark)
    The Ghost of Laploshka (Saki)
    The Limping Ghost (R. Chetwynd-Hayes)
    The Canterville Ghost (Oscar Wilde)
    The Empty House (Algernon Blackwood)
    The Judge’s House (Bram Stoker)
    Nearly anything by Algernon Blackwood, Sheridan Le Fanu and M.R. James.

    There also is another story in which a young man kills an old man by the name of Mr. Whitehead, but I cannot recall the name of it. I went looking for it once a few years back and, amazingly, found it, but am not now seeing it in any of the books I have on my shelves. I’m hoping I didn’t give the book away or something, because I’m also not seeing “The Judge’s House” in any of these books.

    If anyone recognizes that Mr. Whitehead story, can you please let me know 😀

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  2. That was great. I’ve read it before, but it still snared me. I felt compelled to read it through to the end!
    Bookmarked the site and will read until it is banned and silenced, or I am put into the Biden re-education camp.

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