Sergeant major Morris took a slow drink from his cup; then he put a hand inside his pocket. ‘Look at it,’ he said. On his hand was a small, dry, little paw*. It was very old.
Herbert took it from the sergeant major and looked at it closely. He gave it to his father. ‘What is special about it?’ Herbert asked. He put it on the table. It did not feel very nice.
‘A strange old man put a spell* on it,’ Sergeant major Morris told them. ‘The spell gave three different people three wishes* each.’
‘What is bad about that?’ Mr White asked. ‘Sounds good to me!’
‘Wishes are dangerous,’ said Morris. Suddenly, he looked afraid.
‘Did you have three wishes?’ Herbert asked.
‘Yes,’ said Morris. His face went white and his hand shook. He took a drink from his cup.
‘Did the wishes come true?’ Herbert asked excitedly.
‘Yes,’ said Morris quietly.
‘Did anyone else ask for three wishes?’ Herbert went on.
‘The first owner of the paw had his three wishes,’ Morris told him. ‘I don’t know his first two wishes – but his last one was for death.’
All the people in the room went quiet. The wind outside howled*.
‘I don’t understand,’ said Mr White. ‘Why do you keep it?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Morris, and shook his head. ‘I thought about selling it, but nobody wants to buy it. They think it is a fairy story*. Some want to try it first and then buy.’ He picked up the paw and looked at it. Suddenly he threw it on the fire.
Mr White cried out and took it out the fire before it burned.
‘Better to let it burn,’ said Morris.
‘Can I have it?’ asked Mr White suddenly.
‘The fire is the best place for it,’ said Morris.
Mr White shook his head and smiled. He put the monkey’s paw in his pocket. `You worry too much. How do you do it? How do you make a wish?’
‘You hold it in your right hand and make the wish, but I must tell you of the danger.’
‘It sounds like a fairy story to me,’ said Mrs White and stood up.
Herbert and Mr White laughed. Mr White took it from his pocket again. Morris got hold of his arm and looked him in the eye. ‘I warn you… wish for something good.’
Adaption by eflshorts.com
paw* = an animal’s foot
spell* = words that have magical power
wishes* = a hope or a desire
howled* = blew hard and made a noise
fairy story* = a tale, a fictional story