Sergeant Major Morris finished his stories and his supper*. It was time for him to leave and catch his train. They all said goodnight, and Mr White closed the door behind his friend.
‘I wonder*…’ said Herbert. ‘Is the story about the monkey’s paw is true?’
Mr White said nothing.
`Did you give him some money for the little paw?’ Mrs White asked.
‘A little,’ said Mr White. `He didn’t want anything. He told me to throw* the paw away.’
`Well,’ said Herbert with a smile, `we are going to be rich, famous and happy. Wish to be a king* father!’
Mr White took the monkey’s paw out of his pocket and looked at it. ‘I have everything that I want,’ he said, looking at his family with love. ‘Even kings don’t have that.’
`What about buying the house?’ Herbert said excitedly. `We only need two hundred pounds.’
`Now that is a good idea,’ said Mr White and smiled at his wife. He held the monkey’s paw up high in his right hand. `I wish for two hundred pounds,’ he said; but suddenly he cried out and dropped the paw. His wife and son ran to him.
‘It moved!’ he said, looking at the paw. It was now on the floor. ‘It moved in my hand.’
‘Well,’ said Herbert, `I don’t see any money.’ He picked up the monkey’s paw and put it on the table.
`Did you really feel that?’ asked Mrs White.
Mr White shook his head. Now, he was not so sure. `Never mind*, no one was hurt. I am old and I get afraid easily.’
They sat by the fire and stared at the flames*. The wind outside grew stronger and the windows shook. No one spoke. Finally, Mr and Mrs White got up and went to bed.
‘Goodnight,’ said Herbert. `Perhaps the money is in a big bag in the middle of your bed,’ he said and laughed. His parents heard him, but they said nothing.
Alone, Herbert sat and stared* into the fire. At first, he felt good: the room was warm and the fire was bright, but then he began to see faces, faces in the fire. He watched. At first, the faces were not frightening, but then the faces began to change. The last face was so terrible he nearly cried out. He got up quickly from his chair and put a hand on the table. By accident, he touched the little paw. This time, he cried out.
supper*– a small evening meal
wonder* – feel curious about, want to know more about
throw* – move something through the air with force
king* – male ruler
Never mind* – forget about it, don’t worry
flames* – fire
stared*– kept his eyes on, didn’t look away