Intensive dance rehearsals have begun for an upcoming show, subsequently reducing the time available for reading. Most of my reading in the past few days has been during the daily commute, and will continue to be so for the next two weeks at least. I picked up a short story yesterday – one I had read a very long time ago, that happened to come to mind while browsing for something else. Many might be familiar with “The Monkey’s Paw” – a supernatural short story by W.W.Jacobs, originally published in 1902. This was then featured in a 1911 publication titled “The Lady Of The Barge” – a collection of stories by W.W.Jacobs. Written in three parts, the theme of the story is being careful what one wishes for. We need to be prepared to face the consequences of our actions – a dark tale that leaves behind a lasting impression and a lesson for life.
A gist of the story for those not familiar with it. The Monkey’s Paw revolves around Mr and Mrs White, and their grown-up son, Herbert. The family receives a visitor one night – Sergeant Major Morris – a friend who had served with the British Army in India. Morris narrates to them tales of a monkey’s paw, on which a spell was placed by an old fakir, that Bestows upon the owner the gift of three wishes. Since each owner receives only three wishes, once the three are up, the talisman can be handed over to another person. Morris has already utilized his quota, but warns the White family about the consequences when the wishes are granted. Once their visitor leaves, Herbert suggests asking for two hundred pounds to make the mortgage payment of the house, and Mr White wishes upon the monkey’s paw. The next day, Herbert leaves for work at a factory, and the parents are paid a visit by a representative from the firm, bringing news that their son was killed in a machinery accident, and the firm is compensating the aged parents with two hundred pounds. Days and weeks pass after their son’s death, and Mrs White – still stricken with grief – suggests that the monkey’s paw can Bestow their second wish and bring their son back to life. Soon enough, a knock is heard on the door. Mr White recollects their child being severely mutilated by falling through machinery, and now further decomposed on account of being buried for almost two weeks. Is the Herbert knocking at their door actually their son? He refuses to open the door and the pounding turns more incessant. Mrs White rushes down, unwilling to pay heed to her husband’s worries. The story ends with her opening the door, and no one being there – alluding to the possibility that Mr White made the third wish.
A very creepy tale, reminiscent of old school horror. Give this one a read if you haven’t, and if you have already read it, it’s worth revisiting. A classic horror story that also works as a cautionary tale. A plain old moral of being careful what one wishes for – when it comes true, it might be more than what one bargained for. The story highlights the fact about what happens when one attempts to change fate. A quick read that brings in the chills. You can have a look at the story here.