A supernatural story (by W.W. Jacobs) about the problems that occur after a man makes three wishes using a monkey's paw.
Directions: Choose the word that is closest in meaning to the underlined word.
On a dark and stormy night, the three members of the White family relax inside their small house. Herbert is twenty five years old and works at a factory. His parents are too old to work. Herbert White and his father are playing a game of chess while Mrs. White reads a book near the fire. After his son wins, Mr. White complains about the terrible weather.
A family friend, Sergeant-Major Morris, arrives for a visit. While drinking whisky, he tells stories of his trips around the world. Then he takes a small, mummified paw out of his pocket. He explains that the paw is magic. He says that three men can make wishes with the paw three times each. The sergeant-major has already made his three wishes, which caused him many problems. Another man also made three wishes. His last wish was for death. Then the sergeant-major throws the paw into the fire. Mr. White quickly pulls it out of the fire. The sergeant-major warns him not to use the paw, but Mr. White will not listen. Eventually the sergeant-major explains how to make a wish on the paw. Soon after, he leaves for his own home.
The White family discusses what to wish for. Herbert says that they could pay for their house if they had two hundred pounds. Mr. White takes hold of the paw and wishes aloud for two hundred pounds. He suddenly cries out and says that the paw moved like a snake in his hand. Soon after, they all go to bed.
The next morning is a sunny winter day. They make jokes about the monkey’s paw. Then Herbert goes to work. Later that day, a stranger outside dressed in nice clothes knocks on the door. He nervously says that he is a representative of the factory where Herbert works. Mrs. White asks whether Herbert is all right. The representative says that Herbert is dead. He explains that Herbert was “caught in the machinery.” He tells them that the company will not take any responsibility for the death but will give the White Family two hundred pounds. Mrs. White screams, and Mr. White faints.
The next day, the Whites bury Herbert. A week after the burial, Mr. White wakes up and hears his wife crying. She tells him to go downstairs and wish Herbert back to life with the monkey’s paw. Mr. White resists. He tells her that Herbert’s body was so damaged by the accident that they could only identify his body by looking at his clothes. Mrs. White doesn’t listen, however, and continues to insist on wishing Herbert back to life with the monkey’s paw.
Mr. White gets the paw and makes the wish. As they wait, the candle goes out. They hear the clock. They hear the wind. They hear a mouse run across the floor. At last Mr. White goes downstairs. He tries to light a candle, but he can’t light a match. Then he hears a knock at the door. Mr. White runs upstairs and holds his wife. Mrs. White hears another knock and says it’s Herbert. She realizes he hadn’t returned right after the wish because he had to walk from the graveyard to their house. Mr. White begs her not to open the door, but she breaks free and runs downstairs. The knocking continues. As she tries to unlock the door, Mr. White searches for the paw. As Mrs. White unlocks the door, Mr. White finds the paw and makes one more wish. The knocking stops, and Mrs. White begins to cry. Mr. White runs downstairs and looks out through the door. He sees only the empty street.