Good Reading : March 2007
BOOKBITE O O short story by WW Jacobs the monkey’s paw part 1 50 goodreading ı MARCH 2007 I Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Labur num Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire bur ned brightly. Father and son were at chess, the for mer, who possessed ideas about the game involving radical changes, 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’d 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,’ bawled 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. Pathway’s a bog, and the road’s a tor rent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because only two houses on 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 Mor ris,’ he said, introducing him. The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whisky 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 strange 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.