Title: The Monkey's Paw (originally The Lady of the Barge).
Author: W.W. Jacobs.
Genre: Short stories, horror, humour, naval fiction, romance.
Publication Date: 1902.
Summary: A collection of 12 short stories. In The Monkey's Paw, when an old man doesn't heed warnings and uses a monkey's paw that allegedly grants its bearer three wishes, he realizes too late that the wishes come at a terrible cost. In The Lady of the Barge, when a mate invites a young lady on a trip on his brother-in-law's barge but has a lover's quarrel with her, he cooks up a half-baked plan to get back at both her and his brother-in-law through his sister's jealous nature. In Bill's Paper Chase, three crewmen on a boat try to figure out how to get to a sudden fortune that one of them has hidden a little too out of reach, while keeping their suspicions of each other and their own greed in check. In The Well, a young man on the verge of marriages is haunted by a dark deed having to do with his cousin's attempt to blackmail him for money. In Cupboard Love a family bands together to crack the case of a missing piece of jewelry, attempting to catch the thief red-handed, but when they set their plan into motion and mix in a batch of match-making, it quickly spirals humorously out of control. In The Library is a story where a man murders his business partner in a fit of rage, but runs into a problem when he attempts to plan out his next moves. In Captain Rogers, a man from a now-wealthy inn-keeper's distant criminal past resurfaces and blackmails him to make his own fortune, but pushes his luck too far when he begins to make advances on the inn-keeper's step-daughter. In The Tiger's Skin, when a village begins to be terrorized by an escaped tiger from a nearby circus, not everything may be quite what it seems. In A Mixed Proposal, two suitors play chess for the right to ask the same lady for her hand first, with some additional conditions, but the lady may be more clever than both of them. In An Adulteration Act, when a doctor and a lawyer wake up on a barge headed for Hong Kong with no memories of how they got there, forced to work like common sailors, they must use all their wits and expertise to get out of the alarming situation. In A Golden Venture, when an elderly widow suddenly inherits a load of money, two suitors begin pursuing her, but some convoluted scheming reveals their intentions may be more financial than sentimental. In Three at Table, a man takes refuge in a solitary cottage overnight, but is chilled when his hosts ask him to take his dinner in the complete darkness because of their son's "light sensitivity," something the man soon comes to suspect as a lie.
My rating: 8/10.
♥ "To look at," said the sergeant-major, fumbling in his pocket, "it's just an ordinary little paw, dried to a mummy."
He took something out of his pocket and proffered it. Mrs. White drew back with a grimace, but her son, taking it, examined it curiously.
"And what is there special about it?" enquired Mr. White as he took it from his son, and having examined it, placed it upon the table.
"It had a spell put on it by an old fakir," said the sergeant-major, "a very holy man. He wanted to show that fate ruled people's lives, and that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow. He put a spell on it so that three separate men could each have three wishes from it."
~~The Monkey's Paw.
♥ A clothed man in the water savours of disaster and looks alarming.
♥ The skipper shook himself like a dog, but the mate lay on the deck inert in a puddle of water. Mrs. Gibbs frantically slapped his hands; and Miss Harris, bending over him, rendered first aid by kissing him wildly.
Captain Gibbs pushed her away. "He won't come round while you're a-kissing of him," he cried, roughly.
To his indignant surprise the drowned man opened one eye and winked acquiescence.
♥ They turned their heads once in the direction of the barge, and saw the justly incensed skipper keeping the mate's explanations and apologies at bay with a boat-hook.
~~The Lady of the Barge.
♥ Long before anybody else was astir he arose and stole softly downstairs. The sunlight was stealing in at every crevice, and flashing in long streaks across the darkened rooms. The dining-room into which he looked struck chill and cheerless in the dark yellow light which came through the lowered blinds. He remembered that it had the same appearance when his father lay dead in the house; now, as then, everything seemed ghastly and unreal; the very chairs standing as their occupants had left them the night before seemed to be indulging in some dark communication of ideas.
♥ "I searched her box through and through," said his niece, "but it wasn't there; then I came down again and had a rare good cry all to myself."
"That's the best way for you to have it," remarked Mr. Negget, feelingly.
♥ "We must play for first proposal," said the Major, firmly. "We're pretty evenly matched."
"Chess?" gasped the other, a whole world of protest in his tones.
"Chess," repeated the Major.
"It is hardly respectful," demurred Halibut. "What do you think the lady would do if she heard of it?"
"Laugh," replied the Major, with conviction.
~~A Mixed Proposal.
♥ In the smell of bilge-water, tar, and fœtid atmosphere generally his clouded brain awoke to the fact that he was aboard ship, but resolutely declined to inform him how he got there. He looked down in disgust at the ragged clothes which he had on in lieu of the usual pajamas; and then, as events slowly pieced themselves together in his mind, remembered, as the last thing that he could remember, that he had warned his friend Harry Thomson, solicitor, that if he had any more to drink it would not be good for him.
He wondered dimly as he stood whether Thomson was there too, and walking unsteadily round the forecastle, roused the sleepers, one by one, and asked them whether they were Harry Thomson, all answering with much fluency in the negative, until he came to one man who for some time made no answer at all.
The doctor shook him first and then punched him. Then he shook him again and gave him little scientific slaps, until at length Harry Thomson, in a far-away voice, said that he was all right.
"Well, I'm glad I'm not alone," said the doctor, selfishly. "Harry! Harry! Wake up!"
"All ri'!" said the sleeper; "I'm all ri'!"
The doctor shook him again, and then rolled him backward and forward in his bunk. Under this gentle treatment the solicitor's faculties were somewhat brightened, and, half opening his eyes, he punched viciously at the disturber of his peace, until threatening voices from the gloom promised to murder both of them.
♥ "I wonder what our poor wives are thinking? I expect they have put us down as dead."
"Crying their eyes out," said the doctor, wistfully; "but they'll dry them precious quick when we get back, and ask all sorts of questions. What are you going to say, Harry?"
"The truth," said the solicitor, virtuously.
"So am I," said his friend; "but mind, we must both tell the same tale, whatever it is."
♥ The master of the Stella made no reply, but rising feebly, tottered to the side, and shook his fist at the launch as it headed for the shore. Doctor Carson, who had had a pious upbringing, kissed his hand in return.
~~An Adulteration Act.
♥ "They seem in a hurry," said Wiggett. "I don't think I shall go there again."
"I don't think I shall," said Mr. Miller.
After this neither of them was surprised to meet there again the next night, and indeed for several nights. The carpenter and his wife, who did not want the money to go out of the family, and were also afraid of offending Mrs. Pullen, were at their wits' end what to do. Ultimately it was resolved that Tidger, in as delicate a manner as possible, was to hint to her that they were after her money. He was so vague and so delicate that Mrs. Pullen misunderstood him, and fancying that he was trying to borrow half a crown, made him a present of five shillings.
~~A Golden Venture.