Histoires terribles d’animaux, a Collection of Creepy Stories About Animals, TOC

HSTRSTRRBL1981Table of Contents

7 • Ménagerie fantastique (preface to Histoires terribles d’animaux) • essay by Jean-Baptiste Baronian
13 • Répertoire des auteurs • essay by uncredited
19 • Nos amis ailés • (1965) • short story by Philip MacDonald (trans. of Our Feathered Friends 1931)
31 • La maison natale • short story by Jean Muno
45 • À l’observatoire d’Avu • short story by H. G. Wells (trans. of In the Avu Observatory 1894) [as by Herbert George Wells]
55 • Le château • short story by Jean-Pierre Andrevon
63 • Le chat • short story by Gilles Bergal
75 • L’oracle du chien • [Father Brown] • short story by G. K. Chesterton (trans. of The Oracle of the Dog 1923) [as by Gilbert Keith Chesterton]
99 • Un regard innocent • short story by Vladimir Colin
109 • Les sermons du perroquet • short story by Douglas Jerrold (trans. of The Preacher Parrot) [as by Douglas William Jerrold]
131 • Adramelech • short story by Daniel Walther
151 • Huile de chien • (1965) • short story by Ambrose Bierce (trans. of Oil of Dog 1890)
159 • L’amante • short story by Jean-Pierre Bours
173 • Lettre à une amie en voyage • short story by Julio Cortázar (trans. of Carta a una señorita en París 1951)
183 • Puce-ma-puce • novelette by Gaston Compère
213 • Belzébuth • short story by Robert Bloch (trans. of Beelzebub 1963)
225 • Chat • short story by Pierre Dubois
237 • La main de singe • short story by W. W. Jacobs (trans. of The Monkey’s Paw 1902)

Rue Morgue #176! Are You Reading It?

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INSIDE ISSUE #176

FEATURES

TWILIGHT OF THE GODS Series creators Bryan Fuller and Michael Green bring Neil Gaiman’s American Gods to network television. Plus: Vincenzo Natali on directing Crispin Glover, Dark Horse’s American Gods comic and a look back at Gaiman’s novel. By Andrea Subissati, Pedro Cabezuelo and Jess Peacock

THE GREAT AND SECRET SHOWMAN The life and legacy of cultural boogeyman Anton Szandor LaVey on the 20th anniversary of his death. Plus: the occult in fashion and a few words with 3teeth frontman Lex. By Sean Plummer, Benoit Black and Andrea Subissati

THE WONDER FEARS The Watcher in the Woods director John Hough takes us back to the Disney movie that traumatized a generation of tots. Plus: a look at Disney’s dark side. By Amy Seidman and Paul Corup

CHAINSAW AND DAVE’S CLASS REUNION Summer School’s lovable gorehounds celebrate 30 years of the characters who made being a horror fan cool. Plus: a dossier of horror devotees. By Jeff Szpirglas and Tal Zimerman

DEPARTMENTS

NOTE FROM UNDERGROUND Andrea says hello.

POST-MORTEM Letters from fans, readers and weirdos

DREADLINES News highlights, horror happenings

THE CORONER’S REPORT Weird stats, morbid facts and more

NEEDFUL THINGS Strange trinkets from our bazaar of the bizarre

CINEMACABRE The latest films, the newest DVDs and reissues feat. The Void

THE LATE-NITE ARCHIVE I Bury the Living

BOWEN’S BASEMENT The Horror of Party Beach

BLOOD IN FOUR COLOURS Comics feat. Not Drunk Enough

THE NINTH CIRCLE Book reviews feat. John Cornell’s Chalk

THE FRIGHT GALLERY The spooky works of Eric Millen

THE GORE-MET Human Pork Chop and Dr. Lamb

AUDIO DROME Music reviews feat. new album from Ghoultown

PLAY DEAD Game reviews feat. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

CLASSIC CUT The Cat and the Canary

Source and Buying Info:

http://www.rue-morgue.com/online-store/Rue-Morgue-176-May-Jun-2017-p83323287

Return of the Swallows, a Creepy Short Story by Norman Prentiss—Part of His “Apocolypse a Day” Blog Series…

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Return of the Swallows

Every year, at the end of a week of festivities, a flock of migratory swallows used to arrive at the Great Stone Church in San Juan Capistrano, greeted with cheers from sightseers. The sky was black with the shapes of birds returning from winter in Goya, Argentina. The swallows built nests beneath the arches and eaves of the ruined church.

In recent years, few swallows came to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. Restoration of parts of the ruined church destroyed many nests and nesting places. Man-made nests were placed beneath a prominent archway, hoping to tempt annual visitors, but the effort failed.

The celebrations continue, however. Tourists from all over gather to celebrate the week-long Fiesta de las Golondrinas, and on March 19 (the feast of St. Joseph), mariachi bands and Spanish and Native American dancers entertain the vast crowd. At noon, a bell-ringing ceremony commences, calling the birds. Perhaps a few will come, but never in the tremendous numbers of the past.

“We are always looking for them,” a resident says this year, her face brimming with unfounded hope.

Tourists turn to the bank of bell towers, raising their phones to record the clamor. They photograph the swinging ropes, the clappers striking metal bells, the scenic sun-dappled stone of the ruined church, but few of them bother to look to the sky.

A shadow falls over the Mission, darkening the images on camera and cell phone screens. A distant, overhead squawking begins to soar over the clamor of the bells.

“They’re back,” someone yells, and cameras and phones swivel, necks crane upward.

Like in years past, like in the famous song, the swallows come back to Capistrano.

The sky is almost entirely black, but it is a black that ripples like an ocean. Wings flap, and the cry of multiple birds is so loud that many tourists cover their ears. The bellringers stop pulling the ropes, so the birds make the only sound.

It is not a birdsong or mating call. The birds sound angry.

“This is more than I remember,” an old gentleman remarks. “Many, many more.”

It’s as if there is not enough room in the sky. The birds fight for space, and the dark ocean of feathers seethes with violent waves.

A group of tourists scream and jump away from where they’ve been standing. On the ground, a dying bird flaps its wings. Its eyes have been pecked out. The feather pattern, usually a mix of grays with white patches, is entirely dark with grime, as if the bird has been rolled in tar or oil. The bird has four legs that struggle in the air as it dies.

Other birds begin to fall from the sky, their grime-soaked bodies pecked and bleeding, some with two eyes pecked out, but another pair above, blinking; most with extra legs, a few with an extra head.

Tourists and locals alike seek shelter amid the ruined stones of the Mission, unaware what disaster struck in the southern hemisphere…only to migrate here in a dark, bilious cloud, then continue to spread as dead and dying birds rain onto the church courtyard.

– Norman Prentiss, March 19, 2017

Read More of Norman Prentiss’ Horror Fiction here…

The Roost, a Pretty Cool Ti West “Retro-Horror” Film

MV5BMTczMzIzMTczN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDgwNjYzMQ@@._V1_‘These days, it’s extremely rare that an internship will lead to a full-time job. It’s rarer still, as an aspiring filmmaker, for an internship to lead directly to your first professional directing effort. However, that’s what happened with director Ti West, who interned under producer/actor Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix. Fessenden was impressed by West’s student films, so when West pitched him a feature idea about a pack of killer bats called THE ROOST, Fessenden was quick to come onboard as executive producer. Released in 2005 with intentions as a modest, low-budget throwback to cheesy horror films from the 1980’s, THE ROOST exceeded all expectations. West’s confident direction propelled it to a warm reception at various film festivals, effectively launching his career as a feature filmmaker worth watching.

THE ROOST follows four friends driving through dark woods en route to a Halloween wedding, when suddenly a renegade bat surprises them and causes the car to swerve into a ditch. Unable to free the car, the friends set off into the night to search for help. They come across a dilapidated barn and take shelter from the elements, but it’s not long until they discover that they’ve wandered directly into the bats’ roost, and their bite has the power to turn the bitten into bloodthirsty zombies.

One of the film’s peculiar quirks is the use of a framing device that resembles those late-night horror movie presentations introduced by a ghoulish host. West’s fictional show, which he calls Frightmare Theatre, places the macabre host inside of a chintzy, gothic castle and takes time out of THE ROOST’s narrative so that he can crack blackly humorous jokes. This bookending conceit boasts the film’s one recognizable face, in the form of Tom Noonan (famous for his portrayal of The Tooth Fairy in Michael Mann’s classic MANHUNTER (1986). Noonan is pitch perfect as the droll, Vincent Price-esque Master of Ceremonies, his naturally-gangly physicality adding to the cheesy spookiness on display. Securing the services of Noonan was THE ROOST’s ultimate coup, as his name brought a great deal of legitimacy to West’s efforts.

The cast inside of THE ROOST’s main narrative doesn’t fare as well, unfortunately. West casts a quartet of unknowns (Karl Jacob, Vanessa Horneff, Sean Reid, and Will Horneff) that are most likely friends of his from film school or from local auditions. The characters are standard horror archetypes: the bookish nerd, the sassy girl, the stubborn stoner, and the virtuous alpha male. Not a lot is required of the actors other than to scream and run on cue, which to be fair, they all do effectively. Otherwise, the performances are wooden and uninspired. There’s a reason why none of them broke out along with West in the wake of the film’s success. On the brighter side, Fessenden himself appears towards the end in a cameo as a tow-truck driver attacked by the flock of bats.

MV5BMjA4Njk5MzM0NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTgzNTYyMQ@@._V1_Of the filmmakers in my generation, West is unique in that he mostly shoots on film. Since he’s also shot a feature on video, I don’t think he necessarily prefers film to video, but I do think his old-fashioned aesthetic demands film because video can’t replicate it (at least it couldn’t when THE ROOST was made). West is a capable cinematographer in his own right, but he’s probably like me in that his shooting on actual film tests the limits of his skills when he’s also directing. The mechanics and mathematic calculations inherent in film is best left to a dedicated cinematographer, so West entrusts the Super 16mm photography to DP Eric Robbins. The aesthetic of THE ROOST is relatively unadorned, with the majority of camerawork being handheld. Robbins’ lighting setup is low-key, with lurid colors similar to the carnival-esque aesthetic of Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003). It embraces the lo-fi natures of 16mm film, creating a similar look to the heyday of VHS horror. The color red is used specifically for effect, popping out of the darkness and flashed in gory freeze frames. The Frighthouse Theatre segment gets its own particular look, with black and white photography filtered to resemble an old TV broadcast. Production Designer David Bell populates the set with loads of cheesy gothic objects and dressing, completing West’s tongue-in-macabre-cheek vision.

West also incorporates storytelling elements whose influence comes from unexpected places, like Michael Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES (1997). Three quarters of the way through the film, the story abruptly ends with the surviving characters giving up and accepting their fate. Noonan’s unhappy host returns, expressing his disapproval of the ending, so he actually rewinds the film and plays it back to show the alternate, definitive ending. Haneke did the same thing in his film, toying with his audience by presenting false hope only to snatch defeat from the jaws of triumph.

Composer Jeff Grace also received a modest breakout with THE ROOST, having previously assisted Howard Shore in his work on THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY for Peter Jackson and GANGS OF NEW YORK for Martin Scorsese. He crafts an ominous, discordant suite of cues where shrieking string instruments evoke the terror of killer bats. He also uses a gothic organ in the Frighmare Theatre scenes that further lends to the intended cheesiness. Diagetically, West incorporates a few underground punk songs into the mix, giving us a little view into his own particular musical tastes. The sound mix as a whole is incredibly strong for a film this low-budget. Graham Reznick serves as the sound designer, turning in what would be the first of many mixes he’d create for West over the years.

THE ROOST immediately differentiates itself from other indie horror films because of its old-school aesthetic. While most directors of our generation are trying to make slick, glossy horror films with digital cameras, West is appropriating the look of a by-gone era and making it his own. There’s a distinct charm in his approach, a palpable soul. In taking this old-school approach, the evidence of West’s craft and direction becomes more visible. Filmed mainly in West’s native Delaware, THE ROOST is the first appearance of a peculiar signature of West’s, namely that the story revolves around a singular locale. This signature may be borne out of the needs of low-budget indie filmmaking where the locations budget is sorely lacking, but in THE ROOST, West uses it to his advantage to paint a compelling portrait of the abandoned barn in which our characters take refuge.

THE ROOST is stuffed with references to various non-filmic Halloween-time media traditions, like spooky radio shows and the aforementioned Frightmare Theatre presentation. It’s difficult to tell how much—if any—inspiration is sourced from Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, which was a similarly old-fashioned horror jaunt that premiered only two years prior to production on THE ROOST. Knowing their shared affinity for 80’s horror, it’s unlikely that West didn’t like Zombie’s film—which makes the similarities to Zombie’s own debut hard to ignore. For example, both films open with the cheesy, late-night Frightmare Theatre conceit.

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DVD Cover

THE ROOST leveraged Fessenden’s name to draw attention to itself during its South by Southwest festival premiere. But once West filled out the auditorium, attention shifted directly on him, with several critics and horror blogs naming THE ROOST as one of the best films of the year. Now, THE ROOST isn’t a great film by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a serviceable entry in the genre, mostly notable for that fact that it is West’s debut. His direction shows the signs of a young filmmaker, frequently indulging in awkward, unnecessary exposition. But with his effective direction of the horror sequences and convincing visual effects, West is able to hit where it really counts. The film was eventually picked up for distribution by Showtime—quite the feat for any aspiring filmmaker. With the success of THE ROOST, West had staked his territory in the genre and established himself as a director to watch.

THE ROOST is currently available on standard definition DVD via Showtime Entertainment.’

Source: http://directorsseries.tumblr.com/post/63594474037/ti-west-the-roost-2005

The Monkey’s Paw, a Perfect Little Horror Story by W. W. Jacobs (1902)

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I.

Without, the night was cold and wet, but in the small parlour of Laburnam
Villa the blinds were drawn and the fire burned brightly. Father and son
were at chess, the former, 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 to-night,” 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
torrent. I don’t know what people are thinking about. I suppose because
only two houses in 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 Morris,” he said, introducing him.

The sergeant-major shook hands, and taking the proffered seat by the
fire, watched contentedly while his host got out whiskey 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 wild 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.

“I’d like to go to India myself,” said the old man, “just to look round a
bit, you know.”

“Better where you are,” said the sergeant-major, shaking his head. He
put down the empty glass, and sighing softly, shook it again.

“I should like to see those old temples and fakirs and jugglers,” said
the old man. “What was that you started telling me the other day about a
monkey’s paw or something, Morris?”

“Nothing,” said the soldier, hastily. “Leastways nothing worth hearing.”

“Monkey’s paw?” said Mrs. White, curiously.

“Well, it’s just a bit of what you might call magic, perhaps,” said the
sergeant-major, offhandedly.

His three listeners leaned forward eagerly. The visitor absent-mindedly
put his empty glass to his lips and then set it down again. His host
filled it for him.

“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?” inquired 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.”

His manner was so impressive that his hearers were conscious that their
light laughter jarred somewhat.

“Well, why don’t you have three, sir?” said Herbert White, cleverly.

The soldier regarded him in the way that middle age is wont to regard
presumptuous youth. “I have,” he said, quietly, and his blotchy face
whitened.

“And did you really have the three wishes granted?” asked Mrs. White.

“I did,” said the sergeant-major, and his glass tapped against his strong
teeth.

“And has anybody else wished?” persisted the old lady.

“The first man had his three wishes. Yes,” was the reply; “I don’t know
what the first two were, but the third was for death. That’s how I got
the paw.”

His tones were so grave that a hush fell upon the group.

“If you’ve had your three wishes, it’s no good to you now, then, Morris,”
said the old man at last. “What do you keep it for?”

The soldier shook his head. “Fancy, I suppose,” he said, slowly. “I did
have some idea of selling it, but I don’t think I will. It has caused
enough mischief already. Besides, people won’t buy. They think it’s a
fairy tale; some of them, and those who do think anything of it want to
try it first and pay me afterward.”

“If you could have another three wishes,” said the old man, eyeing him
keenly, “would you have them?”

“I don’t know,” said the other. “I don’t know.”

He took the paw, and dangling it between his forefinger and thumb,
suddenly threw it upon the fire. White, with a slight cry, stooped down
and snatched it off.

“Better let it burn,” said the soldier, solemnly.

“If you don’t want it, Morris,” said the other, “give it to me.”

“I won’t,” said his friend, doggedly. “I threw it on the fire. If you
keep it, don’t blame me for what happens. Pitch it on the fire again
like a sensible man.”

The other shook his head and examined his new possession closely. “How
do you do it?” he inquired.

“Hold it up in your right hand and wish aloud,” said the sergeant-major,
“but I warn you of the consequences.”

“Sounds like the Arabian Nights,” said Mrs. White, as she rose and began
to set the supper. “Don’t you think you might wish for four pairs of
hands for me?”

Her husband drew the talisman from pocket, and then all three burst into
laughter as the sergeant-major, with a look of alarm on his face, caught
him by the arm.

“If you must wish,” he said, gruffly, “wish for something sensible.”

Mr. White dropped it back in his pocket, and placing chairs, motioned his
friend to the table. In the business of supper the talisman was partly
forgotten, and afterward the three sat listening in an enthralled fashion
to a second instalment of the soldier’s adventures in India.

“If the tale about the monkey’s paw is not more truthful than those he
has been telling us,” said Herbert, as the door closed behind their
guest, just in time for him to catch the last train, “we sha’nt make much
out of it.”

“Did you give him anything for it, father?” inquired Mrs. White,
regarding her husband closely.

“A trifle,” said he, colouring slightly. “He didn’t want it, but I made
him take it. And he pressed me again to throw it away.”

“Likely,” said Herbert, with pretended horror. “Why, we’re going to be
rich, and famous and happy. Wish to be an emperor, father, to begin
with; then you can’t be henpecked.”

He darted round the table, pursued by the maligned Mrs. White armed with
an antimacassar.

Mr. White took the paw from his pocket and eyed it dubiously. “I don’t
know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said, slowly. “It seems to
me I’ve got all I want.”

“If you only cleared the house, you’d be quite happy, wouldn’t you?”
said Herbert, with his hand on his shoulder. “Well, wish for two hundred
pounds, then; that ‘ll just do it.”

His father, smiling shamefacedly at his own credulity, held up the
talisman, as his son, with a solemn face, somewhat marred by a wink at
his mother, sat down at the piano and struck a few impressive chords.

“I wish for two hundred pounds,” said the old man distinctly.

A fine crash from the piano greeted the words, interrupted by a
shuddering cry from the old man. His wife and son ran toward him.

“It moved,” he cried, with a glance of disgust at the object as it lay on
the floor.

“As I wished, it twisted in my hand like a snake.”

“Well, I don’t see the money,” said his son as he picked it up and placed
it on the table, “and I bet I never shall.”

“It must have been your fancy, father,” said his wife, regarding him
anxiously.

He shook his head. “Never mind, though; there’s no harm done, but it
gave me a shock all the same.”

They sat down by the fire again while the two men finished their pipes.
Outside, the wind was higher than ever, and the old man started nervously
at the sound of a door banging upstairs. A silence unusual and
depressing settled upon all three, which lasted until the old couple rose
to retire for the night.

“I expect you’ll find the cash tied up in a big bag in the middle of your
bed,” said Herbert, as he bade them good-night, “and something horrible
squatting up on top of the wardrobe watching you as you pocket your
ill-gotten gains.”

He sat alone in the darkness, gazing at the dying fire, and seeing faces
in it. The last face was so horrible and so simian that he gazed at it
in amazement.’ It got so vivid that, with a little uneasy laugh, he felt
on the table for a glass containing a little water to throw over it. His
hand grasped the monkey’s paw, and with a little shiver he wiped his hand
on his coat and went up to bed.

II.

In the brightness of the wintry sun next morning as it streamed over the
breakfast table he laughed at his fears. There was an air of prosaic
wholesomeness about the room which it had lacked on the previous night,
and the dirty, shrivelled little paw was pitched on the sideboard with a
carelessness which betokened no great belief in its virtues.

“I suppose all old soldiers are the same,” said Mrs. White. “The idea of
our listening to such nonsense! How could wishes be granted in these
days? And if they could, how could two hundred pounds hurt you, father?”

“Might drop on his head from the sky,” said the frivolous Herbert.

“Morris said the things happened so naturally,” said’ his father, “that
you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence.”

“Well, don’t break into the money before I come back,” said Herbert as he
rose from the table. “I’m afraid it’ll turn you into a mean, avaricious
man, and we shall have to disown you.”

His mother laughed, and following him to the door, watched him down the
road; and returning to the breakfast table, was very happy at the expense
of her husband’s credulity. All of which did not prevent her from
scurrying to the door at the postman’s knock, nor prevent her from
referring somewhat shortly to retired sergeant-majors of bibulous habits
when she found that the post brought a tailor’s bill.

“Herbert will have some more of his funny remarks, I expect, when he
comes home,” she said, as they sat at dinner.

“I dare say,” said Mr. White, pouring himself out some beer; “but for all
that, the thing moved in my hand; that I’ll swear to.”

“You thought it did,” said the old lady soothingly.

“I say it did,” replied the other. “There was no thought about it; I had
just—- What’s the matter?”

His wife made no reply. She was watching the mysterious movements of a
man outside, who, peering in an undecided fashion at the house, appeared
to be trying to make up his mind to enter. In mental connection with the
two hundred pounds, she noticed that the stranger was well dressed, and
wore a silk hat of glossy newness. Three times he paused at the gate,
and then walked on again. The fourth time he stood with his hand upon
it, and then with sudden resolution flung it open and walked up the path.
Mrs. White at the same moment placed her hands behind her, and hurriedly
unfastening the strings of her apron, put that useful article of apparel
beneath the cushion of her chair.

She brought the stranger, who seemed ill at ease, into the room. He
gazed at her furtively, and listened in a preoccupied fashion as the old
lady apologized for the appearance of the room, and her husband’s coat, a
garment which he usually reserved for the garden. She then waited as
patiently as her sex would permit, for him to broach his business, but he
was at first strangely silent.

“I–was asked to call,” he said at last, and stooped and picked a piece
of cotton from his trousers. “I come from ‘Maw and Meggins.'”

The old lady started. “Is anything the matter?” she asked,
breathlessly. “Has anything happened to Herbert? What is it? What is
it?”

Her husband interposed. “There, there, mother,” he said, hastily. “Sit
down, and don’t jump to conclusions. You’ve not brought bad news, I’m
sure, sir;” and he eyed the other wistfully.

“I’m sorry–” began the visitor.

“Is he hurt?” demanded the mother, wildly.

The visitor bowed in assent. “Badly hurt,” he said, quietly, “but he is
not in any pain.”

“Oh, thank God!” said the old woman, clasping her hands. “Thank God for
that! Thank–”

She broke off suddenly as the sinister meaning of the assurance dawned
upon her and she saw the awful confirmation of her fears in the other’s
perverted face. She caught her breath, and turning to her slower-witted
husband, laid her trembling old hand upon his. There was a long silence.

“He was caught in the machinery,” said the visitor at length in a low
voice.

“Caught in the machinery,” repeated Mr. White, in a dazed fashion, “yes.”

He sat staring blankly out at the window, and taking his wife’s hand
between his own, pressed it as he had been wont to do in their old
courting-days nearly forty years before.

“He was the only one left to us,” he said, turning gently to the visitor.
“It is hard.”

The other coughed, and rising, walked slowly to the window. “The firm
wished me to convey their sincere sympathy with you in your great loss,”
he said, without looking round. “I beg that you will understand I am
only their servant and merely obeying orders.”

There was no reply; the old woman’s face was white, her eyes staring, and
her breath inaudible; on the husband’s face was a look such as his friend
the sergeant might have carried into his first action.

“I was to say that Maw and Meggins disclaim all responsibility,”
continued the other. “They admit no liability at all, but in
consideration of your son’s services, they wish to present you with
a certain sum as compensation.”

Mr. White dropped his wife’s hand, and rising to his feet, gazed with a
look of horror at his visitor. His dry lips shaped the words, “How
much?”

“Two hundred pounds,” was the answer.

Unconscious of his wife’s shriek, the old man smiled faintly, put out his
hands like a sightless man, and dropped, a senseless heap, to the floor.

III.

In the huge new cemetery, some two miles distant, the old people buried
their dead, and came back to a house steeped in shadow and silence. It
was all over so quickly that at first they could hardly realize it, and
remained in a state of expectation as though of something else to happen
–something else which was to lighten this load, too heavy for old hearts
to bear.

But the days passed, and expectation gave place to resignation–the
hopeless resignation of the old, sometimes miscalled, apathy. Sometimes
they hardly exchanged a word, for now they had nothing to talk about, and
their days were long to weariness.

It was about a week after that the old man, waking suddenly in the night,
stretched out his hand and found himself alone. The room was in
darkness, and the sound of subdued weeping came from the window. He
raised himself in bed and listened.

“Come back,” he said, tenderly. “You will be cold.”

“It is colder for my son,” said the old woman, and wept afresh.

The sound of her sobs died away on his ears. The bed was warm, and his
eyes heavy with sleep. He dozed fitfully, and then slept until a sudden
wild cry from his wife awoke him with a start.

“The paw!” she cried wildly. “The monkey’s paw!”

He started up in alarm. “Where? Where is it? What’s the matter?”

She came stumbling across the room toward him. “I want it,” she said,
quietly. “You’ve not destroyed it?”

“It’s in the parlour, on the bracket,” he replied, marvelling. “Why?”

She cried and laughed together, and bending over, kissed his cheek.

“I only just thought of it,” she said, hysterically. “Why didn’t I think
of it before? Why didn’t you think of it?”

“Think of what?” he questioned.

“The other two wishes,” she replied, rapidly.

“We’ve only had one.”

“Was not that enough?” he demanded, fiercely.

“No,” she cried, triumphantly; “we’ll have one more. Go down and get it
quickly, and wish our boy alive again.”

The man sat up in bed and flung the bedclothes from his quaking limbs.
“Good God, you are mad!” he cried, aghast.

“Get it,” she panted; “get it quickly, and wish–Oh, my boy, my boy!”

Her husband struck a match and lit the candle. “Get back to bed,” he
said, unsteadily. “You don’t know what you are saying.”

“We had the first wish granted,” said the old woman, feverishly; “why not
the second?”

“A coincidence,” stammered the old man.

“Go and get it and wish,” cried his wife, quivering with excitement.

The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. “He has been
dead ten days, and besides he–I would not tell you else, but–I could
only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to
see then, how now?”

“Bring him back,” cried the old woman, and dragged him toward the door.
“Do you think I fear the child I have nursed?”

He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then
to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear
that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he
could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as
he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with
sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until
he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his
hand.

Even his wife’s face seemed changed as he entered the room. It was white
and expectant, and to his fears seemed to have an unnatural look upon it.
He was afraid of her.

“Wish!” she cried, in a strong voice.

“It is foolish and wicked,” he faltered.

“Wish!” repeated his wife.

He raised his hand. “I wish my son alive again.”

The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he
sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked
to the window and raised the blind.

He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the
figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle-end,
which had burned below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing
pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger
than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of
relief at the failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a
minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically
beside him.

Neither spoke, but lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A
stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall.
The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up
his courage, he took the box of matches, and striking one, went
downstairs for a candle.

At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike
another; and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be
scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.

The matches fell from his hand and spilled in the passage. He stood
motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he
turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him.
A third knock sounded through the house.

“What’s that?” cried the old woman, starting up.

“A rat,” said the old man in shaking tones–“a rat. It passed me on the
stairs.”

His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the
house.

“It’s Herbert!” she screamed. “It’s Herbert!”

She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by
the arm, held her tightly.

“What are you going to do?” he whispered hoarsely.

“It’s my boy; it’s Herbert!” she cried, struggling mechanically.
“I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go.
I must open the door.

“For God’s sake don’t let it in,” cried the old man, trembling.

“You’re afraid of your own son,” she cried, struggling. “Let me go. I’m
coming, Herbert; I’m coming.”

There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench
broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing,
and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the
chain rattle back and the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the
socket. Then the old woman’s voice, strained and panting.

“The bolt,” she cried, loudly. “Come down. I can’t reach it.”

But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in
search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got
in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he
heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage
against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly
back, and at the same moment he found the monkey’s paw, and frantically
breathed his third and last wish.

The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the
house. He heard the chair drawn back, and the door opened. A cold wind
rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and
misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then
to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet
and deserted road.

– W. W. Jacobs, from The Lady of the Barge & Others*, 1902

* “The Lady of the Barge is an anthology of short stories by W.W. Jacobs, first published in 1902. Many of Jacobs’ most famous short stories were included in this collection.” (Wiki)


Source:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/12122/12122-h/12122-h.htm

“The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Monkey’s Paw, by W.W. Jacobs. This ebook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at (www.gutenberg.net). Originally published in the book: The Lady of the Barge and Others, Part 2, by W.W. Jacobs.”

Illustration for “The Moth” — a Story by H. G. Wells

0345a7_108831c4b2214026ae00fe2339275f58

Art by Geoff Woodbridge for Old Style Press.