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"The Monkey's Paw" by W.W. Jacobs was first published as a magazine article in 1902, and it is now a famous example of the surprise-ending genre.
The story takes place in the quiet home of the White family, Mr. and Mrs. White and their grown son Herbert. The family receives a visitor tonight, the Sergeant-Major, who tells them stories about his time in India. One of the things he tells them about is a magical monkey's paw which is supposed to grant three wishes to whoever has it.
While that may sound like something wonderful to own, the Sergeant-Major tells the Whites that one man who possessed it has already been killed, and the officer starts to throw the talisman into the fire. Mr. White stops him and ends up with it by the end of the night. The Sergeant-Major leaves them with one piece of advice:
"If you must wish," he said gruffly, "wish for something sensible."
Once their visitor is gone, the Whites have a rather light-hearted discussion about what to wish for.
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."
Herbert is the most casual about the entire thing, and he tells his father to wish for two hundred pounds, which would be enough money to pay off the mortgage on his house. This seems to be the most sensible first wish, so that is what happens.
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.
Mr. White's first wish is for money, two hundred pounds, with which he will pay off his house.
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