What does the phrase "Hark at" mean in the context of "The Monkey's Paw"?

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readerofbooks | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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It is best to start with the text:

"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."

Hark is an antiquated word, but it means “listen” or “hear.” It peaked in usage around the 1900s and dipped in the 1950s. There has been a slight increase in the early 2000s. This analysis makes sense, as the short story by William W. Jacobs was published in 1902. 

In the context of the short story, Mr. White is playing chess with his son, and he makes a fatal mistake. Presumably he moved a piece and only afterwards saw it was to his detriment. In order to distract his son, Herbert, with whom he was playing chess, he said to him: listen to (hark at) the wind.

Herbert did not fall for the diversion. He moved his piece, and he said: “Check.”


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