Mr. White's first wish was fulfilled in a shocking and tragic way. When he first decided to make a wish, he could think of nothing to wish for. He said, ironically, "It seems to me I've got all I want." More irony is introduced when his son Herbert suggests that his father wish for two hundred pounds to pay off the mortgage on the house. If the house were free and clear, Herbert suggested, his father's happiness would be complete. Mr. White then makes the wish on the monkey's paw for two hundred pounds.
The next day Mr. and Mrs. White and Herbert laugh about the idea of receiving the money. Later that day, after Herbert had gone to work, a stranger comes to the door. He is a representative of Herbert's employer, and he brings the news that Herbert has been killed after being caught in the machinery where he worked. The company representative then gives the Whites a sum of money "in consideration of your son's services." The amount of money he brings to them? Two hundred pounds. As Sergeant Major Morris had said, wishes made on the monkey's paw were fulfilled very naturally:
. . . so naturally . . . that you might if you so wished attribute it to coincidence.
Neither of Herbert's parents, however, thought his death was coincidental. The first wish had come true.