Mr. White already understands the terrible implications of the second wish, that Herbert be alive once again. Although Mrs. White has not seen the body, her husband has.
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?"
Mr. White wishes Herbert back to life to please his wife, and they nervously anticipate his arrival. But the cemetery is a long distance away, and presumably, their son's deformities restrict the speed in which he can return to them. At the last moment, Mr. White decides against allowing the second wish to be fulfilled, and he wishes Herbert dead again with the final wish. What would have happened if he had not made the third wish? Herbert would have probably appeared at the door--mangled, decomposing and unable to speak, hardly the same young man who had made the old couple so happy before his death.