SD1: The sounds of howling wind and pelting rain rise from the darkness, punctuated by claps of thunder.
SD2: After a minute, the sounds of the storm fade.
SD3: The stage lights come up to reveal a cozy living room where Mr. and Mrs. White, their son, Herbert, and Sergeant Major Morris are gathered before a crackling fire.
Mr. White: Twenty-one years it’s been since you left, Morris! You were a young man then.
Morris: Indeed—just about Herbert’s age, I suppose.
Mrs. White: I couldn’t bear the thought of Herbert packing off to distant lands.
Morris: How have you been keeping busy, Herbert?
Herbert: I’ve got a job at Maw and Meggins. It’s a bit tedious working the machinery, but my boss has been hinting that I’ll soon be promoted.
SD4: Mrs. White places a hand on her son’s knee.
Mrs. White: We’re very proud of our boy.
Herbert: Father says you’ve been in India, Sergeant Major.
Morris (vaguely) : Hmmmm.
Mr. White: I’d rather like to visit India myself.
Morris: Trust me, you would not. Nothing but war and plagues there.
Mr. White: But what about the lively markets and enchanting old temples?
Morris: Nevertheless . . .
Mr. White: What was it you started telling me the other day, Morris? Something about a monkey’s paw?
Morris (quickly): Nothing. At least, nothing worth hearing.
Mrs. White: What’s all this? A monkey’s paw?
SD1: Morris stares into the fire for a long moment.
Morris: No . . . no, it’s best we leave that alone.
Herbert: But now we’re intrigued, Sergeant Major.
Mrs. White: Do tell!
SD2: Morris looks at the Whites’ curious faces. A muscle in his jaw twitches.