The Gift of the Magi

The Gift of The Magi by O. Henry is my favorite Christmas tale. I am sharing it here with you having abridged the story.

I believe this might have belonged to Della

By O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And the next day would be Christmas. There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and Della had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. And suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a brilliant sparkle in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Madame Sofronie Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, arriving out of breath.

“Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."

Down rippled the brown cascade. "Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand. "Give it to me quick," said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob watch chain simple and chaste in design. It would be beautiful with his watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way to a little prudence and reason. She took out her curling iron and within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy.

At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. "Please God, she said, “Make him think I’m still pretty."

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow! Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della. Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. Say `Merry Christmas!', and let's be happy. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"

"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, with an air almost of idiocy.

"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you." Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. "Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. There's isn’t anything in the way of a haircut that could make me like my girl any less.” White fingers tore at the string and paper. An ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

There lay The Combs, the set of combs that Della had wanted. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jeweled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses were gone. She hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

And then Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now on your beautiful watch. Give it to me. I want to see how it looks on it."

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."

The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones. And here I have lamely told to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days, let it be said, that these two were the wisest.

They are the magi!

Jim's Watch

I hope you enjoyed!

If you are interested in the original you can find it on the web through .


Dorian Fletcher said...

Lovely. One of my favorite stories!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing that story. It has been one of my favorites aswell for years, since my mother first read it to me. And with Christmas coming on, it reminds us all to focus on what is most important.

Fete et Fleur said...

I am so glad you both enjoyed it!
Have a blessed Christmas season.

:<) Nancy

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Wonderful, Nancy, absolutely wonderful! Thank you!!


The Rustic Victorian said...

I enjoyed it once again, it's been a while...thank you Nancy!