en-de  The Gift of the Magi (1905) Medium
Das Geschenk der Könige (1905).

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) EIN DOLLAR UND SIEBENUNDACHTZIG CENTS. ... Das war alles. Sie hatte es beiseite gelegt, einen Cent und dann noch einen und dann noch einen, bei ihrem sorgfältigen Einkauf von Fleisch und anderen Lebensmitteln. ... Della zählte es dreimal. Ein Dollar und siebenundachtzig Cent. ... Und am nächsten Tag wäre es Weihnachten.

Sie konnte nichts tun, außer auf das Bett fallen und weinen. ... Also machte Della es.

Während die Dame des Hauses langsam leiser wird, können wir uns das Haus anschauen. Möblierte Zimmer zu 8 Dollar die Woche. Dazu gibt es wenig mehr zu sagen.

Im Flur darunter war ein Briefkasten, der zu klein war, um einen Brief aufzunehmen. Es gab eine elektrische Klingel, aber sie konnte keinen Ton von sich geben. Auch gab es einen Namen neben der Tür:"Mr. James Dillingham Young". Als der Name dort platziert wurde, erhielt Mr. James Dillingham Young 30 Dollar pro Woche. Jetzt, als er nur noch zwanzig Dollar pro Woche zahlen bekam, schien der Name zu lang und zu bedeutend. Es sollte vielleicht "Mr. James D. Young", sein. Als Mr. James Dillingham Young die möblierten Zimmer betrat, wurde sein Name wirklich sehr kurz. Mrs. James Dillingham Young schlang ihre Arme liebevoll um ihn und nannte ihn "Jim". Sie sind ihr schon begegnet. Sie ist Della.

Della hatte ihr Weinen beendet und die Spuren davon aus ihrem Gesicht gewaschen. Sie stand am Fenster und schaute ohne Interesse hinaus. Morgen würde Weihnachten sein und sie hatte nur 1,87 Dollar, um Jim ein Geschenk zu kaufen. Sie hatte monatelang so viel wie sie konnte beiseite gelegt, mit diesem Ergebnis. Zwanzig Dollar die Woche ist nicht viel. Alles hatte mehr gekostet, als sie erwartet hatte. Immer passierte das.

Nur 1,87 Dollar um ein Geschenk für Jim zu kaufen. Ihr Jim. Sie hatte viele vergnügte Stunden mit der Planung von etwas Schönem für ihn verbracht. Etwas, das gerade gut genug ist. Etwas, das fast würdig war, Jim zu gehören.

Es gab einen Spiegel zwischen den Fenstern des Raumes. Vielleicht haben Sie schon einmal die Art von Spiegel gesehen, die in möblierten Zimmern zu einem Preis von $ 8 aufgestellt ist. Er war sehr schmal. Eine Person konnte nur einen kleinen Teil von sich selbst zur gleichen Zeit sehen. Aber wenn er sehr dünn war und sich sehr schnell bewegte, könnte er in der Lage sein, eine gute Ansicht von sich zu bekommen. Della war ziemlich dünn und hatte diese Kunst beherrscht.

Plötzlich wandte sie sich vom Fenster ab und stand vor dem Spiegel. Ihre Augen leuchteten strahlend, aber ihr Gesicht hatte die Farbe verloren. Schnell ließ sie ihr Haar zu seiner ganzen Länge herunterfallen.

Die James Dillingham Youngs waren auf zwei Dinge, die sie besaßen, sehr stolz. Die eine Sache war Jims goldene Uhr. Sie hatte einst seinem Vater gehört. Und vor langer Zeit hatte sie dem Vater seines Vater gehört. Die andere Sache war Dellas Haar.

Hätte eine Königin in den Räumen nebenan gewohnt, dann hätte Della ihr Haar gewaschen und getrocknet, wo die Königin es gesehen hätte. Della wusste, ihr Haar war schöner als alle Juwelen und Gaben der Königin.

Hätte ein König im selben Haus mit all seinen Reichtümern gewohnt, Jim würde jedesmal, wenn sie sich begneten auf seine Uhr geschaut haben. Jim wusste, kein König hatte so etwas Wertvolles.

Nun fielen Dellas wunderschöne Haare an ihr herunter, schimmernd wie ein Schwall braunen Wassers. Es reichte bis unterhalb ihrer Knie. Es war fast ein Kleid für sie.

Und dann steckte sie es nervös und schnell wieder auf ihren Kopf fest. Einmal hielt sie für einen Moment inne und stand still, während ihr eine Träne oder zwei das Gesicht herunterliefen.

Sie zog ihren alten, braunen Mantel an. Sie setzt ihren alten, braunen Hut auf. Immer noch mit dem leuchtenden Licht in ihren Augen, bewegte sie sich schnell zur Tür hinaus und hinunter auf die Straße.

Wo sie anhielt, sagte das Zeichen:"Mrs. Sofronie Haarutensilien aller Art." Della rannte hinauf in den zweiten Stock und hielt an, um Luft zu holen.

Mrs. Sofronie, groß, zu weiß, mit kalten Augen, sah sie an.

"Werden Sie mein Haar kaufen?", fragte Della.

"Ich kaufe Haar", sagte Mrs. Sofronie. "Nehmen Sie den Hut ab und lassen sie mich Ihr Haar sehen." Der braune Wasserfall fiel herunter.

"Zwanzig Dollar", sagte Mrs. Sofronie, während sie das Haar anhob, um das Gewicht festzustellen.
"Geben Sie es mir schnell", sagte Della.

Oh, und die nächsten zwei Stunden schienen zu verfliegen. Sie ging von einem Geschäft zum nächsten, um ein Geschenk für Jim zu finden.

Sie fand es schließlich. Es war gewiss für Jim gemacht und für niemanden sonst. Es gab in keinem Geschäft etwas Vergleichbares und sie hatte in jedes Geschäft der Stadt geschaut.

Es war eine goldene Uhrkette, sehr einfach gemacht. Ihr Wert lag in ihrem teurem und reinem Material. Weil es so geradlinig und einfach war, wusste man, dass es sehr wertvoll war. Alle guten Dinge sind wie dies.

Sie war gut genug für die Taschenuhr.

Sobald sie sie sah, wusste sie, dass Jim sie haben musste. Sie war wie er. Jim und die Kette, beide hatten Ruhe und Wert. Sie bezahlte einundzwanzig Dollar für sie. Und sie eilte nach Hause mit der Kette und siebenundachtzig Cent.

Mit dieser Kette an seiner Taschenuhr könnte Jim auf seine Taschenuhr schauen und die Zeit in Erfahrung bringen, wo immer er mochte. Obwohl die Taschenuhr so erlesen war, hatte sie nie eine erlesene Kette gehabt. Manchmal nahm er sie heraus und schaute auf sie, nur wenn ihm niemand dabei zusehen konnte.

Als Della zu Hause eintraf, kamen ihre Gedanken ein wenig zur Ruhe. Sie begann, vernünftiger nachzudenken. Sie begann mit dem Versuch, die traurigen Spuren dessen, was sie getan hatte, zu kaschieren. Kommen Liebe und großherziges Schenken zusammen, dann kann das tiefe Spuren hinterlassen. Es ist niemals einfach, diese Spuren zu verbergen, liebe Freunde - niemals einfach.

Nach vierzig Minuten sah ihr Kopf ein bisschen besser aus. Mit ihrem kurzen Haar sah sie wie ein wunderschöner Schuljunge aus. Sie stand für eine lange Zeit vor dem Spiegel.

"Falls Jim mich nicht umbringt", sagte sie zu sich, "bevor er mich ein zweites Mal ansieht, wird er sagen, ich sähe wie ein Mädchen aus, dass für Geld singt und tanzt. Aber was könnte ich tun - oh! Was konnte ich mit einem Dollar und siebenundachtzig Cent anfangen?" Um sieben war Jims Abendessen für ihn bereitet.

Jim kam nie zu spät. Della hielt die Uhrenkette in ihrer Hand und saß neben der Tür, durch die er immer eintrat. Dann hörte sie seinen Schritt im Flur und ihr Gesicht verlor für einen Moment die Farbe. Sie sprach oft still kleine Gebete über einfache alltägliche Dinge. Und jetzte sagte sie:"Bitte Gott, lass ihn denken, ich sei noch schön".

Die Tür öffnete sich und Jim trat ein. Er sah sehr dünn aus und er lächelte nicht. Armer Kerl, er war erst zweiundzwanzig - und mit einer Familie, um die er sich kümmern musste! Er brauchte einen neuen Mantel und hatte nichts, womit er seine kalten Hände schützen konnte.

Jim blieb in der Tür stehen. Er war so still wie ein Jagdhund, wenn der in der Nähe eines Vogels ist. Er sah Della seltsam an und in seinen Augen war ein Ausdruck, den sie nicht verstehen konnte. Der erfüllte sie mit Angst. Es war weder Wut, noch Überraschung, noch irgendetwas worauf sie vorbereitet gewesen wäre. Er schaute sie einfach an mit diesem merkwürdigem Ausdruck im Gesicht.

Della ging zu ihm.

"Jim, Lieber" rief sie, "schau mich nicht so an. Ich habe mir das Haar schneiden lassen und es verkauft. Ich könnte Weihnachten nicht überstehen, ohne dir etwas zu schenken. Meine Haare werden wieder wachsen. Das stört dich nicht, oder? Meine Haare wachsen sehr schnell. Es ist Weihnachten, Jim. Lass uns glücklich sein. Du weißt nicht, was für ein schönes, was für ein wunderschönes Geschenk ich für dich habe."

"Du hast dir die Haare schneiden lassen?" fragte Jim langsam. Er schien sich abzumühen, um zu verstehen, was passiert war. Er schien sich nicht sicher zu sein, dass er es wusste.

"Abgeschnitten und verkauft," sagte Della. "Magst du mich jetzt nicht mehr? Ich bin es, Jim. Ich bin dieselbe, auch ohne meine Haare".

Jim sah sich im Zimmer um.

"Du sagst, dein Haar ist dahin?" sagte er.
"Du brauchst nicht danach zu suchen", sagte Della. "Es ist verkauft, ich sage dir - verkauft und auch weg." Es ist die Nacht vor Weihnachten, Mensch! Sei gut zu mir, denn ich habe es für dich verkauft. Vielleicht könnten die Haare auf meinem Kopf gezählt werden", sagte sie, "aber niemand könnte jemals meine Liebe zu dir zählen. Wollen wir zu Abend essen, Jim?" Jim legte seine Arme um seine Della. "Lass uns zehn Sekunden lang in eine andere Richtung schauen. Eight dollars a week or a million dollars a year— how different are they? Someone may give you an answer, but it will be wrong. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. My meaning will be explained soon.

Jim nahm etwas aus dem Inneren des Mantels, das mit Papier verpackt war. Er warf es auf den Tisch.

"Ich möchte, dass du mich verstehst, Dell", sagte er. Nichts so Banales wie ein Haarschnitt, lässt mich dich weniger lieben. Aber sobald du es öffnest, wirst du verstehen, was ich gefühlt habe, als ich reinkam." Weiße Finger zogen das Papier ab. Und dann ein Schrei der Freude und dann ein Wechsel zu Tränen.

Vor ihr lagen DIE KÄMME - die Kämme, die Della in einem Schaufenster gesehen hatte und seit langem liebte. Wunderschöne Kämme mit Juwelen, perfekt passend zu ihrem wunderschönen Haar. Sie hatte gewusst, dass sie zuviel kosten, um sie für sie zu kaufen. Sie hatte sie betrachtet, ohne die geringste Hoffnung, sie zu besitzen. Und nun waren sie ihre, aber das Haar war weg.

Aber sie hielt sie an ihrem Herzen und schließlich war sie in der Lage hochzuschauen und sagte: "Mein Haar wächst so schnell, Jim!"
unit 1
The Gift of the Magi (1905).
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unit 2
O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910) ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS.
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unit 3
That was all.
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Della counted it three times.
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One dollar and eighty-seven cents.
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And the next day would be Christmas.
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There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry.
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So Della did it.
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While the lady of the home is slowly growing quieter, we can look at the home.
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Furnished rooms at a cost of $8 a week.
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There is little more to say about it.
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In the hall below was a letter-box too small to hold a letter.
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There was an electric bell, but it could not make a sound.
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Also there was a name beside the door: “Mr.
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James Dillingham Young”.
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When the name was placed there, Mr. James Dillingham Young was being paid $30 a week.
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Now, when he was being paid only $20 a week, the name seemed too long and important.
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It should perhaps have been “Mr.
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unit 22
She is Della.
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unit 23
Della finished her crying and cleaned the marks of it from her face.
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She stood by the window and looked out with no interest.
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Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a gift.
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She had put aside as much as she could for months, with this result.
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Twenty dollars a week is not much.
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Everything had cost more than she had expected.
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unit 29
It always happened like that.
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Only $ 1.87 to buy a gift for Jim.
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Her Jim.
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She had had many happy hours planning something nice for him.
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Something nearly good enough.
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Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim.
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There was a looking-glass between the windows of the room.
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Perhaps you have seen the kind of looking-glass that is placed in $8 furnished rooms.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 2 weeks ago
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It was very narrow.
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A person could see only a little of himself at a time.
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Della, being quite thin, had mastered this art.
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Suddenly she turned from the window and stood before the glass.
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Her eyes were shining brightly, but her face had lost its color.
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unit 43
Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its complete length.
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unit 44
The James Dillingham Youngs were very proud of two things which they owned.
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One thing was Jim’s gold watch.
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It had once belonged to his father.
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And, long ago, it had belonged to his father’s father.
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unit 48
The other thing was Della’s hair.
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Della knew her hair was more beautiful than any queen’s jewels and gifts.
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Jim knew that no king had anything so valuable.
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So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, shining like a falling stream of brown water.
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It reached below her knee.
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It almost made itself into a dress for her.
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unit 56
And then she put it up on her head again, nervously and quickly.
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unit 57
Once she stopped for a moment and stood still while a tear or two ran down her face.
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unit 58
She put on her old brown coat.
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She put on her old brown hat.
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With the bright light still in her eyes, she moved quickly out the door and down to the street.
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Where she stopped, the sign said: “Mrs.
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Sofronie.
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Hair Articles of all Kinds.” Up to the second floor Della ran, and stopped to get her breath.
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unit 64
Mrs. Sofronie, large, too white, cold-eyed, looked at her.
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“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
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“I buy hair,” said Mrs. Sofronie.
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unit 67
“Take your hat off and let me look at it.” Down fell the brown waterfall.
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unit 68
“Twenty dollars,” said Mrs. Sofronie, lifting the hair to feel its weight.
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unit 69
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
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unit 70
Oh, and the next two hours seemed to fly.
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She was going from one shop to another, to find a gift for Jim.
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unit 72
She found it at last.
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unit 73
It surely had been made for Jim and no one else.
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unit 74
There was no other like it in any of the shops, and she had looked in every shop in the city.
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It was a gold watch chain, very simply made.
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unit 76
Its value was in its rich and pure material.
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unit 77
Because it was so plain and simple, you knew that it was very valuable.
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unit 78
All good things are like this.
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unit 79
It was good enough for The Watch.
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unit 80
As soon as she saw it, she knew that Jim must have it.
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unit 81
It was like him.
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unit 82
Quietness and value—Jim and the chain both had quietness and value.
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unit 83
She paid twenty-one dollars for it.
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unit 84
And she hurried home with the chain and eighty-seven cents.
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unit 85
With that chain on his watch, Jim could look at his watch and learn the time anywhere he might be.
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unit 86
Though the watch was so fine, it had never had a fine chain.
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unit 87
He sometimes took it out and looked at it only when no one could see him do it.
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unit 88
When Della arrived home, her mind quieted a little.
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unit 89
She began to think more reasonably.
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unit 90
She started to try to cover the sad marks of what she had done.
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unit 91
Love and large-hearted giving, when added together, can leave deep marks.
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unit 92
It is never easy to cover these marks, dear friends—never easy.
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unit 93
Within forty minutes her head looked a little better.
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unit 94
With her short hair, she looked wonderfully like a schoolboy.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 95
She stood at the looking-glass for a long time.
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unit 97
But what could I do—oh!
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unit 99
Jim was never late.
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Della held the watch chain in her hand and sat near the door where he always entered.
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unit 101
Then she heard his step in the hall and her face lost color for a moment.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 102
She often said little prayers quietly, about simple everyday things.
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unit 103
And now she said: “Please God, make him think I’m still pretty”.
2 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 104
The door opened and Jim stepped in.
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unit 105
He looked very thin and he was not smiling.
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unit 106
Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and with a family to take care of!
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unit 107
He needed a new coat and he had nothing to cover his cold hands.
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unit 108
Jim stopped inside the door.
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unit 109
He was as quiet as a hunting dog when it is near a bird.
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unit 111
It filled her with fear.
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It was not anger, nor surprise, nor anything she had been ready for.
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unit 113
He simply looked at her with that strange expression on his face.
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unit 114
Della went to him.
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unit 115
“Jim, dear,” she cried, “don’t look at me like that.
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unit 116
I had my hair cut off and sold it.
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unit 117
I couldn’t live through Christmas without giving you a gift.
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unit 118
My hair will grow again.
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unit 119
You won’t care, will you?
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unit 120
My hair grows very fast.
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unit 121
It’s Christmas, Jim.
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unit 122
Let’s be happy.
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unit 123
You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful nice gift I got for you”.
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unit 124
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim slowly.
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unit 125
He seemed to labor to understand what had happened.
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unit 126
He seemed not to feel sure he knew.
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unit 127
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della.
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unit 128
“Don’t you like me now?
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unit 129
I’m me, Jim.
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unit 130
I’m the same without my hair”.
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unit 131
Jim looked around the room.
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unit 132
“You say your hair is gone?” he said.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 133
“You don’t have to look for it,” said Della.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 134
“It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 135
It’s the night before Christmas, boy.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 136
Be good to me, because I sold it for you.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 137
unit 138
Shall we eat dinner, Jim?” Jim put his arms around his Della.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 139
For ten seconds let us look in another direction.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 140
unit 141
Someone may give you an answer, but it will be wrong.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 142
The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 143
My meaning will be explained soon.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 144
From inside the coat, Jim took something tied in paper.
2 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 145
He threw it upon the table.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 146
“I want you to understand me, Dell,” he said.
1 Translations, 1 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 147
“Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less.
3 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 149
And then a cry of joy; and then a change to tears.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 150
For there lay The Combs—the combs that Della had seen in a shop window and loved for a long time.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 151
Beautiful combs, with jewels, perfect for her beautiful hair.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 152
She had known they cost too much for her to buy them.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 153
She had looked at them without the least hope of owning them.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
unit 154
And now they were hers, but her hair was gone.
1 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity 8 months, 1 week ago
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Omega-I • 5927  translated  unit 31  8 months, 2 weeks ago
Omega-I • 5927  commented on  unit 5  8 months, 2 weeks ago

The Gift of the Magi (1905).

O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910)

ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. That was all. She had put it aside, one cent and then another and then another, in her careful buying of meat and other food. Della counted it three times. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry. So Della did it.

While the lady of the home is slowly growing quieter, we can look at the home. Furnished rooms at a cost of $8 a week. There is little more to say about it.

In the hall below was a letter-box too small to hold a letter. There was an electric bell, but it could not make a sound. Also there was a name beside the door: “Mr. James Dillingham Young”. When the name was placed there, Mr. James Dillingham Young was being paid $30 a week. Now, when he was being paid only $20 a week, the name seemed too long and important. It should perhaps have been “Mr. James D. Young.” But when Mr. James Dillingham Young entered the furnished rooms, his name became very short indeed. Mrs. James Dillingham Young put her arms warmly about him and called him “Jim.” You have already met her. She is Della.

Della finished her crying and cleaned the marks of it from her face. She stood by the window and looked out with no interest. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a gift. She had put aside as much as she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week is not much. Everything had cost more than she had expected. It always happened like that.

Only $ 1.87 to buy a gift for Jim. Her Jim. She had had many happy hours planning something nice for him. Something nearly good enough. Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim.

There was a looking-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen the kind of looking-glass that is placed in $8 furnished rooms. It was very narrow. A person could see only a little of himself at a time. However, if he was very thin and moved very quickly, he might be able to get a good view of himself. Della, being quite thin, had mastered this art.

Suddenly she turned from the window and stood before the glass. Her eyes were shining brightly, but her face had lost its color. Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its complete length.

The James Dillingham Youngs were very proud of two things which they owned. One thing was Jim’s gold watch. It had once belonged to his father. And, long ago, it had belonged to his father’s father. The other thing was Della’s hair.

If a queen had lived in the rooms near theirs, Della would have washed and dried her hair where the queen could see it. Della knew her hair was more beautiful than any queen’s jewels and gifts.

If a king had lived in the same house, with all his riches, Jim would have looked at his watch every time they met. Jim knew that no king had anything so valuable.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her, shining like a falling stream of brown water. It reached below her knee. It almost made itself into a dress for her.

And then she put it up on her head again, nervously and quickly. Once she stopped for a moment and stood still while a tear or two ran down her face.

She put on her old brown coat. She put on her old brown hat. With the bright light still in her eyes, she moved quickly out the door and down to the street.

Where she stopped, the sign said: “Mrs. Sofronie. Hair Articles of all Kinds.”

Up to the second floor Della ran, and stopped to get her breath.

Mrs. Sofronie, large, too white, cold-eyed, looked at her.

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Mrs. Sofronie. “Take your hat off and let me look at it.”
Down fell the brown waterfall.

“Twenty dollars,” said Mrs. Sofronie, lifting the hair to feel its weight.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours seemed to fly. She was going from one shop to another, to find a gift for Jim.

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 shops, and she had looked in every shop in the city.

It was a gold watch chain, very simply made. Its value was in its rich and pure material. Because it was so plain and simple, you knew that it was very valuable. All good things are like this.

It was good enough for The Watch.

As soon as she saw it, she knew that Jim must have it. It was like him. Quietness and value—Jim and the chain both had quietness and value. She paid twenty-one dollars for it. And she hurried home with the chain and eighty-seven cents.

With that chain on his watch, Jim could look at his watch and learn the time anywhere he might be. Though the watch was so fine, it had never had a fine chain. He sometimes took it out and looked at it only when no one could see him do it.

When Della arrived home, her mind quieted a little. She began to think more reasonably. She started to try to cover the sad marks of what she had done. Love and large-hearted giving, when added together, can leave deep marks. It is never easy to cover these marks, dear friends—never easy.

Within forty minutes her head looked a little better. With her short hair, she looked wonderfully like a schoolboy. She stood at the looking-glass for a long time.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he looks at me a second time, he’ll say I look like a girl who sings and dances for money. But what could I do—oh! What could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?”

At seven, Jim’s dinner was ready for him.

Jim was never late. Della held the watch chain in her hand and sat near the door where he always entered. Then she heard his step in the hall and her face lost color for a moment. She often said little prayers quietly, about simple everyday things. And now she said: “Please God, make him think I’m still pretty”.

The door opened and Jim stepped in. He looked very thin and he was not smiling. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and with a family to take care of! He needed a new coat and he had nothing to cover his cold hands.

Jim stopped inside the door. He was as quiet as a hunting dog when it is near a bird. His eyes looked strangely at Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not understand. It filled her with fear. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor anything she had been ready for. He simply looked at her with that strange expression on his face.

Della went to him.

“Jim, dear,” she cried, “don’t look at me like that. I had my hair cut off and sold it. I couldn’t live through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow again. You won’t care, will you? My hair grows very fast. It’s Christmas, Jim. Let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful nice gift I got for you”.

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim slowly. He seemed to labor to understand what had happened. He seemed not to feel sure he knew.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me now? I’m me, Jim. I’m the same without my hair”.

Jim looked around the room.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said.
“You don’t have to look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too. It’s the night before Christmas, boy. Be good to me, because I sold it for you. Maybe the hairs of my head could be counted,” she said, “but no one could ever count my love for you. Shall we eat dinner, Jim?”

Jim put his arms around his Della. For ten seconds let us look in another direction. Eight dollars a week or a million dollars a year— how different are they? Someone may give you an answer, but it will be wrong. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. My meaning will be explained soon.

From inside the coat, Jim took something tied in paper. He threw it upon the table.

“I want you to understand me, Dell,” he said. “Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less. But if you’ll open that, you may know what I felt when I came in.”

White fingers pulled off the paper. And then a cry of joy; and then a change to tears.

For there lay The Combs—the combs that Della had seen in a shop window and loved for a long time. Beautiful combs, with jewels, perfect for her beautiful hair. She had known they cost too much for her to buy them. She had looked at them without the least hope of owning them. And now they were hers, but her hair was gone.

But she held them to her heart, and at last was able to look up and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”