en-es  The Gift of the Magi (1905)
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!”
unit 1
The Gift of the Magi (1905).
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unit 3
That was all.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 5
Della counted it three times.
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unit 6
One dollar and eighty-seven cents.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 7
And the next day would be Christmas.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 8
There was nothing to do but fall on the bed and cry.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 9
So Della did it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 11
Furnished rooms at a cost of $8 a week.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 12
There is little more to say about it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 13
In the hall below was a letter-box too small to hold a letter.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 14
There was an electric bell, but it could not make a sound.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 15
Also there was a name beside the door: “Mr.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 16
James Dillingham Young”.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 19
It should perhaps have been “Mr.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 22
She is Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 23
Della finished her crying and cleaned the marks of it from her face.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 24
She stood by the window and looked out with no interest.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 26
She had put aside as much as she could for months, with this result.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 27
Twenty dollars a week is not much.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 28
Everything had cost more than she had expected.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 29
It always happened like that.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 30
Only $ 1.87 to buy a gift for Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 31
Her Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 32
She had had many happy hours planning something nice for him.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 33
Something nearly good enough.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 34
Something almost worth the honor of belonging to Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 35
There was a looking-glass between the windows of the room.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 37
It was very narrow.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 38
A person could see only a little of himself at a time.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 40
Della, being quite thin, had mastered this art.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 41
Suddenly she turned from the window and stood before the glass.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 42
Her eyes were shining brightly, but her face had lost its color.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 43
Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its complete length.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 44
unit 45
One thing was Jim’s gold watch.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 46
It had once belonged to his father.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 47
And, long ago, it had belonged to his father’s father.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 48
The other thing was Della’s hair.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 50
unit 52
Jim knew that no king had anything so valuable.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 54
It reached below her knee.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 55
It almost made itself into a dress for her.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 56
And then she put it up on her head again, nervously and quickly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 58
She put on her old brown coat.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 59
She put on her old brown hat.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 61
Where she stopped, the sign said: “Mrs.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 62
Sofronie.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 64
Mrs. Sofronie, large, too white, cold-eyed, looked at her.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 65
“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 66
“I buy hair,” said Mrs. Sofronie.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 69
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 70
Oh, and the next two hours seemed to fly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 71
She was going from one shop to another, to find a gift for Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 72
She found it at last.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 73
It surely had been made for Jim and no one else.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 75
It was a gold watch chain, very simply made.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 76
Its value was in its rich and pure material.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 77
Because it was so plain and simple, you knew that it was very valuable.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 78
All good things are like this.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 79
It was good enough for The Watch.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 80
As soon as she saw it, she knew that Jim must have it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 81
It was like him.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 82
Quietness and value—Jim and the chain both had quietness and value.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 83
She paid twenty-one dollars for it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 84
And she hurried home with the chain and eighty-seven cents.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 86
Though the watch was so fine, it had never had a fine chain.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 88
When Della arrived home, her mind quieted a little.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 89
She began to think more reasonably.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 90
She started to try to cover the sad marks of what she had done.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 91
unit 92
It is never easy to cover these marks, dear friends—never easy.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 93
Within forty minutes her head looked a little better.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 94
With her short hair, she looked wonderfully like a schoolboy.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 95
She stood at the looking-glass for a long time.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 97
But what could I do—oh!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 99
Jim was never late.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 101
unit 102
She often said little prayers quietly, about simple everyday things.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 103
And now she said: “Please God, make him think I’m still pretty”.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 104
The door opened and Jim stepped in.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 105
He looked very thin and he was not smiling.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 106
Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two—and with a family to take care of!
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 107
He needed a new coat and he had nothing to cover his cold hands.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 108
Jim stopped inside the door.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 109
He was as quiet as a hunting dog when it is near a bird.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 111
It filled her with fear.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 112
It was not anger, nor surprise, nor anything she had been ready for.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 113
He simply looked at her with that strange expression on his face.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 114
Della went to him.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 115
“Jim, dear,” she cried, “don’t look at me like that.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 116
I had my hair cut off and sold it.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 117
I couldn’t live through Christmas without giving you a gift.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 118
My hair will grow again.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 119
You won’t care, will you?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 120
My hair grows very fast.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 121
It’s Christmas, Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 122
Let’s be happy.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 123
unit 124
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim slowly.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 125
He seemed to labor to understand what had happened.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 126
He seemed not to feel sure he knew.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 127
“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 128
“Don’t you like me now?
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 129
I’m me, Jim.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 130
I’m the same without my hair”.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 131
Jim looked around the room.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 132
“You say your hair is gone?” he said.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 133
“You don’t have to look for it,” said Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 134
“It’s sold, I tell you—sold and gone, too.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 135
It’s the night before Christmas, boy.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 136
Be good to me, because I sold it for you.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 138
Shall we eat dinner, Jim?” Jim put his arms around his Della.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 139
For ten seconds let us look in another direction.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
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.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 145
He threw it upon the table.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 146
“I want you to understand me, Dell,” he said.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 147
“Nothing like a haircut could make me love you any less.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 149
And then a cry of joy; and then a change to tears.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 151
Beautiful combs, with jewels, perfect for her beautiful hair.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 152
She had known they cost too much for her to buy them.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 153
She had looked at them without the least hope of owning them.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None
unit 154
And now they were hers, but her hair was gone.
0 Translations, 0 Upvotes, Last Activity None

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!”