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һ, 2016

The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing left to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually turning from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no finger could coax a ring. Also there was a card bearing the name Mr. James Dillingham Young.

But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called Jim and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and powdered her cheeks. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a grey backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesnt go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many happy hours she had spent planning for something nice for him, something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honour of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass[1]1

between the windows of the room. Suddenly Della stopped before the glass. Her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its colour 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 Jims gold watch that had been his fathers and his grandfathers and that King Solomon himself, with all his treasures, would have envied. The other was Dellas hair, which could depreciate all the jewels and gifts that belonged to the Queen of Sheba.[2]2
the Queen of Sheba


So now Dellas beautiful hair fell about her.

Shining like a cascade of brown waters, it reached below her knee. 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 old red carpet.

She put on her old brown jacket and her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she ran out of the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: Mme Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds. One Eight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting.

Will you buy my hair? asked Della.

I buy hair, said Madame, large, too white, chilly. Take your hat off and lets 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.

The next two hours she was ransacking the stores for Jims 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. It was a platinum fob chain[3]3
fob chain

simple in design. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jims. It was like him. Quietness and value the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 78 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Although the watch was grand, he sometimes looked at it on the sly[4]4
on the sly

because of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason.[5]5
her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason

She got out her curling irons[6]6
curling irons

and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy.[7]7
truant schoolboy ,

She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

If Jim doesnt kill me, she said to herself, before he takes a second look at me, hell say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl.[8]8
Coney Island chorus girl -

But what could I do oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?

At 7 oclock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.[9]9
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. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit of saying little silent prayers about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: Please, God, make him think I am still pretty.

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two and to be burdened with a family![10]10
to be burdened with a family

He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stepped inside the door. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Jim, darling, Della cried, dont look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldnt have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. Itll grow out again you wont mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say Merry Christmas!, Jim, and lets be happy. You dont know what a beautiful, nice gift Ive got for you.

Youve cut off your hair? asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that obvious fact yet.

Cut it off and sold it, said Della. Dont you like me just as well, anyhow? Im me without my hair, aint I?

Jim looked about the room curiously.

You say your hair is gone? he said.

You neednt look for it, said Della. Its sold, I tell you sold and gone, too. Its Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered, she went on with a sudden serious sweetness, but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He embraced his Della. Then he drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

Dont make any mistake, Dell, he said, about me. I dont think theres anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.[11]11
why you had me going a while at first


Della unwrapped the package. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas![12]12
alas! !

a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails.

There lay The Combs the set of combs that Della had admired for long in a Broadway window.[13]13
in a Broadway window

Beautiful tortoise-shell[14]14

combs, with jewelled rims[15]15
with jewelled rims

just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and she had never hoped to possess them. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the desired adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom,[16]16
she hugged them to her bosom

and finally she was able to look up with a smile and say: My hair grows so fast, Jim!

And then Della leaped up and cried, Oh, oh!

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm.

Isnt it a dandy,[17]17
Isnt it a dandy? ?

Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. Youll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. 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, lets put our Christmas presents away and keep them a while. Theyre 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. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones. And here I have related 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 of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

A service of love
O. Henry

When one loves ones Art no service seems too hard.

That is our premise. This story shall draw a conclusion from it, and show at the same time that the premise is incorrect. That will be a new thing in logic, and a feat in storytelling somewhat older than the great wall of China.

Joe Larrabee was born in the Middle West pulsing with a genius for pictorial art.[18]18
a genius for pictorial art

At six he drew a picture of the town pump with a citizen passing it hastily. This effort was framed and hung in the drug store window. At twenty he left for New York with a flowing necktie and a capital tied up somewhat closer.

Delia Caruthers did things in six octaves so promisingly in a pine-tree village in the South that her relatives chipped in enough in her chip hat for her to go North and finish.

Joe and Delia met in an atelier where a number of art and music students had gathered to discuss Wagner, music, Rembrandts works, pictures, wall paper and Chopin.

Joe and Delia fell in love with each other and in a short time were married for (see above[19]19
see above

), when one loves ones Art no service seems too hard.

Mr. and Mrs. Larrabee began housekeeping in a flat. It was a lonesome flat something like the A sharp[20]20
A sharp ()

way down at the left-hand end of the keyboard. And they were happy; for they had their Art, and they had each other. Flat-dwellers shall confirm my dictum that theirs is the only true happiness. If a home is happy it cannot fit too close.[21]21
it cannot fit too close


Joe was painting in the class of the great Magister. His fees are high; his lessons are light his high-lights have brought him fame. Delia was studying under Rosenstock you know his reputation as a disturber of the piano keys.

They were very happy as long as their money lasted. So is every but I will not be cynical. Their aims were very clear and defined. Joe was to become capable very soon of turning out pictures that old gentlemen with thin side-whiskers and thick wallets would fight in his studio for the privilege of buying. Delia was to become familiar and then contemptuous with Music, so that when she saw the orchestra seats and boxes unsold she could have sore throat and lobster in a private dining-room and refuse to go on the stage.

But the best, in my opinion, was the home life in the little flat the ardent, voluble chats after the days study; the cozy dinners and fresh, light breakfasts; the interchange of ambitions; the mutual help and inspiration; and overlook my artlessness stuffed olives and cheese sandwiches at 11 p.m.

But after a while Art grew weak. Money was lacking to pay Mr. Magister and Herr Rosenstock their prices. When one loves ones Art no service seems too hard. So, Delia said she must give music lessons to keep the chafing dish bubbling.[22]22
to keep the chafing dish bubbling


For two or three days she went out looking for pupils. One evening she came home excited.

Joe, dear, she said, joyfully, Ive a pupil. And, oh, the loveliest people! General General A. B. Pinkneys daughter on Seventy-first street. Such a splendid house, Joe you should see the front door! And inside! Oh, Joe, I never saw anything like it before.

My pupil is his daughter Clementina. I dearly love her already. Shes a delicate thing dresses always in white; and the sweetest, simplest manners! Only eighteen years old. Im to give three lessons a week; and, just think, Joe! $5 a lesson. I dont mind it a bit; for when I get two or three more pupils I can resume my lessons with Herr Rosenstock. Now, smooth out that wrinkle between your brows, dear, and lets have a nice supper.

Thats all right for you, Dele, said Joe, but how about me? Do you think Im going to let you hustle for wages while I wander in the regions of high art? By no means! I guess I can sell papers or lay cobblestones,[23]23
lay cobblestones

and bring in a dollar or two.

Delia came and hung about his neck.

Joe, dear, you are silly. You must keep on at your studies. It is not as if I had quit my music and gone to work at something else. While I teach I learn. I am always with my music. And we can live as happily as millionaires on $15 a week. You mustnt think of leaving Mr. Magister.

All right, said Joe. But I hate for you to be giving lessons. It isnt Art. But youre a trump and a dear[24]24
youre a trump and a dear

to do it.

When one loves ones Art no service seems too hard, said Delia.

Magister praised the sky in that sketch I made in the park, said Joe. And Tinkle gave me permission to hang two of them in his window. I may sell one if the right kind of a wealthy idiot sees them.

Im sure you will, said Delia, sweetly. And now lets be thankful for Gen. Pinkney and this veal roast.

* * *

During all of the next week the Larrabees had an early breakfast. Joe was enthusiastic about some morning-effect sketches he was doing in Central Park, and Delia packed him off breakfasted, praised and kissed at 7 oclock. Art is an engaging mistress. It was most times 7 oclock when he returned in the evening.

At the end of the week Delia, sweetly proud but weary, triumphantly tossed three five-dollar bills on the table.

Sometimes, she said, Clementina exhausts me. Im afraid she doesnt practise enough, and I have to tell her the same things so often. And then she always dresses entirely in white, and that does get monotonous. But Gen. Pinkney is the dearest old man! I wish you could know him, Joe. He comes in sometimes when I am with Clementina at the piano he is a widower, you know and stands there pulling his white goatee. And how are the semiquavers and the demisemiquavers[25]25
the semiquavers and the demisemiquavers ()

progressing? he always asks.

Clementina has such a funny little cough. I hope she is stronger than she looks. Oh, I really am getting attached to her, she is so gentle and highbred. Gen. Pinkneys brother was once Minister to Bolivia.

And then Joe, with the air of a Monte Cristo, drew forth a ten, a five, a two and a one, and laid them beside Delias earnings.

Sold that watercolour of the obelisk to a man from Peoria, he announced.

Dont joke with me, said Delia, not from Peoria!

All the way. I wish you could see him, Dele. Fat man with a woollen scarf. He saw the sketch in Tinkles window and thought it was a windmill at first. He bought it anyhow, though. He ordered another one to take back with him. Music lessons! Oh, I guess Art is still in it.

Im so glad youve kept on, said Delia, heartily. Youre bound to win, dear. Thirty three dollars! We never had so much to spend before. Well have oysters tonight.

And filet mignon with champignons, said Joe. Where is the olive fork?

On the next Saturday evening Joe reached home first. He spread his $18 on the parlour table and washed what seemed to be a great deal of dark paint from his hands.

Half an hour later Delia arrived, her right hand tied up in a shapeless bundle of wraps and bandages.

How is this? asked Joe after the usual greetings. Delia laughed, but not very joyously.

Clementina, she explained, insisted upon a Welsh rabbit[26]26
Welsh rabbit - ( )

after her lesson. She is such a queer girl. Welsh rabbits at 5 in the afternoon. I know Clementina isnt in good health; she is so nervous. In serving the rabbit she spilled a great lot of it, boiling hot, over my hand and wrist. It hurt awfully, Joe. And the dear girl was so sorry! But Gen. Pinkney! Joe, that old man nearly went distracted.[27]27
nearly went distracted

He rushed downstairs and sent somebody they said the furnaceman[28]28
furnaceman ,

or somebody in the basement out to a drug store for some oil and things to bind it up with. It doesnt hurt so much now.

Whats this? asked Joe, taking the hand tenderly and pulling at some white strands beneath the bandages.

Its something soft, said Delia, that had oil on it. Oh, Joe, did you sell another sketch? She had seen the money on the table.

Did I? said Joe; just ask the man from Peoria. He isnt sure but he thinks he wants another landscape and a view on the Hudson. What time this afternoon did you burn your hand, Dele?

Five oclock, I think, said Dele, sadly. The iron I mean the rabbit came off the fire about that time. You ought to have seen Gen. Pinkney, Joe, when

Sit down here a moment, Dele, said Joe. He drew her to the couch, sat beside her and put his arm across her shoulders.

What have you been doing for the last two weeks, Dele? he asked.

She braved it for a moment or two with an eye full of love and stubbornness, and murmured a phrase or two vaguely of Gen. Pinkney; but finally down went her head and out came the truth and tears.

I couldnt get any pupils, she confessed. And I couldnt bear to have you give up your lessons; and I got a place ironing shirts in that big Twenty-fourth street laundry. And I think I did very well to make up both General Pinkney and Clementina, dont you, Joe? And when a girl in the laundry set down a hot iron on my hand this afternoon I was all the way home making up that story about the Welsh rabbit. Youre not angry, are you, Joe? And if I hadnt got the work you mightnt have sold your sketches to that man from Peoria.

He wasnt from Peoria, said Joe, slowly.

Well, it doesnt matter where he was from. How clever you are, Joe and kiss me, Joe and what made you ever suspect that I wasnt giving music lessons to Clementina?

I didnt, said Joe, until tonight. And I wouldnt have then, only I sent up this cotton waste and oil from the engine room[29]29
engine room

this afternoon for a girl upstairs who had her hand burned with a smoothing-iron.[30]30
smoothing-iron ( )

Ive been firing the engine[31]31
Ive been firing the engine in that laundry

in that laundry for the last two weeks.

And then you didnt

My purchaser from Peoria, said Joe, and Gen. Pinkney are both creations of the same art but you wouldnt call it either painting or music.

And then they both laughed, and Joe began:

When one loves ones Art no service seems

But Delia stopped him with her hand on his lips. No, she said just When one loves.

The last of the belles
F. Scott Fitzgerald


After Atlantas Southern charm, we all underestimated Tarleton. It was a little hotter there than anywhere wed been a dozen rookies collapsed the first day in that Georgia sun. I stayed out at camp and let Lieutenant Warren tell me about the girls. This was fifteen years ago, and Ive forgotten how I felt, except that the days went along, one after another, better than they do now, and I was empty-hearted, because up North she who I had loved for three years was getting married. I saw the clippings and newspaper photographs. It was a romantic wartime wedding, all very rich and sad.

A day came when I went into Tarleton for a haircut and ran into a nice fellow named Bill Knowles, who was in my time at Harvard. Hed been in the National Guard division that preceded us in camp; at the last moment he had transferred to aviation and been left behind.

Im glad I met you, Andy, he said with undue seriousness. Ill hand you on all my information before I start for Texas. You see, therere really only three girls here

I was interested; there was something mystical about there being three girls.

and heres one of them now.

We were in front of a drug store and he marched me in and introduced me to a lady I promptly detested.

The other two are Ailie Calhoun and Sally Carrol Happer.

I guessed from the way he pronounced her name, that he was interested in Ailie Calhoun what a lovely name. It was on his mind what she would be doing while he was gone; he wanted her to have a quiet, uninteresting time.

At my age I dont even hesitate to confess that images of Ailie Calhoun that rushed into my mind were not chivalrous at all. At twenty-three there is no such thing as a preempted beauty;[32]32
a preempted beauty ,

though, had Bill asked me, I would doubtless have sworn in all sincerity to care for her like a sister. He didnt; he just worried about having to go. Three days later he telephoned me that he was leaving next morning and hed take me to her house that night.

We met at the hotel and walked uptown through the flowery, hot twilight. The four white pillars of the Calhoun house faced the street, and behind them the veranda was dark as a cave with hanging, weaving, climbing vines.

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