The Gift of the Magi
At 7o’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 double the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then his step on the stair away down on the forst flight ,and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer 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 burned with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable(稳定的，固定的) as a setter at the scent of quail. 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 preparedfor. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
“Jim ,daring,”she cried,”don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold it because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present . It’ll grow out again——you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Marry Christmas !’ Jim ,and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice——what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”
“杰姆，亲爱的，” 她喊道，“别那样盯着我看。我把头发剪掉卖了，因为我不送你一件礼物，我过不了圣诞节。头发会再长起来的——你不会介意的，是不是？我实在没有办法才这么做的。我的头发长得非常非常快。说句 “圣诞快乐” 吧！杰姆，让我们高高兴兴的。你猜不到我给你买了一件多么好——多么美丽的礼物。”
“You’ve cut off you hair?”asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
“Cut it off and sold it .”said Della . “Don’t you like me just as well,anyhow? I’m me without my hair, am’t I? ”
Jim looked about the room curiously.
“You say you hair is gone?”he said,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 .Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you . Shall I put the chops on ,Jim ?”
Out o fhis trance Jim seemed quickly to wake .He enfolded his Della .For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential objecct in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year——what is the difference ? A mathenatician or a wot would give you the wrong answer. The magic brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminatd later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
“Don’t make any mistake , Della ,” he said , “ aout me . I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that sould make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and oaoer. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then , alas ! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs ——the set of combs , said and back , that Della had worshipped for long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims——just the shade to wear in the beau tiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she know, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosm, 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 refection 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. 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 back of his head and simled.
“Dell,”said he , “Let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep’em a whike. They’re too nice to use just at present . I sold the watch to get your combs . And now suppose you put the chops on .”
The magi, as yo know , were wise men——wonderfully wise men——who brought gofts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art o fgiving Christmas presente. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for 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 . They are the magi.