No Money for a Gift
One dollar and eighty seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was
Pennies which Della had saved one at a time. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
While Della is crying in this way, let us take a look at home in which she lives. It is a
small furnished apartment at eight dollars a week, and it is a very poor one. Everywhere
there are signs of poverty. Della finished crying, got up, and began to powder her face.
She stood by the window and looked out with little interest at a gray cat walking along a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas day, and she had only $1.87 with
which to buy Jim, her husband, a present.
She had been saving every penny she could for months with this result. Twenty dollars
a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she expected. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. She had spent many happy hours planning for something nice for him, something fine and rare, something worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a narrow mirror between the windows of the room. Suddenly Della turned from the window and stood before the mirror. Her eyes suddenly began to shine brilliantly, although her face turned a little pale. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now there were two possessions in which Jim and Della took pride in. One was Jim's watch,
that had been previously his father's and before that grandfather's. The other was Della's
beautiful hair, which now fell about her shoulders like a beautiful cascade of water. It reached below her knees. Quickly now, she combed it again and arranged it properly. She
hesitated for a moment and tears appeared in her eyes.
She put on her old brown coat. She put on her old brown hat. With her eyes shining, she flew
out of the room and down the stairs to the street. She walked some distance and finally
stopped at a shop with a sign which read: 'Madame Sofronio, Hair Goods of All Kinds.'
Della ran up the stairs to the second floor where the shop was located. She was breathing heavily.
"will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "make your hat off and let me have a look at it."
Della removed her hat and let fall her beautiful hair.
"Twenty dollars," said madame, feeling the hair with her experienced hand.
"Give it to me quickly," said Della.
Della Buys a Gift
The next two hours flew by quickly. She was busy looking everywhere in the stores for Jim's present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and for no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores and she had been everywhere. It was platinum watch chain, a beautiful one, worthy of the watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be
for Jim. It was like Jim, good taste and quality. The description applied to both. It cost twenty one dollars. Della hurried home with the eighty seven cents which remained.
When Della arrived home she was less excited, and gradually she became more reasonable.
She began to comb and arrange her hair now cut very short, in the best way she could. She
took her curling iron and began to curl her hair carefully. Then she looked at herself in the mirror more critically.
At seven o'clock the coffee was made and the dinner almost ready. Jim was never late. Della held the chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door. Then she heard
his step on the stairs and for a moment she turned wihte. The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty two, and he had all the problems of having a family. He needed a new overcoat, and he was without gloves.
Jim's eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was suddenly an expression in them that she could not read, and it frightened her. He simply looked at her with a strange expression. Della jumped off the table went toward him.
"Jim, darling," she said, "don't look at me in that way, I had my hair cut off and I sold it because I wanted to give you a Christmas present. My hair will grow again-you don't mind,
do you? I simply had to do it. My hair grows very fast. Say 'Marry Christmas' to me, Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-what a beautiful gift bought for you."
An Exchange of Gifts
"You have cut off your hair," Jim said, as though he could not possibly understand.
"I cut it off and sold it." said Della. "Don't you like me just as well? I am the same person without my hair."
Jim Looked around the room curiously.
"You say that your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of
foolishness. "It is not
necessary to look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you-sold and gone. It's Christmas evening, darling. So be good to me-because I sold my hair for you." Jim seemed suddenly to wake up. He kissed Della. then he took a package out of his pocket and threw it upon the table.
"Don't make any mistake, Della," he said, "about me. Nothing that could ever happen would ever make me think less of you." Her white fingers quickly undid the package. And then a cry of joy-and next a quick feminine change to tears and crying.
For there lay the combs, the set of combs, side and back, that Della had admired for such a long time in a Broadway store window. They were beautiful combs-just the color to go with her beautiful hair. And now they were hers, but the hair in which she was to wear them was gone. But at last she was able to smile through her tears and say, "My hair grows so fast, Jim."
And then Della jumped like a little cat and cried, "Oh, Oh!" Jim had not yet seen his beautiful
present, the new chain for his watch. She held it out to him anxiously in her hand.
"Isn't it a fine one, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at your watch a hundred times a day now to find out the time. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim lay down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled. "Della," said he, "Let's put our Christmas presents away and keep them awhile. They are too nice to use at present. I sold my watch in order to get the money and to buy your combs. And now perhaps you can get dinner ready."