The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories

The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories

3.8 7
by O. Henry, Gordon Grant
     
 

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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.
In the beloved title story of this handsome collection, a man and woman each long to bring home just the right gift for the other. But with so little…  See more details below

Overview

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.
In the beloved title story of this handsome collection, a man and woman each long to bring home just the right gift for the other. But with so little money, how can there be hope? The poignant twists and heartwarming conclusion of this perfect plum of a story help explain the lasting appeal of this most American of authors.Writing under the famous pseudonym 0. Henry, William Sydney Porter breathed life into characters, creating moments that touch readers with their sensitivity and humanity. He portrayed lovelorn cowboys and headstrong urbanites with the same authentic touch, using sympathy, irony, and the wit for which he is justly famous.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780895772664
Publisher:
Reader's Digest Association, Incorporated, The
Publication date:
08/28/1987
Series:
The World's Best Reading
Pages:
240

Read an Excerpt

ARetrievedReformation

A guard came to the prison shoe shop, where JimmyValentine was assiduously stitching uppers, and escort-ed him to the front office. There the warden handedJimmyhis pardon, which had been signed that morning by thegovernor. Jimmy took it in a tired kind of way. He had servednearlyten months of a four-year sentence. He had expected tostay only about three months, at the longest. When a manwith asmany friends on the outside as Jimmy Valentine had isreceived in the "stir" it is hardly worthwhile to cut his hair.

"Now, Valentine," said the warden, "you'll go out in the morning. Brace up, and make a man of yourself. You're not a bad fellow at heart. Stop cracking safes, and live straight."

"Me?" said Jimmy, in surprise. "Why, I never cracked a safe in my life."

"Oh, no," laughed the warden. "Of course not. Let's see, now. How was it you happened to get sent up on that Springfield job? Was it because you wouldn't prove an alibi for fear of compromising somebody in extremely high-toned society? Or was it simply a case of a mean old jury that had it in for you? It's always one or the other with you innocent victims."

"Me?" said Jimmy, still blankly virtuous. "Why, warden, I never was in Springfield in my life!"

"Take him back, Cronin," smiled the warden, "and fix him up with outgoing clothes. Unlock him at seven in the morning, and let him come to the bull pen. Better think over my advice, Valentine."

At a quarter past seven on the nextmorning Jimmy stood in the warden's outer office. He had on a suit of the villainously fitting ready-made clothes and a pair of stiff, squeaky shoes that the state furnishesto its discharged compulsory guests.

The clerk handed him a railroad ticket and the five-dollar bill with which the law expected him to rehabilitate himself into good citizenship and prosperity. The warden gave him a cigar, and shook hands. Valentine, 9762, was chronicled on the books "Pardoned by Governor," and Mr. James Valentine walked out into the sunshine.

Disregarding the song of the birds, the waving green trees, and the smell of the flowers, Jimmy headed straight for a restaurant. There he tasted the first sweet joys of liberty in the shape of a broiled chicken and a bottle of white wine--followed by a cigar a grade better than the one the warden had given him. From there he proceeded leisurely to the depot. He tossed a quarter into the hat of a blind man sitting by the door, and boarded his train. Three hours set him down in a little town near the state line. He went to the cafe of one Mike Dolan and shook hands with Mike, who was alone behind the bar.

"Sorry we couldn't make it sooner, Jimmy, me boy," said Mike. "But we had that protest from Springfield to buck against, and the governor nearly balked. Feeling all right?"

"Fine," said Jimmy. "Got my key?"

He got his key and went upstairs, unlocking the door of a room at the rear. Everything was just as he had left it. There on the floor was still Ben Price's collar button that had been torn from that eminent detective's shirt band when they had overpowered Jimmy to arrest him.

Pulling out from the wall a folding bed, Jimmy slid back a panel in the wall and dragged out a dust-covered suitcase. He opened this and gazed fondly at the finest set of burglar's tools in the East. It was a complete set, made of specially tempered steel, the latest designs in drills, punches, braces and bits, jemmies, clamps, and augers, with two or three novelties invented by Jimmy himself, in which he took pride. Over nine hundred dollars they had cost him to have made at ----, a place where they make such things for the profession.

In half an hour Jimmy went downstairs and through the cafe He was now dressed in tasteful and well-fitting clothes, and carried his dusted and cleaned suitcase in his hand.

"Got anything on?" asked Mike Dolan, genially.

"Me?" said Jimmy, in a puzzled tone. "I don't understand. I'm representing the New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company."

This statement delighted Mike to such an extent that Jimmy had to take a seltzer- and-milk on the spot. He never touched "hard" drinks.

A week after the release of Valentine, 9762, there was a neat job of safe-burglary done in Richmond, Indiana, with no clue to the author. A scant eight hundred dollars was all that was secured. Two weeks after that a patented, improved burglar-proof safe in Logansport was opened like a cheese to the tune of fifteen hundred dollars, currency; securities and silver untouched. That began to interest the rogue-catchers. Then an old-fashioned bank safe in Jefferson City became active and threw out of its crater an eruption of banknotes, amounting to five thousand dollars. The losses were now high enough to bring the matter up into Ben Price's class of work. By comparing notes, a remarkable similarity in the methods of the burglaries was noticed. Ben Price investigated the scenes of the robberies, and was heard to remark:

"That's Dandy Jim Valentine's autograph. He's resumed business. Look at that combination knob-jerked out as easy as pulling up a radish in wet weather. He's got the only clamps that can do it. And look how clean those tumblers were punched out! Jimmy never has to drill but one hole. Yes, I guess I want Mr. Valentine. He'll do his bit next time without any short-time or clemency foolishness."

The Gift of the Magi. Copyright © by O. Henry. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Meet the Author

O Henry was the pen name of American writer William Sydney Porter (1862 - 1910). His short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and ingenious plot twists. The O Henry Award remains as a prestigious annual prize given to outstanding short stories.

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The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories (Barnes & Noble Gift Edition) 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
To start, The gift of the magi is very interesting. My opinion of this novel is truthful, touching, very well written, and great for the holidays. The main idea of this novel is based upon, to give is to receive and to d something good it may return. Firstly, The section in this novel that I love the most is when Della¿s husband Jim finds out what she has done to her hair. Della had cut all of her hair off to get money in return so she could buy the watch chain that her husband has been wanting. When they open there gifts on Christmas morning Della finds out that Jim had bought her combs to brush her once beautiful hair, so they both put there gifts away till they think they will deserve them. To conclude, I think that this is a really good novel for all ages, and that everyone should read this. This novel is touching, very well written, truthful, and great for the holidays. Maybe everyone can learn from this novel.
EzekielR More than 1 year ago
This short story is about two people that are lose in love. They dont have money(they are poor) to buy a gift.They sacrifesid somenthing to buy a special gift.this book is about a poor caple that wanbt to give for christmast a gift but the problem is that they dont have money to buying the gift.One of my favorite part of this short story is the one that della sell her hair to buy somenthing for her husbamd. I recomend this short story if you are lose in love and you are trying to do somenthing that dont make any sense. R.N
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything I thought it would be.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is dumb.