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AMERICAN STORIES - A Special Story for Christmas: 'The Gift

时间:2006-05-09 16:00来源:互联网 提供网友:yeying0716   字体: [ ]

AMERICAN STORIES - A Special Story for Christmas: 'The Gift of the Magi'

By O. Henry

Broadcast: Saturday, December 24, 2005

ANNOUNCER1: Now, the VOA Special English program, AMERICAN STORIES.


STORYTELLER: One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it in the smallest pieces of money - pennies2. Pennies saved one and two at a time by negotiating3 with the men at the market who sold vegetables and meat. Negotiating until one's face burned with the silent4 knowledge of being poor. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but sit down and cry. So Della cried. Which led to the thought that life is made up of little cries and smiles, with more little cries than smiles.

Della finished her crying and dried her face. She stood by the window and looked out unhappily at a gray cat walking along a gray fence6 in a gray back yard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only one dollar and eighty-seven cents to buy her husband Jim a gift. She had been saving7 every penny8 she could for months, with this result.

Jim earned twenty dollars a week, which does not go far. Expenses had been greater than she had expected. They always are. Many a happy hour she had spent planning to buy something nice for him. Something fine and rare9 -- something close to being worthy10 of the honor11 of belonging to Jim.

There was a tall glass mirror between the windows of the room. Suddenly Della turned from the window and stood before the glass mirror and looked at herself. Her eyes were shining, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Quickly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, Mister13 and Missus James Dillingham Young had two possessions14 which they valued. One was Jim's gold time piece, the watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair.

Had the Queen of Sheba lived in their building, Della would have let her hair hang out the window to dry just to reduce the value of the queen's jewels.

So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, shining like a brown waterfall. It reached below her knees and made itself almost like a covering for her. And then quickly she put it up again. She stood still while a few tears fell on the floor.

She put on her coat and her old brown hat. With a quick motion15 and brightness16 still in her eyes, she danced out the door and down the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: "Madame17 Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." Della ran up the steps to the shop, out of breath18.

"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.

"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take your hat off and let us have a look at it."

Down came the beautiful brown waterfall of hair.

"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the hair with an experienced19 hand.

"Give it to me quick," said Della.


The next two hours went by as if they had wings. Della looked in all the stores to choose a gift for Jim.

She found it at last. It surely20 had been made for Jim and no one else. It was a chain -- simple round rings of silver. It was perfect for Jim's gold watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be for him. It was like him. Quiet and with great value. She gave the shopkeeper twenty-one dollars and she hurried home with the eighty-seven cents that was left.

When Della arrived home she began to repair what was left of her hair. The hair had been ruined by her love and her desire to give a special gift. Repairing the damage was a very big job.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny round curls21 of hair that made her look wonderfully like a schoolboy. She looked at herself in the glass mirror long and carefully.

"If Jim does not kill me before he takes a second look at me," she said to herself, "he'll say I look like a song girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?"

At seven o'clock that night the coffee was made and the pan22 on the back of the stove was hot and ready to cook the meat.

Jim was never late coming home from work. Della held the silver chain in her hand and sat near the door. Then she heard his step and she turned white for just a minute. She had a way of saying a little silent prayer23 about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered24: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."


The door opened and Jim stepped in. He looked thin and very serious. Poor man, he was only twenty-two and he had to care for a wife. He needed a new coat and gloves to keep his hands warm.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a dog smelling a bird. His eyes were fixed25 upon Della. There was an expression in them that she could not read, and it frightened her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor fear, nor any of the feelings that she had been prepared for. He simply looked at her with a strange expression on his face. Della went to him.

"Jim, my love," she cried, "do not look at me that way. I had my hair cut and sold because I could not have lived through Christmas without giving you a gift. My hair will grow out again. I just had to do it. My hair grows very fast. Say 'Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let us be happy. You do not know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I have for you."

"You have cut off your hair?" asked Jim, slowly, as if he had not accepted the information even after his mind worked very hard.

"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Do you not like me just as well? I am the same person without my hair, right?

Jim looked about the room as if he were looking for something.

"You say your hair is gone?" he asked.

"You need not look for it," said Della. "It is sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It is Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it was cut for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden12 serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the meat on, Jim?"

Jim seemed to awaken26 quickly and put his arms around Della. Then he took a package from his coat and threw it on the table.

"Do not make any mistake about me, Dell," he said. "I do not think there is any haircut27 that could make me like my girl any less. But if you will open that package you may see why you had me frightened at first."

White fingers quickly tore at the string and paper. There was a scream of joy; and then, alas28! a change to tears and cries, requiring the man of the house to use all his skill to calm his wife.

For there were the combs -- the special set of objects to hold her hair that Della had wanted ever since she saw them in a shop window. Beautiful combs, made of shells29, with jewels at the edge5 --just the color to wear in the beautiful hair that was no longer hers. They cost a lot of money, she knew, and her heart had wanted them without ever hoping to have them. And now, the beautiful combs were hers, but the hair that should have touched them was gone.

But she held the combs to herself, and soon she was able to look up with a smile and say, "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"

Then Della jumped up like a little burned cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful gift. She happily held it out to him in her open hands. The silver chain seemed so bright.

"Isn't it wonderful, Jim? I looked all over town to find it. You will 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 fell on the couch30 and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

"Dell," said he, "let us put our Christmas gifts away and keep them a while. They are too nice to use just right now. I sold my gold watch to get the money to buy the set of combs for your hair. And now, why not put the meat on."


The magi were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Baby Jesus. They invented the art of giving Christmas gifts. Being wise, their gifts were wise ones. And here I have told you the story of two young people who most unwisely gave 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. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.


ANNOUNCER: You have heard the American story "The Gift of the Magi." This story was written by O. Henry and adapted into Special English by Karen Leggett. Your storyteller was Shep O'Neal. The producer was Lawan Davis.

Listen again next week at this time for another American story in VOA Special English. I'm Shirley Griffith.


1 announcer FVqzB     
  • The radio announcer said it was nine o'clock.电台播音员报时9点整。
  • The announcer tells the listeners what programme comes next.广播员告诉听众下一个是什么节目。
2 pennies e863b242721894f4be4cc191ef4fe1c1     
n.of penny;便士( penny的名词复数 );(美国、加拿大的)一分钱;少量的钱
  • He had a few pennies in his pocket. 他口袋里有几个便士的硬币。
  • Pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters are United States coins. 1分铜币、5分镍币、1角银币和2角5分银币是美国硬币。 来自《简明英汉词典》
3 negotiating 77d3bbc43fbb290e3414718dd6f23bab     
n. 谈判 动词negotiate的现在分词
  • They were coerced into negotiating a settlement. 他们被迫通过谈判解决。
  • We want to get all the parties back to the negotiating table. 我们想把有关各方拉回到谈判桌上来。
4 silent eEVz8     
  • Immediately on his beginning to speak,everyone was silent.他一讲话,大家顿时安静下来。
  • The boys looked at the conjuror in silent wonder. 孩子们目瞪口呆地看着那魔术师。
5 edge xqoxx     
  • Sight along the edge to see if it's straight.顺着边目测,看看直不直。
  • She lived on the extreme edge of the forest.她住在森林的最边缘。
6 fence ykexe     
  • They put a fence around the garden.他们在园子的周围建起了篱笆。
  • The thief jumped himself over a fence and escaped.贼纵身跃过篱笆逃走了。
7 saving XjYzGK     
  • Energy saving is term strategic policy of our country.节约能源是我国长期的战略国策。
  • Old-fashioned housewives were usually very saving.旧时的家庭主妇通常都很节俭。
8 penny 0MFxu     
  • I will not lent you a penny.我一便士都不愿借给你。
  • Sugar has risen a penny a pound.糖价每磅涨了1便士。
9 rare lANze     
  • It is rare to see a man over 160 years old.很少见到一个人能活到160岁。
  • The zoo has a lot of rare animals in it.这个动物园有许多珍奇的动物。
10 worthy vftwB     
  • I did not esteem him to be worthy of trust.我认为他不值得信赖。
  • There occurred nothing that was worthy to be mentioned.没有值得一提的事发生。
11 honor IQDzL     
  • I take your visit as a great honor.您的来访是我莫大的光荣。
  • It is a great honor to receive that prize.能拿到那个奖是无上的光荣。
12 sudden YsSw9     
  • All of a sudden he turned about and saw me.他突然转过身来看见了我。
  • The horse was badly frightened by the sudden noise.那匹马被突然而来的嘈杂声吓坏了。
13 mister rnQzwB     
  • Mister Smith is my good friend.史密斯先生是我的好朋友。
  • He styled himself " Mister Clean ".他自称是“清廉先生”。
14 possessions ylozMR     
n.[法]财产;占有( possession的名词复数 );领地;个人财产;持有违禁物
  • The group forswears all worldly possessions. 这个团体放弃一切尘世财物。
  • I lost some of my most prized possessions in the fire. 大火吞噬了我的一些最珍贵的物品。
15 motion nEzxY     
  • She could feel the rolling motion of the ship under her feet.她能感觉到脚下船在晃动。
  • Don't open the door while the train is in motion.列车运行时,请勿打开车门。
16 brightness 6xxz6I     
  • The brightness of the paint has worn off a little.油漆的光泽有些磨损了。
  • Her eyes squinted against the brightness.亮光刺得她眯起眼睛。
17 madame VAFx4     
  • Madame Curie was the only famous woman scientist in the world.居里夫人是世界上唯一有名的女科学家。
  • Radium is discovered by Madame Curie.镭是由居里夫人发现的。
18 breath 9SCyv     
  • I'm just going out for a breath of fresh air.我正要出去呼吸新鲜空气。
  • While climbing up the stairs the old man always loses his breath.那老人上楼时总是气喘吁吁的。
19 experienced ntPz2t     
  • Experienced seamen will advise you about sailing in this weather.有经验的海员会告诉你在这种天气下的航行情况。
  • Perhaps you and I had better change over;you are more experienced.也许我们的工作还是对换一下好,你比我更有经验。
20 surely yrRwj     
  • It'should surely be possible for them to reach an agreement.想必他们可以达成协议。
  • Surely we'll profit from your work.我们肯定会从你的工作中得到益处。
21 curls 18643bd499048f5261315f61bc49e180     
n.一绺鬈发( curl的名词复数 );卷曲物;螺旋状物;(指头发)拳曲v.(使)弯曲( curl的第三人称单数 );(使)卷曲;盘旋;缠绕
  • His hair curls naturally. 他的头发天生鬈曲。
  • Her hair fell over her shoulders in a cascade of curls. 她的卷发像瀑布一样垂在肩上。 来自《简明英汉词典》
22 pan YKHxG     
  • The water had all boiled away and the pan was burned.水煮干了,锅也烧坏了。
  • The eggs were frying in the pan.鸡蛋正在锅里煎。
23 prayer 5Pux5     
  • We heard the calling of the bells to prayer.我们听见了召唤祈祷的钟声。
  • Everyone in church knelt in prayer.教堂里每个人都跪着祈祷。
24 whispered ac3eda029cd72fefda0d32abc42aa001     
adj.耳语的,低语的v.低声说( whisper的过去式和过去分词 );私语;小声说;私下说
  • She sidled up to me and whispered something in my ear. 她悄悄走上前来,对我耳语了几句。
  • His ill luck has been whispered about the neighborhood. 他的不幸遭遇已在邻居中传开。 来自《简明英汉词典》
25 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
26 awaken byMzdD     
  • Old people awaken early in the morning.老年人早晨醒得早。
  • Please awaken me at six.请于六点叫醒我。
27 haircut ueKx9     
  • Get yourself a haircut!快去理个发吧!
  • He is going to have a haircut.他要去理发。
28 alas Rx8z1     
  • Alas!The window is broken!哎呀!窗子破了!
  • Alas,the truth is less romantic.然而,真理很少带有浪漫色彩。
29 shells 6cada1b5279cf64ec485c08de4d14f53     
n.(贝、卵、坚果等的)壳( shell的名词复数 );外壳;炮弹;(人的)表面性格
  • We collected shells on the beach. 我们在海滩拾贝壳。
  • But at last the shells cracked, one after another. 最后,蛋壳一个接着一个地裂开了。 来自《简明英汉词典》
30 couch mzfxf     
  • Lie down on the couch if you're feeling ill.如果你感觉不舒服就躺到沙发上去。
  • The rabbIt'sprang from its grassy couch.兔子从草丛中跳出。
TAG标签:   american story  special  christm
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