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One dollar and eighty-seven cents.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.what could I do with a dollar and eighty-seven cents?" At seven o'clock that night the coffee was made and the pan 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 prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."Pennies saved one and two at a time by negotiating with the men at the market who sold vegetables and meat.Now, Mr. and Mrs. James Dillingham Young had two possessions which they valued.So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her, shining like a brown waterfall.Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny round curls of hair that made her look wonderfully like a schoolboy.And sixty cents of it in the smallest pieces of money - pennies.Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents.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.With a quick motion and brightness still in her eyes, she danced out the door and down the street.Where she stopped the sign read: "Madame Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.""Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the hair with an experienced hand.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.Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a dog smelling a bird.Negotiating until one's face burned with the silent knowledge of being poor.So Della cried.She stood by the window and looked out unhappily at a gray cat walking along a gray fence in a gray back yard.Expenses had been greater than she had expected.Something fine and rare -- something close to being worthy of the honor of belonging to Jim.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.The other was Della's hair.Della ran up the steps to the shop, out of breath.asked Della."I buy hair," said Madame.Down came the beautiful brown waterfall of hair."Give it to me quick," said Della.Della looked in all the stores to choose a gift for Jim.


Original text

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it in the smallest pieces of money - pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by negotiating with the men at the market who sold vegetables and meat. Negotiating until one's face burned with the silent 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 fence 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 saving every penny 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 rare -- something close to being worthy of the honor 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, Mr. and Mrs. James Dillingham Young had two possessions 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 motion and brightness still in her eyes, she danced out the door and down the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Madame Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." Della ran up the steps to the shop, out of breath.


"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 experienced 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 surely 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 curls 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 pan 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 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. 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 fixed 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.


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