The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry (aka William Sydney Porter)
Clark, Mindy Starns (American playwright, ____-____), “The Gift of the Magi,”
a 25-minute Christmas drama in English, adapted by Mindy Starns Clark from O. Henry’s (aka William Sydney Porter, American source short story writer, 1862-1910), set in _____, ____,
© 1993 by Mindy Starns Clark;
• in Mindy Starns Clark’s The Gift of the Magi, adapted from O. Henry’s famous original story (Venice, Florida, U.S.A.: Eldridge Publishing Co. Inc., c1993), P. O. Box 1595, Venice, 34284, ), LCCN 95-215312, containing “The Last Leaf,” a __-minute adapted by Thomas Hischak, 2m2f; “The Love Life of Herbert Parkenstacker,” a __-minute adapted by J. Salem, 2m2f; or “The Pig in the Pokey,” a __-minute adapted by Brainerd Duffield, 1m3f;
• script/rights available from Eldridge Publishing Company, P. O. Box 1595, Venice, Florida, U.S.A., telephone 1-800-HI-STAGE, fax 1-800-453-5179, e-mail info@histage, Eld PlayPak 1129.
_____ (m), __, _____; _____ (m), __, _____; _____ (f), __, _____; _____ (f), __, _____.
In chronological order of publication, research could include The Gift of the Magi / by O. Henry, illustrated by Stephen Gooden (1892-1955) (London: Harrap, 1939), LCCN 87-167880 AC r932.
• Also, research could include Richard Adler’s (1921-____) The Gift of the Magi, excerpts—vocal scores with piano (New York City: Andrew Music Corporation, [195_]), LCCN 64-38436;
• Also, research could include William Sydney Porter’s (1862-1910) The Last Leaf, and The Gift of the Magi, a sound recording ([n. p.:] Spoken Arts SAC 7040, 1969), LCCN 72-750356, p. 1 cassette, 2-1/2 x 4 in., read by Robert Ryan (1913-____), duration 16 min., 50 sec.; 15 min., 7 sec.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Complete Works of O. Henry [pseud.], foreword by Harry Hansen (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1953), LCCN 53-6098 r952.
• Also, research could include O. Henry [1862-1910] and Edgar Allan Poe [1809-1849], compiled by Arthur Barrett, Voyages in Reading series (New York: Odyssey Press, 1969), LCCN 69-20198 r943, containing O. Henry’s stories “A Retrieved Reform,” “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Cop and the Anthem,” “Mammon and the Archer”; E. A. Poe’s poems “The Raven,” “To Helen,” “To My Mother,” “Annabel Lee,” “The Bells”; E. A. Poe’s stories “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Oval Portrait.”
• Also, research could include Stephen Kupka’s Kup-Key Productions Presents a Musical Based on O. Henry’s Story The Gift of the Magi (Ridgewood, New Jersey: Kup-Key Productions, c1971), LCCN unk84-86762.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrated by Erik Blegvad (New York: Hawthorn Books, 1972), LCCN 74-179130 r932.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s O. Henry a la Carte: The Gift of the Magi, and Other Favorites, selected by Jan Miller Gilmore, illustrated with drawings by Charles Dana Gibson, Hallmark Editions series (Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.: Hallmark Cards, Inc., 1973), ISBN 0875293336 (containing “The Gift of the Magi,” “Hard to Forget,” “Chanson de Boheme,” “Springtime a la Carte,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “Nothing to Say,” “The Last Leaf,” “A Strange Story,” “The Old Farm,” “Two Portraits,” and __-minute “Hearts and Hands”).
• Also, research could include Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933), Charles Dickens (1812-1870) and O. Henry’s (1862-1910) The Story of the Other Wise Man [by] Henry Van Dyke; A Christmas Carol [by] Charles Dickens; The Gift of the Magi [by] O. Henry, with a special introduction by David Poling, Inspiration Three volume 5, a Pivot Family Reader series (New Canaan, Connecticut, U.S.A.: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1973), LCCN 73-180912 r933.
• Also, research could include William Sydney Porter’s (1862-1910) The Gift of the Magi, a sound recording, Spoken Arts cassette library for young listeners, volume 3 ([n. p.:] Spoken Arts SAC 6148, 1974), LCCN 74-750858, p. 1 cassette. 2 1/2 x 4 in., read by Robert Ryan (1913-____), duration 15 min.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi (Dallas, Texas, U.S.A.: Somesuch Press, 1978), LCCN 80-496618 r933, 300 copies of this book designed and produced in San Francisco by Andrew Hoyem, printer, no. 58.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, original illustrations by Shelley Freshman (Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A.: Bobbs-Merrill, c1978), ISBN 0672522969.
• Also, research could include Richard Adler’s (1921-____) and O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi: One Act Version, music and lyrics by Richard Adler, story adapted by Wilson Lehr (New York: Tams-Witmark, c1978), LCCN 80-451214 MN r932.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrated by Byron Glaser, Creative Classic series (Mankato, Minnesota, U.S.A.: Creative Education, c1980), ISBN 0871917750, about a husband and wife sacrifice treasured possessions in order to buy each other Christmas presents.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger; script by Michael Neugebauer (Natick, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Picture Book Studio, c1982), ISBN 0907234178, distributed by Alphabet Press, about a husband and wife who sacrifice treasured possessions in order to buy each other Christmas presents.
• Also, research could include Peter Ekstrom’s O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi adaptation, music, and lyrics by Peter Ekstrom, acting edition prepared by Jim Kramer, French’s Musical Library (New York: Samuel French, 1984), ISBN 0573681325.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s Collected Stories of O. Henry, edited by Paul J. Horowitz, revised and expanded (New York: Avenel Books, 1986), distributed by Crown Publishers, ISBN 0517618397.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s Four Short Stories: English, Francais, Deutsch (Hanover, U.S.A.: Hanover Print., 1987), Hanover Print., Box 43, Hanover 02339, LCCN 88-176026 r95.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories, illustrations by Gordon Grant, afterword by Richard O’Connor (Pleasantville, New York, U.S.A.: Reader’s Digest Association, 1987), LCCN 87-60922 r953.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrated by Kevin King (New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 1988), ISBN 0671647067.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrated by Robert Sauber, adapted from the story by O. Henry (Morris Plains, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Unicorn Publishing House, c1991), ISBN 0881011169.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Best of O. Henry (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.: Courage Books, c1992), ISBN 156138111X.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, script by Michael Neugebauer (Saxonville, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Picture Book Studio, 1992), distributed in the U.S. by Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0887082769.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi and Other Short Stories, Dover Thrift Edition (New York: Dover Publications, 1992), ISBN 0486270610.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, illustrated by Carol Heyer, 1st edition (Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.: Ideals Children’s Books, 1994), ISBN 1571020039.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi: A Classic Christmas Tale, illustrations by Jill Karla Schwarz (Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.: Andrews and McMeel, 1995), ISBN 0836247396.
• Also, research could include Randy Courts’ Gifts of the Magi: Libretto The Gifts [sic] of the Magi: A Musical: From the Stories of O. Henry, book by Mark St. Germain, music by Sandy Courts, lyrics by Randy Courts and Mark St. Germain, revised edition (New York: Dramatists Play Service, 1995), ISBN 082221461X.
• Also, research could include Peter Ekstrom’s An O. Henry Christmas: A Christmas Musical, libretto, music & lyrics by Peter Ekstrom, French’s Musical Library (New York: Samuel French, 1995), ISBN 0573695725.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift, illustrated by Debbie Dieneman, adapted by Jennifer Boudart (Lincolnwood, Illinois, U.S.A.: Publications International, Ltd., 1996), ISBN 0785319255.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, adapted by Penelope J. Stokes, illustrated by Robert Sauber (Wheaton, Illinois, U.S.A.: Victor Books, c1996), ISBN 1564765431.
• Also, research could include Barry Moser’s Good and Perfect Gifts: A Retelling of O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, 1st edition (Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Little, Brown, c1996), ISBN 0316585432.
• Also, research could include John O’Brien’s (1953-____) The Muppets The Gift of the Magi: Story Book Set & Advent Calendar, illustrations by John O’Brien, story retold by Mary Packard , design by Antler & Baldwin Design Group, developed by Nancy Hall, Inc., (New York: Workman Pub., 1996), ISBN 0761105328.
• Also, research could include O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories, illustrated by Michael Dooling, afterword by Peter Glassman (New York City, New York: William Morrow, 1997), ISBN 0688145817.
• Also, research could include Stephen Butler Leacock’s (1869-____) The Amazing Genius of O. Henry ([n. p., n. d.]), LCCN unk80-13621.
• Also, research could include Thomas Hischak’s Gift of the Magi (Englewood, Colorado, U.S.A.: Pioneer Drama Service, Inc., n. d.), Pioneer Drama Service, Inc., P. O. Box 4267, Englewood, Colorado 80155, U.S.A., telephone 303-779-4035, fax 303-779-4315.
• Also, research could include biographical details from an interview at Mindy Starns Clark1485x - Christianbook.com, http://www.christianbook.com/Christian/Books/cms_content?page=985182&event=SP1001%7C1040943%7C1001%7C1040943%7C1001, accessed November 22, 2006.
• Photo of William Sydney Porter from Historic Photos of the Texas Capitol Visitors Center, http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/CVC/historic/ohenry.htm, accessed August 10, 2006.
• Photo of Mindy Starns Clark from http://www.mindystarnsclark.com, accessed November 22, 2006.
devotion, gift, marriage, selflessness, young love.
Full Text of the Source Short Story
The Gift of the Magi
by O. Henry
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. 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 flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating. While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad. In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young." The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good. Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim 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 had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim. There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length. Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy. So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet. On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street. Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie." "Will you buy my hair?" asked Della. "I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it." Down rippled the brown cascade. "Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand. "Give it to me quick," said Della. Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present. She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain. When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task. Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically. "If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?" At 7 o'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 doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first 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 burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves. Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable 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 prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face. Della wriggled off the table and went for him. "Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold 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 `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you." "You've cut off your 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, ain't I?" Jim looked about the room curiously. "You say your 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 of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on. Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table. "Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could 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 paper. 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, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone. But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!" And them 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 reflection 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 the back of his head and smiled. "Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on." The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. 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 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. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
—Kids Domain - The Gift of the Magi, http://www.kidsdomain.com/holiday/xmas/stories/thegiftofthemagi.html, accessed November 22, 2006.