25 short stories by W. S. Porter, published in 1906 under his pseudonym O. Henry. A preface explains the title: “Not very long ago some one invented the assertion that there were only ‘Four Hundred’ people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen—the census taker—and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred.”
“The Gift of the Magi” is a tale of two New Yorkers who sell their most valued possessions to buy Christmas gifts for each other. Unknown to her husband, the wife sells her hair in order to purchase a chain for his watch, while he secretly sells the watch to buy her a pair of combs. “Of all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest …. They are the magi ….” “The Furnished Room” tells of a cheap boardinghouse room haunted by the “ghosts” of unfortunate residents. An attractive girl, penniless and despairing of her career as a singer, commits suicide in it. A week later her former sweetheart rents it. When he scents a trace of the mignonette she used to wear but can find no clue of her presence, he too commits suicide.
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O. Henry (1862—1910) American short-story writer