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Мне всег­да нра­вилось ра­ботать с людь­ми, по­это­му еще в шко­ле я оп­ре­дели­ла для се­бя эту сте­зю. Это, дей­стви­тель­но, очень ин­те­рес­но по­нять внут­ренние цен­ности че­лове­ка, его стрем­ле­ния, це­ли. По­нима­ние лю­дей есть ключ к дос­ти­жению эф­фектив­ности их ра­боты. Далее…

The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry

Один из са­мых из­вест­ных расс­ка­зов О’Ген­ри, мно­го раз пе­ре­из­данный и лег­ший в ос­но­ву мно­гочис­ленных пос­та­новок и филь­мов, со­дер­жит боль­шинс­тво при­емов ав­то­ра — с ни­щими ге­ро­ями ра­боче­го клас­са, юмо­рис­ти­чес­кий стиль из­ло­жения, ре­алис­тичную кар­ти­ну жиз­ни и не­ожи­дан­ную раз­вязку в кон­це. Но глав­ная при­чина при­тяже­ния расс­ка­за для чи­тате­ля – это гимн бес­ко­рыст­ной люб­ви, что слов­но да­ры Вол­хов при­несен­ные но­ворож­денно­му Иису­су.

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 left 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 lo­ok-out 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, the let­ters of «Dil­ling­ham» lo­oked blur­red, as 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 grey cat wal­king a grey fen­ce in a grey bac­ky­ard. To-mor­row 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 ho­no­ur 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 Bat. 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 co­lo­ur 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 of 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 clut­te­red out of the do­or and down the sta­irs to the stre­et.

Whe­re she stop­ped the sign re­ad: «Mme Sof­ro­nie. Ha­ir Go­ods of All Kinds.» One Eight 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 78 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 of sa­ying litt­le si­lent pra­yers 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 with out glo­ves.

Jim step­ped 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 it 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 la­bo­ur.

«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 a 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. I his 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 for 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 then 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 {lash 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. Of all who gi­ve and re­ce­ive gifts, such as they are wi­sest. Eve­ryw­he­re they are wi­sest. They are the ma­gi.

O Hen­ry