BUS437 Ashford University Implementation and Operations Model Discussion The Gift of the Magi 1 O. Henry (1906) i i One dollar and eightyseven cents. That

BUS437 Ashford University Implementation and Operations Model Discussion The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry (1906)
One dollar and eightyseven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it wasin pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time
by bulldozing thegrocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burnedwith the
silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.Three times Della counted it. One d
ollar and eighty-seven cents. And thenext day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couchand howl. So Della did it.
Which instigates the moral reflection that lifeis made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles p
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the firststage to the second, take a look
at the home. A furnished flat at $8 perweek. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly h
ad thatword on the lookout for the mendicancy 2 squad.
In the vestibule below was a letterbox 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. JamesDillingham Young.”
The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period ofprosperity when its posse
ssor was being paid $30 per week. Now, whenthe income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thi
nking seriously ofcontracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. JamesDillingham
Young came home and reached his flat above he was called”Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James
Dillingham Young, alreadyintroduced 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 an
d looked out dully at a gray cat walking agray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christ
mas Day, andshe had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been savingevery penny
she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars aweek doesn’t go far. Expenses had been gre
ater 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 sterlin
g—something just a little bit near tobeing worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps youhave seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile personmay, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequ
ence of longitudinalstrips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, beingslender, had
mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. Hereyes were shining brilliantl
y, but her face had lost its color withintwenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it f
all to its fulllength.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs inwhich they both took a mighty
pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that hadbeen his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Del
la’s hair. Hadthe queen of Sheba3 lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della wouldhave let her hair h
ang out the window some day to dry just todepreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Sol
omon4 been thejanitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would havepulled out hi
s watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at hisbeard from envy.
So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like acascade of brown waters. It r
eached below her knee and made itselfalmost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nerv
ously andquickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or twosplashed on the
worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirlof skirts and with the brilli
ant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered outthe door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: “Mme.5 Sofronie. Hair Goods of AllKinds.” 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 thelooks of it.”
Down rippled the brown cascade.
“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practiced hand.
“Give it to me quick,” said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashedmetaphor. She was ransac
king 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 an
y of the stores, and she had turned all ofthem inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and ch
aste in design,properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not bymeretricious ornament
as all good things should do. It was evenworthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that
it must beJim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value—the description applied toboth. Twentyone dollars they took from her for it, and she hurriedhome with the 87 cents. With that chain on hi
s watch Jim might beproperly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watchwas, he s
ometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leatherstrap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudenceand reason. She got out he
r curling irons and lighted the gas and went towork repairing the ravages made by generosity add
ed to love. Which isalways a tremendous task, dear friends—a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, closelying curlsthat made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked ather reflection in th
e mirror long, carefully, and critically.
“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a secondlook at me, he’ll say I look like
a Coney Island chorus girl. But whatcould I do—
oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty seven cents?”
At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the fryingpan was on the back ofthe stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat onthe corner of the table near t
he door that he always entered. Then sheheard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, a
nd she turnedwhite for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayersabout the sim
plest 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 andvery serious. Poor fellow, he
was only twenty-two—
and to be burdenedwith 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 ofquail. His eyes were fixed upo
n Della, and there was an expression inthem that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not
anger, norsurprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that shehad been prepa
red for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiarexpression 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 offand sold because I couldn’
t have lived through Christmas without givingyou a present. It’ll grow out again—
you won’t mind, will you? I just hadto do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say ‘Merry Christmas!’ Jim,
and let’sbe happy. You don’t know what a nice—what a beautiful, nice gift I’vegot for you.”
“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrivedat that patent fact yet eve
n 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. Maybethe hairs of my
head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serioussweetness, “but nobody could ever count
my love for you. Shall I put thechops on, Jim?”
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. Forten seconds let us regard
with discreet scrutiny some inconsequentialobject 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 thewrong answer. The magi brou
ght valuable gifts, but that was not amongthem. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon thetable.
“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’sanything in the way of a hai
rcut or a shave or a shampoo that couldmake me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that pac
kage you maysee why you had me going a while at first.”
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then anecstatic scream of joy; and then,
alas! a quick feminine change tohysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employme
nt ofall the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs—
the set of combs, side and back, that Dellahad worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful c
ombs, puretortoise shell, with jeweled rims—
just the shade to wear in the beautifulvanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and h
er heart hadsimply craved and yearned over them without the least hope ofpossession. And now, t
hey were hers, but the tresses that should haveadorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to lookup 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 eagerlyupon her open palm. The d
ull precious metal seemed to flash with areflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to lookat the time a hundred tim
es a day now. Give me your watch. I want tosee how it looks on it.”
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his handsunder the back of his head a
nd smiled.
“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em awhile. They’re too nice to use
just at present. I sold the watch to get themoney to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the
chops on.”
The magi, as you know, were wise men—wonderfully wise men—
whobrought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of givingChristmas presents. Be
ing wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones,possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of d
uplication. Andhere I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolishchildren in
a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other thegreatest treasures of their house. But in a las
t word to the wise of thesedays let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. Oa
ll who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere theyare wisest. They are the mag
A Worn Path
Eudora Welty (1941)
It was December—
a bright frozen day in the early morning. Farout in the country there was an old Negr
o woman with her headtied in a red rag, coming along a path through the pinewoods.
Her name was Phoenix Jackson. She was very old and small andshe walked slowly in
the dark pine shadows, moving a littlefrom side to side in her steps, with the balance
d heaviness andlightness of a pendulum in a grandfather clock. She carried athin, sm
all cane made from an umbrella, and with this she kepttapping the frozen earth in fro
nt of her. This made a grave andpersistent noise in the still air that seemed meditativ
e, like thechirping of a solitary little bird.
She wore a dark striped dress reaching down to her shoe tops,and an equally long ap
ron of bleached sugar sacks, with a fullpocket: all neat and tidy, but every time she to
ok a step shemight have fallen over her shoelaces, which dragged from herunlaced sh
oes. She looked straight ahead. Her eyes were bluewith age. Her skin had a pattern al
l its own of numberlessbranching wrinkles and as though a whole little tree stood int
he middle of her forehead, but a golden color ran underneath,and the two knobs of h
er cheeks were illumined by a yellowburning under the dark. Under the red rag her h
air came downon her neck in the frailest of ringlets, still black, and with anodor like c
Now and then there was a quivering in the thicket. Old Phoenixsaid, “Out of my way,
all you foxes, owls, beetles, jack rabbits,coons and wild animals! . . . Keep out from un
der these feet,little bobwhites . . . Keep the big wild hogs out of my path. Don’tlet none of those come runnin
g my direction. I got a long way.”Under her small blackfreckled hand her cane, limber as a buggywhip, would switch at the brush as if to rou
se up any hidingthings.
On she went. The woods were deep and still. The sun made thepine needles almost to
o bright to look at, up where the windrocked. The cones dropped as light as feathers.
Down in thehollow was the mourning dove—it was not too late for him.
The path ran up a hill. “Seem like there is chains about my feet,time I get this far,” she
said, in the voice of argument old peoplekeep to use with themselves. “Something al
ways take a hold ofme on this hill—pleads I should stay.”
After she got to the top she turned and gave a full, severe lookbehind her where she
had come. “Up through pines,” she said atlength. “Now down through oaks.” Her eyes
opened theirwidest, and she started down gently. But before she got to thebottom of
the hill a bush caught her dress.
Her fingers were busy and intent, but her skirts were full andlong, so that before she
could pull them free in one place theywere caught in another. It was not possible to a
llow the dress totear. “I in the thorny bush,” she said. “Thorns, you doing yourappoin
ted work. Never want to let folks pass, no sir. Old eyesthought you was a pretty little
green bush.” Finally, trembling allover, she stood free, and after a moment dared to s
toop for hercane.
“Sun so high!” she cried, leaning back and looking, while thethick tears went over her
eyes. “The time getting all gone here.”
At the foot of this hill was a place where a log was laid acrossthe creek.
“Now comes the trial,” said Phoenix.
Putting her right foot out, she mounted the log and shut hereyes. Lifting her skirt, lev
eling her cane fiercely before her, like afestival figure in some parade, she began to m
arch across. Thenshe opened her eyes and she was safe on the other side.
“I wasn’t as old as I thought,” she said.
But she sat down to rest. She spread her skirts on the bankaround her and folded her
hands over her knees. Up above herwas a tree in a pearly cloud of mistletoe.
She did not dare to close her eyes, and when a little boy broughther a plate with a slic
e of marblecake on it she spoke to him.”That would be acceptable,” she said. But when she went
to takeit there was just her own hand in the air.
So she left that tree, and had to go through a barbedwire fence.There she had to creep and crawl, spreading her knees andstretching her f
ingers like a baby trying to climb the steps. Butshe talked loudly to herself: she could
not let her dress be tornnow, so late in the day, and she could not pay for having her
armor her leg sawed off if she got caught fast where she was.
At last she was safe through the fence and risen up out in theclearing. Big dead trees,
like black men with one arm, werestanding in the purple stalks of the withered cotto
n field. Theresat a buzzard.
“Who you watching?”
In the furrow she made her way along.
“Glad this not the season for bulls,” she said, looking sideways,”and the good Lord ma
de his snakes to curl up and sleep in thewinter. A pleasure I don’t see no two-
headed snake comingaround that tree, where it come once. It took a while to get byhi
m, back in the summer.”
She passed through the old cotton and went into a field of deadcorn. It whispered an
d shook and was taller than her head.”Through the maze now,” she said, for there wa
s no path.
Then there was something tall, black, and skinny there, movingbefore her.
At first she took it for a man. It could have been a man dancingin the field. But she sto
od still and listened, and it did not makea sound. It was as silent as a ghost.
“Ghost,” she said sharply, “who be you the ghost of? For I haveheard of nary death clo
se by.”
But there was no answer—only the ragged dancing in the wind.
She shut her eyes, reached out her hand, and touched a sleeve.She found a coat and i
nside that an emptiness, cold as ice.
“You scarecrow,” she said. Her face lighted. “I ought to be shutup for good,” she said
with laughter. “My senses is gone. I tooold. I the oldest people I ever know. Dance, ol
d scarecrow,” shesaid, “while I dancing with you.”
She kicked her foot over the furrow, and with mouth drawndown, shook her head on
ce or twice in a little strutting way.Some husks blew down and whirled in streamers
about herskirts.
Then she went on, parting her way from side to side with thecane, through the whisp
ering field. At last she came to the end,to a wagon track where the silver grass blew b
etween the redruts. The quail were walking around like pullets, seeming alldainty an
d unseen.
“Walk pretty,” she said. “This the easy place. This the easygoing.”
She followed the track, swaying through the quiet bare fields,through the little string
s of trees silver in their dead leaves, pastcabins silver from weather, with the doors a
nd windowsboarded shut, all like old women under a spell sitting there. “Iwalking in
their sleep,” she said, nodding her head vigorously.
In a ravine she went where a spring was silently flowingthrough a hollow log. Old Ph
oenix bent and drank. “Sweet-
gummakes the water sweet,” she said, and drank more. “Nobodyknow who made this
well, for it was here when I was born.”
The track crossed a swampy part where the moss hung as whiteas lace from every li
mb. “Sleep on, alligators, and blow yourbubbles.” Then the track went into the road.
Deep, deep theroad went down between the high greencolored banks.Overhead the live oaks met, and it was as dark as a cave.
A black dog with a lolling tongue came up out of the weeds bythe ditch. She was medi
tating, and not ready, and when he cameat her she only hit him a little with her cane.
Over she went inthe ditch, like a little puff of milkweed.
Down there, her senses drifted away. A dream visited her, andshe reached her hand
up, but nothing reached down and gaveher a pull. So she lay there and presently wen
t to talking. “Oldwoman,” she said to herself, “that black dog come up out of theweed
s to stall you off, and now there he sitting on his fine tail,smiling at you.”
A white man finally came along and found her—
a hunter, ayoung man, with his dog on a chain. “Well, Granny!” he laughed.”What are
you doing there?”
“Lying on my back like a Junebug waiting to be turned over,mister,” she said, reaching up her hand.
He lifted her up, gave her a swing in the air, and set her down.”Anything broken, Gra
“No sir, them old dead weeds is springy enough,” said Phoenix,when she had got her
breath. “I thank you for your trouble.”
“Where do you live, Granny?” he asked, while the two dogs weregrowling at each oth
“Away back yonder, sir, behind the ridge. You can’t even see itfrom here.”
“On your way home?”
“No sir, I going to town.”
“Why, that’s too far! That’s as far as I walk when I come outmyself, and I get somethi
ng for my trouble.” He patted thestuffed bag he carried, and there hung down a little
closed claw.It was one of the bobwhites, with its beak hooked bitterly toshow it was
dead. “Now you go on home, Granny!”
“I bound to go to town, mi…
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