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until the last echoes of it had died away neck, he drew it from its horrid perch, into the silence from which it rose. and carrying it at arm's length, threw it “What can it mean?” I gasped.
into the iron safe, which he closed upon it. "It means that it is all over," Holmes answered. "And perhaps, after all, it is Such are the true facts of the death of for the best. Take your pistol, and we Dr. Grimesby Roylott, of Stoke Moran. will enter Dr. Roylott's room."
It is not necessary that I should prolong With a grave face he lit the lamp and a narrative which has already run to too led the way down the corridor. Twice great a length, by telling how we broke he struck at the chamber door without any the sad news to the terrified girl, how we reply from within. Then he turned the conveyed her by the morning train to handle and entered, I at his heels, with the care of her good aunt at Harrow, of the cocked pistol in my hand.
how the slow process of official inquiry It was a singular sight which met our came to the conclusion that the doctor eyes. On the table stood a dark-lantern met his fate while indiscreetly playing with the shutter half open, throwing a with a dangerous pet. The little which brilliant beam of light upon the iron safe, I had yet to learn of the case was told the door of which was ajar. Beside this me by Sherlock Holmes as we travelled table, on the wooden chair, sat Dr. Grimes- back next day. by Roylott, clad in a long gray dressing- "I had," said he, "come to an entirely gown, his bare ankles protruding beneath, erroneous conclusion, which shows, my and his feet thrust into red heelless Turk | dear Watson, how dangerous it always is ish slippers. Across his lap lay the short to reason from insufficient data. The stock with the long lash which we had presence of the gypsies, and the use of the noticed during the day. His chin was word 'band,' which was used by the poor cocked upward and his eyes were fixed girl, no doubt to explain the appearance in a dreadful, rigid stare at the corner of which she had caught a hurried glimpse the ceiling. Round his brow he had of by the light of her match, were suffia peculiar yellow band, with brownish cient to put me upon an entirely wrong speckles, which seemed to be bound scent. I can only claim the merit that I tightly round his head. As we entered instantly reconsidered my position when, he made neither sound nor motion. however, it became clear to me that what
"The band! The speckled band !" ever danger threatened an occupant of whispered Holmes.
the room could not come either from the I took a step forward. In an instant window or the door. My attention was his strange head-gear began to move, and speedily drawn, as I have already rethere reared itself from among his hair marked to you, to this ventilator, and to the squat diamond-shaped head and the bell-rope which hung down to the bed. puffed neck of a loathsome serpent. The discovery that this was a dummy,
“It is a swamp adder!” cried Holmes, and that the bed was clamped to the “the deadliest snake in India. He has floor, instantly gave rise to the suspicion died within ten seconds of being bitten. that the rope was there as bridge for Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the something passing through the hole, and violent, and the schemer falls into the coming to the bed. The idea of a snake pit which he digs for another. Let us instantly occurred to me, and when I thrust this creature back into its den, and coupled it with my knowledge that the we can then remove Miss Stoner to some doctor was furnished with a supply of place of shelter, and let the county police creatures from India, I felt that I was know what has happened.
probably on the right track. The idea As he spoke he drew the dog-whip of using a form of poison which could swiftly from the dead man's lap, and not possibly be discovered by any chemthrowing the noose round the reptile's ( ical test was just such a one as would
occur to a clever and ruthless man who he should reach the ventilator. The had had an Eastern training. The rapid- sight of the safe, the saucer of milk, and ity with which such a poison would take the loop of whipcord were enough to effect would also, from his point of view, finally dispel any doubts which may have be an advantage. It would be a sharp- remained. The metallic clang heard by eyed coroner, indeed, who could distin- Miss Stoner was obviously caused by her guish the two little dark punctures which step-father hastily closing the door of his would show where the poison fangs had safe upon its terrible occupant. Having done their work. Then I thought of the once made up my mind, you know the whistle. Of course he must recall the steps which I took in order to put the snake before the morning light revealed matter to the proof. I heard the creature it to the victim. He had trained it, prob
He had trained it, prob- hiss, as I have no doubt that you did also, ably by the use of the milk which we saw, and I instantly lit the light and attacked to return to him when summoned. He it.” would put it through this ventilator at "With the result of driving it through the hour that he thought best, with the the ventilator." certainty that it would crawl down the "And also with the result of causing rope and land on the bed. It might or it to turn upon its master at the other side. might not bite the occupant, perhaps she Some of the blows of my cane came home, might escape every night for a week, but and roused its snakish temper, so that it sooner or later she must fall a victim. flew upon the first person it saw. In “I had come to these conclusions before
I am no doubt indirectly reever I had entered his room. An inspec-sponsible for Dr. Grimesby Roylott's tion of his chair showed me that he had death, and I cannot say that it is likely been in the habit of standing on it, which to weigh very heavily upon my of course would be necessary in order that science.”
THE GIFT OF THE MAGI?
0. Henry (William Sydney Porter) (1862-1910) is the best-known American shortstory writer. After a varied career, ranging from banana planter in Central America to druggist's clerk in New Orleans, Porter, at the age of thirty-four, turned his attention to literature and the short story. His tales deal largely with the Southwest and with Central America, and one volume, The Four Million, is a realistic study of the poor of New York City. Other suggestive titles are Cabbages and Kings and Roads of Destiny, His work is noteworthy for its sympathetic insight, its colloquial style, its unexpected wit, and surprising conclusions, all of which, with a little more sentiment than is common with him are united in the “Gift of the Magi" (1906).
ONE dollar and eighty-seven cents. flop down on the shabby little couch and That was all. And sixty cents of it was howl. So Della did it. Which instiin pennies. Pennies saved one and two gates the moral reflection that life is made at a time by bulldozing the grocer and up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffthe vegetable man and the butcher until les predominating. one's cheeks burned with the silent impu- While the mistress of the home is gradtation of parsimony that such close deal- ually subsiding from the first stage to the ing implied. Three times Della counted second, take a look at the home. A furnit. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. ished Alat at $8 per week. It did not And the next day would be Christmas. exactly beggar description, but it cer
There was clearly nothing to do but tainly had that word on the lookout for 1 From The Four Million by O. Henry.
the mendicancy squad. Doubleday, Page and Company, publishers. In the vestibule below was a letter-box
into which no letter would go, and an the James Dillingham Youngs in which electric button from which no mortal they both took a mighty pride. One was finger could coax a ring. Also appertain-Jim's gold watch that had been his ing thereunto was a card bearing the name father's and his grandfather's. The "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
other was Della's hair. Had the Queen The “Dillingham” had been Aung to of Sheba lived in the flat across the airthe breeze during a former period of shaft, Della would have let her hair hang prosperity when its possessor was being out the window some day to dry just to paid $30 per week. Now, when the in- depreciate her Majesty's jewels and gifts. come was shrunk to $20, the letters of Had King Solomon been the janitor, with “Dillingham” looked blurred, as though all his treasures piled up in the basement, they were thinking seriously of contract- Jim would have pulled out his watch ing to a modest and unassuming D. But every time he passed, just to see him pluck whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young at his beard from envy. came home and reached his flat above he So now Della's beautiful hair fell about was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by her, rippling and shining like a cascade of Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already brown waters. It reached below her knee introduced to you as Della. Which is and made itself almost a garment for her. all very good.
And then she did it up again nervously Della finished her cry and attended to and quickly. Once she faltered for a her cheeks with the powder rag. She minute and stood still while a tear or two stood by the window and looked out dully splashed on the worn red carpet. at a grey cat walking a grey fence in a On went her old brown jacket; on grey backyard. Tomorrow would be went her old brown hat. With a whirl Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle with which to buy Jim a present. She
She still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door had been saving every penny she could and down the stairs to the street. for months, with this result. Twenty Where she stopped the sign read: dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses “Mme. Sofronie. Hair Goods of all had been greater than she had calculated. Kinds.” One fight up Della ran, and They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a collected herself, panting. Madame, present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the happy hour she had spent planning for "Sofronie." something nice for him. Something fine "Will you buy my hair?" asked Della. and rare and sterling-something just a "I buy hair," said Madame. "Take little bit near to being worthy of the yer hat off and let's have a sight at the honor of being owned by Jim.
looks of it.” There was a pier-glass between the Down rippled the brown cascade. windows of the room. Perhaps you have "Twenty dollars," said Madame, liftseen a pier-glass in an $8 Aat.
ing the mass with a practised hand. thin and very agile person may, by ob- “Give it to me quick,” said Della. serving his reflection in a rapid sequence Oh, and the next two hours tripped by of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly ac- on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metcurate conception of his looks. Della, aphor. She was ransacking the stores for being slender, had mastered the art.
Jim's present. Suddenly she whirled from the win- She found it at last. It surely had dow and stood before the glass. Her been made for Jim and no one else. eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face There was no other like it in any of the had lost its color within twenty seconds. stores, and she had turned all of them Rapidly she pulled down her hair and inside out. It was a platinum fob chain let it fall to its full length.
simple and chaste in design, properly Now, there were two possessions of proclaiming its value by substance alone
ind not by meretricious ornamentation- Jim stopped inside the door, as imis all good things should do. It was even movable as a setter at the scent of quail. worthy of The Watch. As soon as she His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. was an expression in them that she could It was like him. Quietness and value not read, and it terrified her. It was the description applied to both. Twenty- not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, one dollars they took from her for it, and nor horror, nor any of the sentiments she hurried home with the 87 cents. that she had been prepared for. He With that chain on his watch Jim might simply stared at her fixedly with that be properly anxious about the time in any peculiar expression on his face. company. Grand as the watch was, he Della wriggled off the table and went sometimes looked at it on the sly on ac- for him. count of the old leather strap that he "Jim, darling,” she cried, "don't look used in place of a chain.
at me that way. I had my hair cut off When Della reached home her intoxi- and sold it because I couldn't have lived cation gave way a little to prudence and through Christmas without giving you a reason. She got out her curling irons present. It'll grow out again-you won't and lighted the gas and went to work mind, will you? I just had to do it. My repairing the ravages made by generosity hair grows awfully fast. Say 'Merry added to love. Which is always a tre- Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You mendous task, dear friends a mammoth don't know what a nice what a beautitask.
ful, nice gift I've got for you.” Within forty minutes her head was "You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, covered with tiny, close-lying curls that laboriously, as if he had not arrived at made her look wonderfully like a truant that patent fact yet even after the hardest schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in mental labor. the mirror long, carefully, and critically. "Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to “Don't
me just as well, herself, "before he takes a second look at anyhow? I'm me without my hair, me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island ain't I?” chorus girl. But what could I do-oh! Jim looked about the room curiously. what could I do with a dollar and eighty- “You say your hair is gone?” he said, 'seven cents ?"
with an air almost of idiocy. At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and "You needn't look for it,” said Della. the frying-pan was on the back of the “It's sold, I tell you-sold and gone, too. stove hot and ready to cook the chops. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me,
Jim was never late. Della doubled the for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of fob chain in her hand and sat on the my head were numbered," she went on corner of the table near the door that he with a sudden serious sweetness, “but always entered. Then she heard his step nobody could ever count my love for you. on the stair away down on the first flight, Shall I put the chops on, Jim ?” and she turned white for just a moment. Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly She had a habit of saying little silent to wake. He enfolded his Della. For prayers about the simplest everyday ten seconds let us regard with discreet things, and now she whispered: “Please scrutiny some inconsequential object in God, make him think I am still pretty.” the other direction. Eight dollars a week
The door opened and Jim stepped in or a million a year-what is the differand closed it. He looked thin and
very ence? A mathematician or a wit would serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty- | give you the wrong answer. The magi two-and to be burdened with a family! brought valuable gifts, but that was not He needed a new overcoat and he was among them. This dark assertion will without gloves.
be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat present. She held it out to him eagerly pocket and threw it upon the table. upon her open palm. The dull precious
"Don't make any mistake, Dell,” he metal seemed to flash with a reflection of said, "about me. I don't think there's her bright and ardent spirit. anything in the way of a haircut or a “Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all shave or a shampoo that could make me over town to find it. You'll have to look like my girl any less. But if you'll un- at the time a hundred times a day now wrap that package you may see why you Give me your watch. I want to see how had me going a while at first."
it looks on it.” White fingers and nimble tore at the Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down string and paper. And then an ecstatic on the couch and put his hands under the scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick back of his head and smiled. “Dell," feminine change to hysterical tears and said he, "let's put our Christmas presents wails, necessitating the immediate em- away and keep 'em a while. They're too ployment of all the comforting powers of nice to use just at present. I sold the the lord of the flat.
watch to get the money to buy your For there lay The Combs—the set of combs. And now suppose you put the combs, side and back, that Della had wor- chops on." shipped for long in a Broadway window. The magi, as you know, were wise men Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with-wonderfully wise men who brought jewelled rims just the shade to wear in gifts to the Babe in the manger. Thes the beautiful vanished hair. They were invented the art of giving Christmas expensive combs, she knew, and her heart presents. Being wise, their gifts were no had simply craved and yearned over them doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the without the least hope of possession. And privilege of exchange in case of duplicanow, they were hers, but the tresses that tion. And here I have lamely related to should have adorned the coveted adorn- you the uneventful chronicle of two foolments were gone.
ish children in a flat who most unwisely But she hugged them to her bosom, and sacrificed for each other the greatest treasat length she was able to look up with ures of their house. But in a last word dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair to the wise of these days let it be said that grows so fast, Jim!”
of all who give gifts these two were the And then Della leaped up like a little wisest. Of all who give and receive gifts, singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
such as they are wisest. Everywhere they Jim had not yet seen his beautiful are wisest. They are the magi.