今回は「賢者の贈りもの」The Gift of the Magi
O. Henry の作品です。
The Gift of the Magi Act Two
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 fluttered 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 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 practiced 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.
Words & Expressions
○ mighty pride 大いなる誇り
○ the Queen of Sheba シバの女王［聖書より。知恵と富を誇るソロモン王を訪れた］
○ depreciate 価値を下げる
○ King Solomon ［聖書より。Solomon the Wiseとも言われる王］
○ janitor 管理人
○ cascade 滝
○ falter 戸惑う
○ on went … …を身につけた［… went on （her）の倒置］
○ flutter 小走りに進む
○ collected oneself 気を落ち着かせる
○ too white 白人的すぎて［その名はヨーロッパ系のエキゾチックな印象を持つが実際はローカルの白人だという意味］
○ mass 大きな塊
○ hash めちゃくちゃにする
○ metaphor メタファー、暗喩
○ ransack あさり回る
○ fob chain 懐中時計の鎖
○ proclaim 明白に示す、宣言する
○ meretricious 見せかけの
○ in any company どんな人と一緒でも
○ on the sly こそこそと
○ intoxication 陶酔
○ prudence and reason 分別と理性
○ ravage 深刻な被害
○ generosity 気前の良さ
○ mammoth 巨大な