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The story opens with a girl named Della Dillingham Young. It is around Christmas time and she is sad because she only has $1.80 to buy her husband, Jim, a gift with.
She goes to a mirror to let her hair down to examine it. Her hair was one of her greatest treasures. Jim's greatest treasure was his watch.
She decides to cut her hair and sell it. She goes to Madame Sofronie's hair goods shop. She gets $20 for hair hair.
Once she gets the $20 dollars, Della is able to find Jim a present. She gets him an elegant platinum watch.
Jim arrives home from work at 7pm to find Della waiting for him at the door. Jim stares at Della , but she can't quite understand what his expression is. While they are eating dinner Jim explains that when she opens her present, she will understand what his expression of her cut hair was for.
When Della opens up her present to find what it was, he had gotten her some beautiful combs that she had always wanted. Jim had sold his watch to get Della the combs. Della has to wait for her hair to grow back until she can use the combs.
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