51

There used to be a three-cent piece. Assuming that "The Gift of the Magi" is set in the US at around the time of its publication in 1905, there was a three-cent piece which was still minted until 1890. That's the closest non-multiple-of-five-cents coin to the period, although there was also a two-cent coin which stopped being minted a little ...


24

It helps to have a bit more of the context leading up to this: There have been some very strange happenings. I have been in this house more than a year now, and as I wished to lead a retired life I have seen little of my neighbours. Three days ago I had a call from a man who said that he was a house agent. He said that this house would exactly suit a client ...


19

G--- is an anonymised place name. It was quite common practice in a certain period of English literature to obscure place names in this way, so that a place could be described in a general way without having to locate it specifically either as a real place or an invented name. I've written more about this practice and the reasons for it here: Why are place ...


15

A quick look at Wikipedia lists a few obsolete coins which could be involved here, beyond the half cent: Two-cent bronze: 2¢, 1863–1873 Three-cent nickel: 3¢, 1865–1889 Trime (Three-cent silver): 3¢, 1851–1873 Given the story was published in 1905, the three cent nickel could have been still in use. As I understand it, all of these are still legal tender ...


15

Going on to the next sentence makes clear the context: the narrator is so nearsighted that he usually needs to use glasses or contact lenses to see properly. When he's at the beach, however, he doesn't like to wear either glasses or contact lenses. Glasses are not mentioned explicitly in the passage you quoted (only in the next sentence), although contact ...


14

"Miss Hinch", by Henry Sydnor Harrison as per this Goodreads discussion: The story takes place on a train. A little old lady is talking to a clergyman about various crimes attributed to Miss Hinch .... It turns out that the little old lady is a famous private detective named Jessie Dark and the clergyman is Miss Hinch in disguise. Miss Hinch ...


13

This would seem to fit the bill: A Corner of the Veil by Laurence Cossé Paris. May 24 1999, 8.32pm: Father Bertrand Beaulieu of the venerable Society of Casuists, holds in his trembling hands six handwritten pages that prove the existence of God. Instantly, the secular and spiritual powers move to suppress the news, certain that it signifies their own ...


11

Yes, essentially this is a minor wordplay and double meaning. A "dumb brute" is a phrase that was commonly used to denote an animal, not necessarily even a savagely violent animal. I say "was" because I associate this phrase with a time in English writing when words like "brute" and "savage" carried less negative ...


10

The term "white wizard" is used in the context of the white magic / black magic distinction. Black magic is malevolent, used for harmful or evil purposes; white magic is benevolent, used for good and selfless ones. The site Wicca Living explains: If people believed they were the victim of a curse, they would seek out a “white witch,” also known in ...


10

nut, n. 6.c. British slang. A fashionable or showy young man. Cf. knut n., nutty adj. 4. Obsolete. 1904   in Notes & Queries (1913) 26 July 78/1   I'm one of the nuts, one of the nibs. 1913   Punch 12 Feb. 115/1   Spring socks will be black and Spring ties a quiet blue. A strike of nuts is expected at any moment. 1920   W. J. Locke House of Baltazar xvii....


10

The Hindi title "विध्वंस" (transliterated as "Vidhwans") means "catastrophe" or "destruction". I am not too familiar with Urdu, but Google Translate says that "Tahreek-e Khair" means something like "good step", as in, a "step in the right direction", which is reasonably close in meaning to ...


9

Note that the translation of the opening of the prayer in the King James version and the English Book of Common Prayer is: Lord, now lettest thy servant depart in peace and "depart" refers originally to the death of Simeon. It is traditionally used as a night prayer. In literature it is often quoted as part of a reference to death, or to a ...


8

This matches in almost every detail ‘The Lost Sanjak’ by Saki, published in Reginald in Russia and Other Sketches (1910). “a man (a journalist?) visiting a prison inmate” The prison Chaplain entered the condemned’s cell for the last time, to give such consolation as he might. “He was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit” “In ten minutes’ time I ...


8

"Sweets from a Stranger", a short story by Nicholas Fisk, reprinted in the 1993 anthology Tales of Horror and Mystery which can be borrowed from the Internet Archive. You said you read it in an anthology of stories by different authors, with a title something like Tales of Mystery and Horror, and that it included Roald Dahl's story "The Hitch-...


8

I think this is "The Cave of Ali Baba" or "The Adventurous Exploit of the Cave of Ali Baba", by Dorothy L. Sayers. It was a bit longer than an average short story IIRC - maybe a "novelette" or "novella", and was the final story in the collection "Lord Peter Views the Body" A man is a spy in a secret illegal ...


8

Here "the reverse" is in reference to "favorably"; the implication is: She impressed me neither favorably nor the reverse [of favorably]. "Impress" is used to mean "to make a vivid impression". Mrs. Rucastle did not impress the speaker favorably (they do not hold a positive impression/opinion of her) or unfavorably. ...


7

No It's tough to prove a negative, but I don't believe there to be any extant organization that matches your description. There is a real theological thing referred to as the "Order of Melchizedek". Wikipedia provides a nice cross-denominational summary under the name "Priesthood of Melchizedek", but at least in my denomination we refer ...


7

Gift of the Magi was published in 1905. As others have already identified, the US had a two-cent piece until 1872 and a three-cent piece until 1889 (but with much lower production after 1875). The US does not demonetize coins: those coins are still legal for payment today (though I expect that they're worth a lot more than faith value to collectors). A total ...


6

The term "dark star" was coined by John Michell in 1783. Maria Popova's blog post Mapping the Heavens: How Cosmology Shaped Our Understanding of the Universe and the Strange Story of How the Term “Black Hole” Was Born on Brain Pickings (27 June 2016) quotes the following passage from Priyamvada Natarajan's book Mapping the Heavens: The Radical ...


6

This is very reminiscent of a passage in the middle of Chapter V of Bel-Ami (admittedly a short novel, rather than a short story). This can be found on page 182 in the version of “La Bibliotheque Électronique du Quebec” which is available online. Et Duroy, pour la première fois, songea à tout ce qu’il ne savait point dans la vie passée de cettefemme, et il ...


6

The Saar (actually la Sarre in French) in this story is a river near the border of France and Germany. The story is set in Alsace, which is bordered by that river. (As I wrote in my previous answer about this short story, Alsace has long been a bone of contention between France and Germany.) The "sliding on the river" is based on the following ...


6

It is likely that the Pandit was a member of the Zamindari aristocratic class. Historically they were administrators rather than outright owners of land, but were co-opted by the British regime as revenue collectors and to enable this they were made the possessors of the land. The position of the Zamindars changed, the zamindars were earlier the ...


6

He's reflecting on a memory from 50 years ago (it might not be exactly 50 with poetic license). And, at the time of the story, his father has been dead for thirty years. The specific memory he's recalling is mentioned in the following text: Why did he feel so awake tonight? He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays. He was fifteen years old and ...


6

Since the narrator of this excerpt is near-sighted, he needs either glasses or contact lenses to see things sharply, especially at a distance. Wearing glasses would cover part of his face, so it would not get the same tan as the rest of his face. (For an illustration of this effect, see the article Learn From the Burn to Ban the Tan by Scott LaFee (School of ...


5

I found this question while reading the same story, but I was puzzled at what "go for lost" meant instead. Anyway, I think I might be able to help you. For context, I'm from the Philippines and my native language is Filipino. The phrase "Kung mapatay 'di madedeadball." is in colloquial Filipino. Here's the breakdown: Kung = if; mapatay = ...


5

Are you sure it's by Roald Dahl? That description makes it sound oddly like "They Never Get Caught", but that's by Margery Allingham and is from 1936. Harold Brownrigg, the villain of the piece, is a chemist and has the strange habit of lying down on his couch every Saturday evening and drinking brandy until he literally cannot move (not because ...


5

This is a traditional joke story, more amusing to the teller than the listener, that has existed for well over a hundred years. Dads tell the story to troll their kids. There are many versions. Sometimes it's soldiers hearing a tale told by their general. Sometimes it's children hearing a story told by their grandfather. Sometimes it's sailors hearing a ...


5

Normally, the American practice was that a man asked a woman to marry him, not for the woman to ask the man. For a woman to ask was very forward and unfeminine of her. There was a practice imported from Ireland that women could ask men to marry them in a leap year. Scheherazade is not only asking the king to marry her, she is doing it when it might be ...


5

This is "Do you exist, Mr. Jones?" (alternatively translated as "Are you there, Mr. Jones?") by Stanisław Lem: The protagonist, Harry Jones, is an auto racer. During his career, he had suffered multiple injuries and had all of his organs, including his brain, replaced by luxury prostheses. His brain, manufactured under the brand name &...


5

It may have a double meaning. Perverse can iteslf mean showing a deliberate and obstinate desire to behave in a way that is unreasonable or unacceptable and contrary to the accepted or expected standard or practice. (both definitions from Oxford Languages via Google) Depictions of the Madonna predominantly show her with downcast eyes either in modesty or ...


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