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George P. McCallum

"I knew that
your gift would be
very unusual"

From the first time he saw her in the office where they both worked, Eric Warren liked Janet West. Eric rarely went out with giris from his office, but Janet was different. She was not only pretty, but extremely interesting to talk to. They had lunch together severaí times and Eric was pleased to learn that Janet liked the same things he did. Before very long, they were having dinner together, and going to the movies and to the theater. After a few months Eric knew he wanted Janet to be his wife, but he wasn't sure how she felt about him. There was another man in their office, George Perkins, who went out with Janet once in a while. Eric hoped in time he, not George, would be Janet 's choice as her husband.

Eric wanted a very unusual gift for Janet's birthday. He walked into a department store not knowing what to get for her. After going from one part of the store to another, he finally came to the jewelry department. At first, he didn't see anything he liked here either, and he was about to leave when he saw a little silver pin ín the shape of an elephant. Eric knew immediately that the pin was exactly what he wanted for Janet.

"May I see that?" Eric asked íhe salesman.
"The little sílver elephant?" the salesman asked.
"Yes, that's the one. It's just what I've been looking for."
"You've made a good choice. This piece of jewelry is very unusual. It was made in Mexico by a man who is well-known for his fine work in silver. There are only a few others like it. Would you like me to put it in a box? This small square box looks about the right size."
"Yes, please put it in a gift box."
"I'm certain Janet's going to be very pleased," Eric thought that evening as he got dressed to go to Janet's birthday party. "She likes fine jewelry and this pin is very unusual."

On the way to Janet's house, Eric thought about George Perkins. He knew that Janet's family and a few friends would be at the party. He didn't know if George was one of the "few friends." He was fairly sure George's gift wouldn't be anything as unusual as the silver elephant.

Eric was happy as he walked to Janet's house. When she opened the door he said, "Happy ..." and then stopped talking for a moment before going on," ... birthday, Janet." He just couldn't believe what he saw. There on Janet's green dress was a little silver elephant pin. It was exactly the same as the one ¡n his gift box. He couldn't give it to her now. He put the little square box away before Janet could see it and went in the house to say hello to Janet's mother and father.

"You're early, Eric, Mrs. West said. "None of the others are here yet. Please sit down. Can I get you something to drink?"
"Not now, thanks, Mrs. West," Eric answered. All he could think about was the little silver elephant. He had to know where Janet had gotten it. Could George Perkins possibly have given it to her? At the office perhaps? Eric didn't want to believe this, but he wasn't the only one who knew Janet liked jewelry. George knew it, too.

Janet's mother was still talking and Eric knew he should be listening to her. He had to forget about the little pin for a moment.

"How are things at the office, Eric?" Mrs. West was saying. l understand you've been very busy during the last few months."
"Fine — just fine— not too busy, no," Eric said.
"That's good," Mrs. West answered. "Would you excuse us for a few minutes? I have to help Janet prepare a few things in the kitchen."
"Oh — yes," Eric was glad to see Mrs. West and Janet leave the room. He really didn't want to talk to anyone — not about the office or about anything else. But Janet's father was still there, and now he was talking.
"Have you seen this evening's newspaper yet, Eric?" Mr. West asked. "There is a good story about..."

Janet's father went on talking, but most of the time Eric wasn't listening. Occasionally he would say, "You're right, Mr. West," or "I think so, too," but he really wasn't sure what Janet's father was talking about. He couldn't forget the elephant pin. Eric was positive he would be the oniy person at the party who wouldn't have a gift for Janet. But he couldn't give her something that she already had. How could he ask Janet to be his wife now? He didn't know what to do.

"What do you think about television?' Mr. West was talking about a different subject now. "Don't you think the programs could be better?"
"You're absolutely right, Mr. West," Eric answered. Janet came back in the room and Eric was glad he didn't have to say any more about television. He started to tell Janet he liked the pin on her dress, thinking that he might learn where it came from. But just at this moment someone came to the door.

"It must be my aunt and uncle," Janet told Eric. "My friend, Marie, who lives next door, will be with us, too."
"Isn't anyone else from the office coming?' Eric asked.
"No," she answered, then went to meet her aunt and uncle at the door.

Now Eric was almost certain the pin was from George. He must have given it to Janet in the office during the day. What should he do? Should he say he had left his gift at home? Should he say he was getting something in New York and would give it to her later in the week?

Marie came in a few minutes later, and everyone sat down to have dinner.

The only good thing Eric could think about was that he was at the family dinner party and George was not.

Finally Janet asked him why he wasn't talking very much.
"I'm too busy eating this very good dinner," he answered. He couldn't think of anything else to say.
"Thank you, Eric," Mrs. West said. l'm very glad you like it. Won't you have some more?"

Eric didn't really want to eat anythíng, but he wasn't able to say no. He wished he could leave and go home, but he couldn't do that, either.

Finally it was time for the birthday cake. "There are twenty-one candles on the cake, Janet," Mrs. West said as she brought the cake in and put it on the dinner table. "Do you think you can blow them all out?"
"Make a wish first," Marie said to Janet. "Wish for something that you want very much before you blow out the candles. If all the candles go out, you will get your wish. If not, then you won't. Let's see if you'll get your wish."
"I wish I had a silver elephant pin," Janet said and she blew out all the candles.
"What?" said Eric. "What did you say?"
"The pin on my dress isn't mine, it's Marie's. She thought it looked good on this dress and she said I could have it for the evening. It's a very unusual piece of jewelry. Marie's mother got it when she was in Mexico last year."

Eric quickly put his little square box with the other gifts. He couldn't wait for Janet to open ¡t.

"It's time lo open your gifts now, Janet," Mrs. West said.
"Yes," said her father. "Let's see if you get your wish."

Janet opened all her gifts. She got a box of writing paper from George. He had given it to her at the office. Her parents gave her a typewriter, her aunt and uncle gave her some phonograph records, and Marie gave her a book.

Then Janet opened ihe little square box. When she saw the pin, she said, "Eric, how could you possibly have known? It's exactly what I want. You've made me very happy. I knew that your gift would be very unusual."

Janet got her wish, and now Eric was sure he would get his wish, too. Tonight he would ask Janet to be his wife.

Source: Contributed by LuisCarlos Valladares, Spain.

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