Name this famous short story

I’ve been drawing a complete blank on this for a week or so. I’m pretty sure it is a very well known story, possible by O. Henry or someone similar.

It is the tale of a child who sees a gold (gilded?) rocking horse in a store window, and wants it more than anything else. Wants it in a Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle sort of way.

In case you haven’t read it yet…

he (she?) finally gets it for Christmas or something, is overjoyed but finds out it is made of fragile (must have been Italian) papier-mâché or something. It breaks apart and we all learn a good lesson.

I just for the life of me can’t remember the title, and whenever I search on what I think it might be I get far too many hits to be useful. Any help? Thanks!


I’m not sure if it’s from a short story or not, but the story is told by Spencer Tracey in the film version of “Inherit the Wind.”

Thanks Eutychus!! I just grabbed a copy of the play off of my shelf and skimmed through it. Wonder what made me think it was a stand alone story? Anyway, it always stuck with me, and I’m very grateful that I have the source. I love this place – sixteen minutes to the answer!

Inherit the Wind
Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
Act Three, Scene 1

That’s weird; I recognized the story but couldn’t place it as soon as you described it, but I haven’t read Inherit the Wind in ten years or more.

It definitely has an O. Henry ring to it as well; but thats probably because O. Henry’s stories (the NYC ones anyway) frequently feature people staring through store windows at things they want but can’t have.

Did O. Henry write that one about the husband and wife who were on struggle street, and for Christmas, the husband got his wife a hair clip, and the wife got the husband a chain for his pocketwatch?

The only problem was the wife sold her hair to get the chain, and the husband sold his watch to get the clip

I think it was called * The Gift of the Magi *. I really liked that one.

  • Bubba.

Yes, he did.

LOL, a spoiler box for the ending of Gift of the Magi! Most amusing thing I’ve seen all day. Everybody should read that story, if for no other reason than to cite it as an example when people ask for the definition of “irony.”

Here’s a hijack:

Did anybody read the story “The Crypt of the Magi” in the comic book Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children? In it, there’s a destitute couple, and the wife is working with dangerous chemicals that turn her eyes yellow. For Christmas, the husband gets her some contact lenses. But I can’t remember the rest of the story – she couldn’t use them for some gruesome reason, and I forgot what she got him…

Another hijack:

D.H. Lawrence wrote a remarkably good short story called The Rocking Horse Winner which the OP reminded me of.

How about a spoiler box for “The Lady or the Tiger?”