The Last Leaf
(By O’ Henry),
Sue often met Johnsy in a little café on the East Side of New York, where the two girls came for lunch almost every day. Johnsy was small and quiet, with big blue eyes and light hair. Sue was dark and bigger and stronger than Johnsy . They liked the same things in art and music, the same poems and salads, they became very good friends and decided to live together and paint pictures and try to become great artist. They didn’t have much money, but they were young and full of hope, and life seemed good to them.
In November, a cold gentleman that the doctors called Mr. Pneumonia came to New York. He went into the houses in the streets and visited almost every family. He didn’t go near Sue, but he went to Johnsy and put his cold hands in her head. And now Johnsy lay in bed and looked out of the window at the Grey wall of the next house. She was not interested in anything.
One morning the doctor called Sue into the corridor and told her that Johnsy was worse and her life was in danger. She had only one chance to live. It was that she had to want to live.
“I can’t do anything without her help”- said the doctor “if you make her speak about food, pictures, clothes, she’ll have a chance to live”.
The doctor went away and Sue stood in the corridor and cried”I must not cry!” She thought at last and stopped crying and went into the room with a smile in her face.
“The doctor says you must have some soup, drink warm milk and eat fruit”, she began, but Johnsy was not listening. She was looking out of the window and was counting. Sue heard the numbers: “Twelve” then after a while “Eleven”, and after another minute, “Ten, nine” together. Sue looked out of the window, but could see nothing to count there. She could see only the dirty yard and gray wall of the next house, with an old vine on it. There were only a few leaves on the vine now and they were yellow and brown.
“What are you counting Johnsy dear?” Sue asked. “Eight”, Johnsy said, “three days ago there were almost a hundred; I couldn’t count then all. But now it is easy”.
There are only eight.
“Eight what, dear? Tell me.”
“Leaves. On that vine. When the last leaf falls, I must go to”.
“Nonsense”! Sue said angrily. “Those old leaves are only old leaves. The vine loses all of its leaves every autumn. But you- the doctor says- you have a good chance. The doctor is sure you will soon be well again. Try to rest, Johnsy” , and don’t think about those leaves. I must finish my picture. If I sell it. I’ll buy you some nice fruit.
Don’t buy any fruit. I don’t want anything at all, “Johnsy said and she seemed very tired. “I don’t want to think, and I don’t want to wait. I am very tired, and I only want to go down, down, down where I can rest at Last”.
“Don’t be foolish! Sue said. “These strange ideas come to you because you are ill. Please, Johnsy sleep now, if you can. I must run to Behrman and ask him to be my model. I’ll be back in a few minutes. And she ran out of the room.