The Last Leaf
Sunshine English Course 3 (Showa 61) pg. 55-62
There were many artists living in one part of New York City. Sue was a young woman who was studying art there. In May she met another young woman whose name was Johnsy. She was also an artist.
They discovered that they both like the same kind of art and food, so they started to live and study together. They were like sisters.
In November there was a bad kind of flu in that part of the city. Many people caught it, and Johnsy did, too. She lay in bed all the time. She often looked out of the window at the wall of the house next door.
One morning the doctor said to Sue, "Johnsy has very little chance to get well again. She will get better only if she has a strong will to live."
The doctor left. Sue went into Johnsy's room and began drawing pictures. While Sue was drawing, Johnsy said something in a faint voice. Her eyes were wide open. She was looking out of the window and was counting something.
"Twelve," said Johnsy. "Eleven, . . . ten, . . . nine, . . . eight, . . . seven. They are falling faster now. Almost a hundred have fallen . . . . Only five are left now."
"Five what? Tell me, Johnsy."
"Five leaves," said Johnsy. "Another leaf fell just now. . . . The last one will fall before dark. . . . When the last leaf falls, I must go, too."
"Johnsy!" said Sue. "Try to sleep. I'll go and ask Behrman to come up and sit as a model here."
Behrman was a poor artist who was over sixty years old. He always wanted to paint a great masterpiece. Sue went down to his room and told him about Johnsy and the leaf.
"What!" shouted the old man. "Do people die because leaves fall from a vine? I've never heard of such a foolish thing. Let's go to her room."
Johnsy was sleeping when they went in. A cold rain mixed with snow was falling.
The next morning came. There was still one yellow leaf left.
"It's the last leaf," said Johnsy. "It will fall today, and I will go with it."
That night there was a rain storm.
The next morning came. Sue pulled up the blinds. The leaf was still there! Johnsy looked at it for a long time. She looked happier and stronger. She said to Sue, "I've learned from that leaf that it's bad to want to die. Now I want to get well and paint pictures again. Sue, can you bring me a cup of soup?"
When the doctor came in the afternoon, Sue asked him, "Does Johnsy still have any chance?"
"Yes she does. She'll get well before long, if you look after her well," said the doctor.
"Oh, I'm so glad to hear that," said Sue.
"Now I must see another patient I have downstairs. His name is Behrman," said the doctor.
The next afternoon Sue went to Johnsy's bed. She said to her, "Johnsy, there is something I must tell you about Behrman. . . . He died of pneumonia today. He was ill for only two days. When someone went into his room on the morning of the first day, Behrman was lying there with his shoes on. His shoes and clothes were all wet and as cold as ice."
"Look out of the window at the last leaf on the wall," said Sue. "It looks like a real leaf, doesn't it?"
"A real leaf?"
"It's Behrman's masterpiece. He painted it there on that stormy night after the last leaf fell."
New Horizon 3
Sue and Johnsy were painters who lived in an apartment in Greenwich Village. They first met at a restaurant. They liked the same kind of art, the same kind of food, and the same kind of clothes. So they decided to live together. Their apartment was at the top of a three-story building.
One winter, Johnsy became very ill with pneumonia. She spent all day in bed and looked through the window. Beyond the window was the wall of the next house.
One morning, the doctor spoke to Sue.
"Johnsy has a very small chance," he said. "She has a chance, if she wants to live. If people don't want to live, there's nothing a doctor can do."
After the doctor left, Sue walked into Johnsy’s room. Johnsy was in bed, very thin and very quiet. Johnsy’s face was turned toward the window.
She was looking out the window and counting.
"Twelve," she said, and a little later, "eleven," and then, "ten," and, "nine," and then, "eight," and, "seven," almost together.
Sue looked out the window. What was there to count? There was only the wall of the next house. An old ivy vine grew against the wall. Almost all its leaves were gone.
"What is it, dear?" asked Sue.
"Six," said Johnsy very softly. "They’re falling faster now. Three days ago there were almost a hundred. Another one is falling. There are only five now."
"Five what, dear?"
"Leaves. On the vine. When the last one falls, I must go, too."
"Oh, don't be silly," said Sue. "The old leaves have nothing to do with your illness. You have a very good chance of getting well! The doctor told me so. Try to eat a little now."
"No, I don't want anything to eat," said Johnsy. "Another one is falling. Now there are only four. The last one will fall before it gets dark. I want to see it. Then I'll go, too."
"Try to sleep," said Sue. "I must see Mr. Behrman. I'll ask him to be a model for my drawing. I'll be back soon."
Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the first floor of their building. He was over sixty, but he was not a successful artist. He always talked about painting a masterpiece someday, but never actually started on it.
Sue found him in his dark room, and she told him about Johnsy and the leaves on the vine.
"What?" he cried. "Are there such fools? Do people die because leaves drop off a vine? I haven't heard of such a thing."
"She's very sick and weak," said Sue. "The fever has put these strange ideas into her mind."
Johnsy was sleeping when Sue went back up. Sue closed the curtains. A cold rain was falling, with a little snow in it, too.
Sue worked through the night.
In the morning, Sue went to Johnsy's bedside. Johnsy was looking toward the window. "I want to see," she told Sue.
Sue opened the curtains fearfully.
But, even after the beating rain and the wild wind, there was still one leaf against the wall. It was the last on the vine.
"It's the last one," said Johnsy. "I thought it fell during the night. It will fall today and I will die at the same time."
The day slowly passed. As it grew dark, they could still see the leaf on the vine against the wall. And when night came, the north wind began to blow again. The rain still beat against the windows.
The next morning, Johnsy asked Sue again to open the curtains.
The leaf was still there.
Johnsy kept looking at it for a long time. And then she called to Sue. "I've been a bad girl, Sue," said Johnsy. "Something has kept that last leaf there, to show me how bad I was. It's wrong to want to die. I'll try to eat now."
The doctor came in the afternoon.
"The chances are good," said the doctor. "Give her good care, and she'll get well. And now I must see another sick person in this building. His name is Mr. Behrman. Pneumonia, too. He's old and weak. There's no hope for him."
The next day the doctor said to Sue, "Johnsy is out of danger. Good food and care now ─ that's all."
And that afternoon Sue came to Johnsy's bedside, and put one arm around her.
"I have something to tell you," Sue said. "Mr. Behrman died of pneumonia today. When they found him yesterday morning, his shoes and clothes were wet and as cold as ice. Everyone wondered why. And then outside, they found a lantern, and a ladder, and some brushes, and some green and yellow paint, and .... Look out the window, dear, at the last leaf on the wall. Didn't you wonder why it never moved in the wild wind? Oh, my dear, it's Mr. Behrman's masterpiece ─ he painted it there when the last leaf fell that night."
Taken from the New Horizon's teachers manual.