The Last Leaf – O. Henry

First line:

In a little district west of Washington Square the streets have run crazy and broken themselves into small strips called “places.”

Almost last line:

“Ah, darling, it’s Behrman’s masterpiece – he painted it …”

Funniest lines:

“Vass!” he cried. “Is dere people in de world mit der foolishness to die because leafs dey drop off from a confounded vine? I haf not heard of such a thing. No, I will not bose as a model for your fool hermit-dunderhead. Vy do you allow dot silly pusiness to come in der brain of her? Ach, dot poor leetle Miss Yohnsy.”

“She is very ill and weak,” said Sue, “and the fever has left her mind morbid and full of strange fancies. Very well, Mr. Behrman, if you do not care to pose for me, you needn’t. But I think you are a horrid old – old flibbertigibbet.”

“You are just like a woman!” yelled Behrman. “Who said I will not bose? Go on. I come mit you. For half an hour I haf peen trying to say dot I am ready to bose. Gott! dis is not any blace in which one so goot as Miss Yohnsy shall lie sick. Some day I vill baint a masterpiece, and ve shall all go away. Gott! yes.”

Layman’s plot: Woman is struck with pneumonia. Woman is delirious, believes that she will die when the last leaf of the tree outside her room falls. Friend tells Old Man Neighbour. Old Man scoffs but secretly paints a masterpiece for Woman. (Note: the story is set in the artsy Greenwich Village.)

Verdict: A bittersweet story, touching and sad and lovely.

Read The Last Leaf

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