It is autumn. The wind is blowing hard and it is
raining heavily. All the leaves on an ivy creeper
have fallen, except one. Why doesn't the last
Author: O. HENRY
SUE and Johnsy, two young artists, shared a small flat. The flat
was on the third storey of an old house.
Johnsy fell very seriously ill in November. She had pneumonia.
She would lie in her bed without moving, just gazing out of the
window. Sue, her friend, became very worried. She sent for the
doctor. Although he came every day there was no change in
One day the doctor took Sue aside and asked her, "Is anything
"No," replied Sue. "But why do you ask?"
The doctor said "Johnsy, it seems, has made up her mind that
she is not going to get well. If she doesn't want to live, medicines
will not help her."
Sue tried her best to make Johnsy take an interest in things
around her. She talked about clothes and fashions, but Johnsy
did not respond. Johnsy continued to lie still on her bed. Sue
brought her drawing-board into Johnsy's room and started
painting. To take Johnsy's mind off her illness, she whistled
Suddenly Sue heard Johnsy whisper something. She quickly
rushed to the bed and heard Johnsy counting backwards. She was
looking out of the window and was saying, "Twelve!" After sometime
she whispered "eleven", then "ten", then "nine", "eight", "seven". Sue
anxiously looked out of the window. She saw an old ivy creeper
climbing half-way up the brick wall opposite their window. In the
strong wind outside, the creeper was shedding its leaves.
"What is it, dear?" Sue asked.
"Six," whispered Johnsy. "They are falling faster now. Three days
ago there were almost a hundred leaves. There are only five left now."
"It is autumn," said Sue, "and the leaves will fall."
"When the last leaf falls, I will die," said Johnsy with finality.
"I have known this for the last three days."
"Oh, that's nonsense," replied Sue. "What have old ivy leaves
to do with your getting well? The doctor is confident that you will
Johnsy did not say anything. Sue went and brought her a
bowl of soup.
"I don't want any soup," said Johnsy. "I am not hungry… Now
there are only four leaves left. I want to see the last one fall before
it gets dark. Then I will sleep forever."
Sue sat on Johnsy's bed, kissed her and said, "You are not
going to die. I can't draw the curtain for I need the light. I want to
finish the painting and get some money for us. Please, my dear
friend," she begged Johnsy, "promise not to look out of the window
while I paint."
"All right," said Johnsy. "Finish your painting soon for I want
to see the last leaf fall. I'm tired of waiting. I have to die, so let me
go away peacefully like one of those poor, tired leaves."
"Try to sleep," said Sue. "I have to paint an old miner. I will
call Behrman up to be my model."
Sue rushed down. Behrman lived on the ground floor.
He was a sixty-year-old painter. His lifelong dream was to
paint a masterpiece but that had remained a dream. Sue poured
out her worries to Behrman. She told him how Johnsy was
convinced that she would die when the last leaf fell.
"Is she stupid?" asked Behrman. "How can she be so foolish?"
"She is running a high temperature,"complained Sue. "She
refuses to eat or drink and that worries me a lot."
"I will come with you and see Johnsy," Behrman said.
They tiptoed into the room. Johnsy was sleeping. Sue drew
the curtains together and they went to the next room. She peeped
out through the window. There was only one leaf on the creeper.
It was raining heavily and an icy-cold wind was blowing. It seemed
as though the leaf
would fall any minute
now. Behrman did not
say a word. He went
back to his room.
Johnsy woke up
next morning. In a
feeble voice she asked
Sue to draw the
curtains. Sue was
nervous. She drew
back the curtains very
"Oh!" Sue exclaimed
as she looked at the
vine creeper. "Look,
there is still one leaf
on the creeper. It looks quite green and healthy. In spite of the storm
and the fierce winds, it didn't fall."
"I heard the wind last night," said Johnsy. "I thought it would
have fallen. It will surely fall today. Then I'll die."
"You won't die," said Sue energetically. "You have to live for
your friends. What would happen to me if you die?"
Johnsy smiled weakly and closed her eyes. After every hour or
so she would look out of the window and find the leaf still there.
It seemed to be clinging to the creeper.
In the evening, there was another storm but the leaf did not
fall. Johnsy lay for a long time looking at the leaf. Then she called
out to Sue.
"I have been a bad girl. You have looked after me so lovingly
and I have not cooperated with you. I have been depressed and
gloomy. The last leaf has shown me how wicked I have been. I
have realised that it is a sin to want to die."
Sue hugged Johnsy. Then she gave her lots of hot soup and a
mirror. Johnsy combed her hair and smiled brightly.
In the afternoon the doctor came. After examining his patient he
told Sue, "Johnsy now has the will to live. I am confident she'll recover
soon. Now I must go downstairs and see Behrman. He is also suffering
from pneumonia. But I am afraid, there is no hope for him."
The next morning
Sue came and sat on
Johnsy's bed. Taking
Johnsy's hand in hers
she said, "I have
something to tell you.
Mr Behrman died
of pneumonia this
morning. He was ill for
only two days. The first
day the janitor found him
on his bed. His clothes
and shoes were wet and
he was shivering. He
had been out in that
Then they found a ladder and a lantern still lighted lying near
his bed. There were also some brushes and green and yellow
paints on the floor near the ladder. "Johnsy dear," said Sue, "look
out of the window. Look at that ivy leaf. Haven't you wondered
why it doesn't flutter when the wind blows? That's Behrman's
masterpiece. He painted it the night the last leaf fell."
Online Lessons with Spoken text and correct pronounciation