touching story by O. Henry about the love of life and goodness. In a small block west of Washington Square the streets messed up and broken into short strips called passages. These passages form a strange angles and curves. One street crosses itself a time or two. An artist once discovered a valuable possibility in this street. Suppose a collector with a bill for the store paints, paper and canvas meet himself coming back home without receiving a single cent on the account!
And so art people soon came to a kind of quarter Greenwich Village in search of windows facing north, the roofs of the eighteenth century, Dutch attics and cheap rents. They then moved back to Sixth Avenue some pewter mugs and a two-fryer and founded "the colony».
Studio Sue and Jones was placed at the top of the three-story brick house. Jones - a diminutive of Joanna. One came from Maine, the other - from California. They met for a table d'hote restaurant on Eighth Street and found that their views on art, tsikornogo salad and sleeves so coincide. As a result, there was a common studio.
That was in May. In November a cold stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, stalked about the colony invisibly, touching one here and there with his icy fingers. On the Eastern side this ravager strode boldly, affecting dozens of victims, but here, in a maze of narrow alleys covered with moss, he trudged foot for foot.
Lord Pneumonia was anything but gallant old gentleman. Miniature girl anemic by California zephyrs, could hardly be considered a worthy opponent for the stalwart old stupid red fists and shortness of breath. He knocked her to the ground, and Jones was lying motionless on the painted iron bedstead, looking through the small Dutch window cover on the blank wall of a neighboring brick house.
One morning the doctor concerned in one motion bushy gray eyebrows caused Sue into the hallway.
- She has one chance ... well, let's say, against ten - he said, shaking the mercury in the thermometer. - And if she wants to live. All our Pharmacopeia makes no sense, when people start to act in the interests of the undertaker. Your little lady has decided that she will not recover. What was she thinking?
- She ... she wanted to paint the Bay of Naples.
- Paint? Nonsense! Is there not in her heart something like that, which is really worth it to think, for example, men?
- Men? - Sue asked, and her voice was sharp as a harmonica. - Is a man worth ... Oh, no, Doctor, nothing like that.
- Well, it just weakened - decided the doctor. - I'll do anything, I'll be able to do as a representative of science. But when my patient begins to count the carriages in her funeral procession I take off fifty percent from the curative power of medicines. If you can get to it at least once I asked what style sleeves will be worn this winter, I guarantee you that it will have one chance in five instead of one in ten.
After the doctor left, Sue ran the workshop and cried a Japanese paper napkin until, until it completely soaked. She bravely went in Jones drawing board, whistling ragtime.
Jonesy was lying with his face turned to the window, barely visible under the blankets. Sue stopped whistling, thinking that Jones was asleep.
She attach board and began drawing ink to the coffee story. For the young artists in the way art is paved with illustrations of coffee stories that young authors pave its way into literature.
Sketching the figure for the story of a cowboy from Idaho in elegant breeches and a monocle, Sue heard a soft whisper, repeating several times. She quickly went to the bed. Jonesy's eyes were wide open. She looked out the window and thought - thought in the reverse order.
- Twelve, - she said, and a little later - eleven - and then - "ten" and "nine", and then: - "eight" and "seven" - almost simultaneously.
Sue looked out the window. What was there to count? It was visible only a blank, dreary yard and the blank wall of the brick house twenty feet away. Old, old ivy with knotty, rotten at the roots braided half brick wall. The cold breath of autumn ripped leaves from the vine and the branches of the bare skeleton clung to the crumbling bricks.
- What is it, honey? - Sue asked.
- Six - a barely audible voice said Jones. - Now they fly around a lot faster. Three days ago there were almost a hundred. Dizzy considered. And now it's easy. That one flew. Now only five.
- Five what, dear? Tell your Syudi.
- Leaves. On ivy. When the last leaf falls, I will die. I know that for three days. Did not the doctor tell you?
- I've never heard such nonsense! - With great disdain retorted Sue. - What is the relationship may have on the old ivy leaves to the fact that you get well? Are you still so loved the ivy nasty girl! Do not be silly. Why, even today, the doctor told me that you will soon recover ... let me, how is it he said? .. That you ten to one. But it is not less than each of us here in New York City when you go on the tram or walk past a new building. Try to eat a little bit of broth and let your Syudi finish the drawing, so she can sell it and buy wine editor for her sick child, and pork chops for myself.
- Wines you do not have to buy more - Jonesy replied, gazing out the window. - That one flew. No, I do not want broth. That leaves just four. I want to see the last leaf falls. And I shall die.
- Jones, dear, - she said Sue, bending over her, - will you promise me not to open his eyes and look out the window until I am done working? I have to deliver the graphic tomorrow. I need the light, or I would have pulled the curtain.
- Can not you draw in the other room? - Jonesy asked coldly.
- I'd like to sit with you, - said Sue. - And besides, I do not want you looking at those silly leaves.
- Tell me when it will end - closing his eyes, said Jones, pale and still as fallen statue - because I want to see the last leaf falls. I'm tired of waiting. I'm tired of thinking. I want to get rid of anything that keeps me going - to fly, to fly lower and lower, as one of those poor, tired leaves.
- Try to sleep, - said Sue. - I have to call Berman, I want to write with his reclusive prospector. I am at most a minute. Look, do not move, until I come.
Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the ground floor beneath them. He was past sixty and beard, all in curls like Michelangelo's Moses, he came down from his head satire on the body of an imp. In art Behrman was a failure. He was going to paint a masterpiece, but had never yet begun it. For several years he had painted nothing but signs, advertisements and the like spotting for a piece of bread. He earned something, posing young artists who are professionals-sitters appeared not afford. He drank heavily, but still spoke of his future masterpiece. For the rest, it was a feisty old man, who scoffed at any sentimentality, and looked at himself as a watchdog, especially deputed to protect the two young artists.
Sue found Berman, smelling strongly of juniper berries in his darkened closet downstairs. In one corner of the twenty-five years it stood on an easel untouched canvas, ready to take the first line of the masterpiece. Sue told the old man about the fantasy of Jones and about their concerns about how it would be, light and fragile as a leaf, do not fly away from them when it weakens fragile connection to the world. Old Behrman, whose red eyes very noticeable tears, shouted, mocking such idiotic fantasies.
- What! - He cried. - Is such a stupidity - to die because leaves fall from the cursed ivy! The first time I've heard. No, I do not want to pose for your fool hermit. How do you let it hammer head such nonsense? Oh, poor little Miss Jones!
- She is very ill and weak, - said Sue - and the fever she come to mind various morbid imagination. Very well, Mr Berman - if you do not want to pose for me, then do not. But I still think you're a nasty old ... nasty old boltunishka.
- That's a real woman! - I yelled Behrman. - Who said I do not want to sit? Come on. I'm going with you. Half an hour, I say that I want to pose. Oh my God! There is not space to hurt such a good girl, Miss Jones. Someday I'll write a masterpiece, and we all leave here. Yes, yes!
Johnsy was sleeping when they went upstairs. Sue pulled the curtain to the window sill and Berman made a sign to go to another room. There they went to the window and looked fearfully at the ivy old. Then he looked at each other without saying a word. It was a cold, hard rain and snow in half. Berman, in the old blue shirt seated in a pose prospector hermit on an inverted tea instead of rock.
The next morning, Sue awoke after a short sleep, I saw that Jones does not reduce dull, wide-eyed with a flat green curtains.
- Pick her up, I want to see - whisper commanded Jonesy.
Sue wearily obeyed.
And what? After torrential rain and sudden wind gusts, did not let up all night in the brick wall could be seen even one leaf of ivy - the last one! Still dark green near the stem, but touched on the serrated edges yellowness of corruption and decay, he bravely kept on a branch some twenty feet above the ground.
- This is the last, - said Jones. - I thought that he would surely fall during the night. I heard the wind. It will fall today, and I shall die.
- God be with you! - Said Sue, leaning her head on the pillow tired. - Think of me even if you do not want to think of yourself! What will happen to me?
But Jones did not answer. The soul, ready to go into a mysterious, long journey, it is alien to everything. Painful fantasy obsessed Jonesy stronger, as one after another rushed all the threads that link it with life and people.
The day passed, and even in the twilight they could see the lone ivy leaf rests on its stem against the wall. And then, at nightfall, again climbed the north wind and the rain constantly knocking on the window, down from the low Dutch roof.
As soon as dawn broke, ruthless Jones ordered again to raise the curtain.
The ivy leaf was still in place.
Johnsy lay for a long time, staring at him. Then he called to Sue, who warmed up for her chicken soup on a gas burner.
- I was a bad girl, Syudi, - said Jones. - Must be the last leaf on the branch was to show me what I was nasty. A sin to be willing himself to die. Now you can give me a little broth, and then milk with port wine ... While there, bring me a mirror first, and then overlay my pillow and I'll sit back and watch you cook.
An hour later she said:
- Syudi hopefully ever paint the Bay of Naples.
In the afternoon the doctor came, and Sue under some pretext left for him in the hallway.
- Even chances, - said the doctor, shrugging his thin, trembling hand Sue. - With good care, you win. And now I have to visit another patient down. His name Berman. I think he's an artist. Also pneumonia. He is an old, weak and heavy form of the disease. There is no hope, but today he was sent to hospital, where he will be calmer.
The next day the doctor said to Sue:
- She's out of danger. You won. Nutrition and care now - and nothing more is needed.
That same evening, Sue came to the bed where Johnsy lay, happy dovyazyvaya bright blue and very useless scarf, and embraced her with one hand - with the pillow.
- I have something to tell you, white mouse, - she said. - Mr. Berman died today in hospital of pneumonia. He was ill only two days. On the morning of the first day of the porter found the poor old man on the floor in his room. He was unconscious. His shoes and clothing were wet through and icy cold. Nobody could understand where he came in such a horrible night. And then they found a lantern, which was still burning, stairs, move, some scattered brushes, and a palette with green and yellow colors. Look out the window, dear, at the last ivy leaf. You will not be surprised that he does not tremble and does not move in the wind? Yes, my dear, this is a masterpiece Berman - he wrote it that night, when the last leaf fell off.