she walked gaily back into the room, whistling a merry tune. Johnsy lay with her eyes towards the window. Thinking that Johnsy was asleep, Sue stopped whistling. She arranged her drawing board and began working. Soon she heard a low sound, several time repeated. She went quickly to the bedsi de. Johnsy’s eyes were wide open. She was looking out of the window and counting — counting backward. “Twelve,” she said, and a little later, “eleven;” then “ten" and “nine", and then “eight" and “seven" almost together.
Sue looked out of the window. What was there to count? There was only the blank side of the brick house twenty feet away. An old grape-virfe climbed half way up the brick wall. The cold autumn winds had blown off its leaves until it was almost bare.
“What is it, dear?” asked Sue.
“Six,” said Johnsy almost in a whisper. "They’re falling faster now, I can hardly keep up with them. There goes another one. There are only five left now.”
“Five what, darling? Tell me.”
“Leaves. On the grape-vine. When the last one goes, I must go, too. I’ve known that for three days. Didn’t the doctor tell you?”
“How can the doctor have told me this nonsense?” Sue said, trying to control her voice. “He told me this morning your chances were ten to one. Anyhow, let me finish my drawing so that I can sell it and buy some port wine for you.” “You needn’t buy any more wine," said Johnsy with her eyes still on the window. “There goes another. That leaves just four. I want to see the last one fall before it gets dark. Then I’ll go, too.”
“Johnsy, dear,” said Sue, bending over her. “I must go and call Behrman to be my model. Will you promise me to keep your eyes closed and not look at those leaves until I co me back? I’ll be back in a minute.”
“Tell me when I may open my eyes,” Johnsy said, “beca use I want to see the last one fall. I’m tired of waiting. I want to go sailing down like one of those poor tired leaves.”
Old Behrman was a painter who lived on the ground floor below them. He was past sixty and had been a painter for forty years, but he hadn’t achieved anything in art. However, he wasn't disappointed, and hoped he would some day paint a masterpiece. Meantime he earned his living by doing vari ous jobs, often serving as a model to those young painters who could not pay the price of a professional. He sincerely thought it his duty to protect the two girls upstairs.