Three Paragraphs (Henry)

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Three Paragraphs
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A dying woman's feverish ramblings inspired a struggling humorist to write his final column, unaware that her end was near.

A sick woman lay on her bed, her once beautiful face now thin and pain-stricken. She was dying, but neither she nor her husband, who held her hand and wrote on a paper tablet, knew that the end was near. The couple barely made ends meet with the small pay the husband received for writing humorous columns for a newspaper. They couldn't afford medicine, but the woman's need for it was almost over.

The Humourist — man who writes humorous columns; caring, desperate.
The Woman — dying, feverish woman; once beautiful, thin, and pain-drawn; the humorist's wife.

As the woman's mind wandered, she spoke quickly and unceasingly. Her husband tried to write down her words, hoping to find inspiration for his column. She talked about her love for him, her desire for ice to soothe her burning throat, and her fear of dying.

Oh, Jack; Jack, papa says no, I cannot go with you. Not love you! Jack, do you want to break my heart?

The husband managed to come up with a few humorous lines based on her words, but struggled to fill the required three paragraphs.

When a man puts a piece of ice down a girl's back at a picnic, does he give her the cold shoulder?

The woman's fever eventually subsided, and she began to sing a soft, crooning song. She spoke weakly and sadly about the hardships and suffering she had faced since marrying her husband against her parents' wishes. As she drifted closer to death, she felt lighter and seemed to float into a cloud, where she saw her mother with love and tenderness in her face. The husband quickly finished his column with a final line about a woman's relationship with her mother-in-law.

A woman generally likes her husband's mother-in-law the best of all his relatives.

He then rushed to his wife's side, but it was too late - the fever was gone, and he was left alone.