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What is the summary of "A Service of Love" by O. Henry?  

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Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the beginning of the story, the narrator claims that it shall begin with the premise that "When one loves one's Art no service seems to hard" and then claims that they will then prove that the premise is wrong. Joe Larrabee, a painter, and Delia Caruthers, a pianist, meet in an atelier and quickly fall in love, get married, and set up home in a small flat. Everything goes well until they run out of money, and Delia insists that she will begin to give music lessons; Joe can keep studying with his art teacher in the meantime.

One day she comes home elated, saying that she got a student, but Joe is somewhat put out by the fact that she's going to be earning money while he does not. She reminds him that "When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard." At the end of the week, she brings home her earnings, and Joe surprises her by telling her that he's sold a sketch and taken a commission for another.

During the next week, however, Delia comes home with a burned hand and a story about her pupil spilling something hot on it; Joe, however, figures out that Delia has not actually been teaching. She confesses that she couldn't get any pupils and so she got a job ironing shirts at a laundry—she was burned when another girl set an iron down on her hand. Joe admits that he's actually been "firing the engine in that laundry for the last two weeks." He hasn't sold any of his art. Both of them lied to one another but with good intentions. As Delia now says, the story proves that "When one loves," no service seems too hard. It has to do with love, not art.

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As an introduction to his short story, "A Service of Love," O. Henry declares that he will take the premise of "When one loves one's Art no service seems too hard" and draw a conclusion from this premise while at the same time proving it wrong.

An aspiring artist, Joe Larrabeen from the Midwest and Delia Caruthers, a young talented musician meet in New York in an atelier where a number of youthful artists...

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