On the day of Frank's Confirmation, he is suddenly struck with an unstoppable nosebleed and falls terribly ill. Within a few days, a doctor diagnoses him with typhoid fever, and Frank goes to the hospital to receive treatment. Although Frank nears death during this time, he manages to survive.
During his recovery period, Frank meets Patricia Madigan, a girl dying of diphtheria. Patricia lends Frank a book, introducing him to the work of William Shakespeare and Alfred Noyes. This is a formative moment for Frank, as it teaches him of the possibility of beauty in written language.
Although Patricia tragically dies shortly thereafter, Frank spends the rest of his time at the hospital voraciously reading. This marks the beginning of Frank's life as a lover of literature and, much later, as a remarkable author.