At the top of an old brick house in New York two young painters Sue [sH] and Johnsy [´GLnsI] had their studio [´stjHdIqV]. They had met in a cheap restaurant and soon discovered that though their characters differed, their views on life and art were the same. Some time later they found a room that was suitable for a studio and began to live even more economically than before.
That was in May. In November a cold, unseen stranger, whom the doctors called Pneumonia, went from place to place in the district where they lived, touching people here and there with his icy fingers. Mr Pneumonia was not what you would call a kind old gentleman. It was hardly fair of him to pick out a little woman like Johnsy who was obviously unfit to stand the strain of the suffering, but he did, and she lay on her narrow bed, with no strength to move, looking at the next brick house.
After examining Johnsy one morning the doctor called Sue out of the room and gave her a prescription, saying: "I don't want to frighten you, but at present she has one chance in, let us say, ten, and that chance is for her to want to live. But your little lady has made up her mind that she isn't going to get well, and if a patient loses interest in life, it takes away 50 per cent from the power of medicine. If you could somehow get her to ask one question about the new winter styles in hats, I would promise a one-in-five chance for her."