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Mark Pence serves as the head of the household after the stoning sickness falls upon his father, who suffers, isolated and hidden, in the family attic while he morphs into stone. With a stiffening tongue, Mark's father warns not to open their door to the fool who walks the land offering healing to anyone meek enough to accept such charity. Mark easily makes the promise, but the keeping of it proves difficult as his family collapses. Mark struggles to respect the home his father built, and he struggles to recognize the value in the homes. Thus Mark comes to fear that all his father strove to build will crumble when that fool arrives to knock upon their front door.