A child is being beaten. Robin's elders call them exorcisms. Demons possess him, affronting the piety and good order of his family. The droning prayers assault his ears, the savage rage of his ancient father open wounds across his flesh; and when his mother with her marmoreal skin and relentless eyes wields the whip: She scores his twisting body and soul like no other.
The old house is full of secrets, but every question as to what came before could provoke a new attack of holy torment. In the isolated domain over which the family presides the past is guarded, the future is not to be countenanced. The age of Freud and Einstein is breaking through, but the family clings to the old verities of faith and rage.
They see the Devil in him his febrile mother, his punishing sire. But Robin suspects that they are mad. And that soon he will be like them.
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