Nature has denied the Horaks their own child, something they have desired for a long time. One day in the garden, Mr. Horak digs up a tree stump, which looks like a small child. It takes only a bit of whittling in his tool room to form it completely. The stump revives in Mrs. Horak her feelings of love and longing. Her happiness, however, doesn’t last long. Mr. Horak tries to reason with her that feeling a maternal instinct towards a piece of wood isn’t totally normal, plus Otik (that’s how they’ve named the “baby”) is always hungry. First he eats the family cat then he starts in on people from the neighborhood. In despair—and in the face of his protesting wife—he locks Otik in a potato bin in the cellar in hopes that it will die of hunger. This is when the neighbor’s daughter Alzbeta actively enters the story. She figures out what’s going on—why people are disappearing—and even how it all will develop. An old myth brought suddenly back to life speeds towards its fulfillment.