Before he can begin this project, he learns that Juwain, a Martian friend and brilliant philosopher, has contracted a terrible disease that only he can cure. This would require traveling to Mars, something his agoraphobia makes nearly impossible. Senior political figures make clear that Juwain's death would be a tragedy for which mankind would suffer for thousands of years, and Webster is pained by the thought of forsaking his friend.
With great effort he packs for the trip, only to discover, in the last lines of the story, that the robot Jenkins, not understanding the stakes, had dismissed the spaceship that had arrived to transport Webster to Mars. The reader is made to understand that Webster probably could not steel himself again for departure, and so Juwain would die.
Huddling Place was among the stories selected in 1970 by the Science Fiction Writers of America as one the best science fiction short stories of all time. As such, it was published in The Science Fiction Hall of Fame Volume One, 1929-1964.