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When Ethan gets home, Amma is furious that he skipped basketball practice. She's also mad that he went to Ravenwood Manor. Hmm, how does she know so much about the town shut-in?
Thinking it will diffuse the situation, Ethan shows the mysterious cameo locket to Amma.
Amma freaks out. She makes Ethan wrap the locket with a handkerchief. She pours some mysterious dark powder on it and commands Ethan to drop it into a little leather pouch. Then she tells him to take it back to Greenbrier and bury it.
Ethan decides to stash it inside a shoebox in his room. His room is filled with so many shoeboxes, "some three or four feet high" (9.12.56), it sounds like a life-size game of Jenga.
Ethan puts the wocket—er, the locket—in his pocket the next morning.
Every Saturday, Ethan spends half the day with his great-aunts Mercy, Prudence, and Grace. We think they're a hoot and a holler. We would totally spend every Saturday with them too, if we could. At least we can read about them whenever we want—and you should, too.
Ethan discovers a little charm that Amma stashed in his dresser overnight. It "looked like a sock monkey holding a tiny bag of salt and a blue stone" (9.12.63). Why is Amma so scared of that stinkin' locket?
When Ethan arrives at the Sisters' house, the old broads are in an uproar. Harlon James, Aunt Prudence's Yorkshire Terrier named after her ex-husband, has been injured. Aunt Grace had hit him with a broom, thinking he was a wharf rat in the kitchen. Oops.
When they return from the vet, Ethan asks them about the locket.
The Sisters tell Ethan that 1865 was the year of the Great Burnin'. "Part a every plantation in Gatlin was destroyed, except Ravenwood. […] Abraham Ravenwood musta made a deal with the Devil that night" (9.12.97). (Abraham Ravenwood is one of Macon's ancestors, of course.)
Being the good old Southern ladies they are, the Sisters get quickly distracted by gossip. They reveal that Macon Ravenwood was an illegitimate child. "In Gatlin, being illegitimate was like being a communist or an atheist" (9.12.104).
Then things get weirder when they talk about the black wolf that Macon's dad, Silas, used to keep. Wait—could the big black dog in Ravenwood Manor actually be a century-old wolf?
The Sisters believe that the ECW inscribed on the locket is Ethan Carter Wate, a great-uncle of Ethan. They're not sure how many greats to put before his name, but at least three or four.
Ethan Lawson Wate, our narrator, had never heard of Ethan Carter Wate. In fact, ECW was erased from the family tree because he was a Confederate deserter. (That's someone who was fighting for the South in the American Civil War, but then jumped ship.)
Bored at church with the Sisters, Ethan fingers the locket in his pocket.
And just like that, Lena enters his head telepathically. With the three—Ethan, Lena, and the locket—connected again, Ethan finds himself in another Civil War flashback.
Here's what's happening in the past:
Greenbrier is burning down (not good) and soldiers are looting its valuables (also not good).
Genevieve, hiding in the woods nearby, runs into Ethan Carter (ECW). Genevieve thought he had died during the war. They had communicated via letter for two years, but she hadn't received a letter from him since the Battle at Wilderness, which was in May 1864. So she put two and two together.
Confession time: he tells her he deserted.
Genevieve and Ethan Carter find Ivy, Greenbrier's cook, in the woods, too, and Ivy tells Genevieve that her (Genevieve's) mother and sister were inside Greenbrier when it burned.
Genevieve is not okay with this: "God's the one who's goin' to have to answer to me," (9.12.191) she says to the sky. Remember that curse mentioned in the prologue? Well, this sounds like a curse if we've ever heard one.