Tom went to the Newbury residence. Any ill feelings that he held for Isabel vanished when he saw her wasted body lying in bed. Isabel apologized to Tom for how mean she was to his family. Lila told her there was no need to apologize. Tom asked how Todd was doing. Isabel told him Todd was the same as always-- selfish. Todd had only been to visit her twice during her illness. Lila tried to change the subject. Isabel asked Lila for some water. When Lila left the room, Isabel told Tom that Reese was in love with Lila and that she approved. Tom was incensed. Isabel said that she and Reese had talked it over and she wanted him to marry Lila. Tom asked Isabel how she could let someone into her bed that she could not even let into a cookbook. Isabel said that Reese would need someone to care for him when she died. Tom grew angrier.
Later Tom talked with Lila in Reese’s study. Lila said she was expecting him to come on his father’s behalf. She told Tom that she did not even love Henry when they were first married. She wanted Tom to tell Henry she was sorry she ever met him and had children with him. Lila asked Tom if he would testify on her behalf in court. He told her he would not. Tom said that if he was asked he would say he did not remember what happened when he was a child. He told Lila that he had already been damaged enough by their family. He thought it will be bad for all of them if they testified in court. Lila said that she did not need Tom because Savannah had agreed to testify for her. Tom noticed that on Reese’s map of Colleton County he had placed a green pin on Melrose Island. Tom told Lila that he thought it is a bit tacky to put a green pin (meaning he owns that land) on Melrose Island before it was his. Tom told Lila that if she got the island, Reese would have stolen it for her. Isabel died shortly after in her sleep.
During the divorce hearing, Savannah, Lila and Henry wept throughout Savannah’s testimony. The judge was Reese Newbury’s friend. Henry did not have to pay any alimony and was granted everything he and Lila owned, except for Melrose Island. Lila was granted sole and exclusive control of the island. A year later Reese and Lila were married; that same week she attended her first meeting of the Colleton League. Henry went to Florida, then to Jamaica.
The United States Atomic Energy Commission announced its plans to build production plants in Colleton. Colleton and its citizens would have to relocate. At a town meeting Luke gave a stunning and urgent speech encouraging the townspeople to fight back. Luke was charged with making terrorist threats and put in jail.
This chapter shows Lila as obsequious and pathetic. She dotes on Isabel and pretends they were always friends. It is possible that Lila has a grand plan to marry Reese and become wealthy, and that is why she is caring for Isabel. However, when we recall their past encounters (except for the turkey incident) we should remember that Lila acted much in the same manner.
In this chapter and in chapter 25, there are many references to the surveying that is taking place in Colleton. Tom mentions that Lila knew what was going on. The reader should recall this information when considering why Reese might have a green pin on Melrose Island. Luke suggests that Reese married Lila for the island. This probably true, but Lila probably married Reese for the prestige.
While this novel has many different tales and plots, the major plot with which we should be concerned is in the past tense, involving Luke. Luke’s speech to Colleton begins the rising action. He has reached a point of no return.