Mattie Campbell turns up at the boarding house looking for Bynum. The old man has a reputation for being a folk magician, and Mattie wants him to use his reputed special powers to help bring back her lover, Jack Carper, who's recently left her. It would seem that Jack's every bit as superstitious as Mattie, believing her to be cursed. That's the only explanation he can come up with for the loss of their two babies. Mattie's convinced that the only way to win back Jack is through some kind of mystical binding process set in place by Bynum's crazy magic.
Mattie's soon to be sorely disappointed, however. Bynum tells her that as the babies have died, Jack is in no way bound to her. What's more, his taking off like that indicates rather that he's being called towards someone else. Either way, it appears that Mattie and Jack are not really meant to be together, and so there's not much that Bynum's magic can do to effect a reconciliation.