A drenched traveler inquires after Mark Tapely at the Dragon. Mrs. Lupin grieves about Mark going to America, and imagines that he is in prison and sentenced to die because he helped a black.
The stranger pulls off his concealing clothing to reveal that he is none other than Mark Tapely himself. He explains that younger Martin Chuzzlewit is waiting outside. They wanted to keep quiet about their presence. He tells her not to notify anyone else just yet, though he is eager to hear the gossip about old friends.
Mark returns to Martin. They watch the other patrons leave, enjoying the sight of familiar faces. Mark says he is glad to see that Martin has maintained his considerate demeanor.
Mrs. Lupin tells Martin that Mary is well and staying at Mr. Pecksniff’s. Mr. Pecksniff is separated from both of his daughters, she continues, and has terminated Mr. Pinch’s employment. Mark and Martin are both shocked. Martin is angry when he learns that Pecksniff has considerable influence over his grandfather, who has become senile—and that Pecksniff has been trying to court Mary.
Mark advises Martin to humble himself and appeal to his grandfather’s affections. Martin doubts this will be successful if Pecksniff has as much control over his grandfather as he seems to have. Mark agrees, but says he should do it for Mary’s benefit. If they fail, there is no shame in losing to a scoundrel. Mark also tells Martin to communicate with Mary by letter and not to meet in secret so that he doesn’t have anything to hide.
Mark goes the next morning to Pecksniff’s with a letter from Martin to his grandfather. Pecksniff answers the door and tears up the letter. Mark returns to the Dragon. An hour later, he and Martin return to Pecksniff’s. A servant girl admits them inside, and they go into the parlor. They find Pecksniff, the grandfather, and Mary inside.
Martin begs his grandfather to hear him out. Pecksniff accuses them of breaking in. Elder Chuzzlewit orders him to be quiet. Martin tells his grandfather how he had almost died abroad and would have if not for Mark, who came as a servant but has become a good friend. Pecksniff snidely comments on how people come crawling back when they have failed. Martin continues to say he knows that his grandfather is suspicious of his motives. He had reason to be at first, but Martin says he is a changed man now. He admits that he still loves Mary and doesn’t regret that. He does regret not trusting his grandfather and of not being more considerate, and he begs his grandfather’s forgiveness. He asks for help in getting honest work.
Pecksniff orders Martin and Mark to leave the house. He accuses Martin of trying to mislead his grandfather. Martin begs his grandfather to speak to him. The grandfather asks who the stranger was that Martin mentioned earlier that had helped him return to England. Martin writes it down on paper and says he wishes that debt could be paid. The grandfather agrees. Pecksniff says it isn’t a good idea, but the grandfather assures him it will only be this one time. He then orders Martin to leave.
Martin and Mary meet briefly. Martin comments on how helpless his grandfather is. He asks if it is true that Pecksniff has been trying to court her. She affirms this, but most of her anxiety has been due to concern for him. Martin told her he had stopped writing for fear of distressing her with their unfortunate circumstances.
Pecksniff has talked to the grandfather about marrying Mary. The grandfather has told her that Pecksniff has a good reputation, but he won’t force her into it. The grandfather is still kind to her. She avoids Pecksniff so he can’t keep pressing his courtship.
Mary promises to try and mend things between the grandfather and Martin. Martin says he will not ask Mary to abandon his grandfather—he can wait for her, even if it means waiting for several years. He fears Pecksniff’s influence is too great. Mary admits that the grandfather does defer almost totally to him.
As Martin and Mark leave the premises, they are passed by a man that looks familiar. Mrs. Lupin reveals his identity when they return—Jonas Chuzzlewit. Martin tells her he has failed with his grandfather. He plans to visit Tom Pinch next and ask for his assistance in finding employment.