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Summary Chapter 46


While walking to Mrs. Todgers’ boarding house, Tom and Ruth see Charity and Mr. Moddle shopping for furniture. Ruth remarks that Mr. Moddle looks like he is preparing to be buried rather than married. Tom comments that he is a morose fellow. The Pinches try to walk by unobserved, but Charity sees them. Tom tells her they are going to visit Mercy at Mrs. Todgers. Charity says she’ll take them to Mercy’s home, for she is no longer at Mrs. Todgers. Tom is worried about going there, knowing he won’t get a warm reception from Jonas. Charity tells him he isn’t there.

On the way, Charity asks Ruth what she thinks of her fiancé. Ruth says she doesn’t know him well enough but admits that he does seem melancholy. Charity says that while she liked him, she refused his marriage proposal three times. Ruth assumes she did it to test him. Charity regrets her behavior and advises Ruth to be open with her affections. Charity finally accepted Augustus’ proposal, but she worries now that he is unsure of her. Ruth consoles her that the marriage will make him feel more secure.

Tom, trying to find a topic to discuss with Augustus, comments on how it is a wonder that more people are not ran over by carriages and carts. He is astonished when Augustus says that there are some people who are unfortunate to repel carriages and carts. They can’t be run over. Tom is worried that Mr. Moddle is suicidal and watches him closely as they walk the streets.

When they enter Mercy’s home, they see Mrs. Gamp, Mrs. Todgers, Mr. Chuffey, and Mercy having tea. Mr. Chuffey asks where Mr. Chuzzlewit’s body is. Mercy tells him that happened a long time ago. Chuffey insists that someone must be dead if everyone is here at the house. He mentions something about foul play. He wants Mercy to check. He asks where Jonas is. Mercy replies he is in the country. Chuffey goes to Anthony Chuzzlewit’s chamber to check. He comes back satisfied. He tells Mercy that they don’t tell her anything, but he will protect her. He’ll keep watch over her.

Mrs. Gamp wants to throw a pitcher of water over his head to bring him back to his senses. She tells Mercy she is too indulgent with him. Mrs. Gamp shakes Mr. Chuffey, which makes him dizzy. Tom tells Ruth it is time to go. He tells Mercy he will write a letter to Jonas to explain that he was merely a postman and unaware of the contents of the letter he was delivering.

Jonas enters the house. Mr. Moddle wants to fight Jonas, but he is restrained by Charity and pushed out the door by Mrs. Todgers. Tom comes up to an enraged Jonas, who orders him to leave. He tells Jonas that he knows nothing about his affairs and doesn’t want to. Jonas threatens Tom. Tom tries to explain, and Jonas lunges at him. Mercy interferes and begs Tom to leave.

Jonas accuses Mercy of plotting with these people. Mercy says she has only seen Tom twice since leaving home. Jonas doesn’t believe her, but he is distracted by the chiming of the clock. He tells Mercy that if she ever sees Tom again, he’ll make her pay dearly for it. If she tries to find out his business or refuses to do exactly as he orders, she’ll regret it. He tells her he is tired. He orders her to get his meal and to leave him alone tonight and the next day. He wants her to keep the house quiet.

Mrs. Gamp comes in and tells him that Mr. Chuffey was asking who was lying dead upstairs. He asked where Jonas was and made suggestions of foul play. She doesn’t think it is a good idea to have Mr. Chuffey worrying Mercy. Jonas replies that nobody pays attention to what Chuffey says. He asks Mrs. Gamp if she can take care of him in another room. She says she and her friend could do it.

Jonas comments to himself that it is strange that Chuffey should start talking about this now. Jonas dresses up in country clothes and sneaks out the door that leads to the outside.

Charles Dickens