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Summary Chapter 4

CHAPTER 4

Mr. Pecksniff stays at home for three days, expecting to be called back by a repentant Martin Chuzzlewit. He makes inquiries about the invalid from Mrs. Lupin, who admires Pecksniff’s Christian spirit.

Chuzzlewit will only see Mary or Mrs. Lupin, though he pretends to sleep when Mrs. Lupin enters. The fourth night, Pecksniff listens outside of the chamber. Seeing that it is darkened, he goes to investigate and bumps his head with someone else’s. The other person assaults Pecksniff with objects at hand and follows him downstairs. The stranger accuses him of eavesdropping. Pecksniff claims he is a friend and cousin of Martin Chuzzlewit. The man apologizes.

The man hands him a note for Chevy Slyme, Esquire. Pecksniff claims he knows of him and is sorry to. The man says Slyme is his friend, who he admires greatly. He says Slyme is always around the corner. He introduces himself as Montague Tigg. Then he runs off to fetch Slyme.

Tigg admits that he has been eavesdropping while Chuzzlewit has talked to someone. Pecksniff defends Chuzzlewit’s rights to handle his business the way he chooses, and states the man may have reason to. Chevy mentions that the other family members have arrived, having learned that Chuzzlewit is ill. Tigg believes the family should unite against their common enemy—the unjust elder Martin Chuzzlewit—for the benefit of them all. Martin Chuzzlewit has refused to see any of his family or receive gifts.

The family quarrels with one another when they meet. They are respectful to Pecksniff. They agree to meet at his home to discuss the matter. Though they all dislike one another, they all agree that they hate Tigg—who is present, even though he isn’t a member of the family.

Mr. Spottletoe resents Pecksniff acting like he is head of the family. Pecksniff’s daughters get into a fight with the other female relatives, which ends when Mrs. Spottletoe is reduced to tears. Her husband leads her away. Anthony accuses Pecksniff of being a hypocrite.

Pecksniff says they are all gathered like they are at a funeral, but here is no body—only an unkind relative who refuses to see them. He mentions how elder Martin Chuzzlewit brings shame on the family by having this companion, who no doubt has her own designs to get his fortune. They all concur that she is the enemy. Pecksniff wants to thaw the old man’s distrust by promoting the grandson’s claim.

Mrs. Ned leaves with her daughters after George Chuzzlewit mentions how much like a vulture she is. He points out that she has outlived three husbands, and she probably is responsible, at least indirectly, of helping them into an early grave. Mr. Spottletoe returns and accuses Pecksniff of distracting them so Martin Chuzzlewit could get away. He has left. This is news to Pecksniff, but the other relatives don’t believe him. They insult him and leave.

Charles Dickens