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Summary Chapter 20

CHAPTER 20

Jonas is going to the Pecksniff home for a change of scenery. He asks Pecksniff what he will give his daughters when they marry. Pecksniff says it depends on the husband they choose. If he had a son-in-law like Jonas, he would give as much as possible.

Pecksniff comments that Charity had many suitors, but none were able to win her heart. She hasn’t been happy lately. Mercy will have to be tamed before she can marry. He finally tells Jonas he will give Charity four thousand pounds upon her marriage, though it would make things difficult for him. However, it is his duty to provide for his daughters.

Jonas directs the driver to go to a public house. They have drinks, and Jonas leaves Pecksniff with the bill. Since Pecksniff hadn’t written ahead of time, there is nobody to greet them. They walk to the house. Jonas asks Pecksniff why he is so quiet. Pecksniff says he was thinking about Anthony. Jonas tells him to drop the subject now and forever.

Hoping to startle the girls, they go in through the back entrance. They come across Charity first, who is doing the household accounts. She calls her sister down. They have tea. Later, Pecksniff goes to look at some papers. Mercy tries to excuse herself, but Jonas pulls her back in. He tells Charity that he spent all that time with her to learn about and be near her sister. Then he asks Mercy to marry him. Charity rushes to her room, angry and hurt. Mercy wants to go after her. Mercy tells Jonas she won’t marry him. She doesn’t like him, and she thought he liked her sister. It was his fault for giving that impression. Jonas says any trick is fair in love. Mercy tells him that if she says yes, it is only so that she can make him miserable for the rest of his life.

Pecksniff comes to the girls’ room when both are in it. Charity, in a state of hysterics, tells him that Jonas proposed to Mercy. Pecksniff chides Charity on being envious and then goes downstairs to congratulate Jonas. Jonas tells Pecksniff to make Mercy’s dowry 5000 pounds, since he didn’t take Pecksniff’s favorite.

Pinch enters in great excitement, but apologizes when he sees the guest. He asks Pecksniff to have a word on an urgent matter. Pinch tells Pecksniff in a drawn out story that Elder Martin Chuzzlewit and Mary are coming to the house.

Pecksniff is dismayed. He knows that his benefactor will not want to see Jonas, and yet he can’t turn Jonas out of the house or hide him. His daughters are in an agitated state. Pinch is disappointed at Pecksniff’s reaction, thinking he would be pleased. There is a knock at the door.

Charles Dickens