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Summary Chapter 31


Pecksniff has been walking in the graveyard, looking at epitaphs. He hears Tom playing the organ. Tired and hot, Pecksniff decides to go in and rest. Tom is unaware that he is there. Pecksniff falls asleep.

When he wakes, he hears voices that he recognizes. Tom and Mary are talking, and Pecksniff eavesdrops on their conversation. Tom is telling Mary that he hasn’t heard from martin. He isn’t concerned, though, for Martin had said they were going somewhere where the post may not be reliable. He is certain that they would have heard something if there had been some misfortune.

Tom admits to Mary that he was afraid that she hasn’t confided in him because she is aware of how much he admires her. He assures her he is happy for her and Martin. Mary tells him her life would be miserable without his friendship.

He asks her why she has been quiet. Mary says she is worried that if she confided in him, she might hurt his situation with Pecksniff. Tom dismisses her concerns, saying Pecksniff is a fine man—though everybody always tells him otherwise. Every pupil has despised Pecksniff. He assumes Martin has prejudiced her. Mary tells Tom he is the one that is mistaken about Pecksniff.

Mary tells Tom about a man who plans to marry her despite her objections. She tells Tom about all the conversations she has had with this man. When Tom agrees that the man is a scoundrel, she then reveals that this man is Pecksniff.

Tom is crushed. He realizes that the man he admired never existed. Pecksniff watches him to see how he reacts. Tom says he wouldn’t mind if Pecksniff had been cruel to him, for he can name several reasons why he would deserve it.

Pecksniff returns home after he is certain that Tom has quit the church. He inquires whether Tom is there, and the servant says he is upstairs. He also learns that elder Martin Chuzzlewit is there.

Pecksniff puts on a melancholy face and tells Chuzzlewit that he has been deceived by Thomas Pinch. Pecksniff sends for Pinch and admits he overheard his conversation at the church where he proposed his love for Mary. Tom doesn’t deny it. Pecksniff gives him his salary and tells him that the coach will take him wherever he wants to go. Martin says he is glad that Pinch is gone.

Tom packs his things. The grief he would have felt for leaving is nothing compared to the grief he feels in the knowledge that the man he admired never existed. Several people turn up to say goodbye to him. Mrs. Lupin wants him to come to the Dragon, but Tom tells her that he can’t live here. He is going to Salisbury, but he would appreciate it if she looked after his luggage.

Seeing Pecksniff shake his head mournfully after Tom leaves, the people begin to believe that Tom must have done something wrong. The tollman is shocked to hear that Tom has left Pecksniff and passes the news to every driver that goes through.

Tom goes to Salisbury, sick at heart.

Charles Dickens