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Summary Chapter 40


Tom begins his job. Every day, he wonders if he will meet his mysterious employer. He believes Mr. Fips is telling the truth that he is acting under someone else’s instructions. Sometimes Tom even imagines that a repentant Pecksniff is the mysterious employer. He decides that even if Pecksniff was, Tom wouldn’t remain in his employ. However, he dismisses this as very unlikely.

He makes progress in cataloguing and organizing the books. He sometimes brings one home to read. He does find the lonely, gloomy atmosphere of the place oppressive and welcomes any interaction—even with birds. Sometimes he follows people on the street that he thinks are his mysterious employer, but in vain.

Mr. Fips only increases the mystery around the employer. He tells Tom not to mention his place of work to anyone. Tom asks if the employer is pleased with his work, and Mr. Fips confirms this. Tom says he is almost finished with his task, and wonders if this will result in his termination. Mr. Fips assures him there is plenty to do.

Before going to work every morning, Tom takes a long walk with his sister. They prefer to visit the more active parts of the city, like the wharf. They take an interest in a particular ship. An old woman accidentally hits Tom with her umbrella. She is looking for Mrs. Gamp, and she is also looking for a particular boat.

Mrs. Gamp joins them. Ruth asks Mrs. Gamp why she is upset. Mrs. Gamp is worried over a young married woman who is fit to drown herself. Mrs. Gamp then points to the woman, who is being dragged by her husband on board the ship. The husband is covered from head to toe. He doesn’t remain in the fresh air, but goes into a cabin.

Tom is surprised to see his landlord on the docks. The landlord asks if a couple matching the description he gives is on the ship. He then asks Tom to give the man the letter. Tom goes on board to deliver the letter and is surprised to see that Jonas is the recipient. Jonas acts like he has been kicked in the stomach when he reads the letter. He drags Mercy out of their room, saying he has changed his mind about the trip.

Jonas asks where the man is that wrote the letter, but at that moment Mr. Montague comes up. He apologizes for ruining their trip. Mrs. Gamp comes up to say hello to Mercy. Montague says he is sorry for taking Jonas away, but Jonas made it necessary for him to do so.

Mercy calls Pinch over and asks why Jonas told her they were going away the night before, and now Pinch has brought them back like prisoners. Tom says he is ignorant of the business. Mr. Nadgett is on the dock, apparently stood up once again for an appointment with a gentleman.

Charles Dickens