Chapters 18-20 Summary
Anthony and Jonas Chuzzlewit, along with Chuffey, sit before the fire. Anthony speaks of the short amount of time that he has left, but Chuffey assures him that he is still a boy. Jonas mutters under his breath that it is high time for his father to die and leave the business in his son’s hands. He creeps to the files and pulls out his father’s will, making sure that the bulk of the estate is left to him, with a thirty-pound annuity for Chuffey. He is startled to find Pecksniff looking at him. Later, when they are alone, Anthony tells Pecksniff that Jonas wants to marry one of Pecksniff’s daughters. He warns Pecksniff to arrange it soon before Jonas loses interest. Jonas returns, and Anthony falls asleep. Soon, he makes strange noises like the ticking of a clock and then passes out on the floor. He is carried to bed and a doctor is sent for. Jonas tells Pecksniff that he is glad he was there so it could not be said that Jonas killed his father. They are startled to see Anthony enter the room, held up by Chuffey. The dying man tries to speak, but says nothing. He soon dies, and Jonas begs Pecksniff to stay so that he will have a witness that Anthony died of natural causes.
Mr. Pecksniff arranges the funeral with the undertaker, who advises him to get Mrs. Gamp to prepare the body for burial. He finds Mrs. Gamp finally, who also serves as a midwife. She drinks profusely but is still reliable. As she prepares Anthony’s body, she comes back downstairs to tell Mr. Mould, the undertaker, and Pecksniff that she will not tolerate spies. They are at first confused, but soon Pecksniff realizes that she is speaking of Chuffey, who has not left Anthony’s side. On the day of the funeral, all are impressed that Jonas has spared no expense. The service is marred by Chuffey’s excessive grief, as he is the only one who truly mourns.
Jonas returns home with Pecksniff, and on the way, he asks the older man what he would give as a dower for his daughters. Pecksniff answers that since Charity is so dear to him, he would give four thousand. At home, Pecksniff sneaks up on the house and startles Charity, whom he bids to bring Mercy down. He leaves the two girls alone with Jonas, thinking that Jonas would like to talk of marriage with Charity. Mercy thinks so as well and tries to leave, but Jonas restrains her. Jonas asks Mercy, not Charity, to marry him. Charity runs off to her room, and Mercy tells Jonas that she cannot stand the sight of him. Pecksniff, hearing the commotion, enters Charity’s room to find her in hysterics and ascertains the facts from her. He goes downstairs to congratulate Jonas when Tom Pinch enters to announce that Martin Chuzzlewit and Mary Graham are approaching the house.