Book 5, Chapter 2 Summary
Tom’s Uncle Deane has taken Tom under his care, at least as far as business goes. When Mr. Deane, a ship owner, has the time, he calls Tom into his office and teaches him about the import and export business. Tom has done well at the job Mr. Deane has given him and is in his second year with his uncle. Although Tom has already received an increase in salary, most of what he makes goes into his father’s savings box. Tom is determined to help his father repay all his debts. The process is very slow, however. In two years, together they have not even saved two hundred pounds—less than half of what Tulliver owes.
Tom’s Uncle Glegg has also taken an interest in Tom’s financial success. Glegg encourages the boy; he hopes Tom has more Dodson than Tulliver blood in his veins. Tom is often invited to eat dinner at his aunt and uncle’s home, so his relationship with the Gleggs has grown closer over the past two years.
One day, Bob Jakin, the boy Tom had befriended when they were children, is waiting for Tom after work. Bob is also aware of the benefits in trading goods, and he has a proposition for Tom. Trading is not a completely secure business deal but rather requires speculation. Investment in trading makes profits less sure, but the investment is potentially more lucrative.
When Tom goes home and talks with his father, Mr. Tulliver does not completely discourage Tom. However, he makes his son realize how painful it would be to take any of their money out of savings if they were to lose it. Mr. Tulliver is a conservative man and would rather save his money in his tin box than risk it. Tom appreciates his father’s fears and decides not to pressure him. However, Tom does not give up on the idea of speculating.
Tom goes to see his Uncle Glegg to discuss the business proposition Bob Jakin has made. Tom wants to find out if Glegg is willing to put up twenty pounds of his money; Tom promises interest on the loan when the trading deal is completed. Bob is with Tom during the meeting, and Mr. Glegg becomes fascinated with Bob. Bob is unusually forthcoming in his manner and speech, which Mr. Glegg finds to be crude but refreshing. When Mrs. Glegg sees her husband welcoming Bob into their home, she rebels against the gesture. She does not know the boy and does not like his appearance. However, Bob is very good at estimating Mrs. Glegg’s personality and begins to flatter her before tempting her with the idea of making money.
In the end, both Aunt Glegg and Uncle Glegg offer Tom a “nest egg,” money with which Tom can begin investing in trading. In one year, Tom puts away almost as much money as he and his father saved together over the past two years.