It is three weeks later when Tom comes home early, in a good humor, and asks his father to count their money. Mr. Tulliver is sure of the amount, but he does as his son wishes. The amount comes out as he expected, with three hundred pounds still needed for his debts. Mr. Tulliver fears he will not live that long. Tom tells his father that the debts can be paid with his own hand, for he has saved over three hundred pounds from his own trade. Tulliver is struck silent and finally breaks into tears. He is triumphant that Wakem will know of it, for Tom has arranged a dinner to pay the creditors, and it has been advertised in the paper. They drink to this success, and Tulliver insists on hearing all the details over and over. He cannot sleep well that night, and early in the morning he wakens, dreaming that he has Wakem in his grasp.
Mr. Tulliver is no longer the man of the family. That position has been taken by Tom. When Mr. Tulliver speaks to him it is with "rather timid discontent." But Tulliver's single-mindedness in revenge is still the thing which most affects his son. Tulliver's dream of revenge prepares for the actual attack he is to make on Wakem.
Mrs. Tulliver's "much-reduced bunch of keys" is symbolic of her lower state in the world but also of the characteristics which she still retains, the Dodson caution and concern with material things.