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Summary Chapter 11

With Mr. Krook lighting the way, Mr. Tulkinghorn approaches Nemo who hasn’t stirred from his bed. Alas, Mr. Tulkinghorn realizes that the man is dead. Subsequently, Krook exclaims that a doctor’s presence is called for, and adjures Mr. Tulkinghorn to commission Miss Flite, who is upstairs, to fetch a doctor. As Mr. Tulkinghhorn is busy fetching Miss Flite, Krook removes some documents from the dead man’s luggage and hides them within his person.

By and by, the doctor who was fetched examines the inanimate man and informs everyone that the man has been dead for about three hours. When a dark young man, who has also come and who is also trained in medicine, affirms the doctor’s assessment, the doctor leaves to resume his interrupted dinner.

After informing the assembled audience that the dead man had often come to him to buy opium and that the cause of the man’s death was opium overdose, the dark young man surmises that the dead man had at one time been very good looking and had suffered a great fall in life. When he inquires about the dead man’s identity, Krook replies that their relationship was limited to that one of landlord to tenant. Mr. Tulkinghorn, who has been idly standing by, lies that his only association with Nemo was based on his—Mr. Tulkinghorn’s--wish to employ Nemo for some copying work. Presently, Mr. Tulkinghorn suggests fetching Mr. Snagsby for the purpose of determining the dead man’s identity and commissions Miss Flite for the task.

When Mr. Snagsby arrives, he is moved by the sight of the dead body, and presently tells his audience of what he knows about the man, Nemo. About a year and half ago, Nemo had come to Mr. Snagsby’s law-stationer’s shop and had asked if there was any copying work that he could do for the Snagsbys. Despite his ragged appearance, and despite Mrs. Snagsby’s hostility to strangers, Mrs. Snagsby had taken a liking to Nemo, and the Snagsbys had henceforth employed Nemo for a number of copying tasks.

Presently, as Miss Flite goes to alert the proper authorities, on the pretext of having Krook protect himself from legal entanglements, Mr. Tulkinghorn investigates the dead man’s luggage. Finding nothing of value in the dead man’s luggage, Mr. Tulkinghorn retires for the night.

The inquest is held the next day in a carnival like atmosphere as people have gathered out of curiosity. As there is no more information to be had than what Mr. Tulkinghorn has given testimony to, the Coroner asks if there is anyone present who can shed light on the dead man’s identity, that he or she should step forward and speak. Consequently, a Mrs. Perkins steps forward to offer her testimony. Mrs. Perkin’s testimony is, alas, more or less a complaint about the dead man’s habit of keeping to himself mixed in with a lot of details about her domestic circumstances. However, she does mention a boy, who was wont to sweep “the crossing down the lane over the way,” with whom the dead man often had a word with.

Presently, that very boy with whom Nemo often had a word with is fetched. He’s name is Jo, but when it becomes apparent that he’s homeless, that he doesn’t have a last name, and that he’s illiterate, the inquest jury dismisses the boy as unfit to give testimony. The Coroner then announces that Nemo’s death was a death by accident (not suicide) and the inquest is adjourned.

As the boy Jo leaves the scene, Mr. Snagsby takes pity on the boy and gives him some money.

By and by, the dead body is removed from Krook’s boardinghouse, and is buried in a forbidding graveyard. When night falls, the boy Jo pays a visit to Nemo’s grave. He is grateful as the dead man had taken pity on him to the extent of always providing Jo with enough money for food and board if he had any money to spare. Apparently, the dead man had empathized with Jo, having said to him at one time that like Jo, he—Nemo—had not a friend in the world.

Charles Dickens