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Summary Chapter 15

Eventually, during his stay in London with his wards, Mr. Jarndyce not only meets with Mrs. Jellyby but with all her associates who are likewise philanthropists. Alas, their company proves to be disappointing as their collective spirit seems to be more geared to self-aggrandizement than genuine concern for their benefactors. Subsequently, Mr. Jarndyce seeks solace in Mr. Skimpole whose lack of worldly ambition and whose utter disregard of business affairs are a refreshing change.

Among other things, Mr. Skimpole mentions the incompatible nature of his disposition, which is carefree, to Mr. Boythorn’s passionate one. (Incidentally, to the exclusion of Mr. Skimpole, Mr. Boythorn has invited Ada, Esther, and Mr. Jarndyce to his home.) Then Mr. Skimpole touches on something which worries Mr. Jarndyce a great deal. Indeed, Mr. Jarndyce finds it so worrisome that he decides to attend to it at once. Thus, attended by Ada, Esther, and Mr. Skimpole, Mr. Jarndyce goes to Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane which is where Coavinses, the debt collector, had had his headquarters. He finds out that Coavinses, whose real name is Neckett, had a home in Bell Yard, and there he and his friends repair themselves.

When they arrive at Bell Yard, they are greeted by an angry man named Gridley. By and by, they acquire the key to Coavinses’ apartment from Mrs. Blinder the landlady. When they enter the apartment, they behold a 5-year old boy nursing a child of 18 months, two of Coavinses’ orphaned children. Presently, Coavinses’ third orphaned child, whose name is Charlotte, a.k.a. Charley, arrives on the scene. She is merely 13 years old, and yet she has taken the responsibility of taking care of her younger siblings by doing other people’s laundry. When she is away, her siblings are kept locked in the apartment for their safety.

Presently, the landlady Mrs. Blinder enters the apartment and vouches for the bravery and goodness of Charley. She also speaks of how when Coavinses first rented the apartment, on account of him being a debt collector, which everyone in the neighborhood took a disliking to, she had a mind to serve him notice and have him leave. But seeing as how he was always punctual with his rent and as he never gave anyone cause to disparage him, she had let him stay. It was a shame that he had gotten ill all of a sudden and had died, rendering his children orphans.

It isn’t long before Mr. Gridley enters the apartment and shows the visitors that despite his angry disposition that he is on good terms with Coavinses’ orphaned children as well. Indeed, he helps them out by keeping an eye on them when they are let out for fresh air. Presently, Mr. Gridley explains the underlying cause of his anger: He was due a substantial inheritance from his parents when a minor technicality involving a legal matter got tied up in Chancery with the result that the cost of resolving the minor technicality cost him his inheritance.

Presently, Mr. Skimpole lightens the mood by arguing how fate has a funny way of making things right. He goes on about how Mr. Gridley’s innate anger needed an outlet, and of how the High Court of Chancery provided just the right target for that anger to be aimed at. Then he argues of how his--Mr. Skimpole's--getting into debt was actually the best thing that could have happened as it provided Coavinses with a job which supported his children.

Charles Dickens