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Summary Chapter 26

Nell is heartbroken over Harry’s death. She returns to the schoolmaster’s house, concealing her tears from her grandfather. She goes to bed and grieves. She is grateful that she has her health and freedom. She is glad that she has been spared for her grandfather, and that she can continue her journey through the world. She wonders how many graves that she has seen in cemeteries have belonged to children like her.

She dreams of Harry mingling with angels and smiling happily. The next morning, Nell and her grandfather depart. The schoolmaster walks them to the gate. Nell offers the coin the lady at the races gave her, embarrassed by the small amount she can offer. He tells her to keep it. He turns back to the house. However, he walks back to them and asks that if they ever come this way again, to visit him. He blesses them with good luck and fortune. Nell assures him that neither he nor his kindness will be forgotten.

Nell and the grandfather continue down the long main road. There is not much on it. As the day progresses, they grow more weary—but they continue on because there is no place to stop. In the evening, they finally come across a well-to-do caravan owned by a Christian lady.

The Christian lady asks them who won the Helter-Skelter plate on the second day of the raceS. Nell says she doesn’t know. The lady is surprised at that, since she saw Nell there. Nell is alarmed, thinking she knows Short and Codlin. However, she is relieved when the woman says she was very sorry to see her associating with such vulgar companions. Nell explains it wasn’t by choice that she was with them. She hadn’t known the way, and they had been very kind.

She asks the lady if she is acquainted with them, which the lady takes offense to. The lady labels it to Nell’s inexperience that she would think such a thing. Nell apologizes, and the lady accepts her apology. Nell asks how far it is to the next town. She and her grandfather are disheartened to find out it is eight miles away. They start down the darkening road.

The lady notices their anxiety and calls them back for tea. They eat heartily. The lady checks her caravan, and then asks her assistant if the horses could handle two more passengers. George says it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Nell and her grandfather are delighted to go with the caravan.

Charles Dickens