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Summary Chapter 29

Mrs. Jarley is very creative in advertising her exhibit. She decorates Nell in artificial flowers and has her sit besides the Brigand in a decorative wagon. As trumpets blare, Nell hands out handbills from a basket. She upstages the Brigand with her beauty and timid demeanor, which fascinates people. Many boys fall in love wither her and leave presents near the door of the exhibition. Mrs. Jarley is afraid that Nell will get cheapened by this, so she keeps her solely for pointing out the waxworks to admiring audiences.

Mrs. Jarley has worked hard inducing heads of boarding schools to come to the exhibit with their pupils. Miss Monflathers is one of these. Mrs. Jarley alters the waxworks identities—turning them from famous murderers to famous authors and other people the students will be acquainted with. Miss Monflathers, though, heavily disapproves when she sees a waxwork of Lord Byron.

Nell finds her job labor intensive, but Mrs. Jarley is very kind and is good about making everyone comfortable. The little girl has no reason to regret her association, though she often fears Quilp will learn about them. She has constant nightmares about seeing him. She sleeps in the same room as the exhibit, and the waxworks remind her of Quilp. She starts sitting by the window to look at the stars. She remembers how she used to do this at the Curiosity Shop. She has bittersweet memories of Kit.

She wonders how much her grandfather remembers of their former life, and how much he realizes it has changed. She worries about him or herself falling ill. She realizes that he will never get better and is quite helpless without her. She prays every night for him to be restored. However, his condition and their destitution isn’t the source of her greatest grief.

On a holiday, they had taken a long walk after being confined for some time. They went down a road that took them further out than they had intended to go. A storm brews, and they are looking for shelter. A man calls out to them from a house they hadn’t noticed. He invites them inside to dry off.

He introduces himself as James Groves, and informs them they are in the infamous public house called The Valiant Soldier. He says he runs it, and nobody has a more unblemished moral character than he. A man behind a screen sneers at this. Groves says the man is the only one brave enough to cross him—but the man is a good man, and Groves lets him get away with it.

The grandfather becomes excited when he realizes they are playing cards. The men talk about how a man named Luke Withers had been terribly lucky on a stormy night like this—he had won thirteen times in a row. However, the sneering man claims he had known a time when Withers had lost every time he played.

Nell becomes alarmed by the grandfather’s eagerness. He begs her to give him the money she is carrying. She refuses and begs him to leave. He demands it, and Nell starts crying. He tells her he will right things. Nell pleads with him to let her keep the money, or else let her throw it away—but do not succumb to this desire. The grandfather is insistent, and reluctantly Nell pulls out the purse—which he snatches away from her.

The other two men act offended when he barges behind the screen. They tell him it is a private area. The landlord acts neutral, asking the other two to hear the old man out. The grandfather asks to join. They say they only play for money. He presents the purse. Isaac comments it is a very pretty purse but rather light—but it will buy him a half hour’s entertainment.

Nell implores her grandfather to leave, cursing the luck that brought them to this place. One of the men tells her not to curse luck, or else fortune will shun her. The grandfather promises to win back their fortune and orders her to sit down. His triumphs feel like defeats to her.

The other men are professional gamesters, and they share smiles with each other as the night goes on. The game goes on for hours. The grandfather has forgotten Nell, who is sitting in a corner.

Charles Dickens