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Summary Chapter 52

The schoolmaster returns to the churchyard, looking pleased. He tells Nell that both of the houses she has been admiring belong to him. The houses are lovely in their old architecture, but they are in disrepair and seem to have been unoccupied for a while. The schoolmaster tells them that one house is for them, and the other will be his. He has also found Nell a post. She will be the church keeper—the person who opens and locks the church, as well as the person who shows it to guests. The income is small but sufficient to live on.

They all set about making the houses comfortable for habitation. Neighbors offer to help or send children with gifts or loans of things they need. They eat dinner and discuss their future plans.

Nell feels the presence of Death near her. She is aware that she isn’t fully recovered. She is not alarmed. She frequently dreams of Harry and of the Edwards sisters.

The next day, they meet the clergyman. He takes an interest in Nell. He approves her for the post of church keeper, though he worries that it will be a gloomy place to live for a young person.

They return home and meet another gentleman, who is called “The Bachelor” by the townspeople. He is a friend of the clergyman’s. He came to console the clergyman after his wife died and never left. He notices that Nell looks like she has been ill and has suffered much heartache. He looks around the houses and comes back with items to make them more comfortable.

He then sends for the schoolmaster’s pupils. He introduces each one, listing their virtues and flaws. Afterwards, they take their leave. The schoolmaster reflects happily on their new life.

Charles Dickens