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Summary Chapter 72

Nell has been dead for two days. They had all been with her, knowing the end was near. She sunk into a deep sleep and uttered in her dreams, which seemed to dwell on the pleasant aspects of their journey. She woke briefly to ask for each person to give her a kiss. She died in her grandfather’s arms.

She said she had wished she could have told the two Edwards sisters how much she thought about them. She wished she could have seen Kit, and asked someone to send him her love.

The little friend of hers had picked flowers for her and had worried that they had left her alone. He dreamed she had been restored to them. He asked to sit up with her, and they allowed him to. Nell’s little friend talks to the grandfather about her and persuades him to get some rest.

The day they come to remove the body, the little friend leads the grandfather away—telling him he is going to show him Nell’s favorite spot. The grandfather becomes alarmed when he sees signs of mourning in the village. He wants to turn back. He enters the clergyman’s house. He asks the clergyman and deaf assistant if they have buried anyone today. They deny this. The grandfather agrees to follow the boy.

The village turns out for Nell’s funeral. As they watch the burial, they share memories of her. Later, the grandfather returns to his dwelling, exhausted. He falls into a deep sleep. When he awakes, he goes into the chamber to find Nell gone. He goes searching for her. They finally tell him that they buried her. He grieves, and they worry it will kill him—but he recovers.

The grandfather never trusts Nell’s little friend again. He never acknowledges his brother or any other friend. He is only interested in Nell. He continues to have hope that she will come back. He becomes sick at heart.

His friends wonder if they shouldn’t remove him from the village, thinking it is causing him pain and making him worse. They consult experts. The experts say that he will always want to return here. They could lock him up, but if he escapes—he will return here or die trying.

The grandfather starts packing his things and waiting by her grave. When she doesn’t show, he returns home—muttering that she’ll come the next day. This becomes his habit until one day they find him dead by her grave. They bury him next to her.

Charles Dickens