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Summary Chapter 11

The grandfather sinks into a feverish delirium, and his life is in peril. Strangers look after him. Nell is also at his bedside, more alone despite the company of others in the house.

The house and possessions within are no longer theirs. Both now legally belong to Mr. Quilp. However, he allows Nelly and the grandfather to stay there while the old man is ill. Quilp shuts down the business and sets up an apartment in the back parlor, furnishing it with the exotic furniture in the shop. Fearing the fever might be contagious, he smokes constantly. He sends for the tumbling boy (the same boy who watches the wharf), and orders him to smoke constantly.

Quilp has his lawyer with him. Mr. Brass does not find the place comfortable. The chairs are hard and slippery, and the smoke bothers him. However, he wishes to keep in Mr. Quilp’s good graces and is agreeable. Quilp rejoices in his discomfort. Brass asks if they are going to stay at the curiosity shop long. Quilp says they’ll stay until the old man is dead. Brass laughs and asks if he gets better. Quilp says they’ll stay until he gets better and no longer.

Nelly comes down weeping, saying her grandfather is very bad off. She wants to get her clothes from her bedroom, which adjoins the parlor. She says she will never return to the bedroom, and Quilp decides to take it over.

Over the next few days, Quilp and Brass take an inventory of the items. Quilp becomes impatient as the old man neither recovers nor dies in a timely manner. Nell avoids both men, seldom venturing from her grandfather’s chambers until very late.

One night, she is sitting at the large window when she hears her name called. She looks down to see Kit. He says he has tried to talk to her, but the two men drive him away. He asks Nell if she believes what her grandfather said about him. She says yes—why would her grandfather lie? Kit denies that he did anything wrong, and he is upset that he has been sent away when he has come to inquire about the grandfather’s health. Nell said she didn’t know about that, and she would have never allowed them to do that. Kit is glad.

Kit tells her that the shop has new owners, and that she and the grandfather’s lives have greatly changed. Nell is aware of this. Kit assures her the grandfather will recover. He tells her not to get ill herself from worry, or she will cause the grandfather to get worse. He asks her, when the grandfather recovers, to put in a kind word for him. Nell says she can’t, not for a long time. Besides, it would be no good. They are poor, and they can no longer employ Kit.

Kit tells her he isn’t seeking his old position back. He wants them to come live at his house until the grandfather can find a place. He asks her to ask the grandfather what he thinks Kit has done when he recovers. Mr. Brass comes out and chases Kit away.

Quilp believes he is in danger of being robbed. He plans to sell off the possessions and return to his home. Nell is comforted by her fears and sorrow by Kit’s concern.

Charles Dickens