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Summary Chapter 12

The grandfather slowly recovers, but his mind is affected. He is no longer despondent, but he is feeble-minded.

Quilp visits and tells him the goods are about to be sold, and that he and Nell need to find other accommodations. The grandfather agrees, asking Quilp to give them until Friday morning. Quilp gives his consent, but says that he can’t give him an extension after that.

The grandfather, though, is incapable of making plans to leave. He starts crying on Thursday night, begging for Nell to forgive him. He tells her they need to leave, and he believes she was right when they said they would be better off as beggars than to live as they do now. Nell happily agrees, saying they can never be happy here again.

Nell doesn’t consider the hunger, cold, or thirst a beggar’s life might include. She only sees the return of simple pleasures, no more gloomy solitude, freedom from heartless people, and the restoration of her grandfather’s health and happiness.

She prepares to leave while he sleeps. She walks through the rooms, and she does regret leaving them. She remembers happier times spent in them. She also mourns having to leave behind her bird, but she hopes that Kit will care for it in her absence.

The next morning, they prepare to leave—only to find the doors locked. Nell remembers that Quilp locks them at night, and she sneaks into his bedroom to steal the keys. She manages to get them without waking him.

She and her grandfather embark with no destination in mind. However, glad to be escaping from their old life, the world looks like a bright and happy place.

Charles Dickens