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Summary Chapter 15

As they wander through the streets, Nell often thinks she sees Kit at a distance. She is always relieved when it turns out to be a stranger. She fears what the sight of Kit would do to her grandfather, but also it would break her heart to say goodbye to her only friend.

The world is waking up as the sun comes up, appreciating its warmth and ability to dispel the menace of night. Nell and her grandfather travel through deserted streets, supporting each other with cheerful glances. The city comes to life as they make their way through the tradesmen district.

When they reach the commerce section, where people are congregating, the grandfather leads Nell away. He wishes to avoid this section entirely, saying it is a place of self-murder. They make their way through a poverty-stricken neighborhood, where there are new churches standing out among crumbling houses to offer hope to people who have given up on it.

As they continue, they come across cottages with gardens and public houses. Nell and her grandfather rest in a field and eat breakfast. They pray. Nell suggests that they lay their problems here and never pick them up again. The grandfather agrees they should never return to London. He assures her he is not ill, and they should continue to put more distance behind them. They refresh themselves in a nearby stream. The grandfather begs Nell to never leave him, or he shall die. Nell is able to restrain her tears and reassure him. He falls asleep.

When he wakes, they continue their journey. They are now in the open country. The pastures are fragrant, and the road is pleasant and easy to travel. Houses become fewer and are scattered apart for miles. They pass through villages. They walk all day and sleep in cottages let to travelers at night. They manage to recover from their exhaustion quickly by keeping up a brisk pace and not stopping to rest for long.

They come across some laborer’s huts. Nell is afraid to approach the people for a place to stay and for some milk. They are loud, and they also seem too poor. She finally picks a house with a family that has a grandfather by the fire, thinking they will be sympathetic. They grant her requests.

The cottager discusses how much London has changed. He has not been there in thirty-two years. He talks about his son, who came home from the war with one leg and died shortly after. He was buried under the sun dial he used to climb on as a baby at his request.

Nell finds the house comforting. She inquires how far it is into the next town. The cottager says it is five miles, but surely they aren’t thinking of traveling any further that night? The grandfather insists, and Nell yields to his demands. The grandfather doesn’t want to stop, even though the cottager gives them several places they could stay. The wife notices the blister on Nell’s foot and tends to it.

They are traveling on the road when a carriage pulls up. The driver says the family down the road asked him to look out for them. He offers to take them to the next village. Nell falls asleep and wakes up when the driver points her to the road into the village.

Charles Dickens