Nicholas asks Mr. Crowl when Mr. Noggs will return. Mr. Crowl said that Noggs was reluctantly called away on some urgent business, but he expects to return by midnight. Until then, he charged Crowl with entertaining Nicholas. Crowl tells Nicholas that Noggs wanted him to make himself comfortable and wait for his return.
Nicholas is impatient to know what has happened. Therefore, he goes to Miss La Creevy’s house. She is also gone. He worries about going to his mother’s home, for he doesn’t want to cause a problem for her with his uncle. However, he believes Noggs wouldn’t have written him unless the matter was serious, and this justifies him taking the risk. However, his mother is out and not expected to return home until late.
Nicholas returns to Noggs apartment. Too apprehensive to remain still, he goes wandering about the city. After wearing himself out, he stops at a hotel to have something to eat. He sits behind a noisy party of gentlemen.
He overhears his sister’s name being mentioned. His ire is inflamed, as the tone is disrespectful, and he can tell the man is a scoundrel. He tries to listen into the conversation, but he can’t hear it.
Just when he is about to give up, the men toast Kate Nickleby. Nicholas realizes his ears have not deceived him. One of the men remarks that Kate is just like her uncle. She is playing hard to get so she’ll be more sought after. Like him, they’re sure the bargaining will be hard, but the reward will be worth it.
Another gentleman comments that Mrs. Witterly has become envious of her and has locked her away. However, another gentleman claims he is pleased if Kate loses her position and returns home to the mother. He has influence over the mother, and she believes his lies.
As the conversation becomes more revealing with more wine, Nicholas learns why his presence was needed. He learns how his uncle used Kate. The men sneer at Kate’s misery, misinterpret and jeer at her virtue, make licentious jokes about her, and make coarse wagers.
Nicholas finally confronts the leader of the group, Mulberry Hawk. He reveals himself as Kate’s brother. He calls Mulberry a liar and a coward. Mulberry refuses to give Nicholas his name or address. The waiter also refuses to give it. Nicholas stays, planning to follow Mulberry home. Hawk’s companions leave, but Mulberry remains for several hours. When he finally does try to leave, Nicholas grabs the reins of the horse. He refuses to let it go until Mulberry reveals his identity. Mulberry refuses and tries to beat Nicholas off with a whip. Nicholas assaults him. The horse runs off. A crowd chases after the horse, which is attached to a carriage. There is a passenger still inside of it. Nicholas realizes he is bleeding.