Smike is anxiously waiting for Nicholas at Noggs’ residence. Nicholas intends for Smike to live with his family and thus makes plans to introduce him. He is anxious that his mother will not welcome Smike, but he hopes that in time she’ll thaw when she sees how devoted Smike is.
Smike is happy to see Nicholas, fearing he had met some trouble and was lost to him. Nicholas tells Smike he is bringing him home. Smike misinterprets and thinks he has found a home for him—but that Nicholas means to part from him.. Though he used to dream of having a home, he can’t bear being parted from Nicholas. The only parting in which he wouldn’t grieve is if he was the one that did the departing, and it was the parting that comes with death. Nicholas tells him he is bringing him to his home.
He introduces Smike to his family. Smike is flustered around Nicholas’ pretty sister. When Mrs. Nickleby comes in, Nicholas tells her that he knows he can depend on her to be kind to the downtrodden. However, she doesn’t think they have room to take him in.
Mrs. Nickleby bursts into tears upon hearing Smike’s name, for it sounds like Pyke. When she recovers, she asks Smike if he ever dined with a nobleman in the Yorkshire area. Nicholas tells her that is a ridiculous question, for it is unlikely. She tells him she was invited to dinners when she went to school.
Nicholas starts to think about his livelihood. He considers going back to the Crummles, but he pictures his mother’s reaction to his being an actor. Besides, he doesn’t want to drag his family from town to town, forcing them to have a limited social circle within the troupe.
He goes to the Register Office. There he sees a joyful looking gentleman. The gentleman is staring at Nicholas. Nicholas finally asks him if he is looking for a situation too. The man says no. He asks how someone like Nicholas would be looking for a job. Nicholas tells him that his father died, and he has to support a widowed mother and his sister. At the man’s request, Nicholas gives his history—including recent problems his sister Kate has had. The man takes Nicholas to a warehouse called “The Cheeryble Brothers.”
Mr. Charles Cheeryble wants to consult his brother, who is talking to their friend Mr. Trimmers. Mr. Trimmers raises money for families in need. After the business is concluded, Charles Cheeryble tells his twin brother that they need to assist Nicholas. They plan to hire him to take some of the workload off an elderly employee.
Tim Linkinwater, the elderly employee, refuses to take time off. He has devoted himself to the business for forty-four years. The Cheeryble brothers plan to make him a partner whether he likes it or not.
Nicholas is overjoyed when he is hired. Tim Linkinwater doesn’t begrudge him. The Cheerybles also rent a cottage to Nicholas’ family. Smike makes the garden beautiful. Miss La Creevy tries to do repairs and injures herself. Mrs. Nickleby does little except talk constantly. Kate quietly occupies herself.
The home is a happy one, though they are poor. Ralph Nickleby, despite being rich, is unhappily alone.