There is a party in honor of Tim’s birthday. The brothers Cheeryble, Nicholas, a friend of Tim’s, and Tim’s sister attend the party. The sister talks about incidents in Tim’s life that she heard about. They toast to Mr. Linkinwater, inviting the servants to join in. A bishop visits and tells Nicholas that Tim had courted a woman who had been in a hurry to get married, and as a result married someone else.
Nicholas doesn’t return home until midnight. He tells his mother and Smike about the party. Mrs. Nickleby then asks Smike to excuse them. She tells Nicholas that she has an admirer. The neighbor next door has been leaving her gifts of cucumbers and has asked her to marry him.
Nicholas thinks the man is an idiot. He tells his mother that she can discourage him without Nicholas’ help. Mrs. Nickleby, though she considers the admirer’s chances hopeless, enjoys being pursued. She is rather offended that Nicholas thinks the man is silly for courting her. She looks out the window and sees another offering of vegetables.