The underdog tells Nicholas that the other man was speaking disrespectfully about a lady he knew. He was doing it audibly. The underdog defended the lady’s reputation, which resulted in a fight.
The other man says he has a right to admire a pretty girl without being beaten for it. Nicholas naturally sides with the underdog. However, the girl in question doesn’t mind being admired and is angry at the underdog.
Mrs. Browdie calls to her husband to forget the matter, knowing the girl is not worth it. The other man says he can’t resist a pretty face. The underdog tells him that a man should express his admiration deferentially.
The other man is thrown out. Nicholas recognizes him as someone he has seen at the Register’s Office. It is the ugly clerk Tom. The underdog introduces himself, and it turns out to be the Cheeryble brothers’ nephew, Frank Cheeryble.
The Browdies and Nicholas invite Frank to spend the remainder of the evening with them. Nicholas is curious about why Frank defended a girl he couldn’t possibly have known well. She was a child when he left the country. Nicholas then worries that Frank will become a rival for his mysterious love’s affecations. He dismisses the thought. He doesn’t even know if he’ll see her again.
The next morning, Tim Linkinwater reflects on how odd it was Nicholas and Frank met the way they did. The Cheeryble brothers praise both of them. Charles tells Nicholas he would like to meet his family. He asks to come to tea the next day.
Mrs. Nickleby has mixed feelings about the visit. Part of her is glad, knowing it will lead to restoring their fortunes. However, she misses the fine tea things she used to have to entertain.
Kate tells her that they are together. The worse thing that their poverty inflicted was their brief separation from each other. Their possessions are trifles they can do without as long as they are together.
Charles and Frank Cheeryble come to tea. Frank seems attracted to Kate, despite supposedly being in love with a burgomaster’s daughter. Smike is unhappy about this.