He is reluctant to go home, knowing how empty it will be there. However, he returns. He had forced himself not to think about Brooker’s revelations until he was home.
The worst thing is that his child had loved Nicholas.
His life is crumbling, just as Nicholas had predicted. Everything was about to be revealed. He had been abandoned, and even money would not bring the people back. Lord Verisopht was dead, and Mulberry Hawk was abroad. His investment had failed. The plan with Gride had been foiled. He was in danger. He had persecuted his own child.
He knows he wouldn’t have been a good father. However, he may not have been a bad one. Maybe they would have been happy together. He believes his wife’s elopement and the child’s death had contributed to his hardness.
Ralph is maddened by the idea that Nicholas had rescued his child and had shown his son the love he had never known. He had been taught to hate his own parent. He wishes he could rob them of their victory.
He sees the looming shadow again, and frightened, he goes up to what used to be Smike’s room. A man calls up to him. He says the Cheeryble brothers wonder if they should detain Brooker. Ralph says yes, to have Brooker and Nicholas come the next day at any time in the afternoon.
Some men have unsuccessfully tried to summon Ralph Nickleby at his home. They know he came home the night before, but he has not answered. They break in through a window. The lower floor is quiet and undisturbed. They go upstairs and find Ralph hanging from an iron hook below the trap door in his son’s old room.