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Summary Chapter 5


Nicholas’ mother and sister weep as they help him pack. He chooses to leave behind things that he thinks will be useful to them or that can be sold for money. They spend money they don’t have on a dinner for him, telling him they aren’t partaking because they had dined earlier. Nicholas forces himself to be cheerful for their benefit.

The next morning, he wakes and leaves before his family is up. He gives Miss La Creevy several affectionate kisses, hoping she’ll be more kindly disposed towards his mother and sister.

He finds Mr. Squeers breakfasting with his five pupils. He is eating beef and toast. He has the boys drink watered down milk from one cup they all share. They have bread and butter.

Ralph comes to greet Nicholas as the coach gets ready to depart. He tells Nicholas, with some disapproval, that his mother and sister paid for a coach so that they too can see him off. Nicholas’ mother frets over his leaving without breakfast. Ralph pooh-poohs this concern. The mother continues to say she would never forgive herself if she wasn’t there to say goodbye.

Nicholas’ sister Kate thinks Squeers is a vulgar man and doesn’t want to meet him. Ralph introduces Squeers to Kate purposely after witnessing this reaction. Nicholas wants to punch the headmaster for how he fawns on Kate. Kate has misgivings about Nicholas' employer.

Newman Noggs hands Nicholas a letter, telling him that nobody knows. He quickly leaves, despite Nicholas calling him back to explain.

Nicholas anxiously keeps hold of the boys to keep them from falling off. A merry stranger helps him when he boards by taking the end seat and having the boys sit in the middle. Upon learning that this gentleman has a brother with six boys, Squeers gives him his card and launches into a spiel about how superior his school is.

The weather is bitterly cold. The trip, though, passes quickly for Nicholas, who talks with the merry stranger.

During the night, the carriage overturns and is dragged by the horses. Nicholas is flung unto the road. 

Charles Dickens