Mulberry Hawk reflects the next day that Kate Nickleby is very attractive. He is certain he can conquer her shyness, and such a conquest would elevate his reputation in his small circle.
Mrs. Nickleby writes a long letter to Kate about her approval of Kate’s choice in beau. Mr. Mulberry Hawk is exactly the sort of man Mrs. Nickleby had envisioned as her son-in-law. She gives Kate advice about courtship, praising Kate for behaving appropriately the night before.
Kate doesn’t sleep and cries all night. She is forced to act like she is in good spirits for Mrs. Witterly, who is depressed. Mr. Witterly is happy he got introduced to a lord, and he invited Lord Verisopht to his home.
Kate has been reading a mind-numbing book to Mrs. Witterly. She is glad to put it down. Mrs. Witterly comments on Kate being pale, and Kate says it is due to the startling events the night before. Mrs. Witterly asks where Kate had met Lord Frederick and the other wonderful gentlemen they had met the night before. Kate answers that she met them through her uncle, but she hasn’t known them long.
Mr. Hawk and Lord Verisopht arrive. Kate tries to flee, but Mrs. Witterly detains her. Mrs. Witterly does begin to wonder if Mulberry Hawk is as delightful as she thought when he spends all his time making over Kate. However, Mr. Pyke and Mr. Pluck begin to flatter her. Kate has to endure Mulberry Hawk’s attentions.
Mrs. Witterly is irritated by how her husband reacts to the guests. His joy betrays the fact that they don’t entertain such illustrious people on a daily basis, as she wants people to believe.
Mulberry Hawk and his companions become regular visitors, much to Kate’s misery. Hawk chips away at her pride. Though they are coarse and vulgar, the Witterlys consider them to be great men.
Mrs. Witterly becomes jealous of Kate, who is favored by Mulberry Hawk. She is a necessary to have around, since it is obvious she is the one Hawk comes to see. Therefore, Kate can’t retreat from the company. Mrs. Witterly resents being in second place to her servant and starts treating Kate badly in private, which makes Kate’s job miserable.
Mrs. Witterly finally accuses Kate of being forward with the men. She gets offended when Kate tells her the accusations are unjust. Kate accuses her of being blinded by the men’s outrageous behavior, which is disrespectful to both of them. Mrs. Witterly is thrown into a fit and has to be sedated. Mr. Witterly blames Kate’s society for over-tiring his wife.
Kate goes to her uncle. He guesses the cause when he sees her weeping. Kate accuses him of cruelly putting her in the path of men he knew to be scoundrels. Ralph sees some of Nicholas’ temper in Kate. She refuses to put up with this. She apologizes for being angry, but she is very unhappy. She begs him to help her. She has went on, hoping th situation would cease. Her mother thinks these are good men. Her employer is also fooled. Ralph Nickleby is the only friend she can turn to.
Ralph says he can’t help her. She thinks he has influence over one of the men. He tells her he can’t risk offending someone he does business with. He tells her many girls would be flattered by the attention, but concedes that she shows good sense in despising them. However, their attentions will cease when a new novelty crosses their path.
Kate refuses to be put in this position. Women will scorn her and men will harass her. Good people will consider her a disgrace, which will harm her prospects in society and in getting a husband. She will not allow her self-esteem to suffer. She vows to support herself, even if she has to do hard labor. She will have peace of mind, at least. She vows to avoid her uncle and these men in the future.
She comes out to see Newman Noggs eavesdropping at the door. He tells her he and someone else will see her soon.
Ralph is angry at Mulberry Hawk and his gang. Newman Noggs punches the air in the other room, pretending it is Ralph Nickleby at the end of his fists.