Chapters 15-18 Summary
Mr. Chester, having returned to his London home, sits at breakfast and looks out the window into the streets and gardens below. He spots his son, Edward, sitting motionless until he rises up and comes into the house and to his father’s chamber. Mr. Chester has an air of indifference and distance in connection with his son, though he is grateful that Edward has a pleasing appearance that fits his station in life. Edward tries to have a serious conversation with his father about why he disapproves of his relationship with Emma Haredale, but Mr. Chester is dismissive. Edward begs him to remove his restrictions against Emma, but Mr. Chester tells his son that he must marry a wealthy woman. He reveals the full extent of their financial difficulties and of the necessity of Edward’s marrying well to offset them. Edward is upset that he never knew this situation, having been raised to believe that the family fortune was considerable. Mr. Chester leaves his son to contemplate this added wrinkle to his love for Emma.
A mysterious figure wanders the streets of London and its environs at night. It is often seen in the graveyards, and one night a grave robber attempts to strike up a conversation with him, only to be met with threats of violence. It follows Mrs. Rudge in the street late one night. At the door of her home, she hears footsteps behind her and stops. She cries out, and the figure emerges. When she sees it, Mrs. Rudge faints. The figure takes her up, uses her key to open the door, and carries her inside.
When she awakens, Mrs. Rudge learns that it was he who was the robber on the road. She begs the intruder to leave. He tells her to bring him some food. She asks if he will leave and never come back if she does so, but he refuses to make any promises. When footsteps are heard approaching, the stranger hides in the closet. Barnaby comes in and wants some food. He wonders why his mother keeps looking behind him at the closet door. When he falls asleep before the fire, the stranger emerges from the closet. He tells Mrs. Rudge that he did not know about the existence of her son before this night, but he will only use it as a tool to threaten her. Mrs. Rudge prays to God for the safety of her son.
The stranger wanders the streets all night. Near daybreak, he passes the headquarters of the ’Prentice Knights just as their meeting is breaking up. The stranger approaches Stagg, the blind man, and begs for shelter for the day. The stranger is willing to pay, so Stagg reluctantly agrees.