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Book II, Chapter 6: Summary and Analysis

Chapter 6: Fading Away

Stephen, Rachael, and the mysterious old lady, who has reappeared outside Bounderby’s house and has been hospitably invited for tea in Stephen’s room, are just about to settle down to their meal when Stephen’s landlady comes up the stairs and whispers the name of some visitors in Stephen’s ear. Catching the name Bounderby, the old lady retreats fearfully into a dim corner of the room. Stephen, candle in hand, shows Louisa up. She is followed by her brother, Tom. She has come, Louisa tells Stephen, because of what has just happened at her husband’s. She wants to know what plans he has, and if there is really no hope of his finding work in Coketown. Louisa then offers him money; Stephen, declining the much larger amount she produces from her purse, thankfully agrees to accept two pounds from her.

Tom, who has not been paying much attention to any of this, beckons Stephen out of the room and hurriedly explains that he has thought of a way to do him a good turn. He asks Stephen to “just hang about the bank an hour or so” for the next few nights until he leaves Coketown. If Tom can perform this service, he will pass him the word through Bitzer, the bank porter. Making sure that Stephen understands what he is to do, Tom rushes off with his sister.

For the next few nights before his departure from Coketown, Stephen dutifully loiters outside Bounderby’s bank, but no message comes. Having said his farewells to Rachael, he leaves Coketown on foot.

Dickens heralds Louisa’s unexpected appearance in Stephen’s lodgings with the words...

(The entire section is 429 words.)