Chapters 6-9 Summary
Mr. Crisparkle, an example of “muscular Christianity,” engages in an early-morning round of shadow boxing. His mother, who lives with him, fears that he will break something. They receive a letter from the philanthropist Luke Honeythunder announcing that he is bringing his wards, Neville and Helena Landless, to be educated at Cloisterham.
Mr. Crisparkle proposes a dinner party to welcome the new pupils. Mr. Honeythunder arrives with Neville and Helena, declaring that he is in need of fresh air and will remain for the day. At dinner, he is extremely annoying, monopolizing the conversation.
Neville describes his and his sister’s childhood in Ceylon at the hands of a miserly and abusive stepfather. At the stepfather’s death (which was a good thing, says Neville, or he might have killed the man), the siblings were passed off to Mr. Honeythunder. He tells Mr. Crisparkle that he and Helena like him, even though they came to Cloisterham prepared to dislike him and run away.
Neville describes Helena cutting off her hair and dressing as a boy when the two of them ran away from their cruel stepfather. Mr. Crisparkle is shocked at Neville’s violent streak but resolves to do what he can to help him and Helena. Neville asks about Edwin and his relationship to Rosa. In the parlor, Jasper is playing the piano while Rosa is singing. Rosa stops, saying that she is frightened. Helena takes care of her and the two become friends. Rosa tells Helena that she feels threatened by Jasper, enslaving her with his stare.
Neville mentions to Edwin that Mr. Crisparkle told him about Edwin’s engagement to Rosa. Edwin resents everyone talking about his private business. They begin to argue until Jasper comes along and breaks it up. They are calmed, but only momentarily. Neville dashes out of the house and goes to Mr. Crisparkle’s home, telling him of his rough start with Edwin. Jasper later comes to return Neville’s hat and discusses the fight with Mr. Crisparkle, warning that they will have to be on guard when the young men meet.
Rosa hears about the quarrel over her between Neville and Edwin. Her guardian, Mr. Grewgious, arrives. He gives her a copy of the will delineating her marriage. When Mr. Grewgious speaks of giving a copy to Jasper as Edwin’s guardian, Rosa requests that it be given directly to Edwin instead. He tells her that the will only requests, not demands, that Rosa and Edwin be married. She says she wants to talk to Edwin, who has left and will not be back until Christmas, before deciding anything else.
Mr. Grewgious speaks to Jasper before he leaves town, telling him that Rosa and Edwin’s marriage is not a requirement in terms of financial settlement. He also tells him that Rosa does not show any indication of wanting to be released from her engagement.