Chapters 24-26 Summary
Nicholas is working on translating the play the next morning when Mr. Folair and Mr. Lenville of the troupe come to visit him. They give him several suggestions, particularly on expanding their own parts. He is then informed by Mr. Crummles that he is to go with Miss Snevellicci (who is the lead actress of the troupe) to go on a round of calls to different patrons to subscribe to the upcoming performances. Nicholas is unwilling to do this, but he finally relents under pressure. He and Miss Snevellicci, along with the Infant Phenomenon, proceed on their visits. The Infant Phenomenon is called on to do impromptu performances, especially in households with children, to excite interest in the play.
On opening night, Nicholas takes the part of the son to Mrs. Crummles’s tyrannical mother. He earns great applause and becomes the hit of the show. The play is a great success, thanks largely to Nicholas’s performance. The show is such a success that Mr. Crummles intends to expand the company. He has hired an actress from London, Miss Harriet Petowker, whom Nicholas met at the home of the Kenwigses. When she arrives, they greet each other like long-lost friends. Nicholas is also surprised when Mr. Lillyvick, the water-rates collector, arrives and announces that he has come from London to marry Miss Petowker. He says that none of the Kenwigses know of his marriage, and he asks Nicholas to not write of it to Newman Noggs or anyone else. The wedding takes place in the lodgings of the Crummleses, but the wedding feast is upset when Mr. Folair refers to the wedding knot as a noose.
Mr. Crummles’s theatrical troupe’s next performance is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and Nicholas takes the part of Romeo with great success. Poor Smike is assigned the part of the Apothecary but is unable to learn his lines. At last, with Nicholas’s patient help, Smike has his part down and earns great praise from the audience.
In London, Sir Mulberry Hawk and Lord Frederick Verisopht laze about after a night of indulgence. Ralph Nickleby arrives, and Lord Frederick Verisopht tries to get him to tell where his niece Kate is staying. Ralph is still endeavoring to get as much money out of Verisopht as he can and tells him so he can keep the young lord on a string. Mrs. Nickleby arrives with a letter for Ralph, and the two gentlemen press her for information about her daughter. Afterward, Ralph begins to feel pity for Kate and regrets his actions to some extent, but he justifies it in concluding that, if he did not tell where Kate is, then Mrs. Nickleby would have done so.