Chapters 34-36 Summary
Mr. and Mrs. Mantalini come to see Ralph Nickleby about a loan, but Mrs. Mantalini also is interested in setting up an allowance for her husband. Mr. Mantalini proclaims his wife is trying to kill him, so Mrs. Mantalini postpones further thought of this. Mr. Mantalini asks Ralph if he has heard about Sir Mulberry Hawk’s recent attack. Ralph is pleased to learn that Nicholas was the attacker because this gives him further “ammunition” against his nephew.
Ralph’s next visitor is Mr. Wackford Squeers and his son. Mr. Squeers tells him of the low state of his own health due to Nicholas’s attack upon him. He hints that he would appreciate some financial compensation from Ralph because it was he who suggested Nicholas to Mr. Squeers. Ralph is more interested in learning about Smike, whom Mr. Squeers says Nicholas kidnapped when he left Dotheboys Hall. Mr. Squeers and Ralph plan to get to Nicholas through Smike.
Kate and Mrs. Nickleby return to their lodgings with Miss La Creevy. Smike meets Kate, who overwhelms him with her kindness. Mrs. Nickleby bursts into tears when she hears his name, thinking of its similarity with the name “Pyke.” Nicholas has difficulty making his mother understand that Smike knows none of the nobility in Yorkshire.
Nicholas returns to the Register Office to search for a position. He notices an old gentleman who has such a pleasant expression that Nicholas thinks he would like to work for him. Soon the old gentleman begins a conversation with Nicholas and, in learning that Nicholas is looking for a job, invites him to the offices he shares with his brother. The Cheeryble Brothers taking an instant liking to Nicholas and decide to offer him a position. They try unsuccessfully to convince their elderly clerk to allow them to lessen his workload. They also offer a small cottage to Kate and Mrs. Nickleby as well as a loan for furniture (which they plan on turning into a gift should Nicholas prove a good fit at the office, which they are sure he will). Nicholas is now secure and happy; his uncle, Ralph, is alone and miserable.
Nicholas arrives at the home of the Kenwigs soon after Mrs. Kenwig gives birth to her sixth child, a boy. Nicholas apologizes for the interruption, but he has a message from Mr. Lillyvick—that he has married Miss Petowker. Mr. Kenwig and his daughters are overcome with emotion, feeling that Mr. Lillyvick has defrauded the family by acquiring a family of his own.