Chapters 49-51 Summary
Smike seems to sink further into ill health. Nicholas calls a physician, who determines that it might be consumption but says it is too early to tell yet. His symptoms are not serious, so there is no cause to worry. However, Smike seems to take himself early to bed on the evenings when Frank Cheeryble comes to call, which is usually three nights a week. On one of these evenings, Miss La Creevy also comes to visit. Frank maneuvers himself close to Kate. As they talk, they hear a noise coming from the chimney in the next room. When they investigate, they find a pair of legs encased in grey stockings hanging down into the fireplace. Mrs. Nickleby and Kate immediately recognize them as belonging to the mad gentleman from next door, who has crawled down the chimney in order to enter the house. Mrs. Nickleby chides Kate for her fear of the gentleman and begs the others to be careful in extracting him. When the gentleman is sitting on the hearth, covered with soot, he begins to babble outrageous things, directing them to Miss La Creevy and ignoring Mrs. Nickleby. Mrs. Nickleby finally admits that he is mad. After he is shown home, Mrs. Nickleby states that she is obviously the cause of his madness but will not take the blame.
Sir Mulberry Hawk returns to London from the Continent and meets Sir Frederick Verisopht. The two men discuss their intentions of capturing Kate Nickleby, but Sir Frederick objects to Sir Mulberry’s treatment of her. It comes to physical blows until the two men are separated. They challenge each other to a duel and square off in a nearby meadow. Sir Mulberry fires first and kills Sir Frederick Verisopht. Although the witnesses pledge to testify that all was done fairly, Sir Mulberry must leave England and return to Europe.
Newman Noggs delivers a letter from Ralph to Arthur Gride. He learns that Gride is to be married to a Madeline Bray, though he does not recognize the name. He is disgusted by the thought of a young girl’s being forced to marry an elderly man such as Gride, but he drinks Gride’s health more to drink up his wine that to wish him well. Back at the office in Golden Square, Newman is questioned about his conversations with Mr. Brooker, who is still begging in the streets. Newman then goes to see Nicholas and asks if he ever discovered the name of the young woman in whom he was interested. On learning that it is Madeline Bray, Newman is horrified and tells Nicholas that she and Gride are to be married in two days. Enraged, Nicholas rushes from the house.