Chapters 59-62 Summary
When Newman Noggs does not appear at work by noon, Ralph sends for him. He learns that Newman is not at home and has not been at home all night. Ralph finds this suspicious, but he is interrupted when Charles Cheeryble arrives, offering him mercy. Ralph rejects this, so Charles leaves with the warning that he will soon come to him when he is forced to do so. Ralph goes to the home of Mr. Snawley. Mrs. Snawley, however, refuses to let him in. Ralph next goes to the inn where Mr. Squeers has been staying, but he is told that Squeers left with two men, and after him an old woman was taken away. He does not find Arthur Gride at home either. He realizes that he must go to the Cheeryble Brothers office, where he finds both brothers and Tim Linkinwater. They confront him with what they know about his dishonest dealings: telling Mr. Snawley that Smike was his son when it has been proved that he was not as well as his involvement in the forced marriage of Madeline Bray. Ralph dismisses them all, but the Cheerybles warn him that he had better leave the country while he still can. Ralph leaves, but it is hinted that there is worse yet to come.
Ralph goes to the police station where Squeers is being held for possessing stolen property (Gride’s documents). He is then summoned to the Cheeryble Brothers office, where Mr. Brooker confronts him with the news that Smike was Ralph’s son. Ralph had been secretly married to a woman who bore him a son. The son was sent away to keep the marriage secret. After seven years, Ralph’s wife eloped with a younger man and eventually died. Ralph sent Brooker to retrieve his son, but Brooker hid Smike in a garret while telling Ralph that his son had died. When confronted by the fact that he hounded his own son to his death, Ralph knocks out the light and escapes in the darkness.
The Nickleby family grieves for Smike. Nicholas privately confesses to his sister that he is in love with Madeline. Kate in turn tells Nicholas that Frank Cheeryble proposed to her but she refused him. They agree that they should not marry people who are so above them financially and socially. Nicholas goes to see Mr. Charles Cheeryble to request that Madeline be placed in another home. Mr. Charles agrees and tells Nicholas that they are to meet with Ralph that evening.
Ralph Nickleby wanders the street, thinking about the son he lost and his own part in his son’s death. He returns home and sends a message that Mr. Charles and Nicholas should meet him there that afternoon. Later, Ralph Nickleby is found in the garret room where he kept Smike as a child. He has hanged himself with a rope he found in an old trunk.