Chapter 13-16 Summary
Quilp awakens on Friday morning, having slept all night in The Old Curiosity Shop. Mr. Brass is also present, and the two discuss who has the front door key, since someone is knocking on the door. Quilp finds the front door suspiciously unlocked. He opens the door, thinking it is Mrs. Quilp and throws himself at her, intending to knock her about. He lands instead on Dick Swiveller, who beats Quilp in return. Dick had stopped by to check on Grandfather (and Nell) and had found Mrs. Quilp lightly knocking on the door. Quilp and Dick discover that Nell and the old man have gone. Kit also arrives and fights Quilp’s errand boy for Nell’s bird, which he takes home to his mother.
Kip goes out to earn some money for food by offering to hold gentlemen’s horses. He stops by The Old Curiosity Shop to see if Nell has returned, but he finds it empty except for some boys playing on the steps. After several fruitless attempts, Kit finds a gentleman, Mr. Garland, who asks him to follow them to the Notary’s office to hold his horses. Mr. Garland, his wife, and his son Abel are completing the paperwork to make Abel an apprentice. Kit is told afterward to return the next week where he will find another job waiting for him.
Nell and Grandfather walk out of London, past increasingly poverty-stricken areas, and into the countryside. Grandfather seems relieved to be out of the city and hesitates to stop. In the evening, they stop at a farmhouse to buy some milk and eat a bite of supper. The farm couple is very solicitous, the wife tending Nell’s blistered feet. They urge Grandfather and Nell to stay for the night, but Grandfather is anxious to be on his way and as far from London as possible. After many thanks, they begin walking toward the next village but are overtaken by a man in a wagon, who learned from the farm couple of their journey. He gives them a ride, for which they are very thankful, and lets them off near the village. Nell compares their journey to that of Christian in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. As they pass through the wicket gate into a churchyard, they encounter two men, Codlin and Short, who are entertainers, putting on a Punch and Judy puppet show in villages around the area. They are repairing their puppets, which Nell helps them to do. They invite Nell and Grandfather to join them at the inn where they are staying. Nell makes the decision to stop for the night, despite her grandfather’s restless energy. The landlord and his wife are taken with Nell’s beauty. Before she lies down to sleep, Nell counts what money they have left and finds that they must soon start to beg.