Chapter 48-51 Summary
Mrs. Nubbles and the single gentleman are surprised when Quilp jumps out at them at the inn. The single gentleman confronts him for having driven Nell’s grandfather away, though Quilp assures him that the old man left of his own accord after losing his property to Quilp over his loans. Quilp had learned of this intended journey by seeing Dick Swiveller talking to Kit. He had then followed Kit to Little Bethel and then back to the coach station where Mrs. Nubbles and the single gentleman had left on their quest. Quilp followed them in another night coach. Mrs. Nubbles and the single gentleman, having failed to find Nell and her grandfather, head back to London, with Quilp riding on the top of the coach, leaning over and making faces at Mrs. Nubbles during the entire journey. Kit meets his mother and the coach station and tells Quilp to leave his mother alone.
Quilp returns home to find that he is presumed dead by drowning, having last been seen near the pier. Mrs. Quilp, Mrs. Jiniwin, Mr. Sampson Brass, and other watermen are gathered in Quilp’s house, discussing his untimely death. Quilp listens in to their conversation, as they prepare to write a description of him. Mrs. Jiniwin particularly wants his crooked legs to be mentioned. When Quilp finally interrupts and reveals himself to be alive, Mrs. Quilp faints and Mrs. Jiniwin runs from the room.
Mr. Quilp tells his wife that, since she had anticipated so quickly being a widow, he will be a bachelor in earnest. He states that he is moving out and will live by himself down by the wharf. He packs his things, buys a hammock, and sets up his new abode. Going over to Dick Swiveller’s usual place of drinking, he learns that Fred from Dick that Fred has confronted his grandfather and been turned away. Fred is now a traveling gambler. Quilp contemplates a way to let the single gentleman know that Dick is planning to marry Nell for the money that he believes she has. Mrs. Quilp comes to the wharf to beg him to come home, but he refuses, telling her that he will come home when he pleases, if at all.
Quilp invites Sampson and Sally Brass to tea in a run-down summer house. He tells them that has a mission for them: to get rid of Kit Nubbles. They agree to do so and leave, while Quilp returns to his new bachelor lodgings.