Chapter 6-8 Summary
Nell waits anxiously while Quilp reads the letter from her grandfather. She acts fearful that his response will be unpleasant. He mutters his amazement that the old man has lost all the money he had borrowed from Quilp the previous day. Quilp asks Nell fiercely if she had read the letter, and Nell denies doing so. He asks Nell how she would like to be the second Mrs. Quilp, supposing the first one were to die in four or five years, at which time Nell would be old enough to marry. Quilp invites her back to his house on Tower Hill across the river, but Nell says she is to return as soon as possible with the answer. Quilp replies that he cannot give her the answer unless he goes back to Tower Hill. As they leave the counting house, they see two boys fighting; one of them is Quilp’s errand boy and the other is Kit. Quilp breaks up the fight and takes Kit and Nell into his boat to cross the Thames.
As Kit waits outside, Quilp takes Nell in to Mrs. Quilp. He tells his wife to take Nell into a separate room and pump her for information about her grandfather’s dealings with all the money he borrows from Quilp. Mrs. Quilp is reluctant to do so because she if fond of Nell, but Quilp threatens her. He insists that she do his bidding, telling her that he will be listening and will squeak the door if she does not get information out of Nell. Mrs. Quilp follows his order but only learns that Nell’s grandfather has changed and that he is often absent all day and all night. Nell has heard him say that, if it were not for Nell, he would wish he were dead. Quilp allows Nell to return home with Kit and wonders what the old man’s secret dealings might be.
Fred Trent comes up with a scheme in which Dick Swiveller will marry Nell when her grandfather dies. Dick wants to make sure the old man is as rich as Fred says, and Fred assures him he is. Dick tells his friend that he has been courting Sophy Wackles, but he is going to a party that night and will break off with her there.
Sophy Wackles runs a Ladies’ Seminary with her mother and sisters. She and her friend, Miss Cheggs, plan on forcing Dick into making a commitment by making him jealous of Sophy’s attentions to Miss Cheggs’ brother. At the party, Sophy spends most of her time with Mr. Cheggs. Dick tells her that he is leaving the party and regrets spending time on her. He informs her that there is a young girl who is at that moment growing up into a woman expressly for his account. He leaves, pleased with how neatly Sophy fell into his plans.