Chapter 9-12 Summary

Nell becomes very worried about her grandfather’s deteriorating health. He is becoming feeble, burdened by some secret grief. She fears that he will die, either from natural causes or by his own hand. She pleads with him to leave The Old Curiosity Shop with her and become beggars. She begins to sob, as does Grandfather. Quilp has unexpectedly crept into the shop, listening in on this tender scene. He comments on Nell’s beauty, which disturb Grandfather, who asks Quilp if he has come to bring him the money he has requested. Quilp says very politely that he is unable to lend any more funds to the old man, and he reveals that he knows the money is spent on gambling. Grandfather tells Quilp that his only intention was to get money for Nell. He asks Quilp who told him of his gambling habits and suggests that it was Kip. Quilp smiles but does not admit it. Quilp mocks his weakness and departs, leaving Grandfather in a hopeless condition.

Kip has been watching over The Old Curiosity Shop, and seeing Quilp leave, he goes home to his widowed mother and two small brothers. His mother suggests that he is in love with Nell, but he dismisses this and speaks of the necessity of getting Nell out of that place.

Grandfather falls ill with a fever that lasts several weeks. Nell stays by his side, especially when Quilp takes possession of The Old Curiosity Shop. He and his lawyer friend, Mr. Brass, remain at the shop. Brass tells Quilp he is impressed that he is waiting until the old man gets better (or dies) before he sells off his property. Nell stays as far away from Quilp as possible. She hears Kit calling at the window. Kit has been exiled from the shop by Grandfather on suspicion of telling Quilp about his gambling habits. Kit begs Nell to leave The Old Curiosity Shop and come to live with him and his mother.

Grandfather eventually gets better, but his mind is somewhat altered. Quilp, now that the old man has recovered, sells off the things in the shop and tells Grandfather to move out as soon as possible. It is agreed that the old man and his grandfather will leave by the end of the week. Nell returns to her plan of the two of them leading a vagabond life, and on Friday morning, she and Grandfather pack up what few belongings remain to them and set out to the outskirts of London.