Kit's Mother on a Journey by Hablot Knight Browne (Phiz). Wood engraving, 3 ¼ x 4 ½ inches (8.5 cm by 11.5 cm). — Chapter 41, The Old Curiosity Shop. [For passage illustrated see below.] Date of original serial publication of Part 23: 10 October 1840 in Master Humphrey's Clock, Part 26, Vol. 2: 24.

Passage Illustrated: Off to Find the Trents

Up went the steps, bang went the door, round whirled the wheels, and off they rattled, with Kit’s mother hanging out at one window waving a damp pocket-handkerchief and screaming out a great many messages to little Jacob and the baby, of which nobody heard a word.

Kit stood in the middle of the road, and looked after them with tears in his eyes — not brought there by the departure he witnessed, but by the return to which he looked forward. "They went away," he thought, "on foot with nobody to speak to them or say a kind word at parting, and they’ll come back, drawn by four horses, with this rich gentleman for their friend, and all their troubles over! She’ll forget that she taught me to write —" [Chapter XLI, 24]


Kit feels that he is indispensable to the Garlands, and, further, that his presence might upset Grandfather Trent when the Single Gentleman finds him. Accordingly, Kit has proposed that his mother go with the would-be detective instead. Collecting her from Little Bethel Chapel near her house, Kit accompanies her to the notary's, where the Single Gentleman is waiting with a four-horse post-chaise to carry them the seventy miles to the west of England country-town where he believes the wayfarers are still working for Mrs. Jarley. However, matters are far more complicated than either Kit or the Single Gentleman imagine. Encouraged by his fellow card-players from the Valiant Soldier Inn, Grandfather Trent had planned to pilfer Mrs. Jarley's cash-box in order to continue gambling, so Nell has had to persuade him to leave.

The illustrator communicates both the Single Gentleman;s wealth and the urgency of his mission by his having hired a light carriage with two postillions rather than a single driver.

Related Resources Including Other Illustrated Editions

Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


Dickens, Charles. The Old Curiosity Shop in Master Humphrey's Clock. Illustrated by Phiz, George Cattermole, Samuel Williams, and Daniel Maclise. 3 vols. London: Chapman and Hall, 1840.

Created 16 November 2007

Last modified 10 August 2020