The Old Curiosity Shop was published in full as a separate volume in 1841 but was originally supposed to be part of the Master Humphreyís Clock series and is indeed narrated at the start by Master Humphreys (see Barnaby Rudge). A curiosity shop was, in Dickensí time, a place where one could buy second hand goods of a precious, ornamental or antique variety. Little Nell Trent looks after her grandfather in the gloomy environs of such a shop and she is one of many Dickens heroines to be utterly devoted and kind (see Little Dorrit etc). Their fortunes go sharply downhill as the grandfatherís money is wasted by a spendthrift son-in-law and Fred Trent, Nellís brother. In this unfortunate situation, the grandfather borrows money from the appalling Daniel Quilp, an unpleasant-looking dwarf. He attempts to gamble it into a larger sum for Nellís sake but fails and Quilp, realising where his money has gone, seizes the shop. This leaves the old man and Nell to flee and face the torments of life wandering the country to avoid the vengeful and malicious Quilp. There is something of an improvement in their fortunes, but eventually both die, in Nellís case in a particularly sentimental way that Dickens is often criticised for. There is also some justice however, for Quilp, and the minor characters such as Kit Nubbles (who adores Nell) provide some relief from the grimness of the novelís portrait of the world.