Not far from the Chancery Court stands a law stationery store, owned by Mr. Snagsby. Mild and timid, Snagsby is married to a shrill, vehement woman. Their one and only servant is Guster, a young woman often afflicted with "fits."
One afternoon, Mr. Tulkinghorn visits the stationery shop and asks Snagsby to identify the handwriting of certain Jarndyce and Jarndyce affidavits. Snagsby tells Tulkinghorn that the handwriting is that of a Mr. Nemo ("Nemo" is Latin for "no one"), who lives above the rag-and-bottle shop of Mr. Krook.
Tulkinghorn goes to Krook's place and finds Nemo dead, apparently of opium poisoning. Shortly thereafter, an inquest is held. From little Jo, the street crossing sweeper, Tulkinghorn learns that Nemo was a kind and considerate person. Nemo's death is ruled as accidental, and the obscure man is given a pauper's burial in a dismal, neglected churchyard.