The next morning, a chamber-maid knocks on David's door to tell him there's water for shaving outside his door.
David blushes: he doesn't need to shave yet, and he's sure the chamber-maid knows it and is laughing at him.
Steerforth is waiting for David in a private dining room.
David feels rather shy in front of Steerforth, who is so much grander than David is.
Steerforth asks David all about him.
David is pleased that Steerforth is so interested. He tells Steerforth his plans to visit Yarmouth.
Steerforth hears that David is not in a hurry and invites David to his mother's house in Highgate to stay for a few days.
David is delighted to accept.
He's so excited: he writes to his aunt to tell her of his change of plans, and then David and Steerforth see some of the sights of London.
They go to a museum, and David is impressed with Steerforth's knowledge of everything.
David comments that Steerforth will certainly get a graduate degree out of his higher education.
Steerforth laughs yet again and says that he has no intention of pursuing further education.
(By the way, Steerforth has now decided to call David "Daisy" as a nickname.)
Steerforth wonders why he should bother with fame or acclaim when he's satisfied with what he has?
David is embarrassed at his misstep and changes the subject.
Finally, they travel out to Mrs. Steerforth's house, where Steerforth's mother greets them.
The house is old-fashioned, quiet, and neat.
There is a second lady in the dining room: she is thin and sharp looking, about 30, with a scar on her mouth that slightly changes the shape of her upper lip. This is Miss Rosa Dartle.
Miss Dartle has an odd way of speaking: she never comes out and says anything straight, but she hints quite broadly.
For example, she hints that Steerforth is living a wild life at college and not learning anything.
This happens a second time when David mentions that he plans to visit the Peggottys, whom Steerforth has met.
David explains the Mr. Peggotty has adopted Ham and little Emily, so his house is full of people who Mr. Peggotty has been kind to.
Steerforth comments that they seem worth his attention.
Miss Dartle chimes in to ask if they really seem worth his notice, as though they were animals or beings of another order?
Steerforth clarifies that he thinks there is a difference between them (i.e., the lower orders) and us (i.e., rich people) – they may be very good people, but they can't be expected to be as sensitive or fine as people with better breeding.
Miss Dartle thanks him for making her feel better: she had been worried that poor people suffer, but now she knows that they don't really feel things the way better people do.
David thinks that Steerforth can't mean what he says, and that he must have made his comments about poor people to draw Miss Dartle out.
Once they are alone, Steerforth asks David what he thinks of Miss Dartle.
David comments that she seems very clever, and Steerforth agrees: she is so sharp that she seems all edge to Steerforth.
David remarks on Miss Dartle's scar.
Steerforth admits that he gave it to her: when he was a little boy, she irritated him and he threw a hammer at her.
David is sorry to have brought it up, since it must be painful for Steerforth.
Steerforth continues: Miss Dartle is an orphan of a cousin of Steerforth's father's who Mrs. Steerforth brought to live with her as a companion once Mr. Steerforth died.
David comments (incredibly naively, if we may say!) that Miss Dartle must love Steerforth like a brother.
Steerforth hems and haws a bit, and then changes the subject.
The next day, David keeps glancing at Miss Dartle's scar. He notices that, when she gets angry, it flushes dark and stands out clearly on her face.
Mrs. Steerforth shows David all of Steerforth's old letters to her, his baby pictures, and a lock of his hair.
David tells Mrs. Steerforth that Steerforth practically saved his life at Mr. Creakle's school, and that he has always been generous and noble to David.
Mrs. Steerforth agrees that Salem House was not good enough for her son, but Steerforth needed to go there because they had trouble finding a teacher who would "be content to bow himself" (20.59) before Steerforth's superior character.
Steerforth's mother adds that her son had to go to a school where he could be the acknowledged king of the place.
Mrs. Steerforth is delighted that David is so devoted to her son, but she also finds it only natural that her son should inspire such feelings in his fellow men.
During this conversation, Miss Dartle is busy playing backgammon with Steerforth, but David is certain that she doesn't miss a word of any of this.
Later on, Steerforth calls David Daisy again, and Miss Dartle jumps on it.
She asks if it means that David is young and innocent.
She comments that Steerforth thinks David is innocent, and so he is willing to be friends with him.
Miss Dartle goes to bed soon after, and Steerforth and David stay up late and talk about old school times.
When David goes to bed, he notices that there is a portrait of Miss Dartle on his wall.
He finds it disturbing, and starts having uneasy dreams filled with doubts about the people around him.