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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 24 Summary
My First Dissipation Now that David's off living like a real adult on his own, he's feeling very grand. At the same time, it's kind of lonely – he doesn't have a particularly tight relationship with Mrs. Crupp, and he misses Agnes. David goes over to Highgate, to Mrs. Steerforth's house, to see if Steerforth is around. But he's not – he's hanging out with his Oxford friends. Mrs. Steerforth asks David to dinner, and he is so pleased to have company again that he starts to fall for Miss Dartle a little bit. The next day, Steerforth surprises David with a visit at Mrs. Crupp's. David is overjoyed, and invites Steerforth to dinner. Steerforth can't: he's got plans with these two Oxford friends of his. David suggests that Steerforth bring the two Oxfordians along. Steerforth agrees, and David makes arrangements with Mrs. Crupp for dinner for four. Once Steerforth and his two friends, Grainger and Markham, arrive, David's excited to have them but also a bit nervous – he feels very young and unprepared for a dinner party. Luckily, Steerforth steps up and plays host (at David's table). David gets very, very drunk very, very quickly. There's a lot of singing and laughter and smoking and confusion. Eventually, someone suggests that they should all go to the theater. Steerforth asks if David is all right, to which David replies, "Neverberrer" (24.36). David is very drunk indeed. At the theater, David is stumbling all around the audience and making noise. The other playgoers shush him, but he keeps making a scene. Suddenly, David spots Agnes sitting in a private box. She looks embarrassed and ashamed of David, and tells him to be quiet and watch the play. Agnes tells David that she is absolutely serious: David has to go away and tell his friends to take him home. Even though David is annoyed that Agnes is being mean to him, he respects her enough that he does, in fact, go away. Steerforth follows David and helps him into his house and into bed. The next morning, David wakes up completely embarrassed about what he did the night before. David is haunted by the awful sense that he has done many shameful things without being able to remember them. Also, he feels incredibly sick. When he sees Mrs. Crupp, he wants to confess to her that he feels very miserable, but Mrs. Crupp doesn't seem like the cozy sort of woman one confides in.
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