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David Copperfield

David Copperfield

by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield Chapter 26 Summary

I Fall Into Captivity

  • David doesn't see Uriah again until the day that Agnes leaves London.
  • He tries to be kind to Uriah, since Agnes is watching, but he's concerned that Agnes is going to do exactly what Uriah expects: marry him to save her father from ruin.
  • David is sure that Agnes is unaware of Uriah's schemes. He is also sure that, if he were to tell her, she would become extremely unhappy and still wouldn't be able to do anything to change the situation. So, he decides not to tell her.
  • Once more, David is alone.
  • Steerforth is at Oxford, and while they are still exchanging friendly letters, his Agnes-born suspicion of the man makes David kind of glad that Steerforth's not around.
  • David continues to be apprenticed to Spenlow and Jorkins.
  • About a week after David starts work, Mr. Spenlow invites him over to dinner.
  • Mr. Spenlow is a widower with one daughter, Dora Spenlow.
  • David has heard that Mr. Spenlow's home is quite grand from the office clerk, Mr. Tiffey, so he's excited to go.
  • One evening, as Mr. Spenlow and David drive over to Mr. Spenlow's house, Mr. Spenlow informs David that being a proctor is the highest form of business any man can have. Proctors are a privileged class.
  • Mr. Spenlow explains that nothing less than the entire fate of the nation of England rests on the proctors.
  • David's not quite so sure that proctors are all that important, but he respects Mr. Spenlow too much to argue.
  • Eventually, they arrive at Mr. Spenlow's house.
  • Dora Spenlow greets them, and David is immediately taken with her. David thinks she looks like a fairy.
  • But David is truly shocked to be introduced to Dora Spenlow's friend, Miss Murdstone.
  • Miss Murdstone acknowledges that David and she were acquainted when he was a child. But now, she would never have recognized him.
  • Mr. Spenlow explains that, since Dora's mother has passed away, Miss Murdstone has been acting as a friend and surrogate mother for Dora.
  • David is surprised to think of Miss Murdstone in any kind of motherly capacity, but he's too distracted by Dora to comment properly.
  • After dinner, Miss Murdstone calls David over for a word.
  • Miss Murdstone tells David that she knows they both have opinions about one another (which is putting it mildly), but she sees no reason why those opinions should come out now, when so much time has passed.
  • David replies that he will always think that Miss and Mr. Murdstone were cruel to both him and to his mother, but that he agrees that they shouldn't bring it all back up now.
  • He can barely remember the rest of the evening: it's all impressions of the lovely Dora.
  • David stays over at Mr. Spenlow's house and thinks of ways to woo Dora.
  • He tries to make friends with her dog, Jip, but the dog snarls at him.
  • As David is walking in the garden the following morning, who should he run into but Dora Spenlow.
  • David blushes and stammers and can barely say a sensible word.
  • Dora tells him that she has just come from Paris and that it is lovely.
  • Just then, Jip arrives on the scene and starts barking at David.
  • Dora picks up the dog and pets him, and David feels jealous. Of the dog. He's got it bad.
  • The girl asks if David is very close to Miss Murdstone.
  • David answers that he certainly isn't.
  • Dora doesn't feel like she needs protecting and can't understand why her father hired the boring. Miss Murdstone.
  • The girl wants to find her own friends to confide in.
  • David is really (inwardly) excited at this news.
  • Miss Murdstone eventually comes to find Dora and marches her inside to breakfast.
  • David accompanies Dora and Miss Murdstone to church, where David hears Dora sing. Again, he is so in love.
  • Mr. Spenlow and David head back into the city early Monday morning for work.
  • David is extremely sorry to leave Dora, and he can't really focus on his case because he's thinking about her so much.
  • Everywhere that David goes in London, he sees little signs of Dora.
  • David is deeply disappointed that he doesn't get another invitation to Mr. Spenlow's house.
  • Mrs. Crupp surprises David by figuring out that he is in love.
  • She tells David to cheer up – she can't stand to see him so blue, because she is, herself, a mother.
  • Mrs. Crupp has figured out David's secret because he is so careful with his laundry – a sure sign that he's in love.
  • The woman suggests that David do something to take his mind off of it (specifically, she suggests "skittles," which is a kind of lawn bowling).
  • While David's a little offended that his landlady has started in on such personal matters with him, he does appreciate the warning that he's showing his feelings too much.

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