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David and Peggotty finally arrive at Yarmouth, after a long, slow journey by cart (driven by "the carrier," who gets a name later in the novel: Mr. Barkis).
Peggotty loves Yarmouth; she finds it "the finest place in the universe" (3.6).
It's now been several years since David's birth, and Ham Peggotty (who was there the night of Mrs. Copperfield's delivery in the first chapter) has grown to be a huge six foot tall grown up.
Ham carries David on his back up to the Peggotty house, which is, in fact, an old ship.
The ship totally reeks of fish because Peggotty's brother sells lobsters, crabs, and crawfish, which he keeps in an old shed outside.
David meets Mr. Dan Peggotty, Peggotty's brother, and a lovely little girl, Emily, whom David immediately likes.
Mr. Peggotty asks after Mrs. Copperfield and welcomes David to the Peggotty home.
Eventually, David manages to work out the Peggotty family's relations: Mr. Dan Peggotty had a brother, Joe Peggotty, who is the father of Ham. But Joe drowned a while back.
And the lovely little girl who David's a bit smitten with, Emily, is not Mr. Peggotty's daughter. Her father was Mr. Peggotty's brother-in-law, Tom, who has also drowned.
Mr. Peggotty is, in fact, a bachelor.
He has adopted Ham and Emily because they are orphans.
Mr. Peggotty has also taken in Mrs. Gummidge, the widow of a business partner of his who has no money at all.
So, Mr. Peggotty is a fantastic guy. Even though he doesn't have much money of his own, he has still taken in three people who need him: Emily, Ham, and Mrs. Gummidge.
David goes to bed feeling contented and safe.
The next day, he and Emily head out to the beach.
Emily reveals that she is afraid of the sea because it has taken away so many fishermen (including, of course, her own father).
David and Emily compare notes about what it means to be an orphan – even though they've both lost their fathers, the similarity in their lives pretty much ends there.
Emily wants to be a lady (a.k.a. a wealthy woman), because if she were a lady, her uncle Dan Peggotty and her cousin Ham would both be safe from the storms that make a fisherman's life so dangerous.
She's afraid of the sea as an abstract thing, but she doesn't worry about it so much in person: she proves this to David by running quickly along the dock in a way that makes him think she's going to fall in. But she doesn't.
David is totally head over heels in love with Emily: he thinks she's an angel.
David tells Emily that, if she doesn't say she loves him back, he'll kill himself. So, of course, Emily says she does, and David believes her.
All the adults think that Emily and David's puppy love is really cute.
Mr. Peggotty likes to go to a local pub/bar called The Willing Mind.
One night, when he's a bit late coming back because the weather is bad, Mrs. Gummidge starts saying that she is driving Mr. Peggotty out to the bar more and more often.
Mrs. Gummidge says, "I am a lone lorn creetur' [...] and everythink goes contrary with me" (3.83). What she means is that she's alone and sad in the world, and everything goes against her.
In fact, Mrs. Gummidge thinks that she feels all bad things worse than other people do: when a storm blows up, Mrs. Gummidge says she's colder than everyone else.
She's a big ol' pile of self-pity.
When Mr. Peggotty comes home and asks how everyone is, he notices how gloomy Mrs. Gummidge seems.
Mrs. Gummidge apologizes for driving Mr. Peggotty to The Willing Mind.
Mr. Peggotty laughs this off: he doesn't exactly need encouragement to go, and it's not Mrs. Gummidge's fault.
Mrs. Gummidge frets that she has been annoying Peggotty and David all day.
David feels bad for her, and assures Mrs. Gummidge that she hasn't been getting on his nerves (although, of course, she has).
Mrs. Gummidge goes off to bed after telling everyone that it would be better if she just died and relieved them all of the burden of her presence (!!).
Mr. Peggotty doesn't react to this speech except to tell the others that Mrs. Gummidge has been thinking of her dead husband ("the old 'un" (3.108)).
In fact, whenever Mrs. Gummidge gets passive aggressive or self-pitying, Mr. Peggotty just feels more sympathetic towards her because she is a lonely widow.
And so two weeks pass pretty fast.
Finally, David and Peggotty have to leave.
David really doesn't want to part with Little Emily, and promises to write her all the time.
As David and Peggotty head home, David suddenly becomes more and more excited to see his mother again.
Peggotty doesn't seem to be as excited as David is to be going back.
Finally, they arrive at the Rookery, and the door is opened by a servant David doesn't know.
Peggotty finally confesses to David that she has something to tell him.
David gets so nervous at Peggotty's weird behavior that he thinks his mother has died.
Oh no! reassures Peggotty. But Mrs. Copperfield has gotten David a new father.
Peggotty takes David to the best parlor.
Sitting next to the fire is Mr. Murdstone and Mrs. Copperfield (now Clara Murdstone).
Mr. Murdstone warns the new Mrs. Murdstone (though we're going to keep calling her Mrs. Copperfield for the sake of clarity) not to get too emotional.
David climbs upstairs and finds that his bedroom has been moved down the hall. The whole house looks different: the kennel that had once been empty now has a huge, scary dog.