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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 34 Summary
My Aunt Astonishes Me David writes to Agnes telling her all about his love for Dora. He also tells her about little Emily's flight from Yarmouth, though he doesn't explicitly mention Steerforth's name. While David had been away with the Spenlows, Tommy Traddles had dropped by a couple times. Each time, he found Peggotty at David's house. Tommy Traddles and Peggotty have become friends. While Peggotty is staying with David, Mrs. Crupp refuses to do any of the housework because she can't stand Peggotty. Traddles comes by once more and greets David warmly. David's old friend has heard of David's engagement, and reminds David of Traddles's own fiancée, the curate's daughter who is one of ten children. David sympathizes with Traddles because he gets to see his fiancée so rarely. Traddles's fiancée – Sophy – spends all of her time looking after the other nine children because her mother has become bedridden. David is impressed by the great care that Sophy takes of her family. He asks how Mr. Micawber is doing, but Traddles is no longer living with the man. Mr. Micawber has changed his name to Mortimer (which is kind of dodgy). Traddles has also found a number of his household possessions, including the furniture he bought for his new house with Sophy, at the pawn shop. Traddles wants to ask Peggotty to go in and negotiate the price for these items, since he's worried that the pawnshop owner is cheating him. David is sure that Peggotty will be happy to help, as long as Traddles promises never to sign a loan with Mr. Micawber again. Traddles confesses that he has already done so, but he's sure that Mr. Micawber will come through this time. David doesn't want to lower Traddles's spirits, so he doesn't criticize. Together, David, Traddles, and Peggotty go to the pawnshop. David and Traddles wait around the corner while Peggotty buys back Traddles's things. Traddles is overjoyed. As they get back to David's apartment, they are absolutely surprised to find his front door open: Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick are waiting inside. David hugs Miss Betsey and shakes Mr. Dick's hand. David's aunt greets Peggotty, who is looking very shy. Miss Betsey refuses to call Peggotty by "Peggotty," since it sounds ugly: she prefers Barkis. David's aunt asks David for a cup of tea, and sends Mrs. Crupp out of the room. Mrs. Crupp is trying to suck up to Miss Betsey because she knows Miss Betsey has money. David notices that Miss Betsey is looking rather uncertainly at him, and he's worried that she's somehow heard of his engagement and doesn't approve. Miss Betsey asks if David has learned to be self-reliant and firm. David replies that he thinks he has. Miss Betsey answers that the luggage that she has brought with her is all that she has left in the world: Miss Betsey is ruined. David is absolutely shocked. Miss Betsey informs him that she still has her cottage, which she has asked Janet to rent out for her. David's aunt wants to stay at David's just for tonight, and then they'll think of something in morning. Miss Betsey suddenly hugs David and cries that she only worries for his sake. Soon, she collects herself and calms down: Miss Betsey resolves not to be frightened.
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