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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 35 Summary
Depression David suggests that Mr. Dick could stay in the same place where Mr. Peggotty slept during his stay in London. Mr. Dick tells David that he has no idea how Miss Betsey came to lose all her money. David is so frustrated that he takes it out on Mr. Dick, and explains that no money means starvation for Miss Betsey and Mr. Dick. This really freaks Mr. Dick out. David tells Mr. Dick that the best thing they can do is to stay cheerful and not add to Miss Betsey's troubles. Mr. Dick tries, but he keeps staring at Miss Betsey as though he is going to see her waste away to nothing right before his eyes. Miss Betsey behaves with a calmness that really impresses David. David's aunt asks for ale instead of her usual glass of wine before bed, so that they can save the wine for later. Peggotty walks Mr. Dick back to the shop where he is staying. David brings back some ale for Miss Betsey. Miss Betsey tells David that she has really come to like Peggotty. David's aunt starts to tear up, and informs David that Peggotty has offered her money, as though Peggotty has so much of it in the first place. While David was out getting ale, Miss Betsey and Peggotty were gossiping. Peggotty has told Miss Betsey all about little Emily, and Miss Betsey comments on her foolishness. David tells Miss Betsey that he has fallen in love with Dora. Miss Betsey asks all about her: is she silly? Is she light-headed? David has never thought of these questions before. He answers that he is sure that he and Dora could never love anybody else. Miss Betsey shakes her head and comments that David reminds her of his mother. David needs someone who is faithful and serious in his life. He promises that Dora is earnest, but Miss Betsey just shakes her head and tells him he is blind. Miss Betsey says they should hope for better fortunes so that David can get married, if he really wants to. David's aunt goes to bed, and David takes the sofa. He lies there worrying about what will happen when he tells Dora about his poor fortune. The night feels ages long as David worries and has bad dreams, and Miss Betsey paces all around. The next morning, David walks to the office early to speak to Mr. Spenlow. David explains that he has had bad news from his aunt – that she is ruined – and wants to cancel his apprenticeship. Mr. Spenlow says that it's neither common nor professional to cancel such a thing. David's boss claims that it's just Mr. Jorkins who would object; if it were up to Mr. Spenlow, he'd let David go. David asks if he can approach Mr. Jorkins directly. Mr. Spenlow warns David that it will be useless. Still, David heads out to meet Mr. Jorkins. Mr. Jorkins hears David's story and expresses sympathy, but he says that, if Mr. Spenlow objects, well, there's nothing he can do about it. David tells Mr. Jorkins that Mr. Spenlow doesn't object personally. Mr. Jorkins says it's impossible, and anyway, he has an appointment at his bank. The man runs out the door and hides from the office for three days. David then begs Mr. Spenlow to use his influence to persuade Mr. Jorkins. Mr. Spenlow promises David that nothing will change Mr. Jorkins's mind. David is confused: which of the two men, Spenlow or Jorkins, are really objecting to his request? Disappointed, David goes home: there's no way he's going to get his aunt's money back. As he's walking home, David sees someone passing by in a carriage: it's Agnes! David tells Agnes that she is the person he most wants to talk to in all the world (well, except maybe for Dora). Agnes is on her way to see Miss Betsey at David's rooms. Miss Betsey left the Wickfields a very short and unclear note stating that she has been ruined, but that no one needs to worry about her because she'll be fine. Mr. Wickfield and Uriah Heep had business in London, and Agnes hitched a ride to check on Miss Betsey. Apparently, Mr. Wickfield and Uriah Heep have become partners. It gets worse: Uriah Heep and his mother have moved in to Mr. Wickfield's house. Uriah Heep has David's old room. Agnes fondly remembers the old days when David lived with them. She hates that she can't stick as close to her father as she wants: Agnes worries that Uriah Heep is plotting some kind of betrayal of Mr. Wickfield. Agnes asks if David knows what has happened to Miss Betsey's money; of course, he doesn't yet. They walk in to David's rooms to find Miss Betsey alone. Apparently, she has been arguing with Mrs. Crupp, who would like Miss Betsey to leave. But she's calmed down a bit now. Mr. Dick is out with Peggotty looking at the sights of London. David explains that he tried to cancel his work with Spenlow and Jorkins, but was refused. Miss Betsey says that was kind of him, but stupid. She then presents her own personal history (weirdly, in third person). What has happened is this: Miss Betsey has had a number of secure investments that netted her a lot of money. However, her business manager (Agnes's father, Mr. Wickfield) hasn't been doing as well with her money as he used to. So, Miss Betsey got fed up investing through Mr. Wickfield, and decided to try various markets herself. Unfortunately, this has proved disastrous, and Miss Betsey has lost all of her money. Agnes seems oddly relieved to hear this news. David realizes that she had been worrying that Mr. Wickfield had ruined Miss Betsey. Miss Betsey turns to Agnes and David and asks what she should do. She can count on about 70 pounds a year in rent money from the cottage (which is about U.S. $7,800 in today's money; see this website). How is she supposed to keep herself and David alive on that kind of money? (Mr. Dick has his own income, so he's safe.) David says he's got to do something. Miss Betsey is worried that David will join the army and get himself killed. Agnes asks if David has signed a lease for his apartment? Yes, he has. Miss Betsey agrees that she has enough cash to pay the rent for the term of his lease – the next six months. So, Miss Betsey decides that she will stay with David and they will rent a room for Mr. Dick nearby. Agnes suggests that, if David has time, he might take on the job of secretary to Dr. Strong. David is delighted at this news and thanks Agnes for being so helpful. As Miss Betsey, Peggotty, and Agnes set to work rearranging and tidying David's rooms, Mr. Wickfield and Uriah Heep arrive. David is absolutely horrified at the change between the two men: Mr. Wickfield now seems totally dependent, basically bowing down to Uriah Heep. Miss Betsey compliments Agnes's good sense to Mr. Wickfield. She adds that Agnes is worth more than his whole firm. Uriah Heep chimes in that he'd be happy to see Agnes become a partner. Miss Betsey shuts him down: she tells Uriah that he's already become a partner himself, and that should be enough for him. Uriah Heep tells David that he's happy to see David even under such awful circumstances. David is sure that Uriah is only too happy to see David brought low like this. Miss Betsey scolds Uriah Heep for jerking around and waving his arms like an eel. In a dull, forced-sounding voice, Mr. Wickfield claims that anything Uriah Heep says, Mr. Wickfield agrees with. David is sure that Uriah Heep has made Mr. Wickfield say this to impress David. Uriah Heep heads out, and Mr. Wickfield and Agnes stay for a chat. Mr. Wickfield brightens up without Uriah Heep's presence. Agnes and David go out to dinner, along with Mr. Wickfield, and it really is like old times. David is so moved by Agnes's goodness and kindness that his heart feels stronger for her presence.
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