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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 37 Summary
A Little Cold Water David is so excited to be sacrificing for Dora's sake that he almost becomes a vegetarian (even he can't explain the logic of this idea). But meanwhile, Dora has no idea that David is busy working hard in her name. Miss Betsey, David, and Mr. Dick are all relatively comfortable in their new homes. David's aunt has won out with Mrs. Crupp, who basically never leaves her kitchen now. Miss Betsey is also so neat and clever that she has remade David's rooms to seem better than before. Peggotty also seems very pleased to help out with these arrangements. Eventually, though, she has to go home and look after Ham. Peggotty cries when she parts from David, and offers him money if he needs it. At the end of his work day, David plans to go to Miss Mills's house, where he believes that Dora is visiting. David finds Dora and immediately asks her if she could love a beggar? Dora tells him not to be so silly, or she'll have Jip bite him. David is charmed by Dora's childishness. But Dora is frightened by David's words, and he has to spend a lot of time soothing all of her fears. She can't bear to hear David talk of being poor and working hard. Dora forbids David from being practical because it scares her. David doesn't want it to scare her; he wants her to be inspired. Dora says she's not strong enough to be inspired. She begs David not to frighten her. David says he won't, but he does ask her to learn some things: housekeeping, simple accounting, and how to cook. Dora freaks out again and begs to see Miss Mills. Dora goes into hysterics, and David thinks he's been a brute to her. Miss Mills comes in, figures out what David has told Dora, and starts to calm Dora down. David asks if he was right to ask Dora to think about keeping household accounts and learning how to cook? Miss Mills answers frankly: no. Dora is not suited to that kind of life, though it would be useful if she could learn that kind of thing. David asks Miss Mills – if Dora ever shows any interest in such serious things – to encourage her to learn. Dora has calmed down and returns to teasing Jip and playing and singing like a child. She is disturbed to hear that David has to get up at 5:00 AM to work. Dora tells him to stop working: why should he? Dora clearly has no idea that we need to work to live. Even though David still really loves Dora, he's starting to think pretty hard about how much he frightened Dora by asking her to be serious.
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