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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 50 Summary
Mr. Peggotty's Dream Comes True David doesn't hear anything from Martha Endell for several months, but she's in touch with Mr. Peggotty. David thinks more and more that Emily must be dead. Mr. Peggotty's faith that she's alive never changes. Dora grows to like Mr. Peggotty and sees him quite often. One night, Mr. Peggotty tells David that Martha has been to see him, and to ask that Mr. Peggotty absolutely not leave England. Martha won't say why though. David doesn't want to get Mr. Peggotty's hopes up, so he says nothing about this. About two weeks later, and two days after David saw Mr. Micawber, he is walking in his garden. A woman beckons him over: it is Martha Endell. She asks David to come with her immediately. David and Martha drive into downtown London. Martha guides David down one of the dark and grungy streets to a poor lodging-house. David walks up to the top story of the house. In the shadows on the staircase, he can see a woman walking ahead of them. Martha exclaims that she doesn't know the woman who has gone into this room. David knows her, though: it's Miss Dartle. Martha leads David softly up the stairs, but she indicates that he must not say anything. Miss Dartle is inside telling someone that she has come to see her. A voice speaks, and David recognizes it as Emily's. Miss Dartle asks how Emily can show her face to Miss Dartle, after she has done so much. Miss Dartle won't let Emily leave; if she tries, Miss Dartle will tell the whole world Emily's history. Emily sounds frightened. Miss Dartle asks how Steerforth can have fallen for such fake modesty. Emily begs Miss Dartle to be merciful, because of her suffering. Miss Dartle tells Emily that she can't be moved by Emily's tears. She reproaches Emily with the home Emily has ruined. Emily weeps to think of the pain her uncle and her family has gone through on her behalf. Miss Dartle looks down on Emily and mocks her for thinking that Miss Dartle meant Emily's family; she meant her own. Emily protests: when Steerforth first came to her, she truly loved him! She believed that she would be his wife! Miss Dartle threatens that, if she had her way, Emily would be whipped to death. Then she mocks Emily for daring to claim that she knows how to love. Miss Dartle warns Emily to hide herself among her family or to die, because Miss Dartle will hunt her down wherever Emily goes and tell everyone what kind of a creature she is. David is in agony waiting for Mr. Peggotty, because he cannot bear to hear this torture. Miss Dartle tells Emily that she should spend the rest of her days thinking of Steerforth's treatment of her, or of her own lost virtue – and then she should die. Miss Dartle hears a footstep on the stairs and walks out the door, but not without warning Emily again of her plans. Finally (thank God!) Mr. Peggotty comes in and embraces a fainting Emily. Mr. Peggotty thanks God that he has finally found his darling niece. He carries Emily down the stairs.
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