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by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield Chapter 54 Summary
Mr. Micawber's Transactions After a time, David's grief becomes so intense that he begins to think that he will never be happy again. David associates this terrible time with Agnes, who is the first person he sees when he wakes up from his faint. He and his friends decide that it would be best for David to go abroad. The only thing David is waiting for is the final fate of Uriah Heep. Traddles invites David, Miss Betsey, and Agnes back to Canterbury. They all meet at Mr. Micawber's house. Miss Betsey asks the Micawbers if they've given any thought to her suggestion that they move to Australia. Mr. Micawber agrees that they would like to move. He then launches into a long outline of his preparations for the move, which all basically boils down to an agreement on how much money the Micawbers will need to move to Australia. Mrs. Micawber adds that the initial break between Mr. Micawber and her family has probably arisen as a result of their suspicions that Mr. Micawber would need to borrow money. Because Mr. Micawber is about to embark on a new career as an Australian, Mrs. Micawber would like to repair the relations between him and her family. Mr. Micawber has no interest at all in hanging out with Mrs. Micawber's family – he describes them as ruffians and snobs. Mrs. Micawber says that's not the case, it's just that they have never understood Mr. Micawber and he has never understood them. Still, on the whole, Mr. Micawber wants to leave England without meeting them. But he will if Mrs. Micawber insists. Traddles apologizes to David for getting him involved in business, but he thinks it will be a good distraction for David. David tells Traddles he's a bit worried about Miss Betsey, who has been going into London for long periods of unexplained time. Miss Betsey tells David not to worry about it; it will all be explained in time. Traddles compliments Mr. Micawber, who, he says, has never done much for himself but will work endlessly for other people. Traddles explains that Mr. Dick has also been working wonders, with his untiring dedication to watching after Mr. Wickfield. Mr. Wickfield's health has improved since Uriah Heep has been removed from his life. Traddles has found that Mr. Wickfield's affairs can be settled without any loss of honor or damage to his investors. However, once all of the accounts have been settled, he doesn't have very much money left to live on. So, Traddles suggests that Mr. Wickfield stays in business, with the advice of his friends (e.g. Traddles, David, and Agnes herself). Agnes decides that this would be a very bad idea. All she wants is for Mr. Wickfield to be free and retired. She has decided that the best thing for her to do would be to rent out Mr. Wickfield's house, to start a school, and to support Mr. Wickfield. Traddles moves on to Miss Betsey's property next. Originally, she had 8,000 pounds invested with Mr. Wickfield. He has only been able to find 5,000 pounds in her name. Miss Betsey admits that that's all there should be by now – Miss Betsey used a thousand to pay for David's apprenticeship, and she has kept aside two thousand for a rainy day. Miss Betsey didn't tell David of this extra two thousand to see how he would rise to the challenge of supporting his family. Traddles is relieved to hear that they have recovered all of Miss Betsey's money. Having been deceived by Uriah Heep into thinking that he had (accidentally) stolen Miss Betsey's money to cover other debts, Mr. Wickfield wrote a letter to Miss Betsey accusing himself of robbery. To protect Mr. Wickfield, Miss Betsey burned the letter and never mentioned his involvement to anyone. Now, with all of Mr. Micawber's evidence against him, Uriah Heep has had no choice but to produce the money again. Uriah Heep also confesses that he didn't really need Miss Betsey's money. He just wanted to steal it to hurt David. Traddles informs the group that Uriah Heep has left London with his mother. Traddles is sure that Uriah Heep will fall into crime once more, even though he must have a fair amount of money at hand. David and Traddles agree that, as for Mr. Micawber, he did right by the end. His patience is what has brought all of this evidence to light against Uriah Heep. One of Traddles's worries about poor Mr. Micawber is that he is due to be arrested any day for writing I.O.U.s he's never paid. All told, Mr. Micawber still owes about 103 pounds (about U.S. $11,000 in today's money). So, they all agree to give Mr. Micawber the money to pay his debts and to pay for his family's trip to Australia. David also decides to ask Mr. Peggotty for help. David will give Mr. Peggotty a hundred pounds and, if Mr. Peggotty thinks it's a good idea, Mr. Peggotty can give the money to Mr. Micawber. So that Mr. Micawber will be inclined to befriend Mr. Peggotty, David thinks it will be a good thing if he tells Mr. Micawber a little bit about Mr. Peggotty's personal history, The issue of Miss Betsey's husband is the final point that Traddles brings up. He asks if everyone remembers Uriah threatening Miss Betsey's husband, which they do. Traddles has been unable to find any more information about this person and his relationship with Uriah Heep. Miss Betsey's eyes overflow with tears, but she absolutely does not want to talk about it, and she asks Traddles and David not to mention him again. David's aunt calls Mr. and Mrs. Micawber back into the room and explains the financial terms of their travel. The Micawbers are extremely excited. Miss Betsey advises Mr. Micawber never to write out I.O.U.s ever again. Mr. Micawber agrees that it would be better to put your hand in the fire than to go into debt. With that, the evening ends. Miss Betsey asks David to come with her on a journey the next morning at 9 AM. David agrees. David drives with his aunt to a hospital. There is a hearse sitting next to the hospital. The driver recognizes Miss Betsey. David realizes that Miss Betsey's husband has died. Uriah Heep's threat was in vain: Miss Betsey's husband died the night before the confrontation with Heep in Canterbury. This day is the thirty-sixth anniversary of Miss Betsey's wedding. Miss Betsey bursts into tears and exclaims that her husband was a good-lucking man when they got married, but he changed terribly. Soon, Miss Betsey pulls himself together. They return to Miss Betsey's home in Highgate. They find a note from Mr. Micawber. The note speaks once more of disaster: Mr. Micawber has been arrested because of some unpaid debts. But then, right at the end, there is a postscript. Traddles has paid all of Mr. Micawber's debts in Miss Betsey's name, and Mr. Micawber is happy again.
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