David and Dora are married among all their friends in a beautiful ceremony.
Dora turns out to be a terrible housekeeper. The couple employs a number of servants, but each of them cheats David and Dora in one way or another. Nonetheless, David is happy because Dora is happy. David writes for a newspaper and several magazines. Dora is completely devoted to him and sits up at nights to watch him write. She asks him to think of her as his “child-wife” whenever he thinks she has done something wrong. He manages to keep the household as best he can. Though David wishes that Dora might be more of a counselor to him and improve him in some way, he loves her and dotes on her. His aunt takes to Dora too and makes every effort to keep her happy.
“There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose.”
Mr. Dick comes to David one night while he is working in his study and asks whether David thinks he is simple-minded. David says that he does in fact think so, and Mr. Dick is pleased. He asks David what the tension between Doctor and Mrs. Strong is, so David explains the Strongs’ marital problems. Mr. Dick has the idea that he should reconcile the couple because the more intelligent people they know are too polite to attempt to do so.
The next time David and Miss Betsey are at the Strongs’, Mr. Dick brings Annie to Doctor Strong. Annie professes how much she loves Doctor Strong and has always loved him, despite Jack Maldon’s treachery and her mother’s attempts to barter her for the benefit of her relations. Annie swears by Doctor Strong and by all his purposes, for, as she tells him, “There can be no disparity in marriage like unsuitability of mind and purpose.” She begs him to take her into his heart and never to throw her out because she loves him more dearly than ever before. David is both touched and troubled by Annie’s words.
As David passes by the Steerforths’ house one evening, a servant summons him inside to speak to Miss Dartle. She is cruel to David. Miss Dartle summons Littimer, who informs David that Steerforth, having grown tired of Little Em’ly, has her in a villa in Naples. Littimer proposed to her, but she became furious and hysterical, so he locked her up to prevent her from killing herself. Little Em’ly fled the house nonetheless, and no one has heard from her since. Littimer has returned home to report to Mrs. Steerforth and seek new employment after Steerforth was unbearably rude to him. David warns Littimer that he will tell Mr. Peggotty about his part in Little Em’ly seduction and that Littimer should stay out of public places. Littimer is unfazed. David speaks to Mrs. Steerforth. They are polite to each other, and she wishes him well.
David goes to Mr. Peggotty, who is still in London looking for Little Em’ly. He relays the information Littimer has given him. David and Mr. Peggotty decide to ask Martha to try to find Little Em’ly, so they go off together in search of Martha. When they find Martha, they follow her until she gets to a less populated area where they feel it is appropriate to speak to her.